“On Tuesday, October 5th, Dr. Jill Biden will convene the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. The Summit will bring together community college administrators, faculty, and students, business and philanthropic leaders, as well as federal and state policy leaders. Summit participants were selected through a process of consulting many community college stakeholders.”
“Summit participants include Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen; Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; William D. Green, Chairman and CEO of Accenture; Eduardo Padron, President of Miami Dade College; Jim Jacobs, President of Macomb (Michigan) Community College; Ted Carey, President of the Student Association of Community Colleges; and Albert Ojeda, graduate of Estrella Mountain Community College and current honors student at Arizona State University.”
“The opening and closing sessions of this event will be streamed live on www.WhiteHouse.gov/live . In the coming days, we will provide a toolkit with information about the content and the structure of the Summit, as well as background materials on the subject matter to be discussed at the breakout sessions. We hope this information will be helpful to you as you plan your event and look forward to hearing about your discussions and ideas.”
Congress Passes Bill to Make Internet, Smartphones Accessible for Blind, Deaf
by Cecilia Kang
Sept. 29, 2010, Washington Post
“Congress passed a bill on Tuesday night that would make the Internet and mobile phones more accessible to people with disabilities. The legislation will go to President Obama next week to sign into law. Advocates for the blind and deaf say the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act would ensure that Web sites and makers of consumer electronics consider the vision- and hearing-impaired, who have been left behind as more communications tools move to the Web.”
“Specifically, the legislation allows blind consumers to choose from a broader selection of cellphones with speech software that calls out phone numbers and cues users on how to surf the Internet. It makes new TV shows that are captioned available online with closed-captioning. TV remote controls would have a button that makes it easier to get closed-captioning.” . . .
Libraries Launch Apps to Sync With iPod Generation
by Jeannie Nuss, the Associated Press
Sept. 29, 2010, The Washington Post
“Libraries are tweeting, texting and launching smart-phone apps as they try to keep up with the biblio-techs – a computer-savvy class of people who consider card catalogs as vintage as typewriters. And they seem to be pulling it off. Since libraries started rebranding themselves for the iPod generation, thousands of music geeks have downloaded free songs from library websites. And with many more bookworms waiting months to check out wireless reading devices, libraries are shrugging off the notion that the Internet shelved them alongside dusty books. . . . The latest national data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services show that library visits and circulation climbed nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2008. Since then, experts say, technology has continued to drive in-person visits, circulation and usage.” . . .
Searching for Better Research Habits
by Steve Kolowich
Sept. 29, 2010, Inside Higher Ed
. . . “This Google effect does not bode well for students who manage to make it as far as a scholarly database,’ said Asher. ‘Student overuse of simple search leads to problems of having too much information or not enough information … both stemming from a lack of sufficient conceptual understanding of how information is organized,’ he said. Those libraries that have tried to teach good search principles have failed, he continued, because they have spent ‘too much time trying to teach tools and not enough time trying to teach concepts.’ It would be more useful for librarians to focus training sessions on how to ‘critically think through how to construct a strategy for finding information about a topic that is unknown to you,’ Asher said in a follow-up e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.” . . .
In Study, Children Cite Appeal of Digital Reading
by Julie Bosman
Sept. 29, 2010, New York Times
. . . “Parents and educators have long worried that digital diversions like video games and cellphones cut into time that children spend reading. However, they see the potential for using technology to their advantage, introducing books to digitally savvy children through e-readers, computers and mobile devices. About 25 percent of the children surveyed said they had already read a book on a digital device, including computers and e-readers. Fifty-seven percent between ages 9 and 17 said they were interested in doing so. Only 6 percent of parents surveyed owned an e-reader, but 16 percent said they planned to buy one in the next year. Eighty-three percent of those parents said they would allow or encourage their children to use the e-readers.” . . .
SHLB Coalition Supports FCC’s E-Rate Reforms
Sept. 23, 2010, Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition
The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition commends Chairman Genachowski and his colleagues at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for today’s decision to give schools and libraries more flexibility and options to satisfy their needs for high-capacity broadband connections.
“Today’s decision will help to address the exploding needs of schools and libraries for high-capacity bandwidth,” said John Windhausen, Jr., Coordinator of the SHLB Coalition. “Streamlining and simplifying the application process will reduce the administrative burden on applicants and the government. Allowing non-profit research and education (R&E) networks and municipalities to provide both ‘lit’ and ‘dark’ fiber services to eligible E-rate applicants will give schools and libraries more broadband options. R&E networks and municipalities submitted several examples of how they can provide lower-cost, higher-quality bandwidth to community anchor institutions, but the former E-rate rules discouraged schools and libraries from considering these alternative providers. The new rules adopted today will give schools and libraries much greater flexibility to explore a variety of high-bandwidth solutions, will promote greater competition among broadband providers, and will also make more efficient use of the E-rate fund.”
See FCC press release at
Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries
by David Streitfeld
Sept. 26, 2010, New York Times
“A private company in Maryland has taken over public libraries in ailing cities in California, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, growing into the country’s fifth-largest library system. The basic pitch that the company Library Systems & Services makes to cities is that it fixes broken libraries – often by cleaning house. Now the company, Library Systems & Services, has been hired for the first time to run a system in a relatively healthy city, setting off an intense and often acrimonious debate about the role of outsourcing in a ravaged economy.”
“A $4 million deal to run the three libraries here is a chance for the company to demonstrate that a dose of private management can be good for communities, whatever their financial situation. But in an era when outsourcing is most often an act of budget desperation – with janitors, police forces and even entire city halls farmed out in one town or another – the contract in Santa Clarita has touched a deep nerve and begun a round of second-guessing. . . . The company, known as L.S.S.I., runs 14 library systems operating 63 locations. Its basic pitch to cities is that it fixes broken libraries – more often than not by cleaning house.” . . .
Staying Professional in Virtual Meetings
by Eilene Zimmerman
Sept. 25, 2010, New York Times
“Teleconferences and videoconferences offer a relatively inexpensive way to meet with colleagues from around the country or the world, but they also present special challenges. When you aren’t in the same room with other people, you lose important nonverbal cues that register unease, confusion, agreement or disagreement. That makes it easier to miscommunicate, says Sean O’Brien, senior vice president for strategy and communications at PGi, which provides technology platforms for virtual meetings.”
“Participants in virtual meetings often feel a lowered sense of accountability, Mr. O’Brien says. “In face-to-face meetings people really show up, not just physically but also mentally. They come to the meeting prepared and actively participate,” he says. In virtual meetings – including the telepresence variety, where images are highly realistic – that’s often not the case.” . . .
A Question of Quality and Value: Department of Defense Oversight of Tuition Assistance Used for Distance Learning and For-Profit Colleges – The House Armed Services Committee
by Molly Corbett Broad
Sept. 20-24, 2010, American Council on Education
“In his opening statement, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Vic Snyder (D-AR) noted that while nonprofit colleges and universities still have a presence on military installations, approximately 70 percent of the $580 million in military tuition assistance goes to distance learning programs, with 40 percent of that going to for-profit institutions. Rep. Snyder and others at the hearing praised the advent of distance learning for making higher education so readily accessible to service members around the world. However, lawmakers and panelists also noted the problems we have all seen in recent months with certain for-profit programs: concerns about quality, cost, student employability upon graduation, and the aggressive marketing tactics some companies and institutions use.”
“Robert Gordon, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, told the subcommittee that the department is planning to issue a new oversight policy in the coming months that will require online education programs to undergo independent, third-party inspections. Currently, the department only requires education programs with classes held on military installations to undergo such reviews.”
Take Your Fee and Click It!
by Steve Kolowich
Sept. 24, 2010, Inside Higher Ed
“Anyone who doubts that rising tuition is making students especially thrifty when it comes to the ancillary costs of going to college might consider Johns Hopkins University, where nearly 200 students are protesting a new fee that works out to about the price of two movie tickets and some Chinese carry-out. The fee is for classroom clickers — a popular technology that allows professors to gauge student understanding or opinion in real time by giving them handheld voting devices and taking polls throughout a class period. Johns Hopkins began piloting the system six years ago, and since then it has subsidized the cost of the per-student “enrollment codes” in hopes of “focus[ing] the pilot on education, rather than on administrative issues,” according to Candice Dalrymple, director of the university’s Center for Learning Resources.”
“Now that the pilot has expanded into a broad deployment, affecting about half of the university’s 5,000 undergraduates, the front office is passing those fees on to students. Students can pay $13 per course, per semester to register their clicker, or they can pay a one-time fee of $35 that covers all courses, all semesters. All students taking courses that use clickers are required to buy the enrollment codes. (Students are also required to buy the actual clicker devices, which run between $20 and $30, but this had been true during the pilot phase.)” . . .
10 Tools for Evaluating Web Design Accessibility
by Jacob Gube
Aug. 27, 2008, Six Revisions
“Testing for web accessibility (how usable a website is by individuals with disabilities) is an often neglected part of web design and development. Web accessibility is important not only because your content will reach a wider range of audience, but also because correcting web accessibility issues have secondary benefits such as cleaner and more semantic code and better indexibility on search engines. In this post, you’ll find 10 free tools to help you evaluate and correct issues which decrease your website’s accessibility. There was a high emphasis on the ease-of-use during the selection of these tools.”
. . . “The tremendous promise of Open Educational Resources for advancing the mission of higher education is clear. Innovation in teaching and learning based on the use of OER seems certain. The desire of students to seek knowledge from the most accessible and open sources and the most convenient technologies is being demonstrated daily. What actions do higher education governance officials need to take in order to capitalize on these dynamics, safeguard the quality of the education they provide, and preserve the relevance and vitality of their institutions?”
“The simple answer is to summon the will and enact a governing policy that institutionalizes support for these activities. Despite the many advantages offered by OER, just a handful of colleges and universities in the United States currently have formal policies or programs in place that take advantage of this new opportunity. In short, there is a huge gap between what is and what is possible. This policy gap gives collegiate and university governing boards a unique opportunity to enhance both the reputations and the competitiveness of their schools.” . . .
This publication includes interviews with leaders in the OER movement and a great list of OER resources – “Open Educational Resources come in many shapes and sizes. This partial list of sources introduces the scope of OER and the organizations cultivating its increasingly vital role in opening higher education up to the greatest number of people worldwide.”
Education Pays 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society
by Sandy Baum, Jennifer Ma, and Kathleen Payea
2010, The College Board
Full report: http://trends.collegeboard.org/files/Education_Pays_2010.pdf
. . . “Comparing the median cumulative earnings of high school graduates to those of college graduates, we find that by about age 33 — after 11 years of work — higher earnings compensate not only for four years out of the labor force, but also for average tuition and fee payments at a public four-year university funded fully by student loans. The earnings of associate degree recipients lead to a crossover at about the same age — after more years of work despite the lower tuition payments — because of the smaller earnings premium.”
“Perhaps even more important, increased earnings are by no means the only positive outcome of higher education. The knowledge, fulfillment, self-awareness, and broadening of horizons associated with education transform the lives of students and of those with whom they live and work. The difficulty in quantifying these outcomes or translating them into dollars and cents should not lead us to neglect these contributions from higher education. Our society would become immeasurably poorer if financial pressures were to lead us to think of higher education as synonymous with job training.” . . .
Individuals with higher levels of education earn more and are more likely than others to be employed.
— Median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients working fulltime year-round in 2008 were $55,700, $21,900 more than median earnings of high school graduates.
— Individuals with some college but no degree earned 17 percent more than high school graduates working full-time year-round. Their median after-tax earnings were 16 percent higher.
— For young adults between the ages of 20 and 24, the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2009 for high school graduates was 2.6 times as high as that for college graduates.
College completion rates differ considerably by family income, parental education level, and type of institution attended.
The proportion of adults in the United States between the ages of 25 and 34 with a four-year college degree held steady at 24 percent in the 1980s, but grew from 29 percent in 2000 to 32 percent in 2009.
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education
September 2010, The Lumina Foundation
. . . “In 2007, 37.7 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 held a two- or four-year college degree. For 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, the number is 37.9 percent. While the proportion of Americans with college degrees increased between 2007 and 2008, the level of increase is not nearly enough to reach the Big Goal [60 percent by 2025]. If the rate of increase over the past eight years continues, the U.S. will reach a higher education attainment level of only 46.6 percent by 2025, and the shortfall in college graduates will be just under 23 million.” . . .
“Closing this gap will require us to increase access and success in higher education across the board. Two strategies will be especially critical: increasing the rate at which students complete college, and providing ways for adults in the workforce to return to college to complete degrees. More than 22 percent of the working adult population of the U.S. — representing more than 37 million Americans — has attended college but not completed a degree.” . . .
Upcoming Grant Deadlines
Advanced Technological Education (ATE)
National Science Foundation
Program Guidelines: NSF 10-539
Full Proposal Deadline Date: October 21, 2010
With an emphasis on two-year colleges, the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy. The program involves partnerships between academic institutions and employers to promote improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels.
The ATE program supports curriculum development; professional development of college faculty and secondary school teachers; career pathways to two-year colleges from secondary schools and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions; and other activities. Another goal is articulation between two-year and four-year programs for K-12 prospective teachers that focus on technological education. The program also invites proposals focusing on research to advance the knowledge base related to technician education.