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Relevant and interesting websites and articles


IBM and Novell announce support for open-source identity manager
Hot on the heels of more Microsoft anouncements about InfoPath (their new take on the identity management), come Novell and IBM with support for 'Higgins'- also a system that aims to enable cross-system and platform identity management and single sign-on by abstracting over many existing systems. It's a case of Meta-er than thou, basically. Interesting aspect is that it is both open source and based on / run by the very well regarded Eclipse foundation.


Tech-Ed Funding to be Tied to Copyright-Ed?
Bit of a parochial US issue (I hope), but interesting nonetheless. A california assemblyman wants any funding for educational technology to require teaching students how bad copyright infringement is. Obvious responses include a) he's been bought and b) cash for teaching my message is not a good idea. Beyond that, however, it shows the fairly extraordinary lenghts the copyright cartels are prepared to go to in order to convince the rest of us that making a copy of something is a crime. It looks as if the punishment part of the campaign is working in that fewer people use the p2p networks for fear of prosecution, but moves like the californian assemblyman's show that they're not making a lot of headway in making the public believe that it's wrong.


InfoCard on the way from Microsoft
It seems Microsoft learned the right lesson from the failure of Passport, its earlier effort in federated authentication. Rather than storing the crucial information about you on a server in Redmond, the new proposal -InfoCard- hands control back to the user. The technology is expected to come out with the new Windows variant (Vista) and its version of the IE browser (7). Says the MS fellow who designed the thing: "It’s important to note that all communications carried out by "InfoCard" use standards-based Web services protocols to ensure interoperability." They're spinning it furiously as the nice friendly interface on a open standards based meta identity system. Let's hope so.


Tag me stupid, baby!
Collection of rather biting commentary on an equally vitriolic piece on a well-intended but slightly misguided attempt to introduce the world to 'honor tagging'; a way to categorise your own blog posts by your communicative intention. Great for gratuitous metadata abuse ("The Road to Hell looks like it's going to be Tagged With Good Intentions") , but this should give pause for thought: "Failure is pretty much guaranteed when such cumbersome tagging systems are proposed, for the same reasons the semantic web has gone nowhere. Principally, it's impossible to imagine any non-Android volunteering to tag their own communications, before or after the fact." Unless, I'd say, there is an incentive for that non-android to tag with a reasonable degree of accuracy.


Google Maps Creator Takes Browsers To The Limit
By advising web techies to push bleeding edge tech that mau not be universally supported; Microsoft's Vector Markup Language (VML) for example. Not so sure about that one. If you're going to push the envelope, at least use reasonably open stuff, and leave the real whizz bang to applications that are more suitable- like Google Earth. Link via Slashdot


Software should be stuff that gets you laid...
And inf argues that software is not VLEs or LMSs- its social software such as blogs. It's mostly a rant about the fact that groupware and VLEs are the kinds of things people have to use because they've been told to by management, not because they want to. Its chosen by comparing feature charts, and used as a means of control or saving money.


Games help you 'learn and play'
BBC report on research findings that specific kinds of games can help learning. While that may not be shocking news, the game and the domain of learning the research focussed on is: language learning via the Sims. The argument is that, rather than rote learn vocabulary and abstract structure, modified versions of the Sims allow learners to explore and acquire the language in a context. Also notable is the indication that it is getting easier to modify existing games for such educational purposes, which addresses the old gap in production values between commercial and educational games.


From individualisation to co-creation
Typically free form musing of Jay Cross, the well-known e-learning guru, about how "learner centric" has been well and truly dealt with, and how it's time to start focussing on things like collaboration, forging connections and other 'co-'s. What's notable is that Jay's thought seems to connect with a general shift in more than one way: it's not just that personalised content is bad, and collaboration good, it's more that we've done enough on the former, and need to focus on the latter.
"Learning isnít content. Learning isnít infrastructure. Learning is a process of forging neural links."
Thanks to elearnspace for the link.


CELEBRATE Evaluation Report
A hefty pdf (1.8 Mb, 202 pages) outlining the outcomes of the large, 30 month Context eLearning with Broadband Technologies (CELEBRATE) project. A fair few case studies and a firm focus on the practicalities of using learning objects in schools make it well worth a (skim) read. Inevitably, some of the lofty goals of the project at the start have not quite come out as intended. For example, the question whether interoperability standards make reuse of material any easier could not be addressed systematically. Still, the finding that interoperability was as much down to minimal standards of hard- and software infrastructure in schools as the format of the objects themselves is worth bearing in mind. Thanks to EdTechPost for the link.


How Technology Will Destroy Schools
This will have the Ivan Ilich crowd sniggering in their beards: a bunch of luminaries from the received elearning crowd (David Wiley, Dan Rehak, Erik Duval, Wayne Hodgins) have arrived at the same conclusion as the hippy learning guru did thirty years ago: technology will allow us to blow up schools. What's more, the how is also quite similar: by shifting the focus from rote learning to the critical, social skills needed to deal with information. As with many of David Wiley's posts, the comments are at least as valuable as the post itself.


Web services what Web services?
Throughtful article by Derek Morrison at Auricle. It deals with the question of what webservices are, but also tackles the necessity of a good demonstrator to show what it can do. Some services will be rolling out of the first development of the ELF soon and will be demonstrated in November. Still, setting up a simple page of demonstrators of these services on the planned ELF test server would be a good idea.


Echopoint components and framework
What looks like a fairly highly developed framework for making stateful web applications- relatively small programmes that work like conventional desktop applications but operate over the web, through your browser. This area of technology is not new (Netscape promised to reduce Windows to a "pile of poorly debugged device drivers" way back when), but has been getting a lot of attention lately.

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