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 ( ) 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 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.


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 .”

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

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