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Mailing Number 7 - 29 November 2002

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European Academic Software Awards. The 10 final winners were announced on November 25th, including:

  • from Leeds University The Strategy of Protein Purification - a simulation program, which allows students to try out protein purification procedures in a virtual laboratory;
  • from Freie Universitaet Berlin E-Chalk - a Java software system for classroom teaching and distance learning which is described as combining the features and advantages of the traditional chalkboard with the multimedia features of a modern distance teaching environment, and is designed to run over low bandwidth connections.

GCSE English Online. Having won the 2002 NILTA Innovation Award, sponsored by learndirect, for a major contribution to the development of innovative courseware to support, enrich and facilitate learning, for its Online GCSE English course, the Sheffield College has now won the 2002-2003 LSDA Beacon Award for the college that demonstrates the most outstanding advance in embedding e-learning into course delivery, also for GCSE English Online. Meanwhile, webarchitects, a Sheffield web-development company, which played a key part in the underlying design of the Online GCSE English materials, won the "Sheffield Education and Business Award" in recognition of a successful working relationship between a business and an educational establishment showing a partnership approach to the delivery of skills through the use of e-technologies.

The National Learning Network - A Strategic Framework for Development 2002/2005. Just published on the NLN website, with the purpose of:

  • advising the Learning and Skills Council of the NLN Programme Board's strategic thinking as to how the National Learning Network should be developed to benefit learners throughout the post-16 sector;
  • giving all post-16 providers a strategic framework within which to develop their own organisational planning for information and learning technology.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Validation Tools. The W3C's validation service, a free service that checks documents like HTML and XHTML for conformance to W3C Recommendations and other standards has been completely revised. A key new feature of the site (as far as I can remember!) is that you can now use the site to check the validity of a file held locally, rather than it having to be on a website before you can check it.

Resources [back to top]

e-Government Interoperability Framework Version 4 (otherwise known as e-GIF). The Office of the e-Envoy published V4.1 of the Technical Policies and Specifications at the end of October 2002. It contains technical policies and tables of specifications, and a glossary and abbreviations list, and flows from the release in April 2002 of a Policy-framework document which contains the high level policy statements, management, implementation and compliance regimes for e-GIF. Worth keeping an eye on since, according to policy framework, adherence to the e-GIF specifications and policies is mandatory for public sector organisations. In relation to e-learning, 5 IMS, ADL, or IEEE standards are identified in the Technical Policies document as being under review by an ad-hoc group, for adoption, or not, within e-GIF in spring 2003.

Final report from the National Learning Network (NLN) evaluation team. Key findings in recently issued report:

  • steady (although widely varied) use of ILT [which] continues to spread to all aspects of college life;
  • evidence to suggest that ILT is only appreciated and engaged with by students if it is clearly linked to the curriculum;
  • "cheap gimmicks" alienated students (phew!), while using ILT expertly to enrich and enliven the curriculum makes students learn faster;
  • investment in schools' IT is increasing the skills of students when they reach FE colleges.

British Pathe news-reel archive. Owned by the Daily Mail and the General Trust Group this is an amazing National Lottery funded digital archive of ~90,000 film-clips totalling over 3,500 hours of news, from 1910 to 1970. The site is very heavily used at present, which makes success in downloading individual low-resolution clips (free for UK residents), rather hit-and-miss, and the search interface has some very poor design features. Nevertheless it provides enormous scope for historical, scientific, and cultural records to be widely accessed and reused.

Freedom of Information Act. Two useful guides from the Joint Information Systems Committee for for managers in public-sector organisations:

More on Flash. From the current issue of Jacob Nielsen's Alertbox reporting on user-tests made on a large number of Flash applications: We identified several basic issues related to Web-based functionality's ephemeral nature. Some findings restate old truths about GUIs; others reflect the Net's new status as nexus of the user experience....... Our biggest finding may be this: Most current Web-based applications are ephemeral and must be immediately understandable or users will fail. Usability requirements for Web applications are far stricter than they ever were for traditional software.

Oddments [back to top]

Fontscape. A free, independent directory, designed to help users find the ideal typeface for their application, be it a publishing project, graphic design, a logo, or a font for a document. Includes fonts from over a hundred publishers, including Adobe, Agfa-Monotype, Berthold, Bitstream, Elsner+Flake, FontFont, ITC, Letraset, Linotype, P22, URW++, and many smaller foundries.

Training refugee doctors online. Interesting piece on BBC website by Dr Nayeem Azim about training refugee doctors online, so that they can practice in the UK. According to the article there are over 750 refugee doctors in the UK, of whom around 33% were seeking asylum, over 50% were permanent residents, 30% Iraqi, and 18% from Afghanistan. Rapid training in English would enable them quickly to practice as doctors.

Semantic Web Metadata for e-Learning - Some Architectural Guidelines. Challenging paper from the Swedish Knowledge Management Research Group about the importance of meta-data in the e-learning domain, and the difficulties in applying the concept as currently implemented. The elegant "parent" site is definitely worth browsing.

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Last updated - 2/12/2002; © Seb Schmoller

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