Competing in the Cloud
by Steve Kolowich
May 24, 2010, Inside Higher Ed
. . . “Microsoft, for one, is rushing to meet higher education in the cloud. It has trumpeted the resources it is pouring into its cloud platform, Windows Azure. In a podcast interview with Inside Higher Ed this week, Cameron Evans, the company’s top technology officer in the United States, talked up the features of Microsoft SharePoint 2010, which it is marketing to the academic crowd along with its newest version of Microsoft Office. The new version of Office integrates with SharePoint such that far-flung collaborators can work together in Power Point and other Office programs.” . . . “Evans was not shy about criticizing Google, one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors in the market for cloud computing in higher education. ‘Microsoft defined productivity,’ he said. Google, by contrast, is merely ‘a great company at search.’ ”
Is Google Getting in to the LMS Business?
by Matt Crosslin
May 24, 2010, EduGeek Journal
“The new Google CloudCourse project hasn’t gotten that much chatter online. At first glance around the project page, you can easily see why. There are only a handful of functions that basically just do what Google employees have found helpful around the office (because apparently the whole thing started as an internal project). This basically spells ‘yawn’ for most educators. CloudCourse does have a few things going for it: Open-source: we may see more interesting functions arising… if the right people get involved. Part of the Google family: we might see connections to Google Docs, Wave, etc. It already connects to Google Calendars.”
“Right now, it really is a management system and not much more. Add in a grade book and the ability to embed or import content from other sites and you pretty much have all you need for an Open Learning Environment. Connect it with a Google Reader-like system for aggregating tags and RSS feeds, and you have the New Vision ideas we have been kicking around here at EGJ. Sounds like just a few easy steps, but that will only happen if we have educators jump into the development of the project to wrestle it away from the business training mindsets that seem to rule it now.” . . .
Update: Key Dem lawmakers call for rewrite of 1996 Telecom Act
by Cecilia Kang
May 24, 2010, The Washington Post
“Key Democratic lawmakers said Monday that they are seeking to update communications laws, a move aimed at clarifying murky interpretations over federal oversight of the Internet.” . . . “The lawmakers said that starting in June, they will invite stakeholders to participate in bipartisan meetings to address issues and concerns over federal oversight of Internet services and businesses. They said their offices would release a list of topics for discussion and details on how they will go about updating the 1996 Telecommunications Act.” . . .
Communications Law to be Reviewed
by Edward Wyatt
May 24, 2010, New York Times
“The issue came into focus in April when a federal appeals court ruled that the F.C.C. had overstepped its authority in applying a portion of the Communications Act to an Internet service provider. In response, the F.C.C. announced a plan this month to reclassify broadband Internet service, which is now lightly regulated as an information service. Under the change, it would be classified as a telecommunications service, similar to basic telephone service, and would therefore come under more scrutiny by the agency.”
“The reclassification would give the commission the authority to implement portions of its recently released National Broadband Plan, as well as to enforce net neutrality, the concept that Internet service providers must provide consumers with equal access to all types of content and applications. Internet service providers have generally opposed the proposed reclassification, arguing that the F.C.C. has the authority it needs to ensure fair competition among Internet service providers. They also are wary because the reclassification could give the F.C.C. the authority to regulate rates charged to customers.” . . .
Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains
by Nicholas Carr
May 24, 2010, Wired
“The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes our attention only to scramble it. There’s the problem of hypertext and the many different kinds of media coming at us simultaneously. There’s also the fact that numerous studies — including one that tracked eye movement, one that surveyed people, and even one that examined the habits displayed by users of two academic databases — show that we start to read faster and less thoroughly as soon as we go online. Plus, the Internet has a hundred ways of distracting us from our onscreen reading. Most email applications check automatically for new messages every five or 10 minutes, and people routinely click the Check for New Mail button even more frequently. Office workers often glance at their inbox 30 to 40 times an hour. Since each glance breaks our concentration and burdens our working memory, the cognitive penalty can be severe.”
“The penalty is amplified by what brain scientists call switching costs. Every time we shift our attention, the brain has to reorient itself, further taxing our mental resources. Many studies have shown that switching between just two tasks can add substantially to our cognitive load, impeding our thinking and increasing the likelihood that we’ll overlook or misinterpret important information. On the Internet, where we generally juggle several tasks, the switching costs pile ever higher.” . . .
Harvard’s Digital Library Shift
May 24, 2010, Inside Higher Ed
“Like many library systems in higher education, Harvard University’s is moving in many ways from a print to digital focus, especially when it comes to new materials. But many faculty members are worried, The Boston Globe reported, that the university may be giving up its role as an international repository of books and other scholarly materials. Book acquisitions at Harvard would be the envy of most libraries, but they are down substantially — with books purchased in physical form falling from 429,000 in 2004-5 to 349,000 in 2008-9. Last year, the university shifted more than 1,000 journal subscriptions from print to digital.”
How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from Traditional Press
May 23, 2010, Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism
“News today is increasingly a shared, social experience. Half of Americans say they rely on the people around them to find out at least some of the news they need to know. Some 44 percent of online news users get news at least a few times a week through emails, automatic updates or posts from social networking sites. In 2009, Twitter’s monthly audience increased by 200 percent. While most original reporting still comes from traditional journalists, technology makes it increasingly possible for the actions of citizens to influence a story’s total impact.” . . .
“Each social media platform also seems to have its own personality and function. In the year studied, bloggers gravitated toward stories that elicited emotion, concerned individual or group rights or triggered ideological passion. Often these were stories that people could personalize and then share in the social forum — at times in highly partisan language. And unlike in some other types of media, the partisanship here does not lean strongly to one side or the other. Even on stories like the Tea Party protests, Sarah Palin and public support for Obama both conservative and liberal voices come through strongly.” . . .
Teachers Facing Weakest Market in Years
by Winnie Hu
May 19, 2010, The New York Times
. . . “The recession seems to have penetrated a profession long seen as recession-proof. Superintendents, education professors and people seeking work say teachers are facing the worst job market since the Great Depression. Amid state and local budget cuts, cash-poor urban districts like New York City and Los Angeles, which once hired thousands of young people every spring, have taken down the help-wanted signs. Even upscale suburban districts are preparing for huge levels of layoffs. School officials and union leaders estimate that more than 150,000 teachers nationwide could lose their jobs next year, far more than any other time, including the last major financial crisis of the 1970s.” . . . “Teach for America, which places graduates from some of the nation’s top colleges in poor schools, has seen applications increase by nearly a third this year to 46,000 — for 4,500 slots. From Ivy League colleges alone, there are 1,688 would-be teachers.”
Harassment or Free Speech?
by David Moltz
May 21, 2010, Inside Higher Ed
“Overturning the ruling of a lower court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has granted Arizona’s Maricopa Community College District immunity from a lawsuit filed by a group of Latino professors who charged that college officials had not sufficiently disciplined a colleague who sent e-mails they viewed as discriminatory. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski’s opinion Thursday on behalf of a three-judge panel is a strong endorsement of academic freedom. It argues that ‘courts must defer to colleges’ decision to err on the side of academic freedom.’ In doing so, the opinion defends the decision by Glendale Community College and Maricopa Community College District officials not to discipline or dismiss Walter Kehowski, a Glendale mathematics professor who ‘sent three racially charged emails’ via the institution-maintained distribution list.” . . .
A Tour through the Visualization Zoo
by Jeffrey Heer, Michael Bostock, Vadim Ogievetsky
May 13, 2010, ACMQueue
“Thanks to advances in sensing, networking, and data management, our society is producing digital information at an astonishing rate. According to one estimate, in 2010 alone we will generate 1,200 exabytes — 60 million times the content of the Library of Congress. Within this deluge of data lies a wealth of valuable information on how we conduct our businesses, governments, and personal lives. To put the information to good use, we must find ways to explore, relate, and communicate the data meaningfully.”
“The goal of visualization is to aid our understanding of data by leveraging the human visual system’s highly tuned ability to see patterns, spot trends, and identify outliers. Well-designed visual representations can replace cognitive calculations with simple perceptual inferences and improve comprehension, memory, and decision making. By making data more accessible and appealing, visual representations may also help engage more diverse audiences in exploration and analysis. The challenge is to create effective and engaging visualizations that are appropriate to the data.” . . .
Obama Administration Says It Supports Measure to Avoid Teacher Layoffs
by Nick Anderson
May 13, 2010, Washington Post
“ ‘The Obama administration on Thursday threw its support behind a $23 billion measure intended to avert large-scale teacher layoffs, urging Congress to include the effort in a spending bill lawmakers are drafting to fund wartime costs and other urgent needs. ‘We are gravely concerned that ongoing state and local budget challenges are threatening hundreds of thousands of teacher jobs for the upcoming school year,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Duncan added: ‘These budget cuts would also undermine the groundbreaking reform efforts under way in states and districts all across the country.’ ”
British Library Digitizing 40 Million Newspapers
The Associated Press
May 19, 2010, the Washington Post
“The British Library said Wednesday it was digitizing up to 40 million pages of newspapers, including fragile dailies dating back three and a half centuries. Once digitized, the British newspapers documenting local, regional and national life spanning to the 1700s will be fully searchable and accessible online, the national library said. The vast majority of the British Library’s 750 million pages of newspapers – the largest collections in the world – are currently available only on microfilm or bound in bulky volumes. Thousands of researchers have to make a trip to an archive building just outside London to look through them.” . . .
Best of the Mobile Higher Ed Web
by Michael Fienen
May 17, 2010, .eduGuru
. . . “Today, it is completely unimaginable that a university would exist without a website. Bad, good, awesome, terrible — it doesn’t matter, you have one. It is expected, demanded, and if you didn’t, it would have a devastating impact on the impression people have of your school. We are little more than a stone’s throw away from this same trend for mobile web. Over the next two years, expect this demand to grow exponentially (and I’m not speaking hyperbolically). Start researching now. Learn what others are already doing, and begin to craft a strategy so that you will be ready to make the move. First, here are some suggestions when you start thinking about what you should do to design your mobile web site:” . . .
“This graphic shows the journey of a student from pre-kindergarten through the K-12 educational system and either into the workforce or on to a higher education institution. Along the way, school, academic, and public libraries are all available to provide services to the student and parents in support of learning and information literacy. This graphic was developed after attendance at various P-20 meetings where it seemed important to show that libraries play an important role throughout the life of students and adults. Minnesota libraries collaborate in sharing services and resources. Once in the workforce, information continues to be available through the public library for lifelong learning and recreation activities.”
New Broadband-Enabled Learning Opportunities Envisioned in Proposed E-Rate Updates
May 20, 2010, Federal Communications Commission
E-rate has been instrumental in expanding opportunities for schoolchildren and communities across the country. Through the E-rate program, 97 percent of American schools now have Internet access. But the National Broadband Plan found that many schools will need significant upgrades to meet future broadband speed and capacity demands, and that many E-rate policies are out-of-date. In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today, the FCC explores ways the E-rate program can become a more effective educational tool for teachers, parents, and students. Broadband connectivity in the classroom and at home will enable educational advances, economic growth, government delivery of services, and civic engagement. The proposals could be implemented in funding year 2011, which begins on July 1, 2011.
Grant: Bridging Cultures Through Film: International Topics
National Endowment for the Humanities
Application Deadline: July 28, 2010
The Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics program supports projects that examine international and transnational themes in the humanities through documentary films. These projects are meant to spark Americans’ engagement with the broader world by exploring one or more countries and cultures outside of the United States. Proposed documentaries must be analytical and deeply grounded in humanities scholarship. The Division of Public Programs encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling that presents multiple points of view in creative formats. The proposed film must range in length from a stand-alone broadcast hour to a feature-length documentary. We invite a wide range of approaches to international and transnational topics and themes, such as an examination of a critical issue in ethics, religion, or history, viewed through an international lens; a biography of a foreign leader, writer, artist, or historical figure; or an exploration of the history and culture(s) of a specific region, country, or community outside of the United States.