Technology Source editor James L. Morrison interviews Frank Newman, director of The Futures Project at Brown University, to find out why many observers point to this year as a watershed moment for the incorporation of educational technology tools. Newman shares an ambitious Vision for steady increases in the use of such tools. No pie-in-the-sky idealist, he acknowledges the effects of economic downtowns on technology innovation, yet he helps Technology Source readers identify areas in which opportunities and advances in educational technology can still be found. Newman analyzes some common practical issues preventing progress in these areas and offers advice for educators and institutional groups interested in witnessing the revolutionary benefits of interactive information technology.
In this issue's second interview, Parker Rossman tells editor James L. Morrison about his Vision for the free online scholarship movement. Rossman is the author of three book-length volumes concerning the future of higher education (all available free of charge on his Web site): The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education and Virtual Space; Research on Gobal Crises, Still Primitive?; and Future Learning and Teaching. Drawing on 30 years of experience studying higher education in the developing world, Rossman's description of his own online project offers an exciting example of what further global collaboration might produce. He voices the hope that his work and that of others with similar convictions will bring about larger-scale online discussions, global-scale research and education, and more advanced virtual universities.
Good-quality online course management systems are not hard to find, but they can be hard to pay for. In response to the need for Tools that are both cost-efficient and sophisticated, Athabasca University has developed the Bazaar Online Conference System. Susan Hesemeier, Mawuli Kuivi, and Mike Sosteric write that Bazaar delivers courses online, provides various discussion tools for its users, and performs excellently when compared with other delivery platforms. Though Bazaar is already a fully functional content delivery system, its creators are working to expand its capabilities as a course management system. Best of all, Bazaar is completely open source, so curious innovators and eager developers from outside Athabasca's walls are welcome to download and customize the program code as welljust remember that you heard about it here first!
In a related feature, Derek Keats illustrates how customized course management systems have become a global phenomenon. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has developed an exciting new Tool called the Knowledge Environment for Web-based Learning (KEWL). A fully operational content delivery and learning management system, KEWL offers most of the features common to such software as WebCT, Blackboard, Virtual-U, and LearningSpace. Keats tells The Technology Source that KEWL's interface is simple but enables sophisticated operations: the system has been used to make undergraduate students' grades available online, to teach botany students in South Africa (while the instructor was in Taiwan), and to offer a short module on sustainable development to students in Canada. Although adoption of KEWL has been limited during its early stages of development, it is now availablesource code and all.
New technologies have offered great advances to educators hoping to reach previously isolated populations abroad. Yet what about those whose educational efforts have been thwarted not by geography or politics, but by physical disability? Janna Siegel Robertson and James Wallace Harris report that millions of American suffer from visual or motor impairments that make interacting with the Internet difficult or impossible. In this Commentary article, the authors explore how Web developers can make the information conveyed through their graphics, tables, color, and forms available to those with visual or motor impairments. With common-sense guidelines and creative suggestions, Robertson and Harris's article is a must-read for those committed toor just curious aboutaccessibility for all.
Online learning is becoming a valuable component of K-12 education. Stevan Kalmon writes that Colorado alone has 20 Virtual High School programsincluding 2 virtual charter schools, 3 district-based comprehensive high schools, and 1 consortium-based program that provides high school courses to half the state's school districts. To expand such opportunities statewide, the Colorado Department of Education established a task force that evaluated programs in 16 other states. Along with providing a high-quality education to as many learners as possible, they hoped to take advantage of economies of scale through adopting common technology, content, and standards. Kalmon describes the four principles that the task force identified as necessary to promoting equity, rewarding individual achievement, assuring quality and consistency, and adapting to diverse needs.