Congratulations to the Recipients of ITC’s 2009 Awards for Excellence in Distance Education

2009 ITC Awards for Excellence in eLearning
ITC Recognition Luncheon – Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 – 12:45pm to 2:00pm
Hilton Portland and Executive Tower in Portland, Oregon

ITC Award for Lifetime Achievement in e-Learning

Richard Gross

Outstanding Online Courses

Public Speaking, Burlington County College, Pemberton, NJ
Modeling, Materials and Lighting, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA

Outstanding Blended Course

Structure of American Sign Language, St. Petersburg College, Clearwater, FL

Outstanding Distance Learning Faculty

Pamela Hegg, Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, IL
Sharon Rifkin, Broward College, Pembroke Pines, FL

Outstanding Technical Support and Service

Mercer County Community College, West Windsor, NJ

ITC offers its members leadership, information and resources to expand and enhance distance learning through the effective use of technology. An affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges established in 1977, ITC represents higher education institutions in the United States and Canada, and is leader in advancing distance education.

Congratulations to the Recipients of ITC’s 2009 Awards for Excellence in Distance Education

Meeting the Higher Education Act’s Requirement for Distance Learning Student Authentication

We are pleased that Barbara Beno, president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC); Kay Gilcher, senior policy analyst, Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education; and Fred Lokken, associate dean of TMCC WebCollege, Truckee Meadows Community College, will share their thoughts on this important topic, “Meeting the Higher Education Act’s Requirement for Distance Learning Student Authentication,” on Jan. 13, 2009 from 2:00pm-3:00pm eastern time.

A lot of confusion and misinformation has been shared about these new regulations that have yet to be crafted by the accrediting bodies and the U.S. Department of Education.  We hope that this distinguished panel will help clarify matters.  I have also listed some excellent resources below.  Please sign up for the following audiconference soon since there are a limited number of seats available to attend the live presentation.  Chris.

Meeting the Higher Education Act’s Requirement for Distance Learning Student Authentication
Jan. 13, 2009 – 2:00pm-3:00pm Eastern Time
ITC Professional Development Audioconference

ITC members: one call for $25, 20 calls for $460, 32 calls for $704, these prices are double for non-members

Register Online (questions call 202/293-3132 or e-mail Ginger Park)

Presenters: Barbara Beno, President of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC); Kay Gilcher, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education; and, Fred Lokken, Associate Dean of TMCC WebCollege, Truckee Meadows Community College

When Congress re-authorized the Higher Education Act on July 31, 2008, they included language that required colleges to have “processes” that establish that “the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the program and receives the academic credit.” ITC was able to garner support from Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and John Ensign (R-NV) to add clarifying language to the legislation which explains the congressional intent of the legislation to Department of Education regulators.

“The Conferees expect institutions that offer distance education to have security mechanisms in place, such as identification numbers or other pass code information required to be used each time the student participates in class time or coursework on-line. As new identification technologies are developed and become more sophisticated, less expensive and more mainstream, the Conferees anticipate that accrediting agencies or associations and institutions will consider their use in the future. The Conferees do not intend that institutions use or rely on any technology that interferes with the privacy of the student and expect that students’ privacy will be protected with whichever method the institutions choose to utilize.”

This language should provide guidance to the accrediting agencies and the Department of Education, but it does not have the rule of law. Join us in this discussion which includes the key representatives who will be involved in crafting the regulations that accompany this legislation — so you can learn what steps they will be taking in the coming months, and the steps you will need to take in order to be in compliance with this new law.

Higher Education Opportunity Act
See Part H Program Integrity, Section 495. Recognition of Accrediting Agency or Association, page 253

Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference
This is the so-called “clarifying language”
See Part H Program Integrity, Section 495. Recognition of Accrediting Agency or Association, pages 135-136

Higher Education Act Update
by Barbara Beno
Sept. 5, 2008, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

Identity Verification for Distance-Ed Students: FUD Lingers
by Steven L. Worona
Oct. 15, 2008, EDUCAUSE

The Truth about the Re-authorized Higher Education Opportunity Act
By Tony Suess
Nov. 23, 2008

Authenticating Students in Online Programs
by Alan Levine
Oct. 27, 2008, New Media Consortium

Meeting the Higher Education Act’s Requirement for Distance Learning Student Authentication

IT Budgets, Broadband, Gaming Stats, Lively Bust, Ball State, NYIT/Cardean, Blackboard Sues, Web 2.0, NetGen Nonsense, Faculty Pay

With Budget Crunch Hitting IT, Time to Rethink Role?
by Andy Guess
Dec. 11, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Information technology, the backbone of colleges’ network and security operations, faces the same wave of cuts as any other line in the budget these days, at least at institutions imposing across-the-board cuts. But rather than lament the fewer resources they have to work with, some chief information officers see the latest economic downturn as an opportunity to rethink their role and, in the process, revive an ongoing debate about what exactly they should be doing to serve the mission of higher education.”

“As budgets tighten, some CIOs are asking themselves where, to use the economic parlance, their comparative advantage lies, and whether the cuts serve as a chance to offload services available elsewhere – by outsourcing e-mail and moving common tasks to the “cloud” of third-party, cheaply networked computers – and concentrating on developing applications specific to teaching and research.” . . .

White House Opposes FCC Free Wireless Internet Plan
by Amy Schatz
Dec. 10, 2008, Wall Street Journal

“Bush administration officials are trying to put the brakes on the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to encourage a free, national wireless Internet plan, which the agency could approve next week. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez sent a letter to the agency’s Republican chairman Wednesday afternoon expressing the administration’s displeasure with the idea. ‘The administration believes that the (airwaves) should be auctioned without price or product mandate,’ Mr. Gutierrez wrote. ‘The history of FCC spectrum auctions has shown that the potential for problems increases in instances where licensing is overly prescriptive or designed around unproven business models.’ ”

“Outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin hopes to win approval for his plan next week, at one of the last FCC meetings he will chair. Mr. Martin has proposed auctioning off some airwaves for a new, national wireless broadband service next year. The winner of the auction would be required to offer free wireless Internet access across the country within a few years on a portion of those airwaves.  The free, advertising-supported service wouldn’t necessarily be speedy – it would be faster than dial-up, slower than most cable broadband offerings — and would come equipped with a smut-filter to keep children 18 and younger from viewing porn and other racy fare. The winner of the auction could offer a higher-speed subscription service on the rest of the airwaves.” . . .

Obama Pledges Public Works on a Vast Scale
by John Broder, Peter Baker
Dec. 6, 2008, New York Times (summary provided by the Benton Foundation)

“President-elect Barack Obama promised Saturday to create the largest public works construction program since the inception of the interstate highway system a half century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy. Obama’s remarks showcased his ambition to expand the definition of traditional work programs for the middle class, like infrastructure projects to repair roads and bridges, to include new-era jobs in technology and so-called green jobs that reduce energy use and global warming emissions. The plan would cover a range of programs to expand broadband Internet access, to make government buildings more energy efficient, to improve information technology at hospitals and doctors’ offices, and to upgrade computers in schools. Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House energy adviser, said, ‘He is advocating things like guaranteeing every American a college education, wiring the entire country for Internet, putting in a smart electric grid. If he can do it, these will be major systemic advantages for the United States in the competitive global economy.”

“In his weekly radio address, President-elect Obama said, ‘[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools. As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.

“In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

Diverse Group Calls for National Broadband Policy
by Carol Wilson
Dec. 2, 2008, TelephonyOnline (summary provided by the Benton Foundation)

“On Tuesday, a diverse group of 55 signatories (including the Benton Foundation) released a call to action for a national broadband strategy aimed at making broadband deployment and adoption a priority for the Obama administration. The document, endorsed by parties as varied as AT&T, Verizon, Google, Free Press and municipal broadband players, seeks to find a middle ground on which all broadband players can stand and endorse the push to make broadband ubiquitous in the US. According to organizer Jim Baller, this is the first step in a process that will include a major event in the spring of 2009 to continue to focus on the need for broadband deployment and adoption. Past “a comprehensive national broadband strategy,” the groups called for 1) Open access to the Internet “to the maximum feasible extent” for all users, service providers, content providers, and application providers. 2) Rights for network operators to manage their networks “responsibly, pursuant to clear and workable guidelines and standards.” 3) A competitive Internet and broadband marketplace, to the greatest extent possible. 4) Broadband network performance, capacity, and connections that US citizens need to compete successfully in the global marketplace.”

Adults and Video Games
by Amanda Lenhart Sydney Jones Alexandra Rankin Macgill
Dec. 7, 2008, Pew Internet and American Life Project

“More than half – 53 percent – of all American adults play video games of some kind, whether on a computer, on a gaming console, on a cell phone or other handheld device, on a portable gaming device, or online. Age is the biggest demographic factor in game play by adults. Younger adults are significantly more likely than any other game group to play games, and as age increases game play decreases. Independent of all other factors, younger adults are still more likely to play games.” . . .

In Google We Trusted and Now Our Project’s Busted
Dec. 5, 2008

“A heck of a great potential tool is about to go away on December 31, 2008. Google’s lively – while not perfect in many ways runs on a standard web browser and provides a way to create private rooms to teach in a 3d environment. So, my students have used Lively for Digiteen and have loved it. ( created scripts, did plays in Lively to teach digital citizenship, created rooftops and whole virtual schools. (See their action wiki.) We also created a wiki on which we recorded our ideas and opinions on the nine aspects of digital citizenship-literacy, access, etiquette, commerce, rights and responsibilities, law, communication, security and safety, and health and wellness. So, now, we’re at least trying to bring attention to two important things:”

“1) Corporate Digital Citizenship. As we study about digital citizenship – we also think that it should extend to companies. In digital citizenship we learn that we must respect others whom we interact with on the Internet. Lively goes away with no ability to download. Now, as we’ve looked into it, Lively is built on something called Gamebryo which we think has a license fee and perhaps that is why it isn’t going to be released as open source. However, we WISH that someone somewhere would provide some alternatives. We’ve only had 6 months to get familiar with this tool and I wasn’t able to take students into it until this fall. We barely got our avatar’s hair combed until we heard it was going away!” . . .

“2) The use of 3D worlds in Schools.  We need free, usable 3D virtual worlds for schools. Teen second life is EXPENSIVE – we had it in our budget and now we’re looking at $2300 a year to maintain and keep an island — it is out of our league at this time. We don’t have that kind of money to build in Second life !! HELP! So, as we go on this journey and PROTEST the lively shut down, we’re also going to investigate new worlds and other alternatives and share it with you. After a class meeting, the students have formed a Digiteen Dream Team. They dream of teaching digital citizenship in a virtual world.” . . .

Ball State Launches $17.7 Million Emerging Media Initiative
by Joe Mandese
Dec. 7, 2008, MediaPost (summary provided by the Benton Foundation)

Ball State University unveiled a major initiative designed to advance the study of emerging media and to better prepare students for careers in a rapidly changing digital economy. The program, backed by $17.7 million in funding over the next five years from a combination of institutional and private sector sources, is another in a series of commitments the Indiana state university has made to become an area of academic excellence for the media industry. The emerging media initiative will be a combination of higher education and practical application. The goal is to attract and retain key faculty steeped with knowledge and understanding of emerging media, as well as fellows from within the industry. As part of that, the program will have an Emerging Media Faculty Fellows program, which BSU will provide incentives and start-up funding for the hiring of new faculty — across the curriculum — with expertise in the study and use of emerging media.

YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money
by Brian Stelter
Dec. 10, 2008, New York Times

“One year after YouTube, the online video powerhouse, invited members to become ‘partners’ and added advertising to their videos, the most successful users are earning six-figure incomes from the Web site. For some, like Michael Buckley, the self-taught host of a celebrity chatter show, filming funny videos is now a full-time job. Mr. Buckley quit his day job in September after his online profits had greatly surpassed his salary as an administrative assistant for a music promotion company. His thrice-a-week online show ‘is silly,’ he said, but it has helped him escape his credit-card debt.” . . .

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
by Jack Stripling
Dec. 9, 2008, Insider Higher Ed

“When the New York Institute of Technology went into business with a private online course developer in 2003, both parties expected a happy marriage. But the institute’s recent break-up with Cardean Learning Group, LLC, finalized in a summer court settlement, had the makings of a bitter divorce, with both sides launching harsh accusations in a custody battle over students.”

“The partnership between the institute – an accredited private, non-profit college – and Cardean, a for-profit company formerly known as UNext, was billed as a win-win situation. Cardean would help design and finance a new online branch campus for NYIT, and in turn NYIT would put Cardean on the path to developing its own freestanding, accredited university. The agreement between the two gave birth to Ellis College, an online NYIT venture that would eventually be phased out at the point that Cardean secured accreditation for Ellis University, an independent institution. In a strategic alliance between the two, a crop of online students would be ushered into NYIT – where they could receive financial aid from an accredited institution – and then transfer to the newly established Ellis University once it achieved accreditation on its own.”

“While Ellis University has been accredited, and officials say the student transfers are now under way, the process went anything but smoothly. The friction between the two has drawn the attention of Ellis University’s new accreditor, which is planning a focused on-site visit in January to ensure that Ellis is meeting the standards of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The story of Cardean and NYIT’s relationship (see timeline), as culled from court documents and interviews, is a veritable case study of the potential perils of increasingly common joint ventures between private companies and established nonprofit colleges looking for new revenue steams.” . . .

Blackboard Sues U.S. Patent Office
by Jeffrey Young
Dec. 2, 2008, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Just when you thought the patent fight over course-management software couldn’t get any more confusing, Blackboard Inc. went to federal court to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to overturn a recent decision concerning Blackboard’s controversial patent on course-management software. The issue at stake is who decides whether or not Blackboard’s patent is valid. Right now the patent is being challenged on two fronts:”

“- Front one is the courts. Blackboard sued its biggest competitor, Desire2Learn, arguing that the Canada-based company violated Blackboard’s patent with its course-management software. On that front Blackboard is winning. In march a federal jury in Texas awarded Blackboard $3.1-million, finding that Desire2Learn did infringe the company’s patent. Desire2Learn has appealed the decision, and it modified its software in response to the court decision.”

“- Front two is the patent office’s own review process. Desire2Learn has challenged the validity of Blackboard’s patent, and the office is working through a formal reexamination of it. On this front Desire2Learn is winning big. In an initial ruling issued this year, the patent office struck down all 44 claims in the Blackboard patent.”

“Blackboard clearly wants the final decision to rest with the courts, where it has received the most favorable verdicts. Its new lawsuit, filed late last month against the patent office and Jon W. Dudas, the office’s director, seeks to overturn the patent office’s recent decision to continue its review of the patent’s validity while the court challenge goes on. Blackboard argues that once a court ruling about a patent is issued, the patent office should end any reexamination of that patent. The patent office has ruled that its reexamination will only end once a final verdict in court is issued, meaning only after all possible appeals are pursued.” . . .

World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others: How to Teach When Learning is Everywhere.
by Will Richardson
December 2008, Edutopia

“Welcome to the Collaboration Age, where even the youngest among us are on the Web, tapping into what are without question some of the most transformative connecting technologies the world has ever seen. These tools are allowing us not only to mine the wisdom and experiences of the more than one billion people now online but also to connect with them to further our understanding of the global experience and do good work together. These tools are fast changing, decidedly social, and rich with powerful learning opportunities for us all, if we can figure out how to leverage their potential.” . . .

Web 2.0 in Education (UK) Home

“Hello and Welcome to the Web 2 in Education Wiki. This site is designed to provide teachers with a directory of free webtools along with some suggestions as to how they may be used in the classroom. I have searched over 2000 websites and listed 194 tools, that’s 194 opportunities for you to use ICT in your classroom and all for free! Where possible I have included a brief review and a screenshot or working example of the tool. If you come across any other tools that are not on my list please let me know. Alternatively, if you use one of these tools in the classroom why not let me know how you got on by becoming a member and joining the discussion forum. In the meantime check out the list of tools on the Site pages to the left of this page or have a look at the Glog below which showcases some of the best tools around today!”

“Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet” by Christine L. Borgman
Book Review by Ibironke Lawal, Virginia Commonwealth University
Winter 2008, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship

“Christine Borgman starts her book by bringing to the forefront, the enormous impact of the Internet technologies on scholarship. It is needless to say that the original use of the Internet was for communication of research findings among scholars, information that was scholarly and free. At that time, the network was used and controlled by a closed community of researchers and their staff. With advances in technology and increase in bandwidth, the Internet is now used for various purposes including commerce. Online information today is more than scholarly information. It consists of what Borgman calls ‘stuff,’ verifiable and unverifiable data and web sites. Some of these still contain valuable information for scholarship. Sites such as those of daily newspapers around the world, preprint servers, scholarly online journals available even before the print is released, mailing lists and blogs enable rapid and free access to important information to support scholarship.” . . .

NetGen Nonsense
by Mark Bullen

“This blog is dedicated to debunking the myth of the net generation, particularly as it relates to learning, teaching and the use of technology. By using this forum I hope to start a conversation around this issue and promote an informed discussion of strategies that postsecondary institutions can use to harness the power of Web 2.0 and other learning technologies that is based in fact not rhetoric.”

In his November 28 post Bullen writes about a recent study, “Two British researchers have just completed a study of undergraduate students that found ‘many young students are far from being the epitomic global, connected, socially-networked technologically-fluent digital native who has little patience for passive and linear forms of learning.’ Instead, the study found that students use a limited range of technologies for both formal and informal learning and that there is a ‘very low level of use and familiarity with collaborative knowledge creation tools such as wikis, virtual worlds, personal web publishing, and other emergent social technologies.’ ”

Education Attainment Levels for the States
Lumina Foundation

This Web site from the Lumina Foundation shows county-by-county data on the educational levels of the adults in their jurisdiction.  It also compares the education levels in each state with those in other countries.

Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2007, and Salaries of Full-time Instructional Faculty 2007-08
by Laura G. Knapp, et. al., Research Triangle Institute
Dec. 11, 2008 – Web release, National Center for Education Statistics

This report presents information from the Winter 2007-08 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) web-based data collection. Tabulations represent data requested from all postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal student financial aid programs. The tables in this publication include data on the number of staff employed in Title IV postsecondary institutions in fall 2007 by primary function/occupational activity, length of contract/teaching period, employment status, salary class interval, faculty and tenure status, academic rank, race/ethnicity, and gender. Also included are tables on the number of full-time instructional faculty employed in Title IV postsecondary institutions in 2007-08 by length of contract/teaching period, academic rank, gender, and average salaries.

Breadth of Adjunct Use and Abuse
by Scott Jaschik
Dec. 3, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“The use of adjuncts is well known among academics, but many believe that these instructors are utilized primarily in certain areas (such as the humanities) or certain types of institutions (such as community colleges). But a report being released today by the American Federation of Teachers suggests that the breadth and depth of adjunct use is greater than many realize – such that they are teaching a majority of public college and university courses, and are a major force in a wide range of disciplines.”

“The report – ‘Reversing Course: The Troubled State of Academic Staffing and a Path Forward’ – is designed to publicize the extent of adjunct use with a mind toward encouraging more colleges to either improve the pay they offer adjuncts or shift more of their positions to the tenure track. Along those lines, the AFT is releasing a new tool that allows colleges to calculate the costs of changing staffing policies. The goal is to show that modest changes may be possible – even in tight budget years like this one – and that over time, such changes could have a meaningful impact on the makeup of faculties and the compensation of adjuncts.” . . .

IT Budgets, Broadband, Gaming Stats, Lively Bust, Ball State, NYIT/Cardean, Blackboard Sues, Web 2.0, NetGen Nonsense, Faculty Pay

Cyberbullying, Emerging Tech, Digital Divide, E-mail, Future of Online Learning, Accessibility, Virtual Worlds, Students, One Laptop per Child

Guilty Verdict in Cyberbullying Case Provokes Many Questions Over Online Identity
by Brian Stelter
Nov. 27, 2008, New York Times

“Is lying about one’s identity on the Internet now a crime? The verdict Wednesday in the MySpace cyberbullying case raised a variety of questions about the terms that users agree to when they log on to Web sites. The defendant in the case, a Missouri woman, was convicted by a federal jury in Los Angeles on three misdemeanor counts of computer fraud for having misrepresented herself on the popular social network MySpace. The woman, Lori Drew, posed as a teenage boy in using the account to send first friendly and then menacing messages to Megan Meier, 13, who killed herself shortly after receiving a message in October 2006 that said in part, ‘The world would be a better place without you.’ ”

“MySpace’s terms of service require users to submit “truthful and accurate” registration information. Ms. Drew’s creation of a phony profile amounted to “unauthorized access” to the site, prosecutors said, a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, which until now has been used almost exclusively to prosecute hacker crimes. While the Internet’s anonymity was used in this case as a cloak to bully Megan, other users say they have perfectly good reasons to construct false identities online, if only to help protect against the theft of personal information, for example.” . . .

Definition of Emerging Technologies for Learning
Nov. 27, 2008

George Siemens writes, “I received an email recently asking for my definition of emerging technologies for learning. To enlarge the conversation, I asked the question on Twitter. The following are responses:”

Eduinnovation: “Those technologies that allow learners to connect, collaborate, and create with other learns, mind-to-mind, anywhere & anytime”

prawsthorne: “an innovation that captures attention, engages and deepens learning so the learner/teacher can self-measure the improvement.”

MarkMilliron: “any technology YOU don’t quite understand that you’ve heard might improve teaching and learning”

UNMVCTLC: “using technology TOOLS to improve the learning process while enhancing the instructional environment” and “using those tools that are not fully explored to reach new frontiers in methodology, experiences and concepts”

jdwilliams: “I think emerging (web) technologies are just sites/apps my district hasn’t found to block (yet)”

Darren Draper: “Emerging technologies for teaching and learning consist of all hardware, software, concepts, and ideas that can be employed to advance social, connective, and educational processes”

bengrey: “A body of knowledge or innovation not yet widely adapted or fully actualized which holds educational implications”

StonyRiver: “New Direction Learning Technologies” How do you define emerging technologies for learning (or is the attempt to provide a definition sooo web 1.0?)?

Adapting to the Era of Information
by Reginald Stuart
Nov 27, 2008, Diverse – Issues in Higher Education

“While some tribal colleges are working to give students access to the Internet, a digital divide persists. When professors at Northwest Indian College began giving more and more assignments requiring the use of the Internet for study and research, a harsh reality began to set in: More than a few students at the tribal college couldn’t make good use of this increasingly important electronic path to knowledge of the world. Despite having wireless connectivity to the Internet on campus, the students could not afford a laptop computer of their own to access the Internet. Using the school’s three computer labs was also problematic, as many students were working parents who traveled long distances and had little time to stay on campus after classes to use school computers to go online. There was also the problem of not being able to afford increasingly expensive Internet access at home.”

“Rather than write the students off or risk seeing them lose interest in a college education for lack of the modern tools, the Bellingham, Wash.-based college that serves students throughout the state and in Idaho came up with a simple solution: use funds from a small federal grant to purchase 15 laptop computers and have a laptop loan program for students, one that runs much like borrowing a book from a library.” . . .

The Future of Campus Email
Nov. 24, 2008, Academhack

“Boston College takes the important step of not providing incoming freshmen with email addresses. I have argued this before, but, I simply don’t understand why campuses spend so much money trying to maintain and provide students with email addresses. There are so many free services out there, ones which students who are coming into the university are already comfortable with using. Now I know someone is going to mention privacy in the comments here, so let me preempt that comment. Privacy here is a red herring, rather than provide students with a false sense of privacy related to an email account they don’t use we should teach them how to responsibly use the one they will.”

The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On
by Stephen Downes
Nov. 16, 2008, Half an Hour

“In the summer of 1998, over two frantic weeks in July, I wrote an essay titled The Future of Online Learning. (Downes, 1998)” . . . “In this essay I offer a renewal of those predictions. I look at each of the points I addressed in 1998, and with the benefit of ten year’s experience, recast and rewrite each prediction. This essay is not an attempt to vindicate the previous paper – time has done that – but to carry on in the same spirit, and to push that vision ten years deeper into the future.

Discussion topics include: technology, new technology in education, interaction and online conferencing, personalized learning, time and place independence, learning communities, the triad model, modularity, copyright, ownership and identity, instructional technology, the economics of online learning, and the future.

Accessibility: Making Video and Audio Usable for the Deaf: Consider Appealing Graphics to Convey Sound Variations
by Joseph C. Dolson
Nov. 6, 2008, Practical Commerce

“Using video and audio in a website increases the probability of an accessibility problem. Where text can be readily translated into a wide variety of alternative mediums for the disabled, the complex nature of video and audio make this kind of machine-generated comprehension nearly impossible. Add to that the fact that reading a transcript hardly conveys an experience equivalent to the excitement of an expertly-produced audio file, and it’s clear that marketers have a serious challenge when targeting the disabled using video and audio. In this article, I’ll be looking specifically at ideas to help make video and audio promotions more accessible – and marketable – to the deaf/hard-of-hearing community.”

Designing for Dyslexics: Part 1 of 3
by Mel Pedley
Oct. 16, 2006,

“This is the first in a series of three articles examining the specific learning difficulty known as dyslexia and how web design can impact the ability of those afflicted to access information on web pages. The specific needs of dyslexics tend to be overshadowed by the more widely understood needs of the visually impaired. Unfortunately, design decisions that benefit the latter group tend create problems for the former. This is never more evident than in so-called “accessible” text only pages with their emphasis on high contrast and complete lack of images and colour. One of the common problems that I have encountered is that many web developers have an incomplete understanding of dyslexia and the difficulties it creates. So let’s start by answering some questions about dyslexia and dispelling some common beliefs” . . .

Serious Virtual Worlds
by Sara de Freitas
Nov. 3, 2008, JISC

“One of the problems with this area is that there is a plethora of virtual worlds available and practitioners do not always know which one to use and in which contexts. In order to help practitioners to identify the worlds that are the most relevant for their particular learning context, the report presents an overview of the available virtual worlds, describing in particular the serious virtual worlds that have educational potential or have been used in education and training settings. However, stepping beyond this traditional mode of teacher and learner, the report also aims to foreground how learners themselves are becoming a more central component in the use of immersive worlds, creating learning experiences for themselves and adopting a more exploratory mode of learning.”

“The aim of the report then is two-fold: to provide a context for learning practitioners and policy makers, aiding with their understanding of virtual worlds and how they can be selected and used in tertiary education; and to highlight how learners, through greater empowerment, may play a different and enriched role in the process of forming collaborative learning experiences and engaging in activities which may support their own learning and meta-reflection.”

Stephen Downes writes, “The appendices are where this report shines, with a good vocabulary and a detailed list of virtual world applications. There are numerous examples of educational functions of virtual worlds, and it’s not all about Second Life, as a second on the Croquet community demonstrates.”

Why’s it Called Second Life When There’s Nothing Alive There?
by Paul Carr
Nov. 26 2008,

“Wandering around Second Life today is like visiting Blackpool in February; all sad empty shops, deserted car parks and the stench of loneliness – and the opportunity to buy a fake cock for two quid. Occasionally – very occasionally – you’ll chance upon another depressed lump of sub-humanity, wandering aimlessly and wondering what wrong junction they had taken off the M6 motorway of their life to end up somewhere so desolate.” . . .

A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do)
by Michael Wesch
Oct. 21, 2008, Encyclopedia Britannica Blog

. . . “Fortunately, the solution is simple. We don’t have to tear the walls down. We just have to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions.”

“When we do that we can stop denying the fact that we are enveloped in a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where the nature and dynamics of knowledge have shifted. We can acknowledge that most of our students have powerful devices on them that give them instant and constant access to this cloud (including almost any answer to almost any multiple choice question you can imagine). We can welcome laptops, cell phones, and iPods into our classrooms, not as distractions, but as powerful learning technologies. We can use them in ways that empower and engage students in real world problems and activities, leveraging the enormous potentials of the digital media environment that now surrounds us. In the process, we allow students to develop much-needed skills in navigating and harnessing this new media environment, including the wisdom to know when to turn it off. When students are engaged in projects that are meaningful and important to them, and that make them feel meaningful and important, they will enthusiastically turn off their cellphones and laptops to grapple with the most difficult texts and take on the most rigorous tasks.”

VIDEO: Mary Lou Jepsen on One Laptop Per Child
by Jill Fehrenbacher
Feb. 20, 2008, Inhabitat

“Mary Lou Jepsen’s keynote presentation of One Laptop Per Child at our Greener Gadgets conference was without a doubt one of the highlights of the event. “By trying to do the right thing and by designing for the poorest people in the world, we’ve made the greenest laptop in the world. And that’s not just the color!”

“The OLPC laptop, known as XO or the $100 laptop, is a feat of energy efficient engineering, consuming just 2W of energy – whick makes it able to be powered through solar cells or hand cranks. In the video above, Mary Lou illustrates how the XO laptop is a new model for energy-efficient electronics, and inspiration to look at new ways of powering our devices. The passionate engineer and former Chief Technology Operator of One Laptop Per Child, Jepsen has recently launched a new company called PixelQi, which aims to make the inexpensive, green, low-energy technology of the XO laptop available in ALL commercially available laptops and other portable media devices.”

Cyberbullying, Emerging Tech, Digital Divide, E-mail, Future of Online Learning, Accessibility, Virtual Worlds, Students, One Laptop per Child