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Mailing Number 13 - 7 March 2003

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Resolution 1441. The lead letter in the 8/3/2003 edition of the UK's Independent Newspaper - headed War in Iraq will be mass murder - was from Dr Richard Drayton, who is University Lecturer in Imperial and extra-European History at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The letter contains a powerful and lucid explanation as to why Resolution 1441 does not sanction an invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I had intended to point to the letter from this Fortnightly Mailing, but the Independent's web site does not contain the newspaper's letters. Richard Drayton has kindly agreed to my publishing the letter directly. Please feel free to point others to the URL of the letter, which is

e-Envoy faces budget cuts? It looks as if the UK Government's e-ardour may be cooling, from this piece in the Independent about cuts and reorganisation to the UK Cabinet Office's Office of the e-Envoy. Meanwhile, the Office of the e-Envoy has just published the latest (v.5) drafts-for-consultation of Parts 1 and 2 of the e-Government Interoperability Framework (eGIF), with consultation closing on 28/3/2003. Pages 34 and 35 of Part 2 of the eGIF define the status of around 20 e-learning specifications, none of which are "Adopted", and most of which are "Recommended for consideration" or "Under review by an ad-hoc group".

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) membership list. On 7/3/2003 there are 428 members of the W3C. A wide mixture of organisations are represented, ranging from the to-be-expected big software, hardware, and telecommunications businesses, but including, for example, the Central Information Management Unit if the Government of Malta. The UK-based membership is disappointingly small: some big and small technology companies, and a diverse, if short, list of other organisations, including:

e-Learning Standards. Interesting presentation about standards by Stephen Downes from the Canadian National Research Council, to the IMS Open Technical Forum, Vancouver, Canada on 20/2/2003. The presentation is critical of the drive for learning materials and systems to conform to a demanding set of specifications, and contrasts the slow and painful progress of e-learning specifications with the widespread and rapid adoption/application by practitioners of two standards from the information distribution and academic publishing worlds:

  • Rapid Site Summary - RSS (there are some links to RSS tutorials and related in the Resources section below);
  • Open Archive Initiative - OAI.

The presentation concludes that e-learning world would do well to apply the lighter touch approach embodied in RSS and OAI. To quote:

  • enable, don't require;
  • make things possible, not necessary;
  • create choices;
  • make room for innovation.

There is a clear report by William Krann from the Vancouver meeting on the excellent CETIS web site, as well as a comprehensive commentary on a related, long, paper by Stephen Downes The one standard, LOM and the semantic web, also by William Kraan.

Two public events in April. These will both be worth attending, each having input from persuasive, creative and knowledgeable presenters.

Resources [back to top]

W3Schools. The Norwegian company Resnes Data has redesigned its already excellent W3Schools site. The site contains short, free, well-configured, on-line tutorials on a very wide range of technical aspects of web development. Users of the site can now have their know-how certificated in two areas (HTML/XHTML/CSS and ASP/SQL/Active X Data Objects ), at a price - $59 - which compare very favourably with vendor- or industry- accredited offerings. (Caution: I've not taken any of the tests [I'd not pass!], but I've taught myself plenty from the site.)

Glossaries. I came across these:

Games-based digital learning.Via George Siemens comes Marc Prensky's list of links concerning games-based digital learning. By coincidence, at my instigation, Marc will be speaking in Sheffield on 7 April, at a session for the local elearning community. Details from Mark Sanderson.

Using wireless hand-held devices in Higher Education. This Syllabus Radio interview with Betty Black about the use of wireless hand-held devices at North Carolina State University is worth its 10 minutes.

Evaluating and Implementing Learning Environments: A United Kingdom Experience. This is a thorough 2000/2001 article by Bruce Ingraham, Barbara Watson, Liz McDowell, Adrian Brockett, and Simon Fitzpatrick which covers a wide range of issues concerning the introduction and use of Managed Learning Environments.

Does the internet foster shallow learning? Two contrasting responses to the question from David Rothenberg, professor of philosophy at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Steve Jones, professor of communication at the University of Illinois.

RSS. More from George Siemens:

Australian Flexible Learning Community. This state-funded professional development site for vocational educational and training practitioners is worth visiting. The current "debate area" is about industrial relations and flexible delivery.

ALT bullet-point paper to the DfES/LSC Joint Implementation Group (JIG). Through ALT I had a hand in writing this bullet point paper for the JIG, which highlights how ALT works, gives ALT's perspective on "learning technology" as a discipline, and summarises some key policy issues concerning the current investment by the UK government in the the National Learning Network.

Oddments[back to top]

The world's most useful mousemat. The London Review of Books has a new web site, with plenty of unabridged current content. You can also order a mousemat which functions as a cross-platform keyboard reference for writers, editors, and designers. I refer to mine daily for § © ñ etc.

At last..... some proper competition for the predator and prey robots at the Magna Centre.

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Last updated - 9/3/2003; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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