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Mailing Number 3 - 4 October 2002

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 some of what follows will for certain be irrelevant to you!

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Caught my eye

Accessibility

The Benefits of Accessible Web Design. Julia Duggleby highlighted this excellent page on the W3C website. It's main purpose to assist the preparation of a business case for the implementation of Web accessibility. It is organised under these headings:

Warning. At present - September 2003 - the above URIs are no longer accessible, and the information they contained appears to have been subsumed under Presenting the Case for Web Accessibility.

Dive into accessibility. Jonathan Grove told me about "Dive Into Accessibility - 30 days to a more accessible web site". This an online book by Mark Pilgrim published under the GNU Free Documentation License. Written partly with "bloggers" in mind, it is perfectly relevant to general web-site design, aiming to answer two questions:

  • "Why should I make my web site more accessible?"
  • "How can I make my web site more accessible?"

Dive into accessibility has plenty of practical justifications for particular design decisions, set in the context of users with specific disabilities.

http://diveintoaccessibility.org/

Interesting both for its content, for the way it is organised and designed, and for the system which powers it: http://www.movabletype.org/.

Ability Hub. I came across this site "for people with a disability who find operating a computer difficult, maybe even impossible". See the sitemap http://www.abilityhub.com/general/sitemap.htm for full details.

News

MIT OpenCourseWare Pilot. Kate Butler circulated details of MIT's 3 year programme to have nearly all MIT's course materials on freely available on the web for non-profit educational use: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html. At present there are a course materials for at least one course from each of MIT's five schools. Through the materials for the course "Laboratory in Software Engineering" I discovered Dia - http://www.lysator.liu.se/~alla/dia/ - which looks like a realistic open source alternative to Microsoft Visio.

TUC Education Annual Report 2002. The TUC has published its annual education report: http://www.tuc.org.uk/learning/tuc-5621-f0.cfm. The report includes comprehensive statistics about learner and course numbers, and a brief overview of the TUC's online education activities, including 2 mentions of LeTTOL.

Resources

Weblogs in Education - Edublogs? Stuart Sutherland sent the URL of a page which points to a rich range of resources concerned with the educational use of weblogs: http://webtools.cityu.edu.hk/news/newslett/edublogs.htm.

Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies. Mike Morris sent me details of a recently published US Secretary of Commerce report containing informed, if speculative predictions of how emerging technologies will be used in education and training in 2020: http://www.ta.doc.gov/Reports.htm. This is an 80 page 4MB PDF document in not-to-be-read-on-screen 2-column format. It has contributions from several people with distinguished track-records, including Vinton Cerf, who was the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocol, the communications protocol that gave birth to the Internet. (To save yourself the big download you can review the contents page for the report from this link: http://www.ta.doc.gov/reports/TechPolicy/Visions2020_Contents.pdf).


Developments [back to top]

IMS. I said in Mailing Number 2 that I would post a report from the IMS Global Consortium's Open Technical Forum, which was held at the Magna Centre in Rotherham on 26/9/2002. This was a rash promise. Thankfully all the presentations from the event are now posted as (rather large!) PDF files on the IMS Global Consortium's website. I found the most interesting presentations by far to be from:

  • Diana Laurillard, author of the extremely influential "Rethinking University Teaching" (good summary here) and now Head of the DfES e-Learning Strategy Unit, with a good focus on pedagogy;
  • Jeff Merriman, from MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative, with a clear explanation as to why despite the industry push on interoperability, getting the different components of a managed learning environment to interoperate in practice is not plain sailing.

http://www.imsglobal.org/otf/otfpresentations2002sheffield.cfm


Oddments [back to top]

Text vs audio vs video. From the Masie Centre comes a 12 minute audio or video briefing "Putting the Management into E-Learning". I listened to the audio and then watched a bit of the video, and doing both made me realise what a huge difference knowing what someone sounds and looks like makes to how one reacts to their views, and how comparatively useless "talking head" video is as compared with simple audio. Try it! http://www.techlearn.com/2002/default.cfm?page=video

Bullshit generator. If you are ever lost for a phrase when writing a letter, a tender or a report, there is an excellent bullshit generator on here: http://www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html. Whilst there, take a look at the links to Flash is Evil - http://www.dack.com/web/flash_evil.html - and Flash vs HTML usability test: http://www.dack.com/web/flashVhtml/. The site also contains some tough critique of US policy on "The war against terror", including what I think is a "must read" record of reader's comments on the critique. I personally found Predicting America's Next Attack Against Terrorism particularly thought-provoking.


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Last updated - 28/9/2003; © Seb Schmoller

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