Defining the Enrollment Boom
by Scott Jaschik
Dec. 18, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“All through the fall semester, community colleges have been reporting enrollment growth. On Thursday, the American Association of Community Colleges released the results of a survey designed to see if the many individual reports add up to a national trend — and the survey results suggest they do.”
“Nationally, head count in credit courses is up 11.4 percent over the last year, and 16.9 percent over two years, according to the survey, which included data from hundreds of colleges from every region of the country. Notably, given that about 60 percent of community college students are enrolled part time, one of the most dramatic parts of the new enrollment surge is that it is coming in large part by full-time students. Over the last two years, the percentage gain in full-time students has been more than twice the rate as for part-time students.” . . .
Eye on Google
by Steve Kolowich
Dec. 18, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“Three major library associations sent a letter Thursday to the U.S. Justice Department asking it to keep a close eye on Google to make sure it does not exploit its position as the owner of the world’s largest digital book database to gouge libraries with exorbitant licensing fees.”
“The letter – signed by the directors of the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries and the Association of College and Research Libraries – noted that November’s amended settlement agreement between Google and the Author’s Guild failed to create a mechanism that would allow Google’s competitors comparable access to the millions of so-called “orphan works” the tech giant has scanned into its database. The U.S. government had recommended two months earlier that the parties create such a mechanism. Without it, the government warned, Google could have a “dangerous” monopoly on access to the scanned works.”
“Vice President Biden today kicked off $7.2 billion in Recovery Act broadband grant and loan programs, of which $2 billion will be made available on a rolling basis over the next 75 days to bring high-speed Internet to communities that currently have little or no access to the technology.” . . .
“The projects receiving funds today are the first in the $7.2 billion program – $4.7 billion through the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and $2.5 through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) – being implemented under the Recovery Act to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. The awards are designed to help underserved – and often hard-hit – communities overcome the distance and technology barrier by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses – as well as the jobs that come with them. They are part of an over $100 billion investment in science, technology and innovation the Administration is making through the Recovery Act to lay a new foundation for economic growth.” . . .
Educators Weigh In Again on Improving E-rate to meet Broadband Goals
by Kevin Taglang
Dec. 16, 2009, Benton Foundation
The Federal Communications Commission has received a new round of comment on the impact of the E-rate program on reaching the national goal of universal, affordable broadband use.
The State E-rate Coordinators’ Alliance says that changes to the E-rate program should “do no harm” to existing school and library broadband adoption and services. SECA believes changes should make the application process easier and calls for an increase in annual E-rate spending to $4.5-$5 billion. SECA also points out that the E-rate could be coordinated with other funding sources to facilitate broadband deployment. Specifically, the E-rate model, which allows customers to determine their bandwidth needs and competitively bid the broadband services that they need, has been successful in matching customer demand with broadband deployment. This customer-driven approach, SECA says, allows for the deployment of broadband to be targeted to where there is demand. A similar approach is being utilized in the Rural Health Care Support Mechanism. SECA believes that this customer driven approach allows for better targeting of support to the deployment of broadband where it is needed, rather than relying on the approach of the High Cost Fund where the support is disbursed to carriers and it is up to the carriers to decide when and where to upgrade their facilities to be broadband capable.
The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition believes that high-bandwidth facilities to schools and libraries, as anchor institutions, should be capable of being used as “jumping off” points from which broadband providers can serve the surrounding residential and business community. In other words, the high-capacity fiber cables or wireless networks deployed to serve the needs of schools and libraries should be publicly available to serve others as well.
The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors urges five steps to broaden the scope of the E-Rate program in a way that would promote the efficient use of resources to expand broadband deployment throughout local communities. Although NATOA’s proposal goes further than the recommendations of other parties, NATOA notes support in the record for key components of the proposal. The steps are:
1. Give priority to funding broadband services.
2. Make local anchor institution networks that provide broadband services or facilities to schools and libraries eligible for E-Rate funding.
3. Provide support based on the actual cost of extending networks to serve eligible institutions.
4. Relieve local anchor institution networks of the competitive bidding requirement.
5. Raise the $2.25 billion cap.
The American Association of Community Colleges and EDUCAUSE support expansion of the E-rate program to include community colleges without diminished support for existing beneficiaries. Congress considered, but ultimately rejected, including community colleges in the E-rate program when it was first created in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But in the thirteen years since the E-rate was created, community colleges have become even more essential to the nation’s economic and educational imperatives. Distance education is a key tool in reaching students at times and in places where they are able to access higher education, thus increasing the number of people who do so. As technology evolves, community colleges are able to offer increasingly sophisticated distance education applications, especially in technical fields. Adequate broadband connections are necessary to share video and other high-volume educational content among their disparate campuses and regional locations.
Want Privacy on Facebook? Here’s How to Get Some
by Barbara Ortutay
Dec. 17, 2009, Associated Press
Over the past week, Facebook has been nudging its users — first gently, then firmly — to review and update their privacy settings. You might have procrastinated by hitting “skip for now,” but Facebook eventually locked you out until you did so. After finally accepting Facebook’s recommendations or tweaking the privacy settings yourself, though, you might have made more information about you public than what you had intended. At the same time, Facebook has given users many granular controls over their privacy, more than what’s available on other major social networks. So if you want to stay out of people’s view, but still want to be on Facebook, here are some things to look out for as you take another look at your settings. . . .
Facebook’s Growing Ethnic Diversity Mirrors U.S. Population
by Sara Inés Calderón
Dec. 17, 2009, Inside Facebook
“Facebook’s Data Team has just published a report called “How Diverse is Facebook?” in which the company analyzed the surnames of U.S. users in order to estimate a breakdown of US Facebook users by ethnicity. The conclusions? While Whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders have historically been more represented on Facebook compared to the US population, Facebook’s user diversity is increasingly mirroring that of the overall US populace. The report also examined “saturation” by ethnic and racial groups, defined by Facebook as a fraction of its users as compared to a fraction of Internet users by ethnicity. Facebook found that Asian/Pacific Islanders have been much more likely to be on the site than Whites over time. Hispanics are currently 80 percent as likely as Whites to use Facebook and Black users are about as likely to be users as Whites.” – Summary from the Benton Foundation
by Steve Kolowich
Dec. 16, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“Blackboard, known for its tenacity in the e-learning market, on Tuesday announced it is backing off from its long patent feud with the Canadian company Desire2Learn. The dispute dates back to 2006, when Blackboard sued Desire2Learn in a Texas district court for 38 counts of patent infringement, seeking millions in damages. The court only upheld three counts, and both companies appealed the parts of the decision they had lost to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which in 2008 dismissed all of Blackboard’s claims against Desire2Learn. But by then the industry giant had filed additional patent-infringement lawsuits against its smaller competitor, which were pending — until Tuesday, when the rivals announced the détente.” . . .
Time Capsule: The Rough Guide to the Internet… from 1999
by Nate Anderson
Dec. 15, 2009, Ars Technica
“1999 was in some ways a simpler time, a bygone era in which a leading Internet guidebook’s first page could open with the question: ‘Okay, what’s this Internet good for?’ “
“The book then follows this question up with a host of others.
— ‘Is there a lot of really weird stuff on the Net?’
— ‘But isn’t it yet another male-dominated bastion?’
— ‘What’s electronic mail, again?’
— ‘So, is this the Information Superhighway?’ “
“Well, yes, it is the “Information Superhighway,” a term which itself sounds straight out of a previous century, but it’s not the superhighway that we’re driving on today. When Ars Science Editor John Timmer unearthed a copy of 1999’s Rough Guide to the Internet, we decided to take a look back at just what has changed in the last decade—and what has remained depressingly the same.” . . .
Bill Gates Fund: Libraries Need More Cash for Broadband
by Matthew Lasar
Dec. 14, 2009, Ars Technica
. . . ” ‘A growing number of schools and public libraries cannot afford connectivity upgrades because of the inability to pay for one-time only installation, equipment and transport costs,’ the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation warned the Commission on Wednesday. No big surprise that Gates is active in this area. Microsoft’s general focus when it comes to broadband stimulus questions is that resources should go to ‘anchor institutions’ – libraries, schools, and hospitals.”
“The main conduit for this kind of support comes from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund E-Rate program, which subsidizes broadband and computer equipment. Library and school administrators complain that the application process is too complicated. In fact, the Gates fund has spent $2 million to help libraries learn how to apply. The other concern is that the current annual cap on the fund is too low. What’s the limit at this point? Hold your breath: $2.25 billion. But critics say that’s about $1.75 billion short of the annual demand for E-Rate funding, and the Gates Foundation agrees.” . . .
Why Jing to Twitter Matters
by Joshua Kim
Dec. 14, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“Nobody gets the power of small pieces loosely joined better than TechSmith. I’ve been playing with its newest Jing feature – one that allows Jing screencasts or images to be directly uploaded to Twitter. Jing is wonderful because it is free (for the basic version), lightweight, cross-platform, and nimble. I’ve used Jing extensively for both teaching and my work with faculty colleagues.”
“For teaching, Jing is a great tool for student authoring. For no money you can require that your students make quick (<5 minute) voice-over presentations of their topics and share their work in your course management system. For professional work, Jing is an easy way to create and share screencasts of best practices and features of course design and the technologies that support innovative pedagogy.” . . .
Defaults Nearly Double
by Doug Lederman
Dec. 14, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“Scores more colleges could face federal restrictions on financial aid once the government starts holding them accountable for their three-year student loan cohort default rates, judging from the first look at three-year rates made public by the U.S. Education Department today. (http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/datacenter/) Taken together, the three-year rates are 93 percent higher than the standard two-year rates for for-profit colleges, 63 percent higher for public two-year institutions, and 70 percent higher for private four-year colleges.”
“The rates released today are informational only, as colleges will not be punished based on their three-year rates until 2014, when the government will have collected and published three consecutive years of data on three-year rates.” . . .
Educational Technology in Public School Districts: Fall 2008
Dec. 16, 2009, National Center for Education Statistics
This report includes information on networks and Internet capacity, technology policies, district-provided resources, teacher professional development, and district-level leadership for technology. Findings include:
— Some 92 percent of districts offered access to online district resources to all elementary or all secondary teachers. About 82 percent of schools offered server space for posting web pages or class materials to all teachers.
— Districts had written policies on acceptable student use of email (84 percent), social networking websites (76 percent), wikis and/or blogs (52 percent), and other Internet use (92 percent).
— Of the districts surveyed, 100 percent kept student data in an electronic data system. The percentage of districts that used an electronic system to keep each type of student data asked about in the survey ranged from 80 percent for transportation data to 100 percent for attendance data.