Electronic collaboration in the humanities

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  • Bull, Joanna & McKenna, Colleen (2004)Blueprint for Computer-Assisted AssessmentRoutledgeFalmer (London & New York) ISBN0-415-28704-9 202 pp 24.99tandf.co.uk enquiry@tandf.co.uk

    I awaited the arrival of this book with someexcitementI have been working and teach-ing online since the late 1980s and computer-assisted assessment (CAA) is an area thatsorely needs writing about. Especially needyare areas in e-learning and virtual environ-ments, which seem to stretch traditionalassessment to its limits.

    To say I was disappointed is true. But dont getme wrong. Its not what is in the book that dis-appoints so much as what is mentioned fleet-ingly but not in enough detailthe coveragedoesnt match its title.

    Blueprint for Computer-Assisted Assessment is arevised part of a project undertaken between1998 and 2001 by the authors and colleaguesfrom the Universities of Loughborough, Luton,Glasgow and Oxford Brooks. The authors pre-viously published several sections in 2000 and2002. Bull and McKenna note in the intro-duction that ...CAA... has been developingrapidly in terms of its integration into schools,universities, and other institutions... [in] itscapacity to offer elements, such as simulationsand multimedia-based questions, which arenot feasible with paper-based assessments.They go on to comment that while manypractical issues are described and discussed,the book draws throughout on the emergingbody of research into CAA, and related work inassessment and learning technologies.

    Blueprint contains 11 chapters (and fourappendices and a reference list). The first eight

    address educational aspects such as questionand test design, scoring and analysis, feed-back, and integration with other assessmentmethods and Chapters 911 cover technical,operational and support areas. And herein liesmy problem. Bull and McKenna give only oneof those 11 chapters, Chapter 8, to the areathey call CAA-related activitiesnamelyvirtual learning environments, computer-mediated communication, electronic markingof text, and the use of gaming techniques forassessment. The books focus is objectivetesting, and gives only brief acknowledgement,in Chapter 8, that in many ways, CAA examswhich use multiple-choice style questions are largely replicating paper-based testingapproaches... . Work in certain areas of caa isleading to the development of assessments thatare more interactive and quite far removedfrom both conventional testing and multiple-choice CAA (p 92). And thats that...

    So my disappointment lies in what I expectedthis book to be about from its title, and even theopening introduction fed my anticipation. Butin the end, while well written and soundlybased on research, it did not go anywhere nearas far into the newer areas of assessment as thetitle leads one to expect. If you are looking fora book to give you a research-based introduc-tion to electronic objective testing, then this isthe book for you. But for me, it whetted myappetite but did not at all satisfy my needs.

    Diane P JanesAssistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan,CanadaDiane.Janes@usask.ca

    Evans, Gillian (2002) Academics and the realworld Open University Press (Buckingham &


    British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, 2004.Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

    British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No 3 2004 381390

    Please note that all books from Kogan Page reviewed here are now published by and avail-able from RoutledgeFalmer:tandf.co.uk enquiry@tandf.co.uk

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    Philadelphia, Pa) ISBN 0-335-21111-9 165pp 19.99 (60 boards)openup.co.uk enquiries@openup.co.uk

    There are two sides to Gillian Evans: she is aformidable historian and theologian, whichmakes it seem natural that she quotes in Latinwithout translating (and thereby taxes myrusty School Certificate Latin), and she is aleading member of the Council for AcademicFreedom and Academic Standards (whichgives her the impetus for the book underreview). But she is first of all an uncompro-mising academic who backs her heterodoxviews with 590 relevant references from Platoand Cicero via Newman to C P Snow and theDearing Report (1997, the most significant forover 30 years, on higher education in the UK).

    The fact that her views may be heterodox isitself these days an indictment of our societyand its relationship to academic valuesfor ifthere is one fault in this book it is that it is tooorthodox. While it is not blind to the faults ofthe past, its remedies seem to take too littlenote of the fact that even verities, that in someway seem eternal, have to be reinterpreted inchanging circumstances.

    Dr Evans jousts valiantly with the two powersthat are reducing the higher educationacademy in Britain to impotencethe stateand the market. She recognises that universi-ties are ill-equipped to defend themselvesagainst either, but that defend themselves theymust if they are to maintain academic values.Hence probably her most telling attack is on the willingness of academic managementto compromise, for instance as vice-chancellorsservants of the academic com-munityhave abandoned their role ofstewardship. In addition vice-chancellors failto act as a body, so thatnot hangingtogetherthey are at risk of hanging sepa-rately, which is surely an outstanding exampleof trahison des clercs.

    In the absence of a Constitution, Dr Evans isright in seeing a solution in an independentintermediary body. This could be the re-constituted Quality Assurance Agency (Elton,2001), and it is good to see her praise for itscurrent Director. But such a body would takepower away from both the state and the market

    and it seems improbable that either wouldaccept a reduction in their current powers. Theoutlook is not good.

    There is a significant omission in the bookthe absence of a European dimension ingeneral and consideration of von Humboldtsuniversity reform in particular. Had the bookbecome too long so something had to be cut?Much can be learned from, for instance,German experience over the centuries indefence of academic freedom. In that case, it isof course strengthened by a federal Constitu-tion, which declares in its first Article thathuman dignity is sacrosanct. It is to be hon-oured and it is a duty of the power of the stateto protect it. Such a statement has financialimplications!

    Dr Evans has written a courageous book andthere is just a possibility that academia ingeneral may profit from it. Therefore pleaseread it. It is unlikely that it will benefit her owncareer, but I doubt that will curb heras hermotto clearly is Fiat justitia et ruant coeli(Watson, W Quodlibets of Religion and State,1602).

    ReferenceElton L (2001) Quality assurance through

    quality enhancement Educational Develop-ments 2, 4, 13.

    Lewis EltonUniversity College, Londonl.elton@pcps.ucl.ac.uk

    Fallows, Stephen & Bhanot, Rakesh(2002) Educational development through infor-mation and communications technology KoganPage (London & Stylus, Sterling, Va) ISBN 0-7494-3565-8 224 pp 22.50kogan-page.co.uk kpinfo@kogan-page.co.uk

    I started reading this book with enthusiasm. Iwas busy with a project dealing with successfactors for the innovation of higher educationthrough the use of information and communi-cations technologies (IT). I thought, What acase of serendipity: the right book at the righttime. Unfortunately my enthusiasm wasshort-lived...

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    This book is an example of common-sense educational technology/instructional develop-ment. Hey guys, look what we did. This initself can be very interesting, approaching thereaders as adultsquite a novel thought ininstructional design landand letting themactively draw their own conclusions for theirown situations. A second approach could havebeen using a few case studies as a basis forapproaching educational technology literatureand research, and then using those experi-ences to make the theory more poignant andapplicable, teaching us general rules for edu-cational development through IT.

    The problem is that the authors of this book doneither. What they do do is try to draw generalconclusions from these few pieces of casuistryand tell us what we should learn from theirexperiences and how we should use thoseexperiences in our daily practiceand thisdoesnt at all work, for me at least.

    There is, however, a refreshing exception.Maggie Hutchins, in her chapter on computer-mediated communication (cmc), presents afine and workable theoretical framework formaking use of cmc as educational technology.In particular, her discussion of cmc paradigmsand learning experiences (Lord, Im beginningto hate the word paradigm) and key featuresof cmc and related learning opportunities is anexample of how it should be.

    Almost all of the authors forget in their enthu-siasm that the proper first question to ask iseither What is it that we want to achieve withthe introduction of IT into education? orWhats wrong with education that IT canhelp? Rather they all seem to offer solutions tounstated problems. They appear to have takenthe cue from advertisers who constantlybombard us with solutions to problems that wedid not know that we had. Its time that bookwriters, editors and publishers, before theywrite, edit or publish books like this one, askthemselves: If IT is the answer, what then isthe question?

    Paul KirschnerProfessor of Educational Technology, Open Uni-versity, Netherlandspaul.kirschner@ou.nl

    Gale, Trevor & Densmore, Kathleen(2003) Engaging teachers Open University(Maidenhead & McGraw-Hill, Pa) ISBN 0-335-21026-0 135 pp 16.99openup.co.uk enquiries@openup.co.uk

    Engaging Teachers: Towards a Radical DemocraticAgenda for Schooling provides a well-organisedand thoughtful analysis of much that con-textualises and constrains teachers work inWestern democracies. It has little or nothing tosay about technology or about the role of tech-nology in bringing aboutor aiding and abet-tingchange agendas. To my mind this was alost opportunity for Trevor Gale and KathleenDensmore in their attempt to signpost ways inwhich communities, their schools, teachersand leaders should interact to progress suchchange.

    Despite social injustice and access issues,information and communications technolo-gies such as the Internet, email, and workingwith broadband videoconferences do have thepotential to bring stakeholders into closertouch with each other, to provide breadth ofinformation sources, and to increase the speedwith which action might be progressed. There-fore, it might have been useful for the authorsto consider what potential roles these andfuture technologies of these kinds could havein progressing a radical democratic agenda.Indeed, exposing some of the emerging socialjustice and economic control issues associatedwith access to technology might have madesome sections of the book less esoteric andmore engaging.

    Robyn SmythLecturer in Higher Education, Teaching andLearning Centre, University of New England,Australiarsmyth@pobox.une.edu.au

    Hills, Howard (2003) Individual preferences ine-learning Gower (Aldershot, UK & Burlington,Vt) ISBN 0-566-08456-2 180 pp 55 boardsgowerpub.com info@gowerpub.com

    The fact that everyone is different does not necessarily mean that we all learn in differentways. But it is true, by and large, that most

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    methods of instruction make little allowancefor individual differences in learning.

    This book discusses how new technology canboth enhance and be constrained by differ-ences between learners. It provides two specificexamples of research on how learners differ(research by John Carroll and Gordon Pask,respectively). Then it describes one approach indetail, that is based on learning styles. Thebook concludes with two brief examples ofhow this latter work may be applied in practice.Each chapter is clearly written, cogentlyargued and followed by an excellent summary.

    The book is written for a training contextrather than an academic one. This means that,from an (my) academic point of view, some ofits strengths are some of its weaknesses. Thus,several examples are based on the authorsexperiences rather than on evidence, there arefew detailed references, and there are severalovergeneralisations. Readers interested insimilar issues in an academic context will findthe paper by Baldwin and Sabry (2003) morehelpful.

    In this book the later chapters rely heavily onwork arising from ideas on learning style asmeasured by the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory,and expanded by David Kolb in the US andHoney and Mumford in the UK. These ideas areaccepted by Howard Hills as largely correct.Sixteen different personality types are dis-cussed, and figures detailing the proportions ofmen and women who fall into these categoriesare given to one decimal place. The content is complex, but anyone who wants a clearaccount of this work will find it here. However,an academic might question the validity andthe universality of this particular approach(see Coffield et al, 2004). Nonetheless, theimplications of taking an individual differ-ences approach to designing instruction in thecontext of new technology are clearly dis-cussed by Hills (and by Baldwin and Sabry).

    ReferencesBaldwin L and Sabry K (2003) Learning styles

    for interactive learning systems Innovationsin Education and Teaching International40, 4, 325340.

    Coffield F et al (2004) Learning styles and pedagogy: a systematic and critical review

    Learning and Skills Research Centre, Insti-tute of Education, London.

    James HartleyDepartment of Psychology, Keele UniversityJ.Hartley@psy.keele.ac.uk

    Inman, James A et al ed (2004) Electronic collaboration in the humanities LawrenceErlbaum (Mahwah, N.J. (& Eurospan, London))ISBN 0-8058-4147-4 419 pp $99.95erlbaum.com orders@erlbaum.comeurospan.co.uk orders@eurospan.co.uk

    Call me snobbish but I was pleased by theabsence of e-terms. Possibly the idea ofcalling the book e-collaboration nevercrossed the editors minds but sometimes suchnew words seem a bit trite.

    I believe that collaboration, when it works, iswonderful. I was hoping to find here insightinto deploying the technology-mediatedvariety. My own limited experiences, both as astudent and as a tutor, have been disappoint-ing. There are answers in this book, or rather,options and issues.

    The back cover blurb writer maintains thatthis text is cutting edge. How can it be, whenthe technologies in the bookfor exampleemail, on-line discussion lists, hypertext andMUDs (multi-user dimensional systems, ie,text-based virtual reality) have been aroundfor over 20 years? Because of the quality of itsscholarship and writing, thats how. Manychapters left me reeling: even the foreword isprovocative with the use of strikingly bravetypography to represent something of com-puter-mediated discussions rich but chaoticmulti-voiced-ness. And I was bemused, evenastonished, by James Inmans Chapter 4, Elec-tracy for the Ages. His presentation of theconcept of cross-temporal collaboration stillmakes me pause for thought long after readingitbut the whole book is like that.

    The book is organised into four parts. Eachpart has four or more essays and is followed by a Response to tie them together. Indeed,the Response device itself offers readers a kindof cross-temporal collaboration. When I have

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    read something powerful, I want to share anddiscuss. Thankfully, each Response is likemeeting a renowned expert with time to kill,who conveniently happens to have read whatyou just did. So I asked each of the four suchexperts what they thought of the precedingchaptersand the candour of their answerswas so helpful. For example, after readingabout the use of MUDs in Chapter 14, Ienthused about them, explaining how I hadimmediately attempted to join one and hadbegun to think how I could use it in my teach-ing. Lloyd Benson listened patiently and gavehis Responsewhich calmed me downwithout crushing the nascent innovation.

    I dont possess a humanities background butam sure that, whether you do or not, this textwill richly reward your attention.

    Mike JohnsonLecturer, Information Management and Teaching,University of Wales, Cardiffjohnsonmr1@cf.ac.uk

    Kozulin, Alex et al ed (2003) Vygotskys educational theory in cultural context CambridgeUP (Cambridge, UK, Melbourne & New York)ISBN 0-521-52883-6 477 pp 21.95 (55boards)cambridge.org

    This very comprehensive book brings together20 articles on Vygotskian educational theory.The material collected here is drawn from awide range of countries, subject areas and contexts.

    Vygotsky and his followers see child develop-ment, and cognitive development more generally, as the consequence of learning expe-riences that take place in social situations.Social constructivism, and Vygotskys contri-bution to it, has become increasingly influen-tial in recent years. Arguably, some of the keycomponents of the theorysuch as the notionof the zone of proximal development (zpd)are not always well understood. Throughexploration and analysis of Vygotskys originalwritings, and the work of others who havedeveloped his theory, the subtlety and rele-vance of the concept of the zpd is clarified.Thats just an example. A particular strength

    of the collection is the way that the authorscombine theory with description and analysisof specific examples of educational design andpractice.

    It would be invidious to try to list the manytopics covered in this collection. While all thearticles are concerned with school and pre-school learning, I found I was frequentlymaking notes about the relevance of the dis-cussion to higher education and adult learn-ers. Many of the contributions will be ofinterest to readers concerned with the designand development of learning materials andenvironments in any context. Vygotskys stresson imitationseen as the interaction of thelearner with more competent othersis dis-cussed in depth and has obvious relevance tothe design of group interaction and peersupport. Vygotskys theory turns the focusaway from the individual learner to the indi-viduals learning within a community oflearners. The importance of affective issues,these often undervalued in adult learning, isalso highlighted.

    Particularly interesting, and of relevance tothe design of web-based learning resources,are the sections on the role of literacy in lan-guage in cognitive development. The acquisi-tion of symbolic tools is seen to be central tothis process; but it is also argued that symbolictools by themselves are insufficient and thatthe acquisition and development of psycholog-ical tools are essential.

    This book is strongly recommended for anyonewanting to find out more about Vygotskystheory and the writings of others who haveextended his ideas; it is a rich resource to dipinto for ideas and stimulation.

    Pete CannellCentre for Academic Practice, Queen MargaretUniversity Collegepcannell@qmuc.ac.uk

    Nicholls, Gill (2002) Developing teaching andlearning in higher education RoutledgeFalmer(London & New York) ISBN 0-415-23696-7196 pp 22.50tandf.co.uk enquiry@tandf.co.uk

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    Over the past decade, calls for greater qualityand accountability in university teaching havebeen echoing through the ancient stone, red-brick and ferro-concrete walls of academe.These have finally brought staff developmentin from the cold to play a more central role inuniversity planning and practice.

    In the UK this demand for teaching excellencehas led to a new accrediting body, the Instituteof Learning and Teaching (ILT). Academics arehighly recommended to become members of ILT, and the Institutes proposed nationalframework for continual professional develop-ment (cpd) sets out clear criteria for cpd and for judging the subject and pedagogical knowledge and professional values of thegood teacher. The Institute also requires thoseapplying for membership to maintain a per-sonal professional development record (pdr) todemonstrate that they remain in good stand-ing in their professional abilities.

    This book by the Professor of Education andDirector of the Institute for Learning andTeaching at Kings College, the University ofLondon, is designed to help new and servinguniversity teachers to meet ILTs requirements.It is organised around the key areas suggestedby ILT, namely:

    Planning and preparation Conducting teaching and learning sessions Assessment and evaluation Revising and improving teaching Leadership, management and administra-

    tion Continual professional development

    It does so progressively, using diagrams, tasks,exemplars and points for consideration toguide the reader in enabling students to learn,mastering various teaching strategies andtechnologies, interpreting institutional mis-sions, regulations and policies, and under-standing the theories, research and valuesunderpinning these. The book is not prescrip-tive. It may set out general principles but itencourages individual and contextualisedapproaches to cpd.

    The author stresses that understandingstudent learning and developing teachingskills takes time and requires critical reflectionupon the actions taken to test theories and per-

    sonal beliefs. He provides a five-question frame-work for reflecting on premises and practicesthat he suggests can be applied in any disci-pline or teaching context:

    Does my practical theory about a teachingsituation stand the test of being put intopractice, or do I have to modify, develop orchange it?

    How can I develop strategies that fit my prac-tical theories, and are they likely to improvemy teaching and the students learning?

    How can I identify and select appropriatestrategies from a range of alternatives available?

    How can I develop and put into place thestrategies I want to try out?

    How can I monitor the effects of the strat-egies I have implemented and record theiroutcomes?

    This book will be a good companion for new-comers to university teaching, and for longer-serving staff with limited cpd experience whowish to conceptualise or re-conceptualise andinform and improve their teaching styles andeffectiveness in the lecture theatre, classroom,small-group tutorial and seminar, and inteaching with technology.

    Colin LatchemOpen learning consultantclatchem@iinet.net.au

    Pastoll, Gregory (2002) Motivating people tolearn Novalis (Cape Town) ISBN 0-95843-695-9 223 pp $19.50

    This book probably does not mention technol-ogy oncebut it still provides extremely inter-esting reading for all people who work with ITin education and experience some difficultiesin having IT and/or e-learning adopted withenthusiasm. In fact very frequently theproblem in such contexts is not with technol-ogy, but with the poor motivation of learnersto learnand the issue of motivation is oftenaddressed too superficially by those working onIT for learning, for they assume without properbasis that learners, and particularly younglearners, will love to learn with IT.

    Gregory Pastoll explains here that motivationto learn is the key to successful learning of

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    any kind, and that it is not only an issue ofteaching techniques: his radical but notungrounded starting point is that school hasa habit of adversely interfering with peoplesattitudes to learning, and many critical viewsare expressed on current teaching practice atschool and university. Once you recognise thatthere are more and more exceptions to the sit-uation, the picture described does not appeartoo far from reality.

    The books Introduction makes clear theauthors standpoint with regard to educationsystems; it deserves to be read carefully in orderfor us to understand better the rest of thebookwhich is really a source of structuredthinking and practical advice on how to gen-erate and maintain motivation to learn.

    Section A distinguishes between extrinsic andintrinsic motivation, and argues that muchmore should be done to address intrinsic motivation rather than relying on the typicalapproaches of extrinsic motivation (the stickand carrot approaches, in other words).

    Section B is a very enjoyable distillation ofadvice on how to be a motivational teacher,and is well rooted in classroom experience andexamples from school and university lectures.

    Section C is probably the one that mightproduce more impact on the world of IT forlearning, once the suggested 12 strategies fordesigning learning activities based on intrinsicmotivation have been translated into theworld of e-learning.

    Finally, Section D tries to exemplify how a port-folio system would be a much more coherentassessment approachif intrinsic motivationto learn has to be stimulatedthan a systembased on traditional grades; this section toocan easily be translated into the e-learningworld, by recognising the potential of motivat-ing in creative ways as opposed to a purelyformal and institutional approach.

    On the whole, this book provides very enjoy-able reading that generates sympathy inanybody who has experienced bad teaching inher/his youth; but, above all, it offers a very rel-evant set of practical tips on approachinginnovative teaching practice and supporting

    learners. It can be a good reference point foranyone wishing to address seriously the issueof motivationnot only teachers but alsoparents, moderators of learning communities,researchers with one foot on practice...

    My only regret, while reviewing this book froma BJET perspective, is that the translation ofthe authors wisdom into the world of educa-tional technology is the readers responsibil-ity. But maybe this challenge was intentionallyprepared to stimulate our intrinsic motivationto learn?

    Claudio DondiPresidentSCIENTER, Bologna, Italycdondi@scienter.org

    Scharff, Robert & Dusek, Val ed (2003) Philosophy of technology: an anthologyBlackwell (Oxford & Malden, Mass) ISBN 0-415-26346-8 167 pp 18.99 (boards 65)blackwellpub.com


    Recent large-scale meta-analyses of the exist-ing literature suggest that we do not yet havethe necessary research to justify the expansionof technology in our schools. Thus, we haveseen an increase in the number of calls for newresearch, particularly for studies that attemptto measure the cognitive gains made with tech-nology use. Although such calls are justified,many of them miss two important factors.First, they lack reference to studies thataddress the larger societal and cultural impactof technology use. Second, they fail to capi-talise on past studies, particularly on researchprojects that draw on a broader definition ofthe term technology.

    Fortunately, Scharff and Dusek have given usa book that meets both of these goals. In Philosophy of Technology, the editors set out tocollect historical and contemporary manu-scripts and articles that act as an anthology oftechnology and its relation to humanity. Theybegin by addressing the history and philosophyof technology. The book continues with sec-tions on defining technology and Heideggeron technology. And the editors conclude withsections on Technology and human endsand Technology as social practice. There are

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    55 articles that make up these six sections,with authors ranging from Aristotle and Platoto Marx and Foucault.

    Each college and university that hosts an educational technology, media or communica-tions department should have a class in eitherphilosophy of technology or society, tech-nology, and culture at its core. For those thatdo, this would be an excellent textbook to guidethe curriculum. It is difficult to give a thoroughreview of the entire anthology as certain chap-ters are easier to read than others, and thisdepends on ones philosophical background.Certain chapters are also more or less applic-able to individual readers areas of study.However, the editors have put together a col-lection of articles that would be appropriate touse to discuss the technological condition inany graduate classroom. Unlike many tech-nology books, they include enough bridgesbetween the past and present to convincereaders that the technological condition is nota new one, and that history does indeed repeatitself.

    This book is not for the general hobbyist. Itcontains deep, theoretical and philosophicalwork that is meant to challenge and enlighten.However, it is a must-have reader for anyonewho takes technology studies seriously. In itspages, readers will explore the impact of tech-nology on society and culture, and culture andsocietys impact on technology.

    Richard E FerdigAssistant Professor of Educational Technology,University of Floridarferdig@ufl.edu

    Shepherd, Clive (2003) E-learnings greatesthits Above and Beyond (Brighton, UK) ISBN 0-9545904-0-6 190 pp 29.95aboveandbeyond.ltd.uk


    This is an unusual book in that it is primarilyan edited collection of comment pieces thatClive Shepherd has written for IT Training mag-azine over the past three years and thereforecovers a range of topical issues around thearea of e-learning. Its origins are both a

    strength and a weakness. The journalistic styleof a monthly column brings a freshness to thewriting, and each individual piece is highlyreadable. However, as a book, the collectionlacks coherence: there is no clear storyline thattakes the reader through the important issuesof e-learning. Most of the issues are coveredbut the links between them are not immedi-ately apparent.

    When I first saw the title I thought that thiswas a book of case studies, perhaps becausecase studies are on my mind at present. Ratherlike a CD collection of greatest hits from a bandof the 1960s, I rather hoped that this would bea definitive collection of case studies fromwhich we could all learn and take heart. I alsohoped that there would be some case studies ofprojects that did not work as expected, on thegrounds that we perhaps learn more from fail-ures than from successes. The case studies arethere, but not in any great detail: they serve toillustrate points well made in the text, but leavethe reader wondering what else they mighthave to teach us.

    The book is divided into four main sections,covering the management of e-learning pro-jects, the skills required to support e-learning,the technologies involved, and the design anddevelopment of materials. Inevitably, there issome overlap between the chapters as well asthat lack of connectivity between them. Eachof the chapters is very topical (they were, afterall, written for a monthly column), and Isuspect that they will begin to date quitequickly. There are numerous quotes from pro-fessionals in the industry who are (for the mostpart) well-known names now, but theyandtheir companiesmay not be so well known in a few years time. If you dont know theluminaries and their companies then thequotes lose some of their impact.

    Clive Shepherd is one of the most experiencedand respected figures in the UK e-learningcommunity and his views are worth reading.The strengths of the book are the short casestudies and the checklists that abound in everychapter. This is essentially a book written fromexperiencethe experience of the author andthe e-learning projects that he clearly knowswell. Even if you already have the individualissues of IT Training over the past three or four

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    years (which is unlikely), this is a book worthbuying so as to have the distilled experienceready to hand.

    Nick RushbyConation Technologiesnick.rushby@dial.pipex.com

    Venkatesh, Murali et al (2003) Learning-in-community Kluwer (Dordrecht, Netherlands& Boston, Mass) ISBN 1-4020-1387-6 122 pp 75wkap.nl orderdept@wkap.nl

    This monograph concerns an approach to professional education at college level thatinvolves essentially a kind of active learningwhere classroom work is completed and learn-ing is put into practice by giving support to the local community. The term communityin the title does not refer to the learning community concept (which is not directlyaddressed in this book)but rather to thesocial environment where learning is im-proved through real practice. This, in theauthors experience, constitutes a valuablework setting whose results are rich, varied,challenging and more fruitful than those ofinternship and simulated case studies. Thelearning model is based on four elements:client-centred work, apprenticeship throughparticipation, social dimension of professionalaction, and social task design; it is sketchedhere through the discussion of the relevantteaching experiences of the authors overalmost a decadebut it is never really devel-oped as regards its practical or theoreticalaspects.

    The book contains several interesting observa-tions about the organisation of practical andgroup work (as well as regards the develop-ment of consulting expertise), which couldresult in useful developments for teachers of vocational and professional education.However, almost half of the pages are devotedto describing the context in which theapproach was developed and the structureswhich were created in the authors universityin order to support that work; these do notappear really relevant from the point of view ofeducational technology. In much the same

    way, just one-fourth of the books and articlesreferred to (which are mostly not very recent)concern learning and education, the rest beingmostly related to sociological and organisa-tional issues.

    The book is not straightforwardly written; thedescription of the examples is split, withoutreason, between the different chapters, whichcauses several repetitions and compels thereader to go though the whole book beforegetting a clear picture of the approach in practice.

    Giuliana DettoriResearcher, Istituto Tecnologie Didattiche of CNR,Genoa, Italydettori@itd.cnr.it

    Also received

    Please note that coverage here does not precludelater fuller review.

    Britton, Edward et al ed (2003) Comprehen-sive teacher induction Kluwer (Dordrecht,Netherlands & Norwell, Mass) ISBN 1-4020-1147-4 404 pp 151wkap.nl orderdept@wkap.nl

    The review after this one describes teacherinduction in Britain as the first year in employ-ment after becoming a newly qualified teacher;it hints that it doesnt have much to do withimproving the novices skills as a teacher perse. Things dont have to be like thatthis bookdescribes how induction can be more than ashort period of caring support for novicesitlooks at programmes in China, France, Japan,New Zealand and Switzerland that last at leasttwice as long and really do make some progressin helping the novice become a better teacher.It does this in great depth. However, it does soby presenting a detailed accounttypically 50or 60 pages in lengthof each of those fivelocal systems, with significantly shorter intro-ductory and concluding chapters; this makes ithard for readers to sort out what really doesmake for effective teacher induction and there-fore what could help them develop practiceappropriately in their countries.

  • 390 British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No 3 2004

    British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, 2004.

    Bubb, Sara (2003) Insiders guide for newteachers Kogan Page (London & Sterling, Va)ISBN 0-7494-4101-1 182 pp 12.99kogan-page.co.uk kpinfo@kogan-page.co.uk

    Succeed in training and induction shoutsthe cover of this Career Guide published for the TES, Britains ancient weekly newspaperfor pre-university teachers. New teachers inBritain, as in effect defined here, are thoseundertaking training (whether alreadyserving or still in higher education) and there-after following the induction (formerly pro-bationary) year as newly qualified teachers(NQTs). This book actually concentrates on thepracticalities of the latter part of all that, and,as regards the training part, sticks mainly tochoosing, applying for and starting on a post-graduate certificate of education course. So itbecomes clear that to succeed in training andinduction as a teacher doesnt require muchin the way of teaching practice or ability,though there is some good advice on passingthe (compulsory) IT test during training andpreserving your voice. Maybe Phil Races 500tips for teachers should have been included insummary form to say something about whatthe career actually entails.

    Glover, Derek & Law, Sue (2002) Improvinglearning Open University Press (Buckingham,& Philadelphia PA) ISBN 0-335-20912-2 182pp 16.99 (boards 55)openup.co.uk enquiries@openup.co.uk

    Subtitled Professional Practice in SecondarySchools and written by (respectively) a visit-

    ing professor and a normal one at NottinghamTrent University, this is an academic butreadily usable guide to school improvement.School improvement by various semi-objectiveapproaches has been a major bandwagon in Britain for almost a decade nowbut,although the main measure of a schoolsoverall quality of education provided must beto do with the learning of the learners, it is notcommon to find an approach that addressesthat so explicitly. So here we find learners andteachers views, theories of learning, linksbetween learning and other aspects of aschools provision, such as leadership and thecurriculum, and so on. The main such aspectis, as surely everyone accepts, the quality ofteachingand the main way in which thisbook goes wrong is to have very little on teach-ing. After all, a learner-centred approach toteachingas this book claims to espouse andexploreinvolves

    The teachers development of smart learn-ing objectives (mentioned twice, but inneither case smartly), and...

    their appropriate use to improve the o-goingassessment (mentioned three times, butbriefly, and probably only summatively) ofthe learners and of...

    their quality of learning (not mentioned)and thereby...

    evaluation (not mentioned in this sense) of...

    quality of teaching (not mentioned in anysense).

    Sono more than four marks out of 10!


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