Posts by Marc Parry
December 3, 2009, 03:00 PM ET
For years, colleges have awarded credit for out-of-classroom
learning experiences like corporate training, independent study and
volunteer activities. But many colleges can’t afford to train their
faculty and staff to evaluate those experiences.
A new online service is intended to help translate outside learning into college credit, which should be good news for adults who want to save money on tuition and speed up their degrees.
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning announced this week that it plans to design a virtual center that will help colleges assess prior learning, an evaluation process that can involve student portfolios or tests. The service will also offer adults guidance on getting credit for out-of-classroom education. The details of how the evaluation process will function have yet to be worked out, however, and the service is not expected to debut until the spring.
November 18, 2009, 04:00 PM ET
A new low for academic life?
A powerful tool to improve conferences?
A shameful act of journalism?
A Chronicle story today about the abuse of Twitter at conferences is touching off an online debate among readers. Dozens of them are arguing about a new trend in academic life: how audience members now “tweckle” speakers by heckling them on the micro-blogging service Twitter.
Meanwhile, several readers pointed out yet another tweckling episode, which was not included in the article. This one involved Danah Boyd of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. More on that here.
Writes one reader: “It appears that the nasty, vicious, backstabbing academic culture has reached a new low with the pack mentality of tweeters who vilify a speaker contemporaneously. Have intolerance and incivility reached the point where humiliating and attacking a speaker who does not 'respect' their time and...
November 12, 2009, 02:49 PM ET
Some professors don’t let students see their Facebook pages.
Some accept students’ invitations but don’t
Peter Juvinall insists students friend him.
The Illinois State University instructor decided the best way to connect with a bunch of freshman business students in a short 8 a.m. class was to conduct much of the course where they are anyway—on Facebook.
So, as he explained during last week’s Educause conference and in a subsequent interview, he uses Facebook as a course-management system by instructing students to “friend” his personal page on the first day of class.
On the scale of pushing the privacy boundary, it doesn't come close to the stuff some other professors have done—stuff like, oh, posing as a student to snoop on your online classes. But still: Is this going too far?
Mr. Juvinall, who teaches a required technology course, says the reaction is "99.9999 percent...
November 9, 2009, 10:00 AM ET
Denver -- Plenty of colleges have a presence in
Second Life. Pennsylvania State University is taking that a
step further. Academic advisers at the university’s online campus
are now required to be available for meetings
with students in the virtual world every week, a Penn State
official said during last week’s Educause conference here.
Students on the real campus get to chat with their advisers face to face. Now online students who never set foot there can do the “exact same thing,” says Shannon Ritter, social-networks adviser for the Penn State World Campus.
Almost the same thing, anyway. Second Life requires users to choose avatars, or graphical representations of themselves. So students who want to meet with Rachel Zimmerman will find themselves chatting with a character called RachelM Snoodle. Looking for Karen Lesch? The adviser goes by KarenM Magic. All advisers are required to...
November 5, 2009, 02:00 PM ET
Denver – Big East colleges may shine on the basketball
court, but they’re getting stuffed by the competition when it comes
to the Web-accessibility battle.
The Big East posted the most consistent problems in a new survey of how good a job universities are doing in making their Web sites accessible to people with disabilities. The survey of 80 universities, presented at the Educause conference here this week, pitted five athletics conferences against one another in an attempt to draw attention to the issue.
The worst of the worst are Villanova University, Baylor University, and Providence College, says the study by Jon Gunderson, coordinator of assistive communication and information technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study skewered those institutions and 13 others on a list called “Schools Who Need New Coaches.”
The universities doing the best job of making ...
October 30, 2009, 04:23 PM ET
Orlando, Fla. -- Online education is a runaway best
seller. Its growth rate -- 12.9 percent -- dwarfs
the overall pace of academe’s student expansion. More than 25
percent of all students may have taken at least one online class
this year, according to a speculative estimate suggested at a
distance-education conference that wraps up here
But the success isn’t smashing enough. Not even close.
That’s the case made by A. Frank Mayadas, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program director who called on online educators gathered here to meet what he sees as a major need -- fast. And Mr. Mayadas, considered the Father of Online Learning, suggested in an interview following his speech that the government should step in with some $500-million to support traditional online courses -- not just the experimental “free” courses that have emerged as a darling of the Obama administration.
October 19, 2009, 04:38 PM ET
Online programs are generally profitable. But despite the buzz
about Web 2.0, the education they provide is still dominated by
rudimentary, text-based technology.
Those are two key findings in a recent report, “Benchmarking Online Operations: Snapshots of an Emerging Industry,” produced by the consulting firm Eduventures.
Online education has grown in popularity, yet it remains dependent on learning-management systems, with content-delivery built around text, says Richard Garrett, an Eduventures managing director.
“The underlying delivery model or pedagogical model hasn’t really changed much in the last five, 10 years,” Mr. Garrett says.
The survey of 96 institutions, which is not publicly available online, was released to Eduventures members and subsequently to The Chronicle. Mr. Garrett describes it as the first attempt to benchmark online-specific operational activities across a large...
October 15, 2009, 02:40 PM ET
Steven T. Ziegler won’t be losing his job after all. At least
Mr. Ziegler figured prominently in a Chronicle article and video this week about the future of the open-course movement. The story recounted how the 39-year-old high-school dropout discovered free online lecture videos while recovering from a hang-gliding accident –- and how, on the verge of losing his job, those free courses couldn't provide the college credential that he craved to help find a new one.
In an e-mail message this week, Mr. Ziegler shared the good news that his employer, a Pennsylvania restaurant-equipment company, had "agreed to let me stay on pretty much indefinitely until I find another job." Mr. Ziegler, a father of three, welcomed this "little bit of security heading into the holiday season." He credited the value of his recent work on product videos, and now blogging for the company.
Mr. Ziegler has ...
October 13, 2009, 08:37 PM ET
Washington -- In the 1980s, higher-education leaders
convened to study the emerging issue of regulating
distance-learning programs that cross state borders. As technology
became more accepted, they predicted, the inevitable result would
be a more coordinated, national approach to regulation.
Not quite. Distance-learning technology has changed, with the Internet supplanting television, but the regulatory maze is getting worse, according to a recent report from a group of online providers calling for reform.
That was the backdrop as distance educators, state regulators, and accreditors assembled here Tuesday in a fresh attempt to reconcile the desires of a booming cross-border online-education industry with the need to protect consumers from shady online operators and resolve their complaints.
Both Tuesday’s meeting and the new report underscored how this subject can inspire brass-knuckled...
October 9, 2009, 06:57 PM ET
Some computer scientists cheered
the July appointment of a new director for the Pentagon’s
research agency. They hoped it could heal a breach that had opened
between the academic computing community and the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency, or Darpa.
They may be getting their wish. The New York Times reports that Regina E. Dugan, the new director, is now visiting universities nationwide “in an effort to rebuild bridges that were severed under the Bush administration.”
Relations had soured because of concerns that under its previous director, Anthony J. Tether, Darpa had scaled back financing for basic computer-science research at universities and instead was increasing money for projects that are classified or that promise a more immediate payoff. Mr. Tether’s successor is drawing praise for recent visits to the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles,...