Thursday, October 25, 2012

An interview with James Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers Association and college alumnus

photo of James Thornton
Jim Thornton, an alumnus of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department, became president of the National Athletic Trainers' Association over the summer. He carries out those responsibilities while also working as Clarion University of Pennsylvania’s director of sports medicine and athletic training services.

”I watched the Utah State Athletic Trainers working at a football game and I just knew I wanted to be an athletic trainer,” he said. “That was thirty years ago, and I can’t imagine not doing what I do.”

He’s a busy man, but he took some time to talk to us about his experience at USU, the field of athletic training, and his advice for young athletic trainers preparing to enter the workforce.

Q: Tell me how athletic training has changed over the years.

A: A lot of people have a misperception of what athletic trainers do. The modern athletic trainer is a health care provider, licensed and certified in 49 of the 50 states. We provide health care to people in a vast number of settings. I believe we can access the health care system for those patients and athletes faster than anyone else. As I said athletic trainers provide care in a lot of different places, not just in athletics. There are athletic trainers at NASA taking care of the astronauts, and in the military, and in industries where workers do a lot of heavy lifting and other activities that cause injuries of all kinds.  The job is to prevent injuries, but if they do happen we work at getting our patients and athletes back in the game as soon as it is safe.

My goal as an athletic trainer is that our athletes will never look back and say, “They didn’t take care of me at Clarion and that’s why I have to deal with this now.”

The issue of the public recognizing the problems with traumatic brain injury is one of the things that has put us in the forefront. … People don’t realize that athletic trainers have been managing concussions for more than 60 years. This isn’t new for us. It’s new for the public because we’ve had athletes coming forward saying, “I’ve been having problems.”

It’s a bigger, hotter issue today because we know more about traumatic brain injury. Neurology studies have contributed to that. When somebody does get hurt, we try our very best to make sure it’s managed correctly.

Q: Aside from traumatic brain injury, what’s new in athletic training?

A: At NATA we just released a position statement at our national convention, on sudden death and the causes of sudden death in collegiate athletes. This isn’t new, but the position statement is new on how to manage it. It’s all research based. You can find that position statement and others concerning the health and safety of our patients at

Q: How do you keep up with the changes in your field?

A: I’ve enlarged my toolbox, not only to keep up with the profession but also to make sure the care that I’m giving the athletes is the best care that I can provide. I did my master’s degree in sports medicine at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. I am also certified in Performance Enhancement and Corrective Exercise by the National Academy of Sports medicine. 

I read a lot. We have a very well respected, refereed journal; The Journal of Athletic Training.  I study what comes up in it and read the NATA news. I also keep up with the 38,000 athletic trainers who are members.  Every one of them has an opinion, and they’re not afraid to share it.

Q: What advice would you give a fresh graduate in athletic training?

A: I would say the same thing that my mentor, Utah State University Head Athletic Trainer Dale Mildenberger said to me: “Be involved.”  The NATA and the profession need young people that are fresh, sharp, open minded professionals to take us forward.  We need them to need to make a difference in the future.  I know this sounds like a cliché, but I cannot stress enough the importance of the involvement of our students and young professionals.  Continue to expand your knowledge, and don’t just expand it, employ those things that you learn in the every day management of the health care of your patients.  Let the knowledge that you gather never cease, and when you have it, don’t just do what you used to do. Change!  Be better at what you do today than you were yesterday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Advancing Careers With Online Education and Distance Learning Programs

Do you feel stifled in your current career? Are you stuck in a rut and find yourself unable to move up the corporate ladder? Are you looking for better job prospects and a higher salary? Do you believe that having only an undergraduate degree is preventing you from accomplishing your career goals? Then, maybe its time to look at the best possible solution to your professional problems! The answer lies in online learning and what it can offer you in terms of career advancement.

Now, you might think that you are just too busy to resume your education. Juggling your job along with responsibilities at home may be preventing you from enrolling for that college course you have been toying with. Or taking time off from work to complete your education may just not be an option in today's competitive market. It is in situations like these that an online degree program becomes an ideal solution. No doubt, earning a living is important, but nowadays this does not necessarily imply giving up your dream of a higher education. You can attend college after work with an online education school.

Online education is growing fast with many schools offering online degrees. Many colleges now offer courses and methods of studying that are easier and more enjoyable. You will receive the same quality education and degree as attending a campus. The difference is that your online degree is earned from home in your own time.

There are so many options when it comes to an online degree. You can choose from an Associate, Bachelor's and even a Master's degree. But the biggest plus point in favor of online education is the convenience. There are no set times and class schedules and you can work faster or slower depending on the pace you require. You can complete your degree in lesser timeframe, which allows you to re-enter the work arena in a shorter time frame than with a traditional college program. You can attend class whenever you have the time and without having to commute or spend on gas or public transport. All that you require is a computer with an Internet connection to access all your course information online. A good program will promote communication between lecturers and other fellow students through email, forums, message boards and chat rooms. For those on a budget, most online programs offer flexible payments and are, as a rule, less expensive than a normal school program. Financial aid is also available for online education, so check out your options before registering.

Therefore, the highlights of online education are: - A school that is open round the clock - No traveling or commuting fees - Less expensive course fees - Study at your own convenience - Access to the curriculum and course material is always available

In terms of today's shaky economy, you might be struggling to hold onto your job and stay afloat. It's in such situations that you need to boost your job skills and optimize your resume by adding new up-to-date skills through the variety of online degree programs available. Regardless of what you are interested in, the odds are that you will be able to find an online degree that meets your needs. Another benefit of choosing long distance education is that you are not limited by the programs offered by the schools around you. You can choose a program, no matter how obscure the field, rather than settling for programs available only through your local college or university.

In many careers, promotions are limited for individuals who do not have degrees. Working professionals should choose an online degree program to get out of a dead-end job. Choose a program that offers training that will benefit you with your career goals as well.

At the end of the day though, online programs are not an easy option. All said and done, completing any online degree program requires commitment and determination. You need discipline to stay on track but when you finally graduate, you will reap the benefits of online education that make all the difference to your career ... and your life.

Opportunities in education today would have been impossible even a few decades back. With the popularity of the Internet, easy accessibility to computers and the World Wide Web, higher education has been transformed into a new dynamic entity. With technology progressing at a rapid pace and demands changing almost daily, our lives are only becoming busier. The world around us is left with no option but to change and move along with the times to accommodate to our new schedules and requirements. This is more than apparent in the field of education. As times change, fewer and fewer students rely on the traditional method of attending classes at a college campus. The 'brick and mortar' type of education still exists but now side by side with the option of graduating from an online degree program as well.

As the number of people who look for ways to complete their education or improve their skills becomes too large, it is inevitable that a large number of colleges and universities take the necessary steps towards filling that need. But jobs, childcare and other family obligations limit the amount of time people can devote to their education, and thus, alternative arrangements are created. Online education has started gaining popularity and has now completely changed the way we approach education today.

Online degrees are now widely accepted and recognized as authentic educational qualifications. As long as the institution offering the degree is accredited by an accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, there should be no problem in the degree being accepted and acknowledged anywhere. Fully accredited online degree programs are now available in nearly every field. From management to medicine, law to accounting, there is a wide variety of choices on offer. Even obscure subjects and fields of study have found their place on the Internet. With degrees such as healthcare, students are even given the option of combining the practical aspect of their training at local hospitals or clinics along with virtual classes and studying online.

The flexibility of online education has opened up the doors of education to people from all walks of life. Stay at home moms and dads can now study from their own houses and employees can complete their assignments around their work schedules. There is 24 hour accessibility to the study material allowing for all night study sessions as well as the possibility of returning to subject matter again and again if necessary. And as universities continue to expand their options, the flexibility of online education will only increase. Students will be offered more options with the possibility of a custom created curriculum that suits their individual requirements and interests.

Distance learning also allows people hundreds of miles away to graduate with degrees from the college of their choice. Without spending a penny on gas or transport, students can make the most of a world class education with resources and faculty from all over the world. Through pre-recorded lectures, worksheets, assignments, e-classes, online forums, and tests, students can view, interact, and study from the comfort of their own space.

With a more flexible attendance policy, students can choose to tackle their workload as quickly or as slowly as they need to (all within a larger pre-determined schedule, of program). While this freedom may prove to be a little daunting to a new student, after completing a few programs, it becomes easier to get used to this new way of studying. To be successful in an online program, a large amount of self discipline and motivation is imperative. Without which it is all too easy to take advantage of the flexibility of the program and not achieve much. And while online education is definitely less expensive than a traditional degree program, to spend time, money and effort on something that is not taken seriously will not accomplish anything in the long run.

Online education in short offers every individual the right information in the right format at the right time for the best chances of success. Once upon a time online schools were considered the next wave of education and that future is finally here - ready to change the way we look at education way beyond the boundaries of any classroom.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Need relationship advice? There's a class for that.

These spots advertising a free healthy relationships course will appear in Utah theaters this week, thanks to USU Cooperative Extension, faculty from the Family, Consumer and Human Development Department and the Federal Office of Family Assistance.

And also through the creativity of a therapist who used to do stand-up comedy.

The spots are funny, but the subject is serious. "In just a few sessions, this research based course can help you with healthy dating relationships and partner selection," the class website says.

Does this sound like information you could use? Check out the Healthy Relationships Utah website and find a free class near you! They're available in Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, Washington and Weber counties.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr. Karl White to speak at USU's TEDx event

Karl White holds a baby
Dr. Karl White will be one of the presenters at Utah State University's independently-organized TEDx event on November 7. If you want to register, go to the TEDx page right away--the window closes on Friday, Oct. 19 at 5 p.m.

Attendees to the conference and the overflow rooms will be randomly selected from those who register. Only register once, please--duplicates will be discarded.

Here's some information about Dr. White from USU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies:

Dr. White is a psychology professor at USU and the founding director of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management. His team was instrumental in establishing universal newborn hearing screening in the United States and has subsequently worked with more than 30 countries to establish early hearing detection and intervention programs. He will discuss how such programs provide a sound foundation for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to excel.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Football Day at Sound Beginnings

A girl catches a football
It's become a tradition at Sound Beginnings: come with your family, wear your Aggie gear, bring a football for student athletes to sign. It looks adorable--and it is--but there's some meaty stuff going on here.

For one thing, children who are deaf or hard of hearing are interacting with people they don't know, taking verbal cues from players as they toss the football around. "The kids are understanding these instructions from the football players," said Kristina Blaiser, director of Sound Beginnings. "That just shows what they have accomplished."

On Friday, Utah State University's football players came to spend part of a day with the families of the Sound Beginnings program. It was their third annual Football Day together.

A student athlete reaches to catch a football
Sound Beginnings provides early education to children with hearing loss whose families want them to learn to listen and talk. It is located within the Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education department here in the college. The program offers the training needed to use a hearing aid or cochlear implant to its fullest potential. The technology provides early access to sound; the training helps the child learn how to use it.

The service providers make sure the work seems more like play. "With preschoolers, you have to make it fun or they won't do it," Blaiser said.

It was an anticipated event--the children counted down the days until the football players arrived. When the time came, the parents of younger children were able to watch the older ones interact. It shows them what they can look forward to, Blaiser said.

The football event allowed everyone in the program to stop, celebrate and enjoy their community.

You can read more about the event in Cache Valley Daily news.

Thanks, student athletes, for spending a cool fall day with us!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We knew the superintendent when...

photo of Martel Menlove
Photo courtesy of the Center for Persons with Disabilities
Earlier this week, the Utah State Board of Education named Martel Menlove as Utah's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

He has a lot of ties to Utah State University and the EEJ College of Education and Human Services. He graduated from here in Elementary Education, then received his Ph.D in Special Education.

While he finished his doctorate, he also worked as a program director for the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, one of the units within the college. You can read more about that on their blog.

Since then he has served as superintendent in the Box Elder and Rich school districts. He has been deputy superintendent at the Utah State Office of Education since 2009.

"I am humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve," he said in a press release from the Utah State Board of Education. "My promise is that we will focus on the students and I will do all that I can to move public education forward."

You can read more in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune .

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

B&N, Microsoft Partner to Form Nook Media

The strategic partnership between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft is now complete and the new venture will be called Nook Media.

Nook Media will be a B&N subsidiary made up of its digital and college  businesses, backed by a $300 million investment from Microsoft. The partnership will help B&N continue its growth into digital content and allows the company to expand internationally, CEO William Lynch told The Wall Street Journal. Lynch added he expects Nook Media revenues to be $3 billion annually, but no decisions have been made for possible spinoffs.

“There can be no assurance that the review will result in a strategic separation or the creation of a stand-alone public company,” Lynch said. “Barnes & Noble does not intend to comment further regarding the review unless and until a decision is made.”

Nook Media does have one issue to address: The name is already owned by a Swedish developer of online gambling casinos, according to Digital Reader.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Accessibility Still Lacking to NFB

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has accused Educause and Internet2 of ignoring the needs of print-disabled students in e-book pilots in progress on more than 20 campuses across the country this fall. The criticism caught the pilot developers by surprise since they thought they were collaborating with the NFB on the project.

The criticism was leveled, in part, because a review of the original pilot done by Disability Services at the University of Minnesota recommended the school drop out of the program because of its use of PDF formats that wouldn’t work with adaptive technology such as text-to-voice software.

“The initial problem was the way the content is packaged and delivered, but it really [goes] beyond that, to the affordances that are built into the package as well,” said Brad Cohen, associate chief information officer for academic technology at the University of Minnesota.

The NFB criticism is an attempt to pressure organizers to add accessibility requirements into any platform used to deliver e-books, according to NFB President Marc Maurer, who added he would be satisfied to know what accessibility plans will be going forward.

“There has to be a deadline by which time they expect the system to be accessible to blind professors and students,” he said. “It can’t be 25 years from now. A couple of years would suit me. I’d be glad to have it sooner than that.”

Educause and Internet2 claimed in an e-mail to Campus Technology, “Given the rapid change in how technology is deployed—students often bring it rather than campuses providing it—it is critical to experiment with new ways to provide course materials. Inevitably, some of those experiments fall short. However, rejecting experimentation does not solve the problem.”

The tiff could be an opportunity for publishers to become more involved. Mickey Levitan, CEO of Courseload, which provides an e-reading platform for the pilot, said he believes accessibility is a “shared interest” between tech firms and publishers.

“These are very complex issues that will have to be resolved with collaboration of all the key parties,” he said. “I don’t think that this is going to fall unduly on any one of those groups, but its clear that its going to have to be a collaborative multipronged effort if we’re going to make progress possible.”

Monday, October 8, 2012

Online Schools Getting Mixed Reviews

As the popularity of online public schools grows, so does concern about the quality of education students are receiving.  Supporters see the programs as innovative and affordable, while public officials in a number of states are reporting poor grades and worse graduation rates.

New applications for online schools in Maine, New Jersey, and North Carolina are being denied, according to a Yahoo! News report, while the auditor general of Pennsylvania claims online schools in his state are being overpaid by at least $105 million per year. In addition, state education officials in Florida have accused virtual schools of hiring uncertified teachers and an Ohio study reports that nearly every online school in that state ranks below average for student academic growth.

Cyber-school officials note their students are often behind traditional students and need time to catch up. A recent study by the University of Arkansas showed steady improvement for students who remained in online schools for several years.

However, a Stanford report found online students in Pennsylvania made “significantly smaller gains in reading and math” than traditional public school students. At the same time, the first virtual school in Tennessee had the lowest possible score for student growth.

“I’m not closing the door on it, but we have to do it right,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wager, who has held public hearings on virtual schools in New Jersey.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Moving Ahead with Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning has educators thinking about how classrooms are organized. For example, Arizona has an initiative, called Move on When Ready, that allows high-achieving students to graduate after their sophomore year if they demonstrate they can perform at a college-ready level.

Jeff Livingston, senior vice president of college and career readiness at McGraw-Hill, added to the conversation in an interview with GigaOM, where he suggested that educators will be rethinking organizing K-12 classes by age.

“What does it mean to be a ninth grader or 10th grader beyond a certain age?” Livingston said. “It doesn’t make sense that all the 15-year-olds are in this grade and all the 16-year-olds are in that grade. It should be where your interests, your skills, and your mastery of certain concepts take you.”

Mixed-aged classrooms have been around since one-room schoolhouse days, while the Khan Academy and Western Governors University are putting learning based on competency into practice. Massive open online courses are also part of the picture, providing high school students the opportunity to move ahead of their classroom coursework through college-level courses.

The technology is there to make it happen, or soon will be. The question is whether teachers, school administrators, and parents are ready for the change. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What is Plagiarism?

At first, academic integrity seems like a no-brainer: don't pass off somebody else's work as your own. But the nuances of plagiarism can be complicated.

Getting it right is serious business--universities including Utah State have policies and penalties in place for those who plagiarize. But as information is shared freely on the web (re-blog, anyone?), it can be easy to lose academic integrity.

So how much do you know about it? Rutgers University put a quiz together to measure your plagiarism savvy--and it was harder than we expected. Take it and see how you do: it's called The Cite is Right.

Provincial Policy: No Fee to Access Digital Tests

A new provincewide policy involving online course materials tripped up at least one university in Ontario, Canada, this fall. The University of Windsor is now refunding roughly $210,000 to 3,000 students who purchased access codes.

According to a report in The Windsor Star, the university inadvertently charged students for the codes, which enabled them to go online to complete assignments, quizzes, and/or exams required as part of their course grade. That’s a no-no, says the Ministry of Colleges, Training, and Universities.

As Assistant Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor explains in a July 2011 memo, the ministry’s new policy, which went into effect this fall, is that schools are responsible for picking up the cost of mandatory assignment and examination materials, including those in digital formats. The schools cannot charge students extra to access those materials if the students must fill them out for course credit. Most of the affected University of Windsor students, primarily in introductory courses, bought access codes bundled with a new textbook.

The university is trying to determine whether it can afford to cover the cost of those online assignments and tests from now on.

The ministry’s policy isn’t intended to prohibit universities from charging for other digital course materials.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Digital Content Report Draws Line in the Sand

A new report, Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age, from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) urges states and school districts to “commit to beginning the shift from print to digital instructional materials” no later than the 2017-18 academic year.

Otherwise, the report says, teachers and pupils will be stuck in another funding cycle resulting in the acquisition of out-of-date content and inflexible print formats. It could be another decade before they’d have the monies to replace print with digital materials.

Some state legislatures are already on board, such as Florida, which wants schools to substitute electronic materials for at least half their books by 2015. However, some educators think students aren’t ready for such a rapid move. Tampa Bay Online reported on the problems one district had with digital books, including login difficulties and students with limited or no access to computers at home.

Those are the kind of wrinkles schools will have to iron out. SETDA’s report points to seven factors to address: sustainable funding for devices, robust Internet connectivity, up-to-date policies and practices, prepared educators, intellectual property and reuse rights, quality control and usability, and state and local leadership buy-in.

SETDA’s report recommends that schools establish and communicate “a clear vision for the use of digital and open content,” which includes chucking any regulations or policies that get in the way and finding dollars to ensure adequate classroom technologies.

The report also calls on government, education, and business to work together on “alternative, flexible models” for the development and dissemination of digital content.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

University Presses Give Short-Form E-Books a Try

Short-form e-book programs have been attracting attention among university presses as a way to provide in-depth, quality content in a brief format. Princeton, following the lead of Amazon’s Kindle Singles format, launched Princeton Shorts last year, with Stanford and the University of North Carolina presses getting into the business this past spring.

It’s hoped the shorter works will hook readers into buying the original, much longer version. The titles could also be a useful format in course adoptions where instructors want to assign chapter-length reading material. Or it may show how university presses can stay ahead of the technological curve, according to a post by the American Association of University Presses.

While it’s still too early tell, short-form e-books have so far not stopped people from buying the complete work. at least not at Princeton.

“The paperback of [best-selling economics book This Time is Different] has been selling well and steadily since its release not long before the release of the short,” said Rob Tempio, editor in charge of the Princeton Shorts project. “Did sales of the Short drive that? Doubtful. Did sales of the Short detract from the sales of that? Almost certainly not.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Edith Bowen's birthday

A lot of schools are named after somebody--and often the children who go there don't have a clue who their school honored when it took its name.

Not so at Edith Bowen.

children gather around Edith Bowen's headstone

Last week, classes from Edith Bowen Laboratory School visited the grave of the woman their school was named after. She is buried a five-minute walk from the school that bears her name, in the Logan City Cemetery.

She was born on September 29, 1880 in a tiny Idaho town. Her grave is marked by a modest, school-teacher-salary-sized headstone.

We don't know a lot about her. We just know that she started a revolutionary idea in Logan: Kindergarten. The first class began at the Whittier school in 1926. Its first teacher was another recognizable name on campus: Emma Eccles Jones. Emma was persuaded by her former geography teacher, Miss Edith Bowen, to put her new degree from Teachers College at Columbia University to use.

In 1927, Utah State University started a school of education. In 1928 it established a teacher training school, absorbing Whittier into its program. It became a place where student teachers could experience hands-on learning. In 1932 Edith Bowen became its elementary supervisor.

"I always remember her as a dedicated teacher, a loyal friend and a supervisor of great inspiration to those whose lives she touched," Emma wrote later. "I seriously doubt that without her inspiration and assistance, I would have been instrumental in organizing and teaching a Kindergarten in the Whittier School."

Emma’s dedication would later result in enormous support for the College of Education and Human Services, which now bears her name.

The teacher training program moved on campus in 1957, when the Edith Bowen Laboratory School was built.

Kaye Rhees was a teacher through the 1980s and a principal from the 90s through 2007. The school's relationship to the university had benefits for both, she said. "We had access to all the museums, the swimming pool, the tennis courts." 

What's more, the influx of talent enlivened the school.  "It just kept you fresh all the time. It allowed you to work groups of kids into smaller groups… it really blessed the lives of the students, I think."

Educators learned from the children, too. "We did some collaboration with the elementary education professors on the research that they were working on," Rhees said. "Having the lab school on campus added a facet or a component of research."

The Reading for All Learners curriculum is currently used all over the United States. Its early testing happened at Edith Bowen.

The laboratory school’s original one-story building was demolished in the 2000s, with the new Edith Bowen Laboratory School taking shape on the same site. By then Emma Eccles Jones had passed away, but her foundation helped fund the new building at a time when many other laboratory schools were closing due to budget issues. It remains a reason that the EEJ College of Education is the region's leader. 

The school’s supporters agreed Emma would have wanted the new lab school building to keep her former teacher's name.

Thanks to the efforts of Vaughan Larson, a media specialist at Edith Bowen, its students know who their school is named after. They learned about her at the gravesite and sang the school song.

Then they went back to class in her monument.

photo of Edith Bowen Laboratory School