Smartphones, Broadband Grants, Mobile Computing, Apps, Loans, Web Design, Activities, eLearning

Can You Hear Me Now?
by Steve Kolowich
Aug. 19, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

As a professor, how do you get dropout-prone college students to stay in school? Give them your cell phone number. How do you get professors to promptly field text messages, calls and e-mails from students? Buy them smartphones and pay for the service plan. That is the logic Georgia Gwinnett College employed when it decided to offer its more than 300 full- and part-time faculty members cell phones and encouraged them to respond to any calls or texts from students within 24 hours.

Under the program, professors are offered a state-of-the-art smartphone and a Sprint data plan that includes the most sophisticated wireless Internet coverage. It is part of a several-tier effort by Georgia Gwinnett — a public, four-year, noncompetitive-admissions college founded in 2005 — to defy the historically low retention rates typical of colleges that set such a modest bar for admission (Georgia Gwinnett admits any Georgia high school graduate). And so far, they say, it is working.” . . .

Vice President Biden Announces Recovery Act Investments in Broadband Projects to Bring Jobs, Economic Opportunity to Communities Nationwide
Press Release
Aug. 18, 2010,The White House

Vice President Biden today announced 94 Recovery Act investments in broadband projects that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states. These investments in high-speed Internet infrastructure will help bridge the technological divide in communities that are being left in the 20th century economy and support improvements in education, healthcare, and public safety. Today’s announcement, an investment totaling $1.8 billion, is part of a nearly $7 billion Recovery Act initiative. The announcement includes 66 grants awarded by the Commerce Department for projects to deploy broadband infrastructure and connect community anchor institutions to broadband, create and upgrade public computer centers, and encourage the sustainable adoption of broadband service. It also includes 28 awards from USDA for broadband infrastructure and satellite projects that will provide rural residents in 16 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service.

The Evolving Role of Mobile Computing in Education
by Daniel Cawrey
Aug. 18, 2010, EmergingEdTech

“Many of us think about technology as something that we sit behind: maybe a desktop computer or a laptop that we type away on. But the reality is that technology is becoming more about what is in our hands, or in our pockets, and that significantly changes the way that we interact with each other, especially in the classroom. I’m not just talking about smartphones and iPads. Witness this device that I came across during a technology conference held in Taiwan, where many of the computers that we use are planned and conceived before reaching the stores.”

“This device, made by a Taiwanese company called Viiliv, is the size of a smartphone and has a full keyboard. What is most remarkable about this “palmtop,” as you might call it, is that it runs Windows 7. This is the same up-to-date version of Windows that netbooks and larger computers run on, and it can be put into your pocket. This is being designed to cost just a few hundred dollars.” . . .

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet
by Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff
Aug. 17, 2010, Wired Magazine

“You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service. You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.”

“This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.” . . .

Feds Publish For-Profit Loan Repayment Rates
by Daniel de Vise
Aug. 16, 2010, The Washington Post

A spreadsheet published late Friday by the federal Education Department answers a much-debated question in the federal effort to regulate for-profit colleges: Can students at for-profit schools repay their loans? The department released loan repayment rates for individual colleges. The data show a remarkable range from school to school in the ability of students to pay down their college loans. A quick analysis by the Institute for College Access & Success found that overall repayment rates were around 55 percent for non-profit colleges, compared with 36 percent at for-profit schools. For-profit stock plunged at the news. At issue is a proposed federal rule that would potentially restrict a school’s access to federal aid funds if its programs do not yield “gainful employment.”

College 2.0: Teachers Without Technology Strike Back
by Jeffrey R. Young
Aug. 15, 2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Mark James, a visiting lecturer at the University of West Florida, declared his summer course in English literature technology-free — he skipped the PowerPoint slides and YouTube videos he usually shows, and he asked students to silence their cellphones and close their laptops. Banishing the gear improved the course, he argues. “The students seemed more involved in the discussion than when I allowed them to go online,” he told me as the summer term wound down. ‘They were more attentive, and we were able to go into a little more depth.’ ”

“Mr. James is not antitechnology — he said he had some success in his composition courses using an online system that’s sold with textbooks. But he is frustrated by professors and administrators who believe that injecting the latest technology into the classroom naturally improves teaching. That belief was highlighted in my College 2.0 column last month, in which some professors likened colleagues who don’t teach with tech to doctors who ignore improvements in medicine.” . . .

Web Re(design)
by Steve Kolowich
Aug. 11, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“A cartoon ridiculing the tone-deaf design of many college home pages, published on July 30 week on the website xkcd and circulated widely in social media circles and on campuses, has highlighted the frustration many people have with what they consider to be poorly designed college websites.”

“As the social media sphere chorused a resounding “amen,” marketing experts weighed in: college home pages have become clogged with useless objects such as mission statements, letters from deans, and press releases, several told Inside Higher Ed. A big part of the problem, said Elizabeth Scarborough, CEO of the marketing firm SimpsonScarborough, is that website design is often left in the hands of administrative committees rather than marketing executives who recognize that it is the customer — not the dean, not the provost, not the president — that is always right.” . . .

What Americans Do Online: Social Media And Games Dominate Activity
Aug. 2, 2010, Nielson Wire

“Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, up from 15.8 percent just a year ago (43 percent increase) according to new research released today from The Nielsen Company. The research revealed that Americans spend a third their online time (36 percent) communicating and networking across social networks, blogs, personal email and instant messaging.”

Californians’ Access to Broadband Continues to Rise — Even in a Severe Recession
August 2010, Public Policy Institute of California

Currently, 70 percent of Californians have access to high-speed broadband Internet at home (up from 62 percent a year ago and 55 percent in 2008). Internet use increased about as much this year (up 5 points) as last year and has climbed 16 points since 2000 (65 percent in 2000, 70 percent in 2008, 76 percent in 2009, 81 percent today). By comparison, 79 percent of Americans report using the Internet and 66 percent have access to broadband at home, according to a 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project survey.

Rethinking e-Learning
by Clark N. Quinn
April 28, 2010, Learning Solutions Magazine

. . .“For all the sophistication of our technology, our view of learning has not really changed. In an era of semantic Web, augmented reality, virtual worlds, and more, we are still talking about courses! But in business, our goals are not learning, our goals are improving performance. And courses, particularly the ‘event’” model for courses, are one of the worst ways to go about achieving learning for performance!” . . .

“From looking at kids (before schooling extinguishes their love of learning), we see what I call the seven C’s of natural learning:

* Choose what we are interested in
* Commit to do what is necessary to learn about it
* Create expressions of our understanding as application
* Crash when our expressions sometimes fail
* Copy others’ performances
* Converse with others about the topic
* Collaborate to co-create a shared understanding as well as an artifact

This does not much represent what we do with learning. We need to visit some of the more esoteric areas of cognitive science to think more powerfully about learning and performance. We start with formal learning.

Smartphones, Broadband Grants, Mobile Computing, Apps, Loans, Web Design, Activities, eLearning

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