Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Media?s Fundamental Place in e-Learning

"Like the technologies that preceded it – print, radio, television – New Media is set to change our lives and our learning in fundamental ways. Never before have we had such a great variety of educational tools at our disposal so inexpensively and so widely available. We can reach out to our customers, clients, and students almost anywhere in the world with the touch of button. "

New Media consists of four pillars:

  • Online video sharing sites, such as YouTube,

  • Podcasting , which allows the automatic delivery of audio and video to listeners and viewers,

  • Live video streaming, such as and, and

  • Social media, that is, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other such services.

All of these together form New Media – new ways of delivering information and interacting with our audience, whoever or wherever they might be.

As with any new technology, inertia and fear threaten to limit our use of these tools. We spend months and years evaluating, analyzing and investigating, but end up doing very little. As with other educational tools, you must engage with New Media to find its usefulness to you and your students.


Inertia is a powerful force. Objects at rest remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. For many of us, the object is New Media and inertia is management apathy, status quo thinking, and fear of change. This can lead to an almost impenetrable barrier to New Media adoption, and all the benefits it can bring. Your job is to get the ball rolling – to nudge the New Media rock – one small inch at a time.

With each movement, the other part of the inertial law will begin to take effect: objects in motion remain in motion. Movement begets more movement. Momentum yields more momentum. Soon you will find yourself using more and more New Media tools as the walls start to crumble.

Not either/or, but rather yes/and

One roadblock I often face when introducing New Media is the either/or mentality. There is a belief that we must choose either this or that tool, either this or that method. When introducing New Media to your work I suggest moving beyond either/or and toward yes/and. Using New Media tools does not mean you abandon previous methods. Instead, you use New Media to expand existing methods while introducing new ones. Certainly, some tools will have outlived their usefulness, but many will find new life in combination with New Media. Conversely, you will find that some New Media tools don’t add value to your work. Your goal is to find the best of both old and new and combine them in new and powerful ways. Embrace both the old and the new. Say Yes/And.

Selling New Media

I find that convincing someone of the usefulness and power of New Media is very difficult in the abstract. We can talk about how audio, video, online communities, and social networks can expand the educational playing field, but the power of New Media is in the “doing.” One of the best methods of introducing New Media tools into your work is by finding those small niches in the educational environment where you can apply New Media. You use a New Media tool and then judge its effectiveness. Use it a bit more and let people see where and when it is effective. Then, slowly, expand its use further and further until it becomes a major tool in your educational toolbox.

In this way, you bring people along slowly. You don’t try to convert them with one dramatic gesture. You take them step-by-step, class-by-class, project-by-project, holding their hand the entire time until they start walking on the New Media path all by themselves. Even more importantly, though, when something obviously doesn’t work, you let it go. Not every tool will work for you and your environment. You won’t find the “value added” in every new service or program. We don’t live in an idealized world. Everything can’t be perfect, but you will be better for investigating that tool or service than you would have been without. You learn something with each try. You should not discount this.

It doesn’t take a lot of money

One of the most striking aspects of New Media is how much you can do inexpensively, and even for free. As you move forward you might invest in larger, more robust systems, but investigating New Media often requires little more than access to the Internet. With inexpensive tools like the Flip HD pocket camcorders, and free software like Apple’s iMovie, you can create professional-looking materials that, in the past, might have cost tens of thousands of dollars. There are very few financial excuses for not investigating how New Media can help your department or company.

To repeat, never before have we had such a wide variety of educational tools at our disposal so inexpensively and so widely available. This is indeed a whole new world. It is to your benefit to grasp the best of these new tools and wield them well, to take you and your students to new levels of learning.

Special note: Hear Doug speak on “Making the Case for Using New Media for e-Learning”! Sign up for The eLearning Guild’s October Online Forum, Integrating Media into Your e-Learning, October 7 and 8. See all the details at


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Obama: Education key to economic success

Determined to energize dispirited Democrats, President Barack Obama told New Mexico voters on Tuesday that Republicans would reverse the progress he's made oneducation reform and student aid.

Addressing a small group in an Albuquerque family's front yard, Obama shifted from his recent focus on the economy, which has run headlong into the grim reality of continued high unemployment. Instead, five weeks ahead of midterm elections that could turn into a Democratic bloodletting, the president told voters to think about education when they head to the polls.

"Who's going to prioritize our young people to make sure they've got the skills they need to succeed?" the president said.

"Nothing's going to be more important in terms of our long-term success." Obama argued that Republicans would cut education spending to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Later in the day, Obama was heading to a big rally at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he hopes to replicate the raucous, youthful, big-stage events for which he became famous in the 2008 presidential campaign. Democrats will host hundreds of watch partiesnationwide, and Obama will hold other campus rallies before Nov. 2 to warn young voters that the "hope and change" they embraced two years ago is at risk if Republicans sweep the midterm elections.

The president is aiming to close the enthusiasm gap that pollsters say separates discouraged liberal voters from energized conservatives who might lift Republicans to huge gains in congressional and gubernatorial races.

But Obama got a quick reminder from his audience of about 40 in Albuquerque that education might not be at the top of the agenda for recession-weary voters.

"If we don't have homes to go to, what good is education?" one man asked.

A high school principal read a letter that he said was from a class in his school.

"What assurance will we have that we will be rewarded for good work?" the students asked. "There seems to be less money that banks lend our families, and most of all no jobs."

The president acknowledged the anxiety of the younger generation.

"They're growing up in the shadow of a financial crisis that we hadn't seen in our lifetime," he said, arguing his administration has sought to save jobs for teachers and others by closing tax loopholes, and is working to making it easier for kids to attend college.

Republican leaders, Obama said, "fought us tooth and nail ... That's the choice that we've got in this election."

Obama returned to the choice theme on issue from veterans spending and education to taxes and small businesses, trying mightily to get voters to see the election as a contest between competing visions, not a referendum on the party in power at a time of economic woes.

The event at the stucco home of Andy and Etta Cavalier in a small farming community south of Albuquerque comes as Obama tests out a relatively new format of backyard visits that give him time to explain his policies in cozy, unhurried settings. He's coupling those with college campus rallies in four states Tuesday and Wednesday, trying to tackle Democrats' two biggest needs: to pump enthusiasm into young supporters who may stay at home this fall, and to persuade undecided voters that Republican alternatives are unacceptable.

In a magazine interview, Obama admonished Democratic voters, saying it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democrats to sit out the elections because the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

"People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up," Obama told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview being published Friday. Making change happen is hard, he said, and "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."

Obama wants Democratic loyalists to be less apologetic and more forceful in asserting that he and theDemocratic-controlled Congress are trying to move the country forward and Republicans would return to the policies of former President George W. Bush.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Web 2.0 Tools for Learning for the New School Year

The list of cutely, cleverly and sometimes oddly spelled Web 2.0 apps for learning continues to grow, making it easier but also more confusing to find online tools to help you learn and excel as a student. With so many choices, it can be hard to figure out where to focus and what tools and ideas are really worth your time. To decide what tools you need, you first need to figure out what you need help with as a student and what you can do to become more productive, efficient and successful. Here are a few suggestions both for the bigger picture and for the apps you can use that can help you ensure a school year that’s both academically satisfying and technologically savvy.

Productivity and Organization

You’ll go a lot further as a student if you stay organized and learn new ways to be productive. You’ll also have more time to relax and enjoy your downtime, making it a win-win to pursue some web tools that can help you master your skills. Your first step can be to get a great calendar and options like 30 Boxes and Google Calendar can be a great way to start. You’ll also need to hook up your computer or phone with a to-do list and many students find Remember the Milk and Todoist to be helpful. And why not have access to your term paper wherever you go with an online word processor like Google Docs or Zoho Office? It could save you time and stress.


Few students can avoid having to write several long and sometimes difficult papers throughout their college careers. You can help improve the quality of the papers you write by improving the quality of the research material you use– something Web 2.0 is all about helping you to do. Instead of doing your research on Wikipedia, use Web 2.0 tools like WorldCAT and Google Scholar that give you higher quality, more academic results. Try out EasyBibor OttoBib to help make sure that your citations are clear and correctly written no matter the format you’re using. Firefox users can get all these functions in one with the amazing research plug-in Zotero.

Studying and Learning

Why limit your online education to what you learn in class? There are plenty of tools and resources out there to help you keep learning about new topics or to expand your knowledge of existing ones. Signing up for educational RSS feeds and podcasts can be a great way to supplement class materials. You can also look for study guides and helpful study tools on SparkNotesand College-Cram. Additionally, if you’re looking for ways to organize your thoughts for papers and tests, you’ll find mind mapping tools aplenty, and Mindomo being good choices.


Even for online students, a big part of education is socializing with other students. Whether you’re looking for feedback, help with homework or friendships, there are a number of Web 2.0 tools that can make keeping in touch with classmates and professors easier than ever. While most students will be familiar with sites like Facebook, others might not have tried more educationally focused sites like where you can share notes and talk about class like NoteCentric. There are also no shortage of social bookmarking sites like delicious and Clipmarks that let you share research and fun links.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the newest and best Web 2.0 apps for learning, it’s a great place to start. Better yet, most of these programs won’t cost you a thing to try out and could help make this school year your best yet.


Benefits of Using Elearning Solutions in Training Dispersed Workforce

Benefits of Using Elearning Solutions in Training Dispersed Workforce

Outsourcing business functions has been a common practice among companies of different sizes from small enterprises to those belonging to the Fortune 50 club. While this move could really improve the operations of companies, it could also bring some disadvantages when it comes to employee training and development. Since a company’s workforce is dispersed, the distance and time difference make streamlining the training approach and overall instruction methods more challenging for the training department. Global barriers such as language and culture could also be a caveat in training outsourced employees. These are just some of the problems that companies have to face in training workforce from different parts of the world. Fortunately, the advent of high technology learning has become so innovative that issues on distance and even cultural differences can already be solved.

With the rise of elearning solutions, companies these days need not worry about harnessing the skills of their employees even if they are dispersed in different parts of the world.

Through these technology-based course authoring tools, learning can take place virtually anywhere and anytime. No matter which part of the globe your employees are or what time zone they are under, there is still the possibility of conducting trainings and development courses since these technology based lessons can be done online. This makes it even more accessible for your workforce abroad.

Caters to Different Learning Needs and Types of Learners

Cultural and language barriers can contribute to the diversity of learning needs in a training scenario and elearning has been developed to meet this challenge. This technology-based mode of learning can be adjusted to match the learning styles and needs of a company’s dispersed staff, hence being more assured of the success of training sessions.

Solution to Affective Learning Issues
Learning is not only about cognition. The affective domain or the emotional and psychological aspect of learning also plays a major role in fossilizing knowledge and information among trainees. It is not enough that training be cognitively enticing for the learners. According to studies, learners absorb knowledge and skills better when they do not feel threatened by the learning environment or setup. These threats called affective filters like stress, fear of failure and poor motivation in learners usually present in conventional instruction can make instruction ineffective. Through this innovative training delivery, these affective filters can be eliminated since training modules are developed to match specific learning styles and needs. Learners can pace their own learning curve. This raises a trainee’s confidence and motivation to participate and actually absorb key information they need to improve their operation and productivity.

Most companies turn to outsourcing skills for the sake of cost effectiveness and adapting an innovative online-based training will help businesses save in training costs and resources. They can also ensure a better training schedule that does not require interruption in regular working routines of remote staff and employees.

Improved Return on Investment.
Through the cutting edge technology elearning solutions, companies can accelerate and improve the learning curve of their employees in different parts of the country or the world. This will give companies the competitive edge, increased employee utilization and productivity, and faster ROI.

The author is fascinated by things that are simple and minimal. He likes minimalist art, lives a simple lifestyle and writes things that are light and easy to read.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New HIPAA rules need more clarification

When it comes to the new HIPAA privacy and security standards, it seems like everybody has an opinion. Quite a few organizations are spreading the word about the comments they've filed in response to the changes HHS proposed in July.

The American Health Information Management Association wants the HHS Office for Civil Rights to add some detail to the stewardship role providers must play in determining the "minimum necessary" use and disclosure of patient-specific protected health information, Health Data Management reports. Specifically, AHIMA wonders whether one alternative in a forthcoming final rule on HIPAA attachment standards would effectively force providers to violate the "minimum necessary" standard.

OCR should "include a prohibition on health plan access to an individual's PHI under guardianship of a healthcare provider," AHIMA writes in its comments.

Similarly, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society would like OCR to provide some guidance on the "minimum necessary standard." HIMSS also wonders whether business associate agreements will still be necessary, because the proposed rules would treat business associates as covered entities.

"It is common for healthcare providers, such as a community hospital, to have hundreds of business associate relationships, and large complex academic medical centers can have over 1,000 business associate relationships to manage," HIMSS says in arguing that a such agreements would be unfairly burdensome on its members under the new regulations.

The National Community Pharmacists Association also wants some clarification, particularly over how pharmacists should handle privacy requests from customers who pay cash, since the proposed regulations would allow self-paying patients to ask providers to limit disclosure of some types of data to payers. "In some cases, such action would violate the pharmacy's contract obligations to third-party payers such as pharmacy benefit managers," the NCPA says.

On the consumer side, the Coalition for Patient Privacy, led by Dr. Deborah Peel's Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, is lobbying hard for the final rule to restore the right to patient consent for PHI disclosure that HHS stripped from the HIPAA privacy rule in 2002.

"We strongly recommend that HHS require the use of the consent and segmentation technologies showcased June 29 at the Consumer Choices Technology hearing sponsored by HHS/ONC for all HIT systems, HIE and the NHIN," the coalition says in its letter. "The innovative, low-cost, effective privacy‐enhancing technologies available that can empower patients to have 'maximal control over PHI' should be viewed as what is possible now, not 10 years from now."

Meanwhile, consulting firm Computer Sciences Corp. has published a white paper to explain the proposed changes to HIPAA privacy, security and enforcement rules called for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

For more information:
- see this Health Data Management story about AHIMA's comments
- read the AHIMA letter (.pdf)
- take a look at this HDM story about the NCPA's comments
- and here is the actual NCPA letter (.pdf)
- read what HIMSS has to say about the HHS proposal (.pdf)
- take a look at these comments from the Coalition for Patient Privacy (.pdf)
- download the CSC report


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Students: Video lectures allow for more napping

College students gave video lectures high marks in a recent survey, although many students supported the technology because it freed up more time for napping and hanging out with friends.

And three in 10 said their parents would be “very upset” if they knew just how often their child missed class and relied on their course web site.

A majority of students who responded to thesurvey, conducted in August by audio, internet, and video conferencing provider InterCall, said they would only attend a live lecture if an exam were scheduled for that day, or to borrow notes from a classmate. The survey didn’t indicate the percentage of students who took this position.

Far from being a scientific study, the poll nonetheless seems to confirm a key fear of many college professors about the availability of video lecture-capture technology: that it could lead to a drop in attendance at the live lectures themselves.

Working students seemed “to reap the greatest benefits from video streamed course content,” according to the InterCall survey of 504 college-aged respondents, because web-based lectures would allow them to work longer hours and watch the videos during their free time.

Overall, video lectures were popular with students who participated in the survey. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they “learn more effectively” with online lectures, and 54 percent “report that their grades improve when lectures are streamed via video online,” according to InterCall. That also confirms an important benefit of video lectures as noted by supporters: that they allow students to go back and review the content as needed.

Nearly three-quarters of students said that streaming lectures online “helps them be better prepared for exams.” And when lectures aren’t available via online video, 49 percent of students take matters into their own hands and record lectures on their own so they can review the material later.

Some respondents pointed out the convenience of being able to plop down in front of a laptop and watch lectures instead of schlepping to the lecture hall bright and early. About four in 10 students said “not having to get dressed for class” was among the benefits of online lectures. Twenty-three percent listed “being able to take more naps during the day” among their benefits.

Corinne Gregory, an author and expert on social skills, said that while educational video content has become an important part of higher education, some of the reasons students lobby for video lectures are “indicative” of the modern college-student mindset.

“They can’t be bothered with things that require stepping out of their own comfort and convenience zone,” she said. “Rather than adapt themselves … they want things the way they want things. College isn’t Burger King—you can’t always have it your way.”

Attending lectures and sticking to a schedule, Gregory said, is a critical part of college life that prepares students for the professional world. Relying on instant access to everything at any time, she said, could be detrimental for teenagers and 20-somethings.

“The continued attitude of, ‘It’s about me and my convenience’ is one that extends into many aspects of their lives, from school, to work, to community obligations,” Gregory said. “How much more self-absorbed does it get?”

InterCall’s survey—while reporting largely positive views about web-based lectures—showed that many students have taken courses that use video content rarely, if at all.

Twenty-six percent said their professor “sometimes” broadcasted class sessions over the internet, and 44 percent said their instructors “rarely” or “never” used the technology.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said their professors “often” provided streaming lectures, and 7 percent said they “always” had the online lecture option available.

The potential isolation of online learning didn’t affect student opinions; nearly half “prefer joining their classes online rather than interacting in person with their classmates and professors.”

College students gave video lectures high marks in a recent survey, although three in 10 students said their parents would be “very upset” if they knew just how often their child missed class and relied...


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Healthcare workforce training receives $130M boost

WASHINGTON – The federal government will give the healthcare workforce $130.8 million in grants, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday. The awards include $50.5 million for state-of-the-art training equipment and technology, such as e-learning tools, video, audio and interactive learning systems and simulators.

Six areas are targeted: primary care workforce training, oral health workforce training, equipment to enhance training across the health professions, loan repayments for health professionals, health careers opportunity programs for disadvantaged students, and patient navigator outreach and chronic disease prevention in health disparity populations.

The grants include $88.7 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

"An adequate healthcare workforce is the linchpin for reforming our healthcare system to ensure greater access, improve the quality of healthcare and cut overall costs in the long term," said Sebelius. "Today's awards not only will provide more training opportunities for people interested in a health professions career, but also will support equipment purchases and faculty development to expand and enhance the quality of training."

"With an aging and increasingly diverse population, we need to prepare our health professionals to meet the challenges of providing healthcare in the 21st century," said Mary K. Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which oversees the programs. "This includes ensuring diversity in the workforce, and that well-trained professionals practice in areas of severe need."

Expanding the Primary Care Workforce

Training Programs in Primary Care - $42.1 million ($31.5 million Recovery Act)
Grants will support family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics programs, including curriculum development, faculty development, didactic and community-based education, and training in underserved areas for primary care residents, pre-doctoral students, interdisciplinary and inter-professional graduate students, and physician assistant students.

Oral Health - $23.9 million ($6.7 million Recovery Act)
Funding will target workforce development programs for pre- and post-doctoral training for dental residents; dental faculty; loan repayment for faculty who teach primary care dentistry; and training for practicing dentists, or other approved dental trainees in general, pediatric, and public health dentistry and dental hygiene programs. Funding also includes $4.3 million to states to provide nine new grantees the opportunity to address their states' unique oral health workforce needs in underserved urban and rural areas. Grants are designed to strengthen the delivery of multidisciplinary comprehensive oral health care, integral to quality primary care.

Equipment for State-of-the-Art Learning

Equipment to Enhance Training for Health Professionals - $50.5 million (Recovery Act)
Funding from the Recovery Act will provide 208 awards to assist with purchasing equipment for training current and future health professionals across disciplines at the undergraduate, graduate, and post- graduate education levels. Awardees include academic health centers, area health education centers, centers of excellence, and other educational institutions that serve underserved and uninsured patient populations, rural communities, and minorities. Equipment purchases will expand current training capabilities by replacing outdated equipment and technology or purchasing equipment that previously was unaffordable.

Types of equipment to be purchased include e-learning tools such as video, audio and interactive learning systems that provide more distance learning opportunities; human patient simulators that give students the opportunity to improve clinical judgment and critical thinking; and mobile dental vans that provide training in delivering care to diverse segments of the population while bringing basic routine dental treatments to families unable to access care. It is estimated that more than 200,000 individuals will be trained, including health professions students, faculty and clinical practice providers.

Priming the Workforce Pipeline

Loan Repayment ($8.3 million)
Twenty-nine grants will be made to states that provide matching funds to assist health professionals in repaying their educational loans. In return, these individuals agree to provide full-time primary health services in federal health professional shortage areas for a minimum of two years. Health professionals eligible to receive funding include physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, physician assistants, psychologists, and social workers.

Health Careers Opportunity Program ($2.1 million)
Three grantees will receive funding to increase diversity in the health professions by developing an educational pipeline to enhance the academic performance of economically and educationally disadvantaged students, and prepare them for careers in the health professions. Eligible applicants included schools of medicine, public health, dentistry, pharmacy, allied health, and graduate programs in behavioral or mental health.

Patient Navigator ($3.8 million)
Funding will support 10 grants for patient navigator outreach and chronic disease prevention programs, typically supported by healthcare information technology, to develop and operate patient navigator services that improve healthcare outcomes for individuals with cancer or other chronic diseases, with specific emphasis on health disparity populations.

Grant recipients recruit, train, and employ patient navigators with direct knowledge of the communities they serve to coordinate care for patients with chronic illnesses. Eligible applicants include federally qualified health centers, health facilities operated through Indian Health Service contracts, hospitals, rural health clinics, and academic health centers.

State Total Grant Money Received
Ala. $2,807,339.00
Alaska $297,853.00
Ariz. $1,616,507.00
Ark. $1,233,954.00
Calif. $10,627,821.00
Colo. $1,055,432.00
Conn. $5,241,685.00
D.C. $2,333,422.00
Del. $100,000.00
Fla. $12,138,535.00
Ga. $2,600,413.00
Hawaii $1,250,907.00
Ill. $2,820,987.00
Ind. $1,369,056.00
Iowa $679,533.00
Kan. $2,233,602.00
Ky. $1,551,892.00
La. $2,005,253.00
Maine $822,796.00
Mass. $8,831,492.00
Md. $1,055,117.00
Mich. $1,902,808.00
Minn. $1,812,553.00
Miss. $404,492.00
Mo. $1,783,648.00
Mont. $843,591.00
N.C. $2,497,221.00
N.D. $509,880.00
N.H. $818,838.00
N.J. $1,024,894.00
N.M. $200,000.00
N.Y. $12,764,196.00
Neb. $999,676.00
Nev. $253,326.00
Ohio $4,569,323.00
Okla. $1,332,133.00
Ore. $656,185.00
P.R. $1,413,079.00
Pa. $8,600,981.00
R.I. $1,088,300.00
S.C. $2,927,888.00
S.D. $78,500.00
Tenn. $2,287,031.00
Texas $9,821,835.00
Utah $877,207.00
Va. $2,763,721.00
W.V. $1,338,740.00
Wash. $1,867,894.00
Wis. $2,400,331.00
Wyo. $298,950.00
Total $130,810,817.00


Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Digitize Your Textbooks

By Luke Turcotte, from HackCollege.

eBook readers are quickly becoming the go-to method to read print media. Perhaps the most exciting advantage is the ability to carry thousands of books on a thin device. Yes students, this means you could condense a semesters worth of heavy textbooks into a few thousand bytes on your Kindle, Nook or iPad. Textbook publishers are charging forward through this new frontier of media distribution, but unfortunately only a small portion of textbooks are available for download today. What do you do if your microbiology text isn't available in a digital format this fall?

Getty File Photo

Option #1: Textbook Scanning Services
There are several online services that will scan a textbook and return a PDF document of its contents. BlueLeaf appears to be the the front-runner in this game, charging $0.06 per page for destructive scanning and $0.09 for non-destructive scanning in addition to a fee per book of $12.95 and $24.95 respectively. To ease the gouging, BlueLeaf will scan your first 50 pages for free. Full color scans are an additional $12, and if you're gullible enough to have them convert the PDF to a PRC or ePub file it'll cost you another $12 (this can be accomplished for free with Calibre).

To give you a better idea of pricing, to scan three textbooks totaling 1956 pages for this upcoming semester, non-destructive scanning in color would cost me $218.

Option #2: Build a Book Scanner is an awesome project offering community-designed blueprints for making your own non-destructive book scanner. Once built, these scanners take pictures of each page of the book you wish to digitize using two tethered cameras. The cost of the hardware is the greatest downfall to this method, although if you want to keep your textbook intact this is the way to go.

Option #3: Chop & Scan
If you're comfortable with cutting up a textbook, running the pages through a scanner with an automatic document feeder is by far the cheapest method to digitze a textbook. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Each textbook is bound a little differently. Your goal is to dissect the book so that you have several booklets of pages.

Step 2: Cut the booklets along the left margin to obtain single pages. This is easily accomplished with a paper cutter.

Step 3: Insert the pages into the document feeder of your scanner. Scan the fronts of all the pages and save as a PDF, then flip and scan the backs.

Step 4: Download and install PDFsam, a free multi-platform PDF tool. Load the front and back PDF files into the Alternate Mix plugin, which will combine the two files and place the pages into the proper order.

Step 5: Convert the PDF scan of your book into a format your eBook reader can read using Calibre.

Each method varies in cost and effort required. At the end of the day, the convenience of reading textbooks on your computer at home, eBook reader on campus, or your smartphone while waiting for the bus is well worth it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Future of the Mobile Web

September 30, 2010 / Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco, CA

Mobile, meet Cloud…


The mobile web is big. It’s about to get even bigger.

The conjunction of mobile computing and cloud-based services will unleash an entire new wave of product and market growth. At this year’s Mobilize 2010, we’ll show you how Cloud Computing and Mobile Web creates the beginning of further opportunity.

The success of touch based tablet devices is likely to see the addition of millions of new subscribers in markets already considered saturated. Then add to that base a new legion of machines as subscribers – your car, your fridge, your TV for example, and you have the makings of a vast new opportunity. It’s time for you to investigate these opportunities.

Register today and you can learn about:

  • What the “mobile cloud” will do for innovating new services and products

  • How new wireless broadband networks will enable consumer adoption of cloud services for mobile

  • What impacts touch devices and new form factors are having on markets

  • Where the opportunities are for Internet-connected objects – “The Internet of Things” or M2M (Machine-to-machine)

  • Which mobile monetization options are succeeding

  • Why the architecture of new wireless networks will be linked to Cloud based services

  • Which new mobile web technology areas are being funded and why

Discussion Topics Include:

  • App vs. Web

  • The Internet of Things

  • Monetizing Location Services

  • Handset Virtualization

  • Mobile Payments: Finally here?

  • The VC Panel

  • 4G with 4 Wheels: The Automobile as an App Platform

Who Should Attend:

  • Mobile Technology Executives

  • Carrier Executives and Buyers

  • Strategic Planners and Analysts

  • Technology Investment Professionals

  • Technology Entrepreneurs

  • Strategy Professionals

  • Product Managers

  • Marketing Professionals

  • Companies launching new products and services

  • Media, New and Old

Core topics planned for discussion:

  • Mobile Cloud Services and Technology Enablers

  • Next-generation Wireless Infrastructure – Ultraband, UWB, Wi-Max, LTE, 4G, Broadband

  • App stores and the App Economy

  • Machine-to-machine – (M2M or “The Internet of Things”)

  • Virtualization on mobile devices and the new new services enabled

  • Network and “Mobile Cloud” infrastructure architectures and needs

  • Netbooks, Tablet computing and Ultraportables

  • Design and Ethnography — usage, lifestyle trends, technology adoption

  • Context and Location-based Services

  • Mobile Payments

  • Automotive Platforms

  • Venture Capital and the economics of the mobile data boom

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Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Cut College Costs

Today i get one mail How to Cut College Costs and its really interesting info by Lynn O'Shaughnessy Writer, The College Solution, CBS

Notre Dame launches eReader study, creates first paperless course

I really impress by Corey Angst


“This has become known as the iPad class,” Corey Angst, assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame, told his students on their first day of class Aug. 24. “It’s actually not…it’s ‘Project Management.’”

Notre Dame eReader Study

A member of Notre Dame’s ePublishing Working Group, Angst is debuting the University’s first and only class taught using Apple’s new wireless tablet computer to replace traditional textbooks. The course is part of a unique, year-long Notre Dame study of eReaders, and Angst is conducting the first phase using iPads, which just went on sale to the public in April.

“One unique thing we are doing is conducting research on the iPad,” Angst says. “We want to know whether students feel the iPads are useful and how they plan to use them. I want them to tell me, ‘I found this great app that does such and such. I want this to be organic…We have an online Wiki discussion group where students can share their ideas.”

Corey Angst

The working group participants are from a broad array of colleges and departments, including the Mendoza College of Business, Notre Dame Law School, College of Arts and Letters, First Year of Studies, Hesburgh Libraries, Office of Information Technologies, Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, Office of Sustainability, Notre Dame Press and Office of Institutional Equity.

Members are evaluating the creation, distribution, consumption and usefulness of electronic course materials in an academic setting by examining the usefulness of the iPad as an eReader, with the broader goal of designing an “ePublishing ecosystem” that serves faculty, students and staff by making the creation, distribution, sharing, reading and annotation of eMaterials simple and inexpensive.

“eReaders are quickly being adopted for reading mass market literature, but also align well with the desire of higher education faculty and students to promote sustainability by reducing paper use,” says Paul Turner, manager of Academic Technologies in Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies. “But there are a wide range of issues we want to understand in order to decide when and where mobile wireless devices like the iPad can best replace textbooks and other paper-based course materials. Working with research faculty such as Professor Angst gives us the opportunity to study how students in multiple disciplines adopt and adapt to using eReaders.”

“The world of higher education today demands seamless touch points connecting teaching, learning, research, engagement, service and personal activities,” says Ron Kraemer, Notre Dame’s vice president of information technology and chief information officer. “Using the iPad in this course for both research and education will help us explore how we might enhance the education experience to better prepare our students as global citizens.”

The iPads will help Angst’s students manage real-world projects. For example, one team will help South Bend’s Center for the Homeless establish a guest-run coffee shop.

“They will meet with stakeholders, plan a strategy and write a detailed work plan for how to get it done in seven weeks,” Angst says. “And, I expect the students will rely on the iPads to develop creative ways of collaborating with their teammates. They can share documents, timelines and to-do lists, and show sketches to their clients. The possibilities are endless.”

The students will not, however, get to keep their iPads. They will be used for pilots in other courses later in the academic year sponsored by the Law School, Arts and Letters, First Year of Studies and Hesburgh Libraries.

For the moment, however, Angst’s 40 students are the only ones on campus walking around with University-loaned iPads and they fully intend to show them off and play games and music with them, in addition to developing brilliant ideas to improve society.

And they don’t have to sneak. It’s part of the plan.

“We asked the students to sync the iPads with their personal iTunes accounts,” Angst says, “so they feel a sense of ownership and so all of their applications will travel with them on a single device.”

“I have never used an electronic reader for a textbook,” says senior Jordan Rockwell. “I’m really excited to see how this new technology will aid the class.”

An expert on health IT who researches and advocates electronic medical records, Angst considers the project another step forward in the digitization of society. For the past two semesters, his students have taken digital exams and quizzes and turned in homework via email or Web file. Now, with the iPads, even the textbooks are electronic, making his class entirely paperless.

“Sustainability is a great fringe benefit,” Angst says. “But my motivation has more to do with efficiency. I don’t like stacks of paper in my office.”

He’s not the only one.

When Angst’s students registered for his course, they didn’t know about the iPad aspect. He emailed each student over the summer to let them know, fearing some may back out. Not one did. In fact, he received enthusiastic responses from nearly all of them and everybody showed up on the first day ─ with an iPad.

“I fully suspect there will be students in this class that really dive into this and maybe even write applications for the iPad,” Angst says. “Hopefully some will use them in their future careers.”


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quality in E-Learning

I had the pleasure of participating in a small symposium on quality in e-learning last week, organized by Athabasca University and the International Council for Distance Education. One of the things that bothers me about the quality issue is that only seems to reach the top of the agenda when e-learning is involved. The discussion seems to always start from the premise that the quality of e-learning is inherently suspect and we need to ensure it meets the same standard as our face-to-face instruction. In fact, there are no system-wide quality standards for teaching and learning in higher education and most higher education institutions rely almost entirely on student satisfaction and graduation rates as their measures of education quality. Nonetheless, perception is often more powerful than reality and, according to Frits Pannekoek, President of Athabasca University, distance education and online learning is facing increasing restrictions around the world and its quality is being increasingly questioned. With this in mind, the 13 participants spent a day and a half exploring what the quality issues are, real or perceived, and what the key dimensions of quality should be. We used the Quality On the Line framework as a starting point. Although this was developed on 2000, we found the key categories still relevant:

  • Institutional Support

  • Course Development

  • Teaching/Learning

  • Course Structure

  • Student Support

  • Faculty Support

  • Evaluation & Assessment.

Trying to specify the actual benchmarks in each category proved to be much more difficult. At BCIT we have developed our own framework that took into account the Quality On the Line document as well as as several others. Ours is more course-specific, has more specific categories, and doesn't address institutional factors. The categories are:

  • Course Overview & Introduction

  • Learning Outcomes

  • Assessment

  • Course Materials

  • Learner Engagement

  • Educational Technology

  • Course Resources

  • Learner Support Resources

Coming back to my opening point, what strikes me about both these frameworks, and the quality in e-learning discussion more generally, is that most of the issues are also directly applicable to all teaching and learning. So if we are going to focus on quality and invest time and effort in developing standards, let's make sure they are not just applied to e-learning.

Here are some additional resources. Paul Bacsich, formerly of the UK Open Universityprovided these links to different quality frameworks:

Torstein Rekkedal from NKI Norway (one of Europe's largest online distance education institutions) provided these references:

  • Rekkedal, T. (2006): Distance Learning and E-Learning Quality for SMEs - State of the Art. In: Paulsen, M. & Vieira, V. (eds.): An Analysis of E-Learning Experiences in European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, pp. 11-18. Bekkestua, NKI.

  • Rekkedal, T. (2006): State of the Art Report on Distance Learning and E-learning Quality for SMEs. 27 pages. Paper prepared for the EU Leonardo project, E-learning Quality for SMEs: Guidance and Counselling, May 2006.

  • Rekkedal, T. (2002): Quality Assurance in Norwegian Distance Education - the Background for NADE's Quality Standards with Reference to some European Initiatives. In: Hansson, H. (ed.): Eight Contributions on Quality and Flexible Learning. Report 1:2002, pp 27-53.Härnösand, Swedish Agency for Distance Education.

  • Rekkedal, T. (1998): Quality Assessment and Evaluation - Basic Philosophies, Concepts and Practices at NKI, Norway: In: Rathore, H. & Schuemer, R. (eds): Evaluation Concepts and Practice in Selected Distance Education Institutions, pp. 39-65. ZIFF Papiere 108, Hagen: FernUniversität, 1998.

  • Rekkedal, T. (1996): Quality of Education Produced and Delivered by Different Institutions.In: Helsinki University of Technology: Open and Distance Learning - Enhancing Mobility in Europe, the Future with Socrates, pp B1-B9. Espoo: European Commission/Helsinki University of Technology.

  • LjosÃ¥, E. & Rekkedal, T. (1994): From External Control to Internal Quality Assurance: The Background for the development of NADE's Quality Standards for Distance Education. In: EDEN: Human Resources, Human Potential and Human Development: the Role of Distance Education. Proceedings 1994 EDEN Conference, pp 153-166. Tallin: EDEN.

  • NADE - Norwegian Association for Distance Education (1993): Quality Standards. Oslo: NADE.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Five Ways for Teachers to Make Good Elearning Communications

Five Ways for Teachers to Make Good Elearning Communications

With the fast development of online elearning, over 65 percent of education organizations use LMS (Learning Management System) for education and more than 83.8 million registered elearning users are received online education courses as of 2010. It has become a sensitive as well as import topic for teachers to gather their teaching resources and impart knowledge to students with elearning tools, indicating better elearning communications.

The key to the success in elearning communications is how to activate, control and track students’instrests of learning. It sounds comprehensive but once you catch up with the popular ways of online education, you can guide your students to use tools, learn knowleage and share their ideas.

Here are the five things that teachers need to learn before you create solid and postive elearning communications with students.

1. Social Media

Teachers now have more options to contact and exchange ideas with students besides blog, wiki and forum because of the popularity of social media. The largest online community Facebook, is not only the place where you can find old friends and schoolfellows but also a good place for communicating between teachers and students. Teachers can annouce an event, a lecture or a vote in advance and invite their students to take part in, so that you receive many feedbacks to catch up with student’s thoughts and optimize courses. The mircoblog, like Twitter, allows participants to send instant messaging to share ideas with others. Having a Twitter account will be a great way to make real time updates of what your students are thinking and doing.

2. Screencast

Online education might be the effective distance learning solution via text delivery, the screencast technic generates another possibility to make elearning communications more vivid and interactive with multimedia. Teacher can use screen recording software to create screencast to teach students courses online, share knowledge on blogs or streaming video sites. With the help of the comprehensive features these tools offer, teachers can edit their screencasts with Flash objects, add narration and publish the demo as interactive Flash video. Some screen recorders can publish the video courses with SCROM/AICC compliance so it is very convenient to share the videos on LMS.

3. YouTube

The streaming video site like YouTube is a great place for teachers and students to share and communicate their ideas in teaching and learning. There are many educators uploading their videos to YouTube, and they have established a comprehensive video channel for education. Students can find many insteresting open courses in this channel, and it is also a great venue for teachers to communicate with others. You can encourage students to create and upload their work in the form of video. Majority of them love to see their work posted online and are eager to share with their friends and family.

4. iTouch

iTouch is not just simply a portable media player anymore. You can find many educational apps on it. According to the reaserch of feedback from college libraries, many librarians begin to use portable devices as one part of Book Library Managemant System. And the practice proves that iTouch apps can be a communication brige between educators and students. These educational apps can provoke curiosities of students and activate their study insterests on the subjects which they dislike in the past. Another usage of iTouch is that it can be a portable textbook. Teachers can record their lesson in either videos or audio file and store them in iTouch so that students can watch or listen to the lessons any time and any where.

5. Slideshare

Slideshare is one kind of “online PowerPoint presentation”platform which allows people to post and share their PowerPoint presentations. For teachers, you don’t have to worry about whether your presentations can not be viewed by your students if they don’t have PowerPoint installed on their computers because people can view the presentation in the web browser. Besides the browse and embed features, there are some slideshare sites allowing students to download the PowerPoint as video so they can watch it on iPad and other portable devices. One more, the PowerPoint video converter can burn the course videos on DVD for backup as well as portable multimedia.



Panelists include Reed Hastings, Founder & CEO of Netflix; Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System of Washington, D.C.; Musician John Legend; Former US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers

New York, NY - September 13 - NBC News' "Education Nation" Summit, the Sept. 27-28 centerpiece of the weeklong "Education Nation" initiative that begins Sept. 26 at Rockefeller Plaza, will convene the foremost policymakers, elected officials, thought leaders, educators, members of the business community and engaged citizens in a national discussion about the challenges, potential solutions and innovations spanning today's education landscape. NBC News today announced the agenda of panel topics for the Summit, along with a number of confirmed panelists.

The Summit's 11 panel sessions will present discussions on important topics in education such as: workforce readiness; developing great teachers; technology and innovation; parental involvement; early education; higher education; and the politics of education. The "Education Nation" sessions will be covered on MSNBC and streamed on live and for delayed viewing.

"The state of education in America is facing a number of complex challenges. Many students are falling behind, dropping out and leaving school unprepared for today's jobs in alarming numbers - yet a sense of urgency seems to be lacking," said Steve Capus, President NBC News. "In order to spark and elevate a national dialogue we have convened an impressive 'Education Nation' lineup representing a great diversity of interests and ideas."

"The response we've received from leaders in education has been overwhelmingly positive," said Lisa Gersh, President of Strategic Initiatives at NBC News. "The experts we have convened at 'Education Nation' will highlight some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in education in this country, jumpstarting a national conversation about one of the most pressing issues of our time."

To date, confirmed participating speakers include:

  • Maria Bartiromo: Anchor of CNBC's "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo" and Anchor and Managing Editor of "Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo"

  • Michael Bloomberg: Mayor, City of New York

  • Cory Booker: Mayor, City of Newark, New Jersey

  • Phil Bredesen: Governor, State of Tennessee

  • Steven Brill: Co-founder of Journalism Online

  • Tom Brokaw: NBC News Special Correspondent

  • Geoffrey Canada: CEO & President of Harlem Children's Zone Project

  • David Coleman: Founder & CEO, Student Achievement Partners; Contributing Author of the Common Core Standards

  • Ann Curry: News Anchor, "Today" and Anchor, "Dateline NBC"

  • Arne Duncan: US Secretary of Education

  • Byron Garrett: CEO of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

  • Allan Golston, President, US Program, The Gates Foundation

  • Jennifer M. Granholm: Governor, State of Michigan

  • David Gregory: Moderator, "Meet the Press"

  • Reed Hastings: Founder & CEO of Netflix

  • Lester Holt: Anchor, "NBC Nightly News," Weekend Edition and Co-Host, "Today" Weekend Edition

  • Walter Isaacson: President & CEO of the Aspen Institute

  • Joel Klein: Chancellor of New York City Schools

  • Wendy Kopp: CEO and Founder of Teach for America

  • John Legend: Musician; Founder of the Show Me Campaign

  • Jack Markell: Governor, State of Delaware

  • Gregory McGinity: Managing Director of Policy, The Broad Education Foundation

  • Andrea Mitchell: NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and Host, "Andrea Mitchell Reports"

  • Janet Murguia: President & CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)

  • Michael Nutter: Mayor, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Bill Pepicello, Ph.D.: President of University of Phoenix

  • Sally Ride: First Female Astronaut; Vice-chair of Change the Equation

  • Michelle Rhee: Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System of Washington, D.C.

  • Edward Rust: Chairman & CEO of State Farm Insurance Companies

  • Gwen Samuel, CT delegate to Mom Congress

  • Barry Schuler: Former CEO of AOL

  • Sterling Speirn: CEO, Kellogg Foundation

  • Margaret Spellings: Former US Secretary of Education

  • Antonio Villaraigosa: Mayor, City of Los Angeles, California

  • Randi Weingarten: President of American Federation of Teachers (AFT-CLO)

  • Brian Williams: Anchor and Managing Editor "NBC Nightly News"

Confirmed sessions at "Education Nation" include:

  • Job One: Preparing America's students to compete in the global economy

  • The Innovation Gap: Bringing the technology revolution to the schoolhouse

  • Change Agents: How do we reinvent the status quo at all levels?

  • The Path to the American Dream: A survey on post-secondary education

  • Kids Can't Vote: How can the politics of education put students first?

  • Educating the Digital Generation: What are the roles and responsibilities of media in learning?

  • Good Apples: How do we keep good teachers, throw out bad ones, and put a new shine on the profession?

  • A Fresh Start: Leveling the playing field before school begins

  • Shrinking the Achievement Gap: Is education the civil rights issue of our time?

  • Study Abroad: What can we learn from the global leaders in education?

  • The Parent and the Village: Fostering a learning culture in our communities

NBC News' "Education Nation" will launch Sunday, Sept. 26 on "Meet the Press." Additional news coverage and programming airing across all NBC News programs and platforms will extend beyond the two-day Summit. For the entire week of September 27, "Nightly News," "Today," "Your Business," MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and will highlight educational success stories, uncover staggering truths and myths about education, and demonstrate how poor education cripples our economy and society.

In addition to the Summit, NBC News will turn Rockefeller Plaza into a "Learning Plaza," which will include a series of galleries open to the public to explore the latest technologies and techniques used in award-winning classrooms nationwide. Interactive elements of "Learning Plaza" include learning style quizzes, video teacher tributes, interactive learning stations, and a "Call to Action" center where visitors can discover ways to take part in improving education. Also open to the public will be an interactive "Teaching Garden," which teaches children about the importance of good nutrition and physical fitness through hands-on participation.

For more information visit, or follow on twitter @EducationNation or find "Education Nation" on Facebook at

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Students Are Motivated to Take Online Courses

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Susan Patrick, President, iNACOL"][/caption]

Susan Patrick, President of iNACOL writes into the Chicago Tribune to voice her support for online learning initiatives in Chicago Public Schools. She finishes off her letter with a valid point, that students actually are motivated to take online courses, because they like it, and because online better influences their learning.

What’s more, students want to learn online: a national study showed 40 percent of middle and high school students want to take online courses.

Despite what critics say, there is no evidence that children in online or hybrid classes are any less socially adjusted than those children who attend brick-and-mortar, traditional schools.

In fact, one study showed virtual school students had better socialization skills due to the flexibility in their scheduling and more frequent social interactions in activities both organized through their schools and through increased flexibility to attend extra-curricular activities and clubs.

One size does not fit all for schooling — students are ready to go online to expand learning opportunities.

The most important thing to remember about online learning is that it can meet each child where that child needs the most help.

It provides gifted students access to more rigorous courses online, while offering struggling students the flexibility in pacing to master the lessons they need when they fall behind and stay on track for graduating with a meaningful diploma simultaneously.


New grant program seeks solutions to toughest classroom challenges

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has partnered with the nation’s largest teachers union and its charitable foundation to launch a grant program encouraging public school educators to identify and solve K-12 education’s most pressing classroom challenges.

The new “Challenge to Innovate” (C2i) program leverages ED’s Open Innovation Portal to solicit ideas in a process known as “crowdsourcing,” in which officials tap the collective wisdom of a large group of people through the power of the internet.

“Smart innovation will help dramatically accelerate achievement and attainment,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Without it, we will surely fall short of our goals to prepare all of America’s students for success in the global economy.”

In the new partnership, ED’s Open Innovation Portal will host the C2i program, a three-phase challenge from the National Education Association’s NEA Foundation.

The first phase of the challenge, from Sept. 7 through Oct. 19, asks educators to share their most pressing classroom challenges that can be solved with $500 or less. The five ideas with the most online votes, as judged by the Open Innovation Portal community, each will receive $1,000 from the NEA Foundation.

In the second phase, from Nov. 16 through Jan. 14, educators will post their best solutions to the winning challenges. Up to 10 of these proposed solutions each will receive a $2,500 grant from the NEA Foundation for the teachers who suggested these ideas to implement the solutions in their schools.

In the final phase of the program, from Jan. 17 through Feb. 4, the NEA Foundation will select and post up to three top solutions to receive a $5,000 planning grant and technical support. These winning solutions also will be posted on the Donors Choose web site, where teachers nationwide will be invited to submit requests to receive up to $500 to help implement the ideas. The NEA Foundation, in partnership with citizen philanthropists from the Donors Choose community, will provide funding for teachers to implement and test the innovative solutions.

Educators can take part in the C2i program by joining ED’s Open Innovation Portal community. Once they register for the portal (which is free of charge), they can post, review, comment, and vote on the most pressing classroom challenges and their solutions.

C2i “is a powerful tool for educators with three components,” said NEA Foundation President Harriet Sanford. “First, it is a social network for educators to trade opinions and information. Second, it is an open invitation for public school educators to share the issues that keep them up at night and the solutions they believe will make a difference. Third, C2i is a challenge to educators to formalize those ideas and be considered for funding and implementation.”

ED, the NEA Foundation, and Donors Choose are using the innovation portal to collect ideas from teachers as part of a new government-wide initiative to solicit ideas for solving the nation’s challenges from ordinary citizens. Another component of this initiative,, is a new online site where “entrepreneurs, innovators, and citizen solvers can compete for prestige and prizes by providing novel solutions to tough national problems, large and small,” federal officials say.

In February, ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement launched the Open Innovation Portal as a collaborative web community where education stakeholders can highlight areas of need, propose solutions, and fund, implement, and improve these solutions in and outside of the classroom.

Since then, more than 5,000 members have joined the portal, created more than 1,000 connections, and posted more than 250 ideas to improve education, officials say.

Among these many ideas are…

• A collaboration involving the Denver Public Schools and local universities to boost the achievement of English language learners through a process called “collaborative strategic reading”;

• An inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning, called Enquiring Minds, that takes students’ ideas, interests, and experiences as its starting point and gives them more responsibility for the direction and content of their learning; and

• An invitation for local businesses and individuals to sponsor classes and team-teach subjects with highly qualified teachers, in an effort to bring real-world experiences into the classroom, solve the challenge of doing more with fewer resources, and forge stronger relationships with the community.


Friday, September 10, 2010

E-learning can support good study techniques

A recent article in the New York Times collates the findings of several studies into effective studying habits over the last three decades, indicating that there is strong evidence for the following:

1. Alternating study environments leads to more successful recall of information than sticking to one place (e.g. one designated room) for studying.

2. Mixing content, i.e. ‘studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting’ leads to more effective learning than ‘focusing intensely on a single thing’ for long periods of time. By way of example: ‘… researchers found that college students and adults of retirement age were better able to distinguish the painting styles of 12 unfamiliar artists after viewing mixed collections (assortments, including works from all 12) than after viewing a dozen works from one artist, all together, then moving on to the next painter.’

3. ‘Spacing’ study sessions (i.e. studying in short bursts over several days) enables learners to recall information learnt for longer than cramming a lot of information in one intensive study session: ‘When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far, far longer. An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found.’

4. Self-testing (doing quizzes and practice tests) is a powerful learning tool – much more powerful than simply revisiting/ revising the study material.

5. And finally, the popular notion of ‘learning styles’ (e.g. visual/audio, individual/collaborative) does not have enough well-researched evidence to back it up. They’re not saying that learning styles don’t exist, only that the experimental design of research that has been done in the field has not been rigorous enough to give evidence of the benefits of ‘meshing’ particular teaching styles to learners’ preferred learning styles.

While these findings were not directly related to e-learning, the affordances of online learning seem to be nicely in sync with them:

1. Online learners tend to study in a range of locations, from their bedrooms to their offices to the local coffee shop.

2. The lateral nature of online content presentation (e.g. hpyerlinking) seems to lend itself more naturally to ‘content mixing’ than the traditional, linear format of a book.

3. The proliferation of mobile devices, as well as cloud computing, can enable online learners to exploit small windows of time (e.g. while commuting, while waiting for a meeting), rather than setting aside several hours or a whole day on the weekend for their studies. (The DUCKLINGproject at the University of Leicester found that when learners were given e-book readers, many of them changed their study habits dramatically as a result of the new-found portability of their learning materials.)

4. Self-testing is very easy to build into online learning programmes.

5. While the notion of learning styles may be contested, the best online learning programmes include materials in a variety of media (print, audio, video), and options for both individual and collaborative study, thereby catering for a range of learner preferences.

Looked at in this light, e-learning seems to have a lot going for it.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

iPods becoming instrumental in teaching new languages

While her colleagues across the nation are patrolling their classrooms to confiscate distracting electronic gadgets, one New Jersey teacher is harnessing her student’s attraction to the devices to help them learning English. Grace Poli, media specialist at Jose Marti Middle School in Union City, N.J., uses iPods to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) students with great success.

As reported by eSchool News, 50 percent of Poli’s students moved from an ESL program to an all-English program after just one year of using the iPod. Typically, this type of progress takes three to six years.

So what is the magic behind the iPod? Poli says the iPod transformed her classroom by first getting students engaged in the learning process, then making instruction personal and customized for the learner’s specific needs. Overall, she said, iPod use increased student motivation, accommodated non-traditional learning styles, and provided opportunities to continue learning anytime and anywhere.

Like most young people, Poli’s students particularly like using the iPod to listen to music. She uses English-language music for grammar exercises, choosing songs with specific lessons in mind. Let's hope Poli's not a 50 Cent rap fan, lest the kids walk around saying "that ain't gangsta."

In addition to music, Poli uses audio books to help her students improve their listening and comprehension skills, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Since each student has their own device, they can control the rate of the audio so students with different levels of fluency can be reading different books in the same classroom.

Remember how annoying it was to wait for Jonny no brains to catchup to the class, or for the class clown to be disciplined into silence every day? Those days may be coming to a end, or at least an abrupt silence with some nice headphones.

Various reading and listening tools may be made available via iPod, and those tools may be enhance by the Wifi capability of the iPod Touch and iPhone. Additional educational applications available for these devices (e.g. interactive vocabulary quizes on iPhones) open up a whole world of educational possibility.

Of course, as with any technology, there are drawbacks. iPods, while cheaper than desktop or laptop computers, are still expensive and they require a teacher to be diligent about charging batteries, updating software, and ensuring the kids don't destroy them. They are also not a panacea. Poli's success is due in large part to her lesson preparation and teaching abilities, not a Matrix-esk dependence on machines.

Nevertheless, portable handheld devices -- assuming the new Blackberries are embraced along with the iPods and iPhones -- hold a great deal of promise and fit neatly in the palm of the hand of students who might otherwise be reticient to engage in classroom activities outof boredom or shyness.


Government gives teachers a whole lotta FREE resources

Getting a good education in this country isn’t always an easy or inexpensive proposition, but there’s hope on the horizon. In one A+, gold star example of good gov, 30 of our federal agencies got together and created a website called Federal Resources for Education Excellence, or FREE. The site is justsick with information, teaching tools, and school resources, to borrow a phrase from the students.

Spawning from an interagency’s workgroup idea “to make hundreds of federally supported education resources available” for Americans online, the FREE website was funded by an Innovation Fund from the obscure but impressive sounding Government Innovation Technology Services Board. Three hundred and forty teachers broke into ten teams to develop learning activities and lessons.

FREE’s website is not particularly impressive at first glance, but like a kiwi fruit, once you get inside it suddenly gets pretty interesting. A click on “World Studies – Africa” brings up an array of options from African Voices to Water in Africa, each brought to you by a different federal agency. African Voices sends you to the beautiful Smithsonian Institution site for an audio lesson, and from the Peace Corps’ Water in Africa you get pictures and lessons from the volunteers.

Take it from somebody who learned most of her lessons about the world from National Geographic magazine, this is a BIG step up. If you’re interested in rocket science, NASA can help you there with a “Rockets: Educators Guide,” or if that doesn’t turn your key you can try “Interactive Constitution” from the National Constitution Center. This website seems to cover it all.

FREE is an effort to give teachers in America a place to go to find resources that previously were not, well, easily accessible. Teachers can use it in a number of ways: searching by grade level or subject matter, tracking an RSS feed that announces new resources on the site, and following the FREE group on Twitter.

Imagine being a teacher faced with a twenty-year old textbook and a dreary lesson about the colonization of California in 1774. You log onto FREE and find Web de Anza, an entire site brought to you by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Oregon that’s dedicated to the study of Bautista de Anza’s two expeditions to Alta California. If that’s not helpful enough, the website also gives examples of how other teachers used the resource in their classrooms. And if that’s still not helpful … well, maybe you should consider a new career.

Everybody should take the time to stop by FREE. It’s a reminder of how our government can sometimes cooperate across agency lines to produce really valuable services. Oh yeah, and if you hadn’t guessed by now, the website is totally free. Ok, maybe not totally free, but we’ll leave that to the economics lessons.


Monday, September 6, 2010

The Secret Behind Kindles [COMIC]

Source: XKCD

Teaching profession or teaching as a career ?under-rated??

The BBC Education news desk and the The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) seem to believe that a recent ICM survey shows teaching is ‘under rated’.

Glass Ceiling

This may be the case but the study does not show this. The study actually shows us not that teaching is under-rated but that prospects for career development are perceived as relatively limited.

But we would argue that this is actually why many would wish to join the teaching profession in the first place: to get their hands dirty and not be moved upstairs. Teachers love teaching. Those who join teaching for non-teaching careers are missing the point and are better suited to employment in the private sector.

If teachers regained control of schools and were allowed to make decisions that are currently made by layers and layers of administrators and managers then schools would become places of education once more and not the plaything of career managers and administrators that they are at the moment.

Teachers who wonder about career progression are not in teaching for the right reasons. Teachers who are concerned about their low salaries we can understand as often career progression is a euphemism for the latter but the most straightforward of jobs doesn’t need the imaginary, hierarchical levels of bureaucracy that it is currently subjected to.

Allowing teachers greater independence to make decisions for their pupils and schools will reduce bureaucracy. It may up the workload but compensation for this would be higher wages funded with the money saved from cutting back on administrators and managers.

Another benefit of this is bad teachers will have nowhere to run. Where currently they can hide behind systems and the failings of managers, a more transparent, simplified and self-reliant teaching profession will see a teacher live or die by their own efforts, with responsibility for the well-being and successes of the classes.

So, the ICM study does not show that teaching as a profession is under-rated but that as a structured career it is. However, we think this is no loss. Those who join teaching initially for a career in management later on are not those who enter teaching for the right nor best reasons. Teachers teach, and managers manage.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blended Learning Changes Minds, Widens Perspectives

If you have been paying attention to the rise in frequency of stories about blended learning, then you are at least caught up in the knowledge that it is the next iteration of education in this country.

For your Labor Day Weekend sampler of blended learning changes happening in the US education system, here are a few stories worth keeping an eye on:

Grand Rapids is advancing at a somewhat slower pace than originally planned, due to unnecessary push back over launching blended learning programs in several subjects. Grand Rapids will now launch only two subject areas delivered in a blended model, math and social studies, and only, it appears, in the middle school years.

Knee jerk reactions against blended learning don’t take into consideration that it actually improves the student to teacher ratio for all classes in which it is deployed.

City Polytechnic is up and running in Brooklyn with blessings from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Chancellor of Public Schools, Joel Klein.
City Polytechnic students will be able to start taking college-level classes during their third year, followed by attending classes in person at the College of Technology. This approach is the first of its kind, allowing students to take professional studies like construction management and IT, and will no doubt promote higher graduationrates, a simpler assimilation to college and a higher rate of college attendance and graduation.

And a school in Colorado was actually able to grow, and take in more students who are looking for opportunities in different subject areas. One of the drawbacks of the budget crisis is that much needed and much called for subjects like AP and other advanced courses are taken out of the pipeline. they are too expensive, and they just stay out of reach of the kids who might want them. But Ralston Valley High School is taking the blended learning approach, and parents are happy. So are the students.


10 reasons we should allow mobile phones into schools

  1. They are powerfultools

  2. They are easy to use

  3. The children do not need to be trained in their use they know it already…. they can show you!

  4. They can be used for immediate access to information

  5. If they take pictures or videos they can provide children with a means to get visual data immediately

  6. They have a recording facility which will promote oracy in the classroom and can be used for podcasts or for incorporation into blogs

  7. They have calculator facilities which will promote calculator use in investigation or just in ordinary day to day mathematics work

  8. They have a messaging facility which comes in handy for communication (in a disciplined way within the school day).

  9. They have really good organisers that can provide information about dates, events and as reminders of when assignments, homework or coursework needs to be handed in and is a good life skill for the children to practise and learn to use effectively.

  10. Media can be saved and used in groupwork (videos, music tracks)

These are just some of the things that most mobile phones can do today. If you look at the power of the iphone or the Android phones with their amazing Apps then you can extend this list almost endlessly.

I know there will be arguments against their use… that they can lead to bullying, that the children will spend all their time texting or playing games. All I can say is that the school sets the groundrules and the majority of children will obey them. Some will lose their valuable phones and some will have them stolen… some will bully others but that cannot be used as an excuse to cut every child off from a powerful tool that can really add to their learning and change the way that their school lets them learn.

Some schools have already made the bold step of allowing the phones in. I think in ten years time we will look back and ask what all the fuss was about and why we had all the discussion about something that will really help our children learn better.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Unleash The Power Of Elearning

eLearning is becoming a very popular topic among people in this age. The idea of eLearning is to popularise an indepth, convenient, interactive mode of education through the Internet.

Scientific research reveals that the best way of learning methodologies are the mix and match of 3 modes namely Instructor Led, Web Based and Computer Based. The popular terms are ILT, WBT and CBT.

The more demand of career orientation in this highly competitive professional world and the simultaneous problems of routine study system through the formal mode of education (ILT) have left us with the only option of eLearning. The reach of the Internet to the furthest corner of the world has really eliminated the geographical distance.

The forums and online helps have made eLearning real time. The laptop has given one the flexibility to enhance his skills even while traveling.

The time-bound schedule of ILT has put it slightly below in the common mode of learning. The lack of updations and upgradability in case of CBT has not allowed it to top the list even having the flexibility of carrying heavier graphics and movies.

Rather now the people are becoming aware of even today’s updates through Internet. The convenience factor in eLearning has been fueled by the factor of “learning at one’s own pace”. The dollops of at his own residence has made eLearning more dependable way of education.

Now, what are taught in eLearning? The answer in one word is “Anything”. Some may teach Computers, some management, some again cooking and mixing. There are sites today, who are teaching even plantation and e-security.

Lets assume, you are tired at the end of the day and your strain has become a stress on you, which has started affecting your personal life badly. Don’t you feel to get a course in Stress Management? Well, with eLearning you can take that course at home!

The prometric certifications have been continuing for long. Many educational portals have come up in the recent past including some top shots coming up with their eLearning mode.

eLearning caters to the need of the age group between 6 and 65. If a housewife does not find time or a senior executive of a multi-national firm feels shaky for attending courses with the junior people, eLearning is the only solution for him or her to accomplish further education and enhance the knowledge base.

In conclusion, eLearning has broken the limitations of traditional education and expands education beyond the walls of schools and institutions. If knowledge is King, then eLearning is definitely Queen!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

10 years eLearning Awards

Since 2001, the European Schoolnet , with the support of partners in the key industries to competition eLearning Awards. Ten years after the start of the annual competition are the eLearning Awards remains the most important competition in Europe , which excellence in relation to the use of technology in education rewarded .

To mark the 10th anniversary of the eLearning Awards , European Schoolnet invites all schools and teacher training institutions in Europe and beyond, one to participate in this competition and to register at the following address : The participants will do so to present their best projects for the use of information and communication technologies in teaching and learning. In 2009 700 teachers from 36 countries have submitted their work in the competition .

Selected by an international jury of experts winners in each category will receive presents several thousand Euros as prize money and ICT equipment. As already used successfully in 2009 , this year's competition will once again be also open to international participants from non-European countries (see the full list of countries teilnahmefähigen in the below rules).

Another new feature:

The 50 best entries will be included in the Library for the exchange of learning resources (the Learning Exchange Resource library) ( To make the innovative teaching methods of teachers for a wide range of interested educators visible and to encourage more teachers to follow these examples.

To participate in the eLearning Awards , the contributions of schools and teacher training to be considered from the following countries : EU Member States, countries from the European Economic Area ( EEA ), EU- accession countries as well as Switzerland , Israel and Georgia.
Participation in the competition category of "international cooperation "is open to all countries around the world .
A web gallery on the eLearning Awards website will showcase the contributions of all participants. These will be reviewed by a panel of experts. The articles are now available and to 28 September 2010 via the website : be submitted.