About Anything

The personal blog of Al Stevens. Focus is overrated.

Archive for January, 2009

University of the People announces tuition free online higher ed

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In April 2009, Shai Reshef (pdf bio), Chairman of Cramster is opening a tuition-free, internet-based academic institution.  Called University of the People, the non-profit venture has announced that it will provide universal access to college studies—even in the poorest parts of the world.  According to the press release while tuition is free, UoP plans to charge nominal application and examination fees ($15-$50 and $10-$100 respectively), which may be adjusted on a sliding scale based on the economic situation in the student’s country of origin. The school will be open to any student with access to a computer and Internet connection who can submit a certificate of graduation from secondary school and demonstrate proficiency in English. While they anticipate tens of thousands of students enrolling within the first five years of operation, they will cap enrollment at 300 students in the first semester.

Press release: Blackboards Without Borders

Website: University of the People

Written by Al Stevens

January 28th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Sloan Consortium reports significant growth in K-12 online learning

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The Sloan Consortium, an association of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education and administered through Babson College and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering has issued a report that estimates  more than 1 million K-12 students are now taking classes online — a 47% increase from the Sloan Consortium’s original study done two years earlier. Of those students taking classes online the data show that the vast majority (69%) are enrolled at the high school level. The top reasons reported for the importance of online learning are:

  • Meeting the needs of specific groups of students
  • Offering courses not otherwise available at the school
  • Offering Advanced Placement or college-level courses
  • Permitting students who failed a course to take it again
  • Reducing scheduling conflicts for students

The study was conceived and developed by Anthony G. Picciano, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Jeff Seaman, Babson College. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, it consists of responses from 867 public school district chief administrators representing every region and all 50 states in the country.

Press release: Online Learning Takes Off in K-12 Schools

Report: K–12 Online Learning: A 2008 Follow-up of the Survey of U.S. School District Administrators

Written by Al Stevens

January 28th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Educational Things

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Blackboard announces integration with Sakai and Moodle

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From the press release:

Included in Release 9’s openness enhancements are integrations that allow open source and homegrown systems–including the Sakai and Moodle course management systems–to be accessed within the Blackboard platform with a single login. The integrations for Sakai and Moodle, developed in partnership with Syracuse University and Iowa State University, respectively, have been released as open source and join more than 150 free or open source Blackboard Building Blocks(TM) now available to the Blackboard community.

Press release: Blackboard Launches More Open, Flexible Learning Platform Emphasizing Greater Engagement for Students

Written by Al Stevens

January 27th, 2009 at 11:32 am

e-Learning Predictions for 2009

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Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine has published Predictions for 2009 from 30+ leaders in eLearning.

Article: Predictions for 2009

Written by Al Stevens

January 20th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Distance Learning Poised for Growth in US

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Stephen Hoare reporting in The Guardian reports:

State universities and their for-profit counterparts have expanded distance-learning operations massively in the past five years by reaching out to adults in the workplace who want to improve their skills and employability. Now they are poised to offer degree programmes and accelerated-learning courses to newly unemployed adults, many of whom are eligible for government education grants.

Article: Online and on the money

Written by Al Stevens

January 20th, 2009 at 11:13 am

ConnectYard Launches a Hosted Social Learning Service

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ConnectYard, a NJ company founded in 2007,  announced the general availability of the Company’s Web 2.0 social learning service.  From the press release:

The ConnectYard solution leverages social networking to support “better teaching and learning” by helping students expand student-to-student and student-to-faculty connections for collaborating beyond the classroom — which has been shown to be a key component of student persistence.

As described on the company website:

The ConnectYard platform connects students with the academic resources they need to succeed in school. ConnectYard helps students excel in their classes by facilitating the formation of study groups that enhance peer learning and reinforce student-to-student and student-to-faculty connections; recommending potential study partners, tutors and mentors based on ConnectYard’s unique matching engine; and promoting relevant study materials, academic support services, career services, campus events and more.

Press release: ConnectYard Launches a Hosted Social Learning Service on the Facebook(R) Platform

Written by Al Stevens

January 20th, 2009 at 11:05 am

XO Laptaps in Nepal

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Gaia Vince, in an article in Seed Magazine reports on  Open Learning Exchange Nepal, a non-profit organization headed by Rabi Karmacharya that develops curriculum-based content in the Nepali language to run on inter-connected XO laptops made by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) consortium. At the start of the school year last April, the group began a test run of 200 computers, donated by the Danish IT Society, in two of Nepal’s rural schools. This April, the project is expanding to 15 more schools across five districts, distributing a total of 44,000 laptops.

Article: Nepal: Laptop School

Written by Al Stevens

January 19th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Guardian Suggests We are at the Dawn of the Cyber Student

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Harriet Swain, in an article in the Guardian reports:

In a single week, the Open University (OU) records about two million downloads from its presence on iTunes U, a source of higher education podcasts and videos freely available on the web. About 87% of these downloads are from outside the UK. …

Thanks to ever more rapid advances in technology, the university experience of undergraduates and academics in 2020 will be radically different from that of their 2008 predecessors. But it will be an experience these predecessors have helped shape, no matter what country they come from.

Article: University Challenge: Dawn of the Cyber Student

Written by Al Stevens

January 19th, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Serious Virtual Worlds Report Published

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The Serious Virtual Worlds (SVW) report, released today by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) explores the ‘serious’ – as opposed to the leisure-based – use of virtual worlds for educational purposes.

Written by Sara de Freitas, director of research at the Serious Games Institute, Coventry University, the report  provides an overview of many key virtual world sites to help the education community identify which is the most relevant to support a given learning context. It also explores how learners themselves are becoming a more central component in the use of immersive worlds, creating and enriching their own learning experiences and adopting more exploratory and collaborative modes of learning.

Report: Serious Virtual Worlds report

, says: ‘The use of virtual worlds has accelerated exponentially over the last two to three years. In that brief time, users and learners have already been engaged by the opportunity to take control of virtual worlds within social groups.’

Written by Al Stevens

January 19th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Green Technology in Education

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Further and higher education establishments could save money and decrease CO2 emissions by introducing simple measures, according to a report issued today by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The report presents the findings of JISC’s Green Technology report. It outlines ways in which the intelligent use of technology can create savings of cost, energy or carbon output. The Green Technology Briefing Paper and Strategic Overview are available to read online now.

Press release: The ‘greening’ of ICT in education – new papers launched

Briefing paper: Green ICT: Managing sustainable ICT in education and research
Strategic Overview paper Managing Sustainable ICT in Further and Higher Education: Strategic Overview
Full report Sustainable ICT in Further and Higher Education: SusteIT Final Report

Written by Al Stevens

January 19th, 2009 at 12:36 pm