Department of Justice Opens Investigation of Blackboard’s Purchase of Angel Learning
by Jeffrey R. Young
May 27, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Ed
“Last week the U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into the impact of Blackboard’s purchase of rival Angel Learning on competition in the course-management market.”
“Blackboard filed a report Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosing that the investigation is underway. ‘On Friday, May 22, 2009, the Company received a voluntary request for information from the U.S. Department of Justice relating to the Acquisition and its related impact on competition under applicable antitrust law,’ said the filing, signed by Matthew Small, Blackboard’s chief legal officer.” . . .
“Camelia C. Mazard, a partner at the Washington law firm Doyle, Barlow, & Mazard PLLC who specializes in anti-trust law, said Blackboard’s latest acquisition could raise enough concern to cause the Justice Department to undo the deal, though such moves are rare. ‘In my opinion this gives them a virtual monopoly in a narrow market,’ Ms. Mazard said in an interview Wednesday.”
Broadband Technology Opportunities Program: NTIA Reports Confirm Application Timeline, Shed Light on Criteria
May 22, 2009, Dow, Lohnes and Albertson Client Advisory
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) will likely accept applications for the first round of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grants in July-September 2009, reports the Washington law firm Dow, Lownes and Albertson. Here is the timeline:
– Release of first BTOP Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) – late June or early July
– Acceptance of grant applications – early-to-mid July through mid-to-late September
– NTIA review of grant applications – late September through mid-to-late December
– Announcement of first round grant awards – late December
– NTIA will accept second round applications during the fourth quarter of 2009 and third round applications in the second quarter of 2010.
The Recovery.gov Web site (http://www.recovery.gov/) lists NTIA’s five evaluation measures: job creation, expanded broadband access, stimulated private investment, high-speed access to “strategic institutions,” and encouraged broadband demand. NTIA will award grants for the construction of wireline and wireless broadband networks, which implies wireless projects will be included in the definition of “broadband.” NTIA will only fund networks “in areas of the country with limited or no broadband access.” This conforms to comments Rick Boucher (D-VA), House Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee chairman, made last week that, in addition to totally unserved areas, NTIA focus on creating competition and choice in areas where access is either slow or prohibitively expensive.
Apprehending the Future: Emerging Technologies, from Science Fiction to Campus Reality
by Bryan Alexander
May/June 2009, Educause Review
. . . “Deciding which technologies to support for teaching and learning — and how to support them — depends, first, on our ability to learn about each emerging development. Selecting a platform without knowing what is coming right behind it can be risky. Similarly, it is folly to grasp onto a technology without seeing the variety of ways that the technology can actually be used. If William Gibson was right – ‘the street finds its own uses for things’ — then academic computing needs to be sure of its ‘street smarts.’ “1
“But trying to grapple with what comes next is a deep problem. Doing so is partly a matter of science fiction, which consists, after all, of the stories we tell about the future. Doing so is also an issue of complexity, since each practice, or device, or network, or application comes embedded in a nest of other practices, or devices, or networks, or applications. Emerging technologies are a matter not only of qualitative challenge but also of sheer quantitative overload. Web 2.0, gaming, wireless and mobile devices, virtual worlds, even Web 3.0 in all its unrealized potential — each churns out new developments daily and connects with other domains to ramp up the problem still further.” . . .
A Web Game for Predicting Some Futures: Exploring the Wisdom of Crowds
by Bryan Alexander
May/June 2009, Educause Review
. . . “After a year of exploration, NITLE has derived some lessons about gaming and emergence. First, players tend to prefer relatively short-lived propositions. Terms of several months or even weeks attract more trading and interaction that terms lasting for one year or more. Second, e-mail remains a powerful communication medium, even for a Web 2.0 project such as this one. Consistently, spikes in game activity occur after e-mail updates. Third, market trading is autonomous. Although an administrator can shape a proposition with a specific outcome in mind, traders often drive values in very different directions. This can be seen as a virtue in several different ways, not the least of which is broadening discussion and increasing variety. Finally, games can attract academics to serious play. Intense conversations, passionate trading, and competitive relationships have all emerged in the NITLE Prediction Markets, as players have attempted to better understand the near future.” . . .
Charting the Course and Tapping the Community: The EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges 2009
by Julie K. Little and Carie Page, with Kristen Betts, Stephanie Boone, Patrick Faverty, Tanya Joosten, Elizabeth A. Kiggins, Jessica Knott, Erin Long, Alana J. Mauger, Jeffrey McClurken, Maureen McCreadie, Nils Peterson, and Celeste M. Schwartz
May/June 2009, Educause Review
. . . “Keeping faculty one step ahead of emerging technologies — and providing them with the support to manage what often feels like a rising tide of new tools and learning research — can indeed be difficult. Managing the widening gulf between early adopters and less technologically savvy faculty can be downright frustrating. And then there’s the delicate balance between promoting technology tools and encouraging teaching and learning with technology.” . . .
Top Five Challenges:
1. Creating Learning Environments That Promote Active Learning, Critical Thinking, Collaborative Learning, and Knowledge Creation
2. Developing 21st-Century Literacies (Information, Digital, and Visual) among Students and Faculty
3. Reaching and Engaging Today’s Learners
4. Encouraging Faculty Adoption and Innovation in Teaching and Learning with IT
5: Advancing Innovation in Teaching and Learning with Technology in an Era of Budget Cuts
“EDUCAUSE developed a social network dedicated to the project using Ning (http://tlchallenges09.ning.com/) and invited participants to create unique profiles and “join” the community. Within the interface, members could create working groups, post blog entries, start discussion threads, or simply add photos from their campus. Wikis were selected as the “workspace” for the project, a central home for all the resources generated around each challenge.” . . .
“The wikis, housed on the EDUCAUSE website (http://www.educause.edu/wiki/TLChallenges09), offer a place for community members to share content around each challenge, including multimedia (such as a webcast with faculty discussing institutional responses to the budget crisis), suggested readings, or “community snapshots” (brief examples of how institutions are responding to the challenges). Each wiki contribution includes the name of a contact person, helping to develop the most important resource of all: peer-to-peer engagement. As the project grows, these wikis are becoming the online repository for the community’s ideas.” . . .
Faculty Development for the 21st Century
by Veronica Diaz, Maricopa Community Colleges; P. B. Garrett, The George Washington University; Edward R. Kinley, Indiana State University; and John F. Moore Virginia Tech
May/June 2009, Educause Review
. . . “In the 21st century, colleges and universities need to consider faculty development programs in the same way that they view academic programs for their Net Gen and Millennial students. In other words, successful faculty development programs should include mentoring, delivery in a variety of on-campus and off-campus formats (face-to-face, blended, online, self-initiated/self-paced), and anyplace/anytime programming to accommodate just-in-time needs. Faculty members are learners with needs and constraints similar to those of students. Support programs must be valuable, relevant, current, and engaging. They should also demonstrate best practices in providing a participatory, facilitated learning environment. In addition, faculty development programs should address the multiple roles and needs of the faculty member as facilitator, teacher, advisor, mentor, and researcher. Institutions should also consider that offering a dynamic faculty development program will serve not only full-time, but also part-time faculty—relied on heavily by some institutions. Finally, faculty development can occur outside official programs: internal opportunities can include serving on and/or leading committees, writing and administering grants, and designing and facilitating official faculty development programs; external development opportunities can include attending conferences, furthering academic studies, conducting research projects, and collaborating with colleagues from other institutions.”
Findings From The Condition of Education 2009: Student Educational Progress Shows Modest Gains
May 28, 2009, National Center for Education Statistics
“Enrollment in America’s elementary and secondary schools continues to rise to all-time highs, and younger learners continue to show gains in educational achievement over time. The overall achievement levels of secondary school students have not risen over time, but there are some increases in the percentages of students entering college after high school and earning a postsecondary credential, according to “The Condition of Education 2009” report released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).” . . .
“The Condition of Education” is a congressionally mandated report that provides an annual portrait of education in the United States. The 46 indicators included in this year’s report cover all aspects of education, from early childhood through postsecondary education and from student achievement to school environment and resources.”
Among the report’s other findings:
– Public elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase to 54 million in 2018. Over the period of 2006 to 2018, the South is projected to experience the largest increase (18 percent) in the number of students enrolled.
– Between 1972 and 2007, the percentage of public school students who were White decreased from 78 to 56 percent. This decrease largely reflects the growth in the number of students who were Hispanic, particularly in the West.
– The average reading and mathematics scores on the long-term trend National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were higher in 2008 than in the early 1970s for 9- and 13-year-olds; scores for 17-year-olds were not measurably different over the same period.
– In 2005-06, about three-quarters of the 2002-03 freshman class graduated from high school with a regular diploma.
– The rate of college enrollment immediately after high school completion increased from 49 percent in 1972 to 67 percent by 1997, but has since fluctuated between 62 and 69 percent.
– About 58 percent of first-time students seeking a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and attending a 4-year institution full time in 2000-01 completed a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent at that institution within 6 years.
– The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds completing a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 17 to 29 percent between 1971 and 2000 and was 31 percent in 2008.
– Women accounted for 57 percent of the bachelor’s degrees and 62 percent of all associate’s degrees awarded in the 2006-07 academic year.
Online Professors Pose as Students to Encourage Real Learning
by Marc Parry
May 26, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education
“Jane Malan and Bill Reed are cousins in deception. They infiltrate online courses and secretly collect information about students by blending in with them.” . . . “Both Mr. Reed and Ms. Malan are the alter egos of real professors. As The Chronicle reports today, the characters belong to a small group of “ghost students” that academics in Indiana, Connecticut, and South Africa have injected into online courses to kick-start discussions among students, keep them from dropping out, and spy on their communications.”
“The deceit has provoked questions about faculty ethics. Two of the professors admit that their unreal students teeter on an ethical precipice, because the technique could be abused. Others in the distance-education community accuse them of falling over the cliff. The critics worry such behavior could scar the image of an education sector many still regard with skepticism.”
Law Students Teach Scalia About Privacy and the Web
by Noam Cohen
May 17, 2009, New York Times
. . . “This spring, the students of an elective course on Internet privacy at Fordham Law School experienced a number of fascinating “teaching moments” during an assignment meant to demonstrate how much personal information is floating around online. The assignment from the class’s professor, Joel R. Reidenberg, was, admittedly, a bit provocative: create a dossier about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from what can be found on the Internet.”
“Why Justice Scalia? Well, the class had been discussing his recent dismissive comments about Internet privacy concerns at a conference. His summation, as reported by The Associated Press: ‘Every single datum about my life is private? That’s silly.’ . . . Yet the class managed to create a dossier of 15 pages, Professor Reidenberg reported to a conference on privacy at Fordham, that included the justice’s home address and home phone number, his wife’s personal e-mail address and the TV shows and food he prefers.” . . .