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Mailing Number 10 - 17 January 2003

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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Digital curriculum. Last week the Government gave the go ahead for the BBC's plans for an internet-based "digital curriculum" for schools. This is in the teeth of opposition from commercial content providers who believe that the BBC's access to licence-fee-funded content and knowhow, and its brand-name, give it an unfair advantage. Here (with thanks to Dick Moore) is the BBC's full press release.

Star Office and OpenOffice. Denmark's 1.1 million students and teachers can now turn their backs on Microsoft Office and instead download the office program StarOffice 6.0 from Sun at no cost, and freely install it on their home computer. Alternately, they can buy it on CD-ROM at cost - about £1. Star Office is, I believe, a commercially supported version of OpenOffice, which is an open source alternative to Microsoft Office, available for download free from the OpenOffice site. Unless you need the collaboration features of Word - Track Changes, Comment etc, then for many purposes OpenOffice is pretty satisfactory. Several companies are selling it on CD (cheaply), which is probably preferable to downloading it, especially over a dialup account.

Resources [back to top]

Plagiarism. Since (in the temporal sense!) I featured it in October, the JISC Plagiarism Detection Service has developed significantly. Worth revisiting.

Design principles for authoring dynamic, reusable learning objects. A heavy title which hides a really lucid short paper by Tom Boyle of the Learning Technology Research Institute at London Metropolitan University. This sets out a credible and comprehensible pedagogically based framework for the authoring of reusable learning objects.

The Marchmont Web Flash. Dr Andrew Dean edits the Exeter University-based Marchmont Project's "Web Flash". Each issue, emailed to you as a .doc file, comes packed with a wide range of links, snippets, and often witty comments on the UK adult-learning scene, with a strong emphasis on the web and e-learning. If you wish to receive the Flash, send an empty mail to Andrew Dean with 'subscribe' in the subject line. If you find you do not like it, unsubscribing is simple. My only grouse is that there is no decent searcheable archive of previous Web Flashes, and that the Marchmont Project does not capture the best of its links in a searchable database like Weblinks.

Web accessibility. Julia Duggleby pointed out this useful sample chapter - Understanding Web Accessibility - from Shawn Lawton Henry's book Constructing Accessible Websites. Contains a clearly illustrated explanation of why ALT tags matter, showing how incomprehensible an ALT tag free page will be to someone using text-to-speech converting browser like IBM Home Page Reader. As Julia says, "it puts forward the arguments in a way which is not too technical".

Interview with Head of UK elearning Strategy Unit. Diana Laurillard has recently taken up this post, having previously been a senior figure in the Open University, and a long-time proponent of, practitioner in, and researcher into online distance learning, and the use of technology to support learning. Here is a recent interview from the US Association of Computing Machinery's eLearn magazine, with thanks to Mike Morris.

Oddments[back to top]

"Worldometers". From a company called OS Earth, a series of "counters" purporting to show, in the form of moving cummulative totals, for example, how many deaths from communicable diseases there have been this year, or how many births today. The site also has a range of simulation games with a world citizenship and sustainable development theme.

Syllabus Radio. There is a series of 10-15 minute interviews on elearning implementation issues on the Syllabus website. Worth reviewing any that take your fancy (assuming any do.....), as much for their content, as to get a feel for the utility of webcasts of this kind as an educational resource.

Feedback [back to top]

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Last updated - 11/6/2003; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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