Internet Money in Fiscal Plan: Wise or Waste?
by David Herszanhorn
Feb. 2, 2009, New York Times
“At first glance, perhaps no line item in the nearly $900 billion stimulus program under consideration on Capitol Hill would seem to offer a more perfect way to jump-start the economy than the billions pegged to expand broadband Internet service to rural and underserved areas. Proponents say it will create jobs, build crucial infrastructure and begin to fulfill one of President Obama’s major campaign promises: to expand the information superhighway to every corner of the land, giving local businesses an electronic edge and offering residents a dazzling array of services like online health care and virtual college courses.”
“But experts warn that the rural broadband effort could just as easily become a $9 billion cyberbridge to nowhere, representing the worst kind of mistakes that lawmakers could make in rushing to approve one of the largest spending bills in history without considering unintended results. ‘The first rule of technology investment is you spend time understanding the end user, what they need and the conditions under which they will use the technology,’ said Craig Settles, an industry analyst and consultant who has studied broadband applications in rural and urban areas. ‘If you don’t do this well, you end up throwing millions or, in this case, potentially billions down a rat hole. You will spend money for things that people don’t need or can’t use.’ ” . . .
Disincentive for Distance Learning
by Elizabeth Redden
Jan. 27, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“Online learning enrollments continue growing at double-digit rates each year. But for one sector of students – a sector seen as a particularly good demographic for distance learning – demand for it could be curbed by a new federal law, the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Under the new GI Bill, which goes into effect in August, veterans who study entirely online will be eligible for generous tuition and book benefits. But they will be ineligible for a third benefit of the bill – a housing allowance that’s available to their peers attending brick and mortar institutions more than half-time. The amount of the housing allowance varies by location, but, on average, is valued at $1,250 per month.”
“While lawmakers originally distinguished between online and in-person learners because of practical considerations – specifically, how to allocate housing allowances to veterans living far from their campuses – many point to inherent value judgments within the new GI Bill that favor a traditional, even transformative, college experience. The proposed regulations for implementing the GI Bill do define distance learner narrowly – in order to be eligible for a housing allowance, veterans could take a mix of online and in-person courses, so long as they take at least one course in-residence. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not track enrollment by mode of delivery. But many of the colleges that attract the largest numbers of veterans have large online operations, or, in some cases, are entirely online institutions. The top 10 colleges for GI Bill recipients, according to 2008 VA data, are, in order, the University of Phoenix, American InterContinental and American Public Universities, University of Maryland, Central Texas College, Colorado Technical, Kaplan, Strayer, and Grantham Universities, and Florida Community College.” . . .
India Announces Prototype of $10 Laptop for Education
by Shailaja Neelakantan
Jan. 30, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education
“India’s ministry in charge of higher education says it will make low-power laptops available, at a cost of just $10 apiece, to the Indian market within six months – as part of a major initiative to increase the number of students going to college, The Indian Express reports. R. P. Agrawal, India’s secretary of higher education, told the newspaper that online courses are the only way to bring quality education to remote areas of the country. He added that the ministry is working out ways to beam lectures from the Indian Institute of Technology across the country. ‘We will be providing free e-content to students,’ Mr. Agrawal said.”
“A prototype of the computer is expected to be unveiled next week. It will come with wireless Internet capability, expandable memory, and a variety of other features. The government has approached manufacturers like Intel about producing the devices, the ministry said. The prototype has been developed with the help of students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science, and the Vellore Institute of Technology, among others. ‘The idea is to create a device which is very low-powered, so that it can work at two-watt range even in villages where electricity supply is a problem,’ Mr. Agrawal told The Express. “Attempts are on to see how a solar-charged or dynamo-powered device can be developed.’ ” . . .
Generations Online in 2009
by Sydney Jones and Susannah Fox
Jan. 28, 2009, Pew Internet and American Life Project
“Over half of the adult internet population is between 18 and 44 years old. But larger percentages of older generations are online now than in the past, and they are doing more activities online, according to surveys taken from 2006-2008. Contrary to the image of Generation Y as the “Net Generation,” internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life. Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people).” . . .
Teach the Web
by Leslie Jensen-Inman, Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
“Let’s face it. Technology moves fast; academia doesn’t. So how do we teach web design and development – subject that is constantly changing? How do we prepare our students for the real-world and for real-world expectations? And how do we, as educators, stay up-to-date about the information we are teaching?”
“The best way to approach this topic is to seek the expertise of leaders in the web design and development fields. As the people who will hire our students, they should have input about what type of students we are producing. With that in mind, I interviewed thirty-two leaders in the fields of web design and development, each of them is acutely aware of the importance of formally educating the next generation of web designers and developers.” . . .
by Elizabeth Redden
Jan. 27, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“Blackboard Inc., the giant among course management system (CMS) providers, today unveils Release 9.0 of Blackboard Learn. Blackboard bills the newest iteration as more open and flexible – allowing colleges to use the platform ‘as an open foundation for whatever complementary technologies they need to support their approach to teaching and learning.’ ”
“And the new release will feature expanded Web 2.0 and ‘social learning’ tools, such as blogs and journals, enhanced notification capabilities (i.e., ‘Your paper is due in four hours’ – or four days), and a redesigned, customizable user interface.” . . .
“While Blackboard prices change from year to year, a spokesman said that the new release has no bearing on the price structure. Colleges holding Blackboard licenses can upgrade to the 9.0 version at no extra cost; Finnefrock said she expects many institutions will pilot the new version this spring and summer and fully launch it come fall.” . . .
2009 Horizon Report
Jan. 20, 2009, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, Horizon Report
Each year, the report identifies and describes six areas of emerging technology likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression in higher education within three adoption horizons: a year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. The areas of emerging technology cited for 2009 are:
- Mobiles (i.e., mobile devices)
- Cloud computing
- Geo-everything (i.e., geo-tagging)
- The personal web
- Semantic-aware applications
- Smart objects
Each section of the report provides live Web links to examples and additional readings.
Obama’s Broadband Plan – Tax breaks for companies that increase Internet speed or create new networks are likely to go to existing large players
By Arik Hesseldahl
Jan. 7, 2009, Business Week
“The Obama Administration has pledged support for universal broadband, or making speedy Internet service available to all Americans. But the ideas under consideration by the President-elect’s transition team are likely to fall short of the radical changes some activists have sought.”
“At the core of the $20 billion to $30 billion [now $9b in the Senate bill, $6b in the House] effort under discussion by Obama’s advisers are tax breaks for companies that extend the availability of broadband or, in regions where it already exists, boost the speed of service, several people involved in the discussions tell BusinessWeek. Companies that build broadband networks in areas with no service could receive as much as 60% of their investment back in tax credits. Companies that increase the speed of existing networks could get tax credits of as much as 40%. The tax incentives also could be structured to promote high broadband speeds, according to Jeffrey Campbell, director of technology and communications policy for network equipment maker Cisco Systems (CSCO). For example, some analysts say the government could give 20% tax credits for 20-megabit-per-second service and 40% credits for 100-megabit service.”
“As currently conceived, the incentives would be available to any company. However, those most likely to benefit would be existing broadband providers such as AT&T (T), Verizon Communications (VZ), and Comcast (CMCSA), because they have the capital to make investments, and it costs less to extend their networks than it does to build new ones. The new Administration appears unlikely to push forcefully for more competition in broadband, an idea that activist groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge say is essential if the U.S. wants to catch up to broadband leaders such as Korea. “Broadband is a natural duopoly,” counters Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. Proposals to create a third competitor to take on the telecom and cable companies in most markets, he says, are “misguided.”
Bonds in the Offing?” . . .
“In addition to the tax credits under discussion, the federal government may also provide grants to states for the construction of broadband networks in regions that never get coverage. States probably would use the money to hire private companies to build networks in remote areas. The Agriculture Dept. already has a Rural Development Broadband Program, which has connected nearly 600,000 households in 40 states since 2002.” . . .
My predictions for Top Tools in 2009
by Jane Hart
Dec. 31, 2008, Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day
I have been recently asked which tools I think will make it onto next year’s Top 100 Tools list. Here are 10 that I think have a good chance.
1 Cooliris – transforms your browser into a lightning fast, cinematic way to discover the Web http://www.cooliris.com/
2 Dimdim – lets you deliver synchronised live presentations, whiteboards and web pages while sharing voice and video over the Internet, with no download required http://www.dimdim.com/
3 Evernote – allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere http://evernote.com/
4 Friendfeed – helps you discover and discuss interesting stuff that your friends and family find on the web http://friendfeed.com/
5 Posterous – is the place to post everything http://posterous.com/
6 Qik – enables you to share your moments live with your friends, family and the world-right from your mobile phone! http://qik.com/
7 Screen Toaster – lets you record your screen in one click and then embed your videos on your blog or web page http://www.screentoaster.com/
8 Seesmic – provides anyone with an innovative way to communicate and connect online through video conversation. Record a video directly on Seesmic’s website, mobile phone or upload an existing video straight from your computer or link to a video posted on a social network http://seesmic.com/
9 SlideRocket – lets you quickly make stunning presentations, manage a library of related slides and assets, share them securely with colleagues, and measure how they’re used. http://www.sliderocket.com/
10 WiZiQ – is a place where you can teach and learn using an easy-to-use virtual classroom http://www.wiziq.com/
Educational Technology and Related Educational Conferences for January – August 2009
Prepared by Clayton R. Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org, December 24, 2008
Twitter for Academia
Jan. 23, 2008, Academhack
“Rather than cover what Twitter is or how to use it (see this video as well), I thought I would explain how I use it, specifically for academic related uses, and teaching. (For those who want the quick definition of Twitter, it allows you to broadcast and receive messages from your computer or cell phone of 140 characters in length, all those who “subscribe” to your broadcast can see your message, called a “tweet,” and you receive messages from all those to whom you subscribe. The key point to remember here is this can get sent to your phone, making it highly mobile.)” . . .