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Mailing Number 8 - 23 December 2002

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TechLearn will close. JISC announced, on 23/12/2002, that its TechLearn Centre, based at the University of York - - will cease operations in July 2003. The Centre acted as a source of information and advice to the JISC community on how best to take advantage of the new technologies for learning and teaching and how these technologies might impact on strategic and operational planning. TechLearn's sister organisation, TechDis, an ICT advice and support service to enhance access for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to learning, teaching, research and administration - - will continue to operate.

Design Guide for Developers of Educational Software. The British Educational and Communications Technology Agency (Becta) has recently published a new guide (0.9 MB PDF) by Russell Beale and Mike Sharples. The guide is intended mainly for developers of educational software and websites, and to help users (teachers and students) to evaluate educational software and to give feedback to software developers. Clear, concise, with strong 'pedagogic underlay', it covers:

  • usability (can people use the software effectively and efficiently to perform a task?);
  • usefulness (does it improve teaching and learning?);
  • desirability (do people enjoy using it?).

IMPACT2:second instalment. The second publication reporting on the findings from the ImpaCT2 study into the impact of ICT on Learning at Home and School has been published by Becta as a series of Case Studies exploring the nature of teaching and learning involving ICT in various settings, with a focus on the views of pupils, teachers, and parents.
Perceptions Report - 0.5 MB PDF.
Perceptions Summary - 0.2 MB PDF.

(Report also available as hard copy free from the DfES (UK telephone 0845 60 222 60) quoting ref: DfES/0741/2002.)

Resources [back to top]

Semantic web. According to Tim Berners-Lee and Eric Miller, the Semantic Web 'is an extension of the current Web in which information is given well-defined meaning, enabling computers and people to work in better cooperation'. Here are three useful resources.

  • ~60 page special from the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics. View the contents page and access fast-to-download individual chapters. If you decide to download the full document, watch out: it is a ~12 MB PDF, probably mainly on account of the nice reproduction of a 1669 (?) Rembrandt self-portrait , which has hopefully got copyright clearance.
  • The World Wide Web Consortium's semantic web area.
  • The Semantic Web Community Portal, with a mass of pointers to semantic web news and resources.

E-Learning and the Science of Instruction - Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. Written from a psychological perspective, this recently published book by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer (ISBN 0787960519) provides a wide-ranging, if slightly repetitive, treatment of what works and why in e-learning. It looks as if you can request an evaluation copy from this page on the publisher's site.

RDN Case studies. The Resource Discovery Network has recently published a useful range of case studies concerning the use of RDN's primarily Higher Education oriented resources in a Further Education context. 'These case studies have been created for FE lecturers, librarians and learning resource centre staff and give some practical ideas and suggestions for incorporating RDN and other Internet resources into teaching and learning activities.'

Learning objects (again)

IMS Learning Design Best Practice and Implementation Guide: Version 1.0 Public Draft Specification. A major criticism of the e-learning standards 'lobby' (Brigade? Industry? Movement?) is that standards do not take account of pedagogy. The stated aim of this ambitious document is to provide a framework within which to codify pedagogical approaches in a systematic way. A practical consequence of the document is that some people in the 'lobby' now seem to claim that the pedagogy issue is now 'sorted out' because the Learning Design draft specification exists. We shall see......

Notes on Learning Objects Symposium. Hosted by SRI Consulting Business Intelligence's Learning-on-Demand program on 5/6/September 2002, and written by SRI's Eilif Trondsen. This is a brief, useful, commercially focused, and candid summary of views (150 kB PDF) recently expressed by people with prominent roles in the US e-learning industry.

Learning management systems

LMS Review. Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications, and the Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology, have launched EduTools, an open resource for the worldwide higher education community. The site claims to provide the most complete independently-reviewed analyses anywhere of selected course management software, including product comparisons, reviews, and automated decision-making tools.

University of Kingston Blackboard case study. Tim Linsey, from University of Kingston drew my attention to a case study on the Blackboard site showing how much it cost the university to implement Blackboard, and the benefits which now seem to be accruing. Certainly shows that implementing a learning management system is not for the financially feint-hearted!

Oddments [back to top]

Iceland - putting UK Online to shame. Margrét Gunnarsdóttir, via Dave Pickersgill, highlighted the Icelandic Government's decision to purchase population-wide licences to over 30 online databases, and over 7000 electronic journals. See for an overview in English of what is available.

Economist article about internet success stories. The 21/12/2002 to 3/1/2003 issue of the Economist has an article showing that firms which survived the .com bust are now beginning to prosper. At least till the end of December you ought to be able to read the article.

Feedback [back to top]

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Last updated - 31/12/2002; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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