November 2008 Archives

Free textbooks, created by students

Let a Thousand Wikibooks Bloom -

From the article: "The conventional premise of higher education is that information is scarce and must be assembled, evaluated, and presented to students by the instructor." The authors make a compelling point. Information is not scarce now, and one the important skills we must teach is the ability to create knowledge from all the information available to us.

I'm also thinking about our traditional ideas around scholarship. We place a premium on sharing our work so it can be evaluated by others. Research and scholarship not submitted to our peers has little value. I see connections to the textbooks the students are making; they are publishing their work in a format that allows others to correct it, comment on it, and respond to it. They are contributing to scholarship. It is exciting.

Serving veterans in online learning programs

Online degrees appealing option for soldiers -

Veterans are finding online learning programs particularity appealing.

Online enrollments continue to climb

As Economy Wavers, Online Enrollments Climb

The newest numbers are available from Sloan, with online enrollments continuing to climb. The number of students taking at least one course online increased by 12.9% from the previous year.

The comments on the post at IHE are interesting as well. I think Gavin Moodie's comment that the distinction between online and face to face instruction will fade over time is a good one.

The importance of net neutrality

Dueling Data -

President-elect Obama will need to address net neutrality at some point in the next four years. The importance of the issue is spelled out clearly by Paul Cesarini of Bowling Green State University. He argues that network neutrality legislation is needed to prevent the segmentation of the internet, like what we see now with phones. His examples reminded me of the early days of home web-access, when people tried to share channels and chat rooms with friends. AOL users didn't have access to the same channels users did. The web was segmented.

The power of the web is in the open access, free movement and sharing of idea, products, and files. We need to share in academia. Our research and work is weaker when it isn't shared, reviewed, commented on and built on.

Using Skype for study sessions

Wired Campus: Grad Students Who Live Far Apart Hold Study Sessions on�Skype -

As the first commenter at the blog post on the Chronicle noted, people have been using Skype to collaborate across distances for a while now. But it is still a good reminder that distance is coming to mean less and less in academia. We can work with anyone. We can learn from researchers in India, Antarctica, Brazil, Pequot Lakes even when our research has nothing to do with India, Antarctica, Brazil or Pequot Lakes. Imagine a world where a Public Health researcher can learn how colleagues all over the world are addressing the challenges obesity and use that knowledge to propose local solutions. Or a researcher on educational policy can get feedback on a policy draft from experts in China and India and Canada.

Our research questions, and importantly, our solutions, can pull from the best in the world, not just the best in the country. The changes happening now are remarkable.

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