December 2010 Archives

Is E-Mail Lame?

Yes, if you happen to be under 25-years-old. With texting and online chats on the rise some Internet companies are revamping e-mail to try to deliver instant gratification to users. For example, Facebook is rolling out a messaging service that eliminates the subject line on messages after its research showed it was commonly left blank by younger users. Other companies are changing what is perceived to be the long process of signing into to an e-mail account.

The New York Times quotes Lena, a 17-year-old high school senior from California who said, "Texting was so quick that I sometimes have an answer before I even shut my phone." She added, "E-mail is so lame."

The Director of Engineering at Facebook, Andrew Bosworth, is quoted in the Times article as stating, "The future of messaging is more real time, more conversational and more casual. The medium isn't the message. The message is the message."

Some major e-mail sites, like Yahoo and Hotmail, are reporting a steady decline in the number of users. A study done by comScore finds the number of total unique visitors in the U.S. to major e-mail sites slide 6 percent since November 2009. It reports visits among 12-to-17 year-olds fell around 18 percent. Gmail is reported to be the only big gainer in the category and is up 10 percent from a year ago.

When passion and creativity meet technology

Many of you might have already seen this. But if you have not yet, it is worth to watch!! This music video from the 'Playing for Change' project was created more than two years ago. I was pleasantly surprised watching this.

As you see in the video, the project staffs traveled around the world, recorded parts of a song played by many street musicians and mixed them together making a wonderful song.

This project shows really well what can be done when we have passion, creativity with some knowledge in technology (and maybe some fund).

How about showing this to your class and ask them to do some creative things using technologies, which can make a little difference?

Many studies of creativity show that when exposed to creative role models, people are stimulated to increase their creativity, too.

Unplugging and Liking it

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At first students at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology were not too happy with a school-imposed five day social technology blackout last September.

Three months later the students report they felt less stressed, better able to concentrate and forged a stronger connection with their professors during the blackout. The university conducted a survey and focus groups. This data reported many students found lectures more interesting and devoted more time to homework during the so-called blackout period.

Harrisburg's provost, Eric Darr, decided to experiment with the social media blackout this past fall after seeing this daughter simultaneously juggling several conversations on Facebook, her iPhone and an instant-messaging service.

The student's initial reaction to the blackout was that it was prompted by a spat Darr had with his daughter. Darr dismisses that story as an "urban myth" and says the tale gained momentum after it was (ironically) posted on Facebook.

The findings are reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The university's post-blackout survey also found 44 percent of students and 76 percent of professors reported the blackout had taught them something, such as the strengths and weakness of Facebook and the value of face-to-face communications.

More accessible to non-traditional students; just as valuable.

Online classes and degree programs have increased in size and popularity and are becoming more common as public universities continue to add online courses onto their course catalog. Their efforts to introduce more online courses have paid off. Many colleges that offer online courses have seen their online enrollments increased by a substantial amount. Illinois Virtual Campus is one such example. Online enrollments jumped 27% from spring 2009 to spring 2010. Due to increased demand, many chief academic officers now consider online education as critical to their long-term strategy, as reported in an article in Chicago Sun-Times.

Many universities consider online courses a great way to reach non-traditional students. As reported in the article, "What drives many of us in this field is serving the student who cannot come to campus," said Ray Schroeder, a faculty who has taught online courses at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Students who are unable to make the trip to campus include those with disabilities, military students, students working full time and parents who are just unable to make it to class at a specific time and place. Being able to meet students' needs for flexible access and to reach particular students are the top two motivating factors for online instruction, discovered in a recent survey in The Chronicle.

According to the article, the stigma that online degrees are not worth as much as a traditional degree is fading as the demand for online courses continues to grow, spurred on in large part by well-known schools offering online programs. Online degrees, especially those offered by accredited universities, have also gained acceptance from employers and employer acceptance is now fairly common. Director of Washington County's Division of Human Resources, William Sonnik, said in The Herald-Mail that he "wouldn't be too concerned about the type of degree, as long as it's an accredited school..."

Recognized institutions with online degree programs carry more weight with employers than degrees awarded by lesser known schools. A study by reported that 77 percent of hiring managers say that an online degree received through an established university is more acceptable than a degree earned through a less recognized or Internet-only institution. As more brick-and-mortar institutions begin to offer online programs, more faculty members are beginning to understand the effectiveness and see the value of online instruction. Based on findings by The Sloan Consortium, three quarters of academic leaders at public colleges and universities believe that online learning quality is equal to or superior to face-to-face instruction.

Having online programs offered at accredited institutions such as the University of Minnesota means that more students can now receive an education and earn a degree; students who would otherwise find it extremely difficult to manage both school and job responsibilities. Offering online options either in terms of courses or degrees has really open the doors of education to a much larger group of the population.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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