7 June 2009

Dog ate my USB...

From Eszter Hargittai's Blog, a post about digital junk!
"At IHE, Scott Jaschik has a piece about a site that sells corrupted files to students as a way to get a few extra hours or days to finish an assignment. The idea is that the student submits a corrupted file, it takes the instructor a while to figure this out, in the meantime the student finishes the assignment."
I don't work in HE but in the school sector I've not had an instance of this and would be interested to hear colleagues' experience. But apparently unreadable files have created problems consistently for some colleagues over the past few years - the issue is file formats.

Learners sometimes use applications that are not available in school (e.g. MS Works) and save them in proprietary file formats that can't be read in school. Or they have a later version of MS Word than the school and don't save in a backward compatible format. Most teachers don't know about readers and translators (nor should they need to) and many of these files end up in my inbox to sort out.

Perhaps the various XML file formats might sort this out in the future but with the lag in software acquisition by both institutions and individuals I'm not holding my breath. As I sit here editing this piece in the 'Blogger' editor my thoughts turn to Learning Platforms to provide a solution. An LP worthy of that title will provide an editor with more formatting capability than most teachers would wish to see in a piece of written work and the option to 'lock' a final delivery edit at a defined time. Learners can use the editor to create their work or paste in the text from their word processor of choice.

If work is to be delivered digitally surely standardising around the server platform must offer the best chance of consistency? How many 'Becta Approved' learning platforms have this facility?

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