Posts by Marc Parry
February 22, 2010, 04:00 PM ET
Fort Worth — Individual community colleges can’t match
the marketing budgets of for-profit institutions that plaster their
regions with advertisements. So they’re exploring ways to fight
back by going national, pooling their efforts to promote online
programs in a new marketing collaboration that was announced Sunday
at a distance-education conference here.
The discussions, led by the American Association of Community Colleges, represent a fresh spin on an older strength-in-numbers distance-learning vision called the International Community College, which failed to get off the ground after four years of planning.
The distance-education landscape has changed drastically since that telecourse project. Both for-profits and an increasingly aggressive group of traditional four-year colleges now often recruit by purchasing “leads” on potential students that are parcelled out by online portals –...Read More
February 17, 2010, 12:00 PM ET
Careful how you use the word "Texas."
The University of Texas is objecting to a new iPhone application called iTexas, developed for the university's undergrads by an Austin start-up called Mutual Mobile. Its beef: the name.
The university has filed a complaint asking Apple to require the developer to rename the free program, saying the title is "confusingly similar" to its own, according to The Austin Chronicle. The program could get booted from Apple's store at any time. "It's a ticking clock," Tarun Nimmagadda, a co-founder of Mutual Mobile, told the newspaper.
It's not the first time Mutual Mobile employees — most of them University of Texas alumni — have clashed with their alma mater. The Austin Chronicle reports that the company's previous "UT Directory" app was pulled after the university complained about the program, which made staff and student directories easily searchable....Read More
February 15, 2010, 04:00 PM ET
Washington, D.C. – We’ve all heard about university-driven open-education projects like MIT OpenCourseWare. These days, though, the push to freely publish course materials and research papers online is increasingly coming from students.
And some of them are bumping into a barrier: their own
This weekend, Adi Kamdar and Parker Phinney joined campus activists from around the country at the Students for Free Culture conference here. Mr. Kamdar belongs to a Yale University student group campaigning for an open-access policy that would make scholarly papers freely available in an online repository (like the one at Harvard University, which has an opt-out rule). Mr. Phinney is prodding Dartmouth College to develop an open-courseware site for lecture videos and other materials (like the ones at Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
They're both idealistic sophomores ...Read More
February 10, 2010, 01:10 PM ET
IBM announced plans on Wednesday to make its software available to colleges via a Web-based "cloud" service that the company says will make it easier for professors to incorporate technology into their classes.
But is the splashy cloud announcement corporate puff?
As IBM describes it, the company is working initially with 20 colleges to help them use software for things like analyzing data and building Web sites. By hosting it remotely in the "cloud," IBM will allow professors the convenience of logging in online to work with the software free without having to install and maintain it themselves. The hope is that by making it easier, many more will start to use the technology.
"It's going to be used by medical schools, it's going to be used by business schools -- all kinds of disciplines are using our software today," says Mark Hanny, an IBM vice president.
But after perusing the IBM...Read More
February 8, 2010, 03:01 PM ET
Rich Pickett is in tears.
The San Diego State University chief information officer has
been flying people and supplies back and forth to Haiti since last
week. Now, as he talks to a reporter by phone from Florida before
stepping into “the bird” for yet another flight, it’s the image of
one child that leaves him struggling to speak.
He had taken down some balls on one flight. A fellow relief worker distributed one to children. “She noticed that the boy who had it, dropped it,” Mr. Pickett says. “And she turned to look and noticed the reason he dropped it is because his arms were gone. So it bounced on the ground. And he used his feet and just juggled with it.”
San Diego State U.
Rich Pickett (right) is using his mandatory furlough days to fly people and supplies back and forth to Haiti.
It's one of many moving moments from a journey that began when Mr. Pickett asked...Read More
February 4, 2010, 10:00 AM ET
Thomas McNeal wants students to become "geohistorians."
In the latest effort to turn cellphones into learning tools, his Geo-Historian project at Kent State University plans to put students to work creating multimedia content about historic sites.
The technology behind this idea is a program that ties the information to a bar code. Then you could leave that bar code on, say, the memorial commemorating the 1970 Kent State shootings. Visitors could get access to the student-produced audio and video clips by scanning the bar code with their cellphone cameras.
"All of the students have it now," says Mr. McNeal, director of the desktop-videoconferencing project at Kent State's Research Center for Educational Technology. "Instead of being afraid of it, we’re going to show teachers and parents that they can embrace this."
Mr. McNeal is particularly interested in working with elementary- and...Read More
February 2, 2010, 02:00 PM ET
When customers visit Amazon.com, the Web site lets them sample
parts of books for free. Some open-education advocates think this
try-it-before-you-buy-it idea offers an answer to one of the
biggest questions facing the movement to publish course materials
free online: What
business model can support giving away your content?
New research takes a close look at what happened when one institution, Brigham Young University, experimented with granting free access to the content of some of its distance-education courses. The study examined the cost of opening up those materials and the impact their publication had on paid enrollments, a concern for institutions worried that giving away free courses could cannibalize their ranks of paying students.
The data suggest they needn’t worry. Opening the courses “provided neither a large positive marketing effect that boosted enrollments nor a large...
January 28, 2010, 03:33 PM ET
The Maryland Higher Education Commission has decided not to reconsider its decision to bar University of Maryland University College from offering an online community-college administration degree to in-state residents, The Sun of Baltimore reports.
The commission had ruled that the program would duplicate a similar offering at Morgan State University. It was an apparently unprecedented decision in online education, one some observers think may have repercussions in other states. State university leaders had urged the commission to reconsider the matter.Read More
January 26, 2010, 12:00 PM ET
Colleges saw a 17 percent increase in online enrollment, with more than one in four students taking at least one online course in the fall of 2008, according to the findings of an annual survey published on Tuesday by the Sloan Consortium.
The growth rate eclipsed last year's 12-percent increase and dwarfed the 1.2 percent growth rate of the overall higher-education student population. The report, which has become a widely cited benchmark of distance learning, found a total of more than 4.6-million online students overall. That's up from about 3.9 million the previous year.
Despite this surge, the data suggest that not enough institutions have taken online education into account as they conduct planning around issues like how to deal with budget cuts and space shortages, says A. Frank Mayadas, a special adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
"They have to wake up and begin to...Read More
January 25, 2010, 07:03 PM ET
Bill Gates praises the potential of online learning today in his annual letter about the priorities of his foundation, which has a $34-billion endowment.
The Microsoft Corporation chairman says he's a fan of the movement to publish course materials free online. He seems especially impressed with online systems that gauge students' knowledge and give them specific feedback, a specialty of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. But while he acknowledges the work of open-content aggregators like Academic Earth, Mr. Gates wants to see better organization of the vast course materials on the Web.
"The foundation has made a few grants to drive online learning, but we are just at the start of this work," Gates writes. "So far, technology has hardly changed formal education at all. But a lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the Internet will...Read More