Major OER initiative targets new degree programs

38 community colleges in 13 states will join a national OER initiative to cut costs while improving degree, certificate completion

A major new community college initiative will work to develop degree programs using open educational resources (OER) in an effort to ease textbook-related financial obstacles students often face in higher education.

The national community college reform network Achieving the Dream announced the initiative on June 14, and representatives said they hope it will spur other changes in teaching and learning and course design that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.

Achieving the Dream will help colleges make OER degrees critical elements of their student success efforts. Lumen Learning will provide technical assistance; SRI International will evaluate the initiative and conduct research on how OER degrees impact student success and the institutions providing them; and the Community College Consortium of Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) will facilitate a community of practice.

At the completion of the initiative, all approved OER courses will be available through a comprehensive online platform.

“This initiative will help further transform teaching and learning in the nation’s community colleges,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Extensive use of OER will enable students to have access to more dynamic learning tools and a richer academic experience at a cost that will help more students complete their studies.”

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an Associate’s degree. This cost, research shows, is a significant barrier to college completion. Students who don’t complete college are more than 50 percent more likely than those who graduated to cite textbook costs as a major financial barrier, according to a study by the research firm Public Agenda.

Next page: One state’s experience using open resources

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Pearson Announces LEED Certification Program With Everglades University

New Introduction to Sustainability digital course leverages LEED U.S. Green Building Council content and customized curriculum to put students on a path to successful careers

NEW YORK — June 13, 2016 — Today Pearson announced a new partnership with Everglades University to develop an Introduction to Sustainability digital course. With a customized curriculum including U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) aligned content, the course is designed to put students on the path to high demand careers in green energy and building design.

Offered online and on-ground, the course improves students’ preparation for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications in growing fields such as construction management; alternative and renewable energy management; environmental policy and management; land and energy management; and crisis and disaster management. Upon completion of the course, students earn certificates of completion that can be featured in the form of digital badges and added to their resumes, demonstrating their education in and commitment to sustainability.

The course was initially offered in March 2016 and is an integral part of the university’s curriculum as a required course for undergraduate students in all degree programs. Ultimately, this partnership will benefit thousands of students, dozens of university staff and faculty members, and the community at large surrounding Everglades University’s four geographic locations throughout the state of Florida.

“Through our partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and Pearson, we are improving the quality of our course offerings and student learning outcomes, thereby further educating, training, and certifying the future leaders in these growing fields,” said Kristi Mollis, president and chief executive officer, Everglades University.

“We are excited to build on the success of our long-standing partnership with USGBC, as we collaborate with Everglades University to help learners become more employable in the green energy and building fields,” said Leah Jewell, managing director of career development and employability, Pearson. “With our team of subject matter experts, curriculum designers, and course developers, coupled with USGBC content, we are increasing access to quality higher education opportunities that can lead to successful careers.”

Building on the university’s existing course in LEED Certification and Green Sustainability designed to align with the USGBC’s LEED Green Associate certification, this partnership supports the creation of further customized content that will improve students’ preparation for a variety of LEED certifications.

About Pearson
Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more, visit www.Pearsoned.com.

About Everglades University
Everglades University is a small, private not-for-profit University that seeks to offer its students a quality education in an atmosphere of personalized attention. The University’s goal is to train the career-minded individual and offer an education that will provide an employable and skilled person with the professional skills necessary to meet the needs of our society. Everglades University offers innovative programs that include Bachelor of Science Degrees with majors in Alternative Medicine, Alternative and Renewable Energy Management, Construction Management, Environmental Policy and Management, and Land and Energy Management. To learn more, visit http://www.evergladesuniversity.edu/.

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NobleStream adds adaptive learning provider Lrnr to portfolio

NobleStream will help institutions around the country take full advantage of Lrnr’s personalized learning platform

NobleStream, a professional services firm that unleashes technology-led improvements and growth in progressive academic institutions, has welcomed Lrnr into its portfolio of best-in-class ed-tech solution providers.

Per the new partnership, NobleStream will help institutions around the country take full advantage of Lrnr’s powerful and innovative personalized learning platform, which uniquely combines: STEM-focused content, intuitive personal learning tools, adaptive assessment, individualized learning paths, and actionable analytics to deliver measurably superior results.

In addition, faculty can leverage Lrnr’s powerful, yet easy-to-use and flexible tools to customize existing courses, create new courses, and monitor each student’s progress to proactively provide support that enhances engagement and improves outcomes.

“We are delighted to welcome Lrnr into the NobleStream’s EdTech solution ecosystem,” commented Howard Weiner, NobleStream’s Managing Partner. “Lrnr fulfills the promise of adaptive learning by transforming the way students interact with courseware, and ensures that instructors and students who adopt OER content can fully leverage the advantages of high-quality, low-cost tools and personalized learning.”

“At Lrnr, our mission is to personalize learning for everyone by enabling students to learn more, faster, better, at their own pace, and in their own individual way,” commented Aravind Pochiraju, Lrnr’s founder and CEO. “After speaking with institutions and other EdTech partners and providers, we are very confident that NobleStream is the right team to help us make the amazingly positive outcomes of adaptive learning experiences available to more students, faculty and institutions.”

In a related announcement, as part of its “Colloquiums” webinar series that features insights from EdTech experts and on-demand training and development for faculty, NobleStream is offering a new Colloquium co-facilitated by Aravind Pochiraju, founder and CEO at Lrnr, and Mark Miller, co-founder and partner at LearnLaunch: a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing student achievement through the adoption of digital technologies. Topics that Mr. Pochiraju and Mr. Miller will cover include:
● Insights on Lrnr’s STEM-focused adaptive learning platform
● How adaptive learning is “closing the book” on one-sized-fits-all education
● Why the momentum shift to student-centered education is essential
● How to successfully integrate adaptive learning courseware into OER content

The colloquium is offered at no cost. Further information is available at NobleStream’s Colloquiums page.

A core foundation of NobleStream’s value proposition is to provide faculty and academic leaders with insights and advice on mission-critical issues they face today, and will continue to address in the years to come. As part of this commitment, NobleStream offers a unique “Academic Challenges” section on its website, which currently provides a clear, yet comprehensive look at the issues, obstacles, challenges and technology-led solutions related to:
●Student Preparedness
●Early Intervention
●Student Retention, Conversion & Employability
●Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Education
●Reducing Cost of Materials & Equity of Access
●Institutional Efficacy and Effectiveness
●College and Career Readiness

Additional “Academic Challenges” are added on a regular basis, and complimentary access is available on-demand (no registration required).

More information on NobleStream’s commitment and capacity to unleash technology that powers education is available at http://noblestream.com.

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Should you be worried about your institution’s security?

An annual IT security report outlines how education fared against attacks in 2015

Smartphones, social media, and the Internet of Things are all rapidly growing in higher education–and they all pose security risks, according to a massive new report.

In 2015, more than 430 million new unique pieces of malware were discovered by Symantec–up 36 percent from 2014, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report, which features data pulled from the company’s network. Last year, 429 million total identities were exposed–a 23 percent increase from 2014. An average of 1.3 million identities were exposed with each breach.

The report offers six key findings and trends before delving into vulnerabilities and attacks in detail:
1. A new zero-day vultnerability was discovered on average each week in 2015
2. Over half a billion personal records were stolen or lost in 2015
3. Major security vulnerabilities in three-quarters of popular websites put everyone at risk
4. Spear-phishing campaigns targeting employees increased 55 percent in 2015
5. Ransomware increased 35 percent in 2015
6. Symantec blocked 100 million fake technical support scams in 2015

Educational services ranked third, after healthcare and business services, in top 10 sub-sectors breached, by number of incidents in 2015. Educational services accounted for 5 million of the identities exposed in the services sector in 2015. They also ranked fifth for number of incidents caused by hacking and insider threat.

Next page: Higher education’s IT security concerns

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6 ways to improve higher-ed computer science

New report offers policy recommendations to sustain momentum for computer science education.

U.S. institutions should make every effort to expand computer science education to keep up with workforce demands, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

And though interest in computer science education, and access to it, is growing, the report found that not enough students are taking high-quality computer science classes at high school and university levels.

The report found that at the university level, the U.S. boasts strong computer science programs, but universities still aren’t keeping up with demand.

Why the Lag?

Authors Adams Nager, an ITIF economic policy analyst, and Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF president, cite two main causes for this: First, computer science, like most STEM-concentrated degrees, costs more for schools to provide than majors in the liberal arts or social sciences. Second, universities and colleges often face resistance from within when they try to change departments’ size and number of course offerings to reflect students’ demand for a particular major, especially if such efforts are not met with a growing student body for the university.

Universities, especially state schools that have faced funding cuts, have few incentives to take on these additional costs by encouraging or enabling more students to take courses, the authors note. Schools also lack incentives to improve diversity in their computer science departments, as the number and share of women in computer science majors has dramatically declined from a decade ago.

(Next page: Bad tactics, but promise for the future)

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MITx Grant Program selects innovative digital learning projects

New projects emphasize using digital methods not possible in traditional classes, leveraging research-based teaching practices, and measuring student learning

The MIT Office of Digital Learning (ODL) recently announced the recipients of its Spring 2016 MITx Grant Program.

The program funds the development and operation of online modules that leverage the edX platform for both global and residential audiences, in support of the digital learning strategies of MIT schools and departments.

In this second call for proposals, opened in November, ODL received 18 proposals from 14 different MIT departments and centers. The MITx Faculty Advisory Committee selected eight projects to be funded following a comprehensive review.

Next page: The winning digital learning grant projects

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Texas A&M joins Intel Parallel Computing Center Program

Effort will focus on open-source software simulation

Texas A&M University’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) center was recently named an Intel Parallel Computing Center, or Intel PCC.

The Intel PCC program provides funding to universities, institutions and research labs to modernize key community codes used across a wide range of disciplines to run on current state-of-the-art parallel architectures. The primary focus is to modernize applications to increase parallelism and scalability through optimizations that leverage cores, caches, threads, and vector capabilities of microprocessors and coprocessors.

HPRC will work to develop open-source software focusing on simulation of flows through micropores, such as those found in rocks involved in oil and gas extraction, by extending OpenFOAM, a popular open-source simulation software.

Texas A&M Vice President for Research Glen A. Laine said, “Working with Intel not only benefits Texas A&M by giving us access to Intel’s vast expertise, but it also benefits our researchers involved in the project, the entire research enterprise at Texas A&M, as well as future users of the enhancements that HPRC works to develop.”

In becoming an IPCC, Texas A&M joins other universities in the country including Stanford University, Princeton University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue University, Indiana University, and The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, among others.

“HPRC is proud to be recognized as an Intel Parallel Computing Center,” said Honggao Liu, director of High Performance Research Computing. “At HPRC we use high-performance computing to unite experts in numerous fields of study. This grant and multi-disciplinary project will allow us to better understand and solve issues within this critical software.”

“Code modernization for scientific and industrial research is critical to advancing the pace of discovery and innovation,” said Charles Wuischpard, vice president and general manager of High Performance Computing Platforms Group at Intel. “Texas A&M joining the Intel® Parallel Computing Center program will have significant impact on modernizing OpenFOAM codes for Intel architecture with broad and lasting influence on the community for years to come.”

About High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) at Texas A&M University: HPRC is an interdisciplinary research center in the Division of Research. Their mission is to enable research and discoveries that advance sciences and technologies. HPRC deploys and operates advanced computing and data resources to enable computational and data-enabled research activities of students, faculty, and staff at Texas A&M University. HPRC also provides consulting, technical documentation, and training to support users of these resources. To learn more, visit http://hprc.tamu.edu.

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First-ever Israel EdTech Summit brings a global reach

Debut event featured ed-tech entrepreneurs, educators, and more

The first-ever Israel EdTech Summit has just wrapped, bringing together a decidedly global group of educators, startup founders, and other critical stakeholders to discuss innovations in the future of ed-tech. The event, held June 8-9, took place at the Tel Aviv Cultural Center.

Throughout the two days, more than 500 attendees from around the world — including China, Brazil, Germany, and the United States — listened to panel discussions on topics such as personalized learning and big data, improving STEM education, and the role of capital in ed-tech investment success. Other sessions focused on closing the skill gap, bridging tech inequality among students, and building out a successful company.

The keynote was delivered by former president of Intel Israel Mooly Eden.

In addition to the panels, there were informal breakout gatherings for ed-tech entrepreneurs and investors and a jam-packed area for one-to-one business meetings (more than 120 were held throughout the two days). More than 24 startups were present to pitch.

Closing out the summit was a frank discussion and roadmap of where Israeli ed-tech could and should be headed in the next year.

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Unique Media joins ranks of Wowza Media Systems streaming partners

Premier provider relies on Wowza Media Server software for live event streaming

Wowza Media Systems, the “Any Screen Done Right™” media server software company, announced that it has added Unique Media TV to its exclusive list of Streaming Partners, a designation reserved for those that have achieved high levels of deployment, expertise, and customer satisfaction with Wowza Media Server® software-based products.

Unique Media provides live streams for a variety of events, including worldwide events with enormous traffic demands such as the 2009 broadcast announcing what would have been Michael Jackson’s final tour, and the 2011 12-camera press event to launch the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system.

“In the last few years, we have deployed Wowza software to help us reliably broadcast worldwide events to the highest standard,” said Jon Stethridge, managing director at Unique Media. “With the power and flexibility of Wowza Media Server software and the progression of its capabilities to stream to multiple devices, we’ve been able to consistently deliver a gold standard for event streaming.”

Unique Media uses Wowza Media Server software to drive its global streaming network. The high-capacity network automatically scales to meet audience demand, providing viewers with a clear and consistent video stream with no loss or interruption of service.

“Unique Media has vast experience using Wowza Media Server software to power events on the global stage, so it made perfect sense to embrace them as a streaming partner,” said Dave Stubenvoll, Wowza Media Systems CEO and co-founder. “Whether it’s a high-profile entertainment event or an international corporate meeting, Unique Media’s top-notch streaming infrastructure, coupled with Wowza’s powerful software, ensures the content will reach any screen, anywhere, smoothly and efficiently, no matter the complexity.”

Wowza Media Server® 3 is the industrial-strength, high-performance software that simultaneously streams live and on-demand media to any screen — Adobe® Flash® and
Microsoft® Silverlight®-enabled computers and devices; iPhone®/iPad®, Android™ and other smartphones and tablets; smart TVs; as well as IPTV/OTT set-top endpoints. It provides a single extensible platform for a variety of high-value features, including live transcoding for adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming; any-screen, time-shifted playback; and premium content delivery with multiplatform digital rights management (DRM).

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Sharp presents “Relationships@Work” and next-gen digital displays

Sharp will demo its 85” Class (diagonal) 8K LCD and 120” Class (diagonal) 4K UHD displays and showcase its collaboration through AQUOS BOARD® interactive displays and various strategic technology alliances at InfoComm 2016

Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA), a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation, will showcase its theme “Relationships@Work” during InfoComm 2016 in Las Vegas, from June 8 – 10, 2016, demonstrating how its strategic technology alliances combine with Sharp technology to transform displays into true industry solutions.

Sharp will demonstrate a technology preview of its 85″ Class (diagonal) 8K 120Hz LCD display with IGZO technology, featuring 16 times the pixel resolution of 1080p. The new wide color gamut technology and HDR functionality of this next-generation commercial display makes the image so sharp it seems as if you’re looking through a window. Sharp will also highlight a technology demonstration of its 120” Class (diagonal) 4K Ultra High-Definition Commercial LCD Display, which won “Best of InfoComm” from Sound & Video Contractor in 2015, as well as a 70” Class (diagonal) ultra-thin bezel video wall display. The video wall features Sharp Uniform Color Calibration Technology (UCCT) that delivers out-of-the box pixel-to-pixel color uniformity across all monitors.

Among its new product previews at InfoComm 2016 are Sharp’s next generation of professional-grade LCD monitors, available in 42”, 49”, and 55” models, which offer a wide variety of installation options to match location and signage needs. Not only do these displays support landscape and portrait orientation, but they also support face up and face down installation in either orientation, and up to 90 degrees tilt in either orientation.

These state-of-the-art displays incorporate the new Mini Open Pluggable Specification (Mini OPS) design, which Sharp brings to market in collaboration with Intel®, offering a high level of flexibility and designed to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

The new Sharp AQUOS BOARD wireless interactive display systems–-the 70” Class (69.5” diagonal) PN-L703W and the 60” Class (60.1” diagonal) PN-L603W–-bring a new level of open platform collaboration while providing secure wireless BYOD functionality to support all of today’s major mobile platforms.

Sharp will also highlight three AQUOS BOARD interactive display product demos for the education market through its exciting relationships with Google, Splashtop Classroom and Kaltura by demonstrating interactive learning with video. Sharp’s alliances benefit from its Strategic Alliance Resource (STAR) program for third-party products and services that compliment Sharp Pro AV products. Additionally, the Sharp Certified Reseller Program helps Sharp professional display dealers, integrators and consultants increase their sales opportunities by allowing them to purchase from any Sharp authorized distributor.

Sharp will showcase a number of real-world applications for its products and alliances including the Connected Café, a solution powered by Scala, a global leader in digital technology and one of its STAR alliances. The café will have self-serve kiosks for placing coffee orders and taking selfies. Once the order is ready, the customer’s photo will appear on a Sharp display. Also demonstrated with the Connected Café is Scala’s real-time insight reporting, allowing for screen content optimization including pricing and promotions.

“Our theme, Relationships@Work is about developing strategic technology alliances to tell a story and create solutions that permeate through the entire Pro AV world,” said Mike Marusic, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Operations and Services, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America. “We are thrilled to come to InfoComm 2016 with this vision, to show our next-generation products and solutions that are a part of that story, and demonstrate the effectiveness of these relationships.”

Sharp will be at booth #C8319 at InfoComm. Visitors can get up-to-the-minute news and connect with Sharp at InfoComm by following @Sharp_Business on Twitter.

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