Thursday, June 17, 2004

Best of the week

I read probably a couple hundred articles, press releases, newsletters, and so forth each week. Here are the articles and resources I found the most noteworthy this week. I hope they are helpful for you.

1. "How Org Charts Lie." From Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge magazine, this article discusses how social network analysis can pinpoint and help you resolve problems in your organizational structure. A helpful example compares one company's org chart to its social network and discusses how to fix the issues that became apparent. This excellent article is an excerpt from Harvard Business School Press's book Hidden Power of Social Networks.

2. "Fee for Certificate." I wrote about diploma mills and how the U.S. government is investigating federal employees who received degrees from them using government money. Now corporations are getting wise to this type of scam, thanks in part to this article in the New York Post, which found 15 chairmen and CEOs, 29 corporate board members, and 40 other executives at public companies who have degrees from known diploma mills on their resumes.

3. The Telework Times. This Weblog covers the "business, technical, political, and social aspects of telework, remote collaboration, distributed development, and the virtual workplace of the 21st century." It's sponsored by the Telework Consortium. The consortium's tools guide to collaborative products and services is extensive.

4. "Defining and Measuring Quality in Online Discussions." This article in the Journal of Online Interactive Learning poses and tries to answer the question, What makes good online (asynchronous) discussion? After a fairly extensive literature review, the authors generate four categories with which to evaluate discussion: levels of disagreement, argument structure analysis, interaction-based analysis, and content analysis. Each is discussed in the article.

5. "Education Arcade." More on augmented reality and game-based learning. This article takes a closer look at the augmented reality scavenger hunt/whodunit at the Boston Museum of Science and then continues on to talk about the sponsoring organization, Education Arcade. EA is creating "a consortium of educators, game designers, publishers, and policymakers to develop sophisticated games that range from quick demonstrations that illustrate points made in lectures to semester-long projects that support the content of courses." Important statistic in the article: MIT physics students who played a game about electromagnetism called Supercharged did 20 percent better on tests than students who didn't play the game.

6. "Website Analysis Isn't a Game." Wired talks about Website analysis software that provides a graphic model of a virtual city to convey its statistics. People are represented by avatars who arrive and leave on virtual busses with their company logos on them. Each Webpage a company monitors is a building--the more traffic, the higher the building and the brighter its lights. There are lots of other interesting features and the software is fairly inexpensive. A cool tool to measure e-learning traffic and behavior? It might not help your CEO take your initiatives seriously, but it could be a lot of fun for you.

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