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By DEVON HAYNIE, US News
As Americans increasingly turn to online courses, many wonder just exactly what they’re getting into. But there’s good news for those who seem overwhelmed by digital learning: Experts say it’s fairly easy to adapt to the virtual classroom. “The learning curve is very low,” says Todd Hitchcock, senior vice president of online solutions for Pearson, an education services company. “For the most part, 95 percent of people logging on have been on the Web.” Although distance learning can vary from institution to institution, most online courses have similarities, experts say. Below are what experts consider the four basic components of a typical online course.Share on Facebook
By Charles Huckabee, Chronicle of Higher Ed
Public colleges and universities, which educate the bulk of all American college students, have been slower than their counterparts in the for-profit sector to embrace the potential of online learning to offer pathways to degrees. A new report from the New America Foundation suggests a series of policies that states and public higher-education systems could adopt to do some catching up. The report, “State U Online,” by Rachel Fishman, a policy analyst with the foundation, analyzes where public online-education efforts stand now and finds that access to high-quality, low-cost online courses varies widely from state to state.Share on Facebook
by Brittany Bassler, WUFT
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott signed an education bill that will let the University of Florida offer bachelor’s degrees entirely online. Still, some wonder how online education compares to the typical college experience. The Career and Professional Education Act provides UF with $10 million to set up an online learning institute by next January. UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes says a handful of degrees the university already offers will be available online, including criminology and law, health affairs, sports management, environmental management and business. “The standards for a student to enroll in the University of Florida will remain the same,” Sikes said. In terms of cost, an online degree from UF will be less expensive than the traditional approach of taking classes on campus.Share on Facebook
by Invest in EU
Partners in 11 countries have joined forces to launch the first pan-European ‘MOOCs’ (Massive Open Online Courses) initiative, with the support of the European Commission. MOOCs are online university courses which enable people to access quality education without having to leave their homes. Around 40 courses, covering a wide variety of subjects, will be available free of charge and in 12 different languages. The initiative is led by the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and mostly involves open universities. The partners are based in the following countries: France, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, UK, Russia, Turkey and Israel. Detailed information about the initiative and the courses on offer is available on the portal www.OpenupEd.eu.Share on Facebook
By Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed
Community college leaders haven’t exactly jumped on the “disruption” bandwagon. That may be understandable given the popular narrative that digital innovation will replace faculty members and even entire colleges. But the two-year sector’s wariness seems to be fading, if the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges is any indication. The conference, which began in this tech-friendly city over the weekend, featured many sessions on how budget-strapped colleges can use self-paced online courses and free digital content, such as massive open online courses, to boost efficiency and serve more students.Share on Facebook
By Todd R. Weiss, eWeek
There’s always a fascinating world to explore using the technology of Google Maps and the creativity of Websites. Google Maps can take Website visitors to amazing places for adventures and exploration or to see beautiful places and cool possibilities around the world. And it’s all done using the magic of the Google Maps API, which allows Website builders to bring “life” to maps and give them new uses, meanings and interpretations. Here are some examples that eWEEK found to be insightful, fun and intriguing.Share on Facebook
By Nathan Eddy, eWeek
With 78 percent of companies now embracing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, companies are creating agile, streamlined environments which require software to support the flexible workplace. Furthermore, the report said businesses are moving away from traditional IT infrastructures to a flexible hybrid model that supports cloud computing, indicating software vendors should offer options to support mobility, but also need to selectively expand to new devices. “Responses to our survey suggest that the days of large-scale sales and implementations are behind us and as a result, software vendors in this demand-driven environment are no longer able to mandate terms,” Patrick Pugh, PwC’s U.S. software and Internet leader, said in a statement. “Today’s software customers have options and expect next-generation sales to be uniquely tailored to their needs and able to move at the pace with which they do business. To stay in the game, leading software vendors need to deepen relationships with customers and offer what they value most.”Share on Facebook
When I was asked by EDUCAUSE to write a blog about the experiences of a first-time CIO, I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough to write about that would be of interest to the EDUCAUSE community. It then occurred to me that I'd like to approach this the way I approach many situations like this - ask and listen!
By: Scott Warnock, Faculty Focus
I offer the strategy/philosophy of frequent, low-stakes (FLS) grading: simple course evaluation methods that allow you to provide students with many grades so that an individual grade doesn’t mean much. FLS grading can work in any course but is especially useful online, as it provides grade transparency for students and creates a steady information flow in an environment in which student-teacher communication is crucial to success. FLS grading can have several advantages:
It creates dialogue. Frequent grades can establish a productive student-teacher conversation, and students have an ongoing answer to the question, “How am I doing?”
It builds confidence. Students have many opportunities to succeed, and there is a consistent, predictable, open evaluation structure.
It increases motivation. FLS grading fits into students’ conceptions—and, perhaps, expectations—of assessment and evaluation: This is the culture they grew up in!Share on Facebook
by CBS Philadelphia
School Districtof Philadelphia is launching a new online educational program for the upcoming school year. The new initiative, called Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA), will offer online learning for students in grades 6 – 12, starting in time for the 2013-2014 school year. The District says the new online system will encourage flexibility and innovation and reflect students’ needs. Additionally, PVA will accommodate multiple learning abilities and styles and will allow students to earn a diploma from home at their own pace with drop-in learning centers also available to them. “We are hopeful PVA will provide students in Philadelphia an innovative and competitive educational option” said Pedro Ramos, Chairman of the School Reform Commission.Share on Facebook
By RANDALL STROSS, NY Times
Computer science researchers have been trying to build systems that summon online workers on demand and produce immediate results. Much initial work has focused on completing tasks for people with disabilities, because that is where the need is great. For example, a blind person may need to identify the contents of a can from a kitchen cupboard right now, not later. A deaf college student may want to follow the give-and-take of a seminar discussion as it unfolds in the classroom, and not wait to read a transcript the next day. VizWiz, a free iPhone app developed by Jeffrey P. Bigham of the University of Rochester and colleagues in its Human Computer Interaction program, gives real-time help to blind users. VizWiz users take a photograph as best as they can — it may take several tries before the desired object is properly framed — and then record one question about it (“What is on the label of the can?”). Besides needing help identifying food labels, they may want to know the denomination of paper currency, say, or whether a baby’s head shows signs of a rash.Share on Facebook
By David Hernandez, Daily Aztec
EdX, a nonprofit venture established by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently unveiled software that uses artificial intelligence to grade written assignments and tests, according to The New York Times. After an instructor grades 100 essays or essay questions, the system uses machine-learning techniques to base its grading on the professor’s evaluations. San Diego State English and comparative literature professor Joanna Brooks is opposed to the idea. “We want students to create original, creative essays,” Brooks said. “A robot-grading machine can’t encourage students to become innovative.” But electrical engineer and president of EdX Anant Agarwal is convinced the software is an advantageous device because, instead of waiting for grades, it allows students to take tests and write essays repeatedly, improving the quality of their answers.Share on Facebook
By Susan Young, Technology Review
One day, we may be able to check e-mail or call a friend without ever touching a screen or even speaking to a disembodied helper. Samsung is researching how to bring mind control to its mobile devices with the hope of developing ways for people with mobility impairments to connect to the world. The ultimate goal of the project, say researchers in the company’s Emerging Technology Lab, is to broaden the ways in which all people can interact with devices. In collaboration with Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Dallas, Samsung researchers are testing how people can use their thoughts to launch an application, select a contact, select a song from a playlist, or power up or down a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.Share on Facebook
By David Talbot, Technology Review
Storing video and other files more intelligently reduces the demand on servers in a data center. New research suggests that data centers could significantly cut their electricity usage simply by storing fewer copies of files, especially videos. For now the work is theoretical, but over the next year, researchers at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and MIT plan to test the idea, with an eye to eventually commercializing the technology. It could be implemented as software within existing facilities. “This approach is a very promising way to improve the efficiency of data centers,” says Emina Soljanin, a researcher at Bell Labs who participated in the work. “It is not a panacea, but it is significant, and there is no particular reason that it couldn’t be commercialized fairly quickly.”Share on Facebook
Patrice Miles, Georgia Tech Professional Education
Wondering how to get ahead academically while still having a great summer? For the first time, Georgia Tech’s undergraduates now have access to a select slate of for-credit summer courses online. Offered in a variety of disciplines, these online courses are designed to give students the flexibility to experience Georgia Tech wherever they are. Registration for summer semester is open now, but courses are expected to fill up fast. The new online course offerings are part of the larger movement to define Georgia Tech as the preeminent technological research university of the 21st century. “As students seek more paths to complete their degree programs, we’re eager to help in any way we can,” said Nelson Baker, dean of Georgia Tech Professional Education.Share on Facebook
Udacity is pleased to offer a select number of online courses in partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU). Students who enroll and successfully complete these courses will receive college credit from SJSU. Each class costs $150 and credit earned is transferable within the California State University (CSU) system and to most US colleges and universities*.Share on Facebook
By Lisa Singleton-Rickman, The TimesDaily
Alabama educators have long known that online classes provide experience and preparation students need for life after high school, either for college or the workforce. But the state has never done much more than suggest schools implement them in the curriculum, until now. Under the state’s new diploma requirements, which go into effect this fall and begin with incoming ninth-graders, there’s a required college and career preparedness course that incorporates computer applications. Though Alabama schools have discretion as to how to implement that part of the career preparedness course, online classes will likely become more commonplace, according to Alabama Department of Education officials.Share on Facebook
by Amy Scott, Marketplace
What if you could get a degree from a college with no classes, no instructors and no grades? It sounds like an ad on late-night TV. Recently, the online College for America got a big boost from the federal government. Its students will be able to receive federal student aid. “What that really means, is that for the first time federal financial aid dollars will support actual learning as opposed to how long somebody sat at a desk,” says Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, the nonprofit school that created College for America. Instead of racking up a certain number of credit hours for an associate degree, students at College for America have to master 120 “competencies,” from quantitative reasoning to writing and communication.Share on Facebook
by UK Virtual College
Despite some teething problems, the University of Edinburgh has garnered positive results from its decision to create a virtual learning environment using massive open online course (MOOC) platform provider Coursera. Initially, the move led to a number of hiccups, but the university soon found that groups of engaged students began to emerge. Many of these individuals took to interactive forums and social media platforms to discuss subjects such as artificial intelligence, astrobiology, critical thinking, e-learning, digital cultures, philosophy and equine nutrition with fellow pupils. “There was a very engaged group that began forming a community before the course even started,” Jeremy Knox, a PHD student and instructor on the university’s E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC, told the Times’ higher education supplement. He added: “They were using social media to meet each other and were very happy with the idea of self-directing their study. They got it.”Share on Facebook
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