Technology-Enabled Teaching April 20, 2005

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Trainingless Technology?

By Gary Kayye, CTS


It all started in the 1980’s when Apple virtually gave away Mac’s to schools by the hundreds of thousands. Almost every school got at least one. Then, the districts seemed to instantly fall in love with them and buy hundreds more. Within eight years of the first Mac hitting the first Elementary school in Southern California, the Apple moniker became just that.

But, no training. Sure, theoretically the Apple operating system was easy enough that just about anyone could learn it on his or her own with virtually no training. And, eventually schools hired media center directors to be in charge of the Mac distribution – thus the training.

But, the cold, hard fact was that they went underutilized and then obsolete before their potential was ever realized. No real training was ever offered in most cases.

Then, the PC came out with Windows. It, too, followed the same pattern but this time was almost impossible to figure out without a college degree in computer science.

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Responding to Technology Challenges with Innovation

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News & Product Updates

Desire2Learn Updates eLearning Platform

Desire2Learn is releasing updates of its platform and repository for eLearning systems. New features the company lists for Desire2Learn Learning Platform 7.4 includes:

* Self Registration: A new tool accessible from the Course Management Console to simplify course roster management. Workflows can be setup to allow existing and new users to register themselves in course offerings;

* Copy Course Components Enhancements: Reduces time required to re-offer a course by allowing copying of D2L Quicklinks (links to various D2L tools, such as a particular quiz), conditional release criteria and content display settings as course components;

* Tool Specific Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): Defines which tools to employ SSL; thus, reducing page load time (lower bandwidth) for tools not transferring sensitive data.

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Blackboard’s "Caliper" Will Harvest CMS Data for Assessments

Blackboard Inc. unveiled a new product development effort -- codenamed "Caliper” – that will harness data culled from course management systems to address assessment and evaluation goals in traditional and eLearning programs. The effort was announced last week by Blackboard chairman Matthew Pittinsky at the company’s annual user conference.

"Caliper spawned from an obvious need across the educational spectrum to streamline the process of measuring course, program, and institutional effectiveness," said Pittinsky. "With policymakers and accreditation boards mandating the measurement of student outcomes, the time is ripe for a system like Caliper. We have a unique opportunity to translate the data tracked in course management systems and other technologies into a useful framework for all stakeholders in the education community."

Blackboard said it surveyed higher education institutions and found that 90 percent of administrators are interested in using Web-based technology to support program assessment. While development on Caliper is underway, Blackboard said it is working with clients to prioritize the tools which best meet their needs. These include how technology can help schools with program assessment, curriculum planning, benchmark testing, course evaluations, student outcome tracking and institutional research.

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Venerated Kurzweil Assistive Tech Firm Acquired by Cambrium

Cambium Learning, Inc., which focuses on at-risk, minority and special student populations, signed an agreement to acquire Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., a firm that has pioneered reading technology for people with learning or visual disabilities. Kurzweil 3000, the company's flagship product, is an integrated reading, writing and learning software for assisting students with learning and language difficulties such as dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder. Another company product, Kurzweil 1000, fosters greater independence in students who are blind or visually impaired, enabling them to read, write and study along side their sighted peers. The Kurzweill purchase is Cambrium's third acquisition in the last 16 months.

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Case Study

Tools Faculty Will Actually Use

By Royce Robertson, coordinator of Technology and Learning Center, and WebCT administrator, Plymouth State University


Most faculty members, even those reluctant to adopt new technology, understand the benefit of making administrative and academic information readily available to students, although the benefits to faculty are less evident. However, since Plymouth State University better integrated our WebCT application with our administrative system, faculty are experiencing the benefits for themselves and are making more and better use of WebCT learning tools as a result: 67 percent of our 1,200 courses have been hit at least once in WebCT by faculty compared to 350 before the implementation. To put it another way: if a faculty member was using WebCT for one class, that faculty member is now using it for all his or her classes.

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Syllabus2005 Keynotes Span Technology Issues

Four of the leading thinkers in higher education technology— Tracy Futhey, Duke University; Diana Oblinger, Educause; Lev Gonick, Case Western Reserve University, and Barbara White, University of Georgia--kick-off each day's sessions at Syllabus2005 with keynote presentations covering significant technology issues facing institutions today. Hearing their insights is just one of the reasons to attend this year's conference, July 24-28 in Los Angeles. Join your peers and learn from best practices, networking, expert panels, and sessions.

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Tech Notes

New Tech “Literacy” Assessment Debuts

The Educational Testing Services said last week that 3,000 students at all 23 California State University campuses took its new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Assessment as part of a large-scale assessment project. The simulation-based test measures university and college students'abilities to “define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create and communicate information in a technological environment.”

The CSU students are among about 8,000 students nationwide who will take the test by April 15th. ETS will use their scores to provide institutional-level aggregate score reports measuring the performance of particular groups.

"The ICT Literacy Assessment is the first tool that integrates and tests for both cognitive and technological competencies," said Dr. Ilene F. Rockman, manager of the Information Competence Initiative at CSU. and an authority on ICT literacy. "Many students can use technology to send an e-mail message, surf the Web, or download music, but that d'es not necessarily mean that they are ICT literate.

“The ICT Literacy Assessment is an interactive and performance-based tool that allows students to demonstrate that they can find, use, evaluate and communicate information ethically and legally . . . that they are critical consumers and ethical producers of information."

For more information on the test, visit:

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