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March 2004

World's Largest E-Learning Programme set to benefit English Schools

Distributed learning specialist, Interactive University has unveiled plans to take the Heriot-Watt SCHOLAR programme south of the border. SCHOLAR, the world's largest single online learning programme, which is currently used in all 432 Scottish secondary schools, will be piloted in English schools and colleges in the post 16 sector.

The SCHOLAR programme has been subject to a three-year evaluation in Scotland, where it has been hugely successful. It is used by all 60,000 school pupils studying for Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications, delivering a total of 4.5 million learning hours per annum. The programme has now been adapted for five A-Level subjects, covering maths, sciences and computer studies.

The current pilot in Cumbria, supported by the Learning and Skills Council, has been very well received and SCHOLAR is being used by around 2000 pupils and 200 teachers within the county. There is a high level of interest from other regions of England which are hoping to join the pilot later in the year. A key difference between the SCHOLAR approach and the myriad sources of e-learning already available, is that SCHOLAR includes an extensive range of learning services such as staff development, tutor support and the creation of learning communities. Developed by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, SCHOLAR is planned to support all three A-Level syllabuses; OCR, Edexcel and AQA. e-consultancy

Link via Stephen Downes


Automatic blogging from Outlook

Anil Dash is right that Outlook is a platform. Now ... well, here's exciting news:

Kunal, who has been experimenting with ink blogging over at inkabletype, is now working on a nifty new application - Outlook MT. It pretty much does what Robert Scoble asked for recently - it monitors a designated folder in Outlook and posts whatever you drag in there. Definitely something I desperately want! Tabula PC

Link via Scobleizer


Clever Cactus

via thesocialsoftwareweblog:

clevercactus share is a private and secure environment to share files with people you know. It is simple, easy to use and, best of all, it's free!

With clevercactus share you can:

• Share files (photos, video, etc) with family and friends.
• Make files available for family, friends and coworkers to view or search.
• Browse and access files between your different computers.


Another search engine

The Register is puffing Turbo10. Turbo10 says of itself:

Turbo10 searches the Deep Net - a vast array of specialist databases that range from business associations, universities, libraries, and government departments. These specialist search engines are inaccessible to traditional crawler-based engines such as Altavista.com and google.com who can only index static pages. Turbo10 is the first commercial metasearch engine to connect to hundreds of these specialised engines en masse, broadening the depth and range of search results for the online searcher.

Sharing video: a form of social software

The CoDECK is a platform for sharing and discussing video-based content. Using it, people can upload, view, and discuss video anonymously.

We didn't think there were any existing forums that allowed a community to share and discuss video-based content in a simple, community-centric way. Sure, there are tons of web sites where you can download and comment upon video, but where can you sit on a couch with friends and colleagues and watch an always-on virtual television channel that displays content created by, and discussions among, the community itself?

We consider the CoDECK platform to be an example of social software.

Link via Anil Dash's daily links


Jon Udell

Two recent postings from Jon Udell in InfoWorld, the first attracting warm praise from Judith Meskill ...

The Social Enterprise:

We are social animals for whom networked software is creating a new kind of habitat. Social software can be defined as whatever supports our actual human interaction as we colonize the virtual realm. The category includes familiar things such as groupware and knowledge management, and extends to the new breed of relationship power tools that have brought the venture capitalists out of hibernation. Computer-mediated communication is the lifeblood of social software. When we use e-mail, instant messaging, Weblogs, and wikis, we’re potentially free to interact with anyone, anywhere, anytime. But there’s a trade off. Our social protocols map poorly to TCP/IP. Whether the goal is to help individuals create and share knowledge or to enrich the relationship networks that support sales, collaboration, and recruiting, the various kinds of enterprise social software aim to restore some of the context that’s lost when we move our interaction into the virtual realm. In networked environments, everything we do can be monitored. Absent the natural cues that establish social context — it’s hard to see groups form at the water cooler or hear voices in the hallway through e-mail or IM — social software systems ask us to strike a bargain. If individuals agree to work transparently, they (and their employers) can know more, do more, and sell more. ...

Building group memory and team awareness has always been the goal of KM (knowledge management), of course. “But most people,” Nuzum says, “have never had the benefit of mechanized institutional memory.” One reason for this limitation is that KM systems have tended to ask people to dump knowledge into databases without regard for social incentives, habits, or consequences. These are central concerns for social software in all its various forms. Think about how people behave in a face-to-face meeting. Now consider this report from Ethan Schoonover, Asian e-business director at Lowe + Draft, about his use of Groove workspaces to manage meetings online. “It’s not enough to know that 100 other anonymous intranet users are logged in,” he says. “I want to know who is present in the space, who is online but lingering outside the space, able to be called in by ‘hollering into the hallway,’ who is sending nonverbal cues by rummaging through papers.” ...

Can transparency and privacy coexist? Tacit’s Gilmour argues by analogy that they can. We have a reasonable expectation that our phones aren’t bugged, he says. If our voice mailboxes fill up and we become unresponsive, though, that becomes an issue that will be noticed and dealt with. The enterprise has a legitimate interest in finding bottlenecks. “Privacy privileges are constructive when applied to who-knows-what and who-knows-whom,” he says. “But we don’t think you’re entitled to privacy about whether you’re available for interaction.” Are we entering a brave new world or is cyberspace catching up to the way things work in meatspace? The answer to both questions is yes.

Judith Meskill adds links to three other interesting articles/postings about privacy, transparency and trust:

Privacy in the age of transparency | CNET News.com
Transparency & Trust Bloom Great Ideas | Fast Company Now
Trust, Technology and Privacy | University of Aberdeen

To these can now be added this by Ross Mayfield: Noise Society or Network Society? (Many2Many)

Jon Udell's other recent posting which caught my eye is this one, which begins:

Something wonderful died with Napster: the collaborative discovery and sharing of a wide diversity of music. Lucas Gonze is on a crusade to bring that experience back, legally. On his site, webjay.org, users share playlists — i.e., lists of URLs that point to MP3s that are posted on artists' websites, or that are otherwise authorized for distribution on the Web.

Neither blog nor wiki ...

Interesting posting by Glyn Moody at Netcraft on blogs and wikis, praising wikis and expressing surprise at the current level of excitement about blogging. It culminates in this:

The seriousness and high quality of the Wikipedia entries emphasise the main strength of Wikis: a depth born of multiple authors working together to hone material. This contrasts with the blog, which shines in its ability to offer one person's quirky and brilliant insights across what may be a vast and often contrasting spectrum of subjects. (For those who want the best of blogs and Wikis, there is also the Bloki hybrid.)

Both undoubtedly have their place in the online ecosystem, but the underlying dynamics that drive a Wiki seem likely to ensure that it will prove more enduring - just as open source's ratchet of relentless improvement means that it is slowly but surely gnawing away at any remaining performance and feature advantages of proprietary code.

From the Bloki website:

What is Bloki?

Bloki is a Web site on which you can create Web pages, publish a blog, and host online discussions, right in your browser, with no additional software required. Think of it as a word processor for the Web. All of the pages on bloki.com, including this one, were built with Bloki.

You can share your Bloki pages, blog, and forums with anyone you like—co-workers, friends, family, the whole world—or keep them private for your own personal or business use. Authorize other users to edit your pages, and Bloki becomes a tool for communication and collaboration.


Google Alert

Many thanks to Sam Michaels who commented on my post about Google Web Alerts — drawing my attention to Google Alert. Not affiliated with Google, its 'About' page runs,

Track anything on the web Google Alert is the web's leading automated search and web intelligence solution. Using its unique Web Intelligence technology, Google Alert lets you stay ahead of new information by running daily personalized Google searches for you and emailing you any new results that appear.

Don't miss a thing
Many people use Google Alert to keep track of what the web is saying about them, their interests or projects they are involved in. You can use Google Alert to track mentions of your name, your website, your place of work, or your favorite hobby or celebrity -- the uses are limited only by your imagination. Read these testimonials to learn how people are using Google Alert to meet their needs.

Expand your reach
Google Alert tracks new content across the entire web by monitoring billions of web pages indexed by Google on a regular basis. This gives it far greater reach and breadth than news alert services that are limited to tracking only news sites. The Frequently Asked Questions provide more detailed information about Google Alert.

Know more
Hailed widely by the press, including BBC's Website of the Day and USA Today's Hot Site, the free Google Alert service enables people in over 120 countries to stay up to date with their interests. Users include journalists, marketers, IT professionals, lawyers, doctors, salespeople, educators, researchers, and government employees.