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Mailing Number 45 - 21 November 2004

225 subscribers on publication date. 10516 page-views since publication.

This opt-in usually 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.

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Open access publication. MPs condemn UK Government response to the Science and Technology Committee's Scientific Publications Report (which rejects the Committee's recommendation that all UK universities should be funded to set up open access institutional repositories on which to publish their scientific research output) and complain that the JISC's evidence to the Committee (which was strongly supportive of institutional repositories) was toned down under pressure from the Department for Trade and Industry. Extracts:

"Having received the Government Response, we asked the Joint Information Systems Committee for a copy of the response that it had independently prepared to our Report. We were sent a copy of this document, but were asked not to treat it as formal evidence to be published because it had already been used to inform the official Government Response co-ordinated by DTI. We understand that JISC has been under pressure to amend this original response. We suspect that this is because it differs substantially in both tone and content from that of the Government, as is apparent from JISC's original evidence to the Committee. The version of JISC's response published here has been amended by JISC to reflect its negotiations with DTI. It is regrettable that an expert body should feel constrained in carrying out its advisory role, assigned to it by Government. We regard the approach taken by DTI to independent advice that conflicts with its own view as unduly sensitive. We will be raising this issue with the Liaison Committee in the context of the Cabinet Office's revised "Guidance, Evidence and Response to Select Committees" on the provision of evidence by Government to Select Committees."

"By abdicating responsibility for implementing institutional repositories at a national level, the Government severely limits the benefits that such repositories can yield for access to scientific publications. Furthermore, the Government Response does not reflect the call for a coherent national strategy made by the Committee and by JISC in its response."

71 page 1/11/2004 Report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee [800 kB PDF].

8/11/2004 Science and Technology Committee Press Release.

Software patents. The DTI has convened a meeting for people who have raised objections to the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive with their MP, at which it looks as if the UK Patent Office will be seeking to convince us that the Directive is innocuous. The Register kindly followed up on this when I sent them details. Meanwhile, Poland has withdrawn its support for the Directive, which is reported to mean that the bill is 16 votes short of a qualified majority, and cannot be passed.

Brochure issued this month by the UK Patent Office in support of the Directive [25 kB PDF].

4 page counter [1 MB PDF] from the UK Federation for a Free Information Infrastructure.

University for Industry consulting on its 2005-2010 Strategic Plan. Ufi, which recently appointed Sarah Jones, Director of RG Ammunition, part of BAE Systems, as its Chief Executive, is seeking comments from partners, stakeholders and policy-makers on its plans for the development of learndirect services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in the 'UK online' centre network in England, for the five-year period 2005-2010. The closing date for responses is 31/12/2004. Download the plan [600 kB PDF].

Ufi has also just published a detailed report by Howard Hills and Suzy Kappler Embedding e-learning in large organisations, based on a large scale survey of UK businesses, which identifies 4 dimensions that are related to successful implementation of e-learning. In the course of the work a "discriminator tool" was produced, available in simplified form from Ufi, which, it is claimed, companies can use to increase the probability of successfully embedding e-learning.

The real story behind the failure of the UK eUniversity. I carried an extract from a perceptive article by Richard Garrett of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education in Fortnightly Mailing Number 34. At that time the full article was only available to members of the Observatory. It is now freely available from Educause.

Resources [back to top]


Linking Thinking - Self-directed Learning in the Digital Age. A massive Australian Government study By Phil Candy, who now works in the UK as Director of the NHSU Institute, examining the effect of Information and Communication Technologies in the fields of education and training, particularly on the self-directed learning of adults. The HTML executive summary is comprehensive, but beware, the full report [800 kB PDF], at over 350 pages, is a "big print".

Can e-learning break the digital divide? Not according to Jozef Hvorecký a Slovakian teacher on online courses provided under the KIT program of the University of Liverpool.


Image archive. Manchester Metropolitan University has a nicely organised and growing searchable image archive.

Digitised public records. DocumentsOnline allows you to search online The National Archives' collection of digitised public records, including both academic and family history sources. It costs £3.50 to download a digital image of a document. The What's New page is a good place to start.


Database of prime numbers. A gigantic, active site about prime numbers, especially large ones, edited by Chris Caldwell and hosted by the University of Tennessee.

Climate change. Interesting article about the science of abrupt climate change, with a clear diagram of the "great ocean conveyor belt", from the Weather Underground web site's educational resources.


Karen McCall sent me details of the Karlen Communications web site, which contains:


Three useful tools came my way recently.

PubSub. David Jennings told me about PubSub, a free tool which enables you to keep an eye on a very large number of blogs for their use a particular term.

HTMLDoc. Dick Moore mentioned HTMLDoc, from the US company Easy Software Products, which will convert (properly formed) HTML to PDF. Useful if you want to create a frozen snaphshot of a particular web page, though HTMLDoc itself is designed as part of a heavyweight Open Source internet printing and publishing solution.

Fax your MP. I came across the excellently designed Fax your MP, which enables you easily and auditably to fax your MP from your browser.

Oddments[back to top]

Hiring a President. Peter Norvig, is Director of Search Quality at Google. His Hiring a President is a sharp pro-Kerry piece. Norvig's main site has featured in Fortnightly Mailing previously.

Cmabrigde Uinervtisy. You may have seen this "internet myth", which exists all over the Web in languages as diverse as Hebrew, Spanish, and Albanian.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Jumbler is a tool which randomly orders the letters in the middle of each word, as in this example. For a complete review of the myth, see this site by Matt Davis from the MRC Cognitive and Brain Science Unit in Cambridge.

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Last updated - 22/8/2005; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

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