Archive for February, 2012

Growing number of college students choose online courses

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For students focused more on earning a degree amid competing demands than on enjoying the camaraderie of campus life, online higher education has become an increasingly popular option. Colleges and universities around the country have been adding programs and classes to their online rosters, opening university doors to many students who don’t have the time or flexibility to commit to a traditional class schedule. More than 6 million students — nearly a third of total enrollment at degree-granting postsecondary institutions –were taking at least one online course in 2010, the most recent year available in a 2011 study by the Babson Survey Research Group at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. That’s an increase of 560,000 students over the prior year

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12047/1209200-298.stm

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MIT’s new “teacher free” online course

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Posted by David Haden, Spotted in the news

A few days ago MIT announced its first “fully automated” online course. Reportedly it’s a full MIT course, not watered down or crippled in any way — except in the total lack of the human element. Admitted the course/module is on a fairly nerdy topic. The title is “6.002x: Circuits and Electronics”, which no doubt makes it as amenable to being as logical and streamlined as the circuit boards it studies. One has to wonder quite how easy it would be to undermine such a system with cheating and note-passing by successful students. But doubtless the brilliant minds at MIT have long since nailed shut that possibility. The course is also free, at least to the end user. To someone long skeptical of automated e-learning, it sounds like an interesting development.

http://jurnsearch.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/mits-new-teacher-free-online-course/

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Don’t Hit Send Until You Read This

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

by John P. Frazee, Inside Higher Ed

As director of faculty relations at the University of Colorado, I work with faculty members and academic administrators to resolve workplace conflicts. Over the four-plus years I’ve served in this role, an unmistakable pattern has emerged. When a faculty member or administrator comes to me to discuss a conflict he or she is having with a colleague, I can be all but certain that the conflict will be documented in a series of e-mail exchanges between the parties. Reviewing dozens of these exchanges, I’m convinced that e-mail is more than a record of conflict. In most cases, e-mail exacerbates conflict. In some cases, e-mail can itself be the source of conflict.

http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2012/02/17/frazee-advice-dangers-using-e-mail-academic-workplace

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Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Dan Berrett, Chronicle of Higher Ed

The conference featured demonstrations of innovative approaches to teaching, was the first event in a new Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching, a project supported by a $40-million grant from two benefactors, Gustave M. and Rita E. Hauser. In addition to the conference, the money will pay for the redesign of classrooms at Harvard and for a grant program that will finance innovative ideas. More than 250 Harvard faculty, staff, and students have submitted letters of interest for projects costing nearly $10-million. Awardees will be selected in April. Many colleges routinely hold seminars on teaching and learning. But the fact that Harvard is focusing on the subject—and that many speakers referred worryingly to the growth of online and for-profit providers—suggests a growing concern at even the most elite institutions that the classroom experience is not all it could be.

http://chronicle.com/article/Harvard-Seeks-to-Jolt/130683/

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Turning a Traditional Master’s Program Into an Online Success

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Many colleges look to online education as the path to growth, but it is often a bumpy road. At the Higher Ed Tech summit in January, a dean from the University of Southern California told me how she avoided the potholes. Karen Gallagher, dean of the university’s Rossier School of Education, took her school’s master’s degree in teaching online with the help of 2tor, a company that builds digital teaching platforms for traditional universities. “It’s our degree,” she says, “and our faculty.” That faculty had to learn a new way to teach for online students, however, and 2tor helped with that, as well as recruiting and placing students in teacher-training positions. The company had to learn that “we are not the Wild West and we have rules,” Ms. Gallagher says. But the partnership is a success: Today the university’s program has 2,000 students in 43 states and over 20 countries, reflecting growth that would not have been possible if it were limited to bricks and mortar.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/ed-tech-podcast-turning-a-traditional-masters-program-into-an-online-success/35433

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A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn’t Working

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Kansas State University Professor Michael Wesch is not swearing off technology—he still believes you can teach well with YouTube and Twitter. But at a time when using more interactive tools to replace the lecture appears to be gaining widespread acceptance, he has a new message. It doesn’t matter what method you use if you do not first focus on one intangible factor: the bond between professor and student.

http://chronicle.com/article/A-Tech-Happy-Professor-Reboots/130741/

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Charge Your Phone (and Your Car) from Afar

Monday, February 20th, 2012

By Kevin Bullis, Technology Review

Eric Giler points a remote control at a small black pad leaned up against a wall, and three lamps instantly light up and a tablet computer starts charging. The funny thing is, the devices all sit several feet away from the black pad, which provides power, and aren’t plugged in. Giler is the CEO of Witricity, a startup that hopes to revolutionize electronics by replacing wireless charging systems with ones that send power safely through the air. The nearly five-year-old company uses technology developed at MIT that extends the range of inductive wireless charging.

http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/39657/?p1=MstRcnt

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Upgrade Your Hard Drive to Infinite Size

Monday, February 20th, 2012

by Tom Simonite, Technology Review

I wrote last year about a startup offering a simple program that used cloud storage to trick your computer to behave as if it had infinite storage space. Now invites to a trial version of that program, Bitcasa, are starting to trickle out. I was lucky enough to receive one and tried out both the Mac and Windows versions, of which the latter is described as “alpha” and seems not fully polished. But going by the experience of using the Mac version, Bitcasa is promising. I downloaded a 27 megabyte application and a few seconds later was being told by the Finder that I had a hard drive with over 500 terabytes of free space, an instant upgrade of more than three thousand times. In fact, Bitcasa will swallow as much data as you can push at it, I was told last year, but they weren’t able to hack an infinity sign (∞) into Mac OS.

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/27561/?p1=blogs

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Instructional Designers Wanted: No Experience Necessary

Monday, February 20th, 2012

By Alan J. Reid, Inside Higher Ed

Apple recently unveiled its digital book-authoring program, iBooks Author, and I’m scared. The last three years that I have dedicated to pursuing my Ph.D. in instructional design & technology, which centers on interactive digital text, have given me a new perspective on the delicate balance that is necessary for classroom technologies to be productive and fruitful rather than novel and superficial. The seemingly endless hours that I have spent reading journal articles, writing papers, reading book chapters, taking in lectures, reading conference proceedings, and reading some more, have left me feeling as though I have earned some sort of badge that licenses me to make qualified observations about new educational technologies. But that’s just the problem; you don’t need to be qualified. iBooks Author allows any Apple user to design and develop an interactive, multitouch textbook. No design experience necessary.

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/02/13/essay-do-apples-design-tools-make-it-too-easy-create-textbooks-and-courses

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High school computing in the US is like the developing world

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

by Computing Education Blog

My colleague, Ellen Zegura, works to use technology to help the developing nation of Liberia. She and I were talking recently about her project to teach programming in Python in the iLab in Liberia.We then realized that learning computing in US high schools is like learning programming in the developing world. While Atlanta-area schools have better connectivity than in Liberia, and better computers in general, they are so locked down that the constraints are pretty similar. In fact, the folks in Liberia can access Lightbot (even if too slowly), so they really have more flexibility than Atlanta-area schools. If you develop a great technology for teaching programming in US high schools, you better be browser-based, and host it on a server that’s not blocked by firewalls. Otherwise, you might be better off offering it to Liberia.

http://computinged.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/high-school-computing-in-the-us-is-like-the-developing-world/

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Lots of options for getting students into computer programming

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

by Julie Weed, Seattle Times

Students have an array of introductions to computer programming, which develops critical thinking skills “completely transferable” to other areas of learning, says Lauren Bricker, a computer-science teacher at Seattle’s Lakeside School. Until computer programming becomes standard curriculum at middle and high schools though, families can turn to the Web for free resources and programming games for students.  Computer programming helps develop critical thinking skills, such as how to break down a problem into manageable parts or how to put tasks into a logical sequence, as well as the importance of precise communication. “These skills are completely transferable,” said Lauren Bricker, a computer science teacher at Seattle’s Lakeside School. “Students can use them to write a computer program or a history paper.” Young beginners might try the free websites. Learning to give logical instructions is one of the first steps to programming. These sites also teach such basic programming concepts as loops, which are sets of instructions that get repeated, and conditional statements, which are “if … then”instructions.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2017479540_ptteentween11.html

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BYO Tech: good plan for schools?

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

by Ann Treacy, Blandin Foundation

Mankato has joined the growing Bring Your Own Technology movement that allows students to use their own Netbooks, laptops, and tablets — anything that connects to the school’s wireless network — during class time. “By allowing kids to bring in their own devices, you free up school resources for the kids who don’t have access,” says Doug Johnson, director of media and technology for the Mankato Public School System. (Johnson wrote the book — literally — on the subject; The Classroom Teacher’s Technology Survival Guide is published this month.) For example, in classrooms that have a group of four computers, finding time for all 30 students to use them can be challenging. In Mankato, 90% of the students have some sort of wireless-capable device, which leaves only eight students in a typical class who will need to use the class computers.

http://blandinonbroadband.org/2012/02/06/byo-tech-good-plan-for-schools/

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Women in Tech: Gayle Laakmann McDowell excels beyond the stereotypes

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

By Ken Hess, ZDNet

Gayle Laakmann McDowell is the founder and CEO of CareerCup.com, which offers technical interview preparation for software engineers, and is the author of “The Google Resume” and “Cracking the Coding Interview.” She has previously worked as software engineer at Microsoft, Google, and Apple, holds a bachelor’s and master’s in Computer Science, and an MBA from the Wharton School.  She has advice for women who are entering the tech fields.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/women-in-tech-gayle-laakmann-mcdowell-excels-beyond-the-stereotypes/68720

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Seventy in reclusion, could reach 3,600: Youths hiding from the world

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

by Alexandra Lages, the Macau Daily Times

About 70 local youngsters stay at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for at least three months in a row. They do not work or study. Internet is their only window to the outside world and videogames and cartoons are their best friends. A study on reclusive youth in Macau has indicated that these numbers may increase in the future, suggesting that 1,600 to 3,600 youths are likely to become part of this so-called hidden youth or ‘hikikomori’ as the Japanese refer to it. The review calls on schools and parents to change their mindset and approach towards these young people. The government must also raise awareness in the society for this hidden problem.

http://www.macaudailytimes.com.mo/macau/33642-Seventy-reclusion-could-reach-3600-Youths-hiding-from-the-world.html

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Student runs computer help desk

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

by Kassie Brown, the Grand Views

The student help desk is accessible to students who need help with internet problems or simply have questions. Kevin Schmiedlin, computer science freshman who runs the student help desk for Information Technology (IT), said, “It’s a work study I’m doing with IT and I’m helping students who are just having issues getting on the Grand View wireless network or just want to ask some questions about their computer.” Schmiedlin had been asking IT for a job helping students with their computers. His experience stems from working with the Dallas Center Grimes school district’s IT and has run his own computer problem business since he was 13. The consistent line outside his door for help at the beginning of the school year also proves he knows what he’s doing.

http://www.thegrandviews.com/news/2012/02/10/student-runs-computer-help-desk/

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Don’t let Open Yale Courses close

Friday, February 17th, 2012

by Harry Larson, Yale Daily News

Unsurprisingly, my math textbook was written by an MIT professor. More surprisingly, the lectures I watch to learn the material are taught by that same professor.  The Internet — and the willingness of elite universities to broadcast classes on it — can profoundly change the college experience and how learning is structured more generally. Besides my math class, another one of my classes has been posted to Open Yale Courses, rendering my physical presence at lecture more of a polite formality than an educational necessity. I’ve even begun listening to two other lectures that I wouldn’t have time to take. As the News reported (“Open Yale seeks stability,” Jan. 23), the grants that have been funding Open Yale Courses will end next year. Ensuring the continuation and expansion of the program should be an immediate priority for Yale’s administration. A concerted effort to attract donors for a program that offers anyone anywhere a chance at some part of a Yale education should produce results. Even if the donations don’t add up to much, Yale could fund the program directly. Its benefits to current students — not to mention to prospective students, alumni and the outside world — make it worthwhile.

http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2012/feb/08/larson-dont-let-open-yale-courses-close/

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Northwestern continues to add more e-book titles

Friday, February 17th, 2012

By Ally Mutnick, Daily Northwestern

At a digital town hall Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski revealed the Obama administration’s newest goal: electronic textbooks for every student by 2017.  This is a goal the Norris Center Bookstore is also working toward for Northwestern, with about 700 of its 2000 titles available in an e-book format, according to bookstore manager Jerry Jacobson. “When we first started there were a handful,” Jacobson said. “Then it just started to grow and grow. It just grows every single term. I don’t know when it’s going to stop or if it ever will.” The bookstore acquired e-books four years ago, Jacobson said. The store sells login codes for certain e-books to students. These codes give students access to one of two e-book programs, Universal Digital Textbooks and Nook Study, a downloadable software produced by Barnes & Noble that students can use on any computer. Currently, e-book readers such as the Nook and the Kindle are not compatible with the e-books available at the campus bookstore, Jacobson said. The benefit of the e-book software is that it allows teachers to write additional notes in the text and highlight or share certain paragraphs for students, Jacobson said.

http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/campus/northwestern-continues-to-add-more-e-book-titles-1.2696714#.TzXF-sVPsnM

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Bilingual classes try to push Latinos toward college

Friday, February 17th, 2012

By MATT STEVENS AND DALINA CASTELLANOS, Los Angeles Times

On the first day of the semester, Sylmar High math teacher Caesar Fuentes wasted no time: “Ven, tomen una computadora,” he said. “Go grab a laptop.” In minutes, the students flipped open the Apple computers, the lights went down and, like a digital textbook, the geometry curriculum popped onto the white board – every word written in Spanish. At Sylmar and three other high schools in Southern California, instructors are running some of the state’s only rigorous bilingual math and science classes using online curriculum from Mexico. The idea: to get more Latino students to take and pass the courses they need to go to college. “These are the kids that can do it if we just offer them something,” said Patricia Gandara, a professor of education at UCLA.

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/02/08/2384906/bilingual-classes-try-to-push.html

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City College of S.F. tells FBI of computer viruses

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

by Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle

City College of San Francisco officials have informed the FBI that computer viruses with origins in criminal networks have been found on campus computers, but say they have yet to find a single victim whose identity has been stolen. Just to be sure, Chancellor Don Griffin is bringing in a second cybersecurity company to double check. The viruses came to light Nov. 28 when USDN, a cyber security company hired by the college, traced 723 Internet protocol addresses to criminal hacking networks in Russia, China and elsewhere. The company said the viruses had been lurking in the college’s poorly guarded systems since 1999, transmitting information to the outside world every night at 10 p.m.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/06/BABB1N3QJ7.DTL

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At Harvard, teachers get a lesson

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

by Mary Carmichael, Boston Globe

The group convened in Harvard’s Northwest Science Building for a one-day symposium on learning and teaching, the first salvo in a $40 million attempt by Harvard to rethink education. The initiative’s proximate goal is to make Harvard’s teachers better, but the ultimate goal is much more ambitious: to improve education beyond Harvard Yard, perhaps in ways that cannot yet be foreseen. “We’re going to experiment with lots of things. Some of them will work, and some of them won’t work,’’ Harvard president Drew Faust said in a phone interview yesterday. “But students are inventing new ways of doing things that will change classrooms, no matter what we do.’’ At the symposium, many professors argued for making classes more interactive and moving them online.

http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-06/news/31031164_1_harvard-yard-answer-professors

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Temple U. Project Ditches Textbooks for Homemade Digital Alternatives

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By Nick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher Ed

When students groan about buying traditional textbooks, their grievances follow a familiar refrain: They’re expensive and usually boring. So this fall, a team of Temple University professors heeded those complaints and abandoned the old-fashioned texts for low-cost alternatives that they built from scratch. The pilot project gave 11 faculty members $1,000 each to create a digital alternative to a traditional textbook.  The textbooks covered a variety of subjects, including biomechanics, writing, and marketing. The Temple program mirrors a similar effort announced at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in December.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/temple-project-ditches-textbooks-for-homemade-digital-alternatives/35247

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