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Mailing Number 32 - 29 March 2004

181 subscribers on publication date. 11712 page-views since publication.

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Why the gap in publication?

Earlier this month I took nearly two week's leave to go ski-touring (mountaineering, really) in Norway. This broke my rhythm, but normal service will now be resumed. In case you are interested, I have put up a couple of pictures, from which you will see the great variability in snow conditions - feast and famine within only a couple of kilometres.


BBC Creative Archive. Earlier this month, Ashley Highfield, the BBC's Director of New Media and Technology spoke at a Financial Times conference about the BBC's Creative Archive. The BBC announced this at the 2003 Edinburgh TV Festival, but Ashley Highfield gave fuller details in his speech:

The Creative Archive will give everyone in the UK the freedom to search for and access clips from the BBC's television and radio archives via They will be able to download clips free of charge and use them in a way that will enable them, we hope, to explore their own interests more fully. The clips won't expire, users will be able to keep them forever and will be able to manipulate and add to them. They will be able to pass clips on to one another and, at a later date, we will encourage some of the resulting user-generated material to be posted back on the BBC's website.

Text of full speech.

Did the US use software to blow up the trans-Siberian gas pipeline? Review in The Register of Thomas Reed's At The Abyss which claims that the United States exported control software that included a built in flaw, and used the software to detonate the Trans-Siberian gas pipeline in 1982, with the force of a 3 kilotonne nuclear explosion, and with devastating destabilising consequences for the (then) Soviet Union. The review goes on to argue that it is harder to ensure that "closed source" software is free from planted flaws of this kind than is the case with open source software.

Opera Software - browsers for mobile phones, and with voice control. Reports that Opera Software has stolen a lead over Microsoft in the development of browsers for mobile phones, having done licensing deals with Motorola, Nokia, and Sony-Ericson, and that the next version of the Opera browser - available for practically every operating system - will incorporate voice recognition software from IBM, enabling users to use voice commands to "drive" their browser.

Towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy. The DfES is expected to publish the results of its consultation on the DfES website on or around 8/4/2004. In the meantime here are links to some more responses from organisations, to complement those I listed on 9/2/2004 and 23/2/2004.

Resources [back to top]

Jointzone. Jointzone is a learning resource, funded by the Arthritis Research Council UK, and developed by the University of Southampton, aimed at health care practitioners and students with a particular interest in rheumatology. 5 sections each look at a different area of rheumatic disorders, and a further section presents a number of case studies at various levels of complexity, with feedback at each stage of the case presentation. An unusual feature of the site is its "adaptive guidance" feature which tailors the learning materials to the needs of individual users. This feature only works if you are using Internet Explorer as your browser.

The Evolution of Learning and Web Technologies. Comprehensive web site covering a research symposium organised at the University of Bristol on 22 and 23 March 2004, which I attended. Contains abstracts of all sessions and (often grotesquely large) PDF files of speakers' presentations. Particularly interesting were:

Resource Discovery Network. Succinct, link-rich article by Mark Williams, who is Further Education Manager of the JISC-funded Resource Discovery Network (RDN), summarising the main services that the RDN provides for the benefit of Further Education.

SOLE. SOLE is a project to undertake an independent evaluation of students' usage of virtual learning environments (VLEs) in higher and further education and draw out the effectiveness of VLEs in supporting different subject areas, different national agendas (such as that of widening participation) and student learning in general. SOLE has recently begun to publish its findings.

Oddments[back to top]

Meet-o-matic. From the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute, a meeting scheduling tool, which, from the description, looks promising, despite the absence of a privacy policy, and the fact that whilst claiming to be an open source tool it is does not conform to open source criteria. (Thanks to Teemu Leinonen of FLE3 fame for pointing this out.). Try Meet-o-matic.

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Last updated - 30/3/2004; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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