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Mailing Number 55 - 3 July 2005

285 subscribers on publication date. 10406 page-views since publication.

This opt-in roughly Fortnightly Mailing summarises resources and news I come across in the course of my work which I think will be of value to others with an interest in online learning and the internet. An always useful guide - Stephen Downes, Canada.   There is something for everyone in these mailings - Jane Knight's e-Learning Centre, UK.   Recommended reading - Caroline Kotlas - CIT Infobits, USA.   A useful source of market and academic information. Highly recommended. - Epic plc Email Newsletter, UK.

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UK increase in internet useage leveling out? The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has published the results of its 2005 survey on the role of the Internet in Britain, enabling comparisons to be made with 2003. For example, the percentage of British citizens using the internet has only increased by 1% to 60% in the last since 2003, and the proportion of non-users who are "drop-outs" has increased from 17% to 25%. Broadband uptake continues to increase steeply, with 59% of households having a broadband connection (up from 19% in 2003), and with 36% of individuals having access to a broadband connection (up from 11% in 2003). OII has published a full report on the results [660 kB PDF], as well as an interesting presentation from Whose Responsibility is Digital Inclusion? [343 kB PDF], a conference it ran with the IPPR earlier this year. These are well worth a look, and contain interesting international comparisons of internet uptake, as well as snapshots from the 2005 survey itself. For example 81% of the UK's top income quartile are internet users (3rd highest from a selection of 12 mainly industrialised countries), compared with 24% of the UK's bottom income quartile (6th highest from the 12). In comparison, 93% of Sweden's top income quartile, and 48% of the bottom quartile, are internet users.

27.3% cut in LSC funding to JISC. JISC has finally announced the extent and focus of the Learning and Skills Council's cuts to JISC. Coverage of the issue in Fortnightly Mailing Number 52.

RM plc wins big e-elearning contract in Scotland. RM plc has been appointed preferred bidder by the Scottish Executive for the 37.5m Scottish Schools Digital Network National Intranet, intended to improve learning and teaching in Scotland. Report in 3 July Times Online.

The e-University project: lessons learnt by HEFCE. Last month HEFCE published a short paper [50 kB PDF] summarising 5 lessons learnt from its handling of the e-University project. The lessons are anodyne. But they are worth reading if you've got an involvement in, or are funding, a big public sector e-learning project. Earlier documents about UkEU are on the HEFCE web site.

More on LAMS. I reported in Fortnightly Mailing Number 54 on Stuart Lee's and Liz Masterman's evaluation of Learning Activity Management System. David Jennings, with whom I have collaborated on several projects, has made these interesting observations on LAMS, and I received this comment from Helen Beetham, who is a consultant to the JISC e-Learning and Pedagogy Programme, which I am reproducing with her permission:

Great to see our LAMS report getting a mention on your web site. I think it's a balanced summary of a balanced report. It's true that Stuart and Liz particularly highlighted the difficulties of getting high quality data out of practitioners who have many other demands on their time - a 'tick box' approach would have yielded a much lower percentage response rate but would have given a larger sample overall.

However, I think your paragraph about the figures slightly overstates the problem. Of 33 originally involved, only 21 returned a detailed questionnaire to the project team. Others were in contact through the email discussion list set up to support them, for example. By cascading awareness of LAMS to others in their institution, the original 33 recruited a further 8 participants - an intentional aspect of the approach, because some of those at the original workshop were not actually directly involved in teaching themselves. Only 13 had reported delivering a LAMS sequence to learners by the end of the study, but most of the others were preparing to do so - sometimes the process of integrating a new technology into an institution can take time, as you know. We are continuing to support the LAMS server in the UK as there has been huge demand from participants that the opportunity should be extended - the crucial factor was the short funding of the evaluation project rather than any lack of interest on the part of participants.

By the way, several respondents to the feeedback questionnaire I issued earlier this year, suggested that I encourage "right of reply". If you want to excercise this, get in touch.

Resources [back to top]

Legal guide for bloggers. Thanks to Stephen Downes for this link to the Electronic Fontier Foundation's Legal guide for bloggers, based on US law. For a UK perspective see this informative piece by Gary Marshall, and David Price's Guide to Media Law.

Managing Virtual Adjunct Faculty. Caroline Kotlas highlighted this brief paper by Maria Puzziferro-Schnitzer about how to support and manage on-line tutors. Caroline's always excellent CIT Infobits is now into its 12th continuous year of publication.

A List Apart. I enjoyed looking around the long running A List Apart Magazine, which "explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on techniques and benefits of designing with web standards".

E-learning: Policy and strategy. The LSC has recently updated its Guide to E-learning Policy and Strategy, one of 4 related guides it has published in the last 12 months, all of which can be downloaded individually as PDF files.

Obfuscator. John Haller is the person (one of the people?) behind Portable Thunderbird, a version of the award winning Thunderbird Open Source email client which you can install on a memory stick, giving you access to your normal email from any PC, once you've inserted the stick. I was impressed with John's Obfuscator, which generates a javascript fragment you could paste into a web page in place of a normal "mailto". The code produces a normal looking mailto when the page is opened in a browser, but it would be difficult for a computer programme to harvest the email address for use in spam. Here is a window from which you can generate the "obfuscated" code for a mailto for any email address.

Email Address:

Oddments[back to top]

Some PR translated. In April Adobe bought Macromedia. Here is John Gruber's translation in to English of Adobe's 'FAQ' concerning its acquisition.

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Last updated - 3/7/2005; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

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