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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Statistician explores how faculty can excel in blended learning environments

Follow on Twitter as @Papuga
"Want to be rated an excellent instructor by your students?" writes Leslie King, Staff Writer and Emory Report.

Facilitate learning, show respect for students and communicate well and you are virtually guaranteed to get an overall rating of excellent, irrespective of anything else.

In a recent lecture sponsored by Emory's QuanTM, learning analytics expert Chuck Dziuban explained trends about the new learning environment that blends face-to-face and virtual instruction. 
Photo: Emory University News

The University of Central Florida's Chuck Dziuban said this unbreakable rule is based on data mined from 1.2 million end-of-course student evaluations of their professors and instructors. If the students rate them excellent in all three of those categories, they will inevitably be rated as excellent overall.

Dziuban explained this and more about today's blended learning environment in a recent speech entitled "Teaching and Learning in an Evolving Educational Environment." His public talk was sponsored by Emory's Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods (QuanTM).
"Whether you call it online learning, distributed learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, lecture capture, learning in a cloud, virtual learning, MOOCs, adaptive learning — buzz words enough for you? — I've been evaluating it for the last 20 years," said Dziuban, who serves as director of the Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where he teaches research design and statistics.

"It changes; it morphs. What it was 20 years is nothing like it is today. What it is today is nothing like it will be two years from now," he said.

At UCF, "we have 60,000 students and growing. There's no way we can accommodate our student base in a physical space," he said. "All of our growth comes from the distributed learning environment. We're having a decline in face-to-face enrollment and rising online enrollment. That's a scary curve. We've already done the position paper on what this is going to look like five years from now and we need to make some strategic decisions about it."
Read more... 

Additional resources

Dziuban also showed examples of how he taught his classes in Second Life. A recording of his Oct. 15 speech, along with a link to his presentation slides, is available below:
Teaching and Learning in an Evolving Educational Environment by Chuck Dziuban

Source: Emory University News and Events

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Incoming students get math preparation

"Nineteen incoming students got a taste of the Yale experience online this summer, working with a professor and a team of student coaches in order to better prepare themselves for the college’s infamous quantitative reasoning requirement." according to Tyler Foggatt, Staff Reporter. 

Photo: Yale Daily News

The program, Online Experiences for Yale Scholars, is one of the measures Yale has taken as part of a series of recent commitments Yale made to the White House. At a conference for higher education held in Washington D.C. in January, which included over a hundred participating institutions, the University made a five-part pledge to continue aiding high-achieving, low-income students. For this summer’s pilot edition of ONEXYS, a small group of students was selected by the Admissions Office to follow online lectures, interact with tutors via Skype and complete web quizzes
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said ONEXYS was a way for the University to reach out to students hindered by limited resources, particularly those with weak math backgrounds, and ensure that they have the opportunity to succeed in math courses or pursue STEM majors.

“Yale offers a challenging set of freshman classes in the sciences, and we have a requirement that all students take QR courses, so we really wanted to make sure kids were off to the right footing,” Quinlan said. “It’s important to level that playing field for students when they get here.”

Edward O’Neill, senior instructional designer of academic IT solutions, said ONEXYS helps dispel the myth that certain students are locked out of STEM majors due to a lack of math preparation.

ONEXYS, Quinlan said, is the online counterpart to Freshman Scholars at Yale — a program that allows incoming students to study on campus for five weeks during the summer. While FSY is an attractive program to incoming students, he added, it can only be offered to a limited number of people. In addition, many incoming freshmen find themselves unable to spend their summer at Yale.

O’Neill said that ONEXYS is the ideal way to extend the Yale experience to a group of students from as far as 2,000 miles away, while eliminating the costs and challenges of bringing them to campus.

“People work over the summer because they need to earn money to get ready for the fall,” O’Neill said. “[The program] offers convenience, allows the students to still work and becomes more like a toe dip. You’re not completely immersed in the environment, but you’re moving towards it slowly.”

Math professor James Rolf, who spearheaded ONEXYS, said that a way to measure the success of the program would be to evaluate the number of students who participate, set out to enter STEM majors and stick with the major . But access to such data will not be available for another few years. However, Rolf said two of the nineteen did not finish the program.
Read more... 

Source: Yale Daily News

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Out-of-State Online Learning Reciprocity

"Imagine being a Virginia resident obtaining an Ivy League education at a school such as Harvard—without having to pay all the costs associated with an out-of-state college experience. While that may not be possible at that specific university right now, a new state law authorizing on-line education reciprocity agreements between Virginia and other states could make that a reality in the near future." reports

Photo: WVTF

Virginia is one of three Southern states approved for the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.  Darlene Derricott with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia says they will impact distance-learning programs.

“If a Virginia resident wants to take an online-degree program in California and California has joined this reciprocity agreement – that student will be entitled to certain benefits and quality as well as consumer protection.”

Derricott says one benefit is that this allows students to enroll in specialized programs that may not be available in Virginia. Without the reciprocity agreement, students who want to enroll in out-of-state, on-line courses would have to seek individual state authorization. That can be quite burdensome and costly, and sometimes they’re not guaranteed full access.

This also allows non-traditional students who already have a full work load to complete degree programs more efficiently.  Additionally, Virginia’s colleges and universities can now offer distance-learning programs outside the Commonwealth without seeking state-by-state approval.

Source: WVTF

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Distance learning: AIOU new head vows to fix issues

The new Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) vice-chancellor, Dr Shahid Siddiqui, has said that all available resources will be utilised to focus on research and to facilitate students in getting distance learning degree programmes.

AIOU has been marred by internal administrative squabbling and allegation of nepotism. 
Photo: The Express Tribune

AIOU has been marred by internal administrative squabbling and allegation of nepotism and favouritism by those holding top positions.

During the tenure of former VC Nazir Ahmad Sangi, protests against him and the top management erupted on campus over a plethora of issues ranging from non-regularisation of contractual employees to placing ‘favourites’ on important posts.

Siddiqui said that a support centre would be developed for the students seeking help regarding admissions, results and tutors.

“I am working with the IT staff to overhaul the whole system to make it student-friendly,” he said.
AIOU is a leading university in Pakistan and offers distance learning opportunities to hundreds of thousands of students across Pakistan
The new VC also talked about promoting an ‘innovative and creative culture’ in the university and revision of the curriculum to encourage research.

“We will also introduce research and author on campus awards besides arranging seminars and workshops in every department,” he said.

He also announced an award of recognition and cash awards for position holders on the occasion.

“We will also resolve the long-standing issue of ‘ad-hocism’ by appointing the right people at the right place,” said the VC, who previously worked at the univeristy for 10 years after being appointed as a lecturer in 1983.

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Arts & Sciences Online Learning’s Celebration of National Distance Learning Week

Please save the date(s) for Arts & Sciences Online Learning’s celebration of National Distance Learning Week (November 10-14):
• Monday, November 10, 3-5 p.m.: Online Learning Studio Open House. Visit the Arts & Sciences Online Learning studio and learn about the latest credit online courses, massive open online courses, digital learning projects and more; 3624 Market Street, Suite 5W (5th floor).
• Tuesday, November 11, 10-11:30 a.m.: Teaching Online for Credit and in Coursera. A panel discussion featuring Dr. Carol Muller (Music and Africa Center) and Dr. Peter Struck (Classics), Dr. Ed Dixon (German and Penn Language Center), moderated by Dr. Peter Decherney (English and Cinema Studies); Kislack Center, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library (6th floor).
• Wednesday, November 12, 1-2 p.m.: Reflections on Revolutionary Ideas. A discussion with Dr. Alex Guerrero (Philosophy and Medical Ethics and Health Policy) and students from his recent massive open online course (MOOC). Online:
• Friday, November 14, 3-4:30 p.m.: Structured, Active, In-Class Learning (SAIL) panel featuring Dr. Rogers Smith (Political Science), Dr. Rebecca Stein (Economics), Dr. Cathy Turner (Center for Teaching and Learning and English) moderated by Dr. Julie McGurk (Center for Teaching and Learning and Biological Basis of Behavior) Active Learning Classroom 208 in the ARCH (2nd floor).
Visit for information on additional events.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

College Of New Rochelle Program Encourages Girls' Interest In Math

Photo: Alesha Hanson
"The College of New Rochelle hosted Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day, a day of workshops and group problem solving activities on Friday, Oct. 10, to inspire girls’ interest in mathematics." summarizes Alesha Hanson.

Approximately 50 young women from Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel in White Plains and The Academy of Mount Saint Ursula in the Bronx participated.  

Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day is a day of workshops and group problem solving activities to inspire girls’ interest in mathematics.  

The college has hosted this event annually since 2008.

The day’s events included morning workshops on cryptography, blood splatter analysis, adventures in chemistry, and graph theory. After lunch, there was a problem solving contest, a game show activity, a panel of CNR students who discussed their transition to college and life as college math/science majors, and lastly prizes for expert problem solvers of the day.

Math Day activities, sponsored by the Mathematics Department, were led by math and science majors with supervision from faculty advisers Michelle Merriweather and Michael Gilliam.

“Math day at CNR is a wonderful chance for young women to witness math in action on a college campus," said Merriweather, associate professor of math.  

Source: The Daily Voice

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Apollo-M Delivers Unlimited Music Lessons to Musicians for $4.95 Per Month's Netflix-Style on-Demand Content and Social Media Platform, Apollo-M, Helps Musicians and Music Educators by Giving Them All the Music Lessons, Digital Tools and Networking They Need to Achieve Their Music Dreams.

Apollo-M ( is an on-demand, subscription platform created for anyone with dreams of being a rock star, a concert pianist, or just wants to jam and play the music they love. The innovative platform helps musicians by delivering unlimited access to a library of thousands of music lesson videos, books and more, covering all the popular instruments, genres, styles and age groups, and all for just $4.95 per month.

Apollo-M Delivers Unlimited Music Lessons To Musicians for $4.95 Per Month 

World-leading music education innovator,, is taking on the Silicon Valley start-ups by investing over $2 million developing Apollo-M. "The appeal of a platform like Apollo-M is in having everything that a beginner or professional musician needs to pursue their music dreams, or a music teacher needs to teach their students, in one affordable place," said Gary Turner, the co-founder and Managing Director of "It's like Netflix for the world of musicians. Instead of paying $25 for only one lesson book, anyone can subscribe for just $4.95 per month, and get unlimited access to thousands of the best lessons, eBooks, videos, podcasts, web TV shows, digital sheet music and documentaries about learning and playing music." 2014

Further features in development include a social network focused on learning, making and playing music, a comprehensive suite of digital music tools, interactive gameplay learning tools, and a LiveTeacher streaming video system, connecting students and teachers. "There really is no other app or website that will come close to matching Apollo-M's features and value," said Turner.

Apollo-M will launch in the 2nd Quarter of 2015, with a library of over ten thousand eBook, video and audio lessons, and will be available on all major platforms and devices. A free trial period will allow anyone to see all of the benefits for themselves, before subscribing. "The platform is also a great opportunity for music professionals," added Turner. "Alongside the licensing deals we have in place with other major content providers, we're offering free subscription accounts to music professionals, publishers, teachers and schools who use the platform as a teaching tool, or distribute their original music lesson and related content through Apollo-M's 'Pay-per-view Revenue Program'".

"Apollo-M really is the next evolution in music learning, teaching and playing, and we want everyone in the music community to have the opportunity to be involved and share in the rewards," Turner added. "In the coming weeks, we will be launching an Indiegogo campaign, allowing everyone to be directly involved in Apollo-M's continuing development. We will be offering some really cool and exclusive perks to support the platform, and giving anyone that contributes a piece of the action."
Launched in Australia in 1979 (as Koala Music Publications), is one of the world's leading innovators and publishers of music learning books, videos and digital lesson content.

To receive more information on Apollo-M and please contact Gary Turner at -- or visit

Source: NewsMaker (press release) and Learn To Play Music Inc. Channel(YouTube)

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Online Ed Skepticism and Self-Sufficiency: Survey of Faculty Views on Technology

"Inside Higher Ed's survey finds professors are skeptical that online courses can produce outcomes equivalent to those of face-to-face classes, let alone surpass them." according to Inside Higher Ed.

Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology

The massive open online course craze may have subsided, but the debate about the role of online courses in higher education persists. Even as more faculty members experiment with online education, they continue to fear that the record-high number of students taking those classes are receiving an inferior experience to what can be delivered in the classroom, Inside Higher Ed’s new Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology suggests.

Gallup surveyed 2,799 faculty members and 288 academic technology administrators this August and September on issues identified by Inside Higher Ed. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

Highlights include:
  • Virtually all faculty members and technology administrators say meaningful student-teacher interaction is a hallmark of a quality online education, and that it is missing from most online courses.
  • A majority of faculty members with online teaching experience still say those courses produce results inferior to in-person courses.
  • Faculty members are overwhelmingly opposed to their institutions hiring outside "enablers" to manage any part of online course operation, even for marketing purposes. Humanities instructors are most likely to say they have benefited from the digital humanities -- but also that those digital techniques have been oversold.
Only about one-quarter of faculty respondents (26 percent) say online courses can produce results equal to in-person courses. While that represents a slight increase from last year’s survey, when only one in five said so, that top-line number fails to communicate that most faculty members maintain serious doubts about being able to interact or indeed teach students in online courses. 

The doubt extends across age groups and most academic disciplines. Tenured faculty members may be the most critical of online courses, with an outright majority (52 percent) saying online courses produce results inferior to in-person courses, but that does not necessarily mean opposition rises steadily with age. Faculty respondents younger than 40, for example, are more critical of online courses (38 percent) than are those between the ages of 50 and 59 (34 percent).
Read more... 

Additional resources

On Nov. 18, Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and Carl Straumsheim will conduct a free webinar analyzing the survey's findings and answering readers' questions. 
To register for the webinar, please click here.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

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Current Site and App of the Week - October 29, 2014

Current Site of the Week

13 free assistive technology resources

Photo: eSchool News

A limited budget doesn’t have to stop you or your child from getting some of the best assistive technology available to help people with LD. These free resources will help you stretch your dollar while getting geared up for the new school year. Better yet, some of them may already be in your pocket—we’ve included features built into common devices like the iPhone and iPad that can be helpful for people who struggle with reading, math, organization and more. 

Looking for more free and low-cost technology solutions? Check out our suggested apps for students with dyslexia and reading difficulties, dysgraphia and writing difficulties, dyscalculia and math difficulties, and for help with organization and study skills.
Read more

Apps of the Week 

Who wants a math mission?  

App name: Operation Math

What is it? Operation Math includes more than 100 timed missions that help players learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Best for: Ages 9-11
Price: $2.99
Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later; Android 2.2 and up

Features: Defeat Dr. Odd and earn the latest spy gear in the award-winning game that transforms math drills into a global learning adventure.
Features include:
  • 105 exciting missions with selectable math operations and skill levels.
  • 30 different watches and uniforms that players can win by solving math problems.
  • Training runs that help novice agents prepare for future missions.
  • The ability to create three custom player profiles on the same device.
  • Fun spy-themed action that provides a fun alternative to homework and flashcards.
  • Great basic math quiz or test prep for any grade level.
  • Quick reference math tables.
Related links   

Source: eSchool News      

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Lack of A level maths leading to fewer female economists

Follow on Twitter as @unisouthampton
"A study by the University of Southampton has found there are far fewer women studying economics than men, with women accounting for just 27 per cent of economics students, despite them making up 57 per cent of the undergraduate population in UK universities." according to University of Southampton.

The findings suggest less than half as many girls (1.2 per cent) as boys (3.8 percent) apply to study economics at university, while only 10 per cent of females enrol at university with an
A level in maths, compared to 19 per cent of males.

Follow on Twitter as @mircotonin

"This underrepresentation of women economics degrees could have major implications in policy making," says lead author of the study Dr Mirco Tonin. "Economists have an influential role in think tanks, ministries, central banks and international organisations, like the IMF and the World Bank." 

Previous studies have shown women favour different policy decisions to men, with men more likely to see the costs associated with government interventions in the labour market, for example.

According to the researchers, the lack of women with degrees in economics could also be contributing to the gender pay gap, since economics graduates tend to receive relatively high average earnings.

Using a random sample of administrative data covering all university applications in 2008, the researchers found no discrimination against females in the university application process; once they've applied, females are as likely as males to receive an offer of a place on an economics course. There is also no gender difference in the likelihood of an applicant accepting or rejecting an offer.
Rather the data shows that girls are far less likely to apply to study economics than boys, and this could be partially due to the choices they make when choosing A levels.

"Girls are less likely to have A levels in Maths than boys, and this could represent an impediment to applying for an Economics degree," says Dr Tonin. "However, even among those who have studied Maths, females are still less likely to apply for an Economics degree than males, suggesting that differences in the choice of A level subjects cannot explain the whole gap."
Read more... 

Related link 
The Sources of the Gender Gap in Economics Enrolment (PDF)
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Source: University of Southampton

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