Social Media, EduPunks, Dragon, Broadband Stimulus, OER Course, Duncan, Designer Tips, Lab Videos

The Social Media I Use
by Nancy White
Aug. 12, 2009, Full Circle Associates

“Recently I wrote a post that received a lot of attention – more than I would have expected: How I use social media. At the end of the post, I promised to write about WHAT social media I currently use. So here it is. I tend to think of the constellation of tools a person uses as their configuration of tools. It is both what they use, how they use them, and how they fill the range of needs as a whole. I have saved a few delicious tags about individuals’ technology configurations if you want to browse with they use.

I started making a list of all the social media I use. I realized there is an important distinction between the media I use regularly, and the media I try, dabble and experiment with. Part of my work requires me to do a lot of experimentation, so I have accounts on scores of social media sites – more that are forgotten than are used. So I want to focus on the tools I use regularly, the tools that make a difference in my work. Now some of you may say a few of these don’t qualify as “social media” – old school things like email. I’m including them because I think social media predates the label.”

How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education
by Anya Kamenetz
September 2009, Fast Company

. . . “ ‘Colleges have become outrageously expensive, yet there remains a general refusal to acknowledge the implications of new technologies,’ says Jim Groom, an ‘instructional technologist’ at Virginia’s University of Mary Washington and a prominent voice in the blogosphere for blowing up college as we know it. Groom, a chain-smoker with an ever-present five days’ growth of beard, coined the term ‘edupunk’ to describe the growing movement toward high-tech do-it-yourself education. ‘Edupunk,’ he tells me in the opening notes of his first email, ‘is about the utter irresponsibility and lethargy of educational institutions and the means by which they are financially cannibalizing their own mission.’ “

“The edupunks are on the march. From VC-funded startups to the ivied walls of Harvard, new experiments and business models are springing up from entrepreneurs, professors, and students alike. Want a class that’s structured like a role-playing game? An accredited bachelor’s degree for a few thousand dollars? A free, peer-to-peer Wiki university? These all exist today, the overture to a complete educational remix.”

“The architects of education 2.0 predict that traditional universities that cling to the string-quartet model will find themselves on the wrong side of history, alongside newspaper chains and record stores. “If universities can’t find the will to innovate and adapt to changes in the world around them,” professor David Wiley of Brigham Young University has written, ‘universities will be irrelevant by 2020.’ “ . . .

Talking Back To Your Device Has Never Been Easier
by Joshua Brockman
Aug. 11, 2009, National Public Radio

“If you’re tired of having a one-way conversation with your screen, relief is in sight. It’s been more than a decade since consumer versions of voice recognition software came on the scene, but there were many stumbling blocks — including limited vocabulary and the need to spend an excessive amount of time training. But the technology has advanced to a new level and is changing how we interact with computers, cell phones and cars. And the integration of voice features could have a dramatic impact on making technology more accessible and ergonomically sound by changing the way consumer electronics are designed.”

. . . “Nuance’s speech recognition software for PCs is called Dragon NaturallySpeaking (the Mac version is called MacSpeech Dictate and is sold through MacSpeech, which licenses Nuance’s software). The company offers a variety of versions of the software, including ones tailored to the legal community for use with court transcriptions and for medical professionals who use it to dictate notes.” . . .

Read a review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2009/08/beyond_talk_voice_recognition.html?ps=rs

Major Carriers Shun Broadband Stimulus – Funds Would Come With Tighter Rules
by Cecilia Kang
Aug. 14, 2009, Washington Post

“The Obama administration made a national priority of spreading high-speed Internet access to every American home and offered stimulus money to help companies pay for it, but the biggest network operators are staying away from the program. As the Aug. 20 deadline nears to apply for $4.7 billion in broadband grants, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are unlikely to go for the stimulus money, sources close to the companies said.”

“Their reasons are varied. All three say they are flush with cash, enough to upgrade and expand their broadband networks on their own. Some say taking money could draw unwanted scrutiny of business practices and compensation, as seen with automakers and banks that have taken government bailouts. And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule that they say would prevent them from managing traffic on their networks in the way they want.”

“We are concerned that some new mandates seem to go well beyond current laws and [Federal Communications Commission] rules, and may lead to the kind of continuing uncertainty and delay that is antithetical to the president’s primary goals of economic stimulus and job creation,” said Walter B. McCormick Jr., president of USTelecom, a trade group that represents telecoms including AT&T and Verizon. Yet those firms might be the best positioned to achieve the goal of spreading Internet access to underserved areas, some experts say.” . . .

Online Course – Composing Free and Open Online Educational Resources

Short name: oercourse (you may use this as the tag in all course related things). This course with an online class of ten weeks started on March 3, 2008 and ended May 5, 2008. If you want to join the next cycle, please add yourself here.

You may follow the progress of the course from the participants’ blogs or from the facilitators’ course blog. Free and open educational resources have become one of the most discussed topics in the field of education. Projects such as MIT Open courseware, Open Access, Wikipedia, Wikibooks and Wikimedia Commons have challenged traditional methods of delivering education resources and also the methods of creating them.

The free software movements idea of developing free, libre and open source software, as well as the Creative Commons search for alternatives to traditional copyright, have had an everlasting effect on the ways we think about education and educational resources.

The course readings and the assignments in this course will familiarize participants with the main concepts related to open education resources and to the historical and philosophical ideas behind them. The participants will also do their own projects where they will learn to create and participate in projects producing free and open educational resources.

Education Secretary Duncan Discusses Administration’s Higher Education Agenda During ACE Webinar
Aug. 11, 2009, American Council on Education

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan participated in an American Council on Education (ACE) webinar on Friday, Aug. 7, during which he fielded questions about the Obama administration’s higher education agenda from more than 1,000 participants nationwide. Also participating were Under Secretary Martha J. Kanter, Deputy Under Secretary Robert Shireman, and ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle moderated the hour-long session, where the primary topics were the state of economic stimulus funding, along with the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (H.R. 3221) and the steps that the Department of Education will take to implement the legislation once it is approved by Congress.

10 Tips on How to Think Like a Designer
by Garr Reynolds
Aug. 10, 2009, Presentation Zen

“Most people do not really think about design and designers, let alone think of themselves as designers. But what, if anything, can regular people — teachers, students, business people of all types — learn from designers and from thinking like a designer? And what of more specialized professions? Can medical doctors, scientists, researchers, and engineers, and other specialists in technical fields benefit in anyway by learning how a graphic designer or interaction designer thinks? Is there something designers, either through their training or experience, know that we don’t? I believe there is.”

“Below are 10 things (plus a bonus tip) that I have learned over the years from designers, things that designers do or know that the rest of us can benefit from. When I speak around the world I often put up a slide that asks people to make as many sentences as they can beginning with the word “Designers….” The goal of this activity is to get people thinking about thinking about design, something most of us never do (it also gets people in the audience talking, loosening up a bit; always a good thing). The sentences they generate range from “Designers wear black” to “Designers use creativity and analysis to solve problems” to “Designers make things beautiful,” and so on.” . . .

Laboratory Technique Videos

These organic chemistry labs from the University of Calgary demonstrate various techniques used in laboratory settings, including: handling chemicals, melting point determination, recrystallization – single solvent, recrystallization – two solvents, thin layer chromatography (TLC), filtration, reflux, distillation, distillation at reduced pressure, using a rotary evaporator, using a separatory funnel, special reaction conditions, and column chromatography (information only). The films are available in Quick Time, Movie Player and Windows Media. The site also includes interactive tutorials that introduce students to spectroscopy, separation and isolation, and the world of “Detective O-Chem,” which asks students to take on a fictional avian flu outbreak.

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Social Media, EduPunks, Dragon, Broadband Stimulus, OER Course, Duncan, Designer Tips, Lab Videos

Online Habits, Textbooks, Cyberkids Trends, Twitter, Podcasting Tips, Social Media, Second Life, eLearning Survival Guide

Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop Is Online.
by Brad Stone
Aug. 9, 2009, New York Times

. . . “ ‘It used to be you woke up, went to the bathroom, maybe brushed your teeth and picked up the newspaper,’ said Naomi S. Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University, who has written about technology’s push into everyday life. ‘But what we do first now has changed dramatically. I’ll be the first to admit: the first thing I do is check my e-mail.’ . . . The surge of early risers is reflected in online and wireless traffic patterns. Internet companies that used to watch traffic levels rise only when people booted up at work now see the uptick much earlier. Arbor Networks, a Boston company that analyzes Internet use, says that Web traffic in the United States gradually declines from midnight to around 6 a.m. on the East Coast and then gets a huge morning caffeine jolt. “It’s a rocket ship that takes off at 7 a.m,” said Craig Labovitz, Arbor’s chief scientist.” . . .

In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History
by Tamar Lewin
Aug. 8, 2009

. . . “Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.”

. . . “But the digital future is not quite on the horizon in most classrooms. For one thing, there is still a large digital divide. Not every student has access to a computer, a Kindle electronic reader device or a smartphone, and few districts are wealthy enough to provide them. So digital textbooks could widen the gap between rich and poor. “A large portion of our kids don’t have computers at home, and it would be way too costly to print out the digital textbooks,” said Tim Ward, assistant superintendent for instruction in California’s 24,000-student Chaffey Joint Union High School District, where almost half the students are from low-income families. Many educators expect that digital textbooks and online courses will start small, perhaps for those who want to study a subject they cannot fit into their school schedule or for those who need a few more credits to graduate. Although California education authorities are reviewing 20 open-source high school math and science texts to make sure they meet California’s exacting academic standards in time for use this fall — and will announce this week which ones meet state standards — quick adoption is unlikely.” . . .

It’s SO Over: Cool Cyberkids Abandon Social Networking Sites
by Richard Wray and Sam Jones
Aug. 6, 2009, The Guardian

“The proliferation of parents and teachers trawling the pages of Facebook trying to poke old schoolfriends and lovers, and traversing the outer reaches of MySpace is causing an adolescent exodus from the social networking sites, according to research from the media regulator Ofcom. The sites, once the virtual streetcorners, pubs and clubs for millions of 15- to 24-year-olds, have now been over-run by 25- to 34-year-olds whose presence is driving their younger peers away.”

“Although their love of being online shows no sign of abating, the percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds who have a profile on a social networking site has dropped for the first time — from 55% at the start of last year to 50% this year. In contrast, 46% of 25- to 34-year-olds are now regularly checking up on sites such as Facebook compared with 40% last year. ‘There is nothing to suggest overall usage of the internet among 15-to 24-year-olds is going down,’ said Peter Phillips, the regulator’s head of strategy. ‘Data suggests they are spending less time on social networking sites.’ “ . . .

Teens Don’t Tweet; Twitter’s Growth Not Fueled By Youth
by David Martin and Sue MacDonald
July 30, 2009, Nielsen News, Online And Mobile

. . . “Twitter’s footprint has expanded impressively in the first half of 2009, reaching 10.7 percent of all active Internet users in June. Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of Twitter.com website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that Twitter.com effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent.” . . .

“But does it really matter if the kids don’t get it? The fact remains that Twitter has grown to be a major online presence and is being driven forward by significant buzz. To illustrate this point: the volume of Twitter mentions on blogs, message boards and forums has reached the same level as Facebook, a property four times its size. We’ve also seen that Twitter’s growth is very highly influenced by buzz around current events such as the Iran election. All it takes is one celebrity or major news story to rekindle the Twitter buzz machine, but do these one-off shifts create one-time curiosity seekers or lead to more permanent users? That’s the unanswered question.”

Podcasting for E-Learning: Putting it all together
by Michael Hanley
Aug. 7, 2009, E-Learning Curve Blog

. . . “In my view, narrators are afraid to take advantage of a dramatic pause. Anyone who has worked in media (particularly radio) will tell you that they constantly worry about ‘dead air’ — silence. Perhaps counter-intuitively, a stop or pause in a narrative actually motivates your listeners to (unconsciously) anticipate the next word — after all it must be important if you’ve paused — rather than causing the listener to ’switch off.’ Used correctly and in concert with the other ‘P’s,’ pauses or caesuras will direct listeners’ attention as you choose, creating the appropriate amount of expectation or to emphasize the key points and messages that you want to convey.”

“However, if your speech is too staccato — stopping and starting, leading your audience to multiple points of anticipation, without any special meaning or pay-off, any pauses will serve only to irritate and frustrate your listeners. This speech pattern is most apparent when a podcast has not been designed, planned and scripted properly. I can best illustrate how to do it, and how not to do it by example.” . . .

How I Use Social Media
by Nancy White
Aug. 4, 2009, Full Circle

“This afternoon I’m spending a half hour on a Skype video conversation to share a bit of how I use social media. I figured it would be good to exercise my memory a bit and unearth some of the key stories that led me to my social media use today, and perhaps surface some of my patterns. The history approach also shows that while the term “social media” was not in play when I jumped in, the social use of online media has been growing for many years – well before my online time. These roots are significant because our patterns of use, our ways of embracing or rejecting technology are grounded in this history.”

Here are some excerpts:
– Social media is a great place to fail. You can try something and if it doesn’t work, learn, adjust and try again. This is true of both the technology and the practices.

– We can find, develop and utilize relationships with other humans online – and they have meaning. But for most of us, it takes an actual transformative experience of this to really believe and embrace it. The gap between the intellectual description and the experience of using social media to build and nurture relationships is large.”

– Social media offers us incredible intellectual capital opportunities to link up the best and often most diverse minds to address a problem or opportunity. The challenge is that this opportunity may lead us to feel overwhelmed and we are often unprepared to usefully use the diversity of the world and can easily retreat to our familiar territory and group think. The strategic use of social media to stretch us to our edges and immerse us in that diversity is centrally important.

. . .

Getting Started in Second Life
by Maggi Savin-Bade, Cathy Tombs, Dave White, Terry Poulton, Sheetal Kavia and Luke Woodham
Aug. 3, 2009

JISC’s new guide to Second Life is written by lecturers for lecturers, to help others to use virtual worlds for teaching. ‘Getting Started in Second Life’ answers some common questions like how to set up in Second Life, what the rules of the world are, how to plan lessons and how best to help students use it effectively for learning.

The aim of the guide is to present the basics in order to help lecturers experiment, rather than them getting lost in mastering the detail of the virtual environment. Lawrie Phipps, JISC programme manager, said: “With more institutions exploiting online learning it is important that JISC provides the tools to ensure that UK institutions remain at the forefront of this area.” The authors are all lecturers who have used Second Life in their teaching, so the guide is full of examples from their own experiences.

E-Learning Survival Guide
by Susan Smith Nash
July 27, 2009, E-Learning Queen

E-Learning Queen readers may download a free pdf of E-Learner Survival Guide, a collection of articles, insights, instructional strategies, lesson plans, and more. For individuals who would like a printed copy, it is available in perfect-bound paperback at Amazon.com. This 325-page book has the low price of $26.95.

Synopsis: This broad-reaching collection of essays on e-learning examines accomplishments, new directions, and challenges from many perspectives. The essays are arranged in categories, which include e-learning and e-learners, teaching and instruction, student engagement, learning communities, outcomes assessment and institutional leadership, all of which relate to learners and programs from college, K-12, career, to corporate training. Of special interest is a focus on successful outcomes for students and programs, and essays on often–overlooked niches of learners, including generational differences (Gamers, Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y), stay-at-home mothers, working mother e-learners, homeschoolers, bilingual online education and training.

No Size Fits All
by David Brooks
July 16, 2009, New York Times

“. . . What’s important about the Obama initiative is that it doesn’t throw money at the problem. It ties money to reform and has the potential — the potential — to spur a wave of innovation.

People who work at community colleges deserve all the love we can give them, since they get so little prestige day to day. But the fact is many community colleges do a poor job of getting students through. About half drop out before getting a degree. Most schools have poor accountability systems and inadequately track student outcomes. They have little information about what works. They have trouble engaging students on campus. Many remedial classes (60 percent of students need them) are a joke, often because expectations are too low.”

“The Obama initiative is designed to go right at these deeper problems. It sets up a significant innovation fund, which, if administered properly, could set in motion a spiral of change. It has specific provisions for remedial education, outcome tracking and online education. It links public sector training with specific private sector employers. Real reform takes advantage of community colleges’ most elemental feature. These colleges educate students with wildly divergent interests, goals and abilities. They host students with radically different learning styles, many of whom have floundered in traditional classrooms.” . . .

Online Habits, Textbooks, Cyberkids Trends, Twitter, Podcasting Tips, Social Media, Second Life, eLearning Survival Guide

BTOP, Online Course Web site, Obama’s Course Giveaway, SpacedEd, Sony eBook, Kindle, Library Checklist, CC Respect

A Note on Resources about Jobs and the Economy: Assistance for the Library Community in Their Applications to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)
Aug. 5th, 2009, American Library Association Washington Office

Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides funds for community anchor institutions – such as libraries – to develop new services or to expand current services to assist their communities, each ARRA application must demonstrate that library services make an economic difference in their communities. The purpose of the paper is to help librarians think about how their libraries can demonstrate that library services, including robust broadband, are essential to the important work of economic recovery.

New Web Site Compares Student Outcomes at Online Colleges
by Marc Parry
Aug. 4, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Finding an online-education program can feel like shopping at a used-car lot. Students often struggle to get reliable information amid a barrage of in-your-face marketing. A new Web site that debuts today, featuring 12 colleges that largely offer online education to adults, intends to change that. It’s called College Choices for Adults. The site provides adults with specific information about what students are supposed to learn in the colleges’ mostly career-oriented programs and measurements of whether they did.”

“The site also includes the results of surveys of alumni about how satisfied they were with the education and its relevance to their careers. The goal is to add more features and colleges in the future. A third-party nonprofit technology cooperative, WCET, built the site and independently reviews whether the data colleges report meet the agreed-upon standards. But the site is blemished by significant information gaps, a problem that speaks to how complicated it can be for even the dozen colleges piloting this project to agree on what to make public and how.” . . .

Obama’s Great Course Giveaway
by Marc Parry
Aug. 3, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . “If the Obama administration pulls off a $500-million-dollar online-education plan, proposed in July as one piece of a sweeping community-college aid package, this type of course could become part of a free library available to colleges nationwide. The administration has released only vague statements about the plan. But Chronicle interviews with a senior Education Department official and others whose ideas have informed the emerging policy suggest how colleges might use these courses — and how Carnegie Mellon, repeatedly cited by officials, might offer a model for the effort.”

. . . “One big question: Who would get the money? A possible answer, which is not specified in a House of Representatives bill that includes the online proposal, could be an outside laboratory-and-research organization that would receive a block of government money and parcel it out into competitive grants for course development, and then make sure the courses were updated. A community college could house the project, Mr. Smith says. So could a consortium of community colleges, a university, or a nongovernmental group.”

“The courses created would reach students through multiple devices, such as computers, handheld devices, and e-book readers like Kindles. They would be modular, and therefore easily updated. Both nonprofit and for-profit entities could compete for the money to build them. The cost of each course: probably about $1-million, although development would cost less “if you did a number of them,” Mr. Smith says.”

“When asked why government should get involved, Mr. Smith responds that its help “would make those courses available to anyone, which is not the case now — and wouldn’t be the case if the government didn’t do it.” And delivering them? Here’s one possibility Mr. Smith describes: Macomb Community College, in Michigan, takes an open statistics course and puts it into its catalog. The students don’t meet face to face, but there’s a webinar every week or an open discussion online among the professor and students. Macomb gets the course free, adds value to it in the form of interaction with its professor, and charges for it.”

Opening Education
by Marshall S. Smith
January 2009, Science ($15, pay per article)

Spurred by the publication of Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare in 2002, the open educational resources (OER) movement, which has rapidly expanded and captured the imagination and energy of millions of creators and users throughout the world, now faces many opportunities and substantial challenges as it moves to become an integral part of the world’s educational environment. The confluence of the Web and a spirit of sharing intellectual property have fueled a worldwide movement to make knowledge and education materials open to all for use. OER are content (courses, books, lesson plans, articles, etc.), tools (virtual laboratories, simulations, and games), and software that support learning and educational practice. OER are free on the Web, and most have licenses that allow copyright holders to retain ownership while providing specified rights for use in original and modified forms. At the least, OER have helped to level the distribution of knowledge across the world. A second promise of OER is to help transform educational practices. This article explores the history of and promises and challenges for OER.

Online Learning, at a Pace
by Stephanie Lee
Aug. 5, 2009, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “Launched in May, SpacedEd allows users to develop courses on topics ranging from “Core Cardiology for Medical Students” to “Bartending 101.” Enrolled students receive a set of questions as frequently as once a day, via e-mail or RSS feed (text messaging and instant messaging are in the works). All the teaching is done through a trial-and-error testing method: Answer a question wrong and it repeats; get it right and it repeats less often; get it right multiple times and it disappears. An algorithm adjusts for the student’s level and content knowledge, based on his or her score as it develops.”

. . . “The research behind SpacedEd was developed by B. Price Kerfoot, an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. His previous research had demonstrated that people are more likely to retain information when they see it periodically and are tested on their knowledge, rather than simply provided with reading material. Kerfoot said he has tested the method in more than a dozen trials with 7,000 medical students, doctors and other participants. Overall results have indicated that it helped them boost their knowledge and retain it for up to two years. In one study, two randomly divided groups of 240 physicians each took a course about clinical practice guidelines in urology. One group was presented a section of the material three times at spaced intervals over 20 weeks. By the end, that group demonstrated a 50 percent increase in knowledge of that material compared with the control group.” . . .

Sony to Cut E-Book Prices and Offer New Readers
by Brad Stone and Motoko Rich
Aug. 4, 2009, New York Times

“Adding to mounting tensions in the publishing industry over the pricing of electronic books, Sony Electronics announced Tuesday evening that it was lowering prices for new and best-selling books in its e-book store, to $9.99 from $11.99. Book publishers have worried about the $9.99 flat price ever since Amazon.com introduced it for its Kindle reader in 2007, fearing that it could cannibalize sales of higher-priced hardcover books.”

“Sony is also introducing two new electronic reading devices: the Reader Pocket Edition and Reader Touch Edition. They will sell for $199 and $299 respectively and will go on sale at the end of August. The devices replace earlier and more expensive versions of the Sony Reader, the 505 and 700, which cost $269 and $399. Although Sony’s reading devices are available in retail outlets like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, sales have lagged those of Amazon’s Kindle, which is sold only online and was recently reduced in price as well, to $299.” . . .

A New Page: Can the Kindle Really Improve on the Book?
by Nicholson Baker
Aug. 3, 2009, The New Yorker

. . . “Sure, the Kindle is expensive, but the expense is a way of buying into the total commitment. This could forever change the way I read. I’ve never been a fast reader. I’m fickle; I don’t finish books I start; I put a book aside for five, ten years and then take it up again. Maybe, I thought, if I ordered this wireless Kindle 2 I would be pulled into a world of compulsive, demonic book consumption, like Pippin staring at the stone of Orthanc. Maybe I would gorge myself on Rebecca West, or Jack Vance, or Dawn Powell. Maybe the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.”

. . . “The illustrations are there in the Kindle version, but they’re exceedingly hard to make out, even if you zoom in on them using the five-way clicker switch, or “control nipple,” as one Kindler called it. An award-winning medical textbook titled “Imaging in Oncology” (second edition) is for sale in the Kindle Store for $287.96. Tables are garbled. The color coding — yellow for malignancy, blue for healthy tissue — has been lost. Arrows pointing to shadowy tumors become invisible in the gray. Indeed, the tumors themselves disappear.” . . .

. . . “Pilot programs have arisen at several universities, including Princeton, which will test the Kindle DX’s potential as a replacement for textbooks and paper printouts of courseware. The Princeton program is partly funded by the High Meadows Foundation, in the name of environmental sustainability; for Amazon, it’s also a way to get into the rich coursepack market, alongside Barnes & Noble, Kinko’s, and a company called XanEdu.” . . .

A 13 Point Library Media Program Checklist for School Principals (2003) (2009)
by Doug Johnson
Aug. 2, 2009, Blue Skunk Dog

“Here is my first stab at an update to this tool that has seemed to be useful for librararians and school administrators . . . Rapid changes in technology, learning research, and the library profession in the past ten 20 years are creating have created a wide disparity in the effectiveness of school library media programs. Is your school’s library media program keeping current? The checklist below can be used to quickly evaluate your building’s program. . . .”

Community Colleges Gaining Respect, Admissions
by Glen Martin
Aug. 2, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle

. . . “Because of their emphasis on job skill development and professional certification programs, community colleges have been the traditional province of working people. But as the recession bites deeper, many middle- and upper-class youths are finding their entree to exclusive private colleges or prestigious public universities limited by depleted family funds. The community colleges have become a practical option for the first two years of study for a bachelor’s degree.”

. . . “Community college cost efficiencies were certainly apparent to Steven Rich, a physician and the director of internal medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa. And, he said, they were deeply appreciated. But savings weren’t the primary reason his two eldest children went to Santa Rosa Junior College. The family had saved enough money to send the kids to universities, Rich said, but both seemed somewhat insecure about leaving home – and he and his wife didn’t want to push them. By going to Santa Rosa Junior College, they were able to stay at home for the first two years of their college careers. Additionally, Rich said, the school had an excellent reputation. “The emphasis was on teaching,” he said. “The classes were smaller, and the kids were taught by primary instructors, not teaching assistants. They received a great deal of individualized attention.”

“The increasing reliance by all economic classes on California’s community colleges represents a major shift in cultural perspective. Until recently, it was outre to attend a state two-year school, which, unlike the University of California and California State University schools, cannot restrict enrollment. For decades, California’s community college system was the Rodney Dangerfield of state higher education; it has never been accorded mere respect, let alone prestige.” . . .

BTOP, Online Course Web site, Obama’s Course Giveaway, SpacedEd, Sony eBook, Kindle, Library Checklist, CC Respect

Online Funding, Cheating Scandal, CC Woes, Serendipity, Top IT Issues, Microsoft/Yahoo, Broadband Shutout, Google, Scholarship

H.R. 3221 – Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009
See Section 505: National Activities

Part of this legislation includes an explicit funding for “Open Online Education” (see below). The House Education and Labor Committee passed this legislation on July 21, 2009. It is expected to be brought to the House floor in September.

(a) Open Online Education – From the amount appropriated to carry out this section, the Secretary is authorized to make competitive grants to, or enter into contracts with, institutions of higher education, philanthropic organizations, and other appropriate entities to develop, evaluate, and disseminate freely-available high-quality online training, high school courses, and postsecondary education courses. Entities receiving funds under this subsection shall ensure that electronic and information technology activities meet the access standards established under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d).

Proposed Funding: $50,000,000 shall be made available for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2019 to carry out subsection (a) of section 505.

For more information see http://edlabor.house.gov/blog/2009/07/student-aid-and-fiscal-respons.shtml

For Community Colleges, Federal Aid Would Come With Strings Attached
by Kelly Field July 29, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education

“When President Obama announced last month that he would spend $9-billion on grants to improve community colleges, presidents of two-year campuses knew the money would come with strings attached. But the extent of those strings took some college leaders by surprise.”

“The day after the president’s announcement, the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a sweeping student-aid bill [H.R. 3221] that laid out a series of benchmarks that colleges and states would have to meet to receive the money. Under the measure, which is awaiting floor action, applicants would have to set goals tied to program completion, work-force preparation, and job placement. Grantees could choose their own benchmarks, but they would have to be approved by the education secretary.” . . .

‘Gross Academic Fraud’ at UTB-TSC Rocked Office of Distance Education
by Laura Tillman
August 1, 2009, The Brownsville Herald

“A two-month UTB-TSC police investigation found school employees in 2008 had committed “gross academic fraud” after student employees and regular staff used their positions to steal test answers, according to a UTB police report obtained by The Brownsville Herald. The wrongdoing occurred within the Blackboard Learning System, an online service commonly used at universities. . . . Employee confessions to university police revealed that 20 people had participated in academic fraud — the six employees who misused their system access and 14 students who obtained answers from the employees to cheat or help others cheat.”

. . . “The police report shows that one student employee, who worked in the Office of Distance Education, sold test answers to another student through a student middleman for $60. The student employee got $30 and the middleman got $30. That same student employee agreed to take a test for another student in exchange for $40. A different student middleman was involved in this deal, but it’s unclear how much money that person was to receive. The student employee said he never received payment in this scam.”

. . . “While Blackboard recommends that only two to three administrators be given the highest level of administrator access, UTB-TSC’s Office of Distance Education had given this information to 15 employees, including student employees, according to the police report. Employees also made a habit of sharing such passwords with those who were not explicitly given access by a supervisor. Rene Sainz headed the Office of Distance Education at the time of the investigation. Sainz told investigators that he had no knowledge that misconduct had occurred.” . . .

How a Community College Makes Room
by Eric Hoover and Robin Wilson
August 2, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . “Administrators expect enrollment in for-credit courses to surge by as much as 20 percent over last fall, and so they have decided that the big, empty space could help ease a serious problem: The college has run out of classrooms.”

“In Baltimore, as in many places throughout the nation, demand is growing faster than two-year institutions could ever hope — or afford — to build. This fall’s projected enrollment growth in the college’s for-credit programs follows a 10-percent increase it saw during the last academic year. In total, the college plans to enroll nearly 24,000 students in those programs this fall. An additional 37,000 are expected in its continuing-education courses over the coming academic year, a 9-percent increase over last year. Although the college has not experienced the kind of state cuts that have forced campuses in California and Florida to turn students away, Maryland has trimmed $1.1-million from the college’s already tight $178-million budget. Amid a hiring slowdown, administrators have scrambled to cut costs even as they prepare to add about 190 course sections this fall. “It’s a balancing act that keeps you awake at night,” Ms. Kurtinitis says.” . . .

Serendipity, Lost in the Digital Deluge
by Damon Darlin
August 1, 2009, New York Times

“We’ve gained so much in the digital age. We get more entertainment choices, and finding what we’re looking for is certainly fast. Best of all, much of it is free. But we’ve lost something as well: the fortunate discovery of something we never knew we wanted to find. In other words, the digital age is stamping out serendipity. When we walk into other people’s houses, we peruse their bookshelves, look at their CD cases and sneak a peek at their video collections (better that than their medicine cabinets). It gives us a measure of the owner’s quirky tastes and, more often than not, we find a singer, a musician or a documentary we’d never known before.”

. . . “Ah, the techies say, no worries. We have Facebook and Twitter, spewing a stream of suggestions about what to read, hear, see and do. We come to depend on it to lead us to the funny article on TheOnion.com or the roving food cart serving goat curry. It’s useful. But that isn’t serendipity. It’s really group-think. Everything we need to know comes filtered and vetted. We are discovering what everyone else is learning, and usually from people we have selected because they share our tastes. It won’t deliver that magic moment of discovery that we imagine occurred when Elvis Presley first heard the blues, or when Michael Jackson followed Fred Astaire’s white spats across the dance floor.” . . .

Top-Ten IT Issues, 2009
by Anne Scrivener Agee, Catherine Yang, and the 2009 EDUCAUSE Current Issues Committee
July/August 2009, EDUCAUSE Review

. . . “Administered by the EDUCAUSE Current Issues Committee, the electronic survey was conducted in December 2008. Survey participants — typically CIOs of EDUCAUSE member institutions — were asked to select the five most-important IT issues out of a selection of thirty-one in each of four areas: (1) issues that are critical for strategic success; (2) issues that are expected to increase in significance; (3) issues that demand the greatest amount of the campus IT leader’s time; and (4) issues that require the largest expenditures of human and fiscal resources.”

Top-Ten IT Issues, 2009
1. Funding IT
2. Administrative/ERP Information Systems
3. Security
4. Infrastructure/Cyberinfrastructure
5. Teaching and Learning with Technology
6. Identity/Access Management
7. Governance, Organization, and Leadership
8. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity
9. Agility, Adaptability, and Responsiveness
10. Learning Management Systems

Microsoft and Yahoo Are Linked Up. Now What?
by Steve Lohr
July 29, 2009, New York Times

“Even with the deal, the Microsoft-Yahoo search operation will be dwarfed by Google –with a 28 percent market share in the United States, versus 65 percent — and will face an uphill struggle to try to wean people away from Google’s simple white search page.” . . .

“Under the pact, Microsoft will provide the underlying search technology on Yahoo’s popular Web sites. The deal will give a lift to Microsoft’s search engine, which it recently overhauled and renamed Bing. Its search ads will have broader reach and become more lucrative. Bing, which tries to put search results in better context than rivals, has won praise and favorable reviews, after Microsoft spent years falling farther and farther behind Google in search. For Yahoo, the move furthers the strategy under Ms. Bartz to focus the company on its strengths as a publisher of Web media sites in areas like finance and sports, as a marketer and leader in online display advertising.” . . .

City Libraries Shut Out of Broadband Stimulus Money?
by Matthew Lasar
July 29, 2009, Ars Technica

“Millions of Americans are turning to the Internet to look for new jobs. But in many parts of the United States, public libraries are the only free provider of that crucial combo: a computer plus Internet access. This means that low-income job seekers depend on them when searching for employment. Oddly, as library development directors look for funds to beef up their networks, they’re not finding the support they expected from the White House’s $7.2 billion broadband stimulus package.”

“The first round of stimulus grants “in effect de-prioritizes libraries and discourages them from applying for funding,” complains the American Library Association in a letter sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “The ability of our libraries to meet community needs is in jeopardy — especially when library use has heavily increased across the country in these difficult economic times.”

. . . “So what’s the problem? First, says ALA, the NTIA’s definitions of “unserved” and “underserved” areas –those being the regions eligible for grants — effectively screen out a lot of worthy libraries in other parts of the country. To BTOP, “unserved” means regions consisting of one or more census blocks where at least nine out of ten households “lack access to facilities-based, terrestrial broadband service, either fixed or mobile, at the minimum broadband transmission speed.” “Underserved” means places where half the households have no access, or areas with similar handicaps.”

“These household-based definitions have an “unintended consequence” for metro area libraries, ALA notes. Those “located in urban and suburban communities will be unduly penalized even though they are well-positioned to provide internet access via broadband connectivity to everyone in their community.” . . .

The Equal Opportunity Library
by Stephanie Lee
July 30, 2009

. . . “Google’s plan to build an online library follows October’s $125 million settlement of copyright challenges brought by authors and publishers. The search engine giant is pledging a free “preview” of all books in the collection and inexpensive ways to purchase electronic access to full books. Authors and publishers can either set the price or allow Google to do so, using an algorithm based on factors such as genre, popularity and length, said David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer. For individual users, book prices are expected to range between $2 and $29, with a median price of $6 to $7, he said.”

“Colleges, universities and other organizations will gain access to the collection via subscriptions, the price of which will vary according to each institution’s size. Those that have made books available for digitization will receive heavy discounts or pay nothing, while people at other institutions will be able to view a free “snapshot” of the content. In May, the University of Michigan announced that it will be the first institution to allow Google to scan and index its books. (Though Howard hosted Wednesday’s panel, it has not entered into such an agreement.)” . . .

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
National Science Foundation

Application Deadline: Aug. 25, 2009

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The program provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends, and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts. A new component of the program supports STEM professionals who enroll as NSF Teaching Fellows in master’s degree programs leading to teacher certification by providing academic courses, professional development, and salary supplements while they are fulfilling a four-year teaching commitment in a high need school district. This new component also supports the development of NSF Master Teaching Fellows by providing professional development and salary supplements for exemplary math and science teachers to become Master Teachers in high need school districts.

Online Funding, Cheating Scandal, CC Woes, Serendipity, Top IT Issues, Microsoft/Yahoo, Broadband Shutout, Google, Scholarship