SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Viewpoint

The Open Education Movement is Gaining Speed, but Potential Roadblocks Lie Ahead

By Richard G. Baraniuk

A grassroots movement is on the verge of sweeping through the academic world. The open-education movement is based on a set of intuitions that are shared by a remarkably wide range of academics: that knowledge should be free and open to use and re-use; that collaboration should be easier, not harder; that people should receive credit and kudos for contributing to education and research; and that concepts and ideas are linked in unusual and surprising ways and not the simple linear forms that textbooks present. Open education promises to fundamentally change the way authors, instructors, and students interact worldwide.

The open-education movement takes the inspiration of the open-source software movement (Linux, for example). It mixes in the powerful communication abilities of the Internet and applies the result to teaching and learning materials like course notes and textbooks. Open educational materials include text, images, audio, video, interactive simulations, and games that are free to be used and also re-used in new ways by anyone around the world...

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News & Product Updates

Michigan High School Students Learning Chinese Online

The United States-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence at Michigan State University is expanding its offering of an online Chinese language program to...

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Questionmark Podcasts Feature Interviews with Assessment Professionals

Questionmark is now offering podcasts featuring interviews with learning and education professionals on its Web site...

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Indiana, Ohio State Med Schools Launch PDA Programs

Indiana University’s School of Medicine and the Ohio State University Medical Center signed deals with computer systems integrator CDW-Government Inc. to create personal digital assistant (PDA) buying programs on campus...

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Case Study

The Personalized Micro-Web: How we used social software to transform our Web presence

By Jude Higdon, Ed.M.

Our staff at the Center for Scholarly Technology rang in the new year by redesigning our Web presence. Our redesigned site makes extensive use of various emerging technologies, including blogs, podcasts, and RSS. Below I outline some of the new features and the ways in which we're leveraging social software to get more bang for our content buck and make a "personalized Web" available to our faculty and staff.

The first part of our redesign involves the use of blogs. Each member of our group has an area of specialty and several interest areas in emerging technologies. In aggregate, these specialties cover a large area of the technology in education landscape. We wanted a way to both make resources from each of these specialty areas available to our faculty, but also to combine them into a single resource for those interested in getting the big picture.

To this end, each of us developed a blog that we maintain relative to our specialty area. We now syndicate the content of these blogs into the appropriate areas of the Web site, which keeps content in those areas fresh. Then, using an RSS feed aggregator (we use a free online tool called feedshake), we brought all of the feeds from the individual blogs into a single feed, which we titled The Learning Edge. This feed, which contains regularly updated content from all of our individual blogs, is syndicated onto the home page of our Web site and can also be exposed to faculty interested in using their own feed aggregator on their personal machines. This aggregated feed replaced our monthly newsletter, which had been an enormous drain on our time and energy for years...

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Tech Notes

Data Storage & Management: Backing Up to the Future

“I saved my presentation in my personal drive on the server last night, but now I can’t find it. It just seems to be gone. Can you get it back?” “It looks like the mail server is corrupted. When was the last backup?” These sorts of questions, whether from faculty, students, or IT staff, can be an IT nightmare, or they can set in motion a relatively simple recovery. It all depends on how organized and up-to-date your institution’s storage and backup systems are. Advances in data management and backup such as iSCSI Storage Area Networks (SANs), and the move from tape to disk (an affordable, reliable storage medium), make this a good time to examine your own backup and storage strategies.

The ability to recover files quickly and dependably when needed is critical for any backup system. That need for reliability pushed Washington and Lee University (VA) to move to an iSCSI SAN and Symantec’s Backup Exec... (Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

Are LMS Anti-Web?
Posted by: cameronloudon - Australia

Recently I have been following the blog of Dr Peter Sefton who described MIT's Anti-web Learning Management System, Caddie as anti-web. He returned to this theme in a later entry called 'Links considered too difficult for online education software' (http://ptsefton.com/blog/2004/08/06/implementingims).

What interests me most is that this observation could be applied to all the major players in the LMS space. Why do we need an LMS to be a file system repository for PDF and Word documents? Is that the best that can be offered to students?

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