Open Courses Open Wider
by Andy Guess
Dec. 12, 2007, Inside Higher Ed
“For those inclined to dig through university Web sites, it’s long been possible to browse scattered lecture notes and PowerPoint slides intended for enrolled students. A handful of colleges intentionally make course materials available to anyone with an Internet connection, and now a major name may redefine expectations for online learning. Following its announcement last year, Yale University on Tuesday launched its free, online archive of popular undergraduate courses – including not only syllabi, problem sets and course materials, but videos and audio files of the lectures themselves.”
“Dubbed Open Yale Courses, the Web site’s creators hope the archive will serve as a resource for students abroad or even as support for lecturers at other institutions who need to supplement their own material. In the spirit of keeping information freely available, the lectures are protected under a Creative Commons legal license that allows users to download, share and remix the material in any way they see fit, as long as their purposes aren’t commercial and they credit Yale.” . . .
Social Media in Education
by Brian Lamb
Nov. 27, 2007, SCoPE
Also available as a wiki
“He builds an excellent case for the need to share/use/reuse the educational materials available.” George Siemens.
Audio Interview: How the Internet Is Changing Education
By Jeffrey R. Young
Dec. 12, 2007, Chronicle of Higher Education
John Seely Brown was a computer enthusiast since before most people knew what personal computers were. His work as former director of the Xerox Corporation’s famed Palo Alto Research Center landed him in the computer Industry Hall of Fame. I sat down with Mr. Brown at a recent event celebrating the history of NSFNet, a precursor of today’s Internet, and recorded this podcast interview, in which he talks about how computer networks – and now Web 2.0 – are radically changing education.
Could Broadband Help the Environment?
Dec. 12, 2007, Pew Internet Posts
“Environmentally friendly business practices have become commonplace over the last decade, and the technology sector is no exception. With organizations like Gartner and publications like E-Commerce Times listing Green IT among their top trends for 2008, many people may be wondering what they can do to make their technology usage more environmentally friendly.”
“According to two recently released reports, the answer might be as simple as switching to a high-speed internet connection. In “Broadband Services: Economic and Environmental Benefits” (released Oct. 31, 2007), the American Consumer Institute (ACI) suggests that if broadband adoption became widespread, there could be a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, equaling 1 billion tons over the course of 10 years. Australian telecommunications company Telstra also released a recent report suggesting that its country could reduce emissions by nearly 5% by the year 2015 if it takes advantage of new telecommunication technologies.”
“The reports propose simple answers to saving energy through faster internet connections. The ACI study breaks down its 1 billion tons saved into the categories such as e-commerce, telecommuting, teleconferencing, and downloading music and videos online, all of which can save gas mileage, office space, and paper waste. The Australian study offers similar suggestions such as teleworking and decentralized working, which offers a regional location outside of the home to work while still reducing commuting distance.” . . .
35% of U.S. Tweens Own a Mobile Phone, According to Nielsen
Dec. 3, 2007, Nielsen
The Nielsen Company today released the findings of an in-depth study on the mobile media and cross media behavior of U.S. “tweens” (ages 8-12). The report estimates that: 35% of tweens own a mobile phone. 20% of tweens have used text messaging. 21% of tweens have used ring & answer tones.
While text-messaging and ringtones remain the most pervasive non-voice functions on the phone, other content such as downloaded wallpapers, music, games and Internet access also rank highly among tweens. According to Nielsen, 5% of tweens access the Internet over their phone each month. While 41% of tween mobile Internet users say they do so while commuting or traveling (to school, for example), mobile content such as the Internet is also a social medium for this audience: 26% of tween mobile Internet users say they access the web while at a friend’s house and 17% say they do so at social events.” . . .
“It is not just office workers who are taking their first steps into virtual worlds. So too are lawyers, as disputes in such environments spill over into real-world lawsuits. Such disputes often concern the trade in virtual goods and services, which are bought and sold for real money. In some countries lawsuits over virtual goods are already common. Unggi Yoon, a judge in the Suwon District Court in South Korea, estimates that Korean courts have heard nearly 300 cases of fraud and more than 60 relating to hacking in virtual game-worlds. Similar fights have broken out in American courts, too. So much for escapism. “I have heard from other players that the element of fun in the game has been diminished by thinking of all these legal issues,” says Sean Kane, a virtual-worlds specialist at Drakeford & Kane, a law firm in New York.” . . .
“For some things, it turns out, computer graphics can be much more effective when viewed not on screens, but superimposed on the real world. The technique is known as “augmented reality” (AR) or, less frequently, as “augmented vision”, because the real world is augmented with virtual text or graphics. Much AR technology remains in labs, but research funding in both the private and public sectors is increasing, and all kinds of eclectic and ingenious applications are emerging in fields as diverse as medicine, warfare, manufacturing and entertainment.” . . .
Construction on Campus: Just Add Cash
Nov 29, 2007, The Economist
“In its annual survey, College Planning & Management, a trade magazine, calculates that America’s colleges and universities completed $15 billion worth of building in 2006—an astonishing 260% increase since 1997—and will start projects costing about the same amount this year. The study’s author adds that these figures probably understate the amount universities are spending because of gaps in reporting. Many campuses are investing in laboratories, better student housing and recreational space. But with university fees already exorbitant, how can America’s universities justify their building binge?”
“Part of the explanation is demographic. The Department of Education estimates that American high schools pumped out 3,176,000 seniors in 2006, up 26% from 1995. Consequently, university enrolments swelled 24% during the same period and are projected to rise another 13% by 2015. Naturally, the universities need places to house and teach all these new students. According to the National Science Foundation, American academic institutions began constructing 10.2m square feet of new scientific research space in 2004-05.”
“But with more students entering university, there are also more desirable applicants, a fact that encourages universities to try and expand the number of highly qualified students they can attract. New student amenities and labs help universities outdo each other. The competition for prestige, in the form of top students, prominent faculty members and grant money, is intense: it can also get remarkably petty. Last year the Dallas Morning News reported that Baylor University increased the height of its planned rock-climbing wall from 41 to 52 feet after learning that Texas A&M University’s was 44 feet. Then the University of Houston built a climbing wall that was 53 feet high, and even that was later surpassed by the University of Texas at San Antonio.” . . .
by Andy Guess
Nov. 17, 2007, Inside Higher Ed
As online tools become more ubiquitous inside and outside the classroom, and the growth of distance learning continues, education researchers have begun to focus on how best to harness new technologies. Advocates for the classical lecture experience still exist, of course, but the general trend has been toward incorporating various technologies into the classroom, from course management software to digital photography. One approach, called “blended learning,” mixes traditional “face to face” techniques with cutting-edge developments in theory and technology.
A new book, Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines (Wiley, 2008), summarizes the current theory behind blended learning but offers practical guidelines (with examples) on how to transform existing courses into the new framework. The authors, D. Randy Garrison and Norman D. Vaughan, of the University of Calgary, discuss the ideal conditions for a blended learning experience, how a blog and a wiki can enhance a class and how exclusively face-to-face encounters can lead to short attention spans.