Microsoft, Social Networking Stats, K-12 DE Courses, PowerPoint, Cell Phones for Learning, Art Podcasts, Multitasking, Book Review

Microsoft Seeks Path Beyond the Gates Legacy
by Steve Lohr
June 27, 2008, New York Times

“Bill Gates is retiring, sort of. He is still only 52, and he is going off to spend more time guiding the world’s richest philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He will still be Microsoft’s chairman and largest shareholder, but Friday is his last day as a full-time worker at the software giant, marking the unofficial end of his career as a business leader.” . . .

“Despite his success, Mr. Gates is moving on as the company he co-founded in 1975 is struggling to find its way. The center of gravity in technology has shifted from PCs to the Internet, altering the old rules of competition that were so lucratively mastered by Microsoft. For millions of users, mobile devices like cellphones are beginning to edge out PCs as the tool of choice for many computing tasks. And Google, the front-runner in the current wave of Internet computing, has wrested the mantle of high-tech leadership from Microsoft.” . . .

Creating and Connecting/Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking
National School Boards Association
January 28, 2008

“Overall, an astonishing 96 percent of students with online access report that they have ever used any social networking technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting online communities, such as Facebook, MySpace and services designed specifically for younger children, such as Webkins and the chat sections of Nick.com. Eighty-one percent say they have visited a social networking Web site within the past three months and 71 percent say they use social networking tools at least weekly.”

“Further, students report that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social networking scene is education. Almost 60 percent of students who use social networking talk about education topics online and, surprisingly, more than 50 percent talk specifically about schoolwork.”

“Yet the vast majority of school districts have stringent rules against nearly all forms of social networking during the school day – even though students and parents report few problem behaviors online. Indeed, both district leaders and parents believe that social networking could play a positive role in students’ lives and they recognize opportunities for using it in education – at a time when teachers now routinely assign homework that requires Internet use to complete. In light of the study findings, school districts may want to consider reexamining their policies and practices and explore ways in which they could use social networking for educational purposes.” . . .

The study was comprised of three surveys: an online survey of 1,277 nine- to 17-year-old students, an online survey of 1,039 parents and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy.

Technology-Based Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: 2002-03 and 2004-05
National Center for Education Statistics
June 27, 2008

“This report details findings from “Technology-Based Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: 2004-05,” a survey that was designed to provide policymakers, researchers, and educators with information about technology-based distance education courses in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide. This report also compares these findings with baseline data collected in 2002-03, and provides longitudinal analysis of change in the districts that responded to both the 2002-03 and 2004-05 surveys. For these two surveys, distance education courses were defined as credit-granting courses offered via audio, video, or Internet or other computer technologies to elementary and secondary school students enrolled in the district, in which the teacher and students were in different locations.”

“Findings indicate that 37 percent of public school districts and 10 percent of all public schools nationwide had students enrolled in technology-based distance education courses during 2004-05. During 2002-03, 36 percent of districts and 9 percent of schools had students enrolled in technology-based distance education courses. About a quarter (26 percent) of school districts that existed in both 2002-03 and 2004-05 had students enrolled in technology-based distance education in both school years, 11 percent did not have students in this type of education in 2002-03 but had such enrollments in 2004-05, and an equal percentage of districts (11 percent) had students enrolled in technology-based distance education in 2002-03 but not in 2004-05.”

“The number of enrollments in technology-based distance education courses increased from an estimated 317,070 enrollments in 2002-03 to 506,950 in 2004-05. The number of enrollments varied considerably among districts, although the majority of districts (57 percent) reported between one and 20 technology-based distance education enrollments in 2004-05. Distance education was more commonly offered by high schools than by schools at any other level, with 61 percent of technology-based distance education enrollments at the high school level. Seventy-one percent of districts with students enrolled in technology-based distance education courses in 2004-05 planned to expand their distance education courses in the future.”

Webinar: Creating Powerful Presentations with Nancy Duarte
June 18, 2008

Nancy Duarte, principal of Duarte Design and one of the guru’s behind Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth presentation, took over 135 people through her advice and thoughts on how to create powerful presentations.

Cell Phones and Mobile Devices for Learning (Part 1 of 2)

Karen Montgomery and Wesley Fryer discuss using cell phones and other mobile devices for learning in K-12 and university classrooms. Part two will focus on iPhones and web applications for the iPhone. Podcast.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: Podcasts

The Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden located in Washington, D.C. “collects, preserves, and presents international modern and contemporary art in all media, distinguished by in-depth holdings of major artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” Their Web site includes nearly 80 podcasts – conversations with artists and curators for their collections and discussions on topics like bookmaking, experimental filmmaking, and the craft of sculpture.

The Myth of Multitasking
by Christine Rosen
Spring 2008, The New Atlantis

. . . “The Kaiser report noted several factors that increase the likelihood of media multitasking, including ‘having a computer and being able to see a television from it.’ Also, ‘sensation-seeking’ personality types are more likely to multitask, as are those living in “a highly TV-oriented household.” The picture that emerges of these pubescent multitasking mavens is of a generation of great technical facility and intelligence but of extreme impatience, unsatisfied with slowness and uncomfortable with silence: ‘I get bored if it’s not all going at once, because everything has gaps – waiting for a website to come up, commercials on TV, etc.’ one participant said. The report concludes on a very peculiar note, perhaps intended to be optimistic: “In this media-heavy world, it is likely that brains that are more adept at media multitasking will be passed along and these changes will be naturally selected,” the report states. ‘After all, information is power, and if one can process more information all at once, perhaps one can be more powerful.’ This is techno-social Darwinism, nature red in pixel and claw.”

“Other experts aren’t so sure. As neurologist Jordan Grafman told Time magazine: ‘Kids that are instant messaging while doing homework, playing games online and watching TV, I predict, aren’t going to do well in the long run.’ ‘I think this generation of kids is guinea pigs,” educational psychologist Jane Healy told the San Francisco Chronicle; she worries that they might become adults who engage in ‘very quick but very shallow thinking.’ Or, as the novelist Walter Kirn suggests in a deft essay in The Atlantic, we might be headed for an ‘Attention-Deficit Recession.’ ” . . .

Brain Rules
by John Medina

The brain is an amazing thing. Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget – and so important to repeat new knowledge? Brain Rules is about what we know for sure, and what we might do about it.

Disruptive, Online Education to go Main Stream
Book Review by Terry Anderson
June 26, 2008

“I’ve long been a fan of Clayton Christensen’s ‘disruptive innovation” theories outlined in “Innovator’s Dilemma” and the follow up “Innovator’s Solution I think he provides a great deal of sound theoretical and practical reasoning about the process of innovation. Unfortunately, the examples in his books come mostly from industry and especially high tech innovation contexts. Thus, Walter Archer, Randy Garrison and I wrote an article in 1999 Adopting disruptive technologies in traditional universities: Continuing education as an incubator for innovation. applying Christensen’s ideas to distance education and extension education. The paper actually won an award, but we just just scratched the surface.”

Microsoft, Social Networking Stats, K-12 DE Courses, PowerPoint, Cell Phones for Learning, Art Podcasts, Multitasking, Book Review

June 2008 issue of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

The June 2008 issue of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching is now available. Here is a list of the contents for this issue.

Blackboard as the Learning Management System of a Computer Literacy Course
Florence Martin, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

This study reports the evaluation results of using a learning management system (LMS) in a computer literacy course. The goal of the present study was to explore the usefulness of content delivery and how it helped students in learning computing skills. Using Blackboard as the LMS, 145 undergraduate college students enrolled in a computer literacy course in a large southwestern university responded to an online survey and seven instructors who taught the course were surveyed over email to determine value and usefulness of the features in the environment.

Overall, assignments, course documents and gradebook were reported as the most useful features. Immediate feedback on quizzes, accessing the materials at all times, and getting comfortable in use of technology were rated as most helpful areas. Both students and instructors responded positively to the LMS experience and provided evidence that numerous learning outcomes can be enhanced by the presence of such a system.

Lifelong Learning and Systems: A post-Fordist Analysis
Patricia McGee and Marybeth Green, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Learning/Course Management Systems (L/CMS) have become an instructional backbone for online instruction. Yet over the course of their inception as a management framework, our knowledge of learning theory had advanced tremendously, resulting in what the authors feel is an antiquated instructional system. This study analyzes five most used L/CMS in K-20 education within a post-Fordist framework that analyzes current capacities of systems to support current learning theory. Findings indicate that L/CMS are largely lacking in effective instructional functions.

Wikis as a Tool for Collaborative Course Management
Mark Frydenberg, Senior Lecturer and Software Specialist, Computer Information Systems Department, Bentley College

There are growing expectations among college students to be able to access and manage their course materials over the World Wide Web. In its early days, faculty would create web pages by hand for posting this information. As Internet technologies and access have matured over the past decade, course and learning management systems such as Blackboard and Web CT have become the norm for distributing such materials. In today’s Web 2.0 world, wikis have emerged as a tool that may complement or replace the use of traditional course management systems as a tool for disseminating course information. Because of a wiki’s collaborative nature, its use also allows students to participate in the process of course management, information sharing, and content creation. Using examples from an information technology classroom, this paper describes several ways to structure and use a wiki as a course management tool, and shares results of a student survey on the effectiveness of such an approach on student learning.

Defining Tools for a New Learning Space: Writing and Reading Class Blogs
Sarah Hurlburt, Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Whitman College

This paper uses specific issues surrounding course blogging to provide a series of reflections regarding the articulation between pedagogy and technology in creating a next generation learning space and discourse community. It investigates the underlying structure and necessary constituent elements of a successful blog assignment and examines the notion of natural and unnatural virtual environments and the roles of the reader and the writer-reader. It suggests that blog assignments may not succeed equally well in all subject areas and gives a number of possible reasons. Furthermore, it posits a more nuanced criterion for the definition of goals and the evaluation of the success of a blog assignment as a learning community beyond the presence or absence of comments.

The LMS Mirror: School as We Know IT versus School as We Need IT and the Triumph of the Custodial Class
Gary Brown, Director, the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology; Nils Peterson, Assistant Director, the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology, Washington State University

In the context of the future of learning management systems, this paper examines the concept and perception of a learning environment from the classroom to the internet and their relationship to perceptions of teaching and learning. Examples and research, including an example of an activist Web 2.0 pro-social effort, are used to demonstrate the distinction between the current state of teaching and learning, and an emerging model and vision. The implications for necessary future directions to mediate the contrast are discussed.

Deepening the Chasm: Web 2.0, Gaming, and Course Management Systems
Bryan Alexander, National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education

Web 2.0 has emerged into a large, growing, and developing world of content and platforms. Gaming has rapidly expanded into a global industry. In contrast course management systems have developed along very different lines. We examine ways for the CMS to connect with these two worlds, outlining areas for possible development: increased hyperlinking, internal platforms and instances, and extruded applications. Additionally we consider ways by which the CMS can learn strategically and conceptually from Web 2.0 and gaming.

Identity, Power, and Representation in Virtual Environments
Frank Vander Valk, State University of New York, Empire State College

The proliferation of immersive, three dimensional virtual environments presents educators with a moment of creative possibility in designing the next generation of computer-assisted learning. At the same time, the fact that these environments may be inscribed with particular value sets and power relations presents educators with a burden of pedagogical responsibility. This paper attempts to begin a conversation about some of the hidden considerations that may be confronted as virtual learning environments become more accessible, acceptable, and assessable. The author challenges the view that virtual environments are reliably neutral venues for the creation of virtual identities that escape the culturally constructed power configurations of the offline world. Indeed, the very dichotomy between real and virtual is itself questionable. While the promise of virtual learning environments is real, it is often unrealized. Educators have a responsibility to critically engage the implicit assumptions embedded in the technology they would ask students to use.

Structuring Asynchronous Discussions to Incorporate Learning Principles in an Online Class: One Professor’s Course Analysis
Andria Young, Associate Professor, School of Education and Human Development, University of Houston – Victoria

Eight sections of one online undergraduate course were analyzed to determine if the structure of the online discussions enhanced learning of course objectives as measured by course exams. Discussions were structured to incorporate learning principles associated with storing information in long term memory through control processes of meaningful learning, elaboration, and rehearsal in the form of distributed practice. Results indicate that grades on discussions correlate with exam grades and students who fully engage in the discussion activities have higher test grades than students who do not fully engage in discussion activities. The implications for online instruction and future research are discussed.

The Overall Effect of Online Audio Conferencing in Communication Courses: What do Students Really Think?
Lynn M. Disbrow, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Wright State University

The use of online ancillary tools in technology based pedagogy is growing. This paper examines student reactions to an online audio conferencing tool used as a part of both online and traditional communication courses. Students were e-mailed four broad, open-ended questions to gather the most authentic reactions to their experience with the conferencing tool. Most frequently, students cited convenience and increased interactivity as positive aspects of using the conferencing tool. “Technological problems” was the most frequently cited drawback to the tool.

Investigating the Connection between Usability and Learning Outcomes in Online Learning Environments
Gabriele Meiselwitz, Computer and Information Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics; William A. Sadera, Educational Technology and Literacy, College of Education, Towson University

Online learning is used in many institutions of higher education with course offerings ranging from complete online degrees to hybrid virtual and physical courses. Online learning environments are complex environments using a variety of technologies and tools to overcome time and location restrictions. The research presented in this article focuses on a web-based asynchronous learning environment and the integration of usability factors into the evaluation of student learning outcomes. Usability tools are often employed in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to measure the quality of a user’s experience when interacting with a web site and could potentially impact learning in web-based online learning environments. This study investigates the relationships between usability factors and learning outcomes in an online learning environment as well as differences in learning outcomes and system usability between several selected student groups, including student computer competency scores, gender, age, and student standing. The results of this survey-based study highlight the importance of integrating usability factors into the evaluation of learning outcomes in online learning environments.

Self-aware and Self-directed: Student Conceptions of Blended Learning
Susan L. Greener, Brighton Business School, University of Brighton

This paper reports on an investigation into student conceptions of “blended learning”, (hybrid in US) in the light of their experience of a Higher Education Masters level module at a British university. The small scale study used a rigorous qualitative method to discover in the students’ words a range of conceptions relating to this learning experience. The students’ conceptions were related to the stage of study and an analysis of motivations for learning in this context. The study identified a new dimension of learning motivation with practical implications for attempting to blend traditional face-to-face teaching methods with online support and study options.

Teaching People to Bargain Online: The Impossible Task Becomes the Preferred Method
Carolyn D. Roper, Assistant Professor, Organizational Leadership and Supervision, College of Business, Purdue University North Central

The author traces her attitude-reversing experience developing, against her professional judgment, an online version of a skill-based, interactive collective bargaining class for undergraduate college students. The author explains the methods used to teach the class and lists the advantages and disadvantages of teaching a skill-based class online. Finally, she relates this class to best online instructional practices, concluding that the significant advantages compensate for the absence of in-person communication in a traditional classroom.

Breaking into the Fulcrum Arena: Concept Paper Looking Beyond Next Generation LMS
Shalin Hai-Jew, Office of Mediated Education, Kansas State University

In the spirit of futurist probes into what a next-gen learning management system (LMS) may look like, the author uses a sci-fi scenario to touch on some distant possibilities. This fictional work follows J4 in his quest to break into the Fulcrum Arena and emerge with the information and strategic relationships he needs to achieve mysterious aims.

This story envisions a learning space that integrates various databases, global positioning systems (GPS), and other technologies into an integrated digital enclosure. It focuses on informational elites, those who have the rawest and freshest information, vs. those who get processed versions through public channels. Here, identities are persistent and coalesced through information collected by ‘bots. The learning is all strategic, it’s immersive, and it directly applies to the lived world.

Learning Management Systems of the Future: A Theoretical Framework and Design
Farhad Saba, Department of Educational Technology, San Diego State University

While American institutions of higher education still lead the world in quality of instruction, research and service, certain trends are challenging their future. Immediate attention to resolving these issues is necessary if the American university is going to maintain world leadership in the foreseeable future. The theory of transactional distance is put forward as a roadmap for changing the industrial system of education to a post-industrial one in which each learner receives differential instruction based on his or her prior knowledge of the subject matter, learning preferences and metacognitive states. Management of learning and teaching is described in a dynamic environment in which learners can participate in defining the level of autonomy with which they are comfortable, and instructors can set the required level of structure according to the characteristics of each discipline taught thus providing the appropriate level of transactional distance at each point in time for each individual learner. Ramifications of this environment for the structure of the university are discussed and components of a future educational management system are specified.

June 2008 issue of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Desire2Learn vs. Bb, Free History, Men Online, e-Books, HS Seniors, Efficient Video, Sustaining Online Resources, Universal Broadband

Desire2Learn Accuses Blackboard of Spreading False Information About Its Stability
by Jeffrey R. Young
June 24, 2008, Chronicle of Higher Education

“As the patent battle between Blackboard Inc. and Desire2Learn Inc. continues in court, officials from the two companies are escalating a war of words in the press and in the blogosphere. In a statement issued Monday on its blog, Desire2Learn accused Blackboard’s general counsel, Matthew Small, of spreading false information to try to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt about its competitor in his recent statements to The Chronicle and other publications.”

“Mr. Small’s remarks came last week after Blackboard asked a federal judge in Texas to hold Desire2Learn in contempt of court, alleging that its competitor continues to sell software that was found to have infringed a patent held by Blackboard. Desire2Learn recently released a new version of its software that its officials said removed features that were found to have infringed Blackboard’s patent.” . . .

Replace that US History Textbook with Learner.org’s “A Biography of America”
by Clay Burell
June 24, 2008, Beyond School

“Now that I’ve left schooling, it’s wonderful to explore things for teaching. Case in point: Annenberg Media/Learner.org’s A Biography of America series (see http://www.learner.org/biographyofamerica/). It’s an astonishingly media-rich 26-part series – count ‘em, 26 half-hour PBS episodes featuring leading US historians, plus transcripts of each episode, plus interactive maps, photos, primary sources, and more for each episode – that covers US history from pre-Columbian times to the present. And it’s free.” . . .

Study Finds Men More Than Women Share Creative Work Online
by Eszter Hargittai
June 23, 2008, Northwestern University

“A Northwestern University study finds that men are more likely to share their creative work online than women despite the fact that women and men engage in creative activities at essentially equal rates.” . . .

“Overall, almost two-thirds of men reported posting their work online while only half of women reported doing so. When Hargittai and Northwestern’s Walejko controlled for self-reported digital literacy and Web know-how, however, they found that men and women actually posted their material about equally.”

The study appears in Information, Communication & Society at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a791547082~tab=linking

2008 Global Student E-book Survey
Survey Analysis by Allen McKiel, Western Oregon University
June 24, 2008

The survey includes responses from 6,492 freshmen through doctoral students from nearly 400 institutions.

Student academic use of information resources (table 2): 81% [2,593] Google, 78% [2,517] E-books, 77% [2,478] Print books, 69% [2,206] E-reference, 67% [2,142] Wikipedia, 65% [2,098] Print textbooks, 65% [2,080] E-journals, 62% [1,992] Databases (ProQuest, LexisNexis, JSTOR, etc.)

Trends Among High School Seniors, 1972-2004
National Center for Education Statistics
June 24, 2008

This report from the National Center for Education Statistics looks at overall trends, and trends within various subgroups defined by sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Key findings include:

– The percentage of seniors enrolling in calculus during their senior year grew from 6 percent to 13 percent between 1982 and 2004. The percentage of seniors taking no mathematics courses during their senior year declined from 57 percent to 34 percent over this time period.

– In each class of seniors, most of those who planned further schooling intended to attend four-year postsecondary schools, with the proportion of students planning to attend four-year schools rising from 34 percent in 1972 to 61 percent in 2004.

– In 1972, males expected to earn a graduate degree as their highest educational level in greater proportions than did females (16 percent versus 9 percent); however, in 2004, females expected to earn a graduate degree more often than males (45 percent versus 32 percent).

– Seniors increasingly expected to work in professional occupations (growing from 45 percent of seniors in 1972 to 63 percent of seniors in 2004 expecting to work in a professional field).

Efficient Video Delivery Over The Internet
by Lei Zhu
May 13, 2008, Digital Web Media

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this day and age of digital media, video on your web site can be priceless. Whether you have a corporate, social networking, or video streaming site, video instantly captures your visitor’s attention and describes your product and services quickly and effectively. Due to its large install base, Flash video is now the de-facto standard in internet video delivery. With recent updates to Flash 9, Flash Player adds the capability of playing H264 encoded video in full screen mode, making the delivery of Flash videos on the internet not only practical, but efficient as well. In this article, I will examine a few different techniques for delivering Flash videos over the internet and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.” . . .

Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources
by Kevin Guthrie, Rebecca Griffiths, Nancy Maron
May 2008, An Ithaka Report

“There is no formulaic answer or single approach to achieving sustainability. No study can lay out a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan that any organisation can follow to reach a point of financial stability. There are, however, a variety of processes and procedures that can help to improve the likelihood of entrepreneurial success. These include establishing organisational mechanisms to develop accountability in leaders, setting measurable goals and objectives, reviewing progress on those objectives on a regular basis, and assessing the performance of both the project and its leaders.” . . .

Universal Service, Broadband and the Death Star
by Kevin Taglang
June 25, 2008, Benton Foundation

Ed Markey (D-MA), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, held a hearing exploring the core principles of universal service, which historically has provided a baseline level of affordable voice telecommunications service to everyone in the United States, in light of the rise of Internet-based broadband communications technologies and the changing marketplace. He said it was time to begin a “conversation about what we believe universal service should be in the 21st Century. This will allow us to effectively manage both the imposition of fees as well as justify the eligibility and purpose of disbursements.”

He wanted to begin with questions: what level of service should be supported for rural consumers? Should the supported services include just plain old telephone service or broadband, wireline or wireless service too? If competition fails to achieve affordability for a particular service in a rural community, should extremely wealthy rural consumers be subsidized or should the program be targeted to assure affordability for non-wealthy consumers in some way? For low income consumers in non-rural areas, should their supported service or services be comparable to the level of service provided to rural consumers? How should Congress or the FCC adjust the program for rural health care? What about the future of the e-rate?

House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell said, “Broadband is the communications platform of the future. Any successful universal service program for the future must account for this reality. Universal service is about access and affordability. A proper universal service program should ensure access and affordability in places and situations where market forces cannot or do not. Properly targeting universal service support must ensure consistency, efficiency, and fairness.” Chairman Dingell said Congress, not the Federal Communications Commission, is better suited to make the tough political choices on how best to reform the system.

Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA) may grab all the headlines saying, “Generally, I think the Universal Service Fund needs to be blown up like the Death Star.” He continued, “We need to completely reform the Fund by moving away from subsidizing telephone service and instead put our money toward the broadband future. For now, I’ll call this needed reform Universal Service 2.0.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/24/AR2008062401135.html

Chairman Markey’s position

Chairman Dingell’s position

Universal Service Fund should be “blown up” like Death Star (ars technica)

George Lucas: Free Broadband for Schools (Broadcasting&Cable)

U.S. must reform telecom services fund Congress told (Reuters)

George Lucas Calls for ‘Third Internet’ (PC Mag)

Desire2Learn vs. Bb, Free History, Men Online, e-Books, HS Seniors, Efficient Video, Sustaining Online Resources, Universal Broadband

Summer 2008 Issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

The Summer 2008 issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration is now available.

A Strategic Planning Process Model for Distance Education
by Kenneth P. Pisel, Ph.D, National Defense University, Joint Forces Staff College

As more institutions seek to implement or expand distance learning programs, it becomes critical to integrate distance learning programs into broader strategic visions and plans. Using the informed opinion from a panel of peer-nominated experts via iterative Delphi questionnaires, a 10-phased strategic planning process model for distance education was developed. This model is designed to support planners, from novice through expert, strategically prepare for implementing distance learning programs.

“To have a strategy is to put your own intelligence, foresight, and will in charge instead of outside forces or disordered concerns” (Keller, 1983, p. 75).

Streamlining Forms Management Process in a Distance Learning Unit
by M’hammed Abdous, Ph.D, and Wu He, Ph.D, Old Dominion University

Managing the required forms for a variety of distance courses is challenging and sometimes overwhelming. Inefficient management can lead to a variety of problems in course delivery, such as delays in obtaining textbooks, problems in obtaining copyright permissions, and even course delays. In an effort to facilitate, streamline and improve forms management, a system was designed to streamline the management of required forms for face-to-face, hybrid, online and televised courses. The environment provides faculty, and the office of distance learning with an easy tool to fill in and manage all forms effectively and efficiently.

It Takes a Virtual Community: Promoting Collaboration Through Student Activities
by Ludmila Battista, Carol Forrey, and Carolyn Stevenson, Kaplan University

Distance education provides many nontraditional students with the opportunity to pursue a college education not possible through traditional brick and mortar education. Although not meeting face-to-face, student activities help promote a stronger connection between the classroom and university community. This paper will discuss strategies for developing a sense of student community at a distance. Topics include: the role of professional and student organizations in building community; academic coaching and courses for at-risk students; community building through student websites; use of Second Life for promoting student leadership and collaborative activities.

Instructor’s Privacy in Distance (Online) Teaching: Where do you draw the line?
by Valerie A. Storey, Ph.D, and Mary L. Tebes, Ph.D, Lynn University

The exponential growth of distance learning provision in the past forty years poses pertinent and critical ethical issues. Students participating in distance education via an online course are required to recognize and resolve various ethical issues, some of which focus on the instructor’s actions. The university, too, as it supports students and instructors, is ethically involved in the process. As the number of online classes continues to grow, an increasing number of articles are being written about student and program integrity but there is a notable absence of articles or research focusing on the emerging issue of institutional integrity in relation to instructors. The ideology of New DEEL’s (Democratic Ethical Educational Leadership) speaks to the ethical basis of online teaching and this paper delineates an authentic ethical dilemma for which a universalized and generalized ethical model is proposed to be usefully applied to all issues involving privacy of participants.

Action Research: Effective Marketing Strategies for a Blended University Program
by Ruth Gannon Cook, Ed.D, DePaul University School for New Learning; Kathryn Ley, Ph.D, University of Houston

This action research study investigated a marketing plan based on collaboration among a program faculty team and other organizational units for a graduate professional program. From its inception through the second year of operation, program enrollment increased due to the marketing plan based on an effective approach grounded in simple marketing principles. Data including planning and meeting notes, memoranda, documents, and program enrollment data reveal how plan development and implementation increased enrollments by over a third in less than two years.

Profiling Students Who Take Online Courses Using Data Mining Methods
by Chong Ho Yu, Samuel Digangi, Angel Kay Jannasch-Pennell, and Charles Kaprolet, Applied Learning Technologies Institute, Arizona State University

The efficacy of online learning programs is tied to the suitability of the program in relation to the target audience. Based on the dataset that provides information on student enrollment, academic performance, and demographics extracted from a data warehouse of a large Southwest institution, this study explored the factors that could distinguish students who tend to take online courses from those who do not. To address this issue, data mining methods, including classification trees and multivariate adaptive regressive splines (MARS), were employed. Unlike parametric methods that tend to return a long list of predictors, data mining methods in this study suggest that only a few variables are relevant, namely, age and discipline. Previous research suggests that older students prefer online courses and thus a conservative approach in adopting new technology is more suitable to this audience. However, this study found that younger students have a stronger tendency to take online classes than older students. In addition, among these younger students, it is more likely for fine arts and education majors to take online courses. These findings can help policymakers prioritize resources for online course development and also help institutional researchers, faculty members, and instructional designers customize instructional design strategies for specific audiences.

E-mail Alerts and RSS Feeds for Distance Learning Administrators
by Allyson Washburn and Scott L. Howell, Brigham Young University

A distance learning administrator’s need for an executive survey of breaking developments is not unique-especially when so much information is now available. One author used the following comparison to describe the information age in which distance learning administrators now live and work: “A weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England” (Wurman, 1989, p. 32). This same author also stated, now almost 20 years ago, that “more new information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000 . . . and the total of all printed knowledge doubles every eight years” (Wurman, 1989, p. 35). It is no wonder that “seven out of 10 office workers in the United States feel overwhelmed by information in the workplace, and more than two in five say they are headed for a data ‘breaking point,’ according to a recently released Workplace Productivity Survey, . . .” (Tahmincioglu, 2008). Some distance education administrators fear that they might not be keeping up with critical developments in their field because there is just too much information to sort through; or that they are not receiving the best information available; or they just don’t have enough time to get through it all, so why try.

Summer 2008 Issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

Charging Users for Bandwidth, Free Course on Conectivism, Google, e-Learning Ideas, Library Stats, Broadband Defined

Charging by the Byte to Curb Internet Traffic
by Brian Stelter
June 15, 2008, New York Times

“. . . But now three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity.”

“One of them, Time Warner Cable, began a trial of “Internet metering” in one Texas city early this month, asking customers to select a monthly plan and pay surcharges when they exceed their bandwidth limit. The idea is that people who use the network more heavily should pay more, the way they do for water, electricity, or, in many cases, cellphone minutes. That same week, Comcast said that it would expand on a strategy it uses to manage Internet traffic: slowing down the connections of the heaviest users, so-called bandwidth hogs, at peak times. AT&T also said Thursday that limits on heavy use were inevitable and that it was considering pricing based on data volume. “Based on current trends, total bandwidth in the AT&T network will increase by four times over the next three years,” the company said in a statement.”

“All three companies say that placing caps on broadband use will ensure fair access for all users.”

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge
Stephen Downes and George Siemens will be offering this online course in September 2008 through the University of Manitoba. It is available for credit (enrollment is required) or for personal interest (no fee). All discussions and learning resources will be freely available.

“Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. George Siemens and Stephen Downes – the two leading figures on connectivism and connective knowledge – will co-facilitate this innovative and timely course.”

“This course will help participants make sense of the transformative impact of technology in teaching and learning over the last decade. The voices calling for reform do so from many perspectives, with some suggesting ‘new learners’ require different learning models, others suggesting reform is needed due to globalization and increased competition, and still others suggesting technology is the salvation for the shortfalls evident in the system today. While each of these views tell us about the need for change, they overlook the primary reasons why change is required.” . . .

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
by Nicholas Carr
July/August 2008, The Atlantic Monthly

“I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going – so far as I can tell – but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.”

“I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after. Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets-reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)” . . .

31 Out of 95 E-Learning Ideas Ain’t Bad
by Jared Stein
June 12, 2008, Flexknowlogy

“Patti Shank has put together The Online Learning Idea Book: 95 Ways to Enhance Technology-Based and Blended Learning, an annotated collection of 95+ examples of e-learning tools, scenarios, or applications. Her book packs in best-practices in e-learning that are both accessible and well-illustrated. And while I am glad she put this book together, my general reaction to the book was that it is too long, being packed with numerous examples that are either redundant or simply common sense.”

“I might correct myself on that last point to include “common sense” ideas that are of significant value; yet even so, I think I could edit Shank’s book down to simply 31 useful and noteworthy ideas for technology-enhanced teaching.” . . .

The Survey of Academic Libraries 2008-09 Edition
June 2008, Primary Research Group [this report costs $89.50, but the press release has some interesting stats]

“The Survey of Academic Libraries, 2008-09 Edition is based on data from 75 college libraries in the United States and Canada. Data is broken out by size and type of college, as well as for public and private institutions, to allow for easier benchmarking. The report’s more than 300 tables of data present findings about trends in staffing and salaries, budgets, grants and endowments, special collections, content and materials spending, use of e-books and online services, capital budgets library building renovation and facilities management, information literacy, and many other issues of interest to academic librarians.” . . .

“The libraries in the sample spent a mean of $456,238 for content accessed online in the 2008-09 academic year; the major research universities in the sample averaged more than $3.4 million in such expenditures. Spending per student for online information for colleges with fewer than 1,100 students FTE was $190.15 per student, while for colleges with more than 4,401 FTE per student spending averaged $115.04 for online information. Generally, students at the larger colleges enjoy access to a greater range of databases at much lower cost.” . . .

FCC Finally Redefines Broadband
June 13, 2008, TelecomWeb

“The Federal Communications Commission, following years of criticism and threats of Congressional action, yesterday finally issued an order scrapping its previous definition of “broadband” as any service delivering of at least 200 Kb/s.”

“The order, to be implemented by new rules to be issued within 120 days, sets 768 Kb/s as the minimum speed for what the FCC is now calling “basic” broadband, which extends up to 1.5 Mb/s. Slower speeds, from the old 200 Kb/s definition of broadband up to 768 Kb/s are redefined as “first generation data.” In addition, the FCC said it will now require broadband providers to report subscriber totals for individual higher speed tiers, which it didn’t give names to, of; 1.5 Mb/s – 3 Mb/s; 3 Mb/s – 6 Mb/s; and above 6 Mb/s.”

“Changing the definition of broadband had become a highly politicized issue, with the Republican-controlled FCC often accused of keeping the lower speed definition in an attempt to show that broadband in the United States was growing at a healthy pace. However Democrats, on both the FCC and in Congress, had been howling.”

“Now, with election year finesse, things are apparently changing. The FCC also is scrapping the highly-criticized FCC methodology of using Zip codes to assess broadband penetration, and counting an entire Zip code as having broadband available if even just one resident had broadband. Data will now be collected by census tract, giving a much finer-grained view of the situation. Also changed has been the FCC’s practice of completely ignoring the difference between business and residential broadband. The new rules require wired, terrestrial fixed wireless, and satellite broadband service providers to report, for each census tract and each speed tier in which the provider offers service, the number of subscribers and the percentage of subscribers that are residential.”

“The rules don’t, though, require categorization of business broadband – essentially services that might be symmetrical and delivers speeds that can be 100 Mb/s or even 1 Gb/s. Also glaringly absent from the new reporting regime, in the opinion of highly vocal members of the Democratic minority on the FCC, is any requirement to provide pricing information.” . . .

Charging Users for Bandwidth, Free Course on Conectivism, Google, e-Learning Ideas, Library Stats, Broadband Defined