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DiploNews – Issue 3 – 8 September 1999

DiploNews – Issue 3 – September 8, 1999

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From DiploWeb: Survey of Websites of Ministries of Foreign Affairs

Over the last few years, the Internet has gradually found its way into the diplomatic world. Diplomatic services and other actors in international relations are increasingly using the Internet as a tool for the dissemination of information. A growing number of ministries of foreign affairs are establishing websites. Using the Internet is no longer a choice, but has become a necessity. We are currently in a transition between the pioneering "discovery" phase of the Internet and a more mature phase of the use of the Internet as an additional medium for public relations, alongside television and print.

In order to determine where we are and how we should proceed in the future, we are initiating this evaluation of websites of ministries of foreign affairs.

Who will be the evaluators? The evaluators will consist of four groups:

Group 1: Advanced in diplomacy and international affairs but beginners in the Internet;

Group 2: No background in diplomacy and international affairs and beginners in the Internet;

Group 3: Advanced in diplomacy and international affair and advanced in the Internet;

Group: No background in diplomacy and international affairs but advanced in the Internet.

Evaluators will be asked to find on websites of more than 70 Ministries of Foreign Affairs particular information varying from highly political, such as:

  • Please identify the first priority of the foreign policy of the country (e.g. joining European Union, post-war reconstruction, solving debt-problem, etc.)

to practical:

  • Can you find the address of the Permanent Mission to the UN in New York?

and technical:

  • Loading speed of homepage (without using cache) – [expressed in seconds].

The on-going survey on diplomatic websites will be conducted within the DiploWeb Project.

Gambling – International Aspects of Internet Regulation

The article "Betting Against the House" appeared in the last issue of "The Economist" (September 4th, p. 65 – The Economist ). This article addresses the problem of the eroding capability of national states to control Internet transactions, in this case, in the field of gambling. "Few businesses are more 'local' or more regulated than gambling. For better or worse, the Internet is undermining that control." "And, as everybody admits, it is impossible to stop people gambling on the Internet; all you can do is make it harder." What are the current options for national states? Republican Senator Kyl's Internet Gambling Prohibition Act suggests that non-American operators might be arrested on American soil. Apart from this and similar steps with limited practicality, most of these initiatives are careful not to pass the Rubikon in the field of Internet regulation – the ideal that the Internet should not be regulated, at least on the international level. How long can the Internet remain as it is? Financial interests which are teaming-up around the idea of electronic commerce will eventually require some regulations, at least in the field of economic transaction, copyright, taxations, etc. A side effects of such initiatives could be requests for regulation of other issues such as human rights, development, content control, cultural diversity, etc. Diplomats will be busy not only using the Internet but also discussing it.

On-line Learning: Teaching Old Faculty New Tricks

"Trouble Teaching Old Faculty New Tricks": Study Released – Kristin Barton, our Director of Development, passes along the following study hot off the press. The study found that a large percentage of faculty in higher education institutions were slow adopters of technology for teaching and were feeling some difficulty in keeping up with the ever changing world of technology. Here is a segment of the story from the Associated Press:

"As college students research papers on the Internet and manipulate numbers on spreadsheets, their professors are feeling a little less in tune with the newest computer trends. Two out of three professors say they are stressed trying to keep up with the emerging technology, surpassing traditional troubles such as publishing pressure and teaching loads, according to a new national survey of university faculty. Researchers say they may be not be using the technology because they are scared by it, which means they never learn how it works or how to handle it calmly. "The level of stress resulting from information technology is quite likely a reflection of the time faculty invest in computer use," said Linda Sax, a researcher who directed the faculty survey at the University of California, Los Angeles. Nearly nine in 10 college instructors agreed that "student use of computers enhances their learning." But only 35 percent use the Internet to conduct research, and just 38 percent use technology to create class presentations. By contrast, 87 percent use computers to send e-mail and 85 percent use them to write memos or letters. Like most of his peers, Thomas King, a theology professor at Georgetown University, said he doesn't use computers for classroom presentations. "I just don't have the time. I don't have the time to use everything they come up with," he said. King uses e-mail, calling it a "very nice development" for keeping up with friends and colleagues. But he said even that can be cumbersome. "I just get so many messages that it's a real chore," he said.

The 34,000 faculty members surveyed by mail in the 1998-99 academic year represent 378 of the nation's two-year and four-year colleges and universities. The survey suggests that colleges, like the nation's elementary and secondary schools, have a way to go in preparing teachers for their technically savvy students."

Source: TechLearn Trends – Technology & Learning Updates

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