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Mailing Number 58 - 8 October 2005

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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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Oxfam logo   Oxfam's Asian Earthquake Emergency Appeal

Country-specific Creative Commons licences. Creative Commons licenses provide a way of defining who can re-use published content, and how freely. The original Creative Commons licences were not really fit for purpose outside the US, though a lot of people used them nevertheless, including me. A wide-range of country-specific Creative Commons licences is now available, including UK:England, and UK Scotland, with a handy selection tool to help users decide which one is suitable.

Open Access publishing - developments. Last month, Universities UK ("the essential voice of UK universities") issued a position statement [32 kB PDF] adding UUK's weight to calls from the UK Research Councils that publicly funded research should be made freely available on the internet. (There is an April 2005 JISC briefing paper about Open Access for readers not familiar with it.) JISC also published two new reports:

There are overviews of both reports on the JISC web site. During week beginning 10/10/2005, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (take a look at its hot topics page) will publish, for purchase and free PDF download The facts about Open Access, a study of the financial and non-financial effects of alternative business models for scholarly journals.

Economic and Social Research Council funded research: few teachers make full use of computers in the classroom. Here are a couple of extracts from ESRC's 13/9/2005 press release concerning the results of InterActive Education: Teaching and Learning in the Information Age a major 3 year study it funded:

Despite the government's £1bn commitment to increase the use of information technology in schools, few teachers make full use of computers in the classroom, according to ESRC funded research. The findings of the four-year project at the University of Bristol confirm recent reports by Ofsted and OECD, which found the use of ICT in schools was 'sporadic' and 'disappointing' in the UK and internationally. The ESRC study reveals that many teachers fear that computers would interfere with 'genuine' or book-based learning, particularly in the humanities and creative subjects, and use ICT only for administration and routine tasks.

The researchers found that teachers often underestimate the impact of students' out-of-school experience of technology on the way they learn in the classroom. Video data revealed the positive impact of contemporary and popular music on composition in schools, the use of search engines on language investigation in English and experience of spreadsheets influencing primary pupils learning of data handling. However the findings also reveal that young people's experience of playing games (76% at least weekly in 2003) had a negative effect when they approached science simulations like a computer game and did not take them seriously.

Regrettably, the InterActive Education: Teaching and Learning in the Information Age project web site, with its infuriatingly undated pages, seems not to have been updated for the last two years, and contains no trace of the findings summarised above. If any reader knows where they are, please send me the URI.

UKeU reports published. After the demise of the UK eUniversity, the Higher Education Funding Council commendably promised to make available UKeU materials relevent to the HE community. On 30/9/2005, twelve reports, plus associated annexes Publications from the Archive of UK eUniversities Worldwide Limited, Edited by Paul Bacsich were published on the Higher Education Academy web site.

Urban Tapestries... ...."is an experimental software platform for knowledge mapping and sharing - public authoring. It combines mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems to allow people to build relationships between places and to associate stories, information, pictures, sounds and videos with them." A pilot project was run in 2004. A new public web client seems to be imminent.

Resources [back to top]

Accessible e-learning: excellent TechDis staff development materials. The JISC-funded TechDis service has published a comprehensive set of training resources, available on-line, and on CD, covering:

  • e-learning accessibility;
  • assistive technology;
  • web accessbility;
  • dyslexia and the use of assistive technology;
  • e-assessment;
  • the accessibility features built into Microsoft Windows and Word.

Find out more.

Top ten web design mistakes of 2005. Jakob Nielsen's 2005 list of design mistakes will be seen by some web developers as doctrinaire. I think it provides a well argued and rational framework, and it has prompted me to make some minor changes to this site, so that users can differentiate between visited and unvisited internal links (dark grey/pale grey) as well as external links (blue/purple). TechDis (previous item relates) should think about applying the advice that hyperlinks should be underlined, as well as that concerning visited and unvisited links.

OECD inter country comparisons. Thanks to Barry Phillips for this link to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development site from which you can access annually updated statistical profiles of all 30 OECD countries, covering about 100 variables.

Informal learning in the workplace. Interesting detailed paper [scroll down to the bottom of the abstract to access the paper itself], with three explanatory diagrams and several good categorising tables, by Michael Eraut at the University of Sussex, about theoretical frameworks for understanding and investigating informal learning in the workplace.

JotSpot Live. Imagine everyone simultaneously typing and editing the same Microsoft Word document.... Possibly not as much of a recipe for disaster as it sounds, given how productive it can be to record the decisions of a meeting using a computer and data-projector, and a screen which all participants can see. JotSpot Live, "allows you, your colleagues or clients to take notes together on the same web page at the same time". Free to try, but once you create more than 5 pages per month, charges kick in. Via Stephen Downes.

Type design and type designers. Adrian Frutiger, who designed the Univers font family wrote that "type design, in its restraint, should be only felt but not perceived by the reader". You can look at (and buy for download....) a huge range of fonts organised by designer from the Linotype Library web site. The name of the business persists, but the transformation from manufacturer of the precision engineering on which much of the world's printing and publishing industry depended to wholly digital business has been total.

Image collection web site. Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has a new digital image database with nearly 1000 images from MMU's wide range of special collections. The 6 below are of large sheets of patterned paper in a collection which my parents built up and which is now housed at MMU. They are all © Manchester Metropolitan University.

Paste paper by Victoria Hall; criss-cross combed bands on criss-crossed brown ground Marbled paper by Tirzah Ravilious; black peacock's eye floral design, interspersed with powder blue spots, on pink-washed natural paper
Paper by Guiseppe Rizzi; green geometric pattern on natural ground Paste paper by Claire Maziarczyk; metallic gold, grey and blue bands, overstriped with red / pink undulating lines
Marbled paper; Old Dutch swirled marble in red and grey on white ground Airbrushed decorated paper; brick-coloured and blue criss-crossed brush strokes on cream ground

Oddments[back to top]

How spaghetti breaks. I've always been puzzled why dry spaghetti breaks in several places when you shorten it before cooking it. Two French scientists, Basile Audoly and Sébastien Neukirch have worked out why. Full details including various informative video recordings and animations. If you have Quicktime installed on your PC or Mac, then the overview video should appear below.

Bomb-A-Tron. Cynical and tasteless; but to the point. Reporters can generate news from Iraq without leaving their hotels, using Dick Ragus's Bomb-A-Tron .

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Last updated - 5/11/2005; © Seb Schmoller, but licensed under a UK: England and Wales Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike Creative Commons Licence.

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