Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) Announces FY2009 Grant Round: Deadline Dec. 18, 2008

The PTFP has just announced that Dec. 18, 2008 is the deadline for applications to receive funds through its FY2009 grant round. This grant program has helped many ITC members purchase the equipment they needed to construct or expand their distance learning programs (most through the non-broadcast technologies category). I encourage you to contact Bob Sestili at, (202) 482-2141 if you have any questions or would like to run an idea by him to see if he thinks your program could receive funding through PTFP.  Chris.

Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP)
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
Department of Commerce

Application Deadline: Dec. 18, 2008, 5:00pm eastern time

The Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) assists, through matching grants, in the planning and construction of public telecommunications facilities in order to:

(1) extend delivery of services to as many citizens as possible by the most cost-effective means, including use of broadcast and non-broadcast technologies;

(2) increase public telecommunications services and facilities available to, operated by, and controlled by minorities and women;

(3) strengthen the capability of existing public television and radio stations to provide public telecommunications services to the public.

Since 1979, NTIA has funded nonbroadcast distance learning projects for innovative or unique distance learning projects which address demonstrated and substantial community needs. For fiscal year 2008, NTIA awarded $377,984 in funds to three grantees for distance learning projects. The awards ranged from $89,853 to $187,931.

The growth of digital technologies provides new opportunities for distance learning projects using both broadcast and nonbroadcast facilities. NTIA encourages applicants to consider the use of digital technologies in proposing unique or innovative distance learning projects for funding in FY 2009. Examples of innovative digital applications include projects (1) which use broadband technologies for distance learning, (2) which distribute educational or informational programming via direct broadcast satellite technologies, (3) which provide multi-media content using the digital television transmission infrastructure and delivered through a method that is not a typical broadcast channel, or (4) which incorporate video, voice, graphics and data capabilities for online distance learning services. NTIA also encourages applicants to consider broadcast projects which use the multi-channel capacity of digital television to provide innovative distance learning projects.

All distance learning applications must address substantial and demonstrated needs of the communities being served. NTIA is particularly interested in distance learning projects which benefit traditionally underserved audiences, such as projects serving minorities, people living in rural communities, or those living in disadvantaged areas where distance learning services will provide significant educational opportunities.

Amount to be Awarded: Subject to the availability of FY 2009 funds. Cost sharing is required.

Eligible applicants must be: (a) a public or noncommercial educational broadcast station; (b) a noncommercial telecommunications entity; (c) a system of public telecommunications entities; (d) a non-profit foundation, corporation, institution, or association organized primarily for educational or cultural purposes; or (e) a state, local, or Indian tribal government (or agency thereof), or a political or special purpose subdivision of a state.

For more information contact: Robert Sestili, (202) 482-2141

Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) Announces FY2009 Grant Round: Deadline Dec. 18, 2008

eTextbooks, Postsecondary Stats, Video Games, Thomson Sues Zotero, UCLA, Leasing Wireless Channels, Born Digital Book, Second Life, Minute Math

E-Textbooks for All
by Andy Guess
Oct. 7, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Many observers, both in academe and in the publishing industry, believe it’s only a matter of time before electronic textbooks become the norm in college. Some campuses in particular may already be getting a glimpse of the future through partnerships with individual publishers or with consortiums.”

“Such deals tend to offer students a choice in addition to their current options in the hope that they’ll opt for the cheaper alternative. In contrast to that model, and through a partnership with the publisher John Wiley & Sons, an experiment soon to be underway at the University of Texas at Austin will shift certain classes entirely to e-textbooks.”

“Beginning next semester, for the initial pilot phase of one to two years, the university will cover the electronic materials for the approximately 1,000 students enrolled in a handful of courses in largely quantitative subjects such as biochemistry and accounting. By purchasing in bulk on a subscription model, the university initially hoped for a “per student per book” cost of $25 to $45. (Wiley hasn’t publicized a final price range, so it’s unclear whether it will be that low.) The idea of the “beta test,” as the university dubs it, is to see how students and faculty respond to e-textbooks and to decide whether they could be deployed on a larger scale.” …

Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2007 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2006-07, and 12-Month Enrollment 2006-07
Oct. 7, 2008, National Center for Education Statistics

In 2007-08, there were 6,709 Title IV postsecondary institutions in the United States and other jurisdictions. Among these, 41 percent were classified as four-year institutions, 33 percent were two-year institutions, and the remaining were less-than-two-year institutions.

Private not-for-profit four-year institutions reported average tuition and required fees charges for full-time undergraduates of $19,047 (two-year $9,396). Private for-profit four-year institutions reported charging $14,908 (two-year $12,357), on average, for tuition and required fees during 2007-08, and public four-year institutions reported charging out-of-state undergraduates an average of $13,595 (two-year $5,914) and in-state undergraduates an average of $5,730 (two-year $2,749).

For the 2006-07 academic year, four-year Title IV institutions reported awarding 2.4 million degrees and two-year institutions reported awarding 563,875 degrees. Of the degrees awarded by four-year institutions, 42 percent were awarded to men and 58 percent to women. Of the degrees awarded by two-year institutions, 37 percent were awarded to men and 63 percent to women.

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers
by Motoko Rich
Oct. 5, 2008, New York Times

“When PJ Haarsma wrote his first book, a science fiction novel for preteenagers, he didn’t think just about how to describe Orbis, the planetary system where the story takes place. He also thought about how it should look and feel in a video game.”

“The online game that Mr. Haarsma designed not only extends the fictional world of the novel, it also allows readers to play in it. At the same time, Mr. Haarsma very calculatedly gave gamers who might not otherwise pick up a book a clear incentive to read: one way that players advance is by answering questions with information from the novel.”

” ‘You can’t just make a book anymore,’ said Mr. Haarsma, a former advertising consultant. Pairing a video game with a novel for young readers, he added, ‘brings the book into their world, as opposed to going the other way around.’ ” …

Thomson Suing Zotero: More Info and More Thoughts
by Michael Feldstein
Oct. 5, 2008, e-Literate

… “Right now, there is no standard for importing references from the many, many different academic journals out there. In absence of a standard, Thomson went and created (a) an import style format that models the various reference styles of journals, including all the ideosyncrasies that they would present (I’m imagining it as an XML dialect, although I don’t know the implementation details and could easily be wrong), and (b) many, many individual files in that format for importing from various journals. Thomson’s legal filing claims they have over 3,500 style files and implies that many or most of them were created by them (as opposed to their users).”

… “Thomson is alleging that the Zotero team is either pirating or encouraging the pirating of those adapters or drivers. Whether or not there should be open and freely available converters is a separate issue in my mind. I still believe that Thomson’s argument (or this portion of it, at least) is logically valid.” …

You-Tube University: UCLA
by Bryan Alexander
Oct. 3, 2008, Liberal Education Today

Another American university is publishing content through You-Tube. UCLA now has a channel, stocked with course and campus videos. Course content, to pick one example, has its own channel:

Wireless Deal Brings Millions of Dollars to CSU Stanislaus
by Merrill Balassone
Oct. 2, 2008, The Modesto Bee

The Deal: Clearwire Corp. pays California State University, Stanislaus, nearly $4 million up front and more than $1 million each year to lease the unused radio spectrum licensed to the university.

The agreement can extend up to 30 years, with chances to renew the deal after 10 and 20 years. A 30-year deal would mean $54 million to fund the university’s free wireless Internet network on campus and upgrade its computer lab technology every three years, among other projects.

Until this year, the campus used the radio spectrum to broadcast distance learning classes via closed circuit television; now it’s done by Internet and videoconferencing. Clearwire wants to use the radio spectrum to provide high-speed Internet and telephone coverage for Central Valley customers.

Understanding Students Who Were ‘Born Digital’
by Andy GuessO
ct. 2, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

Kids these days! If the technologies students use – and sometimes abuse – add up to an overwhelming jumble for some professors who teach them, John Palfrey and Urs Gasser have written a book that they hope will bridge the generation gap, at least when it comes to an understanding of the different habits, learning styles and ideas about privacy attributed to so-called “digital natives.” Their book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic Books, 2008), covers a lot of the territory mined at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where Palfrey is a faculty director, and is part of its ongoing Digital Natives project. Palfrey, a professor and vice dean at Harvard Law School and Gasser, a professor of law at the University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, and a Berkman fellow, answered questions via e-mail on whether professors should ban Internet from the classroom, the ongoing evolution of libraries, and whether students are learning differently thanks to new technologies.

Fave SL Blogs: The Educators & Non-Profits
by Chris Collins
July 6, 2008, Fleep’s Deep Thoughts

“As promised, here are a few more blogs/sites that I read regularly that focus on using virtual worlds and Second Life in education. Even if you aren’t a teacher or in the education field, these folks work on projects that I think should be interesting to anyone who has an interest in life-long learning, and if you’re looking for something interesting to see or do in Second Life, these blogs almost always have something of interest:’ …

MAA Minute Math

Daily math problems from the Mathematical Association of America’s American mathematics competitions. Each question includes an interactive version of the problem and the solution, with a hint.

eTextbooks, Postsecondary Stats, Video Games, Thomson Sues Zotero, UCLA, Leasing Wireless Channels, Born Digital Book, Second Life, Minute Math

Cheating Tips, Student Aid, IL Global Campus, Digital Divide, PBS, Broadband, DVDs, Security, Medical Search, Twitter, WI Students Prefer Online, etc.

Popular Online Videos Teach Crafty Ways to Cheat on Tests
by Jeffrey R. Young
Oct. 1, 2008, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Some schemes for cheating on exams seem like more work than actually studying — like printing a counterfeit Coke-bottle label with answers on it to sneak a cheat sheet into class. A popular video on YouTube demonstrates the cheating technique, and it’s one of many “how to cheat” videos available online.”

The Spellings Plan for Simplification
by Doug Lederman
Oct. 1, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Margaret Spellings and her staff clearly haven’t started packing up their offices just yet. In a speech tonight at Harvard University, the U.S. education secretary will unveil a proposal to greatly simplify the process by which students apply for federal financial aid. Under the plan, which flows from a set of ideas floated by Under Secretary Sara Martinez Tucker at an Education Department summit in July, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid would shrink from more than 100 questions to 26, and students would find out before their senior year of high school how much federal financial aid they would qualify for.”

” ‘This all flies under the rubric of needing to make this process much much less burdensome,’ Spellings said in an interview in her office Monday. ‘Right now, it’s like we’re trying to keep people out of college, not get them in. … The whole thing is, ‘You want to go to college? Here are seven pages of bureaucracy, and here’s what you’re going to have to do to get it.’ As opposed to, ‘Here’s a simple way to do it, and here’s what we’re going to do for you, so you can get it.’ It’s the whole psychology.’ ”

Online Campus, Part II: The Spinoff
by Andy Guess
Sept. 30, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“When the University of Illinois first announced its plan to create a separate, for-profit online education arm called Global Campus in 2006, observers saw potential for a significant shift in a landscape dominated by profit-seeking companies and a few successful models at public universities. That sentiment lasted only as long as it took faculty leaders to get hold of the proposal, however, which they rejected for relying heavily on non-tenure-track instructors, among other reasons.”

“Eighteen months later, after a slow start for the online campus, some faculty may be coming around to the university administration’s attempt to resurrect some of that initial blueprint, albeit in altered form. As a result of a 2007 compromise with faculty members, Global Campus doesn’t currently operate as a stand-alone entity. It partners with existing university departments on all academic offerings, and existing university faculty control course content. Partially for that reason, and without significant incentives to do so, many professors have been reluctant to lend their resources to the enterprise. Officials predicted enrollments of up to 10,000 online students within five years of the initial incarnation’s launch, but so far, Global Campus has logged 121 students in its five programs so far.”

“Last week Joseph White, the university’s president and a strong backer of the initiative from the beginning, proposed a return to one of the original goals for Global Campus: achieving separate accreditation, which the administration argues would allow it to more freely expand and adjust offerings to market needs, and to hire its own faculty.” . . .

‘Stuck in the Shallow End’: Education, Race, and Computing
by Scott Jaschik
Oct. 1, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Jane Margolis is a scholar of equity issues raised by technology whose previous book was Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women and Computing. Her new book, which (like the previous one) is published by MIT Press, focuses on how issues of class and race affect access to technology and training. Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing is based on research by Margolis in Los Angeles high schools serving students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Margolis, a senior researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, responded via e-mail to questions about the book.”

Bill Would Boost Public TV’s Learning Power: ‘Ready to Compete Act’ Would Open Public Television Archives for Educational Use
by Meris Stansbury
Sept. 30, 2008, eSchool News

“Schools across the United States soon could have online access to a vast amount of educational content from public television archives to help raise student achievement, if a new bill called the Ready to Compete Act (H.R. 6856) is enacted. Co-sponsored by Reps. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Ray LaHood, R-Ill., the bill would reauthorize two existing federal programs: Ready to Learn, which aims to improve literacy by encouraging the creation of educational public TV programming, and Ready to Teach, which intends to boost teacher quality through the development and use of public TV content for teacher professional development.”

“In addition, the bill would create two new programs: Ready to Achieve and Ready to Earn. Ready to Achieve would create a national, on-demand, online digital media service that would allow teachers to access public television’s extensive archives of educational content. Ready to Earn would allow stations to create new resources to address the needs of adult learners in a changing economy. The goal behind both of these new initiatives is to prepare learners more effectively for the 21st century workforce by tapping into the potential of digital technologies to explore science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, as well as history, literacy, and other subjects.” . . .

UPDATED: Broadband Data Collection Bill Approved By Congress
Sept. 30, 2008, Updated: Oct. 1, 2008, C-Net|
by Stephanie Condon

“Providing universal broadband may very well start with simply finding out who has broadband access and who doesn’t. The House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill that could help answer that question by improving broadband data collection. Passed unanimously in the Senate on Thursday, the Broadband Data Improvement Act received minor, technical amendments from the House and was returned to the Senate for approval. The Senate is expected to approve it by unanimous consent and send it to President Bush for his signature. The legislation, introduced by Sen Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) in 2007, calls for the Federal Communications Commission to collect a broader swath of information regarding who has broadband access. The commission would also be required to identify tiers of broadband service in which most connections can transmit high-definition video, as well as collect demographic data for geographical areas not served by any advanced telecommunications provider. The bill also requires other government offices to collect information, such as whether Internet subscribers use dial-up or broadband. The bill also establishes a grant program for organizations to track and promote Internet usage.”

“Update: Congress passes bill aimed at measuring Internet access

Congress has passed legislation that will require the government to keep closer tabs on who has access to the Internet and who does not. Supporters hope the Broadband Data Improvement Act will help policymakers better identify areas of the country that are falling behind when it comes to high-speed Internet access. The bill passed both houses of Congress, with the Senate approving a final version Tuesday on a voice vote.”

Studios Sue to Bar a DVD Copying Program
by Brad Stone
Sept. 30, 2008, New York Times

“Six major movie studios sued RealNetworks, the Seattle-based digital media company, on Tuesday over its new $30 software program that allows people to make digital copies of their DVDs. As the opening warning on every DVD indicates, Hollywood has bitterly opposed such copying. The studios have argued that it threatens their emerging business of digital downloads and can motivate buyers to rent, copy and return DVDs instead of buying them.”

“RealNetworks, the company behind RealPlayer software and the Rhapsody music subscription service, said RealDVD gives users the freedom to do things like make backup copies of favorite discs or take movies along on a laptop while traveling. It has argued that RealDVD is now legal because of a favorable decision last year in a case against Kaleidescape, a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-end media servers.” . . .

Security Risks Rise as Smartphones Become Smarter
by Jeremy Kirk
Sept. 29, 2008, IDG News Service

“As wireless devices become more numerous within businesses, their convenience will be counterbalanced by an increasing potential for security problems, according to a Gartner analyst.  New trends in the wireless industry are making it easier for hacking attacks, said John Girard, a Gartner vice president, who spoke at the IT Security Summit in London on Monday.”

“A few years ago, there was not a lot of standardization across wireless devices. Differing operating systems, differing implementations of mobile Java, and even varying configurations among devices with the same operating system made it hard to write malicious code that ran on a wide array of devices, Girard said. But that’s changing as the quality control gets better on widely used platforms such as Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and the Symbian operating system, he said. That standardization makes it easier for attackers to write code that will run on many devices.” . . .

Logging On for a Second (or Third) Opinion
by John Schwartz
Sept. 29, 2008, New York Times

. . . “Reliance on the Internet is so prevalent, said the report’s author, Susannah Fox, the associate director at Pew, that “Google is the de facto second opinion” for patients seeking further information after a diagnosis. . . .  There are so many sites today and the landscape is changing so rapidly that it would take an encyclopedia rather than a newspaper to list them. But they can be grouped into five broad, often overlapping, categories:” general interest, medical research sites, patient sites, disease-specific sites, and Web tools.” . . .

Also see: Health on the Web

100+ (E-)Learning Professionals to Follow on Twitter
by Jane Hart
Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

“I (Jane Hart) am often asked for the names of (e-)learning professionals – from both education and corporate learning  – as well as other related professionals to follow on Twitter.   I started this list with 101 names on it, now thanks to many people who have submitted recommendations, it has grown. If you know  someone you think should be on the list, email me.”

Study: College Students Prefer Classes with Online Learning
Sept. 23, 2008, University of Wisconsin-Madison News

“What do today’s undergraduate students expect from their educational experience? Online lectures are moving to the top of the list, according to a new study released by the University of Wisconsin-Madison E-Business Institute, a campuswide initiative conducting multidisciplinary research on e-business strategies, emerging information technologies and innovative business practices.”

“The study, set against the backdrop of a national trend for webcasting college lectures, was designed to understand student attitudes and assess preferences for the value of adding lecture capture to existing courses. One key finding is that an overwhelming 82 percent of the undergraduates in the sample said they would prefer a course that records and streams lecture content online.” . . .

USDA Awards $28 Million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants
Sept. 18, 2008

“Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas C. Dorr today announced the selection of 105 recipients in 41 states for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants totaling $28.2 million. “These funds will increase the range of educational opportunities available to students in rural communities and improve access to health care for countless numbers of rural Americans,” said Dorr. ‘The projects will also open the door to the expansion of technology, increasing rural economic opportunities, promoting strong and vibrant communities.’ ” See the list of grant recipients at

Radiology Assistant

An initiative of the radiologist Robin Smithuis for the Radiology Society of the Netherlands, this site provides up-to-date radiological education for radiology residents and radiologists.  It focuses on on common clinical problems in which imaging plays a major role in the management of the patient. The subjects are presented by experts in the field. Subscribe to the newsletter and get a mail when a new article is published.

Connie Martinson Talks Books

The Connie Martinson Talks Books Collection consists of more than 2,500 television interviews with prominent authors of fiction and nonfiction taped over the last 30 years. Included in the collection are interviews with Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Al Gore, Rosa Parks, Gore Vidal, Barack Obama, Studs Terkel and Joyce Carol Oates. The “Connie Martinson Talks Books” television series originates from L.A. CityView Channel 35 and can be seen on government-access cable outlets around the country and PBS in New York — and now in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. Donated by Connie Martinson to the Drucker Institute and the Transdisciplinary Studies Program at Claremont Graduate University.

Hear Here

A multi-media project from the Royal Philharmonic Society and Classic FM to promote active listening. The project is designed to encourage people to think about the way they listen to music. Includes concerts and discussions, listening notes for the concerts and broadcasts, interviews with leading musicians and hearing experts, with opportunities to exchange opinions, investigate your personal listening skills and perceptions, and participate in a national survey of listening habits.

Ocean Science: An Interactive Open Access Journal of the European Geosciences Union

A new international and free to Web scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of ocean science, experimental, theoretical and laboratory. The primary objective is to publish a very high quality scientific journal with free Web-based access for researchers and other interested people throughout the world.  Ocean Science covers: ocean physics (i.e. ocean structure, circulation, tides and internal waves); ocean chemistry; biological oceanography; air-sea interactions; ocean models, physical, chemical and biological and biochemical; coastal and shelf edge processes; and paleooceanography.

Cheating Tips, Student Aid, IL Global Campus, Digital Divide, PBS, Broadband, DVDs, Security, Medical Search, Twitter, WI Students Prefer Online, etc.