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 ( . 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 ( , 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

‘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 ( ) 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) ( . 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.

“(Almost) Final Rules” Inside Higher Ed –
“New Federal Rules Set on Career Colleges,” The New York Times –
“In Final Rules, Education Dept. Makes Several Concessions to Colleges,” The Chronicle of Higher Education –
“Colleges to Get New Rules on Student Aid” The Washington Post –

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 –,
Screencast-o-matic –,
ScreenToaster –,
ScreenJelly –

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

Gaming, Open Source, Ready to Learn, Gadgets, Skype, HTML5, Grants – Next Gen Learning, Humanities, Career Training

Please take note of the Next Generation Learning Challenges, a $20 million grant program from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will feature best uses of technology to improve college readiness and completion. The application deadline is Nov. 19, 2010. See the link and read about the activities they would like to fund near the bottom of this e-mail — it is all about what you do in your eLearning programs!

Fellow ITC member Ryan Schrenk is asking for your help on research for his doctorate. Click on the link to go directly to the survey. The site will require you to create an account and you will need basic FTE and enrollment numbers for your distance education courses during the Fall 2009 semester. Please share this link with the person tasked with leading distance education operations at your institution. The survey closes on Nov. 5, 2010. Send any questions or comments to Ryan Schrenk (

ITC archives these e-mails at The site is restricted to ITC members. Please contact Danielle Perry at or 202/293-3132 if you do not already have a password set up. Chris

Gaming as Teaching Tool
by Steve Kolowich
Oct. 15, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“All work and no play makes a dull syllabus. That is what Sarah Smith-Robbins, director of emerging technologies at the Indiana University at Bloomington, told a somewhat wary audience here at the 2010 Educause conference on Thursday. “Games are absolutely the best way to learn,” she said. “They are superior to any other instructional model.” Smith-Robbins prefaced her remarks by reminding the audience that she was taking an intentionally strong position in order to stoke debate. But she nevertheless argued that games — as simple as tag or as complex as World of Warcraft — can accomplish an array of teaching goals that more traditional pedagogy says it wants to achieve, but often does not.” . . .

Open Source eLearning Tools : eLearning Technology
by Tony Karrer
Oct. 15, 2010, eLearning Technology

“I was just asked about trends in open source for eLearning and particularly open source eLearning tools. Probably one of the better sources on this is Jane Hart’s Instructional Tools Directory ( You can find a long list of tools broken into authoring tools, games/simulations, quiz/test tools, social media, delivery platforms, tracking and whether they support mobile. In addition, she indicates if they are free or cost money – which is not quite the same thing as open source. Beyond that, probably the best thing to do is to use eLearning Learning ( to go through it’s open source eLearning and open source eLearning Tools. Here’s some of what I pulled out. Of course, I’d recommend skimming through eLearning Learning to find the latest and greatest.” . . .

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces $27 Million for Three Ready-to-Learn Television Program Grants
Press Release
Oct. 14, 2010, Department of Education

“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced three awards totaling $27 million for projects to improve educational opportunities for young learners through innovative technology. Grants will be used to develop and deliver high-quality, age-appropriate, educational content to increase the early literacy and mathematics skills of young children age two through eight years old. The current cycle of awards will provide early learning content through the well-planned and coordinated use of multiple media platforms, commonly known as transmedia storytelling. . . . The five-year grants were awarded to three public telecommunications entities [Window to the World Communications, Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting] that will offer services across the nation. In addition to programming content, the grantees will provide outreach materials and resources to families, child care providers, preschool and early elementary teachers and others whose work addresses early learning.” . . .

Americans and Their Gadgets
by Aaron Smith
Oct. 14, 2010, Internet & American Life Project

Cell phones – 85 percent of Americans now own a cell phone. Cell phone ownership rates among young adults illustrate the extent to which mobile phones have become a necessity of modern communications: fully 96 percent of 18-29 year olds own a cell phone of some kind.
Desktop and laptop computers – Three quarters (76 percent) of Americans own either a desktop or laptop computer. Since 2006, laptop ownership has grown dramatically (from 30 percent to 52 percent) while desktop ownership has declined slightly.
Mp3 players – Just under half of American adults (47 percent) own an mp3 player such as an iPod, a nearly five-fold increase from the 11 percent who owned this type of device in early 2005.
Game consoles – Console gaming devices like the Xbox and PlayStation are nearly as common as mp3 players, as 42 percent of Americans own a home gaming device. Parents (64 percent) are nearly twice as likely as non-parents (33 percent) to own a game console.
Tablet computers and e-book readers – Compared to the other devices in this list, e-book readers (such as the Kindle) and tablet computers (such as the iPad) are relatively new arrivals to the consumer technology scene and are owned by a relatively modest number of Americans. However, these devices are proving popular with traditional early adopter groups such as the affluent and highly educated–ownership rates for tablets and e-book readers among college graduates and those earning $75,000 or more per year are roughly double the national average.

Skype 5.0 for Windows Integrates Facebook, Adds Group Video Calls
by Rob Pegoraro
Oct. 15, 2010, The Washington Post

“There’s a new version of Skype out with a couple of interesting features — one of which actually seems worth your time. Skype 5.0 for Windows, released Thursday and documented in a blog post, addresses one user request by adding group video calling. This feature, debuted in test form back in May, lets up to five people see each other hold forth on camera. For now, it’s confined to this Windows release. (I’d report back on how it works, but I’ve yet to round up three people who have installed Skype 5.0 and are online at the same time.) But Skype says it’s coming to its Mac software later this year; if this Luxembourg firm then builds in support for Apple’s FaceTime video-conferencing, which Apple says it plans to make an open standard, things could get interesting.”

U.S. Teen Mobile Report: Calling Yesterday, Texting Today, Using Apps Tomorrow
Oct. 14, 2010, Nielsen Wire

“If it seems like American teens are texting all the time, it’s probably because on average they’re sending or receiving 3,339 texts a month. That’s more than six per every hour they’re awake — an 8 percent jump from last year. Using recent data from monthly cell phone bills of more than 60,000 mobile subscribers as well as survey data from over 3,000 teens, The Nielsen Company analyzed mobile usage data among teens in the United States for the second quarter of 2010 (April 2010-June 2010). No one texts more than teens (age 13-17), especially teen females, who send and receive an average of 4,050 texts per month. Teen males also outpace other male age groups, sending and receiving an average of 2,539 texts. Young adults (age 18-24) come in a distant second, exchanging 1,630 texts per month (a comparatively meager three texts per hour).”

Students Unprepared for Community College Entrance Tests
by Caralee Adams
Oct. 14, 2010, Education Week

“When a student does poorly on a community college assessment test, it can be the beginning of the end of his or her career in higher education. Too often, students take the test unprepared, end up in developmental education courses, become discouraged, and never finish their degrees. A report looking at student experiences with assessment and course placement in California Community Colleges highlights the lack of testing awareness and gaps in the transition process. Mike Kirst, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, was a chief consultant to the report, One Shot Deal, a two-year research study funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Walter S. Johnson Foundation.” . . .

“The solution rests, in part, with better communication with students about the rigor of college-level courses and testing earlier, says Thad Nodine, an independent researcher and one of the report’s authors. ‘K-12 educators and policymakers need to work with community colleges to provide these assessments in high school, during the junior year. That will be an eye-opener for students who are not prepared for college-level classes,’ says Nodine. ‘For students who need to catch up in math or English, high schools need to provide that coursework during the senior year.’ ”


Home Computers and Student Achievement
by Elisabeth Stock and Ray Fisman
Oct. 11, 2010, Education Week

“A spate of recent news stories with attention-grabbing headlines like ‘Home Computers Hurt Students’ Test Scores’ may have many readers reaching the conclusion that a home computer is about as useful an educational aid as a PlayStation. The media reports cite as evidence two research studies — one conducted in North Carolina by Duke University researchers Jacob L. Vigdor and Helen F. Ladd, and the other conducted in Romania by Ofer Malamud of the University of Chicago and Cristian Pop-Eleches of Columbia University. Each study indicates that home computers have a detrimental effect on student achievement, particularly among students from low-income households.” . . .

“The research in North Carolina and in Romania explored whether the presence of home technology, by itself, makes a difference in students’ achievement. Both studies found that home computers did not produce better students (as measured by better test scores). Yet this conclusion is not surprising: We certainly don’t assume that distributing violins will produce violinists, nor do we expect footballs, by themselves, to produce varsity quarterbacks.” . . .

“The Texas Technology Immersion Pilot ( and the Computers for Youth ( program are promising case studies for using wraparound programming to fulfill the home’s potential in helping students learn.” . . .

Will Technology Kill the Academic Calendar?
by Marc Parry
Oct. 10, 2010, Chronicle of Higher Ed

“An adjunct faculty member at Kentucky’s Jefferson Community & Technical College, Mr. Smith teaches in an online program that lets students start class any day they want and finish at their own speed. One student, desperate to graduate, knocked off 113 quizzes and six writing assignments for a humanities course in 46 sleepless hours. But there is a downside to this convenience, and it’s deeper than bleary eyes. The open format of Jefferson’s program, called Learn Anytime, means students don’t move through classes in groups. None of Mr. Smith’s 400 online students will have a discussion or do a group project with classmates.”

“It’s a controversial approach to online education¬-one that is gaining traction at some colleges. Supporters see the self-paced model as a means to serve more students, since no one is turned away because of a full section, missed deadline, or canceled class. Others criticize go-it-alone learning as a second-rate system that leaves students in greater danger of dropping out.”

” ‘Educationally, it’s not defensible,’ says D. Randy Garrison, a veteran distance-education researcher who directs the Teaching & Learning Centre at the University of Calgary. ‘It doesn’t allow students to get a deep understanding of the content.’ Regardless of criticism like that, the model is spreading. Its former champion within Jefferson’s administration, Robert Johnson, plans to make open-entry courses the default for a new online program he leads at the Louisiana Community & Technical College system. At Arizona’s Rio Salado College, home to one of America’s largest online programs, self-paced classes start every Monday. Others that teach this way include StraighterLine, a company that provides online courses, and Athabasca University, a distance-education institution in Canada.” . . .

New Web Code Draws Concern Over Privacy Risks
by Tanzina Vega
Oct. 10, 2010, New York Times

“Worries over Internet privacy have spurred lawsuits, conspiracy theories and consumer anxiety as marketers and others invent new ways to track computer users on the Internet. But the alarmists have not seen anything yet. In the next few years, a powerful new suite of capabilities will become available to Web developers that could give marketers and advertisers access to many more details about computer users’ online activities. Nearly everyone who uses the Internet will face the privacy risks that come with those capabilities, which are an integral part of the Web language that will soon power the Internet: HTML 5.”

“The new Web code, the fifth version of Hypertext Markup Language used to create Web pages, is already in limited use, and it promises to usher in a new era of Internet browsing within the next few years. It will make it easier for users to view multimedia content without downloading extra software; check e-mail offline; or find a favorite restaurant or shop on a smartphone.” . . .

Grant Opportunities

Next Generation Learning Challenges: Best Uses of Technology to Improve College Readiness and Completion
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Proposal Deadline: Nov. 19, 2010

On October 11 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the Next Generation Learning Challenges, a collaborative, multi-year initiative, which aims to help dramatically improve college readiness and college completion in the United States through the use of technology. The program will provide grants to organizations and innovators to expand promising technology tools to more students, teachers, and schools. It is led by nonprofit EDUCAUSE, which works to advance higher education through the use of information technology.

Next Generation Learning Challenges released the first of a series of RFPs today to solicit funding proposals for technology applications that can improve postsecondary education. This round of funding will total up to $20 million, including grants that range from $250,000 to $750,000. Applicants with top-rated proposals will receive funds to expand their programs and demonstrate effectiveness in serving larger numbers of students. Proposals are due November 19, 2010; winners are expected to be announced by March 31, 2011.

Next Generation Learning Challenges invites proposals from technologists and institutions within the education community, but also innovators and entrepreneurs outside the traditional education arena that can show promising results. The initiative will fund RFPs approximately every six to 12 months. The RFP released today seeks proposals that address four specific challenges:

— Increasing the use of blended learning models, which combine face-to-face instruction with online learning activities.
— Deepening students’ learning and engagement through use of interactive applications, such as digital games, interactive video, immersive simulations, and social media.
— Supporting the availability of high-quality open courseware, particularly for high-enrollment introductory classes like math, science, and English, which often have low rates of student success.
— Helping institutions, instructors, and students benefit from learning analytics, which can monitor student progress in real-time and customize proven supports and interventions.

Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
National Endowment for the Humanities
CFDA No. 45.169

Application Deadline: March 23, 2010 (for projects beginning September 2010)

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites applications to the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants program. This program is designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. By awarding relatively small grants to support the planning stages, NEH aims to encourage the development of innovative projects that promise to benefit the humanities. Proposals should be for the planning or initial stages of digital initiatives in any area of the humanities. Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants may involve

— Research that brings new approaches or documents best practices in the study of the digital humanities;
— Planning and developing prototypes of new digital tools for preserving, analyzing, and making accessible digital resources, including libraries’ and museums’ digital assets;
— Scholarship or studies that examine the philosophical or practical implications and impact of the use of emerging technologies in specific fields or disciplines of the humanities, or in interdisciplinary collaborations involving several fields or disciplines;
— Innovative uses of technology for public programming and education utilizing both traditional and new media; and
— New digital modes of publication that facilitate the dissemination of humanities scholarship in advanced academic as well as informal or formal educational settings at all academic levels.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program (TAACCCT)
CFDA # 17.282
Department of Labor Fact Sheet

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) amended the Trade Act to authorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT). The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2010 included $2 billion over four years to fund this program. . . .

Over the next year, DOL will award approximately $500 million through this grant program. By statute, the program is designed to ensure that every state, through its eligible institutions of higher education, will receive at least $2.5 million in grant awards. . . . DOL anticipates opening the competition for these grant funds in Fall 2010. . . . This program is designed to meet industry needs while accelerating individual learning and improving college retention and achievement rates to increase industry recognized credential or degree completion rates of TAA for Workers program participants and other individuals. DOL is interested in projects that use online or technology driven learning to achieve these objectives. . . .

Gaming, Open Source, Ready to Learn, Gadgets, Skype, HTML5, Grants – Next Gen Learning, Humanities, Career Training

E-Rate Changes, CC Summit, Facebook, Class Size, Tegrity, Skills for America, Challenge Grants

E-Rate Revisions Seen as Good First Step: The New E-Rate: Changes and Implications
by Ian Quillen
Oct. 4, 2010, Education Week

“A Funding Upgrade: The annual funding cap of $2.25 billion for the E-rate program will be indexed to adjust for inflation.”
“Implications: While it’s difficult to say how much that change may affect individual districts, it will mark the first time that the fund has increased since its inception in 1997. Districts across the country applied for far more E-rate aid last year than was available, and others sometimes may not apply because they know the chance of receiving funding is minimal.”

“A Return to the ‘Dark’ Side: School districts and libraries will again be allowed to purchase online connections with E-rate funding via existing but unused, or “dark,” fiber-optic networks.”
“Implications: The ability to purchase a connection via an existing fiber-optic network could potentially save schools money while also allowing them to increase their connection speed. The reason is that increasing a fiber-optic network’s speed involves a one-time intervention, which could be less costly in the long term than a monthly charge to increase the speed of a cable or DSL connection. The Federal Communications Commission previously removed dark-fiber networks from the list of approved providers for E-rate-funded connections in 2003.”

“Schools Are the Spot: Schools and districts will be given the option of extending their Internet connections to the surrounding community during after-school hours, creating ‘school spots.’ ”
“Implications: That option could eliminate one obstacle for school districts that worry about the practicality of assigning online work in locales where many students don’t have the online capability at home to complete it. And it could also be used as an outreach tool in districts where teachers and administrators are looking for a vehicle to help foster a connection with community members.”

“Pilot Plan for Wireless Takeoff: A handful of schools may win funding for after-school wireless-learning programs using a range of devices, including mobile devices, under a pilot program.”
“Implications: Currently, most districts that issue wireless devices for students to use after school do so without E-rate funding, because mobile devices bought with such funds are required to remain on campus. Schools winning funding in the pilot would be free of that requirement, potentially making wireless or mobile learning more affordable and practical for some districts that are considering it.”

Also see this blog posting by Gina Spade from the FCC

Community Colleges’ Day in the Sun
by David Moltz
Oct. 6, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“The long-awaited White House Summit on Community Colleges came and went Tuesday without any monumental legislative or policy announcements, though observers did not expect any. Mostly, the event’s attendees relished the high-profile publicity two-year institutions continue to receive from the Obama administration. In addition, they discussed in groups how to dramatically boost community colleges’ often poor graduation rates, improve their remedial education efforts, and bolster their sometimes neglected job-training role — all in an effort to help a slumping national economy.” . . .

“Reiterating a challenge he made to educators last year, President Obama, who spoke briefly during the summit’s opening session, stressed the importance of community colleges. ‘In just a decade, we’ve fallen from first to ninth in the proportion of young people with college degrees,” Obama said. “That not only represents a huge waste of potential in the global marketplace, it represents a threat to our position as the world’s leading economy. As far as I’m concerned, America does not play for second place, and we certainly don’t play for ninth. So I’ve set a goal: By 2020, America will once again lead the world in producing college graduates. And I believe community colleges will play a huge part in meeting this goal, by producing an additional 5 million degrees and certificates in the next 10 years.’ ” . . .

White House Community College Summit –
“At the White House, Praise and New Challenges for Education’s ‘Unsung Heroes’. “ by Jennifer Gonzalez, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 5, 2010,

Mixing Work and Play on Facebook
by Steve Kolowich
Oct. 6, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“Learning management is frequently thought of as a top-down activity, with professors setting the agenda and presiding over e-learning environments like they do a traditional classroom. Facebook, meanwhile, has been thought of more as a distraction from schoolwork than a place where students engage with it. Now, a technology team at Purdue University has created a new application that seeks to upend both of those assumptions. The application, called Mixable, is positioned as an e-learning environment that empowers students, and can be used as a little study room and course library inside Facebook.”

“Drawing on course registration data, Mixable invites students in virtual rooms with classmates in each of their courses. Once there, it lets them post and start comment threads about links, files, and other materials that might be relevant to the course — or not. The point is, there is no administrative authority determining what should (or must) be posted or discussed, and students are free to abstain from participating — just like on Facebook. Professors can join in, but they don’t run the show. And students can choose to make posts viewable by some classmates and not others. “In essence, the conversation is owned by the student,” says Kyle Bowen, the director of informatics at Purdue.” . . .

When Less Is More
by Scott Jaschik
Oct. 6, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“The results in analyzing student evaluations showed a clear (negative) impact of increasing class size. “[T]he larger the section size, the lower the self-reported amount learned, the instructor rating, the course rating,” the paper by Monks and Schmidt says. The same is true, to a slightly lesser degree, for instructors who teach more students overall (across all of their sections).”

“Delving further into the evaluations of student experience, the authors find that increasing course size or number of students taught overall ‘has a negative and statistically significant impact on the amount of critical and analytical thinking required in the course, the clarity of presentations, the effectiveness of teaching methods, the daily preparedness of the instructor for class’ and many other factors.”

“The authors write that the study raises important issues for administrators trying to find ways to improve the student experience. Reducing class size will help, they write. But doing so only by hiring many adjuncts who have to teach so many sections that their overall student load is high may be counterproductive, they warn. Hiring adjuncts or anyone to teach too many sections ‘ignores the role that total student responsibility plays in how faculty actually teach these courses,’ the authors write.”


Gut Reactions to McGraw-Hill Acquiring Tegrity
by Joshua Kim
Oct. 4, 2010, Inside Higher Ed

“Smart move: The big publishers, (McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Reed Elsevier), all realize that unless they change they will suffer a similar fate as the music publishers. Textbooks will be disaggregated. Content has gone from scarce to abundant. The open education movement, combined with cheap but powerful authoring tools, will insure that quality learning materials are available and discoverable. E-books and tablets offer opportunities for new sales and new markets, but are also a major threat as non-incumbents may offer superior solutions unhampered by legacy business models and high fixed costs. Publishers need to transition from offering a product (the textbook and associated content) to an experience. Lecture capture platforms will be one source in which faculty (and later student!) created content can be seamlessly folded into professionally produced (publisher) content.”

“The Publishers: Will these moves of the big publishers to buy into the LMS and lecture capture market be enough to save them from the fate of the big music publishers? Probably not. The big publishers need to change their mindset faster than they change their product mix. They need to take costs out of their systems now. They need to quickly unbundle and disaggregate their own products. They need to try lots of new business models, and worry less about possibly devaluing their current core businesses. They need to offer alternatives to their own products today, or someone else will do that tomorrow. The Tegrity purchase is a good first step.” . . .

President Obama to Announce Launch of Skills for America’s Future: Program will Create Job Training Partnerships in all 50 States

“Today at a meeting of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), President Obama will announce the launch of Skills for America’s Future, a new, industry-led initiative to dramatically improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nation-wide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs, and job placement.”

“President Obama said, ‘We want to make it easier to join students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire. We want to put community colleges and employers together to create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardroom. Skills for America’s Future would help connect more employers, schools, and other job training providers, and help them share knowledge about what practices work best. The goal is to ensure there are strong partnerships between growing industries and community college or training programs in every state in the country.’ ” . . .

Foundation Launches $35 million Program to Help Boost Community College Graduation Rates
Press Release
Oct. 4, 2010, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“Melinda Gates today announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $34.8 million over five years to help dramatically increase the graduation rates of today’s community college students. The Completion by Design program will award competitive grants to groups of community colleges to devise and implement new approaches to make the college experience more responsive to today’s student.” . . .

“Completion by Design will build on proven, existing practices already underway at a number of forward-thinking community colleges. The Request for Applications (RFA) announced today seek submissions from groups of community colleges in nine target states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. Up to five multi-campus groups of community colleges will be selected in early 2011 through a competitive evaluation process.” . . .

“Each Completion by Design application must address the needs of low-income students by focusing on innovative approaches to financial aid counseling, course scheduling, and advising. For example, some community colleges have gotten better results by scheduling core classes at times when working students can take them. Plans should identify ways to use technology to more efficiently serve and assess students, and colleges are asked to create strategies for intervening at critical points along a student’s college career.” . . .

Challenge Grants for Two-year Colleges
National Endowment for the Humanities
CFDA No. 45.130

Application Deadline: Feb. 2, 2011

The National Endowment for the Humanities invites two-year colleges to apply in a special Challenge Grant competition to strengthen their long-term humanities programs and resources. Two-year colleges are major educational assets that have too often been overlooked, even though over half of students in post-secondary education attend two-year institutions. The humanities can and should play a vital role in community colleges. The perspectives of history, philosophy, and literature can enrich the educational experience of students attending two-year colleges, deepening their understanding of questions related to differences among cultures, as manifested in diverse understandings of citizenship, politics, and ethics. NEH seeks to encourage two-year colleges to develop models of excellence that enhance the role of the humanities on their campuses.

The goals of this initiative are
— to enable two-year colleges to strengthen programs in the humanities, especially the study of the world’s many cultures and civilizations;
— to support model humanities curricula at two-year colleges that may be replicated at other institutions; and
— to encourage two-year colleges to broaden the base of financial support for the humanities.

E-Rate Changes, CC Summit, Facebook, Class Size, Tegrity, Skills for America, Challenge Grants