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February 2004
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Beyond the Information Revolution - 99.10 (Part Three)

Peter Drucker, Oct 1999

Peter Drucker draws social lessons from the impact of the Printing Press (c. 1455) and the Railways (c. 1855).

What we call the Information Revolution is actually a Knowledge Revolution. What has made it possible to routinize processes is not machinery; the computer is only the trigger. Software is the reorganization of traditional work, based on centuries of experience, through the application of knowledge and especially of systematic, logical analysis. The key is not electronics; it is cognitive science. This means that the key to maintaining leadership in the economy and the technology that are about to emerge is likely to be the social position of knowledge professionals and social acceptance of their values.
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How to Use Learning Objects

Stephen Downes

PowerPoint Slides

Stephen Downes argues that the traditional approach to using Learning Objects - stringing them together into lessons and courses - is misguided because it is a misuse of new media. He suggests that new media should be regarded as a new language, with its own semantics and grammar, that informs how we should use the 'words' (learning objects) in that language.

Originally delivered at the Canadian Association for Distance Education 2003 Conference, St. John's, Newfoundland, June 9, 2003.

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Three Objections to Learning Objects - Norm Friesen

Norm Friesen

"Learning objects," "learning object metadata," and "learning object repositories" are terms that have been central to many discussions, projects and funding priorities of both public and private educational organizations.

These words have been associated with a range of benefits, some of which would rightfully seem strange in many educational contexts--such as the realization of systems "interoperability" and of resource "reusability," and the elimination of "non-tariff barriers to trade."

On the basis of the benefits that these terms might suggest, government and industry are spending substantial amounts of money, giving rise to a veritable "educational object" and "standardization" movement in educational technology.

This paper outlines a number of problems associated with this movement...

Objection 1: What's a learning object, anyway? Does anyone know?

Objection 2: Where is the Learning in E-Learning Standards? Or are "learning objects" a self-contradiction?

Objection 3: Education in a Militarized Zone? Why is the whole business driven by military thinking?


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Why classrooms don't scale...

Stephen Downes

One of the most powerful bits of writing I've seen in a long time...

The metaphor of a pendulum is often a useful one, and there is no doubt many oscillations that may be seen in society, from political temprament to economic fortunes to preferences in fashion and style.

But not everything oscillates; there is also progress, and some things are left permanently behind, and some systems and beliefs, when advanced, do not need a conservative countervail.

To be sure, there is often a nostalga associated with the former way of doing things. The advent of machine shops brought a new appreciation for hand-crafted carpentry. Electric lighting accentuated the intimacy of the candle. The printing press presaged a desire to preserve the art of calligraphy.

But nobody would have suggested that, in the main, furniture ought to be hand-crafted, lighting ought to depend on candle power, or that the daily newspaper ought to be hand written. The appreciation for the more traditional arts is continually overwhelmed by the desire to share the benefits of furniture, lighting and knowledge with a much wider audience.

Progress - useful, irreversible progress - occurs not only in technology but also in society. Over the last centuries we have experienced here in the West and more broadly worldwide a gradual increase in the social, political and economic liberties enjoyed by all. To be sure, there are those who long for the days when privilege was reserved for a few, but a people, once liberated, does not easily return to bondage.

In my mind, technological change gives us the capacity to bring a fuller and more rewarding education to the large majority of the population. And just as the printed word may not be as beautiful as the handwritten, the use of computers may be a little rough around the edges. But while no doubt some make prefer to read their hand-written copies of the Bible or Das Kapital, the vast majority are able to choose only between the printed version or nothing at all.

And in my mind, technological change often enables, and is accompanied by, social change. In my view, the provision of an accessible and affordable education to the majority of the world's population is a form of enfranchisement, of emancipation. And though this new form of universal suffrage is not a technological revolution, but rather a social movement, it is also not possible without technology.

Attempting to provide an education to a global population without the use of technology is like attempting to create a literate population with only handwritten texts. Scribes, though talented and valued, are and always will be in too short a supply to meet the demand. People must be given the means to write or print for themselves. And in order to produce the volumes of printed text and writing machines required for such a feat, technology must be employed.

Important reading in a country (United Kingdom) that is now aiming to put 50% of its students through University.

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Microsoft Shares Own Security Secrets

internetnews.com, Ryan Naraine

Microsoft has released a technical case study of its internal security procedures, in which it spells out a three-pronged approach to thwarting malicious hacker attacks and urges enterprise admins to spend more time anticipating and preventing attacks.

The company chided enterprises for adopting a reactionary approach to malicious attacks instead of spending more time anticipating and preventing attacks. "With the vast number of tools available to attackers today, an active approach is needed to help secure networks from exploits. It is less expensive to reduce the risk beforehand than to mitigate the damage afterward."

Microsoft's own approach to reducing the frequency and severity of network attacks is to implement a security methodology that reduces its attack surface on both Internet-facing and intranet-facing hosts. The methodology includes strict management of user privileges, periodic risk assessments and ongoing monitoring of compliance with security guidelines.

The first step, the company explained, is to focus on active prevention to close vulnerabilities before exploits are created and distributed. This involves active vulnerability scanning, audits, intrusion detection, risk assessment and continuous diligence.

Microsoft said its three-pronged security approach includes:

* Monitoring and Compliance
* Security Consulting
* Tools Development and Support.

The case study includes several best practice recommendations for IT admins, including:

* The creation of a risk model for the enterprise to pinpoint potential risk areas and the probability and impact of a compromise to each area.

* Plans to determining what is worth risking and what must be fixed. "Doing nothing is an option if the risk probability or impact is low."

* The development of a library of the risk-rated vulnerabilities to verify if the known vulnerabilities are present in the scanning process and the documentation of technologies and resources (people and devices) that have access to those technologies.

* Management of the vulnerabilities by notifying users and forcing a patch or disconnecting the vulnerable system from the network.

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You are what you know how to do...

Shore Communications Inc, John Blossom

"You are what you can share" is an outlook that will increase the need to be able to expose and lend [value-added] content collections to appropriate people as one wishes - collections that will increasingly represent an individuals' own works, as well.

As people learn to expose their personal assets online effectively to current and potential colleagues, [value-added] content ownership and use will become an increasingly important part of that mix of personal attributes.

Getting workflows right is today's hot ticket, but as [pay-per-use] vendor databases begin to be a less effective tool for acquiring and using content, the importance of helping individuals build up and use their own unique content assets that they can share with others in setting of their own choosing will build in importance to the professional publishing process.

The six degrees of content may become as important as any Orkut-like tool can provide someone for relationships - a factor that may brew in the recesses of some Googlish minds.

So, you are what you know how to do... and don't give it away lightly!

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Predictions

Thijs van der Vossen

Predictions from Thijs van der Vossen

The future will be simple, open, informal, standard-compliant and in reverse-chronological order.

No matter how you call it, blogging, weblogging or personal publishing will become the most important way of sharing information and managing knowledge.

Wikis will become the most widely-used groupware and collaboration tools.

Web standards usage will grow as more and more people will be accessing the web using an ever increasing range of browsers and devices. It will not be long before mobile phones include talking browsers by default.

Everything will support and everybody will use content syndication and news aggregators.

The semantic web will happen. It will happen in a big way.

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12 Reasons for Growth of Open Source

from LinuxWorld

The 12 reasons for Growth of Open Source as defined by Marc Andreessen (Netscape etc)

1. "The Internet is powered by open source."
2. "The Internet is the carrier for open source."
3. "The Internet is also the platform through which open source is developed."
4. "It's simply going to be more secure than proprietary software."
5. "Open source benefits from anti-American sentiments."
6. "Incentives around open source include the respect of one's peers."
7. "Open source means standing on the shoulders of giants."
8. "Servers have always been expensive and proprietary, but Linux runs on Intel."
9. "Embedded devices are making greater use of open source."
10. "There are an increasing number of companies developing software that aren't software companies."
11. "Companies are increasingly supporting Linux."
12. "It's free."

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Wireless x 4

USA Today, Amit Asaravala

Wi-Fi may be the hottest way to connect to the Internet these days, but it's just the tip of the iceberg in wireless communications, say researchers at some of the world's top technology firms.

Working together in industry consortiums, the firms have already laid out plans for four new technologies that promise to make wireless Internet access cheaper, faster and farther reaching. If all goes according to schedule, consumers and business could begin to use some of the technologies by early 2005.

More follows about: WiMax, 802.16e, 802.11n, Ultrawideband...

Continue reading "Wireless x 4" »

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