State Regs, Students, Horizon Rpt, Attainment, Google, Wireless, OERs, PTFP

State Approval Regulations for Distance Education: A ‘Starter’ List Compiled January 2011
Jan. 26, 2011, WCET, SREB, ADEC, University of Wyoming

On Oct. 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced “If an institution is offering postsecondary education through distance or correspondence education to students in a State in which it is not physically located, the institution must meet any State requirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary distance or correspondence education in that State. We are further providing that an institution must be able to document upon request by the Department that it has the applicable State approval.” Institutions will need to comply with this regulation in every state in which they have online students by July 1, 2011.

WCET, the Southern Regional Education Board, the American Distance Education Consortium, and the University of Wyoming have teamed up to publish this document to help institutions navigate the state-by-state regulations regarding approval of distance education institutions. “While we can’t answer all your questions, we’re hoping that we can get you started.”

See the WCET Web site for additional resources at
ITC article, “State Authorization for Institutions Offering Distance Education to Out-of-State Students,” by Christine Mullins

Survey Shows College Students Overwhelmed, Underprepared
by Scott Aronowitz
Feb. 16, 2011, Campus Technology

“The 2011 report, ‘Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement and Learning Outcomes,’ released this week, identified significant obstacles to student success, most notably financial pressures and lack of adequate preparedness in certain skills areas. ‘Students today face new challenges and are increasingly spread thin, whether it’s [because they are] working full time, balancing finances or caring for families. Instructors feel the pressure, too, as they try to do more with fewer resources and teach students who are either ill-prepared for their day’s lesson or distracted by other issues,’ said William Rieders, executive vice president of new media for Cengage Learning. ‘Companies need to develop innovative technologies that make it easier to keep today’s students more engaged and better equipped for future educational success.’ ”

— Roughly half of those surveyed hold full- or part-time jobs;
— 30 percent of students have significant external responsibilities, such as paying for school, paying off other debts, raising families, etc.;
— 71 percent of students who are employed full-time and 77 percent of students who are employed part-time prefer more technology-based tools in the classroom;
— 86 percent of students say that, in the last year, their average level of engagement has increased with their increased use of digital tools, and 67 percent prefer courses that integrate technology;
— The use of technology has not had a noticeable effect on external distractions most frequently cited, such as employment, personal issues, or course-related distractions such as opinions about irrelevance of material; and
— Use of digital resources in and out of class has helped students improve in such areas as being prepared for class and general aversion to technology.”

— 58 percent of those surveyed ‘believe that technology in courses positively impacts student engagement,’ and an equal percentage indicated they prefer to teach courses that use “a great deal of technology’; and
— 71 percent of instructors that rated student engagement levels as ‘high’ reported that using technology as an integral component of courses has a highly favorable impact on learning outcomes.”

Google Announces Payment System for Digital Content
by Claire Cain Miller
Feb. 16, 2011, New York Times

“A day after Apple stirred up online publishers by announcing a digital subscription plan that some called too restrictive and financially burdensome, Google on Wednesday announced its own payment service for digital content that aims to be more publisher-friendly. Google’s service, called Google One Pass, is a way for online publishers to sell digital content on the Web and through mobile applications using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout. Readers will be able to get access to that content on many devices using their Google e-mail address and password. ‘The overall goal is to bring publishers a simple way to charge for content they choose to charge for, and for readers to have simple access without any restrictions on which devices they use,’ said Jeannie Hornung, a Google spokeswoman.” . . .

The Horizon Report 2011
February 2011, The New Media Consortium and The Educause Learning Initiative

“The six technologies featured in the 2011 Horizon Report are placed along three adoption horizons that indicate likely time frames for their entrance into mainstream use for teaching, learning, or creative inquiry.”
— Within the next 12 months: electronic books and mobiles
— Two to three years: augmented reality and game-based learning
— Four to five years: gesture-based computing and learning analytics

“The highest ranked challenges they identified are listed here, in the order of their rated importance.
1. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
2. Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag behind the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.
3. Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of the university.
4. Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike.”

For-Profit Colleges Show Increasing Dependence on Federal Student Aid
by Goldie Blumenstyk
Feb. 15, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Eight for-profit colleges failed to meet the requirements of a federal law that says they can get no more than 90 percent of their revenues from federal student-aid programs, and an additional 257 of them took in nearly the legal limit, exceeding the 85-percent mark, a report released on Wednesday by the Department of Education shows.” (

“The report for the most recent accounting period also shows that an increasing number of for-profit colleges are becoming more heavily reliant on federal student-aid — so much so that a number of them are close to the point at which they could lose eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs. For that reason, many of the colleges have been vigorously lobbying Congress to ease or eliminate the law, known as the ‘90/10 rule.’ ”

Finalists Announced for Gates ‘Next Generation Learning’ Grants
Feb. 15, 2011, Inside Higher Ed Quick Takes

“Next Generation Learning Challenges, a program that plans to disburse $20 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to educational technology projects over the next two years, on Monday released the 50 higher-ed finalists for its first round of grants. The projects were chosen as finalists based on their potential impact on college access and completion through the development and use of open courseware, blended learning, “deeper” learning, and learning analytics. About 60 percent of the finalists are expected to receive grants. The foundation is currently working on selecting the winners, which are expected to be announced in early spring.”

Is Completion the Right Goal?
by David Moltz
Feb. 16, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “Hauptman explains in his paper that attainment rates, defined as the ‘percentage of the working population who earn a degree,’ have grown steadily in the United States in recent decades, whereas an underlying premise of the chorus of ‘completion agenda’ setters is that attainment rates have been flat. He also bemoans that many educators often conflate these rates with completion rates, defined as the ‘percentage of entering students who earn a degree.’ ”

“The former measurement is much more elucidating, he argues. Attainment rates, he writes, can track students’ access to and success in higher education, show trends over time by looking at the age of workers, and differentiate between bachelor’s and sub-bachelor’s programs. In addition, Hauptman argued that it would be better to set goals (and, in turn, adopt policies) that focus on increasing the number of degrees awarded instead of increasing completion or attainment rates. A focus on completion over attainment, and on rates over numbers, may encourage colleges to behave in ways that may not be best for students, he argues. One problem with the growing emphasis on increasing completion rates is that it ‘diverts attention from increasing enrollments’ as a strategy to increase attainment, he says. Institutional officials should find ways to increase enrollments in ‘academic units where utilization is low’ without increasing overall pricing.” . . .

Google’s Gadfly
by Steve Kolowich
Feb. 16, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “ ‘Google,’ Vaidhyanathan observes, ‘is an example of a stunningly successful firm behaving as much like a university as it can afford to.’ But as is often the case with cousins, the genetic differences between higher education and Google are more striking than their similarities. Beneath the interdependence and shared hereditary traits, tensions creep. And like an awkward Thanksgiving dinner, Vaidhyanathan’s new book, “The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)” (University of California Press), provokes these tensions to the surface.” . . .

Community College Enrollment Growth Slows Down
by Caralee Adams
Feb. 14, 2011, Education Week

“The number of students who enrolled in community college last fall was up 3.2 percent from the previous year– a significant slowdown compared with the 11 percent increase from fall 2008 to fall 2009, according to a new report released by the American Association of Community Colleges (”

“Community colleges have experienced enrollment increases in eight of the past 10 years and represent 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates. Community colleges have grown by more than 20 percent over the past three years with 1.4 million more students enrolled in fall 2010 than in fall 2007. The additional 3.2 percent last fall translates into 250,000 new students.” . . .

Arkansas State U.’s Online Deal Violated ‘Spirit’ of Shared Governance, Faculty Panel Says
by Jack Stripling
Feb. 13, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Arkansas State University administrators violated the “spirit” of shared governance by entering into an agreement with a private company to help deliver online courses, a university committee has determined. With no input from non-administrative faculty, Arkansas State signed a contract with Higher Ed Holdings in 2008, granting the company a percentage of tuition revenues in exchange for its assistance in delivering online courses to a minimum of 1,000 students each year. The Faculty Senate adopted a resolution in December that questioned the agreement, leading to the formation of a Subcommittee on Shared Governance, which conducted an investigation of Arkansas State’s relationship with the company, now known as Academic Partnerships.”

“While Arkansas State’s contract with the company specifically stipulates that the university will maintain control of academic decisions, some professors have questioned whether the necessity to increase class enrollments to make the venture profitable for Academic Partnerships ultimately affects how and what they can teach. Given those concerns, faculty should have been involved in the decision-making process, the subcommittee found.” . . .

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century
Premiere Feb. 13, 2011 – check your PBS listings for rebroadcast dates, , Public Broadcasting Service

“Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century addresses this vital question, taking viewers to the frontlines of what is rapidly becoming an education revolution. The film, targeted at parents, teachers, and anyone concerned about education in America, explores how exceptional educators are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students’ curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning.”

Obama Touts Plan to Get Wireless Internet to 98 Percent Of U.S.
by Cecilia Kang
Feb. 10, 2011, The Washington Post

. . . “Speaking at Northern Michigan University, Obama said he would use $18 billion in federal funds to get 98 percent of the nation connected to the Internet on smartphones and tablet computers in five years. To get there, the federal government will try to bring more radio waves into the hands of wireless carriers to bolster the nation’s networks and prevent a jam of Internet traffic. He said he hoped to raise about $27.8 billion by auctioning airwaves now in the hands of television stations and government agencies.”

“And with that auction money, the government would fund new rural 4G wireless networks and a mobile communications system for fire, police and emergency responders. The remaining funds raised – about $10 billion – would go toward lowering the federal deficit over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office has said the deficit will climb to $1.5 trillion this year.” . . .

Community-College Students Say They Struggle to Get Into Needed Classes
by Elyse Ashburn
Feb. 9, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education

“From students’ perspective, community colleges are no longer able to offer the access to an education that they have long promised, says a report released on Wednesday. One in five community-college students had a difficult time getting into at least one course that they needed in fall 2010, and almost a third could not get into a class that they wanted, according to the national survey, commissioned by the Pearson Foundation. Hispanic students were particularly affected, with 55 percent saying they could not enroll in a class they wanted because it was already full. About 28 percent of students who took placement tests said they could not enroll in all of the recommended classes.” . . .

Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education
by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, Louis Soares, Louis Caldera
Feb. 8, 2011, Center for American Progress

. . . “Online learning appears to be this technology enabler for higher education. It is for the first time disrupting higher education — and indeed helps explain much of the rapid growth in the up-start for-profit higher education sector over the last 10 years, even as many colleges and universities have struggled financially and had to cut back. Roughly 10 percent of students in 2003 took at least one online course. That fraction grew to 25 percent in 2008, was nearly 30 percent in the fall of 2009, and we project it will be 50 percent in 2014.1”

“The second element of a disruptive innovation is a business model innovation. Disruptive innovations are plugged into new models, which allow organizations to serve a job to be done in the lives of customers at this new lower price point or in this new, far more convenient fashion without extra cost. Plugging a disruptive innovation into an existing business model never results in transformation of the model; instead, the existing model co-opts the innovation to sustain how it operates. What this means is that, generally speaking, the disruption of higher education at public universities will likely need to be managed at the level of state systems of higher education, not at the level of the individual institutions, which will struggle to evolve. And if private universities are able to navigate this disruptive transition, they will have to do so by creating autonomous business units.” . . .

“Several recommendations for policy makers flow from these observations. Policy makers should:
— Eliminate barriers that block disruptive innovations and partner with the innovators to provide better educational opportunities.
— Remove barriers that judge institutions based on their inputs such as seat time, credit hours, and student-faculty ratios.
— Not focus on degree attainment as the sole measure of success. . . . Real outcomes and real mastery — as often shown in work portfolios for example — are more important.
— Fund higher education with the aim of increasing quality and decreasing cost.”

OERs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
by Tony Bates
Feb. 6, 2011, E-learning and Distant Education Resources

“I increasingly fear that the open educational resources movement is being used as a way of perpetuating inequalities in education while purporting to be democratic. Some components of OERs also smack of hypocrisy, elitism and cultural imperialism (the bad), as well as failure to apply best practices in teaching and learning (the ugly). Despite my support for the idea of sharing in education (the good), these concerns have been gnawing away at me for some time, so after 42 years of working in open learning, I feel it’s time to provide a critique of the open educational resources ‘movement’.” . . .

“Now for the three themes [summarized by Stephen Downes]:
– the good: open content is good, but it is not learning, and is best used by students as part of a wider range of educational activities, or by teachers within a broader program context
– the bad: learning resources that amount to content dumps (examples provides); ‘Content needs not only to be contextualized but also adapted for independent or distance learning.’
– the ugly: ‘the lack of design or adaptation to make it suitable for independent or distance study or for third party use. It is as if 40 years of research on effective practice in distance learning has all been for nothing.’ ”

Online Courseware’s Existential Moment
by Steve Kolowich
Feb. 3, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “In the Internet age, walls are everywhere falling in academe. Online education, all but cleansed of its original stigma, has become commonplace. This is especially true among big public universities, which have clamored to capitalize on new markets by enrolling far-flung students. The University of Massachusetts and Penn State University rake in tens of millions of dollars each year from their online programs. The University of California is considering using online education to help recoup the revenue lost to massive cuts in state funding.”

“But at elite private universities, the online revolution has unfolded differently. At first, several top institutions tried selling their course materials online through websites such as Fathom and AllLearn, but stopped upon discovering that not many people were willing to pay for online courses that did not lead to a diploma. Faced with the choice of either offering degrees online at a price or giving away courses for free, the elites took the road less traveled: they would publish the raw materials — and in some cases videotaped lectures — for certain courses on the Web, but would not offer online pathways for their coveted degrees.”

“Has it made a difference? And where does that unmarked road lead, anyway? Those questions lie at the heart of Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses (Princeton University Press), a new book by Taylor Walsh.” . . .

Online Courses, Still Lacking That Third Dimension
by Randall Stross
Feb. 5, 2011, The New York Times

“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet, most professors will lose their jobs. That includes me. I’m not worried, though, at least for the moment. Amid acute budget crises, state universities like mine can’t afford to take that very big step — adopting the technology that renders human instructors obsolete.” . . .

“Carnegie Mellon, however, does not use these online courses as replacements for its own humanoid instructors. ‘Any tuition-driven, private university would have a hard time being the first one to make a change as drastic as offering an entirely automated course,’ Ms. Walsh told me recently. Candace Thille, the director of Carnegie Mellon’s program, put it this way: ‘There is something motivating about the student’s relationship with the instructor — and with the student’s relationship with other students in the class — that would be absent if each took the course in a software-only environment.’ Those relationships — with humans in the flesh — help students to persevere. Online courses are notorious for high dropout rates.”

Lessons for Online Learning Charter Schools’ Successes and Mistakes Have a Lot to Teach Virtual Educators
by Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker
Spring 2011, EducationNext

“Advocates for virtual education say that it has the power to transform an archaic K-12 system of schooling. Instead of blackboards, schoolhouses, and a six-hour school day, interactive technology will personalize learning to meet each student’s needs, ensure all students have access to quality teaching, extend learning opportunities to all hours of the day and all days of the week, and innovate and improve over time.”

“Indeed, virtual education has the potential not only to help solve many of the most pressing issues in K–12 education, but to do so in a cost-effective manner. More than 1 million public-education students now take online courses, and as more districts and states initiate and expand online offerings, the numbers continue to grow.”

“But to date, there’s little research or publicly available data on the outcomes from K–12 online learning. And even when data are publicly available, as is the case with virtual charter schools, analysts and education officials have paid scant attention to — and have few tools for analyzing — performance. Until policymakers, educators, and advocates pay as much attention to quality as they do to expansion, virtual education will not be ready for a lead role in education reform.” . . .

A Detection Model of College Withdrawal
by Timothy J. Pleskac, Jessica Keeney, Stephanie M. Merritt, Neal Schmitt, and Frederick L. Oswald
2011, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

“An unavoidable fact in higher education is that some students persist in obtaining a degree, while others withdraw. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that only 57% of bachelor’s or equivalent degree-seekers that began college in 2001 had within 6 years graduated from that same college. This overall completion rate is qualified by a number of dimensions. Females have a greater completion rate than males (60% vs. 54%). Completion rates also differ by race and ethnicity, with Asian/Pacific Islanders having the highest rate and American Indian/Alaskan natives the lowest (66% and 40%, respectively; Knapp, Kelly-Reid, & Ginder, 2009). Understanding why some students persist at their chosen institution and others decide to withdraw has important implications for a range of institutional processes including student admissions, intervention efforts for at-risk students, directions for federal funding, and maintenance of a rigorous athletic program (Hagedorn, 2005).”

Upcoming Grant Deadlines:

Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP)
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
Department of Commerce – CFDA No. 11.550

Application Deadline: Mar 17, 2011

Distance Learning and Nonbroadcast Projects: The growth of digital technologies provides new opportunities for distance learning projects using both broadcast and nonbroadcast facilities. NTIA encourages applicants to consider the use of digital technologies in proposing unique or innovative distance learning projects for funding in FY 2010. Examples of innovative digital applications include projects that (1) use broadband technologies for distance learning, (2) distribute educational or informational programming via Direct Broadcast Satellite technologies, (3) provide multi-media content using the digital television transmission infrastructure and delivered through a method that is not a typical broadcast channel, or (4) incorporate video, voice, graphics and data capabilities for online distance learning services. NTIA also encourages applicants to consider broadcast projects which use the multi-channel capacity of digital television to provide innovative distance learning projects.

All PTFP distance learning applications must address substantial and demonstrated needs of the communities being served. NTIA is particularly interested in distance learning projects which benefit traditionally underserved audiences, such as projects serving minorities, people living in rural communities, or those living in disadvantaged areas where distance learning services will provide significant educational opportunities.

State Regs, Students, Horizon Rpt, Attainment, Google, Wireless, OERs, PTFP