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LMS data updates from Edutechnica: Moodle and Canvas see gains, Bb declines

Moodle News - Hace 3 horas 28 mins
The work that Edutechnica has done to pull this information is great, please note that the change from 800+ FTEs to 700+ FTEs since last time the update was released could have a minor effect on the...

La tecnología educativa que nos espera

Jordi Adell - 29 Marzo, 2015 - 12:46

El World Economic Forum (sí, esos amigos que se reúnen en Davos todos los años)  ha publicado recientemente un informe titulado “Industry Agenda. New Vision for Education. Unlocking the Potential of Technology” en el que describen su visión de las competencias necesarias para los trabajadores del S. XXI y el papel que la tecnología educativa debe jugar en su consecución. Mi amigo Fernando Trujillo (@fsaez) me lo ha mandado y no puedo resistir la tentación de citar alguns frangmentos (las negritas son mías):

In this report, we undertook a detailed analysis of the research literature to define what we consider to be the 16 most critical “21st-century skills”. Our study of nearly 100 countries reveals large gaps in selected indicators for many of these skills – between developed and developing countries, among countries in the same income group and within countries for different skill types. These gaps are clear signs that too many students are not getting the education they need to prosper in the 21st century and countries are not finding enough of the skilled workers they need to compete.

Los fines de la educación están claros: competir como “skilled workers” en este valle de lágrimas.

¿Y cuáles son las  “most critical” competencias? Este gráfico las resume:


Y para conseguir esa masa necesaria de “skilled workers”  la tecnología educativa es esencial. ¿En qué sentido? Cito (las negritas son nuevamente mías):

Numerous innovations in the education technology space are beginning to show potential in improving education and helping address skills gaps. To help lower the cost and improve the quality of education, education technology is being used to:

  • Find creative solutions to fundamental challenges in many countries, such as a lack of well-trained teachers and broadly accessible technology infrastructure
  • Make education available to a broader audience at a much lower cost or provide higher quality instruction at the same price
  • Enable easier scaling up of promising models within local markets and the transfer of best practices across markets in ways that can be sustained over the long term
  • Gain insight into how and what students learn in real time by taking advantage of the greater variety, volume and velocity of data
  • Increase teacher productivity, freeing up valuable time from tasks such as grading and testing, which can be used for differentiated teaching of competencies and character qualities.

Pero traquilos, los autores también saben qué didáctica es la más efectiva: “an instructional system known as the closed loop is necessary to address skills gaps”:


Si no fuera porque quiero ser educado diría que “el closed-loop” se parece mucho al modelo ADDIE de toda la vida y que para ese viaje, francamente, no hacen falta alforjas. Pero terminemos ya.

¿Y, como diría Quino, quién ha perpetrado todo esto? La respuesta se obtiene mirando quién son los autores del informe: el “Team”, los “Advisors”, los “Interviewees”, etc. Como son gente muy educada no hablan de sus respectivos negocios. Eso queda feo si quieres cambiar la educación del mundo.

Dios nos pille confesados.


Categorías: General

Conference: Distance teaching and learning, Wisconsin, 2015

Tony Bates - 29 Marzo, 2015 - 01:56

The Monona Terrace, Madison, Wisconsin

What: The University of Wisconsin Distance Teaching and Learning Conference

You will discover innovative ways to teach and support online learners. Learn best strategies, practices, and solutions. Connect with experts in online education and engage with e-learning colleagues from around the world.

When: August 11-13, 2015

Where: Monona Terrace, Madison, Wisconsin

Who: The conference is organized and sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies’ Distance Education Professional Development (DEPD) team.

Keynote speakers

  • Marc Rosenberg
  • Mark Prensky
  • Sharon Derry and Susan Singer
  • Simone Conceçãio
  • Michael G. Moore


  • Registration opens May 4
  • To register, click here

How much:

The conference fee will be US$495 for registration by July 31, $545 afterwards. reduced fee for students, groups

Online Fundamentals Conference Certificate

Designed for those new to online learning, this blended certificate entails pre- and post-conference work plus onsite conference activities. Get both the conference and certificate for only $850 ($1,200 value).


This has been the largest and longest running (30 years) distance education conference in the USA. It’s good to see Michael Moore is speaking. We worked together many years ago at the Open University in Britain and he has been a pioneer of distance education in the USA.

CNIE 2015 conference in Winnepeg

Tony Bates - 28 Marzo, 2015 - 21:35

The Red River, near the Forks, Winnipeg (my own photo)

What: The CAUCE-CNIE Conference: Beyond Diversity: Learning and Working in an Inclusive World

Conference Themes:

  • dialoguing on human rights
  • creating access to education
  • embracing inclusivity.

When: May 27-29, 2015

Where: Inn at the Forks, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Winnipeg = Muddy Water in Cree.)


  • Canadian Association of University Continuing Education
  • Canadian Network for Innovation in Education
  • University of Manitoba

Keynote speakers

  • Ovide Mercredi
  • Stephen Murgatroyd


  • Closing date for Early Bird registration: March 31 (Tuesday) – so get cracking!
  • To register, click here

How much:

The conference fee will be $650 for registration by March 31, $700 afterwards. Conference fee includes all meals, Gala dinner and dance


This is the first time I believe that CAUCE and CNIE have organised a joint conference.

An interesting and topical theme, given recent events in Winnipeg, and for a long time across Canada, regarding violence against aboriginal women.

I would like to have attended but I will be on holiday in Europe at this time.

Gordon Pask's Adaptive Teaching Machines

Hack Education - 28 Marzo, 2015 - 21:35

“Adaptive learning” might be one of the latest education technology buzzwords, one that’s often uttered alongside that other popular adjective “personalized.” But, like much in ed-tech, the concept is not new. (And like much in ed-tech, the “History” section for the Wikipedia entry on “adaptive learning” is woefully incomplete.)

The earliest teaching machines – those built by B. F. Skinner and Sidney Pressey, for example – were not adaptive. They did promise “personalization” of sorts by allowing students to move at their own pace through the lessons, but that path was quite rigidly scripted. The machines only responded to right or wrong, allowing students to proceed to the next question if they got the previous question right. And the point, particularly of machines designed around Skinner’s theory of “operant conditioning,” was for the student to get it right, that is to maximize the positive reinforcement. As Paul Saettler writes in his 1968 book, A History of Instructional Technology, “Effective Skinnerian programming requires instructional sequences so simple that the learner hardly ever makes an error. If the learner makes too many errors – more than 5 to 10 percent – the program is considered in need of revision.” These machines could not diagnose why a student got an answer wrong or right; again, according to behaviorist theory, the machines were designed so to make sure students got it right.

Despite initial excitement of learning with a new technology like one of Skinner’s teaching machines, many students found these devices to be quite boring. “The biggest problem with programmed instruction was simply that kids hated it,” writes Bob Johnstone in Never Mind the Laptops. “In fact, it drove them nuts - especially the brighter ones. The rigidity of the seemingly endless, tiny-steps, one-word-answer format bored clever students to tears. They soon found ingenious ways of circumventing the programs and even, in some cases, of sabotaging the machines. A well-placed wad of chewing gum could throw a whole terminal out of whack.”

Adaptive Teaching Machines

Best known for Conversation Theory, the British cybernetician Gordon Pask designed a different sort of teaching machine – an adaptive teaching machine – patenting it in 1956. This patent provides the basis for the self-adaptive keyboard instructor (SAKI), which the theorist Stafford Beer described as “possibly the first truly cybernetic device (in the full sense) to rise above the status of a 'toy' and reach the market as a useful machine.”

The SAKI was designed to train people to use a Hollerith key punch, a manual device used to punch holes in cards used in turn for data processing. There was at the time quite a significant demand for keypunch operators – mostly women – as this was, until the 1970s, a common method for data entry.

Image credits: Gordon Pask, "SAKI: Twenty-five years of adaptive training into the microprocessor era"

Like many teaching machines (then and now), SAKI purported to function like a human tutor. But unlike earlier teaching machines, the adaptive component of Pask’s devices offers more than just an assessment of right or wrong: they identify and measure a student’s answers – accuracy, response time – and adjust the next question accordingly. That is, the difficulty of the questions are not pre-programmed or pre-ordained. As Pask writes in a 1958 article “Electronic Keyboard Teaching Machines,”

The only meaning which can be given to ‘difficulty’ is something which this particular trainee finds difficult. There would be little point in building our own idea of difficulty into a teaching machine, and still less an average difficulty scale, for example, a scale obtained by averaging the results of a number of tests using this exercise material presented to different subjects. This average measure of difficulty might be perfectly valid on the average, but it would almost certainly never apply to a specified individual. In fact, even for the same individual, something deemed difficult at one moment will be rated easy the next.

The machine responds algorithmically.

Stafford Beer described using the SAKI in his 1959 book Cybernetics and Management:

You are confronted with a punch: it has blank keys, for this is a “touch typing” skill. Before you, connected to the punch, is Pask’s machine. Visible on it is a little window, and an array of red lights arranged like the punch’s keyboard. The figure “7” appears in the window. This is an instruction to you to press the “7” key. But you do not know which it is. Look at the array of lights. One is shining brightly: it gives you the position of the “7” key, which you now find and press. Another number appears in the window, another red light shines and so on. Gradually you become aware of the position of the figures on the keyboard, and therefore you become faster in your reactions. Meanwhile, the machine is measuring your responses, and building its own probabilistic model of your learning process. That “7,” for instance, you now go to straight away. But the “3,” for some obscure reason, always seems to elude you. The machine has detected this, and has built the facts into its model. And now, the outcome is being fed back to you. Numbers with which you have difficulty come up with increasing frequency in the otherwise random presentation of digits. They come up more slowly, too, as if to say: “Now take your time.” The numbers you find easy, on the contrary, come up much faster: the speed with which each number is thrown at you is a function of the state of your learning. So also is the red-light system. For as you learn where the “7” is, so does the red-light clue gradually fade. The teacher gives you less and less prompting. Before long, if you continue to improve on “7,” the clue light for “7” will not come on at all. It was getting fainter on "5" for you were getting to know that position. But now you have had a relapse: “5” is eluding you altogether. Your teacher notes your fresh mistakes. “5” is put before you with renewed deliberation, slowly; and the red light comes back again, brightly.... So the teaching continues. You pay little intellectual attention: you relax. The information circuit of this system of you-plus-machine flows through the diodes and condensers of the machine, through the punch, through your sensory nerves and back through your motor nerves, the punch, the machine. Feedback is constantly adjusting all the variables to reach a desired goal. In short, you are being conditioned. Soon the machine will abandon single digits as the target, and substitute short runs of digits, then longer runs. You know where all the keys are now; what you have to learn next are the patterns of successive keys, the rhythms of your own fingers.

Image credits: Gordon Pask, "SAKI: Twenty-five years of adaptive training into the microprocessor era"

As Pask's patent application contends, the adaptivity of the machine serves to keep student’s interest (again, a feature that sets it apart from earlier teaching machines):

If the operator is receiving data at too slow a rate, he is likely to become bored and attend to other irrelevant data.

If the data given indicates too precisely what responses the operator is required to make, the skill becomes too easy to perform and the operator again tends to become bored.

If the data given is too complicated or is given at too great a rate, the operator is unable to deal with it. He is then liable to become discouraged and lose interest in performing or learning the skill.

Ideally, for an operator to perform a skill efficiently, the data presented to him should always be of sufficient complexity to maintain his interest and maintain a competitive situation, but not so complex as to discourage the operator. Similarly these conditions should obtain at each stage of a learning process if it is to be efficient. A tutor teaching one pupil seeks to maintain just these conditions.

Pask argued that, by using the SAKI for 35 minutes every workday, a novice keypunch operator could be trained to type 7000 kdph (key depressions per hour) in 4–5 weeks. “There is a slightly arcane figure (which is, however, if anything conservative),” he wrote in an article reviewing twenty-five years of SAKI development, “citing between 30% and 50% saving in training time.”

In 1961, the manufacturing rights to SAKI were sold to Cybernetic Developments. About 50 devices were sold.

Adult learners, mobile phones and online learning

Tony Bates - 28 Marzo, 2015 - 20:28

The McArthur River Mine, Northern Saskatchewan

Sometimes, distance education really is distant. Damian Boyle is a workplace instructor from Northlands College who works with itinerant workers at the remote McArthur River mine in Northern Saskatchewan. He has noticed a steep drop in the voluntary drop-in for adult education at the mine following recent local access to Wi-Fi and the Internet. He asked me a serious of questions I can’t answer. Here are his questions:

With regards to some aspects of m-learning by adults that are informal, unstructured, and perhaps accidental rather than purposeful: I work as a Workplace Educator for Northlands College, and provide learning services to about 1000 itinerant Workers at Cameco’s McArthur River Mine Site, in northern Saskatchewan. This is a fly-in site, with camp accommodations and no other community or services.  (Further details about my work are posted on EduNorth).

I am seeking ways to drive engagement by Workers with the Workplace Education Program. To that end I am here requesting your assistance for direction to resources, organizations, and individuals that may be able to provide some suggestions about how to best do this.

Since July of 2013 I have observed a steep decline in drop-in engagement with the Workplace Education Program on un-paid time (voluntary participation).  This decline in voluntary participation has been coincidental with the provision of cellular service and Wi-Fi internet access at the Site, plus the now ubiquitous (~95%) adoption of smartphones by workers.  Has your organization experienced similar trends?

1.    With regards to adult learners, what are the statistical trends for engagement with services for assistance with developing:  Literacy, Numeracy, Workplace Essential Skills, and Adult Basic Education?

2.    What percentage of those adult Learners seeking assistance with developing Literacy, Numeracy, Workplace Essential Skills, and Adult Basic Education, own or regularly use a Smartphone or Tablet?

Any direction, suggestions, recommendations, statistics, or thoughts that you could share with me about any of this would be most appreciated. Thanks very much for your assistance with this.

 I’m wondering if anyone can help, either by posting a comment to this post or sending Damian an e-mail at


Stop Saying “High Quality”

OLDaily - 28 Marzo, 2015 - 07:08

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Mar 28, 2015

I've been at the Hewlett OER grantees conference in Sausalito the last few days and I find myself agreeing with David Wiley in this post: "The biggest surprises to me were the number of times the phrase “ high quality” came up, and what a strong, negative reaction I had each time I heard the word." Same here! "'High quality' sounds like it’ s dealing with a core issue, while actually dodging the core issue. The phrase is sneaky and deceptive.... when people say “ high quality” they actually mean all these things (author credentials, review by faculty, copyediting, etc.) except effectiveness." Wiley won't say this, but in my view it's a way for publishers to weasel into a position of being the sole provider of open educational resources, because of course nobody else could produce "high quality" materials.

[Link] [Comment]
Categorías: General

Hack Education Weekly News

Hack Education - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 21:35
Education Politics

A student privacy bill was set to be introduced in Congress this week. Sponsored by Rep. Luke Messer and Rep. Jared Polis, the bill came under fire for doing little to protect student privacy – “It’s riddled with ‘huge loopholes’ and ‘escape clauses,’” EPIC’s Khaliah Barnes told Politico. Following criticism, introduction of the bill was delayed.

Has NCLB been reauthorized yet dot com? (I can’t afford to buy any more domains. But this one did cross my mind.)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy at (Jerry Falwell’s) Liberty University. Speaking of “liberty,” students were mandated to attend. Here’s what they said on Yik Yak.

FratPAC is a thing – the lobbying arm for fraternities – and according to Bloomberg, it’s lobbying Congress to make it harder for universities to investigate rapes on campus.

“The U.S. Department of Education is so concerned about the risk that dozens of colleges pose to students and taxpayers that it has curtailed access to federal money at those institutions – but it won’t say which ones,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

Illinois state senator Bill Brady has proposed privatizing the state’s higher education system.

Via The New York Times: “Arizona Governor Seeks Review of Common Core Education Standards.”

Finland is scrapping teaching subjects in schools – except not really.

Indiana governor Mike Pence signed SB 101 this week, which ostensibly protects religious freedom by allowing businesses to turn away gay customers. How will the NCAA respond, asks Inside Higher Ed? How will Educause, which is scheduled to hold its annual conference in the state?

The White House held another science fair.

Education in the Courts

The National Association of College Bookstores has filed a lawsuit in order to obtain a copy of Purdue University’s contract with Amazon. The university had partnered with the online retailer earlier this year in order to offer students faster shipping and on-campus pickup locations.

“Should the confidentiality shrouding students' evaluations of college instructors always be protected, even if it might conceal violations of the law?” The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at a lawsuit fled by Alma Martinez contending Pomona College discriminated against her when it denied her tenure.


Nothing to report!

Meanwhile on Campus

Charlottesville, Virginia police say that there is “‘no substantive basis’ to support a Rolling Stone magazine article depicting a horrific gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house.” Rolling Stone also says it will publish a review of its reporting. Meanwhile, UVA plans to raise its tuition by 11% next fall.

North Carolina State University has temporarily banned alcohol at most fraternity events, “after two chapters were suspended, one of them amid drug and sexual assault allegations.”

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The chancellor of Bob Jones University on Saturday apologized for a statement he made in 1980, while president of the university, that gay people should be stoned to death.”

According to the press release, “UMass Amherst Opens First Large-Scale MakerBot Innovation Center at a University Library.”

Enrollment at the University of Phoenix is down by over 50% over the past 5 years, reports CNN.

Levi Pettit, the University of Oklahoma student expelled for being caught on video leading a racist chant, says he’s sorry. Via Buzzfeed: “The racist chant sung by members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma originated at a national leadership cruise four years ago, university president, David Boren announced in a press conference.”

Also via Buzzfeed: “After Flood Of Requests, Elite Colleges Begin Destroying Admissions Records.”

“A 29-year-old tutor accused of helping a group of Corona del Mar High School students change their course grades is facing additional felony charges,” reports The LA Times.

Stanford students cheat. News at 11.

Sweet Briar College alumnae want the school’s president and board to resign.

Should College Administrators Yik Yak Back?

Via New York Magazine: “University Catalogue Cover Accidentally Becomes Perfect Metaphor for America

Standardized Testing

PARCC tests in the Swedesboro-Woolwich (New Jersey) school district have been postponed as its entire computer network is being held hostage by ransomware in exchange for 500 Bitcoins, approximately $124,000. If the ransom is not paid, all the data on the network will be deleted.

Zayn Malik’s departure from One Direction is ruining test scores. #thankscommoncore

“About 600 high school students in eastern India were expelled this week for cheating on pressure-packed 10th-grade examinations,” reports The New York Times. (Be sure to click through to see the footage of students climbing up the walls of the school to share cheat sheets with their fellow classmates.)

Via The Washington Post: “Debate over test security vs. student privacy rages in the age of social media.”

Go, School Sports Team!

First: the University of Oregon says it’s returned a students confidential files to the UO Counseling Center. Then: “An employee of the University of Oregon counseling center says she has been fired for signing a letter criticizing the university for accessing an 18-year-old student's therapy records,” reports The Register Guard. Those records were accessed by the UO, it contends, as part of its defense in a lawsuit by the student, who was allegedly raped by three of the school’s basketball players.

Via The Guardian: “Nearly two-thirds of Americans continue to oppose the idea of paying big-time college athletes, though a majority support providing health insurance to student-athletes after they graduate, according to an HBO Real Sports/Marist poll released on Wednesday. But support for payment was supported by a majority of African-Americans.”

UNC coach Dean Smith, who passed away last month, “directed his trust in his will to give $200 to every letter winner who played for him during his 36 seasons as head coach at the school.”

NPR’s Robert Siegel interviews UNC history professor Jay Smith and Mary Willingham about their new book, Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports.

From the HR Department

Doug Belshaw is leaving Mozilla, which is a huge loss for the organization’s education efforts. Among other things, Belshaw helped frame Mozilla’s Web Literacy initiative.

P2PU Learning Lead Vanessa Gennarelli is leaving the organization. :(

Bethany Nowviskie will become the new director of the Digital Library Federation.

Grover “Russ” Whitehurst is no longer the director of the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy.

Politico reports that ISTE’s senior director of government relations, Hilary Goldmann, “is headed to The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools to serve as the group’s new executive director.”

Upgrades and Downgrades

Hacker School has changed its name to the Recurse Center.

Via Edukwest: “Don Burton, former Managing Director of the Kaplan/Techstars EdTech Accelerator, and Jonathan D. Harber, co-founder and CEO of Schoolnet, [have] teamed up to launch a new edtech accelerator program in New York.”

Edsurge profiles several literacy startups and their partnerships with various news organizations.

Robot teaches handwriting.

Funding and Acquisitions

Socratic has raised $6 million from Shasta Ventures, Spark Capital, and Omidyar Network. The Q&A site has now raised $7.5 million total.

Tales2Go has raised $2.4 million from NewSchools Venture Fund and the Maryland Venture Fund. The startup, described as “Netflix for children's audio books,” has raised $3.9 million total.

Schoolrunner has raised $1.5 million from The Colorado Impact Fund for its student information system.

Bonnier Business Press has acquired Clio Online – “Denmark's largest publisher of digital learning materials,” according to the press release (which does not detail the terms of the deal).

Data and “Research”

According to a report released by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics, “After taking grants into account, the average full-time undergraduate in 2011–12 paid a net price of $11,700 to attend a public two-year college and $18,000 for public four-year college. Include loans, work-study and other forms of aid and the out-of-pocket costs come in at $9,900 and $11,800, respectively.”

The Brookings Institution on the gender gap in reading levels: “Girls, boys, and reading.”

Yale Researchers to Study Learning Game Apps.”

In Defense of Snow Days” – according to research published by Education Next, school closures due to bad weather have little or no effect on student achievement.

From the American Association of University Women: “Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women's Success in Engineering and Computing.”

“How Much Do College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks?” asks Phil Hill, who calculates the answer at about $600 per year.

Does Student Motivation Even Matter?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Baltimore Ravens John Urschel is smarter than you. (He just co-authored a paper in the Journal of Computational Mathematics titled “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.” I’m going to take his word for it.)

UC Davis Project Looks at Real Cost of Open Access Publishing

Campus Technology - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 20:32
A new project based at the University of California, Davis will research just what an article processing charge (APC) model would actually cost large North American institutions.

Postscript on Student Textbook Expenditures: More details on data sources

e-Literate - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 19:20

By Phil HillMore Posts (301)

There has been a fair amount of discussion around my post two days ago about what US postsecondary students actually pay for textbooks.

The shortest answer is that US college students spend an average of $600 per year on textbooks despite rising retail prices.

I would not use College Board as a source on this subject, as they do not collect their own data on textbook pricing or expenditures, and they only use budget estimates.

<wonk> I argued that the two best sources for rising average textbook price are the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of College Stores (NACS), and when you look at what students actually pay (including rental, non-consumption, etc) the best sources are NACS and Student Monitor. In this post I’ll share more information on the data sources and their methodologies. The purpose is to help people understand what these sources tell us and what they don’t tell us.

College Board and IPEDS

My going-in- argument was that the College Board is not a credible source on what students actually pay:

The College Board is working to help people estimate the total cost of attendance; they are not providing actual source data on textbook costs, nor do they even claim to do so. Reporters and advocates just fail to read the footnotes.

Both the College Board and IPEDS (official data for the NCES) currently use cost of attendance data created by financial aid offices of each institution, using the category “Books and Supplies”. There is no precise guidance from DOE on the definition of this category, and financial aid offices use very idiosyncratic methods for this budget estimate. Some schools like to maximize the amount of financial aid available to students, so there is motivation to keep this category artificially high.

The difference is three-fold:

  • IPEDS uses official census reporting from schools while the College Board gathers data from a subset of institution – their member institutions;
  • IPEDS reports the combined data “Average net price” and not the sub-category “Books and Supplies”; and
  • College Board data targeted at freshman full-time student.

From NCES report just released today based on 2012 data (footnote to figure 1):

The budget includes room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. This value is used as students’ budgets for the purposes of awarding federal financial aid. In calculating the net price, all grant aid is subtracted from the total price of attendance.

And the databook definition used, page 130:

The estimated cost of books and supplies for classes at NPSAS institution during the 2011–12 academic year. This variable is not comparable to the student-reported cost of books and supplies (CSTBKS) in NPSAS:08.

What’s that? It turns out that in 2008 NCES actually used a student survey – asking them what they spent rather than asking financial aid offices for net price budget calculation. NCES fully acknowledges that the current financial aid method “is not comparable” to student survey data.

As an example of how this data is calculated, see this guidance letter from the state of California [emphasis added].

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) has adopted student expense budgets, Attachment A, for use by the Commission for 2015-16 Cal Grant programs. The budget allowances are based on statewide averages from the 2006-07 Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS) data and adjusted to 2015-16 with the forecasted changes in the California Consumer Price Index (CPI) produced by the Department of Finance.

The College Board asks essentially the same question from the same sources. I’ll repeat again – The College Board is not claiming to be an actual data source for what students actually spend on textbooks.


NACS has two sources of data – both bookstore financial reporting from member institutions and from a Student Watch survey report put out in the Fall and Spring of each academic year. NACS started collecting student expenditure data in 2007, initially every two years, then every year, then twice a year.

NACS sends their survey through approximately 20 – 25 member institutions to distribute to the full student population for that institution or a representative sample. For the Fall 2013 report:

Student WatchTM is conducted online twice a year, in the fall and spring terms. It is designed to proportionately match the most recent figures of U.S. higher education published in The Chronicle of Higher Education: 2013/2014 Almanac. Twenty campuses were selected to participate based on the following factors: public vs. private schools, two-year vs. four-year degree programs, and small, medium, and large enrollment levels.

Participating campuses included:

  • Fourteen four-year institutions and six two-year schools; and
  • Eighteen U.S. states were represented.

Campus bookstores distributed the survey to their students via email. Each campus survey fielded for a two week period in October 2013. A total of 12,195 valid responses were collected. To further strengthen the accuracy and representativeness of the responses collected, the data was weighted based on gender using student enrollment figures published in The Chronicle of Higher Education: 2013/2014 Almanac. The margin of error for this study is +/- 0.89% at the 95% confidence interval.

I interviewed Rich Hershman and Liz Riddle, who shared the specific definitions they use.

Required Course Materials:Professor requires this material for the class and has made this known through the syllabus, the bookstore, learning management system, and/or verbal instructions. These are materials you purchase/rent/borrow and may include textbooks (including print and/or digital versions), access codes, course packs, or other customized materials. Does not include optional or recommended materials.

The survey goes to students who report what they actually spent. This includes the categories of sharing materials, choosing not to acquire, rental, purchase new and purchase used.

The data is aggregated across full-time and part-time students, undergraduates and graduates. So the best way to read the data I shared previously ($638 per year) is as per-capita spending. The report breaks down further by institution type (2-yr public, etc) and type (purchase new, rental, etc). The Fall 2014 data is being released next week, and I’ll share more breakdowns with this data.

In future years NACS plans to expand the survey to go through approximately 100 institutions.

Student Monitor

Student Monitor describes their survey as follows:

  • Conducted each Spring and Fall semester
  • On campus, one-on-one intercepts conducted by professional interviewers during the three week period March 24th to April 14th, 2014 [Spring 2014 data] and October 13th-27th [Fall 2014 data]
  • 1,200 Four Year full-time undergrads (Representative sample, 100 campuses stratified by Enrollment, Type, Location, Census Region/Division)
  • Margin of error +/- 2.4%

In other words, this is an intercept survey conducted with live interviews on campus, targeting full-time undergraduates. This includes the categories of sharing materials, choosing not to acquire, rental, purchase new and purchase used.

In comparison to NACS, Student Monitor tracks more schools (100 vs. 20) but fewer students (1,200 vs. 12,000).

Despite the differences in methodology, Student Monitor and NACS report spending that is fairly consistent (both on the order of $600 per year per student).

New Data in Canada

Alex Usher from Higher Education Strategy Associates shared a blog post in response to my post that is quite interesting.

This data is a little old (2012), but it’s interesting, so my colleague Jacqueline Lambert and I thought we’d share it with you. Back then, when HESA was running a student panel, we asked about 1350 university students across Canada about how much they spent on textbooks, coursepacks, and supplies for their fall semester. [snip]

Nearly 85% of students reported spending on textbooks. What Figure 1 shows is a situation where the median amount spent is just below $300, and the mean is near $330. In addition to spending on textbooks, another 40% or so bought a coursepack (median expenditure $50), and another 25% reported buying other supplies of some description (median expenditure: also $50). Throw that altogether and you’re looking at average spending of around $385 for a single semester.

Subtracting out the “other supplies” that do not fit in NACS / Student Monitor definitions, and acknowledging that fall spending is typically higher than spring due to full-year courses, this data is also in the same ballpark of $600 per year (slightly higher in this case).

Upcoming IPEDS Data

The Higher Education Act of 2008 required NCES to add student expenditures on course materials to the IPEDS database, but this has not been added yet. According to Rich Hershman from NACS, NCES is using a survey question that is quite similar to NACS and field testing this spring. The biggest difference will be that IPEDS is annual data whereas NACS and Student Monitor send out their survey in fall and spring (then combining data).

Sometime in 2016 we should have better federal data on actual student expenditures.


Update: Mistakenly published without reference to California financial aid guidance. Now fixed.

The post Postscript on Student Textbook Expenditures: More details on data sources appeared first on e-Literate.

Cooke Foundation Grants $1.6 Million to STEM Programs for Low-Income Students

Campus Technology - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 19:06
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has awarded $1,632,598 in grants to science, technology, engineering and math education programs for low-income students.

State of the Commons

OLDaily - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 19:03

Various authors, Creative Commons, Mar 27, 2015

Report from Creative Commons on, well, the state of Creative Commons. A.k.a. "the Commons". The short version: we are up to 882 million CC-licensed works (I have maybe 30K of those, counting OLDaily posts and photographs). According to the table, more works are licenses as CC-by than of non-commercial variants (which I don't believe). And they continue (erroneously) to lable licenses allowing commercial licensing as "more open" (tell that to some poor schmuck staring at a paywall). I'm frankly this close to dropping support for Creative Commons over this issue. 14 countries (they say) have made national commitments to open education (according to this, Scotland is a country).

[Link] [Comment]
Categorías: General

What the English of Shakespeare, Beowulf, and King Arthur actually sounded like

OLDaily - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 19:03

James Harbeck, This Week, Mar 27, 2015

One of the things I used to like to do was to read Thomas Hobbes's 1651 book Leviathan (original, and easier to read) to myself out loud, and using the spelling, imagine the cadence and the accent. So this article with videos of the pronunciation of English as it gets older and older is of interest to me. P.S. if you haven't read Leviathan you owe it to yourself to do so - it is the foundation of the idea of the social contract as the basis for society. And it is also one of the founding documents of modern empiricism.

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Categorías: General

Stop Saying “High Quality”

iterating toward openness - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 16:29

The Open Business Models conversation at the Hewlett Foundation grantees meeting (#oer2015) was a lot of fun. The biggest surprises to me were the number of times the phrase “high quality” came up, and what a strong, negative reaction I had each time I heard the word.

After some reflection I think the reason the phrase gets my goat is that “high quality” sounds like it’s dealing with a core issue, while actually dodging the core issue. The phrase is sneaky and deceptive. (Now I don’t mean that the people who were using it were trying to be deceptive; they weren’t. But the phrase itself tends to blind people.) And by “core issue” I mean this – the core issue in determining the quality of any educational resource is the degree to which it supports learning. But confusingly, that’s not what people mean when they say that a textbook or other educational resource is “high quality.”

It’s very easy to demonstrate that “the degree to which it supports learning” is the only characteristic of an educational resource that matters. If an educational resource is written by experts, copyedited by professionals, reviewed by peers, laid out by graphic designers, contains beautiful imagery, and is provided in multiple formats, but fails to support learning, is it appropriate for us to call it “high quality”? No. No, no, no. A thousand times no. Despite this fact, which is intuitively obvious, when people say “high quality” they actually mean all these things (author credentials, review by faculty, copyediting, etc.) except effectiveness. In the world of textbooks and other educational materials, “high quality” describes the authoring and editorial process, and is literally unrelated to whether or not the educational resource supports learning.

In this way, saying “high quality” obscures the issue we should care about most. Instead of letting people and companies off the hook by checking boxes during the pre-publication process, we should care about whether or not a particular resource supports learning for each of our particular students. Seen this way, the true desideratum of educational materials is “effective.” I really don’t care what the pre-publication processes was like as long as my students are learning (unless the process was unethical in some way).

So please – let’s stop saying “high quality.” We don’t want “high quality” educational materials – we want “effective” educational materials. In the future, when you catch yourself saying “high quality,” stop and correct yourself. When you hear others say “high quality,” take that teachable moment to help them understand that the phrase is a ruse. If we can change this one element of the education conversation, we’ll have done something powerful.

(And don’t forget – when materials are so expensive that students can’t afford them, they are perfectly ineffective.)

Preparing for LL field workshops – Part 3: Inspiring news from the Finnish pilot

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 14:42

In my two previous posts on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I have worked with a series of blogs on the preparation of the forthcoming Field Workshops with the Learning Toolbox (LTB).  The first post I gave insights into changes in the use of technology and in the development of tools. The second one discussed implications for Data protection/Data Security (“Datenschutz”). In this third post I will give a news update on the parallel pilots of the Finnish LL partners (Aalto University) in the Finnish construction sector.

1. The Finnish pilot with the video annotation tool AchSo! in the construction sector

As we have been informed some time ago, our Finnish partners in the Aalto University have joined in an interesting pilot project in the Finnish construction sector. The Finnish Construction Trade Union, the company Skanska and the regional vocational colleges in Pirkanmaa have agreed on a joint pilot with focus on workplace learning. The main thrust of the pilot is to equip apprentices and trainees from vocational schools with tablet-PCs so that they can document their workplace learning with the help of videos. From the perspective of LL project it is interesting that the pilot project is using the AchSo! video annotation tool to edit the videos as documents on learning progress.

2. The recent article in the trade union journal “Rakentaja” as an interesting interim report

One week ago or colleagues from Aalto sent us a copy of an article on this pilot project in the trade union journal “Rakentaja” (= Builder). The article – written by an independent freelance journalist – gave firstly a comprehensive picture of the pilot project and its background. But – what was even more important – it gave a lively picture, how apprentices, skilled workers and vocational school teachers perceived the implementation of the pilot. We got positive statements from a trainee from vocational school (2nd year) and apprentice taken over to the company (3rd year) how they can use the tablets and make appropriate videos. An older skilled worker – who had served as cameraman when the youngsters were not available – confirmed that this tool is working. The vocational school representatives were positive about the pilot concept and of its impact on the reputation of the construction trades. And the regional trade union representative was happy about the impact of the pilot on strengthening the role of workplace learning in construction sector.

3. The educational policy context and the labour market context behind the current 2+1 model

The article also gave some insights into the changing educational policy context in the Finnish vocational education and training (VET). In the years 1999-2000 the duration of school-based vocational education was extended to three years. In this way the authorities wanted to accommodate a period of ca. 1 year workplace learning (as trainees) during the final year (the original 2+1 model). However, in this model the workplace learners had the status of external trainees (and were perceived as ‘visitors’ at the construction sites). The current 2+1 model is promoting a transition in which the workplace learning of the third year is based on apprentice training contracts. In such an arrangement apprentices have already entered employment contracts with the company. Yet, from the educational point of view the vocational colleges have the responsibility to supervise and monitor the progress of workplace learning (with the help of mentors appointed by the companies). In this context the use of the video annotation tool is considered as an important improvement to such supervision and monitoring.

The company Skanska and the trade union have emphasised the importance of such enhancement of workplace learning. This is closely related to the demographic change – the wave of retirement of older skilled workers and the necessity to pass the experience to a lower number of newcomers. From this point of view the lively descriptions of the cooperation of young apprentices and their older colleague when preparing the videos is inspiring.

4. The limits of the pilot and the potential benefits of other LL tools

As things stand now, the pilot is focusing on the use of AchSo! in the documentation of learning experiences. The journalist makes the point that the apprentices are not exactly using their tablet-PCs to support their occupational work. This picture could be changed with the help of the Learning Toolbox, once we get into the pilots in the field. And – taking this into account – it is inspiring to note that in other articles of that issue of “Rakentaja” there are several references to the use ICT, web resources and digital media – both in the context of construction work and design process as well as in the work of the trade union. The awareness is already there, let us see what the next phases of the LL project could offer.

More blogs to come …




United Nations seeking a Moodle Developer

Moodle News - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 13:47
In another job posting this week, the United Nations (UN) is seeking a Moodle developer to work with them on their Examinations and Tests Section (ETS) which is looking to create a large scale...

Preparing for LL field workshops – Part 2: What about the “Datenschutz”?

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 12:53

In my previous post on the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project I started a series of blogs on the preparation of the forthcoming Field Workshops with the Learning Toolbox (LTB).  With the first post I gave an update on what all has been changing regarding the use of technology and development of tools. In this post I will discuss what implications this has on Data protection/Data Security (“Datenschutz”).

1. Stock-taking on documents for Data Protection/ Data Security

I have already reported in an earlier blog that Graham Attwell drew my attention to the documents of FutureLearn (consortium of British universities for organising MOOCs). Later on, as a response to my e-mails I have got access to some other reference documents:

  • Tamsin Treasure-Jones sent me the links to Ethical clearance documents (for the LL research activities in the healthcare sector) and to the related Agreement on Research Data Management Procedure between TLU and Leeds.
  • Joanna Burchert sent me the Datenschutzerklärung (declaration on Data Protection/ Data Privacy) of the expertAzubi project and a Learning Unit (Lerneinheit) document of the LernenPlus project with Deutsche Bahn.

 2. Adapting the existing documents for the LL pilots in the construction sector

Below I give an overview on four kinds of documents and discuss, to what extent they might be applicable for the LL construction sector pilots and what adjustments would be needed.

2.1. “Agreement on Research Data Management Procedure” between TLU and Leeds

Original context: This agreement is linked to the Ethical clearance of the research activities in the healthcare sector (by the University of Leeds and by the NHS). The GP practices can be involved only in R&D activities in which the management of research data is covered by bilateral agreement between the two universities that are working with/ storing the data.

Adaptability: In the construction sector the situation is in multiple senses different, since no overarching ethical clearance is required and due to the Layers Box installation the data management is primarily under the control of the application partner. Yet, a similar agreement can be drafted to regulate the use of Layers Box and the mutual responsibilities with RWTH as the primary counterpart.

2.2. “Datenschutzerklärung ” (DP/DS declaration) of the expertAzubi project

Original context: This relatively short (two and half-page) document has been drafted as a single ‘Terms & Conditions/ Intellectual Property rights/ Data Protection’ document for the users (apprentices) of the expertAzubi platform that was provided as a regional platform for apprentices in Bremen region. Here the main thrust is to make the users aware that they are responsible of content and communication on the platform and to draw their attention to principles of good practice. The document was presented to the users to be signed as precondition for registration.

Adaptability: Regarding the current construction sector pilots (with LTB and complementary tools) such a single document seems more appropriate for a user organisation (like Bau-ABC) than for individual users. With such a document it is possible to address the issues mentioned above and the combined use of LTB, platform and complementary tools. From this point of view this would serve as the agreement of the organisation to join in the pilot.

2.3. “Code of Conduct”/ “Data Protection”/ “Privacy policy” documents of FutureLearn

Original context: In the set of the more simple DP/DS documents of the FutureLearn consortium we see the following differentiation between the target groups/organisations and the purposes of documents:

  • Code of Conduct (Verhaltenskodex) is a short document for individual users as their individual commitment to the given regulations and principles of good practice. The users are expected to sign this as a precondition for registration as a user.
  • Data protection policy (Datensicherheit-Policy) is a relatively short document that clarifies the principles for gathering and using data in the context of the courses (or for us: pilot) and the mutual commitment of different parties to ensure data security.
  • Privacy policy (Datenschutz in a narrower sense) is a more overarching document for the regulating the privacy issues between the FutureLearn as a service provider and the partner universities and other partner organisations.

Adaptability: The original documents have been drafted for a context in which data are available due to registration, participation in courses, submitting tasks, comments and other contents. In this respect the construction pilots with LTB, and other tools are somewhat different but yet analogical. The Code of Conduct is rather close to what we need. The Data protection policy is of the kind that our application partners would prefer to have. The Privacy policy comes into picture regarding the transfer of data between LTB, SSS and the platform.

 2.4. Learning Unit “Datenschutz” of the LernenPlus project

Original context: The “LernenPlus” project has worked with apprentices and trainees (pre-vocational education) of the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) and promoted their capability to use digital media and web tools in their work-related learning. In this context the project has developed a learning unit for apprentices/trainees on different aspects of data protection and good practice. Here, the point is to provide a context-oriented and exemplary learning aid to these issues. The Learning Unit document includes information inputs and exemplary tasks (that refer to working and learning situations). Also, the document contains a section of recommendations regarding private use of social media.

Adaptability: The original document was not that directly linked to a focused pilot with tools (like the construction pilot with LTB, complementary tools and Yet, the approach with short information inputs, exemplary content-oriented tasks and questions for reflection (and recommendations regarding use of social media) are appropriate for the piloting with apprentices and young construction workers. In our pilots we should develop such a material for the trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) and company representatives who will introduce these issues for their apprentices/ construction workers.

- – -

I guess this gives a picture of the kind of homework we are doing with the issues ‘Data protection’/'Data security’. To me this is just the beginning phase of the exercise – an effort to create a minimum set of documents for the pilot phase. When we are extending the pilot activities we are facing new issues. However, I want to emphasise an interesting shift of emphasis – with these draft documents and working issues we are making the “Datenschutz” issues a matter for participative design processes. We are not merely bringing ‘expertise’ on the rules and regulations. Instead, we are facilitating  joint learning processes and working together for the solutions.

More blogs to come …

Preparing for LL field workshops – Part 1: What is new with the tools and technology?

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 12:17

After the Design Conference of the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project we have returned back to everyday life work. For the ITB team and our cooperation partners in the construction sector pilots this means that we are preparing for a new round of Field Workshops with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). We would have wanted to start these workshops earlier but we understand that we have to be patient about the development of tools and supporting technologies. With this post I try to give a picture what all is changing since our previous workshops. In my next post I will discuss what is changing regarding Data protection/Data Security (“Datenschutz”). Here some key points on the development of tools and technology and on the implications for the pilot activities:

1. Transition from meeting rooms to pilots in training areas and working environments

Our previous pilots have been co-design activities with a preparatory character. We have had conversational workshops, storyboard workshops (producing working/learning journey maps), stakeholder talks (giving impulses for the development of LTB) and ‘demo camp’ workshops (with mock-ups and giving more specific feedback for the development of LTB). Finally, our colleagues in Bau-ABC prepared videos where the showed exemplary contexts and processes, in which LTB could be used. Also, Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) were assembled to give their views how they would use the LTB and how they are developing their blogs to support such pilots.

As I have reported in my blogs last year, we have harvested a number of ideas, how the the Learning Toolbox – as an integrated mobile framework for web resources, tools and apps – can support learning and working in the construction sector. So, after all these preparatory measures the natural step forward is to enter pilots in the field – in the training areas and in the context working and learning (with LTB as support tool).

2. What is new with the infrastructure?

A major hurdle for all such pilots has been the limited infrastructure that has not provided access to internet in the training areas of Bau-ABC. This has not only been a problem for demonstrations and piloting in Bau-ABC but also a more general problem for piloting with the LL tools in the construction sector.

In this respect the solution that has been developed by the LL partners in RWTH Aachen – the “Layers Box” – has been of vital importance. As I understand it, the Layers Box is a local ‘server ‘ that enables the user organisation to use LL tools in a predefined range and is linked to the RWTH server that hosts the LL infrastructure. As I understand it, with such a ‘technology package’ the user organisation has control of its own engagement in the pilot activities as regards the use of technology and tools. At the same time RWTH is in the position to give remote support for the functioning of the infrastructure and tools that have been installed.

As we have been informed, the Layers Box has been successfully installed in Bau-ABC and our colleagues are now taking care of the preparations to enable pilots in the training areas.

3. What is new with the piloting with tools?

Looking back at the earlier workshops and stakeholder talks, we only had rather early versions of the Learning Toolbox available (powerpoints, wireframes and temporary software solutions that enabled some demonstrations). The hard work with the software architecture and with the links to attached servers and platforms has progressed gradually. The Alpha Beta Camp in Aachen earlier this year was an important milestone in getting different contributions from different software developers work together. Now, as we see it, we are waiting for the crucial steps in this work to get LTB work on the basis of a local Layers Box installed in Bau-ABC.

As I see it, the new phase will change the pattern of cooperation from co-design sessions (the results of which were communicated to developers) to more collaborative Dev-Ops mode (in which the user/designers can make some adjustments themselves or suggest changes in a rapid prototyping process). In order to enter such phase the developers and we – the intermediate facilitators – need to get an updated picture what is possible and where we may be hitting the limits.

Altogether, the echoes that we are getting from the developers are promising and we are looking forward to bringing our pilots ahead after the easter break. In the meantime we have some other homework to do with the Data protection/ Data Security (“Datenschutz”) issues.

More blogs to come …



Anyone Can Be a Teacher at Skillshare, an Online School

Educación flexible y abierta - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 08:52

Students pay $10 a month for unlimited access to Skillshare’s 1,000 courses, and 850,000 users are signed up with the service, the company said.

See it on, via Educación flexible y abierta

For Online to Really Matter in Education, We Need to Redefine Competency | WIRED

Educación flexible y abierta - 27 Marzo, 2015 - 08:50

courosa/Flickr In the early ‘90s, I could tell what someone thought about the Internet’s prospects for transforming higher education by listening to their vocabulary. If they used terms like “distance learning” or “distance education,” they’d probably been working in continuing education for some time and saw the Internet as simply the latest in a line…

See it on, via Educación flexible y abierta