Retooling the GI Bill
by Jack Stripling
July 22, 2010, Inside Higher Ed
. . . “At issue for the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is S. 3447, legislation that would revamp the benefit formula that has been in place since the Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect last year. . . . The bill would also extend housing allowances to students taking courses purely online. While the current GI Bill provides no allowance to students taking only distance education courses, the legislation would provide those students with 50 percent of the allowance given to residential students.”
“While the housing allowance is a form of progress, it still doesn’t sit well with some administrators whose colleges have robust distance learning programs and significant veteran enrollments. Russell S. Kitcher, associate vice president for regulatory and government relations at American Public University System, was critical of the “discrimination” inherent in the housing allowance.”
” ‘Providing some form of a housing stipend for individuals taking courses online certainly is a step in the correct direction, but I remain unconvinced that there should be any discrimination based on learning modes,’ Kitcher wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. ‘Online students, the majority of whom are adult learners, have comparable living expenses as do those taking courses at traditional brick and mortar institutions, and to suggest otherwise is to overlook the realities of contemporary learners.’ ”
[For more on what veterans who take online courses are eligible to receive from the GI Bill see http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/01/23/gi]
Facebook Tops 500 Million Users
by Jenna Wortham
July 21, 2010, New York Times
“Facebook, the social network created in the dormitories of Harvard six years ago, said on Wednesday that it now had 500 million members. The company has grown at a meteoric pace, doubling in size from a year ago and pushing international competitors aside. Each month, Facebook says, more than 30 billion photographs, links to Web sites and news articles are shared through the site, and its members spend roughly 700 billion minutes there.” . . .
House Energy & Commerce OKs Communications Disability Access Bill
by John Eggerton
July 21, 2010, Broadcasting & Cable
“The House Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday approved HR 3101, a bill that updates disability access to communications services elements of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, but with changes that address some of the issues that industry had with the bill. .. Among other things, the bill requires the captioning of any online video that is closed captioned on TV, and asks the FCC to study captioning of Web-original video. It also requires smart phones and other mobile devices to be accessible to the disabled, if that is achievable, and restores the FCC’s video description rules thrown out by the courts in 2002.”
“What passed Wednesday in the House committee was a substitute bill reflecting talks with stakeholders, including industry players, said Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.). Rep Ed Markey (D-Mass.), sponsor and driving force behind the bill, outlined some of the changes that give industry more flexibility. He pointed out that the new version now exempts live or ‘near live’ programming from video description, provides program owners and distributors an exemption from descriptions if they would be ‘economically burdensome.’ And while it also expands the original top 25 market mandate for descriptions to all media markets, it does that over six years, Markey pointed out, and gives the FCC the ability to grant waivers for markets where it deems that appropriate.” . . .
Waxman Says Commerce Will Look Into Access to PEG Channels
by John Eggerton
July 21, 2010, Broadcasting & Cable
“House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called access to PEG channels an important issue and one the committee would look into. . . . [Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)] had asked for assurances that the committee would take up PEG issues ‘in the near future.’ Those issues included the move of PEG channels from analog to digital tiers, the clustering on digital channels on subchannels to a single, menu-driven channel, and other moves by cable operators that that she argues can make them harder to access, including for the disabled.”
“She said PEG channels ‘serve as a lifeline to Americans with disabilities,’ helping them stay connected by monitoring and engaging in local government and distant learning classes, or even go to church. ‘While we strive for digital inclusion,’ she said, ‘we must protect and enhance the existing access to news and civic life available to PEG channels.’ Her amendment would have made sure that PEG providers would have to meet the same standards for accessibility as broadcasters.” . . .
iPad Goes Under The Gauntlet At Universities This Fall
by Chris Foresman
July 21, 2010, Ars Technica
“The iPad is about to have its academic chops put to the test this fall in a number of programs around the country. Colleges and universities are looking to adopt the iPad as a collaborative tool, a standardized mobile device to integrate into curriculums, and, in some cases, even a cost-saving device. . . . Though an iPad starts at $499 and can cost as much as $829 for the top-end model, there is potential for cost savings, as well. The university has already identified one class where the textbook in ePub format costs $100 less than the dead-tree version. With a typical class load of five courses, it could be possible to completely offset the cost of a device like an iPad in textbook savings alone. (At least, this is true if you’re comparing the iPad against a stack of brand new textbooks; the savings may disappear if used books are brought into the comparison.)” . . .
“The iPad can certainly address the speed and input issues that students complained about [in the Kindle], and offers accessibility features for vision-impaired users. However, the device may suffer from similar problems with loading documents over the air and viewing more than one text at a time. But by combining its speed with the multitasking capabilities that will come in a fall update to iOS 4, the iPad may still prove to be a workable solution. If it works as well as expected, carrying an iPad would sure beat lugging 40lbs of books and a laptop all over campus.”
The Web Means the End of Forgetting
by Jeffrey Rosen
July 19, 2010, New York Times
. . .“The problem [Stacy Snyder] faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. With Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, which collects and shares embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users, ill-advised photos and online chatter are coming back to haunt people months or years after the fact.”
“Examples are proliferating daily: there was the 16-year-old British girl who was fired from her office job for complaining on Facebook, “I’m so totally bored!!”; there was the 66-year-old Canadian psychotherapist who tried to enter the United States but was turned away at the border — and barred permanently from visiting the country — after a border guard’s Internet search found that the therapist had written an article in a philosophy journal describing his experiments 30 years ago with L.S.D.”
“According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource professionals report that their companies require them to do online research about candidates, and many use a range of sites when scrutinizing applicants — including search engines, social-networking sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, personal Web sites and blogs, Twitter and online-gaming sites. Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information found online, like photos and discussion-board conversations and membership in controversial groups.” . . .
“We’ve known for years that the Web allows for unprecedented voyeurism, exhibitionism and inadvertent indiscretion, but we are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent — and public — digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts.” . . .
Educational Games for the Classroom
by Karl Kapp
July 19, 2010, Kapp Notes
“Here is a list of educational games that can be used to teach kids during the school year or over the summer break. There are a bunch of games on the web site to check out. Here is a list of the top 10 most visited educational games on Nobel Prize web site.”
1. The Blood Typing Game
2. The Laser Challenge Game
3. The DNA – the Double Helix Game
4. The Pavlov’s Dog Game
5. The Diabetic Dog Game
6. The Lord of the Flies Game
7. The Electrocardiogram Game
8. The Immune System Game
9. The Control of the Cell Cycle Game
10. The Split Brain Experiments Game
FCC Finds 14 To 24 Million Americans Lack Access to Broadband
July 20, 2010, Federal Communications Commission
“In response to a Congressional directive to inquire whether broadband “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,” the FCC concluded in its Sixth Broadband Deployment Report that between 14 and 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband, and the immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak. This report underscores the need for comprehensive reform of the Universal Service Fund, innovative approaches to unleashing new spectrum, and removal of barriers to infrastructure investment.”
“In an era when broadband has become essential for U.S. jobs, economic growth, global competitiveness, and democratic engagement, millions of Americans live in areas without broadband. Many of these Americans are poor or live in rural areas that will remain unserved without reform of the universal service program and other changes to U.S. broadband policy that spur investment in broadband networks by lowering the cost of deployment. The report concludes that the goal of universal availability — deployment to all Americans — is not being met in a timely way, and proposes to address key recommendations from the FCC’s National Broadband Plan to connect all Americans as quickly as possible, including:
• Reforming the FCC’s universal service programs to support broadband through public-private partnerships;
• Unleashing spectrum for mobile broadband;
• Reducing barriers to infrastructure investment, including delays in access to poles and rights-of-way;
• Collecting better broadband data to assist policymakers and consumers.”
“The report also takes the long-overdue step of updating a key standard — speed — used to determine whether households are served by broadband. It upgrades the standard from 200 kilobits per second downstream, a standard set over a decade ago when web pages were largely text-based, to 4 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. This is a minimum speed generally required for using today’s video-rich broadband applications and services, while retaining sufficient capacity for basic web browsing and e-mail. The Commission’s standard will evolve over time.”
Levin Encourages Digital Citizenship
by David Cup
July 20, 2010, BroadbandBreakfast.com
“The principal author of the National Broadband Plan has several suggestions on how to achieve universal first-class digital citizenship. Blair Levin, speaking at the Eighth Annual Access to Capital and Telecommunications policy conference held by the Minority Media & Telecom Council, says ‘we need to replace all textbooks in this country with digital content.’ This platform will enable students to learn as much as they can as fast as they can he went onto explain.”
“The notion that teaching is restricted to ink and paper is wrong and Levin says that the digital platform is inherently self improving, leading to comprehensive devices and enhanced learning. Levin says that this means that a generation from now, everyone will have the opportunity to be a first class digital citizen. Levin also suggests Universal Service Fund reform. He says it needs to be repurposed for broadband because it is ‘heading for a train wreck.’ The fund is not ready for broadband, says Levin, and without reform the necessary funds for the National Broadband Plan will not be available.” . . .
U of Phoenix Makes History
by Ben Miller
July 20, 2010, The Quick and the Ed
“According to U.S. Department of Education data released today, the University of Phoenix became the first college in the history of the United States to take in more than a billion dollars worth of Pell Grants disbursements in a single academic year. Students at the for-profit chain received a total of $1,042,372,699.50 spread amongst 304,583 awards in the 2009-10 academic year.”
“That’s what happens when your average Pell Grant dollar disbursement increase is 62 percent. In 2008-09, Phoenix took in $656 million. The year prior to that it was $398 million and the year before that it was $244 million. Phoenix received more in additional Pell money this year than it got in the entire 2006-07 academic year and almost more than the 2007-08 year as well.”
“While Phoenix has steadily seen a huge increase in its Pell dollars disbursed, the general growth in the proprietary sector is astounding. For-profits received $7.34 billion in the 2009-10 academic year, or 70 percent more than they got the year prior. The sector took in $44 million less in 2009-10 than it did in the prior two years combined.”
“These patterns are amplified trends of what’s going on in the program overall. Total dollars disbursed increased by more than $11 billion this year, a 61 percent gain. Even if you take out dollars given to for-profits, the increase is still 58 percent. For-profits still increased faster than the rest of schools, but the rate is only 12 percentage points higher. By contrast, Pell dollars disbursed increased by 21 percent last year at public and nonprofit schools, but 40 percent in the for-profit sector.” . . .
Faculty, IT Diverge on the Importance of Classroom Tech
by David Nagel
July 19, 2010, Campus Technology
“The report, ‘The 2010 21st-Century Campus Report: Campus 2.0,’ commissioned by CDW Government (CDW-G) and released Monday at the Campus Technology 2010 conference in Boston, polled about 1,000 students, instructors, and IT department staff members in order to gauge their attitudes about technology used in education and their expectations for the future.” (see http://newsroom.cdwg.com/features/feature-07-19-10.html)
“It found that IT staff tended to advocate online collaborative tools and virtual education to a far greater extent than faculty members. According to the research, 72 percent of IT staffers indicated they consider online collaboration software “essential” to the 21st-century classroom, compared with just 31 percent of faculty members. Similarly, 68 percent of IT staff members said virtual learning is essential, a view shared by only 35 percent of faculty members.”
“In fact, in every category, a higher percentage of IT pros than faculty considered technology essential–including wireless Internet access, digital content, smart podiums, lecture capture, HD videoconferencing, and electronic readers. But educators weren’t unenthusiastic about every technology. A majority of faculty surveyed cited digital content (67 percent), wireless Internet access (65 percent), and smart podiums (62 percent) as essential classroom technologies.”
“Meanwhile, IT staffers were also fairly upbeat about the state of the infrastructure on their campuses. Only 6 percent said their campuses were “aging” or “in the dark ages.” Thirty-eight percent reported that their tech was adequate, though it “could be refreshed.” A majority actually reported that their IT infrastructure is either current, with “hardware that is no more than three years old” (47 percent), or cutting edge (9 percent).” . . .
Project to Improve Broadband Adoption by People with Disabilities
July 19, 2010, National Telecommunication and Information Administration
. . . “The [$15 million] grant to Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) intends to expand broadband adoption among people who are deaf and hard of hearing and provide them with tools to more fully participate in the digital economy. CSD’s Project Endeavor plans to employ a mix of discounted broadband service and specialized computers, technology training from an online state-of-the-art support center customized to the community’s needs, public access to videophones at community anchor institutions across the country, and a nationwide outreach initiative.”
“CSD plans to add new staff, proficient in sign language, to its contact center in South Dakota and expects to train up to 200,000 people who are deaf and hard of hearing in the use of video, real-time text-based communications, and other specialized broadband technologies. The project also intends to facilitate improved access to enhanced 911 public safety services by those who are deaf or hard of hearing.” . . .
Outsourced Ed: Colleges Hire Companies to Build Their Online Courses
by Marc Parry
July 18, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education
. . . “As more colleges dip their toes into the booming online-education business, they’re increasingly taking those steps hand-in-hand with companies like Embanet. For nonprofit universities trying to compete in an online market aggressively targeted by for-profit colleges, the partnerships can rapidly bring in many students and millions of dollars in new revenue. That’s becoming irresistible to an increasingly prominent set of clients. George Washington University, Boston University, and the University of Southern California, to pick just three, all work with online-service companies.” . . .
Interview With Desire2Learn CEO John Baker
by Michael Feldstein
July 16, 2010, e-Literate
“I have a couple of take-aways from both the interview and the conference. First of all, I was astonished at how much D2L is growing. Based on what I saw at the Sakai conference, what the market surveys have been saying, and what I know from talking to people, it was already clear to me going in that there’s a big shift happening in the LMS market. I expected to see D2L benefiting from that. But I wasn’t prepared to see the number of new clients they’re on-boarding. I’m trying to get a list to illustrate the size of the growth. In his keynote, John had three slides’ worth of new logos. These aren’t expanded client relationships, which is the kind of thing that Blackboard tends to highlight these days. These are new clients.”
“Second, the economic downturn is affecting the market, but the effects are somewhat unpredictable. John’s story about PASSHE, a system with fourteen different universities, migrating to D2L in a couple of months, is remarkable. There’s only one thing that can drive a fractious group of state colleges to act that quickly in unison: a budget crisis.” . . .
A Global Teacher of 1,516 Lessons and Counting
by Lisa M. Krieger
June 27, 2010, Physorg.com
“From a tiny closet in Mountain View, Calif., Sal Khan is educating the globe for free. His 1,516 videotaped mini-lectures — on topics ranging from simple addition to vector calculus and Napoleonic campaigns — are transforming the former hedge fund analyst into a YouTube sensation, reaping praise from even reluctant students across the world. ‘I’m starting a virtual school for the world, teaching things the way I wanted to be taught,’ explains Khan, 33, the exuberant founder and sole faculty member of the nonprofit Khan Academy, run out of his small ranch house, which he shares with his wife and infant son.”
“Khan has never studied education and has no teaching credentials. His brief and low-tech videos, created in the corner of his bedroom, are made with a $200 Camtasia Recorder, $80 Wacom Bamboo Tablet and a free copy of SmoothDraw3 on a home PC. But every day, his lectures are viewed 70,000 times — double the entire student body of UC Berkeley. His viewers are diverse, ranging from rural preschoolers to Morgan Stanley analysts to Pakistani engineers. Since its inception in 2006, the Khan Academy website has recorded more than 16 million page views.” . . .
NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM)
Full Proposal Deadline: Aug. 12, 2010
This program makes grants to institutions of higher education to support scholarships for academically talented, financially needy students, enabling them to enter the workforce following completion of an associate; baccalaureate; or graduate-level degree in science and engineering disciplines. Grantee institutions are responsible for selecting scholarship recipients, reporting demographic information about student scholars, and managing the S-STEM project at the institution. The program does not make scholarship awards directly to students; students should contact their institution’s Office of Financial Aid for this and other scholarship opportunities.