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.

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

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 http://wcet.wiche.edu/advance/state-approval
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.’ ”

“Students:
— 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.”

“Instructors:
— 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.” (http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/datacenter/proprietary.html)

“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 (http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Publications/Reports/Documents/CommunityGrowth.pdf).”

“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

For Profit Fight, Veterans, Accessibility, Muni Networks, Libraries, Twitter, Philosophy, Comics

Gunfight at the For-Profit Corral
by Doug Lederman
Dec. 10, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “With dueling news conferences and documents, advocates for the sector went toe to toe with the government entities and agencies that have been aggressively scrutinizing the colleges for the last 18 months, producing much more heat than light. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about the developments of this week is that, for the first time in a long while, it was slightly difficult to tell who was more on the defensive: the colleges or their government critics.”

“That’s mostly because of Wednesday’s revelation by The Washington Post that the Government Accountability Office had significantly revised the highly damaging ‘mystery shopper’ report it produced this summer as the centerpiece of Sen. Tom Harkin’s second hearing on the for-profit college sector.”

“The report provided videotaped and other evidence that employees at all 15 for-profit colleges visited by Congress’s investigative arm had made “deceptive or otherwise questionable statements” to students about accreditation, graduation rates, employment outcomes, program costs or financial aid. And it has since been Exhibit A (if not B and C and D) of the need for tougher oversight of the industry, used not only by Harkin and his colleagues in Congress, but by Education Department officials to help justify new rules the department has proposed to zero in on commercial colleges to assess whether they are providing a meaningful and valuable education to their students.” . . .

Profits and Scrutiny for Colleges Courting Veterans
by Eric Lipton
Dec. 8, 2010, New York Times

“When Congress moved in 2008 to sweeten tuition payments for veterans, it was celebrated as a way to ensure that military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could go to college at no cost and to replicate the historic benefits society gained from the G.I. Bill after World War II. Now, a year after payouts on the so-called Post-9/11 G.I. Bill started, the huge program has turned into a bonanza of another kind for the many commercial colleges in the United States that have seen their military revenues surge.”

“More than 36 percent of the tuition payments made in the first year of the program — a total of $640 million in tuition and fees — went to for-profit colleges, like the University of Phoenix, according to data compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, even though these colleges serve only about 9 percent of the overall population at higher education institutions nationwide.”

“As the money flows to the for-profit university industry, questions are being raised in Congress and elsewhere about their recruitment practices, and whether they really deliver on their education promises. Some members say they want to place tighter limits on how much these colleges can collect in military benefits, a move certain federal officials say they would welcome.” . . .

Colleges Lock Out Blind Students Online
by Marc Parry
Dec. 12, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Ed

. . . “Colleges that wouldn’t dare put up a new building without wheelchair access now routinely roll out digital services that, for blind people, are the Internet equivalent of impassable stairs. Roughly 75,000 students at colleges and trade schools are visually impaired, according to Education Department figures. Barriers to access could deny them equal learning opportunities. And colleges are finding that the problems are lawsuit bait, generating litigation and complaints.” . . .

“Some other examples:
— College Web pages are “widely inaccessible” to people with disabilities, according to a recent National Science Foundation-backed study that looked at 127 institutions in the Northwest over five years. A recent study of 183 colleges, nationwide, found similar problems. (See table.)
— Many colleges have no centralized way to ensure that online courses comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, says a November report from the Campus Computing Project and the Wiche Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications.
— At one of the country’s most prominent public institutions, Pennsylvania State University, blind students and professors suffer “pervasive and ongoing discrimination” because of inaccessible campus technology, says a federal complaint filed in November by the country’s largest organization of blind people. The complaint names problem areas that include Penn State’s library catalog, departmental Web sites, and, crucially, its “almost totally inaccessible” course-management software.
— At Arizona State last year, advocates including Mr. Shandrow sued the institution over its use of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, which lacked audible menus for blind people. Arizona State agreed that it would strive to use accessible devices if it deployed e-book readers in classes over the next two years.” . . .

Municipal Broadband’s Jekyll and Hyde: Some High-Profile Efforts Have Failed, But Quite a Few Have Succeeded
by Kevin McCaney
Dec. 8, 2010, Government Computer News

“Municipal broadband efforts have had their share of success, but in a highly competitive environment, even the most well-intentioned plans can go wrong.” . . . “But despite some high-profile failures, quite a few municipal broadband networks appear to be thriving. Chattanooga, Tenn., in September beat everyone to the 1 gigabit/sec barrier with its community-owned fiber optic network, putting the region on par with high-tech Hong Kong. A report in May by the non-profit New Rules Project details municipal efforts around the country, and includes charts comparing municipal speeds and rates with those of commercial providers.”

“The report, which argues in favor of the cost-effectiveness of municipal networks, cites hundreds of successful efforts, involving both fiber and wireless networks large and small. Lafayette, La., and Monticello, Minn., for example, offer some of the fastest connection speeds at the lowest rates in the country. Oklahoma City’s wireless mesh network has helped the city modernize its agency offices” . . .

Breaking the Broadband Monopoly,” May 2010, The New Rules Project.

Who Needs Libraries?
by Richard Paul
Dec. 10, 2010, Soundprint

“As more and more information is available on-line, as Amazon rolls out new software that allows anyone to find any passage in any book, an important question becomes: Who needs libraries anymore? Why does anyone need four walls filled with paper between covers? Surprisingly, they still do and in this program Producer Richard Paul explores why; looking at how university libraries, school libraries and public libraries have adapted to the new information world. This program airs as part of our ongoing series on education and technology, and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education.” See “Your Life’s Work: The Librarian.” (1947)

8 Percent of Online Americans Use Twitter
by Aaron Smith, Lee Rainie
Dec 9, 2010, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Eight percent of the American adults who use the internet are Twitter users. Some of the groups who are notable for their relatively high levels of Twitter use include:
— Young adults – Internet users ages 18-29 are significantly more likely to use Twitter than older adults.
— African-Americans and Latinos – Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white internet users.
— Urbanites – Urban residents are roughly twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers.
Women and the college-educated are also slightly more likely than average to use the service.

#Hindsight2010: Top Trends on Twitter
by jodiolson
Dec. 13, 2010, TwitterBlog

An astounding 25 billion Tweets were sent in 2010. We analyzed all those Tweets to identify the year’s Top 10 Trends, as well as the leading Trends in eight categories: News Events, People, Movies, Television, Technology, World Cup, Sports and Hashtags. Each Trend in the Top 10 list includes multiple related terms, to give the most accurate view of the topics that people cared about most in 2010. (To find out more about how we define and calculate Trends, check out this blog post.)

Top 10 Twitter Trends of 2010
1. Gulf Oil Spill
2. FIFA World Cup
3. Inception
4. Haiti Earthquake
5. Vuvuzela
6. Apple iPad
7. Google Android
8. Justin Bieber
9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
10. Pulpo Paul

Community-College Association Turns to Old Pro at Crucial Juncture
by Jennifer Gonzalez
Dec. 5, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education

. . . “Those who know Mr. Bumphus say he has the right mix of skills and personality to lead the large advocacy association, which represents almost 1,200 institutions, with a total enrollment of more than 11 million. Known for his collaborative and entrepreneurial style, as well as his buoyant enthusiasm, he brings to the position wide-ranging experience.”

“He is a professor in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the department of educational administration. He earned a doctoral degree in educational administration from the university there. Mr. Bumphus, a Kentucky native who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Murray State University, has worked in community-college positions ranging from system president to dean of students. He also had a stint in the private sector as president of the higher-education division of Voyager Expanded Learning, a Dallas-based provider of intervention programs in reading and math for schools.” . . .

Philosophy with John Searle: Three Free Courses
by Dan Colman
Dec. 8, 2010, Philosophy, UC Berkeley

You can’t dabble in the world of philosophy very long without encountering John Searle. One of America’s most respected philosophers, Searle did important work on “speech act” theory during the 1960s, then later turned to consciousness and artificial intelligence, out of which came his famous “Chinese room” thought experiment. Searle has taught philosophy at UC-Berkeley since 1959, and, until recently, his courses were only available to matriculated students. But this fall semester, the good folks at Berkeley recorded three courses taught by Searle, and made them available online. We have added them to the Philosophy section of our big collection of Free Online Courses. Or, you can simply access the courses below, using your computer or your smart phone.

10 Ways to Create Comics Online
by Richard Byrne
Dec. 10, 2010, Free Technology for Teachers

Creating cartoons and comic strips can be a good way to get reluctant writers writing. While creating comics you and your students can work through the elements of fiction in a context that is fun and familiar to them.

For Profit Fight, Veterans, Accessibility, Muni Networks, Libraries, Twitter, Philosophy, Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . “Online instruction continues to grow quickly overall, according to the latest snapshot of online education programs in grades K-12. But the shape and pace of this growth remains uneven throughout the U.S., and two states — Delaware and New York — still don’t offer any opportunities for K-12 students to take classes online. That’s according to the 2010 edition of “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning,” an annual review of the status of online instruction in the U.S., published by Evergreen Education Group (http://kpk12.com/reports/) . The latest “Keeping Pace” report says tight budgets, new policy developments, and changing technologies are accelerating the growth of online education programs in some states, while slowing their growth in others.” . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the report at http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Publications/Briefs/Pages/rb11162010.aspx

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

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

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

“And while enrollment at institutions of higher education increased by 31 percent from 1998 to 2008—from 14.9 million students to 19.6 million students—the number of students entering the 14 publicly traded for-profit schools soared 225 percent, to 1.4 million over the same period, according to a report (http://harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/4c23515814dca.pdf ) by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Broadband access is crucial to success in online learning programs, a new report says. Students must have reliable broadband access if they are to take advantage of 21st-century online education programs that can increase their access to educational opportunities, according to a new report from the U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) (http://www.usdla.org/assets/pdf_files/OnlineWhitePaper-V10312.pdf) . The report, Enabled by Broadband, Education Enters a New Frontier, highlights success and growth in online education programs across the country. It also outlines the need for increased broadband access and suggests policy measures to ensure that barriers to continued growth in online learning are removed.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Video Lectures

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

Upcoming Grant Deadlines:

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

Application Deadline: Feb. 4, 2011

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

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

Application Deadline: January 5, 2011

The Bridging Cultures through Film: International Topics program supports projects that examine international and transnational themes in the humanities through documentary films. These projects are meant to spark Americans’ engagement with the broader world by exploring one or more countries and cultures outside of the United States. Proposed documentaries must be analytical and deeply grounded in humanities scholarship. The Division of Public Programs encourages the exploration of innovative nonfiction storytelling that presents multiple points of view in creative formats. The proposed film must range in length from a stand-alone broadcast hour to a feature-length documentary.

We invite a wide range of approaches to international and transnational topics and themes, such as an examination of a critical issue in ethics, religion, or history, viewed through an international lens; an exploration of a topic that transcends a single nation-state, with the topic being explored across borders; a biography of a foreign leader, writer, artist, or historical figure; or an exploration of the history and culture(s) of a specific region, country, or community outside of the United States.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See:
“(Almost) Final Rules” Inside Higher Ed – http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/10/28/regs
“New Federal Rules Set on Career Colleges,” The New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/education/28profit.html?_r=1&ref=education
“In Final Rules, Education Dept. Makes Several Concessions to Colleges,” The Chronicle of Higher Education – http://chronicle.com/article/In-Final-Rules-Education/125134/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
“Colleges to Get New Rules on Student Aid” The Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/27/AR2010102708681.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was assisted by a few helpful sites in selecting some candidates and settled on the following 4 to quickly try out:
ScreenCastle – http://screencastle.com/,
Screencast-o-matic – http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/,
ScreenToaster – http://www.screentoaster.com/,
ScreenJelly – http://www.screenjelly.com/

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

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

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

Several points occur to me from this analysis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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