GI Bill Changes, App Skills, Open Texts, Communities, Wesch Robinson Videos, Invisible Labs, Grants

To: ITC Members
From: Christine Mullins
Date: Jan. 31, 2011

Changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill to Benefit Distance Learning Students
Department of Veterans Affairs

On Jan. 4, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, which makes a significant change to the Post-9/11 GI Bill which will help distance learning students. In addition to tuition and textbook assistance, “housing allowance is now payable to students (other than those on active duty) enrolled solely in distance learning. The housing allowance payable is equal to one-half the national average basic allowance for housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents. The full-time rate for an individual eligible at the 100 percent eligibility tier would be $673.50 for 2011.

Is The “New” Post-9/11 GI Bill Really A “Win” For Vets?
by Daniel Caldwell
Dec. 30, 2010, Vantage Point

. . . “The bill will also add BAH benefits for distance-learning (aka online) students; however the amount will only be half the national average. I was always under the impression (and I could be wrong) that the reason why the post-9/11 GI Bill didn’t have BAH benefits for distance-learning students was to discourage veterans from attending shady (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10361/1113651-84.stm) online for-profit universities. However, online programs are more flexible, especially for veterans with families and jobs and many state schools offer online degree programs that are cheaper than traditional programs. If anything, the VA should be encouraging certain veterans to enroll in online programs.” . . .

See the Benefits Estimator

For more background, see the article Elizabeth Redden wrote in the Jan. 23, 2009 issue of Inside Higher Ed, “Disincentive for Distance Learning.”

How’s Your HTML5? App Skills in Demand
by Joe Light
Jan. 31, 2011, The Wall Street Journal

“Times are good for Web- and mobile-application developers. The number of online listings containing the keywords ‘HTML5,’ ‘Mobile app,’ and ‘Android,’ have skyrocketed over the past year, making them the fastest growing keywords in jobs posted online, according to data tracked by jobs search engine Indeed.com. The number of job listings requesting HTML5, the latest version of the language used to display Web pages, increased 13-fold between the first and fourth quarters of last year, according to Indeed. ‘Twitter’ and ‘jQuery,’ which is used in JavaScript programming, rounded out the top five fastest growing keywords.”

“Customers of Dice.com, a job board for tech professionals, expect cloud computing — which enables users to access programs and data stored online — and mobile-application development to be two of the quickest growing in-demand skill sets this year, said Tom Silver, senior vice president of North America for Dice Holdings Inc. ‘Virtually all companies are figuring out how to make use of mobile apps and don’t know how to do it as well as they need to,’ he said.”

McGraw-Hill to Provide English Instruction and Test Prep Through Cellphones in India
by Josh Keller
Jan. 30, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“McGraw-Hill is building a mobile-phone platform to teach English and college test preparation to people in India, which the publisher hopes will help it tap into rapidly expanding cellphone use in emerging markets. The platform, mConnect, comes as textbook publishers are jockeying to supply learning materials on digital devices. If the software is successful in India, McGraw-Hill plans to offer it in other developing countries in Asia and Africa. The service will initially teach subscribers through text messaging and automated voice response, said Bruce D. Marcus, McGraw-Hill’s executive vice president. For instance, automated software will give Indians feedback on their English-speaking abilities, and a text-message service will offer test-preparation questions and grade the responses.” . . .

The(se) Kids are All Right: Interview with SmartlyEdu Founders
by Keith Hampson
Jan. 30, 2011, Higher Education Management Group

“Alain Meyer, a 17 year-old high school student in Zurich (Switzerland) and Nick Howell, a college student in Indiana (USA), have built a learning management system that reflects the importance of good design. But, SmartlyEdu is about more than design. It also assumes the Net is, first and foremost, a social environment. And sharing of content is part of the system’s basic architecture.” . . .

“What do you see as the limitations of the current LMS model? The main issue is that current learning management systems are developed primarily by people who don’t use the software. They’ve designed their systems around the idea of having as many features as possible while still not getting the fundamentals right. Moodle, Blackboard and the other leaders in the space, focus on feature checklists rather than aiming for the features that people actually use. They just put in everything to accommodate everyone. Smartly may not be optimal for people who want very fine customization and setups, but for everyone else, it will be an unrivaled experience.” . . .

10 More Reasons Why Parents Should Not Send Their Kids to College
by James Altucher
Jan. 30, 2011, The Business Insider

1. People say: Kids learn to be socialized at college.
2. People say: Kids learn how to think in college.
3. Statistics say: College graduates make much more money than non-college graduates.
4. One person said: Not everything boils down to money.
5. My Experience.
6. Parents are scammed.
7. Alternatives. See my just-published post on alternatives to college

Education Without Limits: Why Open Textbooks Are the Way Forward
by David Wiley
Jan. 26, 2011, OpenSource.com

There are 400 million openly licensed materials that can empower teachers to be better instructors through that openness. But there’s a big barrier: adoption. In this video, David Wiley talks about the opportunity and the challenges.

Networks, Neighbourhoods and Communities: A Reflection
by Stephen Downes
Jan. 30, 2011, Half an Hour

. . . “So much discussion in the field of education is based in loosely defined terminology and concepts. Take, for example, the advice to ‘form community’. There are many things this advice could be manifest as, including any of the three accounts of community given above, and a wide variety of other permutations.” . . .

“Typically, the advice to ‘form community’ is understood as advice to form solidary activities and sentiments – what I would in other works characterize as groups – but which here may be more precisely understood as actions undertaken in unison (‘collaboration’) and sentiments held in unison (‘commonality’). But of course such exhortations are only one way communities can organize, and not even the most effective ways. But there is always no shortage of people – Larry Sanger, Jaron Lanier, Sherry Turkle, to mention a few raised recently – ready to lament the ‘lost community’ or ‘techno-groupthink’ in technology-based education.”

“What do these criticisms mean? What is their validity? Rather than use prejudicial and imprecise vocabulary, we can examine what it is about technology-supported learning and its proponents that bothers these authors. Perhaps it’s all about a sentiment of community lost, as defined above. In such a case, we can respond to it meaningfully, with clarity and precision.”

“Or take the discussion of ‘interaction’ in online learning. While more interaction is typically lauded as better, we tend to be sharply limited to narrowly defined notions of interaction – perhaps Moore’s formulation of learner-content, learner-instructor or learner-learner interaction. Or maybe Anderson’s more sophisticated formulation of the same idea.”

“But if we can approach the concept of ‘interaction’ from the network perspective, allowing for the existence of many types or strands of interaction, many degrees or strengths of interaction, various interactive media, and more (as I tried to explain in this series). Again, the point is that we can use network terminology to explain much more clearly complex phenomena such as instruction, communities and interaction.”

“Wellman and Leighton’s paper was written in 1970. It is well-worth anyone’s while to look at more recent work to appreciate the depth and utility of network analysis.”

Egypt Cuts Off Most Internet and Cell Service
by Matt Richtel
Jan. 28, 2011, New York Times

“Autocratic governments often limit phone and Internet access in tense times. But the Internet has never faced anything like what happened in Egypt on Friday, when the government of a country with 80 million people and a modernizing economy cut off nearly all access to the network and shut down cellphone service. The shutdown caused a 90 percent drop in data traffic to and from Egypt, crippling an important communications tool used by antigovernment protesters and their supporters to organize and to spread their message.” . . .

Blackboard and McGraw-Hill Test New Course System in 20 Pilots
by Dian Schaffhauser
Jan. 27, 2011, Campus Technology

“A slew of schools are testing out a blend of course management functionality and textbook content that could make for a simpler transition for institutions to the use of more digital curriculum. Blackboard and McGraw-Hill Higher Education have put together an integrated digital course system that combines a single point of access, learning tools, and class content, along with multiple other features.”

“Currently, 20 colleges and universities are running pilots tests, and an additional 100 instructors are expected to participate. The offering combines the latest version of Blackboard Learn, a learning management system, with McGraw-Hill’s Connect and Create. Connect is an application to help faculty create digital course content and assignments and do automatic grading; Create lets faculty compile textbooks that use their own materials as well as content from the company’s publishing portfolio.”

“The joint offering, which has no name, features single sign-on to give users access to all of the programs with one log-in and does automatic grade synchronization between Connect assignments and the Blackboard Learn gradebook. Faculty can build their own textbooks by compiling chapters from the McGraw-Hill catalog and then selling them to students through a link on the course site. Other tools enable instructors to provide students with textual content and recorded lectures, also from within the course site. The product is expected to be widely available in summer 2011 and will run on Blackboard Learn version 9.1.” . . .

Video Uses Student Voices to Explore New Directions in Education
by Tushar Rae
Jan. 26, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

Michael Wesch, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, began “The Visions of Students Tomorrow” on January 18. It is a new video-collaboration project that he hopes will help generate a conversation about the “media-ated life” of many students. He wants not only to gain insights into how students interact with their dense and ever-changing media environment, but also to tackle the question of whether instructors have kept pace with it.

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms
Sir Ken Robinson
Oct. 14, 2010

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.
For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit: http://www.sirkenrobinson.com

The Invisible Computer Lab
by Steve Kolowich
Jan. 20, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

“In the future, campus computer labs will be invisible, personal computers will be shapeshifters, and colleges will have to spend much less to make sure students have access to the software they need for certain courses. This according to technology officials at several colleges that have recently deployed “virtual computing labs” — Web-based hubs where students can go to use sophisticated programs from their personal computers without having to buy and install expensive software, or slog to a campus lab and pray for a vacant workstation.”

“Essentially, the virtual “lab” is a protocol that takes programs running on college hardware and beams the images via the Web to any computer desktop, where students can create and save work as though the programs were running on their own hard drives. Since the performance of the software does not depend on the processing power of the computer — only on the strength of the Internet connection — even students with relatively clunky machines can use advanced software without difficulty, campus technologists say.” . . .

The Social Side of the Internet
by Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith
Jan 18, 2011, Pew Internet and American Life Project

“The internet is now deeply embedded in group and organizational life in America. A new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has found that 75 percent of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization and internet users are more likely than others to be active: 80 percent of internet users participate in groups, compared with 56 percent of non-internet users. And social media users are even more likely to be active: 82 percent of social network users and 85 percent of Twitter users are group participants.”

“In this survey, Pew Internet asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies. It becomes clear as people are asked about their activities that their use of the internet is having a wide-ranging impact on their engagement with civic, social, and religious groups. Asked to assess the overall impact of the internet on group activities:” . . .

Evaluating Online Tutorials for University Faculty, Staff, and Students: The Contribution of Just-in-Time Online Resources to Learning and Performance
Jennifer Brill and Yeonjeong Park
January 2011, International Journal on E-Learning

Abstract: The effective integration of current technologies in teaching and research is a high priority for today’s universities. To support the technology skills of university faculty, staff, and students, the subject university’s office for faculty training and support, provides free, 24/7 access to a collection of online technology tutorials leased from a professional vendor, PBJ (pseudonym). Despite significant financial investment, the effectiveness of these tutorials has never been evaluated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of PBJ online technology training tutorials in supporting the technology skills development of faculty, staff, and students at a large university. A customized Web-based survey was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data from PBJ users. Findings revealed that PBJ users are largely satisfied with this online learning resource. However, users also recommended improvements: providing alternative formats/media for flexibility in learning; offering more practice opportunities to skill-build; providing content that is current, comprehensive, and targets high-need areas; and resolving usability issues such as cumbersome navigation. In sum, findings resulted in practical recommendations for improvement to this facet of the university’s technology support strategy as well as insights for other universities engaged in similar efforts. Implications for effective e-learning evaluation are offered.

Upcoming Grant Deadlines

Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21)
National Science Foundation
Solicitation 10-619

Full Proposal Target Date: Feb. 22, 2011 (Planning proposals ONLY)
Full Proposal Deadline Date: April 27, 2011 (Type I and Type II proposals ONLY)
Full Proposal Target Date: July 28, 2011 (Planning proposals ONLY)

The Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) program seeks to reverse engage “larger numbers of students, teachers, and educators in computing education and learning at earlier stages in the education pipeline. While interventions in primary education are within scope, the CE21 program focuses special attention on activities targeted at the middle and high school levels (i.e., secondary education) and in early undergraduate education.”

“The goals of the CE21 program are to:
— Increase the number and diversity of K-14 students and teachers who develop and practice computational competencies in a variety of contexts; and
— Increase the number and diversity of early postsecondary students who are engaged and have the background in computing necessary to successfully pursue degrees in computing-related and computationally-intensive fields of study.”

“The program seeks to increase computational competencies for all students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, or socioeconomic status, and regardless, too, of eventual career choices. By promoting and enhancing computing K-14 education, the CE21 program seeks to increase interest in computing as a field in its own right, and also to better prepare students for successful careers in other computing-intensive fields.” . . .

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GI Bill Changes, App Skills, Open Texts, Communities, Wesch Robinson Videos, Invisible Labs, Grants

Defining Quality, $2B Grants for CCs and SCORM, Open Ed Resources, State Online Regs, Disabilities

To: ITC Members
From: Christine Mullins
Date: Jan. 25, 2011

Lumina Foundation Releases Degree Profile: A New Framework for Defining the Learning and Quality that College Degrees Should Signify
Jan. 25, 2011, The Lumina Foundation

“Lumina Foundation for Education today released a proposed version of a Degree Profile, a framework for defining and ultimately measuring the general knowledge and skills that individual students need to acquire in order to earn degrees at various levels, such as associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The Degree Profile is intended to help define generally what is expected of college graduates, regardless of their majors or fields of study. Lumina will fund experiments within a variety of settings.” . . .

“The co-authors” . . . “set forth a set of “reference points” that students should be able to meet in five primary areas of competence: Specialized Knowledge, Broad/ Integrated Knowledge, Applied Learning, Intellectual Skills and Civic Learning. The Degree Profile makes explicit expectations that have been implicit. In so doing, use of the Degree Profile may provide an opportunity to strengthen higher education and the focus on student learning. By offering a clearer understanding of what degrees represent in terms of learning, the Degree Profile could help ensure the quality of degrees offered by new providers and delivery mechanisms.” . . .

Lumina Unveils a National Framework for Measuring Student Learning,” by Sara Hebel, Chronicle of Higher Education

What Degrees Should Mean,” by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed

OER and Standards
by Michael Feldstein
Jan. 24, 2011, e-Literate

Speaking of that $2 billion initiative by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education that everybody is buzzing about, it turns out that, not only does it mandate a license for the educational resources it funds (CC-BY), it also mandates an interchange format. Namely SCORM. Rob Abel, CEO of IMS, has posted a long rant (http://www.imsglobal.org/community/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=58&threadid=592&enterthread=y ) about why he thinks this is a bad idea. I don’t endorse all of Rob’s criticisms of SCORM, but I strongly agree with the point that SCORM and IMS Common Cartridge (the other main contender for a standard educational content interchange format) have substantially different affordances that are appropriate for substantially different use cases.

$2 Billion for OERs Could End the Textbook Industry As We Know It . . .
by Dave Cormier
Jan. 21, 2011, Dave’s Educational Blog

“The US government support of Creative Commons removes the risk from trying it out. The biggest impediment to innovation, in my experience, is the inability for government educational professionals to shoulder the risk of innovation. We have long said ‘no one ever got fired for hiring IBM’ and this has stayed fairly true in our industry. The open innovators have been outliers. And looking down the face of the public and answering the ‘but if it’s free doesn’t that mean it isn’t worth anything’ question has always been a problem. No longer. Someone else bigger leaped first.” . . .

“I like the idea of free textbooks. Particularly for those topics at the entry level where we all pretty much agree on what needs to be taught. It gives us a chance to open specialties to people who might just want to peak inside or to those who might want to engage. I think the textbook industry (at this level) is an artifact of an earlier time when we needed to package knowledge in ways that could fit in a truck. I can’t believe i’m saying this… but Senator stevens was right… the internet is not a dumptruck. We don’t need them anymore. I imagine that this will cost good people jobs, and that they’ll have to move elsewhere… and that sucks. The emancipation of millions of people, however, I think is worth it.”

As the Web Goes Mobile, Colleges Fail to Keep Up
by Josh Keller
Jan. 23, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . “Hand-held devices like smartphones and tablets are fast becoming the primary way many people use the Internet. Half of all college students used mobile gear to get on the Internet every day last year, compared with 10 percent of students in 2008, according to Educause, the educational-technology consortium.”

“But many colleges still treat their mobile Web sites as low-stakes experiments. That attitude risks losing prospective applicants and donors through admissions and alumni portals that don’t work, and it risks frustrating current students who want to manage coursework and the rest of their lives with their mobile phones, says David R. Morton, director of mobile communications at the University of Washington. ‘For so many institutions,’ he says, ‘mobile is a part-time job, almost an afterthought.’ ”

“Colleges that have put some effort into mobile have taken one of three paths. Some buy applications from Blackboard, the educational-software and technology giant. Others opt for a competing open-source platform created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is free to use. Colleges in the third group have built applications themselves. iShoe, an app to track college athletics at Ohio State University, for instance, is expected to help turn casual football fans into connected alumni.” . . .

The States of Online Regulation
by Steve Kolowich
Jan. 21, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “Online education seems to be winning the battle against the initial skepticism about its legitimacy. Online enrollments have grown at nine times the rate of classroom-based education since 2002, according to the Sloan Consortium (with major buy-in in the public sector). But deep-seated opinions — bolstered by the occasional unmasking of a fly-by-night diploma mill — are not the only obstacles left over from many centuries of campus-bound higher education. As higher education has evolved, state-by-state regulatory standards have remained ‘inconsistent, complex, and behind [the] online boom,’ says the Eduventures report.”

. . . “In October, the U.S. Department of Education formally recused itself from handing down any federal standard clarifying what it means for an online college to “operate” in a state, in essence telling state regulators and online colleges to work it out among themselves — with the stipulation that institutions found to be out of compliance with state rules might be barred from taking federal student aid.” . . .

“Richard Garrett, managing director of Eduventures, told Inside Higher Ed that the most likely outcome of this new federal mandate — which takes effect in July — is that states will probably take the occasion to bolster their existing positions on what it means for an online college to “operate” inside their borders. Happily for colleges looking to expand their online footprint without having to jump through regulatory hoops at every turn, the majority of states appear to fall on the more permissive end of the spectrum.”

For a free copy of the Eduventures report contact Blair Maloney at bmaloney@eduventures.com or 617-532-6063.

Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities Files Suit Against US Dept. of Ed to STOP Unlawful Regulations
Press Release
Jan. 21, 2011

“The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), on behalf of its more than 1,500 member institutions, today filed a lawsuit in the federal District Court in Washington, DC seeking to block portions of the Department of Education’s October 29, 2010 final regulations, 75 Fed. Reg. 66,832, which impose unlawful and unfair limitations on access to higher education.” . . .

“As explained below, the new Department of Education regulations challenged in APSCU’s lawsuit go far beyond lawful regulatory efforts in three areas within the Title IV federal student aid program-state authorization to conduct educational activities within state borders (34 C.F.R. §§ 600.4(a)(3), 600.5(a)(4), 600.6(a)(3), 600.9, and 668.43(b)), employee compensation (34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)), and misrepresentations to the public (34 C.F.R. §§ 668.71-668.75):

“The State Authorization regulations force states to adopt particular regulatory regimes rather than adopt their own oversight structures. Notably, these regulations impede innovation and make it significantly more difficult for schools to provide students with online and other distance education programs since they require the authorization of every state where any student may be located, rather than relying on the review of the state in which the school is actually located.” . . .

Also see “For-Profit Colleges Open Another Front,” by Doug Lederman, Jan. 24, 2011, Inside Higher Ed.

One in Four Americans Live With a Disability that Interferes with Activities of Daily Living
by Susannah Fox
Jan. 21, 2011, Pew Internet and American Life Project

According to a national survey conducted in September 2010, 27 percent of American adults live with a disability that interferes with activities of daily living, including:

— 15 percent of American adults who say they have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
— 11 percent of American adults who say that, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, they have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
— nine percent of American adults who say they have serious difficulty hearing.
— eight percent of American adults who say that, because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, they have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping.
— seven percent of American adults who say they are blind or have serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses.
— three percent of American adults who say they have trouble dressing or bathing.

Americans living with disability are more likely than other adults to live in lower-income households: 46 percent of adults with a disability live in households with $30,000 or less in annual income, compared with 26 percent of adults who report no disabilities and live in households with that level of income.

They are also likely to have low levels of education:  61 percent of Americans living with a disability have a high school education or less, compared with 40 percent of adults who report no disabilities and have that level of educational attainment.  Americans living with a disability are also likely to be older:  58 percent are age 50 or older, compared with 36 percent of adults who report no disabilities who are that age.

Summary of Key Changes to the E-rate Program in the Sixth Report and Order
Jan. 21, 2011, American Library Association

The Office for Information and Technology Policy (OITP) has compiled a report of key changes to the E-rate program that will take effect under an order issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in September.  The report also outlines the American Library Association’s (ALA) efforts to review the rule changes, compare these changes to the previous program rules, and inform the library community of the resulting impact on the eligibility of various services and the application process.

College Retention Rates Improving at Two-Year Schools, Declining at Four-Year Schools
Press Release
Jan. 20, 2011, ACT News

“The first-to-second-year retention rate at U.S. two-year public colleges has risen to its highest level in 27 years of research, while the retention rate at four-year private colleges has dropped to its lowest level in that time, according to data from ACT, Inc.”

“Overall college retention rates — the percentage of first-year, full-time students who return to the same institution for their second year of college — remain relatively stable. Just two-thirds (67 percent) of all first-year students at U.S. two- and four-year colleges returned their second year of school, compared to 68 percent in 2005 and 66 percent last year. The data were gathered in ACT’s annual survey of more than 2,500 two-year and baccalaureate colleges and universities across the country.” . . .

E-learning Outlook for 2011
by Tony Bates
Jan. 16, 2011, eLearning and Distant Education Resources

. . . “The growth of fully online learning (i.e. online distance education) continued at a rapid rate (over 20 percnet last year), and increasing online enrollments will certainly continue through 2011. However, as the market approaches saturation, the rate of growth of fully online courses will level off, and this is likely to happen fairly soon. One reason for a slowdown in the growth of fully online courses, besides market saturation, will be the move to more flexible campus-based programs that will offer more options to part-time students and lifelong learners, rather than having to do a whole course or program online. However, market saturation for fully online learning is at least five to ten years away, and in the meantime we will see continued growth.”

“What I am hoping for 2011, though, is that this increase in the quantity of e-learning will start being accompanied by some major innovations in teaching, as instructors, instructional designers, and institutions begin to understand better the unique features of new technologies, and become more discriminating about the ‘affordances’ of both campus-based and online learning.” . . .

Wolfram Education Apps Raise Teaching Dilemma
by Stephen Shankland
Jan. 18, 2011, CNet News

“Wolfram Research, a software company with deep mathematical and scientific expertise, is expanding to the broad education market with a range of mobile apps. But although those apps hold the promise of turning smartphones into sophisticated next-generation calculators, they also raise questions about the best way for students to learn.” . . .

“Now Wolfram is showing signs that indicate a deeper understanding of consumer sensibilities, announcing new iOS applications called Wolfram Course Assistants to help students with algebra, calculus, and music theory. They tap into Alpha’s Mathematica abilities behind the scenes, but they’re focused, packaged, and reasonably priced at $2 for algebra and music theory and $3 for calculus.” . . .

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Increase Educational and Health Care Access in Rural Communities
Press Release
Jan. 24, 2011, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 106 projects in 38 states and one territory have been selected to receive more than $34.7 million in grants to fund educational projects and expand access to health care services in rural areas through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.  The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program provides access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas.  See award recipients.

House Republicans Unveil Plan to End Federal Arts and Humanities Agencies and Aid to Public Broadcasting
by Mike Boehm
Jan. 20, 2011, Los Angeles Times

“Federal support for arts and culture is now officially in the cross hairs of congressional Republicans, if that’s a metaphor we’re still allowed to use.  Any way you want to describe it, the Republican Study Committee, made up of about 165 GOP members of the House of Representatives, on Thursday announced a budget-cutting plan aimed at slashing federal spending, and it calls for the elimination of the nation’s two leading makers of government arts grants: the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Also on the chopping block is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The arts and humanities endowments each get $167.5 million a year; the broadcasting agency, which supports public radio and television, gets $445 million.”

A Practical Guide for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum (Second Edition)
edited by Karla Gottlieb and Gail Robinson (2006)

This 97-page book provides practical, easy-to-use applications for community college faculty to integrate civic responsibility concepts and practices into their courses; includes 50 different exercises, activities, and assessment tools.

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

US Labor Department Encourages Applications for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program
Press Release
Jan. 20, 2011, US Department of Labor

Solicitation for Grant Applications

“The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a solicitation for grant applications under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program. The Labor Department will award approximately $500 million this year through the program and a total of $2 billion over the next four years. Grants will support the development and improvement of postsecondary programs of two years or less that use evidence-based or innovative strategies to prepare students for successful careers in growing and emerging industries. The program will be administered by the Labor Department in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.” . . .

“Applicants must be community colleges or other two-year degree granting institutions of higher education as defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965. The grants will enable eligible institutions to expand their capacity to create new education or training programs — or improve existing ones — to meet the needs of local or regional businesses. By statute, every state, as well as the District of Columbia and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, will receive at least $2.5 million each year in grant awards.” . . .

The grant program will expand opportunities for workers by: accelerating progress and reducing time to completion; improving retention and achievement rates; building instructional programs that meet industry needs; and strengthening online and technology-enabled learning.” . . .

“Prospective applicants are encouraged to view the online tutorial “Grant Applications 101: A Plain English Guide to ETA Competitive Grants” available through Workforce3One at http://www.workforce3one.org/page/grants_toolkit .”

Plus 50 Completion Strategy Grants

Application Deadline: March 4, 2011

AACC will award eleven $12,000 grants to community colleges committed to enhancing or expanding their existing programs for students 50 years of age and older — particularly those who have earned prior college credits without earning a credential — to ensure that they obtain the degrees, certificates, and not-for-credit credentials sought by employers in high-demand, high-growth fields.

Enhancement or expansion may be defined as offering career development and other support services that foster completion (ex. financial aid assistance, computer technology skill-building, math and English refresher courses, flexible scheduling options, tailored career advising, or completion coaches or advisors); redesigning programs to meet specific needs such as offering noncredit and credit, compressed, fast-tracked, or accelerated courses; recruiting and reaching out to the plus 50 population; offering professional development to faculty to enhance their effectiveness in working with plus 50 students; assessing prior learning; capturing previously earned credits; establishing or enhancing collaboration and partnerships with local employers; and, increasing access to college for plus 50 students (e.g., making accommodations for job or transportation challenges to class attendance).   This program is funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Defining Quality, $2B Grants for CCs and SCORM, Open Ed Resources, State Online Regs, Disabilities