Don’t Starve the Staff of Online Programs
April 20, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
by Cam Cruikshank
“In California, and to a lesser extent in many states, the problem of overcrowded community colleges and public universities is getting worse. To address this problem, many institutions are choosing to offer online programs, and students are enrolling. While online degree programs can help solve this crisis, there are program delivery, retention and degree-completion challenges posed by this type of learning that must be addressed if we are to serve students well.”
“A survey published this month by the League for Innovation in the Community College and the Campus Computing Project reports that community colleges are seeing increased enrollment in every major type of program, especially online programs. The survey author reports that while colleges are hiring new faculty to serve this growing population, they are reducing the number of positions for academic counselors and others who help students, especially as they expand online offerings. He questioned the online expansion without the accompanying academic support.”
“I question it, too. Online degree programs offer solutions to overcrowded physical classrooms, and they provide a lower-cost, convenient alternative for students who want a college education but can’t attend a residential institution for any number of reasons. However, launching an online degree program is not as simple as hiring adjunct professors and teaching courses that have been used in a physical campus setting. To do it right, you need a good learning management system, faculty who are experienced and effective online teachers, training and instructional design support, IT support and online tutors. Of equal importance is an enhanced level of student support, especially help with financing a college education and with navigating the complex bureaucracy that we call higher education.” …
In Preliminary Ruling, Patent Office Rejects Blackboard’s Claims
by Jeffrey R. Young
April 20, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Ed
“Last week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a preliminary ruling rejecting all 57 claims in a software patent that Blackboard Inc. used to successfully sue rival Desire2Learn for infringement. But the long-running patent battle between the two providers of course-management software is far from over, and the re-examination process could drag on for years because of the many chances that Blackboard has to appeal.”
“Blackboard was granted the patent in question — No. 6,988,138, described as an “Internet-based-education support system and methods” — in January 2006, but the patent office agreed to review it a year later after critics of the company argued that the patent was overly broad and covered software practices that had been in use by colleges and other companies for years at the time it was filed. In the latest ruling, the patent examiner essentially agreed with those arguments.” . . .
Students Lose, Fair Use Wins in Suit Targeting Anti-Plagiarism Tool
April 20, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Ed
“Students have suffered another defeat in their legal fight against the company that runs a plagiarism-detection tool popular among professors. A federal appeals court last week affirmed a lower court’s decision that the Turnitin service does not violate the copyright of students, even though it stores digital copies of their essays in the database that the company uses to check works for academic dishonesty.” . .
“The legal battle began in 2007, when four high-school students sued iParadigms, the company that runs Turnitin, arguing that the company took their papers against their will and profited from using them. The students’ high schools required papers to be checked for plagiarism using Turnitin. The service adds scanned papers to its database.”
“U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton had found that scanning the student papers to detect plagiarism is a “highly transformative” use that falls under the fair-use provision of copyright law. Mr. Hilton ruled that the company ‘makes no use of any work’s particular expressive or creative content beyond the limited use of comparison with other works,” and that the new use “provides a substantial public benefit.’ ”
As Costs Fall, Companies Push to Raise Internet Price
by Saul Hansell
April 19, 2009, New York Times
“Internet service providers want to end the all-you-can-eat plans and get their customers paying à la carte. But they are having a hard time closing the buffet line. Faced with rising consumer protest and calls from members of Congress for new regulations, Time Warner Cable backed down last week from a plan to impose new fees on heavy users of its Road Runner Internet service.”
“The debate over the price of Internet use is far from over. Critics say cable and phone companies are already charging far more than Internet providers in other countries. Some also wonder whether the new price plans are meant to prevent online video sites from cutting into the lucrative revenue from cable TV service.” …
Online Study Ups Workload for Instructors
by Michelle Rupe Eubanks
April 18, 2009, Times Daily.com
” ‘The economic underpinning of a lot of online education is that it amounts to slave labor,’ said Martin Snyder, president of the American Association of University Professors, which is based in Washington, D.C. ‘Most of (those who teach online courses) are part-time professors who can’t get full-time work and are forced into taking a lot of part-time positions in order to try to make an equitable salary,’ Snyder said.
“In addition to inadequate compensation, he said, it takes a large amount of time to teach and develop these courses. ‘My experience is that it takes much longer to both prepare and deliver an online class, and the biggest reason for that is that you find yourself repeating things that might be more efficient to say to a whole group of students,’ Snyder said. ‘And, if the teacher allows it to get out of hand, having the students e-mail constantly can be difficult, and you have to exercise an amount of control over that.’ ”
The Chronicle of Higher Education referenced this interview in its article, “AAUP: Online Education Based on ‘Slave Labor’,” on April 22, 2009, http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/3727/aaup-online-education-based-on-slave-labor?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
Linden Lab Ushers in New Era of Second Life with Initiative to Customize The Experience for Each User
April 21, 2009, Linden Labs
“Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life, today announced a series of initiatives aimed at making the Second Life experience more customizable for its global user base. By enabling individual users to filter content by adjusting their search settings, Linden Lab is able to preserve the founding principles of Second Life while evolving the medium to better serve the needs of its growing and increasingly diverse community. This will provide a more predictable experience for Second Life users, a group that contains a blend of consumers, companies and cultures from around the world.” . . .
A River Runs Alongside It
by Elizabeth Redden
April 17, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“It’s a first year with an unusual end. Valley City on Wednesday announced it would move all instruction online for the remainder of the semester, as the Sheyenne River rose to record levels and officials called for an evacuation of the city’s flood plain (where much of the university is located).” . . .
“Given the timing, ‘this is really an alternative that makes the most sense,’ Shirley said in an interview. ‘The fact is, we’re a technology-enhanced campus and a laptop campus [in that every student is issued a laptop]. There’s a chance for us to shine in this. It’s what our faculty are trained and equipped to do.’ ” . . .
College Bookstores Move to Put Electronic Textbooks on Their Shelves
by Jeffrey Young
April 16, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education
“It will now be easier for students to find electronic versions of textbooks at several college bookstores, thanks to a new partnership between textbook publishers and an association of college booksellers. But will students choose the paperless option?”
“The arrangement, announced this week, will give more prominent placement at dozens of college bookstores to electronic textbooks offered through CourseSmart, a venture owned by five major textbook companies. The deal involves CourseSmart and the Collegiate Retail Alliance, which represents 52 independent college bookstores.” . . .
Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training
Edited by Mohamed Ally
March 2009, Athabasca University Press
This collection is for anyone interested in the use of mobile technology for various distance learning applications. Readers will discover how to design learning materials for delivery on mobile technology and become familiar with the best practices of other educators, trainers, and researchers in the field, as well as the most recent initiatives in mobile learning research. Businesses and governments can learn how to deliver timely information to staff using mobile devices. Professors can use this book as a textbook for courses on distance education, mobile learning, and educational technology. The book is available for purchase or as an ebook download. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the original author is credited.
Mohamed Ally is a Professor in the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, where he teaches and researches the educational uses of mobile technology, mobile libraries, and workplace learning. Dr. Ally is on the boards of the International Federation of Training & Development Organizations and the International Association of Mobile Learning.
World Digital Library
UNESCO has launched the freely-accessible World Digital Library. The public version features high-quality digital items with content from more than two dozen institutions reflecting the cultural heritage of all UNESCO member countries. The library will continue to add content and enlist new partners from the widest possible range of UNESCO members.
The site offers:
1. Consistent metadata: Each item is described by a consistent set of bibliographic information (or metadata) relating to its geographical, temporal, and topical coverage, among other requirements. Consistent metadata provides the foundation for a site that is easy and interesting to explore, and that helps to reveal connections between items. The metadata also improves exposure to external search engines.
2. Description: Among the most impressive features of the WDL are descriptions of each item, answering the questions: “What is this item and why is it significant?” This information, written by curators and other experts, provides vital context for users and is designed to spark the curiosity of students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.
3. Multilingualism: The metadata, navigation, and supporting content (e.g., curator videos) are translated into seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. This feature lengthened site development and complicates maintenance, but brings WDL closer to the goal of being truly universal.
4. Digital library technical development: The WDL team’s work with state-of-the art tools and technologies led to advances in cataloging and multilingual Web site development:
* A new cataloging application was developed to support the metadata requirements.
* A centralized tool with a translation memory was used, which prevents translators from having to translate the same word or phrase twice.
* An interface was developed, which features the WDL content in ways that are appealing to nontraditional users and that encourage exploration of primary sources.
* New technologies continue to be developed, improving workflow and reducing the time elapsed between content selection and availability on the site.
5. Collaborative network: The WDL emphasizes openness in all aspects of the project: access to content; technology transfer for capacity building; and partner, stakeholder, and user participation. Technical and programmatic networks are seen as vital to WDL’s sustainability and growth.
Grant Opportunity: Violence Against Women National On-Line Resource Center and E-Learning Community of Practice
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Application Deadline: June 5, 2009, Letter of Intent due May 6, 2009
Number of Awards: 2Program Funding: $730,000
The purpose of this announcement is to support online resources and professional training for practitioners working to prevent intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence (SV). This program is designed to increase knowledge about the primary prevention of IPV and SV and to build capacity among local, state, tribal and national agencies and organizations to develop, implement and evaluate IPV and SV prevention programs. In addition, the program will build upon previous efforts funded under FOA 04066 to enhance practitioners’ ability to address IPV and SV using a public health approach. The estimated funding date is prior to Aug. 31, 2009.