MIICs, not MOOCs, at Washington and Lee

You can’t read about higher education these days without coming across multiple references to MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses, the Times Dispatch reports. More people are probably writing and talking about MOOCs than actual students are completing online courses, but either way you count it, MOOC mania is widespread. On my campus, however, we might not have MOOCs, but we do have MIICs — Massively Intensive Innovative Courses. Allow me to explain. A few years ago, at the conclusion of a long, drawn-out discussion about calendar and curriculum, the faculty at Washington and Lee adopted a plan to revitalize the short term at the end of our regular academic year. For many years, W&L had a six-week spring term with students taking either two courses on campus or one six-credit course off campus. It was a January term with good weather. It worked, but not perfectly. … The idea behind the new intensive and innovative spring term is to break free from the bonds of regular classroom learning and to overcome the tendency of students to spread themselves thin across a variety of academic activities. For four weeks in the spring, our undergraduates study one, and only one, subject.

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Probing question: Are MOOCs here to stay?

In higher education, 2013 may be remembered as the year of the MOOC. For those playing catch-up, MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are college-level classes taught entirely over the internet, Penn State News reports. Like students in brick-and-mortar classrooms, students enrolled in MOOCs take notes and tests and participate in discussions. Unlike traditional courses — or even typical online courses — MOOCs are usually free, draw hundreds or even thousands of students, and are run with minimal direct contact with teachers, with an emphasis instead on brief and (presumably) engaging video presentations. Colleges and universities are scrambling to get onboard the MOOC train (hundreds now offer some form of Web-based curriculum) while at the same time debating what the trend means for the future of higher education. Is MOOC-mania justified and are MOOCs here to stay? “We know a lot about teaching small classes and even large lecture classes,” Penn State Associate Professor of English Stuart Selber said. “And we know a lot about creating online courses for the scales we’re used to. But the ‘massive’ part of MOOCs is a new frontier for higher education. We know very little, if anything, about teaching and learning in a context involving tens of thousands of students.”

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Three ways MOOCs will change colleges

With college tuition prices spiraling ever upward, it seems counter-intuitive that top schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University would also be racing to make their courses free online, U.S. News reports. Massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs, have taken off in the last few years as universities have made classes available online, both directly and via services like Coursera. As the MOOC landscape shifts quickly and schools race to keep up, here are a few of the ways that the trend of free online courses could significantly reshape the higher education landscape.  “When you teach a MOOC, you have to be a deliberate teacher,” said Richard DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, at the U.S. News 2013 Stem Solutions Conference. In a MOOC, he said, the professor has to make the lecture leaner and more efficient, without unnecessary digressions. For example, a professor may explicitly state the goals of a particular course segment and be forced to follow through: “The next 11 minutes are going to be devoted to teaching you this concept, this idea, this technique,” Demillo explained.

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Extron Now Shipping Eight Input Scaling Presentation Switchers with DTP Extension

Anaheim, California (June 17, 2013) – Extron Electronics is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the IN1608, an eight input, HDCP-compliant scaling presentation switcher with four HDMI inputs, two universal analog video inputs, and dual HDMI outputs. It also features two Extron DTP 230 twisted pair inputs and a DTP 230 output for extending HDMI, audio, and bidirectional control signals to DTP 230 transmitters and receivers, each over a single CATx cable up to 230 feet (70 meters). The IN1608 provides the convenience of supporting local and remote displays with fast and reliable input switching, and a high performance scaling engine that converts all HDMI and analog sources to the optimal resolution. Selectable output resolutions are available up to 1920×1200, including 1080p and 2K. The IN1608 also includes a host of audio switching and processing features. It is available as a standard model with two stereo audio outputs, the IN1608 SA that adds a stereo 4/8 ohm power amplifier, and the IN1608 MA with a mono 70 volt amplifier. Together with flexible control options and many additional features, the IN1608 provides complete AV system integration capabilities.

“The IN1608 provides complete AV switching, scaling, twisted pair signal extension, and audio amplification in one box,” says Casey Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Extron. “Integrators can take advantage of the built-in DTP extension to streamline system designs in conference rooms, lecture halls, and other environments with local and remote sources and displays.”

The two DTP 230 twisted pair inputs can receive signals from remote DTP 230 transmitters in areas such as a conference table, lectern, or wall for connecting a guest laptop. The DTP 230 twisted pair output can be used to transmit from an IN1608 in a rack to a DTP 230 receiver behind a flat-panel display on a wall, above a ceiling-mounted projector, or any other remote location. To simplify installation, bidirectional RS-232 and IR signals can be inserted from a control system and transmitted over the single CATx cable together with the video and audio, enabling control of a source or display. The IN1608 can also remotely power each of the DTP 230 transmitters and receiver over the same CATx cable, streamlining system design and installation.

In addition to video switching and processing, the IN1608 can serve as the central component for audio system integration. It includes eight-input audio switching, two mic/line inputs, HDMI audio embedding and de-embedding, and several audio processing features for mixing, ducking, tone adjustments, and more. Audio configuration features and options can easily be accessed through the internal Web pages, with an intuitive GUI that provides access to all available adjustments and settings. Two IN1608 models feature integrated power amplifiers. The IN1608 SA delivers stereo power amplification with 50 watts rms per channel into 4 ohms and 25 watts rms per channel into 8 ohms, while the IN1608 MA provides mono 70 volt amplification with 100 watts rms output.

The IN1608 features an advanced scaling engine that can scale HDMI, RGB, component, and standard definition video signals to a common high resolution output. It provides high performance 1080i deinterlacing and Deep Color processing to deliver optimal image quality. To simplify integration of HDMI sources and displays, and to help ensure optimal system performance and dependability, the IN1608 features three Extron-exclusive technologies: EDID Minder®, Key Minder®, and SpeedSwitch®. EDID Minder and Key Minder automatically manage EDID communication and HDCP key negotiation between input and output devices to ensure reliable operation. With SpeedSwitch Technology, the IN1608 delivers virtually instantaneous switching speeds for HDCP-encrypted content.

Visit our Web site at www.extron.com for more information.


University of Cincinnati Upgrades Wireless LAN with Aruba Networks for 100% Wireless Campus

University of Cincinnati Upgrades Wireless LAN with Aruba Networks for 100% Wireless Campus

Delivers “Anytime, Anywhere” Access to Academic Tools and Resources for 38,000+ Mobile Devices Daily

SUNNYVALE, Calif. – June 18, 2013 – Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARUN), a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, today announced that the University of Cincinnati, a public research university, is upgrading its wireless LAN (WLAN) with Aruba solutions for 100% wireless coverage on campus. With the new wireless infrastructure, the University will offer pervasive access across its campuses, meeting the requests of students, faculty and staff for “anytime, anywhere” access to academic tools and resources. The new WLAN will also enable guest access for University visitors.

A key part of the University’s strategic plan, the WLAN upgrade is designed to enable wireless access in all of the University’s residence halls, academic buildings and administrative facilities as well as green spaces. The first phase of the upgrade, which delivers secure coverage across the University’s main campus, is now complete and supports 38,000+ simultaneously-connected unique mobile devices each day.

The University of Cincinnati selected Aruba for the upgrade after a thorough review of WLAN options from Aruba, Cisco and Meru Networks. The University then enlisted Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions (CBTS) to manage the procurement. The new WLAN comprises 4,000 Aruba AP-135 and AP-125 access points (APs), Aruba mobility controllers, the Aruba ClearPass Access Management System with ClearPass Guest, and the Aruba AirWave Network Management System. Looking ahead, the University has plans to utilize Aruba’s AirGroup capability to support the Apple AirPlay- and AirPrint-capable devices such as Apple TVs that are increasingly being used in classrooms, common areas and residence halls.

Consistent with its commitment to providing meaningful, real-world work skills to its students, the University sponsored a senior design IT project simultaneous with the IT Department’s evaluation of WLAN options. Senior design students assessed the University’s WLAN needs and requirements, researched available options, and tested them. After a technical “bake off” of competitive options, the students came to the same conclusion as the IT department, selecting Aruba as the best solution.

“We are seeing the consumerization of higher education with the growing Bring Your Own Device trend, where students are bringing their personal devices onto campus for their individual, private use as well as for their academic coursework. As a leading educational facility, we have to have the infrastructure to support these devices and ensure that all of our users have wireless access wherever they want it, whenever they want it,” said Diana Noelcke, Interim Assistant Vice President, Network and Telecommunications Services for the University of Cincinnati. “Prospective students and guests are making decisions about our University based on the excellence of our wireless coverage and its ease of use, including the quality of guest access that we deliver, and we have to meet and exceed their expectations.”

In addition to the growing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, the University of Cincinnati is seeing the dynamics of its classrooms change, with a growing number of iPads and Apple TVs being used for instructional purposes. In the past, faculty members directed students’ attention to an overhead projector or SMART Board and the students would take notes. Now, students can access instructional materials on their mobile devices to manipulate and work closely with the information, immersing themselves in the lesson. Furthermore, in the fall of 2013, the University’s College of Nursing will implement an iPad strategy, wherein all sophomores will be required to have iPad ‘s. The entire curricula will be built around the iPads and will mimic the real-world use of mobile devices in the hospitals, nursing homes, surgeries and pharmacies where students will likely work upon graduation.

The new WLAN also supports a wide range of important applications, including the University’s Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS), OhioLINK, which is one of the largest digital library repositories in the country, UCFileSpace, a collaborative, virtual storage space for students, and the University’s E-text program, which delivers electronic textbooks to reduce costs and speed delivery times. The WLAN also supports the University’s membership in EduRoam, the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.

“The investment we are making in wireless access across all three of our campuses is important for our future as a leading research university,” continued Noelcke. “Enabling our students, faculty, staff and guests to easily access important digital resources and academic tools supports our innovative teaching, learning and research endeavors.”

About Aruba Networks, Inc.
Aruba Networks is a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise. The company’s Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture unifies wired and wireless network infrastructures into one seamless access solution for corporate headquarters, mobile business professionals, remote workers and guests. This unified approach to access networks enables IT organizations and users to securely address the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, dramatically improving productivity and lowering capital and operational costs.

Listed on the NASDAQ and Russell 2000® Index, Aruba is based in Sunnyvale, California, and has operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions. To learn more, visit Aruba at http://www.arubanetworks.com. For real-time news updates follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products visit Airheads Social at http://community.arubanetworks.com.

© 2012 Aruba Networks, Inc. Aruba Networks’ trademarks include the design mark for AirWave, Aruba Networks®, Aruba Wireless Networks®, the registered Aruba the Mobile Edge Company logo, the registered AirWave logo, Aruba Mobility Management System®, Mobile Edge Architecture®, People Move. Networks Must Follow®, RFProtect®, Green Island®. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Ben Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer
Aruba Networks, Inc.
Lori Hultin, Principal
LSH Communications for Aruba Networks


Are fees taking the ‘open’ out of MOOC?

The for-credit MOOC comes with a fee.

Massive open online courses (MOOC) that include nominal costs don’t constitute a financial burden to online students, though the mere inclusion of fees undermines a key tenant of MOOCs, educators say.

The idea of world-class educational content available to anyone in the world with an internet connection and a willingness to learn was a central appeal to those interested in MOOCs over the past couple years.

With more MOOCs requiring students to purchase some pricey class materials – such as textbooks – skeptics of MOOC platforms have raised concerns about the future of supposedly “open” web-based college courses.

The latest criticism came after Altius Education, in partnership with Tiffin University, announced a for-credit MOOC that will be headed by a fulltime university faculty member. Altius’s MOOC, made available through the online platform Helix, comes with a $50 administrative fee.

(Update: Altius said in a June 19 announcement that the MOOC has been “postponed until further notice due to concerns over accreditation.” No further detail was provided)

Robert Schuwer, a faculty member at Open University in the Netherlands, said students hoping to earn college credit through MOOCs should expect some sort of fee, but MOOC completion – without credits attached – should be available for free.

“Bottom line for me, a [student] should at least be able to participate in [a MOOC] without having to spent any money, neither on textbooks nor on registration fee,” Schuwer said. “Now it gives a taste of, ‘Hey, let’s call this a MOOC, because in the current hype we will attract more attention.’ Although ill-defined, general commitment to [being open] in MOOC is the free availability, not only ‘open to everyone who wants to attend.’”

“I am not too afraid this will open a floodgate for further charges,” he continued. “What I do expect are a greater variety of services offered around MOOCs, without affecting the free core of a MOOC.”


Report: Teacher preparation programs an ‘industry of mediocrity’

In a new report that’s already dividing the education community within hours of its release, findings based on eight years of research are supposedly able to rank U.S. teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities. According to the report, the country’s teacher training system is broken, directly affecting “America’s educational decline.”

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) says it went through 10 pilot studies to develop the standards used to rank the 1, 130 teacher preparation institutions that prepare 99 percent of the nation’s traditionally trained new teachers (around 170,000 novice teachers annually).

The reason behind the effort, explains NCTQ was inspired by a study conducted more than a century ago, the Flexner Report of 1910, which evaluated the nation’s medical schools and led to consolidations and upgrades that “transformed the system of training doctors into the world’s best,” states the report.

Apparently, the goal is the same for NCTQ’s review, which aims to use the data it collected—sometimes having to sue institutions to get access—to set in place “market forces that will spur underachieving [education] programs to recognize their shortcomings and adopt methods used by the high scorers.”

(Next page: Rankings and findings)


Latin America’s first MOOC

The São Paulo University (USP) and the portal company Veduca launched last week the first Massive Open Online Course in Latin America, EdSurge reports. Courses will be taught by USP professors through the platform. Initially two disciplines will be available: mechanical physics and probability and statistics. More courses are expected to emerge soon. Brazilians are among the most engaged students in the leading MOOCs that have sprung up in the US, such as Coursera and edX. However, English language is still a barrier. Veduca’s first few classes will be taught in Portuguese, a language that native Spanish speakers find managable, too.  “We looked for good teachers that wanted to offer their courses at Veduca. With the announcement, other teachers and even more universities are interested in offering courses,” says Eduardo Zancul, co-founder of Veduca. According to the entrepreneur, Veduca is working hard to make its platform readily usable. “We broke long lessons into smaller videos; we inserted quizzes in the middle. Soon we will have a live chat for students who are online,” says Zancul. Veduca, which was founded in 2011 by Carlos Souza, curates publicly available educational video content from top universities, adding subtitles in Portuguese. It went live in March 2012.

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MOOCs are the clever way to keep up to date

The world of distance learning has changed beyond recognition since the first correspondence courses dropped onto doormats more than 40 years ago, The Guardian reports. Classes of thousands from around the world can now join interactive lectures for free. This is the world of MOOCs – massive open online courses – which have blazed a trail in the US. This autumn, 21 UK universities – including Bristol, Leeds and Southampton – are preparing to launch their own MOOCs in partnership with the Open University. While MOOCs mostly don’t set entry requirements, they are pitched between “taster” and postgraduate level – short chunks of learning that will enable students to dip their toe into a subject – science or arts – or keep up to speed with changing career needs. Early analysis of MOOC students shows most of them to be mature learners who already hold one or two degrees; this is the experience of the University of Edinburgh, which announced the first UK MOOCs in July last year and saw 308,000 students from 167 different countries sign up to a handful of subjects, from an introduction to philosophy to the more advanced artificial intelligence planning. While completion rates on nearly all MOOCs are low – somewhere below 10% – this doesn’t matter, says Jeff Haywood, professor of education and technology. Some 12% of students completed Edinburgh’s first batch of MOOCs. Many sign up to “window shop” or dip in and out, which is no bad thing, he says. Edinburgh’s students came mostly from the US and UK and those who responded to the survey said the courses met or exceeded expectations.

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MOOCs: interesting legal territory ahead

As massive open online courses (MOOCs) gain publicity and popularity, it’s time to address the legal concerns affecting this trend in higher education, InformationWeek reports. MOOCs attract thousands of curious minds with free access to the world’s brightest professors and the opportunity to explore any subject. Institutions benefit from being able to reach individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have interest in their school, such as international students and full-time employees. Professors who want to expand their audience and experiment with new technology can do so with MOOCs. … While MOOCs have the potential to change higher education, those who wish to implement them have a few issues to confront. Copyright and intellectual property issues are currently of particular concern, Amanda Marie Baer, an attorney at Mirick O’Connell who specializes in higher education, said in an interview. … Ownership issues also affect MOOC participants, who will likely be unable to claim the work they produce. Students in traditional college courses retain ownership of classwork.

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