Student Testing, iPads, OpenLibrary, Insight Schools, Broadband Map, Adjunct Faculty, Grants

Tougher Climate for Test Givers
by Allie Grasgreen
March 1, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

“With three weeks to go before new federal regulations make it easier for students with disabilities to request special accommodations, the Justice Department used a high-profile case to signal its intention to strongly protect the rights of disabled test takers. The settlement closes a federal investigation that grew from a January 2008 complaint by a Yale University student, who alleged that the National Board of Medical Examiners twice denied him the additional time and separate testing area he needed to complete the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, students may request such accommodations if they can prove they have a medical need.”

“And while the settlement suggests the federal government’s increased inclination to enforce such rules, it isn’t exactly groundbreaking in its timing. That is because on March 15, new amendments to the ADA will take effect, clamping down on testing agencies and colleges on the same issues addressed in the settlement.” . . .

iPads Become Learning Tools for Students with Disabilities
By Nirvi Shah
March 1, 2011, Education Week

. . . “Tablet computers are useful for students with disabilities because some of the applications available for them easily and cheaply replace bulky, expensive older forms of assistive technology. For children with poor fine-motor skills, the touch-screen design is easier to use than a desktop computer with a mouse or a laptop with a touchpad. The screen’s size makes the gadget user-friendly for students with vision problems.”

“ ‘For a child who may be a little slower learner, struggling with reading, has an arm that doesn’t work, the [tablet-style] computer has all these modalities, sound and touch. The technology can compensate for the special-needs kids in a way that traditional media cannot compensate,’ said Elliot M. Soloway, a University of Michigan professor of education as well as of electrical engineering and computer science. The machines offer a sense of independence many children, especially those with disabilities, may never have experienced before.” . . .

Internet Cheating Scandal Shakes Japan Universities
by Martin Fackler
March 1, 2011, New York Times

“At first, the postings on a popular Web site last week seemed innocuous enough: a user soliciting help for answers to a series of difficult math and English questions. But it later became clear that the questions were taken straight from an entrance exam to prestigious Kyoto University. And they were being posted — and being answered by other users — while the exam was still under way. On Tuesday, the police began a manhunt for one or possibly more users who are believed to have used a single online handle, “aicezuki,” to cheat on exams at Kyoto University and three other top universities. The schools say they suspect test takers used cellphones to post the questions on the site and get the answers while the tests were still in progress.” . . .

In-Library eBook Lending Program Launched
by Laurie N. Taylor
Feb. 24, 2011, Digital Library Center Blog – University of Florida

“Today, a group of libraries led by the Internet Archive announced a new, cooperative 80,000+ eBook lending collection of mostly 20th century books on OpenLibrary.org, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction. During a library visit, patrons with an OpenLibrary.org account can borrow any of these lendable eBooks using laptops, reading devices or library computers. This new twist on the traditional lending model could increase eBook use and revenue for publishers. ‘As readers go digital, so are our libraries,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “It’s fabulous to work with such a great group of 150 forward-thinking libraries.’ ”

How it Works

“Any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore, which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology. Readers can use laptops, library computers and tablet devices including the iPad.” . . .

U. of Phoenix Parent Company Sells Its Online High-School Business to Kaplan
Feb. 25, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education
by Goldie Blumenstyk

“The Apollo Group Inc., parent company of the University of Phoenix, has quietly sold its online school business, Insight Schools Inc., to one of its chief rivals, Kaplan Inc. The deal, completed earlier this month, comes as both companies face continued pressure from government regulators on their larger higher-education businesses. Neither company would disclose the price but said it was not large enough to be a ‘material’ factor in their overall finances.”

“Apollo bought Insight in 2007 and had announced more than a year ago that it would try to sell it. Insight operates as an online-education provider for public-school systems and charter schools, receiving its revenues from those systems and schools. It also runs an online private school called Olympus High School. The K-12 online-education market is now far smaller than the higher-education market, but it is projected to grow.” . . .

Cracking Down on Distance Learning Fraud
by Ellie Ashford
Feb. 25, 2011, Community College Times

“Since a few high-profile cases have shown a spotlight on student loan fraud involving distance education, community colleges have implemented more controls to detect and prevent it. The good news is that despite the well-known cases in recent years, distance learning fraud is not that extensive and it is relatively easy to detect, according to Michael Goldstein, an attorney with the law firm Dow Lohnes in Washington, D.C., who serves as general counsel for the American Association of Community Colleges.”

“Fraud related to distance learning doesn’t seem to be more prevalent than other types of fraud involving community college students, Goldstein says. And compared with student aid fraud involving traditional classes, fraud related to distance learning “is in some ways somewhat more difficult to commit,” he says, because students need a password to log in to their courses.” . . .

NTIA Unveils National Broadband Map
Feb. 18, 2011, RedOrbit

“According to a national broadband map released by the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in cooperation with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as many as one in ten Americans do not have Internet connections that are fast enough for online activities such as watching videos or teleconferencing, and 65 percent of schools have broadband connections that are too slow to meet their needs. The national broadband map, which shows what types of high-speed Internet connections are available, or not, across the entire country, and was mandated by the 2009 economic stimulus bill, went live Thursday at http://www.broadbandmap.gov.”

Also see, “ Survey of Online Access Finds Digital Divide,” by Cecilia Kang in the Washington Post, Feb.17, 2011

Blackboard’s Next Phase
by Steve Kolowich
Feb. 22, 2011, Inside Higher Ed

“Blackboard built its e-learning empire on its learning management system, trading legal blows with some competitors and gobbling up others as it raced to satisfy demand for a technology that had rapidly become de rigueur in higher education.”

“That period of conquest is now over. Last fall, close to 95 percent of institutions had some learning management system in place, according to the Campus Computing Project. Accordingly, Blackboard’s business strategy is changing: with the company adding four new, separately licensed products to its menu in the last three years, Blackboard expects that it will soon no longer rely on Learn, its popular learning management system, to bring home the bacon.” . . .

MarylandOnline’s Inter-Institutional Project to Train Higher Education Adjunct Faculty to Teach Online
by Julie Shattuck, Bobbi Dubins, Diana Zilberman
February 2011, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

This article reports on an inter-institutional project to design, develop, pilot, and evaluate a state-wide online training course for higher education adjunct faculty who are preparing to teach their first online course. We begin with a brief literature review to contextualize the stated problem the project sought to address: the need for quality, accessible training for online adjunct faculty. We then give background information to describe the environment in which the project was situated before detailing the process of designing and piloting the first iteration of the Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT) course. Using a mixed-methods approach (surveys and reflection journals), data were collected from the adjunct faculty who took the COAT course, the COAT instructor, and the COAT design team. The results indicate that the pilot COAT course did meet the perceived needs and expectations of the course participants. We finish by discussing our plans for the next phase of this project.

The Isolation of Online Adjunct Faculty and Its Impact on their Performance
by Véra L B Dolan
February 2011, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Using a grounded theory qualitative research approach, this article examines the experiences of 28 adjunct faculty members who work at the same university, exploring their views on whether periodically meeting face-to-face with management and peers has the potential to affect their motivation on the job and consequently the quality of education they provide to students. A few management representatives also shared their perspectives on the phenomenon; this enabled the researcher to compare the views of these two populations on whether face-to-face contact among faculty enhances teaching performance. The results of this study suggest a few issues that online schools must address in their efforts to improve adjuncts’ sense of affiliation and loyalty to their institution, which in turn will positively affect student retention levels. The main issues of concern to adjunct faculty are (a) inadequate frequency and depth of communication, regardless of the means used, whether online or face-to-face; (b) lack of recognition of instructors’ value to the institution; and (c) lack of opportunities for skill development.

Delimiting the Prospect of Openness: An Examination of Initial Student Approaches to E-Learning
by Christopher Francis Naughton, John Roder, Juliette Emma Smeed
February 2011, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

When converting from a paper-based distance mode to an online mode of teaching, certain expectations arise that students may engage not only in the development of extended research activity but that the quality of discussion and thinking will change. With access to open-ended discussion within the online forum the opportunity is afforded to students to share ideas and in turn develop their shared knowledge, a facility denied to them when in the paper distance mode. However, in a recent study conducted in New Zealand, it was shown that despite having access to online forums students moving to an online platform refrained from participation in this social exchange. A possible explanation for this indifference was thought to be the students realising that the online exchange made no impact on their assessment. Hence, the collaborative rhetoric of Web 2.0 made little impact when the summative evaluation remained unchanged from previous paper-based assessment. This paper reports on the introduction of online learning at a private tertiary college in New Zealand and describes the response of students who found difficulty in reconciling a community of learners and openness within what was perceived as an evaluation that remained individualistic and competitive in nature.

Upcoming Grant Deadlines

Cyberinfrastructure Training, Education, Advancement, and Mentoring for Our 21st Century Workforce (CI-TEAM)
National Science Foundation Update
Program Guidelines: NSF 11-515

Full Proposal Deadline: March 16, 2011

The CI-TEAM program supports projects that integrate science and engineering research and education activities that range from local activities to global-scale efforts, as appropriate, to promote, leverage and utilize cyberinfrastructure systems, tools and services.

Collectively, the CI-TEAM awards will:
— Increase the numbers of scientists, engineers, educators, and/or students prepared to design, develop, adopt and deploy cyber-based tools and environments for computational science and engineering research and learning, both formal and informal. This is to include individuals who are otherwise well prepared in the STEM disciplines.
— Produce curricular and pedagogical materials, learning technologies, and institutional models for preparing the cyberinfrastructure workforce that are broadly adaptable and/or adoptable, and publish related outcomes that inform others of promising educational approaches.
— Increase and broaden the participation of diverse groups of people and organizations as both creators and users of cyberinfrastructure for research and education. Currently underrepresented groups include women, those in underserved rural regions of the country, those who would be the first in their family to graduate from college, and minorities including those associated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and communities.

Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program
National Science Foundation
Program Guidelines: NSF 11-517

Full Proposal Deadline: March 23, 2011

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The Noyce Scholarship Track provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends, and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who earn a teaching credential and commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts.

Career Pathways Innovation Fund Grants Program
Employment and Training Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Application Deadline: March 31, 2011

The U.S. Department of Labor announces the availability of up to $122 million in grant funds to be awarded under the Career Pathways Innovation Fund (CPIF) Solicitation for Grant Applications. At least $65 million of the total designated funds will be reserved for projects that focus on the health care sector.

These grants will support successful applicants in developing and implementing career pathway programs in partnership with employers and other relevant organizations in the community. The overarching goals for projects funded under this SGA are to: 1) increase the number of individuals who earn credentials that enable them to compete for employment in in-demand and emerging industries and occupations; 2) lead to employment for program participants; 3) articulate and ease academic and employment transitions, through the implementation of articulation agreements and other activities, for students of different skill levels and at varying academic levels, including students with low English or basic skills proficiency; 4) establish multiple entry and exit points for students along the post-secondary education continuum; and, 5) create systemic change that will last beyond the grant period by establishing partnerships, agreements, processes, and programs that better connect the education, training, workforce, and supportive services necessary to achieve the preceding four goals, including strengthening the role of the public workforce system in career pathway programs.

Four types of entities are eligible to apply as lead grantees: local workforce investment boards, individual community and technical colleges, community college districts, and state community college systems.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program
Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Federal Register Announcement: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-02-24/html/2011-4137.htm

Application Deadline: April 25, 2011

Distance learning and telemedicine grants are specifically designed to provide access to education, training and health care resources for people in rural America. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program provides financial assistance to encourage and improve telemedicine services and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced technologies to be used by students, teachers, medical professionals, and rural residents.

The grants, which are awarded through a competitive process, may be used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment and related advanced technologies which extend educational and medical applications into rural locations. Grants are made for projects where the benefit is primarily delivered to end users that are not at the same location as the source of the education or health care service.

Student Testing, iPads, OpenLibrary, Insight Schools, Broadband Map, Adjunct Faculty, Grants