Online Ed Growth, Student Distractions and Gains, K-12, CC’s Fight Back, Gainful Employment, USDA and NEH Grants

Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010
by I. Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman
November 2010, Sloan Foundation

“The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that enrollment rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.”

“ ‘This represents the largest ever year-to-year increase in the number of students studying online,’ said study co-author I Elaine Allen, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group and Professor of Statistics & Entrepreneurship at Babson College. ‘Nearly thirty percent of all college and university students now take at least one course online.’ She adds:”

” ‘There may be some clouds on the horizon. While the sluggish economy continues to drive enrollment growth, large public institutions are feeling budget pressure and competition from the for-profit sector institutions. In addition, the for-profit schools worry new federal rules on financial aid and student recruiting may have a negative impact on enrollments.’ ”

Other report findings include:
• Almost two-thirds of for-profit institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long term strategy.
• The 21 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2 percent growth in the overall higher education student population.
• Nearly one-half of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for face-to-face courses and programs.
• Three-quarters of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and programs.

Modest Gains for Black Colleges Online
by Steve Kolowich
Nov. 23, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“Do historically black colleges and universities need to get serious about online education? Perhaps, says the latest report from the Digital Learning Lab at Howard University. An increasing number of historically black institutions are wading into the online medium — often with the help of for-profit developers. Still, the vast majority of HBCUs do not offer online programs.” . . .

“Still, the growth in the number of private HBCUs that offer online programs — from two to six since 2006 — has been modest. And the overall proportion of historically black institutions offering online degree programs (defined as having 80 percent or more of the coursework of at least one academic program delivered online) remains low. Of the nation’s 105 HBCUs, only 19 offer online degrees — 18 percent. (Of the 40 public HBCUs, 13 have at least one online program, up from 10 in 2006.) The national average across all institutions is just over 30 percent, according to Jeff Seaman, director of the Babson Survey Research Group.” . . .

Growth of Online Instruction Continues, Though Unevenly
Nov 16th, 2010, eSchool News

. . . “Online instruction continues to grow quickly overall, according to the latest snapshot of online education programs in grades K-12. But the shape and pace of this growth remains uneven throughout the U.S., and two states — Delaware and New York — still don’t offer any opportunities for K-12 students to take classes online. That’s according to the 2010 edition of “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning,” an annual review of the status of online instruction in the U.S., published by Evergreen Education Group ( . The latest “Keeping Pace” report says tight budgets, new policy developments, and changing technologies are accelerating the growth of online education programs in some states, while slowing their growth in others.” . . .

“State-led online education programs now exist in 39 states, the report says, with Vermont and Montana having opened new programs that allow students to take at least some of their classes online in the last year. Alaska, too, has just begun the process of opening a statewide network for online instruction. These state-led online programs had a combined 450,000 course enrollments during the 2009-10 school year, an increase of nearly 40 percent over the previous year. Yet just two states — Florida and North Carolina — combined to account for 96 percent of this growth, according to the report.”

“Full-time virtual schools now exist in at least 27 states and D.C., with Michigan and Massachusetts having approved virtual schools for this school year — though on a limited basis. Michigan will start with limited full-time enrollments in its two virtual schools, and Massachusetts has capped full-time online enrollment at 500 students for its statewide virtual school.” . . .

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction
by Matt Richtel
Nov. 21, 2010, New York Times

. . . “Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning. Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.”

“ ‘Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,’ said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: ‘The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.’ ”

“But even as some parents and educators express unease about students’ digital diets, they are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, seeing it as a way to connect with students and give them essential skills. Across the country, schools are equipping themselves with computers, Internet access and mobile devices so they can teach on the students’ technological territory.” . . .

NAEP Shows Promise as ‘Preparedness’ Yardstick
by Catherine Gewertz
Nov. 22, 2010, Education Week

“Initial studies have delivered early but promising indications that it might be possible to use the exam known as “the nation’s report card” for a brand-new purpose: to gauge students’ preparedness for college or work. At its quarterly meeting here last week, the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress ( , released results of studies comparing the content covered in the 12th grade assessment with the content in the SAT and ACT college-entrance exams; in the Accuplacer, a course-placement test used by colleges; and in WorkKeys, a job-skills test used by employers.”

“The studies found some differences in the tests’ content, but they also found “considerable overlap.” The overlap is enough to make researchers optimistic, NAGB officials said, about proceeding with the rest of the work needed to make a full determination of whether it would be appropriate to say that certain ranges of NAEP scores correlate with preparedness for work or higher education. They cautioned, however, that the content analyses alone do not provide enough information to enable that. A flock of related studies is under way to help the board determine whether NAEP can be used to make meaningful statements about career or college preparedness, a decision slated for late 2011.” . . .

Seniors’ Reading and Math NAEP Scores on Rise
by Catherine Gewertz
Nov. 18, 2010, Education Week

Twelfth graders’ reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have improved in the past four years, according to results released today. Results of NAEP, often called “the nation’s report card,” show that between 2005 and 2009, the two most recent administrations of the exam, 12th graders’ average reading scores rose 2 points, from 286 to 288, on a 500-point scale.” . . . “On the math part of the exam, average scores rose 3 points — also statistically significant — between 2005 and 2009, from 150 to 153, on a 300-point scale. A greater proportion of students scored at or above the proficient level than did so four years earlier — 26 percent compared with 23 percent in 2005. More than a third of 12th graders languish below the basic level.” . . .

Now That Broadband Grants Are Out, Commerce Seeks Money to Make Sure Funds Aren’t Misused
by Cecilia Kang
Nov. 18, 2010, The Washington Post

The Commerce Department is done doling out $4 billion in broadband Internet grants. Now, it says it doesn’t have enough money for oversight and monitoring of those grants to ensure they were put to good use. In its quarterly report released Wednesday evening, Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration urged Congress to approve $23.7 million requested by President Obama for broadband stimulus oversight.

” ‘Such funding is critically important to ensure that NTIA can effectively administer and monitor … grants and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent consistent with the Recovery Act’s purposes,’ wrote NTIA, the telecom policy arm of the White House. Indeed, the Commerce Department’s Inspector General wrote in a report earlier this month that it was concerned with current oversight and management of grants, such as computer training for administrative staff. And it said funds to oversee the 233 grants would run out in December.” . . .

Community Colleges Push Back
by David Moltz
Nov. 17, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“Community colleges have been the target of attacks from the for-profit education sector lately. Most prominently, on the eve of last month’s much-anticipated White House Summit on Community Colleges, one marketing firm released a fiery report accusing community colleges of ‘unsavory recruitment practices’ and of offering students ‘poorer-than-expected academic quality, course availability, class scheduling, job placement and personal attention.’ ”

“Now, the community college sector is having its say. Tuesday, the American Association of Community Colleges released its latest quarterly policy brief, which ‘examines some of the variables that differentiate community colleges from for-profit institutions … in terms of oversight, service and financing.’ ”

“Christopher M. Mullin, author of the brief and the association’s program director for policy analysis, writes that the brief is intended ‘not to win a debate or to suggest public policies that might logically emanate from those differences, but to show why commonly drawn comparisons between community colleges and for-profit institutions are far less meaningful than some might suggest.’ “ . . .

See the report at

‘Gainful Employment’ Rule Proposal Draws Fire
by Caralee J. Adams
Nov. 16, 2010, Education Week

“Amid a national push for college-and career-readiness, the U.S. Department of Education is considering rules aimed at weeding out postsecondary programs — especially career-focused, nondegree programs—that leave students with big debts and little prospect of gainful employment.” . . .

“For-profit schools represent 11 percent of all higher education students, 26 percent of all student loans, and 43 percent of all loan defaulters, according to the Education Department. More than a quarter of for-profit institutions receive 80 percent of their revenues from taxpayer-funded financial aid.”

“And while enrollment at institutions of higher education increased by 31 percent from 1998 to 2008—from 14.9 million students to 19.6 million students—the number of students entering the 14 publicly traded for-profit schools soared 225 percent, to 1.4 million over the same period, according to a report ( ) by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.”

“The cost of attending such programs is often higher than that of similar nonprofit programs, and students are twice as likely to default on those college loans, according to a separate Senate report. More than 95 percent of students at two-year for-profit schools took out student loans in 2007, while only 16.6 percent of students attending community colleges did so, according to the same Senate report.”

“Since the proposal was released in July, the Education Department has received nearly 90,000 comments from individuals and organizations. Because of that volume, the public-comment period was extended, and the rules are being issued in two phases.” . . .
Video Killed the Faculty Star
by Jack Stripling
Nov. 18, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“In what seems the TMZ-ification of higher education, three separate professors have found themselves the subjects of “gotcha” YouTube segments in recent days. While the cases differ widely, faculty members at Cornell University, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge and the University of Central Florida have all seen pieces of their lectures go viral in the last several weeks. Taken collectively, the carefully edited clips play up familiar stereotypes about faculty: there’s the quick-tempered bore (Cornell), the liberal indoctrinator (Louisiana State) and the lazy test-recycler (Central Florida).”

Ten Questions Internet Execs Should Ask & Answer – Presentation from Web 2.0 Summit
by Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt, Liang Wu
Nov.16, 2010, Morgan Stanley

A presentation from Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley with statistics on the technology industry.

New Report Highlights Barriers To Online Learning
Nov 11, 2010, eSchool News

“Broadband access is crucial to success in online learning programs, a new report says. Students must have reliable broadband access if they are to take advantage of 21st-century online education programs that can increase their access to educational opportunities, according to a new report from the U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) ( . The report, Enabled by Broadband, Education Enters a New Frontier, highlights success and growth in online education programs across the country. It also outlines the need for increased broadband access and suggests policy measures to ensure that barriers to continued growth in online learning are removed.”

Copying Right and Copying Wrong with Web 2.0 Tools in the Teacher Education and Communications Classrooms
by Ewa McGrail and J. Patrick McGrail
2010, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education

Abstract: Understanding the tenets of copyright in general, and in particular, in online communication and publishing with Web 2.0 tools, has become an important part of literacy in today’s Information Age, as well as a cornerstone of free speech and responsible citizenship for the future. Young content creators must be educated about copyright law, their own rights as content creators, and their responsibilities as producers and publishers of content derived from the intellectual property of others. Educators should prepare them for responsible and ethical participation in new forms of creative expression in the Information Age. The recent integration of video and audio content and the implementation of Web 2.0 tools in the contemporary English language classroom has made this learning environment a particularly appropriate proving ground for the examination of current student practices with respect to intellectual property. This paper describes an approach employed with English education and communications students to prepare them for such a complex subject matter.

At the U. of Phoenix, Instructors Learn (Online) to Teach Online
by Katherine Mangan
Oct. 31, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education

Faculty training is a monumental undertaking when a university’s payroll includes 21,500 online instructors who are spread out across the country. Not to mention the fact that many have other, full-time day jobs — and are stepping in front of a virtual classroom for the first time. So the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit university, leaves little to chance.

The four-week online “faculty certification” program that Jason R. See, a would-be accounting instructor, follows is the same one Fount Hankle used to prepare to teach ethics in criminal justice. And it’s identical to the one the university compressed into a two-hour overview for a Chronicle reporter using Web-conferencing software. The university’s Web site spells out the expectations for its instructors: They must have a master’s or doctoral degree, and most are expected to have at least five years of work experience in their fields. Once they have been screened and accepted into the faculty-certification program, would-be instructors spend the next four weeks learning what teaching for the University of Phoenix is like, from a student’s perspective.

Things You Really Need to Learn
by Stephen Downes
August 30, 2006

“But what should you learn? Your school will try to teach you facts, which you’ll need to pass the test but which are otherwise useless. In passing you may learn some useful skills, like literacy, which you should cultivate. But Guy Kawasaki is right in at least this: schools won’t teach you the things you really need to learn in order to be successful, either in business (whether or not you choose to live life as a toady) or in life.”

“Here, then, is my list. This is, in my view, what you need to learn in order to be successful. Moreover, it is something you can start to learn this year, no matter what grade you’re in, no matter how old you are. I could obviously write much more on each of these topics. But take this as a starting point, follow the suggestions, and learn the rest for yourself. And to educators, I ask, if you are not teaching these things in your classes, why are you not?” . . .

Free Video Lectures

FreeVideoLectures (FVL) is an organization committed to improve the education quality. FVL is the worlds biggest class room recorded video lectures collection with more than 740+ courses, 18,000+ video lectures from more than 20 top universities. Most of the videos are down-loadable in various formats and updated almost everyday. FVL is been accessed from more than 200 countries with over 1 million views monthly. In the last year, close to 8 million people have viewed the videos.

Upcoming Grant Deadlines:

Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grants Program
US Department of Agriculture
CFDA No. 10.217

Application Deadline: Feb. 4, 2011

This grant program from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) aims to improve formal, postsecondary-level agricultural sciences education. Guided by the report, “New Biology for the 21st Century,” and the five compelling NIFA priority areas, HEC grants will help ensure a competent, qualified and diverse workforce to serve the food and agricultural sciences system. HEC-funded projects will improve the economic health and viability of rural communities through the development of degree programs emphasizing new and emerging employment opportunities. HEC projects aim to increase the number and diversity of students entering food and agriculture-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. NIFA anticipates $5.2 million will be available to support this program in FY 2011.

Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics
National Endowment for the Humanities

Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

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; an exploration of a topic that transcends a single nation-state, with the topic being explored across borders; 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.

Online Ed Growth, Student Distractions and Gains, K-12, CC’s Fight Back, Gainful Employment, USDA and NEH Grants

For-Profit LMS, Link Rot, New DOE Rules, OERs, Coursepacks, Screencasting, Online Learning Costs

The For-Profit LMS Market
by Steve Kolowich
Nov. 1, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “in the growing for-profit market for learning management, Blackboard is not king. That crown belongs to eCollege, the learning-management provider owned by the media conglomerate Pearson. A peon in the nonprofit world (it owns less than 2 percent market share, according to the Campus Computing Project), eCollege cornered the for-profit market early on by offering a product tailored to meet the unique needs of that type of institution, says Richard Garrett, managing director of the higher ed consulting firm Eduventures.”

“The online learning platforms offered by eCollege and Blackboard ‘were evolved with different goals in mind,’ says Garrett. The eCollege platform ‘was built with top-down enterprises in mind,’ he says, whereas Blackboard’s product was designed to ‘enable individual faculty to experiment with online, or to use it at an individual course level as a supplement to the classroom’ — more in line with the governance structure of the traditional college, where professors have more autonomy.” . . .

Hot Type: Publishers Find Ways to Fight ‘Link Rot’ in Electronic Texts
by Jennifer Howard
Oct. 31, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . “Here’s a phrase for you: “persistent citation.” That’s the goal of publishers and of the researchers they publish. It’s also the goal of an outfit called CrossRef, a nonprofit membership organization created about 10 years ago by a group of scholarly publishers. Its mission is “to enable easy identification and use of trustworthy electronic content by promoting the cooperative development and application of a sustainable infrastructure” — in other words, to build and maintain a system by which digital scholarly content can be found and referenced in perpetuity, or as close to it as current technology and planning can get us.” . . .

“Some 1,629 libraries also belong to CrossRef. Libraries publish some scholarship and other things, Mr. Bilder pointed out, and librarians have a keen interest in making sure their users get to the material they’re looking for. ‘If you have a reliable DOI, you don’t have to muck around looking up things like publication date,’ he said. ‘You can just follow the DOI.’ ”

Regulator Taking on Cyberbullying in Schools
by Jasmin Melvin
Oct 29, 2010, Reuters

“The Federal Communications Commission said it will issue an order to schools receiving funds from the E-rate program, which subsidizes school Internet access, to address cyberbullying and improper use of sites like Facebook and MySpace. The FCC said the order would put its regulations in line with the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act.” . . .

“The agency voted in September to ease rules mandating how schools and libraries can use $2.25 billion in federal subsidies to get Internet access, allowing them to take advantage of unused fiber optic cables in localities and high-speed access from state and local networks. E-rate funded schools, which the FCC said represent the ‘vast majority of schools,’ must have Internet safety policies and filters to prevent access to inappropriate content. The new order will ensure that these policies also include online safety education, FCC said.” . . .

Education Department Releases Final Rules for Title IV Student Aid Programs
Oct. 28, 2010, American Council on Education

The Department of Education today released its long-awaited set of new regulations on Title IV student financial aid program integrity, which cover a broad range of areas including credit-hour definition, state authorization, misrepresentation and incentive compensation, among other issues. After a series of public meetings last winter, the department released its first package of draft regulations for public comment on June 18 (see the American Council on Education’s (ACE) comments here). On July 26, it released a second package of draft regulations which focused on the controversial issue of “gainful employment,” a particular concern of for-profit institutions.

Because of the overwhelming response during the comment period for the second package of rules (some 90,000 groups and individuals weighed in, including ACE), the department is delaying publication of the final version until 2011. It will use the additional time not only to review the comments but also to hold public hearings on its proposal, two of which are scheduled for next week.

As reported in this morning’s papers, in a statement released yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan emphasized that the primary motivation for the new rules was the for-profit sector and its “rapid growth of enrollment, debt load, and default rates.” However, many of the rules finalized today apply more broadly to all higher education institutions that receive Title IV funds. The final regulations posted today on the department’s website (and published in the Oct. 29 Federal Register) are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2011.

“(Almost) Final Rules” Inside Higher Ed –
“New Federal Rules Set on Career Colleges,” The New York Times –
“In Final Rules, Education Dept. Makes Several Concessions to Colleges,” The Chronicle of Higher Education –
“Colleges to Get New Rules on Student Aid” The Washington Post –

Agents Provocateurs
by Stephen Downes
Oct. 27, 2010, The Huffington Post

“as the Hewlett Foundation defines them, ‘OER [open education resources] are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge.’ ”

“You might be inclined to say that the whole internet is made up of stuff like that, and I’d be inclined to agree, but that’s not part of the story, at least not yet. This is because there are two major properties of OERs that make them a bit special: First, because they are educational resources, they must be in some way reviewed for quality, and must incorporate some sort of educational design. Educational consortia like MERLOT, for example, encourage peer review of open learning resources.”

“And second, because they are intended to be reused by educators and incorporated into other learning materials, they need to be licensed appropriately. At a minimum, a Creative Commons license allowing free access and exchange is required, and many argue that the license ought also allow for the creation of derivative works and commercial reuse.” . . .

The Evolution of the Digital Coursepack
by Joshua Kim
Oct. 28, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“A well designed iPad coursepack app would offer a superior reading experience for text (articles, chapters or instructor created content), while also integrating multimedia. The next step is annotation, sharing, and community functions. Coursepack vendors are moving beyond their traditional roles of clearing copyrights and offering Web or print coursepacks. They are moving into creating platforms that support and mirror the entire narrative of a course, from instructor generated content to multimedia.” . . .

Quick Shoot-Out – 4 Free Web-based Screencasting Tools
by Scott Leslie
Oct. 27, 2010, EdTechPost

I was assisted by a few helpful sites in selecting some candidates and settled on the following 4 to quickly try out:
ScreenCastle –,
Screencast-o-matic –,
ScreenToaster –,
ScreenJelly –

Open Content and the Costs of Online Learning
by Tony Bates
Oct. 25, 2010, e-learning and distance education resources

“I’ve been doing some analysis recently of the costs of a fully online master’s degree program from a major research university (which for the moment will remain nameless, although this has been a very successful program, both academically and financially). I was doing this for our forthcoming book. Unlike face-to-face teaching, where, after the initial planning phase, costs remain pretty much the same from year to year, the costs of online programs vary considerably over time. In the case I’ve been studying, if we take a point seven years after the program was approved, and five years after the first full cohort of students were enrolled, the costs break down something like this [Figure 1 below shows that delivery costs constitute an even greater proportion after seven years.].”

“We can see that course development costs at 13 percent are quite a small proportion of the overall costs, while delivery costs constitute just over a third of all costs. Development costs occur early in the program. Annual maintenance costs are quite small, at less than 10 per cent of the total. The other point to note are overheads and administrative costs, which with planning total 42 percent of all costs over seven years, and don’t decrease in subsequent years.”

Several points occur to me from this analysis.

“1. Open content is not going to lead to major cost savings in online learning. Even without creating new content, someone will have to select, assess and modify open content, or provide some kind of curriculum framework or guide for students studying a subject or topic.”

“2. What universities and colleges are really supplying with online learning is not content but service. The delivery costs in this program are mainly interaction with students through online discussions and direct e-mail communication, and student assessment. This is the quality part of online teaching, and a major cost (36 percent). If this ‘service’ is cut back, quality suffers, drop-out increases, and the credibility of the program suffers. (Think about telecommunications. Costs of transmission are now very low, at least in North America. What will increasingly differentiate between telecommunications carriers will not be price but service. Pity the big telephone companies have not understood this yet — ever tried getting past their voice mail? Service is seen as a ‘cost’ that should be avoided, not a competitive advantage.)” . . .

Video: Face-Off — Moodle v. Blackboard
by Jeff Young
Oct. 26, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education

Moodle, the open-source software for managing courses, is gaining ground on Blackboard, the best-selling commercial system. Leaders from both software projects discuss coming features, including better interfaces for smartphones and integration with other education software.

The American Youth Study 2010 – Part One: Radio’s Future
by Tom Webster
Sep. 29, 2010, Edison Research

“12-24 year-old Americans reported Internet usage of two hours and fifty-two minutes per day, roughly triple this age group’s reported usage from 2000 (59 minutes).” . . .

“More than four in five 12-24s own a mobile phone in 2010 (up from only 29 percent in 2000), and these young Americans are using these phones as media convergence devices. 50 percent of younger mobile phone users have played games on their phones, 45 percent have accessed social networking sites, and 40 percent have used their phones to listen to music stored on their phones.” . . .

For-Profit LMS, Link Rot, New DOE Rules, OERs, Coursepacks, Screencasting, Online Learning Costs