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Mailing Number 5 - 1 November 2002

Feedback on these mailings, concerning content, design, material I ought to feature in the future, is always welcome. If you want to send me some, please email me. Remember that my subscribers are a varied group, so at least part of every Mailing will for certain be irrelevant to you!

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Open Source Learning Management Systems. ("Open source" means that the source code for the product is publicly available, and, usually, that a dispersed team of programmers is contributing to the development of the product, which is not "owned" by anyone.) Some open source learning management systems already exist, for example:

  • Fle3 from the Univerity of Helsinki;
  • Claroline from the Institut de Pédagogie universitaire et des Multimédias.

Development of open source learning management systems is fragmented, and no product seems yet to have much of a head of steam behind it. A recent initiative, which I think is worth watching, is Eduzope, an offshoot from Zope, a leading open source application for content management, portals, etc, designed to enable teams to collaborate in the creation and management of web-content. (Fle3 is itself a ZOPE product.) Some readers of this Mailing know far more about open source software development than I do: I'll summarise and redistribute any feedback I get on this specific issue.

Learning design. The IMS Global Consortium has just published a new draft Learning Design Specification. I've not absorbed these yet, but will have to, having tendered successfully with David Jennings to write the draft of BS8426 - A code of practice for e-support in electronic learning systems.

New Research on ICT in Schools. Becta has just published a report on the impact of ICT on Pupil Learning and Attainment - ImpaCT2. This just-published research shows a positive relationship between ICT use and pupil attainment, albeit:

  • spread unevenly across subjects;
  • with some of the results described as "not striking";
  • silent on cost-benefit issues (would the money have better been spent on teachers?).

You can order hard copies of the 50 page ImpaCT2 report - ISBN 1 84185 808 0 - free from the DfES on 0845 60 222 60. (My guess is that the number from outside the UK will be +44 845 60 222 60.)

Meanwhile, the Economist's October 26th edition has a hostile-to-ICT leader based on research just published in the Economic Journal which purports to show that investment in ICT in Israeli schools has had, if anything, a negative effect on pupil attainment. I can send a copy of the leader to anyone who requests it, but cannot point you to a URL because the article is "pay-per-view". A review of the same research also appeared in the Guardian.

Resources [back to top]

Quiz Master - the DIY Quiz Game Generator. Mike Capstick, who works at the Tasmania TAFE (Australian equivalent of a Further Education College) has published Quizmaster, a free web-based tool to create online quizzes, which has received positive reviews amongst materials developers, and favourable comparisons with Hot Potatoes.

Wearing 4 pairs of shoes. Useful article by Ed Hootstein, on the American Society for Training and Development's web site, outlining 4 main roles for an elearning facilitator:

  • instructor: consultant, guide, and resource provider;
  • social director: creator of collaborative environments;
  • program manager: director of the agenda;
  • technical assistant: model of proficiency.

Blending Online and Traditional Instruction in the Mathematics Classroom. Interesting article (from Mike Morris) about the University of Colorado's MathOnline system, a learning delivery method that mixes synchronous and asynchronous learning, as well as combining traditional mathematics instruction with distance learning.

JISC Legal Information Service. Primary function: "making available current legal information to those working in Information Services of the FE and HE sectors". Good legal glossary, useful links to other sites, and interesting "2-dimensional" structure, whereby you can access 2 main classes of information (legal information, links to other sites) under any of 9 categories including data-protection, disability, freedom of information, intellectual property, e-security. Bookmark it!

Oddments [back to top]

From the Chronicle of Higher Education...... The California Community Colleges System will spend $11.5m to connect its 108 campuses with a web-based teleconferencing service, designed to save money by cutting back on travel to meetings. This puts NLN spending into perspective.....

Converting speech to sign-language. iCommunicator is a US product, newly upgraded, which claims to convert speech to sign-language in real time. The explanatory/promotional video accessible from the site is worth watching.

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Last updated - 3/11/2002; © Seb Schmoller

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