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Friday, January 29, 2016


Follow on Twitter as @svanunu
Sarah Vanunu, University of the People inform,  "We are very proud to share with you the exciting news that University of the People President Shai Reshef has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco." 

President Shai Reshef receives the 2016 Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco highlighted that “Mr Reshef founded the University of the People with the strong conviction that higher education creates new life opportunities to many students, families and communities”. 

The Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy is a global initiative developed by Prince Albert II of Monaco to promote inspiring and innovative initiatives in the field of strategic philanthropy. The award ceremony took place earlier this week in Monaco at a special gathering of leading philanthropists from around the world. 
See here for the full press release

I trust that you will join me in congratulating President Reshef, whose commitment to University of the People, education, and philanthropy have heightened the university’s brand, impact, and outcomes around the globe. University of the People has provided hope for thousands of students around the world and continues to be an open door to thousands more. We are very proud of this well-deserved recognition for the university’s modest achievements and future goals.

To repeat what President Reshef said in his acceptance speech, "I am greatly humbled to receive this award. I am sure that this prize will not only further spread the news about UoPeople, but will also help the university to raise more scholarship funds for students in need around the world." 

Source: University of the People

A desire for learning

Photo: Andrew Pass
Andrew Pass, CEO, A Pass Educational Group writes, "This week, we continue our A Pass Angles series on instructional design with Creating Compelling Courses

Our focus is on student-centered learning, and on courses that inspire a desire to learn. You can read the Angle here."

 If you find the topic interesting, on February 25 we will be presenting a webinar in partnership with PHi Business Solutions: Instructional Design: Putting the A-ha Moment into Teaching and Learning.
Register Now

Additional resources 

Photo: A Pass Education Blog

Tools in the Math Classroom
It's now time in our series on the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice to talk about calculators. The standard at hand is number five: Use appropriate tools strategically.

Source: A Pass Educational Group, LLC

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Adobe unravels an LMS set to revolutionize learning

Attend this webinar below.

Webinar: Life is Complex – Your LMS need not be! Track any kind of learning with Adobe Captivate Prime LMS.
Register now

Photo: Pooja Jaisingh
Join Dr. Pooja Jaisingh, Senior Adobe eLearning Evangelist, as she takes you through a revolutionary, new LMS from Adobe. 
Discover how you can: 

  • Set up the LMS all by yourself in just 90 minutes
  • Automatically track all learning activity such as interactions, events, assessments, and course progress   
  • Ensure accurate, hassle-free reporting 
Date and time: February 4, 2016 | 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM PT 
Register now

Source: The eLearning Guild

13 frameworks for mastering machine learning

Photo: Serdar Yegulalp
"Venturing into machine learning? These tools do the heavy lifting for you" summarizes Serdar Yegulalp, senior writer at InfoWorld, focused on the InfoWorld Tech Watch news analysis blog and periodic reviews. 

Photo: W.Rebel via Wikimedia

Over the past year, machine learning has gone mainstream in an unprecedented way. The trend isn't fueled by cheap cloud environments and ever more powerful GPU hardware alone; it’s also the explosion of frameworks now available for machine learning. All are open source, but even more important is how they are being designed to abstract away the hardest parts of machine learning, and make its techniques available to a broad class of developers.

Here’s a baker's dozen machine learning frameworks, either freshly minted or newly revised within the past year. All caught our attention for being a product of a major presence in IT, for attempting to bring a novel simplicity to their problem domain, or for targeting a specific challenge associated with machine learning.

Source: ITNews

Top 15 universities in the Arab world announced

Follow on Twitter as @elliebothwell
"Institutions from eight countries feature in a snapshot university ranking for the region" reports Ellie Bothwell, International and rankings reporter at Times Higher Education and THE World University Rankings.

Photo: Reuters

Saudi Arabia is the top performer in a snapshot ranking for universities in the Arab region, based on data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016.

King Abdulaziz University is first place in the top 15 table, while its national rivals King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Saud University are third and fourth respectively. Lebanon’s American University of Beirut (second) and the United Arab Emirates University (fifth) make up the rest of the top five.

Egypt also has three universities in the list, but they are concentrated in the bottom half of the table: Suez Canal, Alexandria and Cairo universities take tenth, 11th and 12th place respectively.

One reason for Saudi Arabia’s success may be its high levels of funding. On average, ranked universities in the country receive $733,069 (£519,290) of institutional income per member of staff, the third highest among the eight countries featured in the list. Egypt’s universities, in comparison, receive an average of just $101,317 (£71,770) on this measure.

"This book provides the first academically rigorous description and critical analysis of the Higher Education system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and of the vision, strategies and policy imperatives for the future development of Saudi universities." 
Photo: Amazon

Larry Smith, adjunct chair in higher education management and leadership at the University of New England, Australia, and co-editor of the book Higher Education in Saudi Arabia: Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities, said that the three Saudi Arabian universities featured in the ranking are “significantly more involved than other universities in the region in collaborating on major research projects with international universities outside the kingdom”.

He added that these institutions have also all “initiated major strategies for benchmarking against leading international universities in their major discipline areas” and “modified their management structures” to place significant emphasis on the quality of teaching and learning.

Mohamed Harajli, interim provost at the American University of Beirut, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, said that for the past 10 to 15 years the university has “been moving gradually from a teaching-centred institution to a research-centred institution”.

He added that in November its board of trustees reinstated a tenure system for academics after a 30-year hiatus, which he hopes will help the university “attract and retain faculty from all over the world” and “improve research productivity”.

Source: Times Higher Education

Sunday, January 24, 2016

UPEI launches a new school of math and computational sciences

"The university says the new school is one of the most comprehensive undergraduate programs in the region." notes CBC News.

Gordon MacDonald, the interim associate dean of the new school, says jobs are in demand for this area of expertise. (Submitted by UPEI)

The University of Prince Edward Island is launching a new school of mathematical and computational sciences.

Applications are being taken now for the program, which will begin this fall.
Students will graduate with a Bachelor of Science, but will major in one of a number of specializations, including video game programing, statistics, actuarial science and financial mathematics.

School officials say there have been requests for this type of program from the business community and graduates will be well equipped for a number of different careers.

"Any student who does the research will realize that these are where the jobs are," said Gordon MacDonald, the interim associate dean of the new school.

"I'm very excited," said MacDonald. "I've been at UPEI now for about 20 years and this is the biggest advance we have made in the mathematical and computational areas since I've been here ... there is lots of exciting stuff going on."

The university is billing the new school as "one of the region's most comprehensive undergraduate programming in mathematics, computer science and statistics."


Late Start 12-Week Courses Offered at Plano Campus

"Want to start or continue your higher education this spring, but your January is already too busy? We understand." inform Waubonsee Community College News.

That's why we've developed our late start classes, which begin Feb. 15 and run through May 13.

These classes are designed for those who want to start or continue their higher education, but were unable to begin at the traditional start of the spring semester in January.

For information about late start at the Waubonsee Plano Campus, visit or call (630) 552-7900.

In-person registration is available at the Plano Campus, located off Route 34 at 100 Waubonsee Drive, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Academic counseling is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday.

The following classes are offered as part of the late start program:

• Cultural Anthropology

• Introduction to Astronomy

• Nutrition

• Introduction to Business

• Business Information Systems

• Great Beginnings: College Life and Success

• Fundamentals of Speech Communication

• Introduction to Economics

• Principles of Economics-Microeconomics

• Basic Composition II

• First-Year Composition I

• First-Year Composition II

• Survey of Earth Science

• Survey of the Humanities

• The Global Village

• College Mathematics

• Basic Statistics

• Introduction to Philosophy

• Introduction to American Government

• Life-Span Psychology

• Introduction to Sociology

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Class(room) matters by Mike Wold

Mike Wold | Contributing Writer, Real Change summarizes, "Baltimore math teacher Jay Gillen offers a revolutionary alternative to the punitive nature of public education."

llustration by Jon Williams/Real Change

Don’t be put off by the awkward title. In “Educating for Insurgency,” Jay Gillen writes about a subject that nobody in the education debate wants to face: that the chief result of most schools in poor neighborhoods is to prepare students to accept a lifetime of subordination, unemployment and poor-paying jobs, not to put poor kids on equal footing with their better-off peers. Luckily, he proposes an alternative.

The education reform movement has tried to blame the difference in educational outcomes between schools full of children in poverty and those from more prosperous backgrounds on everything but poverty and racism. It finds fault in teachers, in parents and in insufficient focus on core curriculums. It proposes to apply “science,” as measured by test scores and behavioral modification, to fine-tune discipline and curriculum. It’s as if, Gillen observes, children are automatons who will absorb learning if only the right inputs are applied.

Gillen cuts through this fog, combining realism — schools as we have organized them simply don’t function for children in poverty — with an incisive radical purpose — to motivate children in poverty to learn, schools will have to teach them to change the society that oppresses them.  Most children and youth will not see a reason to learn, or to focus on learning, until the institutional purposes of schools are in line with their own, autonomous purposes as human beings.

Gillen is not just a dreamer or an academic with his head in the clouds — he’s a teacher in Baltimore Public Schools, deeply involved with a project that he believes exemplifies a way to get young people to learn. But he’s not a history or a social studies teacher. He teaches math.

That’s right, math.

The Baltimore Algebra Project is a nonprofit run by high school students and recent high school graduates, using grant money to hire students and former students as math tutors. By all accounts, it’s been a success in spreading math literacy, as well as giving young people jobs in a city where the youth unemployment rate is high. The project’s website boasts that it has paid out more than $2 million in wages to youth in the 15 years of its existence.

But, as Gillen puts it, getting funding to teach math is just a way to create a “crawl space” — a concept he takes from the Project’s founder, civil rights veteran Bob Moses — that gives students a place where they can try out new roles and ways of being. It provides students ways of organizing themselves and becoming accountable to themselves and others; of practicing democracy and learning how to demand from the school district and from the society at large the things they need.

Read more... 

Source: Real Change News

New from Debbie Diller - Great Book and Book Chapters Online from Stenhouse Publishers

"Please take a closer look at this great Book and Book Chapters Online from Debbie Diller." continues Stenhouse Publishers.

Debbie Diller has revolutionized literacy instruction in countless classrooms over the years with her seminal books (Literacy Work Stations, Practice with Purpose, and Spaces & Places) on how to use literacy work stations to engage students in critical literacy learning.
In Growing Independent Learners, she provides a comprehensive guide—with more than 400 full-color photos—to help you plan instruction focused on literacy standards, organize your classroom for maximum benefit, and lead your students to independence through whole-group lessons, small-group focus, and partner learning at literacy stations. The first four chapters lay the foundation with planning, organizing, and instruction that are essential for success with literacy work stations. From creating a model classroom and developing planning tools to using anchor charts, Debbie gives you creative ideas for making the most of your classroom environment to support student independence...

Growing Independent Learners will help you create a vibrant classroom filled with independent learners. This book will quickly become an essential resource for any teacher who believes, as Debbie does, that all children can learn to work independently in a classroom that's well organized and mindfully planned.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Growing Independence
Chapter 1: Teaching in a Whole Group with Standards-Focused Mini-Lessons
Chapter 2: Organizing for Independence
Chapter 3: Planning for Literacy Work Stations
Chapter 4: Teaching with Anchor Charts from Whole Group to Stations
Chapter 5: Literacy Work Stations for Reading: Literature
Chapter 6: Literacy Work Stations for Reading: Informational Text
Chapter 7: Literacy Work Stations for Reading: Foundational Skills
Chapter 8: Literacy Work Stations for Writing
Chapter 9: Literacy Work Stations for Speaking, Listening, and Language

Preview the entire book online PDF

About the Authors
Debbie has been a national consultant since 2000, but still has those "back to school" dreams in the fall. After playing school in the basement of her childhood home in Lititz, Pennsylvania, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Millersville University and Temple University and spent the next four decades as an educator. She's worked as a classroom teacher, migrant education teacher, Title I reading teacher, and literacy coach in Pre-K through grade 10 in diverse public school settings. Her love of teaching stems from her love of learning. "I have always loved learning. Becoming a teacher was a way I could share that love of learning with children and eventually, with adults." 

Related link 
More about the title (via Skype)

Source: EdWeek Update and Stenhouse Publishers

Amazon-style “data perfecting” at university to follow students for life?

Ayesha Salim, Staff Writer at IDG Connect summarizes, "Last year in August, two reporters at the New York Times published a damning exposé on the life of Amazon employees."

 It portrayed a unique form of data-driven management where data was used to monitor and measure employee performance and employees were held accountable based on metrics.

But what if students start becoming data-driven machines even before they enter the workplace? A new report from the Higher Education Commission, From Bricks to Clicks - The Potential of Data and Analytics in Higher Education, wants universities in the UK to use “learning analytics” to provide better feedback and “empower students to become more reflective learners”.

The report makes a distinction between “static data” which is information like admissions, applications, financial data and so forth that has been collected since its inception, and “fluid data” which is now the direction the data is heading in the digital age. For instance, thanks to swipe cards, universities can tell how often “each student is visiting campus” or when a student uses an e-textbook, it can generate data on “highlights and notes made in the text” and “even track data on where students’ eyes are falling on the page”.

The hope is for this “fluid data” to be utilised going forward so that analytics can be used by tutors to provide better feedback to students. Tutors can also monitor how resources are being downloaded and tailor their courses accordingly. Data can be used to monitor how engaged the student is and how likely they are to drop out.

Ethics and “gaming” the system
One issue concerns whether students will be aware of how their data will be used and utilised by institutions. The other is, will students will be able to “game” the system knowing their behaviour is being monitored? As the report notes, a student could “take out 10 books to boost their ‘library engagement score’” or “repeatedly swipe their access card to increase their ‘campus presence’”.

But the report notes that the system will be re-adjusted for any “unusual spikes” in behaviour. So if the student is repeatedly taking too many books out of the library, the student’s score will diminish over time...

Data will “follow” students throughout their lives
Most people that did poorly at school may have had a chance to put this behind them and do a “start-over” of sorts in adulthood. For instance, poor grades at school doesn’t necessarily prevent people from kick-starting amazing careers later on in life. But what if your poor performance follows you, not just through CVs but in pure data form? Now employers will have more in-depth information about a candidate to decide whether to hire them or not.

The report says:
“Individuals in education will produce new big data sets’, which will follow them throughout their education – from primary and secondary school and then onto the workplace – holding most details of their experience, engagement and performance in their studies.”
Read more... 

Source: IDG Connect   

Educating Kenyan children who have never used computers

"We follow an IT enthusiast as he goes around the country teaching young rural kids how to code" according to Vincent Matinde, international IT Journalist highlighting African innovations in the technology scene. 

Photo: IDG Connect

“How many of you know what a computer is?” asks Caleb Ndaka an IT graduate from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. He is standing in front of 200 nine to 14 year-olds.

The group stares back blankly at him. Yet this is not through lack of interest; just lack of knowledge. And this is the story Ndaka has seen regularly while travelling around schools in Kenya.

As an IT enthusiast, Caleb Ndaka teamed up with Moris Mucheru to come up with Kids Comp Camp. And they have enlisted a team of volunteers to bring computing knowledge to those who have never touched a computer in their lives.

Their mission has been recognized by Microsoft - Kids Comp Camp was a beneficiary of a grant amount of US$50,000. It also received a partnership with Microsoft to target 5,000 primary students by the end of 2015 under the “WeSpeakCodeKE” programme.

The Beginnings
“Kids Comp Camp is one year and six months old,” Ndaka tells IDG Connect.

“When I was about to graduate from school, I started thinking about how to use my skills as an IT graduate. I also thought about literacy skills in the rural areas,” Ndaka explains.

Ndaka opted to visit schools during the holidays and weekends but with this came the issue of feeding the children. This is because most schools in rural areas need to provide food for poor children to keep them in attendance.

He started a campaign where he called upon his social media contacts to skip a lunch and donate the amount to sponsor lunch for one child. The response was overwhelming.

“Kids Comp Camp is community centred. We have a nomination process where we ask for schools to apply. After nomination we get to identify the contact people in the community, then they will help set up the local organizing committee. The local committee usually do the local errands like how to host the trainers, and how to feed the kids,” Ndaka says.

Once they have figured that out, the group of volunteers are ready to make long trips to the targeted schools and begin the process of educating the students, one click at a time.
Read more... 

Source: IDG Connect 

Practical guidelines for evaluating online faculty | Magna Publications

"Explore the factors to consider in an online evaluation, the scope of the observation, the elements that contribute to student learning, and effective online teaching behaviors that can be measured." writes Magna Publications.

The online teaching environment is markedly different from that of traditional classrooms. This affects the way that courses are taught—and, just as important, the way that teachers are evaluated. 

But what do you look for when judging performance? How can you make informed judgments that fulfill formative and summative requirements? Where, when, and how much do you observe?

For administrators looking to improve their assessment techniques of online faculty, the answers can be found in How to Evaluate Online Teaching, the Just-in-Time Learning program from Magna Publications, available for purchase now. 

What is Just-in-Time Learning?

Dr. Thomas J. Tobin of Northeastern Illinois University conducts this engaging group learning activity. The presentation is broken up into five short video lectures supplemented with worksheets that reinforce the viewer's understanding, and a facilitator's guide for leading a group discussion.  
Photo: Tom Tobin, Ph.D.

You will explore the factors to consider in an online evaluation, the scope of the observation, the elements that contribute to student learning, and effective online teaching behaviors that can be measured. Dr. Tobin will reveal the key differences between online and face-to-face classroom teaching, and discuss ways that fairly and accurately evaluate teaching practices. You'll learn how to:
  • Identify and use specific techniques for evaluating online teaching
  • Gather different kinds of feedback to improve online teaching
  • Apply evaluation findings for both improving teaching and making employment decisions
  • Find and use observation methods and evaluation instruments appropriate to online teaching
A respected, proven evaluation process is essential for recruiting and retaining qualified educators for your school. After working through the videos and worksheets of How to Evaluate Online Teaching, you'll be equipped to:
  • Establish practical guidelines for observing online teaching
  • Measure teaching behaviors unique to online teaching
  • Maintain a vibrant, respected online teaching community
  • Make key promotion and employment decisions
Read more... 

Source: Magna Publications and magnapublications Channel (YouTube)

Friday, January 22, 2016

What does it take to maximize community college success? by Laura Devaney, Director of News, K-12 and Higher Education.

Follow on Twitter as @eSN_Laura
"In this week's news, Duke University receives a $500K grant to help establish female STEM professors; a study examines how states fare when it comes to helping students transfer from 2-year institutions to 4-year institutions; and more research examines what it takes to maximize community college success." reports  

Catch up on the most compelling higher-ed news stories you may have missed this week.

Each Friday, will be bringing you a recap of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week. 

I can’t fit all of our news stories here, though, so feel free to visit and read up on other news you may have missed.

Photo: eCampus News

In this week’s news: 

Does the current transfer system hinder student progress?
Just 14 percent of students who begin their higher education in community colleges transfer to four-year institutions and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, according to a new report released on Jan. 19 by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University; the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program; and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Wisconsin’s plans for more affordable college
Borrowers paying back their student loans would get a bigger break on their taxes and more students at Wisconsin’s technical colleges could receive need-based aid under bills Gov. Scott Walker unveiled that are aimed at making higher education in the state more affordable.

$500K grant funds female STEM professorships
A five-year, $500,000 grant will fund two professorships for new female faculty in the computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments at Duke University.
Read more...  

Full time may beat part time for college success
In one of the first comprehensive looks at community-college-graduation rates for students from South King County (Wash.), one fact stood out: Full-time students graduated at a much higher rate than part-time ones.

Source: eCampus News  

Who needs a computer science degree these days?

Follow on Twitter as @PaulRubens1
"While they can’t necessarily replace a college degree, MOOCs are playing a key role in addressing the software development skills gap." notes Paul Rubens, technology journalist based in England.  

Photo: Brian Moore via Flickr

Two candidates apply for a software development position: One has a degree in computer science from a prestigious school. The other is self-taught with several years' experience under his belt.  Who one gets the job?

Of course, there's no definitive answer to this question, but it's one that CIO's are increasingly going to have to think about.

That's because more and more software developers – and very skilled and competent ones at that – are entering the job market without any degree-level training.

What's interesting is that many of the newer and in-demand languages like HTML5, JavaScript and Apple's Swift are particularly favored by self-learners, whereas programmers of more established languages like C# and Java tend to have more formal instruction.

That's according to the global Developer Economics: State of the Developer Nation survey of more than 13,000 developers carried out by VisionMobile, a London-based developer research company. If found that 46 percent of Swift developers had not studied computer science at a college, and 45 percent of HTML5/JavaScript developers also fell in to that category.  In fact 29 percent of HTML5/JavaScript developers have had no training in the scripting languages at all and are completely self-taught.

By contrast, around 73 percent of Java and C# devs have computer science degrees, and about 65 percent of C and C++ devs.

The survey found that Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by the likes of Coursera, Udacity and Khan Academy are playing an important role in helping would-be developers develop skills in Swift and other languages such as Python and Ruby. Many MOOCs also offer courses in iOS and Android app development, Web development and data science.

What's notable about developers who have studied a language through a MOOC is that many of them already have bachelor's degrees of some sort or another, and many were already software developers.

"The typical Coursera learner taking a programming or other technology course has a bachelor’s degree, is currently employed, and is between 22 and 35 years of age," says Kevin Mills, a Coursera technology vertical manager.  "Among these learners, it is about an even split between those looking to begin a new career in programming versus those seeking to advance their existing programming skills."

That's echoed by Oliver Cameron, vice president of engineering and product at Udacity. He says the company sees a lot of programmers come to Udacity to learn new programming languages or gain new skills in languages they already work with.

"But we also see a lot of people in nontechnical fields like event management or art or music learning to code with Udacity and making the leap to a full-time technical job," he adds.

Related link 
Can coding bootcamps replace a computer science degree?

Source: ITNews