Friday, September 28, 2012

Concern Over Online Course-Taking Sites

It didn’t take long for reports to surface that people were cheating in massive open online courses (MOOCs). Coursera even took a proactive approach by adding honor-code reminders to its courses.

Now, web sites are popping up offering to take the online course for students and promising them at least a “B” in the class. There’s a price for this service, ranging from $95 for an essay to $900 to complete an entire course, according to a report in Inside Higher Education.

“It’s what they say about cockroaches: when you see one there are hundreds that you don’t see,” said A.J. Kelton, director of emerging and instructional technology at Montclair State University.

A graphic description perhaps, but Inside Higher Ed could find little about the sites. Some even appeared to be operated by the same person or group. In addition, administrators like Kelton are concerned it could be the beginning of an online higher ed black market.

“The difference with something like is that if you’re going to pay someone to go to your 300-person Psych 101 class, that person can only go to one exam at a time,” Kelton said. “That same expert, however, could take six, eight, 10, 12 online courses simultaneously.”

One result from the article was the site has been taken offline, according to an update on the Inside Higher Ed web site. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Higher Ed Needs to Get Mobile Platforms Right

Mobile platforms are important new tools in engaging college students, so it stands to reason that higher education should have a vested interest in the subject. However, many schools have it wrong, according to Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of education technology company Rafter.

The problem is a piecemeal approach to the issue. Too often, a school creates separate apps for various departments and organizations around campus that are developed on different operating systems. The end result is a disjointed experience that students simply won’t use. In his GigaOM article, Maghsoodnia suggests schools need to an all-inclusive approach that is easy to use and captivating for students. He also understands that will not be easy.

“Professors are a notoriously stubborn group and getting them to adopt mobile platforms isn’t simple,” he wrote. “Plenty of training, education, and practice are necessary. It’s also not cheap. And then there’s the daunting challenge of trying to keep 18- to 21-year-olds engaged for more than a few minutes.”

However, mobile apps also create opportunities to engage with students, who are often already on campus and looking online for easy ways to access information. They’re also more than willing to move on when they don’t or can’t find it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MOOCs Will Grow Up, Must Become Sustainable

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of online education firm StraighterLine, may be showing his age in his recent blog post. After all, he references Marky-Mark, the leader of a 1990s hip-hop group who ultimately grew up into award-winning actor Mark Wahlberg.

Smith’s point is that massive open online courses (MOOCs) will almost certainly grow up, just as Wahlberg did, once the excitement of the moment dissipates. When that happens, firms such as Coursera and Udacity are going to have to produce revenue, which will likely mean they will no longer be massive, open, or free.

“As providers of open content and open courseware have recognized over the past 15 years, simply making content free doesn’t change the dynamics of the higher education market at all,” Smith wrote. “Further, free content isn’t very good business, just ask the newspaper industry—and their content changes every day.”

Students earning credit for online courses taken will be the key to sustainability.

“Only those who have created a low-cost, low-risk pathway to credit will have results to show,” Smith continued. “It is the hard work necessary to create this pathway that transforms flash-in-the-pan Marky-Mark organizational models to mature and sustainable Mark Wahlberg ones.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

K-12 Schools Trying Out Tablets

A growing number of K-12 school districts, anxious to save money while preparing students for 21st-century work, are purchasing iPads in lieu of print textbooks and sometimes instead of desktop computers. Districts view the tablets as more budget-friendly than computers and more versatile than books for class use.

Across the U.S., there are tales such as this one in Seattle where the district decided all 181 middle-school youngsters should bring their own iPads to class this year. Students who couldn’t afford to buy one could borrow from a pool of 100 tablets bought with funds originally designated to replace several computers.

According to an investors’ report cited by C/Net, PC sales to the K-12 market are dwindling at about the same rate as K-12 iPad sales are rising, indicating schools are switching to tablets. They’re not just buying iPads, either.

Kuno, a tablet created specifically for K-12 use by the CurriculumLoft company, is among the Android gadgets competing head-to-head with the iPad for school sales. Business2Community says Kuno is attractive to district decision-makers because its base model costs 25% less than an iPad and it comes with built-in filters to protect kids from accidentally (or intentionally) accessing web content they shouldn’t.

Samsung is also working with Memphis, TN, schools on a new tablet system geared to K-12 grades. Each tablet comes with a stylus that lets students hand-write notes, which can be converted to type and saved.

Why are tablets getting all the attention from school districts and not e-readers such as the Kindle or the Nook, given their lower price point? In the view of Good E-Reader blogger Michael Kozlowski, it’s mainly because most e-readers lack text-to-speech software for vision-impaired pupils and can be more cumbersome to use.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Getting the Most of Online Education

Today, there is a growing trend of more and more people enrolling in online education. Most have chosen to further their education and their careers by way of online study.

This trend is making this education one of the fastest growing industries in the education sector of business. Earning an online degree is now in vogue and it already had earned its respectability years ago.

For people who are eying of getting one through online education, here are some of the ways to make the most out of this new style in education.


One of the biggest - if not the biggest - reasons of the strong attraction in education through the internet is flexibility. The student can afford to incorporate his classes into his daily schedule without sacrificing work time and family commitments.

These classes are all online and are provided to a forum or a class manager website. These forums (or sites) are where the assignments, messages, and study materials are made available. Student home works are also turned in here.

Working students can work their job schedules around their study times. Students with children to care can choose the time for their class work. Those who travel need not worry because their school work can be accessed anywhere in the world where there is Internet.

Student-centered lessons

In online education, student-centered approach in teaching is more evident than in the traditional style of instructions. Online, the instructor can tailor-fit the lessons according to the student.

For instance, some students are visual learners and some learn by doing. Online, the student gets to decide when and how best to study and digest his lessons. They are left to find what works best for them.


In online education, instructors are more accessible than their face-to-face counterparts in on-campus schools. Talking with the instructors is simply done in newsgroup discussions, online chats, or through emails.

Interacting with an instructor does not need an actual appointment during office hours like in normal circumstances.

This convenient setup saves time and encourages warm student-instructor communications and rapport. It can also produce a positive effect in the student's academic work in general.

Online education also reflects the status of the instructors. They may also be located in other parts of the world since the teaching is done on the Internet.

This is one type of diversity that is advantageous to the student. The main reason is that this allows the student more exposure to the different concepts and perspectives that can happen only if the instructors are from all over the globe.

Education counselors

When the student is committed to an online education program, education counselors are also available to them. These are the people responsible for making your online education experience positive, trauma-free and successful.

They help plan the overall course of study as well as help in choosing the right classes. They are available all the time to answer any question. The student's urgent questions are answered quickly via emails or instant messaging.

In turn, they can contact you during evenings or weekends, if those are your only available times. They are sensitive to your needs and they are especially easy with first-timers.

By the look of things, online education may just be the wave of the future.

MOOCs on a Smaller Scale

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have become big news in higher education. Tens of thousands of students are taking advantage of the free, not-for-credit courses offered by some of the most prestigious universities in the nation.

Now, throw LOOCs and anti-MOOCs into the mix.

LOOCs, or little open online courses, are being tested at the University of Maine, Presque Isle. The pilot program, called OpenU, offers four online courses open to between two and seven online students for free, in addition to the regular paying students taking the class. The online students get no formal credit for completing the course, but, unlike MOOCs, can receive personalized responses from instructors on assignments and tests.

“Students are not paying, but they are getting the full experience,” said Presque Isle Provost Michael Sonntag in an article about the program in Inside Higher Education. “If they want to write every paper and take every test, our faculty members have agreed to give them feedback.”

There are even ways for students to receive some credit for the course. OpenU students can earn up to six credit hours through the UMPI prior-learning program if they enroll in the school, according to the university web site.

The UnderAcademy College appears at first to be a joke, with courses such as Grammar Porn and Underwater Procrastination and Advance Desublimation Techniques. However, it is also “offering serious content taught by professors at some well-known institutions,” according to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

UnderAcademy offers classes limited to 15 students. The goal is to deliver quality liberal arts and humanity classes by providing “students with the opportunity to focus on the process of learning and control the courses themselves rather than worry about the end product,” Talan Memmott, founder of UnderAcademy and lecturer of digital culture and communications at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle.

“Based on some spirit of humor that seemed to underlie everything, I assumed it was largely a joke,” said Mark C. Marino, associate professor of writing at the University of Southern California, who taught his “Grammar Porn” class last spring. “But Talan would say that this project is research into alternative pedagogical practices that are collaborative, less hierarchical, and take place online. That piqued my interest.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Capitalize On The Benefits of Online Education

Innovation and technology has added ease and convenience to the lives of people. Advancements in computer technology and internet-based online education have proved to be a boon for anyone who seeks learning. It has been especially beneficial for professionals who intend to add to their knowledge and skills, but face limitations due to time and fixed schedules. Middle-aged people at times feel shy about attending college or apprehensive about leaving a well-paying job in order to advance their qualification and add to their count of degrees and skills. Online education comes to their rescue, by freeing them of all these limitations. Instead of attending full time classes and completing the course in fixed time, online education opens up a myriad of options and opportunities.

The concept behind online teaching is simple! It is a way by which training and knowledge is imparted by the medium of internet. The concept is gaining popularity and is quickly becoming the new fad with people of all ages. The main reason fueling its popularity is the fact that one does not face the issues of predefined and fixed time schedules, duration and exam patterns. The study material and course structure is easily customized to serve the interests of the candidates. What is even more lucrative for students who take up online education is the fact that the restrictions due to place are done away with. One can take a professional course accredited by a highly reputed university or institute and earn a degree of equal importance as the in-campus degree - all from the comfort of your home! With the travelling expenses, the living on-campus expenses, and all the additional fees levied by educational institutes being cut, an online degree costs only a fraction of the amount that one generally needs to shell out for an on-campus degree.

The online programs are designed keeping the trends and requirements of professionals in mind. While an on-campus degree requires a person to spend two or more years in the campus, online programs are generally one-year programs. The class schedules for the group taking a course together is generally set up by the group mates themselves, keeping in mind the comfort of every member of the group. This helps participants to conveniently fix their study hours and make adjustments in their busy schedules. The class schedules and study material is available online and can be accessed from anywhere, and at any time.

Moreover, one meets a number of like-minded individuals in an online study group. This helps forge lasting work relations, share knowledge and experience and receive insightful peer group learning. Advancing one's knowledge in the field where he / she works helps climb the corporate ladder. In fact, an online course helps you jump on the freeway to a successful career!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Course Builder Brings Google into Online Education

Google is taking a step into online education with the release of open-source software called Course Builder. According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the search giant has talked to edX, the partnership between Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley that is already offering free massive open online courses. Peter Norvig, the director of research at Google, told The Chronicle it has also reached out to Stanford University.

“We’re close with Stanford—Coursera and Udacity both came out of Stanford,” Norvig said. “They’re working on their own open-source project, and they’re also interested in working with us. I think schools are experimenting and they don’t know quite yet what they want to do.”

Google attracted 155,000 registered students during the summer with its Power Searching software.  Course Builder is designed to package the software and technology used in Power Searching to create online courses that can include lessons, student activities, and assessments.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Online Education FAQs - How Will My GPA Be Calculated?

To some, online courses may seem like a completely different than traditional on campus courses. They are quite similar in everything but the instructional delivery method. One of the most frequently asked questions is "how will my GPA be calculated"?

The answer is simple. Your grade point average is calculated the same way that the traditional on campus students are calculated. Typically, most universities follow a 4.0 scale. What constitutes an A, B, C, D, and F may vary slightly from institution to institution, however.

To calculate your GPA on your own, you will first need to determine your grade points you have earned. This is done by giving yourself 4 points for every A, 3 points for every B, 2 points for every C, 1 point for every D, and 0 points for every F. Pass/Fail courses are generally not factored into a student's GPA. Also, incompletes and withdraws do not have a bearing on GPA.

Next, find the total amount of credit hours you have attempted. A cumulative number of credit hours are typically listed on your previous grade report. You can take this as your starting point and add the number of credit hours you attempted in the current quarter or semester.

Divide the number of grade points by the number of credit hours attempted. This will give you your grade point average. It's as simple as that! Calculating your GPA before a class's drop date can be a great way to determine if dropping a particular class may be more beneficial than taking a substandard grade.

Print-On-Demand Opportunity to Pilot

NACS Media Solutions (NMS) is seeking up to 25 college stores to participate in the next stage of its regional print-on-demand network service. NMS is trying to evaluate and fine-tune its R-POD network, which has been created to fulfill orders within two days and afford lower shipping costs through a regional print model.

To participate in the pilot program, college stores must have rights-negotiated content to print through the R-POD network and be willing to provide feedback. NMS does not provide any content licensing services.

Content will be submitted to NMS for inclusion in the POD catalog. The content can remain private and accessible only to the store submitting it, or can be public, depending on the option specified by each store in the pilot.

For formatting requirements and addition Regional POD information, go to To participate, contact Veronica Gancov, digital media project manager, at or (800) 622-7498, ext. 2343.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dial 'S' for Smartphone Surge

At this point in the academic term, no doubt hundreds of professors are sick and tired of seeing students pull out their smartphones during class lectures. Profs may be fighting a losing battle.

NPD DisplaySearch, a market research firm, predicts some 567 million smartphones will be shipped this year, and that number will nearly double by 2016. Of this year’s shipments, close to 177 million will be to first-time smartphone owners, many of them teens and college students. As the baby boomlet (kids born to the famed Baby Boom generation) begins to peter out in the college enrollment ranks over the next few years, NPD sees the number of new smartphone buyers dwindling somewhat.

On the other hand, the number of people replacing existing smartphones with new, jazzy models will skyrocket. Because many people tend to buy new phones whenever their current two-year mobile contract is up, it’s expected phone manufacturers will work with carriers to offer shorter contract periods to encourage more frequent upgrades.

Faculty might as well get used to the fact that students will bring—and use—these devices in the classroom. But they’re not the only ones who need to get up to speed.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Europe blog reports that a study by London-based investment banking firm GP Bullhound shows many companies, particularly retailers, haven’t built mobile apps and optimization into their e-commerce offerings yet. As a consequence, they may be missing out on sales. Purchases from mobile devices, according to the report, accounted for 11% of all 2011’s holiday season sales, almost twice as much as the year before.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Unlikely Trio Partnering on In-Store POD

An intriguing triad was announced recently. Kodak, the iconic film company still grappling with bankruptcy, is partnering with On Demand Books, maker of the Espresso print-on-demand book machine, and ReaderLink, distributor of books to nonbookstores, that is, discount stores, drugstores, and the like.

The threesome will be working together to merge Espresso’s book-printing functions with the image- and color-printing capabilities of Kodak’s photo kiosks. ReaderLink will help get the machines into the distribution channels where it already sells hard-copy books. Much of the focus, at least initially, will be on marketing the services to consumers or small groups who want to create photo books, such as family albums or local histories. Later, the emphasis may shift to providing access to backlist titles.

Publishers Weekly’s coverage of the announcement drew some skeptical remarks from commenters, who doubted the venture would get off the ground, given the availability of other services for creating custom books and for buying e-book versions of the backlist.

Kodak’s involvement was something of a surprise, as some have written off the company as near-dead. But back in May, the company’s POD group unveiled new workflow solutions for color printing. One drawback for the Espresso has been its inability to print color on inside pages. Kodak’s solution resolves that problem.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Who's Going to Pay for Online Education?

It’s been 20 years since the Michigan State University began its Computer-Assisted Personal Approach (CAPA) project.

Within five years, the award-winning program multi-media project that offers mostly science and math courses reached more than 6,000 students on the MSU campus and was available at 40 institutions nationwide. By 1999, it became a LON-CAPA (Learning Online Network with Computer-Assisted Personalized Approach) program offered at more than 70 institutions that had received funding from the Sloan and Mellon Foundations.

The problem for online education, massive open online courses, and open-source software is not necessarily the funding. Firms are investing millions of dollars in these start-up firms, but the question remains if it’s a sustainable business model.

Gerd Kortemeyer, associate professor of physics, education, has seen how the project works as director of the LON-CAPA project at MSU and identifies the biggest question facing online learning is who’s going to pay for it? He talked about his concerns in a recent post on the Educause listserv:

A lot of bandwidth gets spent these days arguing that open education and free stuff is good … and that traditional colleges and textbooks are quickly approaching obsolescence. I am oscillating between enthusiasm and cynicism.
Our open-source content-sharing project, LON-CAPA, just celebrated its 20th anniversary:, and we are starting a successor project,
Looking back over those 20 years, it's been an almost constant uphill battle for funding. Some money came from grants, but that model is inherently unsustainable: you can get money for new initiatives, but you cannot get grant funding to sustain something that works. Some research funding was even harmful to our project, as it made us do experimental stuff that did not benefit the majority of our users. The remainder of the funding has come from traditional colleges and universities.
Looking at MOOCs, open content, open-source software, etc., I still do not understand the business model, and I don't see it seriously discussed, except occasionally like in the Chronicle article about Coursera:—notice the "might" in the title.
Somebody in the end has to pay for salaries, retirement, health insurance, connectivity, hardware … at the moment, it seems like the business model is parasitic on traditional higher education. How is it going to move out of that mode?
My cynical self is reminded of the infamous dot-com business model: "We make a loss with every customer, so let's get more." Are we heading toward a dot-edu bubble? Please convince me of the opposite.

A good question, indeed.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Online Education Programs - 4 Ways They Can Benefit You

These times are as troubled as we've seen them in decades. Businesses are closing. Companies are declaring bankruptcy. The unemployment numbers are growing more dismal by the month. People are struggling to make ends meet. Very few people are surviving unscathed.

This is precisely why it's a good time to further your education. Whether you still need to get your high school diploma or you want to develop new skills in order to access a better-paying job, you'll find online learning to be a convenient and effective avenue for your education.

Here are some of the advantages for your consideration:

1) Education On Your Time. Life is hectic. There's always more to do than time to do it. Squeezing lessons and classes into the equation only makes things worse. Fortunately, online education is designed to fit your schedule, not the other way around. When you choose to take your classes is largely up to you. Twenty minutes during your lunch break. Fifteen minutes while waiting for your kids to get out of their karate lessons. Thirty minutes after everyone has gone off to bed. Whichever times are most convenient for you.

2) No Travel Time. No one enjoys being on the freeway, moving ten miles an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, worrying about being late to your class. It's frustrating. It's time-consuming. It's stressful. Online education eliminates the travel. You can study in the comfort of your home, never having to leave the house. You study and learn at your convenience, not someone else's convenience.

3) Money Saving. Online education classes are generally more reasonably priced. They save you in ways that you might not even realize at first glance. Not having to travel saves you gas money. Since you're learning at home, you save on childcare and babysitting expenses. There's no need to squeeze in a fast food meal between work and class, so you save on those expenses. Even if you're in a position where you can't afford a computer or Internet access, you can save money by using a computer at your local library. Almost every library has Internet access these days.

4) Personal Attention. In a traditional classroom it's easy to get lost. The instructor has a full curriculum to teach, and his or her life is most likely just as hectic as yours. It's no unusual to go through a semester of learning and never once have the opportunity to talk to your teacher. The online classroom makes access to your professor much easier. Communication by email is convenient for both parties. In addition, with technology rapidly changing, some classes are presented as webinars which allow you to ask questions directly. These new avenues of communicating make it much easier to get the personal attention you need to create the best educational experience.

Not every educational need can be addressed through online learning, but a growing number of them can be. This is a trend that should continue to grow in the future as well, as education adapts to the student instead of forcing the student to adapt to the education. So before you sign up for your local community college classes or even your state college classes, check to see what they have available online first. And if you can't find what you need, check to see if you can advance your education with a dedicated online learning program.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Online Education Tips and Tricks

On a positive note, you aren't the first student confronting this kind of decision, which means that with proper investigating you will find tons of tips and individuals who can help you. Have a discussion with your friends and family, do research online and at a library and most importantly, try to look at the actual location of the schools you might be thinking about. This isn't as vital with an online school, but if you want a geographic location, then you will want to visit.

With online degree programs, you will want to look into the accreditation of the university. A physical college usually has achieved some kind of recognition, and you can easily determine if your degree will be respected. However, online degree programs can mask their bad standing behind an Internet wall, so to speak, so accreditation is vital.

Accreditation is extremely important with online degree programs because prospective employers will look at it to know that your schooling is recognized by the United States Department of Education. Regardless of whether you are looking at physical offline schools or web-based schools, be sure that it fits in line with your long term education ambitions. Should you ever choose to transfer, then you'll want to ensure that your credits will transfer.

With online degree programs, you can start when you choose. Alternatively, a campus college has established course times and enrollment periods. This requires that you set a period of time aside to go to the campus and take the course. On the other hand, in an internet course, it is possible to take the class when you have a free spot of time.

Convenience may be a large factor anytime people are choosing between bricks-and-mortar institutions and internet based colleges. It's important to think about the time it would take to go to and from the actual campus, whether you have enough time to spend on a scheduled course schedule. Online degree programs still require you complete things on a schedule, so do not believe you can slack off and then finish whenever you choose.

No matter whether you are looking at physical campus schools or online degree programs, you can find what suits you the best if you take enough time to do your research. If you base your final decision exclusively on cost, you'll end up let down with the caliber of schooling.

The choice for where you wish to go to college is definitely a time intensive one, but one with wonderful rewards and advantages. If you're deciding between going to a web-based institution versus a physical campus, examine your finances, your available time as well as what kind of program will benefit you the most.

Online Education - Road Map to Your Quality and Accredited College Degree

As you desire to enroll in an online University or College or an additional type of online education program, you must think of available options to see if the course is accredited or institution is approved to run the programs. Studying online degrees is very important to accomplish your dream career.

There are categories of courses like accounting, business administration, management, science, engineering, education, criminal justice, marketing, advertising, adult education etc. Your high school education can be done online.

However, you can get an online degree if you wish at affordable cost. There are many available choices to you. You can do an online associate degree, bachelor degree and master degree programs. There are also colleges or universities that work with you on accelerated financing.

There are diverse ways you can get your online degree. You can get through one, as quick as possible compare to attending a traditional college or university. You can also increase your online qualification in various industries. You can get a certificate that shows you finished a course work in careers like culinary arts. There are many benefits to receiving career training and can push your life ahead with this nature of online course.

It is possible for you to complete online education program from home, at work or while on vacation with no changes to your usual plan and schedule. An online career education is very crucial to your life style, if you would like to proceed or grow to the high class of qualified personality in the society or in your organization.

Finally, this can be a very significant chance for you to move to the next step of your career level and guess what, you going to earn big money. Make sure you do an in-depth research and go for approved online education to enhance your quality career.

Free Webinar on Professors and Technology

The new study Digital Faculty: Professors, Teaching and Technology, 2012, found that professors are excited about technology trends in education, including the growth of e-textbooks. This is the type of information that should be important to collegiate retailers as the industry moves forward.

Inside Higher Education is now offering a free hour-long webinar Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Eastern to discuss the findings. The panel will be made up of Inside Higher Ed editor Scott Jaschik; Joshua Kim, a blogger for the publication and director of learning and technology, Dartmouth College; technology reporter Steve Kolowich; and Jeff Seaman, co-director, Babson Survey Research Group.

Registration information will be shared with sponsor companies CourseSmart, Deltak, Pearson, and Sonic Foundry.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Results Should be Interesting from Expanded E-Text Pilot

The results from the first round of the e-textbook pilot program from Internet2 and Educause showed students liked the savings and portability of digital content, but weren’t as thrilled with the reading experience or the fact that instructors often failed to use collaborative features built into the platform.

This fall, the program has been expanded from the original five schools to 26 nationwide, with each paying between $20,000 and $35,000 to collect feedback from the fall 2012 semester. While the 2012 pilots use McGraw-Hill Education e-titles on the Courseload software platform to replace paper books, Internet2 and Educause are planning a new test next year using multiple platforms and publishers.

“It’s important for higher education and, most importantly, for students to have options going forward,” said Shel Waggener, senior vice president for Internet2, in a Center for Digital Education article. “Now, we have the option to rethink the integration of content with the pedagogy with collaboration between students in very new ways.”

The pilots provide a way for the industry to work out issues such as accessibility, according to Waggener, who encourages other universities to jump on the e-textbook bandwagon.

“Universities should not sit on the sidelines and wait for this to become resolved because resolution is not going to be absolute; it’s going to be a continuum, and we all need to have a stake in the game to influence the outcomes,” he said.

Weggener acknowledged the college store in his “do and don’t” list in a blog post at Educause Review Online. Even though the reference is a “don’t,” his suggestions providesome thoughts stores might want to focus on. Since stores are not often invited to participate and more than half of the institutions in the fall 2012 pilot have independent campus stores, collegiate retailers need to find ways to be part of the discussion.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Investments Being Made in Online Education

Investing in online education has become big business. Since the beginning of September, news reports have surfaced of $5.7 million in venture capital going to a Chicago-based education startup called eSpark Learning. At the same time, the Canadian firm Desire2Learn reversed its strategy of not using external funding and raised $80 million.

eSpark, described by its founder and CEO as the Pandora radio for education, targets students in grades K-8. Students are given a custom playlist of apps and then asked to rate how much they like the app or how much they are learning, similar to the way Pandora listeners rate songs played, according to an article in TechCrunch.

Desire2Learn, which develops cloud-based learning systems, changed its funding strategy, in part, to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the online learning market. Blended learning programs, personalized learning, and open online courses have all contributed to that growth. Desire2Learn has responded by hiring 200 new employees in the past year, according to a report in Reuters.

Finally, the online educational startup Straighterline recently announced it will begin allowing college professors to attract online students to their for-credit courses through Straighterline and even set their own price for the course.

The company landed $10 million in investment capital last April and plans to use the funds to expand its marketing to institutions across the country. It already offers online learning in nearly 40 courses for a fee of $99 a month and a $39-per-course registration fee. Its long-term goal is to create a platform where students can pick and choose courses created by professors for credit.

“The idea is the student has those choices,” Burck Smith, founder of Straighterline, told The Baltimore Sun. “It’s really an experiment in creating a market for professors and students to meet up.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Pros of Mobile Learning

The web site Edudemic has been making its case for mobile learning for the last couple of months. The site started by pointing to a survey which found that 45% of students use their smartphones for learning, and then provided 10 real-world examples of schools putting the bring-your-own-technology idea to work in their classrooms.

The Edudemic argument for mobile learning continued with its four big reasons why instructors should give it a try.

First on the list is the accessibility of mobile learning content. Not only is it easy for students,  it’s also simple for teachers to update and review the content they upload. The article even provides a link to an app that allows teachers to make m-learning quizzes.

Edudemic says m-learning allows teachers to customize content to fit the needs of their students while providing an easy and time-saving way for instructors to follow a student’s progress online.

Finally, Edudemic views mobile learning as a way to give students variety when it comes to content. Online presentations, videos, discussions, and online exams are just a few of the options that are available, which should keep things interesting and fun for both students and teachers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Group Nears Online Education Compact

One issue facing online learning has been finding ways for institutions to offer online programs that meet the Department of Education’s state authorization rules. Those regulations force colleges and universities that offered online programs to register in every state.

While the authorization requirement was struck down by the federal courts earlier this year, most experts believe it will be back when Congress gets around to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act next year. So, state regulators, staff from regional higher-education compacts, key stakeholders, and other experts have been meeting to draft an agreement that would make it easier to get state approval for online classes that are available to students throughout the nation.

The goal of the agreement would be to “eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies for states and higher-education institutions by establishing ‘reciprocity’ among states that sign on to the effort,” according to a report in eCampus News. The project, a joint effort by the Council of State Governments and The Presidents’ Forum, would reform the regulatory review and approval process that governs postsecondary institutions offering degrees across state lines and require each state to approve the terms of any agreement.

“I’ve looked at the authorization issue from all sides and reciprocity is still the best answer to meet everyone’s needs, especially the student,” said Russell Poulin, deputy director of research and analysis at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Judge Agrees to E-Price Fixing Settlement

Despite plenty of objections, federal district court judge Denise Cote has approved the settlement reached by the Justice Department and three of the five publishing houses in the e-book price-fixing case.

The settlement mandates that Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster discontinue current e-book sales agreements for the next two years and pay $69 million in damages to customers who purchased e-books between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012. Apple has said it will appeal the judge’s decision. The ruling means retailers can set their own prices, regardless of publisher pricing.

Amazon has indicated it is ready to resume “aggressive” e-book pricing.

The judge dismissed all objections, finding those concerns to be unreasonable. However, she also sided with the NACS position that e-textbooks should not be part of the settlement.

“While disappointed that the settlement agreement was upheld, we are pleased that the judge agreed in her ruling with our opinion that e-textbooks are not covered by the final judgment,” said Charles Schmidt, director of public relations for NACS. “By making this distinction, we hope that competition and innovation in the higher education textbook market continues.”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Healthcare Programs Online

Today, enrolling in healthcare programs online to earn a degree is a great option as the healthcare industry expands. New legislation is expected to enable millions of previously uninsured Americans to seek medical attention, and the nation's aging population will require more skilled care as well in upcoming years. You can't become a doctor through an online education program, but you can earn the credentials necessary to work in lower-level skilled healthcare professions.

Here are some of the options available for earning an associate's degree through healthcare programs online. These are some of the most popular programs, because they require only an associate's degree to enter the field. Once you have earned this degree, there are always additional opportunities to advance by pursuing a higher-level degree.

  • Medical Assisting
  • Dental Assisting
  • Medical Technology
  • Physical Therapy Assisting
  • Pharmacy Technology
  • Veterinary Technology
  • Healthcare Management
  • Medical Administrative Support

As you can see, whether you are interested in administrative or clinical work, healthcare programs online offer a variety of options. The curriculum offered through online education programs is comparable to, if not even better than what is offered in a traditional ground school.

Earning a degree online offers a number of advantages to students. Above all, learning online is convenient. Many lower-level healthcare workers choose to continue their education online because they can do so while maintaining a full-time job. Online coursework can be completed at any time and from any location with Internet access. Pursuing advanced degrees allows students to advance without having to sacrifice their current job and income. As stated earlier, you can't become a doctor online, but you can earn the credentials necessary to advance if you already have an education. For example, if you're a working nurse with an associate's degree, there are healthcare programs online that can help you earn a bachelor's degree which will qualify you for a better job and more money.

What's Next with E-Book Pricing?

While Penguin, Macmillan, and Apple continue the e-book pricing fight with the Department of Justice, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have decided it’s better to pay $69 million now than risk further damage to their reputation and possibly even higher fines that could result from losing a court case.

The three agreed to give refunds in the form of account credits or checks, ranging from 25 cents for each non-bestseller sold to $1.32 for books that appeared on The New York Times bestseller list from April 1, 2010-May 21, 2012. Just don’t expect your refund any time soon.

“Consumers aren’t going to see any payouts right now,” Laura Hazard Owen, a reporter covering e-book publishing for paidContent, said to The Boston Globe. “There’s still a lot of waiting ahead.”

The Globe article goes on to predict consumers could see e-book prices drop as much as 30%. Amazon said it would lower prices when the initial settlement with the Department of Justice was announced in April and other e-tailers will likely follow suit to keep pace.

“When retailers or manufacturers conspire to set prices, consumers lose,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder of consumer resource guide “So this is a good result.”

The three settling publishers also agreed to change the pricing of their e-books, but that’s where things could get a little murky, according to Billy Pidgeon, analyst at M2 Research.

“The devil is in the details,” he told the eCommerce Times. “There’s a lot of issues with the price of digital media. There are expectations that digital should be priced more cheaply as there are no manufacturers. But this really hasn’t been the case.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

iTunes U Course Manager Just Might Be Big

Apple’s iTunes U Course Manager is a web-based tool that allows instructors to create “courses” that can be downloaded and synced to the iTunes U iPad app. That could be a very big deal for higher education if the platform can jump a couple of pretty big hurdles, according to Joshua Kim in a Technology and Learning blog post.

Courses created in the platform can include documents, audio, and video files, which can be read on whatever iPad app a student chooses. The information can be viewed both online and offline, provides additional features that allow students to create and share study notes, and enables course materials to be delivered to students without going through a third-party publishing platform.

The biggest obstacle to making this work on any scale is also the most obvious: Students have to be hooked into an iOS device, preferably an iPad. The student experience on an iPad is great, according to Kim, but those students without Apple devices are out of luck.

Another concern for Kim is students will have to go outside the Apple setting at some point because the platform separates content for iOS devices from the creation of blogs and discussion boards that appear on learning management systems.

“Despite these challenges, I see the evolving Course Manager and iTunes U Courses as a compelling development,” Kim writes. “We have struggled to find a robust way to deliver a combination of text and multimedia curricular content that is organized around a course narrative to mobile devices. Apple seems to be offering us, or at least those of us in the Apple universe, a solution.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Online Education - Ease of School From Home

Online education has been touted as the new wave of education for the future. As more and more colleges and universities hop onto this virtual bandwagon, the opportunities for students increase both in terms of quality and quantity. Nowadays, it doesn't matter whether you live in a small rural community, if you are trying to complete your education while juggling a host of other responsibilities, or even if you are looking for extremely specialized niche degree programs, online education is your best bet. As the number of students who enroll for online schools and colleges grows annually, colleges step up their efforts simultaneously to deliver the best designed degree programs that come along with a host of other benefits.

Propagating the ease of 'school at home,' online education can be your best option if:

You have other responsibilities besides your education - For stay at home parents, students who are already working, business men who travel a lot, students can study anytime, anywhere, and on their own schedule. As long as you have Internet access and a computer, you can plan your studies around your other schedule. And while it does offer great amounts of flexibility, an online education program does not mean less work. You have to be committed to take out time for your research and online lectures and fit in your assignments whenever you get the free time to do so.

You cannot physically be on campus or at a particular location - Whether this is due to prohibitive travel times or budget constraint, there is no need to commute daily to school or relocate to the city of your college of choice. You can be at home, at work, or even on the road and complete your work on time.

You do not have the money to fund an expensive college education - Online degree programs are significantly cheaper than the more traditional programs offered by colleges. You can now enjoy in your own home the benefits of an education without many of the financial hardships that are often associated with attending school. In addition, you will also save on traveling and accommodation and even childcare.

You need individual attention - Most college courses have too many students attending classes to assure any real one on one interaction with the professors. Internet education offers course material that is accessible 24 hours a day and students have the ability to re-read lectures and discussion as often as they require. Online students also have more interaction with their professors as email correspondence is vital in this method of teaching. In this way, a rapport between student and teacher builds up and proves useful in determining ones strengths and weaknesses.

You need to be up to date on a diverse range of study material - Many careers today demand recruits to be exposed to a larger field of knowledge than just their specific major. Online education offers up-to-date theory along with practical knowledge. Online healthcare programs, for example, offer on site practical training at a nearby hospital or clinic along with its theory based course material. Students also get exposed to knowledge and a broader range of content due to online access and e-content. Teachers are located all around the world and offer a world view on events and discussions that are invaluable in creating a diversified approach to education.

You want to be skilled with the latest technologies - By just using the Internet to attend class, students improve their online skills. Research and communication techniques are developed along with several other skills that prove important when applying for a job in today's competitive market.

You benefit from team learning - Online graduate programs offer chat rooms and forums for students to interact with each other. Discussions, newsgroups and emails all encourage constant communication for problem solving and instruction. Instructors are also more approachable and open to online meeting and brainstorming sessions. Many online students feel that their education experience is much richer as a result.

All in all, online degree programs offer a host of benefits to interested students. And while the traditional forms of institutions will never be totally eliminated, it's easy to understand why people are terming this type of education as the next big thing.

Coursera Turns to Student Honor Codes

Media reports have described how students are cheating in at least three Coursera classes. The charges came to light when students complained on course discussion boards about plagiarism, leading the massive online open course site to institute additional honor-code reminders students must read and sign off on before submitting assignments to be graded.

That development probably shouldn’t come as a surprise since student cheating is nothing new. In fact, a 2011 Pew survey found that 55% of college presidents responding to the poll said they'd seen a rise in plagiarism over the last 10 years and 89% of those presidents blamed it on Internet and online classes.

The real question is why bother to cheat at all since the class is free and the student doesn’t receive credit?

Torrie Bosch, editor of Future Tense, which covers emerging technologies for Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University, says she believes it has to do with the “gamification.” Some individuals are so driven to do better in everything, whether a game or an assignment, that they’ll turn to cheating when it becomes frustrating.

“Technically, using cheat codes while playing a game at home for fun or copy-pasting a couple of sentences from Wikipedia on a Coursera assignment doesn’t hurt anybody,” Bosch wrote. “But it does diminish the experience for those who are playing by the rules, as evidenced by the many Coursera students who took to their class discussion boards to complain when they uncovered instances of plagiarism.”