Survey: What online professional learning do teachers prefer?

New survey reveals teachers’ professional learning preferences, trends in priorities

Educators from Pre-K up through higher education most often prefer to participate in professional learning opportunities that focus on training for online software and digital resources (34 percent), classroom management strategies (34 percent), and digital device training (33 percent), according to a new survey released during this year’s ISTE conference.

The 2016 Vision K-20 Professional Learning Survey Report is the ninth annual national K-20 educator survey from the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of SIIA, and also is the first survey focusing on online professional learning (PL).

The survey finds that educators from PreK-12 and higher education institutions most often enroll in courses that provide training for online software and digital resources and classroom management/behavior training.…Read More

Senators spar over for-profit education

A U.S. Senate committee probing allegations that some for-profit schools push students into big debt and fail to educate them likely will introduce a bill tightening rules next year, Reuters reports. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, said at a hearing that he was determined to stamp out abuses at the schools, which often offer training in jobs like installing central air conditioning or running a doctors office. “We will be having yet another hearing in early December, and then be looking at sometime next year coming up with some kind of legislative changes,” said Harkin. During the third hearing on the subject, Harkin sparred with Republican Sen. Michael Enzi, who argued that dropping out and defaulting on student loans—which critics say are rife at for-profit schools—were common at all schools. “It’s naive to think these problems are limited to just the for-profit sector,” he said, pointing to large debts owed by many law school graduates. “We’re just looking at this in a vacuum, and that’s not fair.” For-profit schools, which include many of the nation’s largest online universities, have been battling an Education Department effort to bar financial aid to students in a program if too many former students fail to pay the principal on their federal loans…

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Rutgers to launch a new program promoting politeness

Inspired in part by the propensity for today’s students to lose themselves in technology or leave nasty anonymous comments on web sites, Rutgers University this week is launching Project Civility, a two-year initiative intended to explore politeness and foster respect among members of the state university’s community, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For me, living together more civilly means living together more peacefully, more kindly, and more justly,” said Kathleen Hull, a Rutgers faculty member, who is helping to coordinate the effort. “This includes good manners, yes, but so much more.” It is a prudent time to consider what is appropriate behavior, and not just at Rutgers, according to Hull, who began her scholarly research of the subject following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “There’s been a polarization of the country and a moving away from the center in politics that has contributed to difficulty in having civil dialog,” said Hull, who teaches a popular course on the topic. In May, during a graduation speech at the University of Michigan, President Obama remarked that one way to keep democracy healthy “is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate.” Pier M. Forni, a Johns Hopkins University professor of Italian literature, will launch Project Civility with a lecture at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Student Center. Forni, who is a civility expert, directs a similar initiative at Johns Hopkins, and his work has helped launch like-minded projects around the country. “Civility, good manners, and politeness are not trivial, because they do the everyday busy work of goodness,” said Forni. “Devices of mass distraction,” as he calls them, are a particular source of disruptive behavior: leaving class to take a cell-phone call, surfing the internet, or watching an online show instead of paying attention to an instructor…

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Gates Foundation focuses on college graduation

For many years, diversity in higher education has been measured by how many low-income students and students of color enroll in college. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to make a dramatic change in that definition by focusing instead on college graduation rates, reports the Associated Press. The foundation, along with the National League of Cities, announced Sept. 27 that New York City; San Francisco; Mesa, Ariz.; and Riverside, Calif., each will receive $3 million over the next three years for work designed to boost college graduation. The foundation says its long-term goal is to double the number of low-income adults who earn a college degree or credential that meets job-market demands by age 26. The grants announced Sept. 27 are for aligning academic standards between high school and college, strengthening data systems, implementing early assessment and college prep strategies, and creating support systems to help students get through school. “We know that in today’s economic climate and labor market, a high school diploma is no longer enough,” said Allan Golston, president of the U.S. Program at the Gates Foundation. “We must not only ensure that young people have access to college; we must ensure that they go on to complete college and earn a degree or certificate with value in the workplace.”

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House OKs more degrees for community colleges

Community colleges could offer four-year degrees in nursing, under legislation passed by the House and now headed to the Senate, where the state’s 15 universities hope to block it, the Detroit Free Press reports. Four-year degrees also could be obtained at community colleges in culinary arts and maritime and cement technology. The proposed expansion has sparked an intense turf war between community colleges that say it would make four-year degrees more accessible, especially to older students, and four-year universities that view it as an expensive encroachment on their academic realm. About 10 of Michigan’s 28 community colleges probably would take advantage of the expansion to four-year degrees, said Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Association of Community Colleges…

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Back-to-school IT projects reshape campus life

The top back-to-school IT projects at 10 colleges and universities show a tidal wave of change in higher education, Reuters reports—and many of the changes could presage broader shifts in enterprise and consumer technology. Not surprisingly, wireless is fast becoming the default network connection for campus users, who typically own between two and four wireless-enabled mobile devices. At the same time, virtualization and growth in cloud-based services are centralizing and offloading IT functions. These changes, coupled with soaring video traffic, are triggering bandwidth upgrades at all levels. As students head back to college, Network World has identified six major areas of technology change: the shift toward 802.11n and all-wireless access; the rising tide of mobile devices; recentralizing IT through virtualization; the growth of cloud computing; fast-growing video use; and big bandwidth upgrades. For instance, video usage is growing, fueled partly by student use of online video streaming services. In addition, there’s expanding use of video in learning, such as “lecture capture” systems that create and store searchable videos of class presentations by teachers, visitors, and students. To accommodate these changes, the University of North Texas upgraded its campus distribution network from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, and a new design will improve redundancy. North Texas University ended the 2010 academic year hitting about 300Mbps to 400Mbps of internet traffic and expects to reach 500Mbps in the new academic year. Campuses are also paying more attention to cellular bandwidth…

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Obama urges Americans to take the lead in higher education

President Barack Obama urged Americans Aug. 9 to crack the books and boost post-secondary graduation rates, arguing that higher education achievement was key to U.S. economic health, AFP reports. “America has to have the highest share of graduates compared to other nations. But Texas, I want you to know, we’ve been slipping,” Obama said on a visit to the University of Texas. “In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first place to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults. That’s unacceptable, but it’s not irreversible. We can retake the lead,” Obama stressed, adding: “Education is the economic issue of our time,” Obama insisted, arguing: “The countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.”

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iPad is changing what’s in a campus store

A recent article in Fortune magazine warns that universities should hate the iPad, because it will infringe on profits in the campus store. But students began changing their campus store habits long before the iPad came onto the market, WalletPop reports. For example, the University of California, San Diego, is going the other way: Its campus store stocks not only textbooks and collegiate gear, but runs a green grocer, a convenience store, sells computers and iPads, and does computer repair. Owing to the ever-increasing costs of textbooks and the availability of auctions and textbook rentals, students have been shunning the practice of buying books on campus in favor of cheaper options. Indeed, some colleges, including Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., have eliminated books from their campus stores. Wesleyan made the decision to save its limited space and open an online bookstore instead through MBS Direct. The campus store sells stationery, art supplies, spirit wear, and some room decor items. MBS Direct, one of the online companies that is changing the landscape of the campus store, partners with schools to allow them to continue to profit from book sales without ever having to touch a textbook. And iPads are creating the next stage of evolution at the campus store…

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Colleges spend more on recreation than class

According to a new study of college costs, American colleges are spending a smaller share of their budgets on instruction, and more on recreational facilities for students and on administration, reports the New York Times. The report, based on government data, documents a growing stratification of wealth across America’s system of higher education. At the top of the pyramid are private colleges and universities, which educate a small portion of the nation’s students, while public universities and community colleges serve greater numbers, have fewer resources, and are seeing tuitions rise most rapidly. The United States is reputed to have the world’s wealthiest postsecondary education system, with average spending of around $19,000 per student compared with $8,400 across other developed countries, says the report, “Trends in College Spending 1998-2008,” by the Delta Cost Project, a nonprofit group that advocates for controlling costs to keep college affordable. “Our analysis shows that these comparisons are misleading,” said Jane Wellman, the project’s executive director. “While the United States has some of the wealthiest institutions in the world, it also has a system of postsecondary education with far more economic stratification than is true of any other country.” Community colleges, which enroll about a third of students, spend close to $10,000 per student per year, while the private research institutions, which enroll far fewer students, spend an average $35,000 a year for each one…

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Schools turn to unified communications to save costs, boost productivity

Schools are increasingly considering unified communications solutions.
Schools are increasingly considering unified communications solutions.

More K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are turning to unified communications as a way to streamline campus communication and save much-needed money in unpredictable economic times, a new survey suggests.

Unified communications is the convergence of enterprise voice, video, and data services with software applications designed to achieve greater collaboration among individuals or groups and improve business processes. Component technologies include video, audio, and web conferencing; unified messaging; and more.

The benefits that education technology stakeholders see in implementing unified communications are the same that executives in the government and business sectors see, according to the second annual Unified Communications Tracking Poll from CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G), which provides products and services to education and other sectors.…Read More