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Mailing Number 17 - 16 May 2003

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Web Content Accessibility. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has just published its latest Working Draft of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0. According to W3C, the draft for version 2.0 builds on, and in no way supersedes Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 1.0, which was adopted in May 1999, and has the same aim: to explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities and to define target levels of accessibility. The Working Draft of version 2.0 attempts to cover "a wider range of technologies and to use wording that may be understood by a more varied audience".

Fast growth in online learning in Illinois. About 40,000 students at Illinois public universities now take classes online, a 600 percent increase from just a few years ago, according to this 11/5/2003 article in Chicago Sun Times. Currently, US providers of online distance education are experiencing sharp increases in demand. It appears that this demand is concentrated not in the "money-making" spin-off ventures which many HE institutions set up, but in mainstream colleges and universities which have now got to grips with online delivery, and where a shortage of suitably experienced teaching staff is now beginning to be felt.

No one standard will suit all. Excellent 13/5/2003 report by William Kraan from the eLearning Results conference in Sestri Levante, Italy. "The overriding message of day one was remarkably clear: there is no one standard to rule them all, nor will there ever be. However seductive the vision of universal interoperability may be, each and every community has its own needs and wants that need to be addressed."

TUC Response to the National Skills Strategy and Delivery Plan consultation. Comprehensive 15/5/2003 press release from the TUC outlining its reservations about the UK Government's National Skills Strategy. (I've included this item not because it relates directly to online learning or the internet, but because I believe that some readers of this Mailing will find the overview within the press release to be of use to them.)

Resources [back to top]

Bodmas. Keith Burnett's elegant new bodmas web site, with "maths worksheets, ideas for lessons, activities and files to download, all based around FE Maths teaching", complete with RSS syndication feature, and implemented in previously featured Moveable Type.

New approach to evaluating (online) courses. From Murray Turoff, a paper: Using a social decision support system toolkit to evaluate achieved course objectives - [download paper as 0.5MB .doc file]. The final version of this paper, by Yuanqiong Wang, Zheng Li, Murray Turoff, and Starr Roxanne Hiltz, will appear in the proceedings of the American Conference on Information Systems in Autumn 2003. A freeware version of the software described in the paper is planned for latter this year, for those that might be interested in trying it for their courses.

Online communities of practice. Via George Siemens, the Hong Kong City University's Web Tools Newsletter provides a well-structured introduction to Online Communities for Professional Development.

Out of office replies. These two articles highlight reasons why you might not want to set you email system to send an out of office reply. No One at Home asserts that thieves are beginning to send spam in order to capture information about individuals whose houses may be vacant, whereas this October 2002 article with comments from a "security clinic" website, explains how out of office replies play into the hands of spammers by confirming the validity of your email address, as well as inviting people outside your organisation to hack into your account, knowing that your account is not in use.

Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN). Over 300,000 downloads per year are made from the Sloan Consortium's JALN web site, according to John Bourne, its editor. An excellent example of a peer-reviewed free journal, unconstrained by a commercial publisher requiring people to pay for online access. The previously featured Sloan-C View is also worth keeping an eye on, with the current issue containing an useful feature entitled Current Perspectives on Learning Management Systems.

Access to online journals in UK Further and Higher Education. Athens is the access management service operated by Eduserv for UK Further and Higher Education. A very wide range of online resources is now available via Athens to institutions with individual journal subscriptions, often available at highly beneficial rates through the bulk negotiating done by JISC Content Services Committee.

Oddments[back to top]

Graph paper printer. The item about graph paper in the Oddments section Mailing Number 16 prompted Dave Pickersgill to send me the URI for Graph Paper Printer, Philip Mar's shareware software application designed to print numerous kinds of graph papers, music manuscripts and pattern papers, with user-defined sizes and colors.

Svalbard - not doing it by halves. Norway will lay an underwater fiber-optic cable from the mainland to Svalbard (sometimes known as Spitzbergen), reportedly turning remote Longyearbyen (the main settlement in Svalbard) into the world's best connected village, providing residents with access to a full VDSL (very high bit-rate DSL) network.

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Last updated - 19/5/2003; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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