Technology Enabled Teaching August 17, 2005

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Viewpoint

eLearning: Are We Making Money?

By Judith V. B'ettcher

NOT LONG AGO, a highly publicized report suggested that the eLearning boom had gone bust. The report, Thwarted Innovation: What Happened to e-Learning and Why (Zemsky and Massey, University of Pennsylvania, 2004), took a hard stance. Another finding suggested that the “bust” was possibly a natural milestone in the process of innovation, and was only a bust due to the overly rigid and unimaginative applications of the online technologies. The study predicted that the next boom would happen when online programs used “flexible combinations” of people, facilities, and technology to meet learner-centered career and lifestyle goals. This is happening now.

The next wave of the eLearning innovation is in progress and, according to some, is succeeding in paying its own way. Programs portending the potential for a boom in online learning within traditional institutions of higher learning are those at Boston University, Penn State University), the University of Florida, the University of Illinois), and the University of Massachusetts. Collectively, these institutions offer more than 100 online undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and programs in fields as diverse as financial planning, homeland security, pharmacology, forensic toxicology, business, and philosophy.

These institutions are using a variety of models to design and deliver their programs. The models reveal differences in how schools fund their initial programs, in their strategies for designing and developing programs, and in the processes for branding and marketing them.

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News & Product Updates

Horizon Wimba Enhances Audio for Live Classroom

Just in time for the fall semester, Horizon Wimba releases an update of its Live Classroom for online courses. The company says includes “significant changes to the architecture of its media system, application sharing, and diagnostic tool (Wizard).” In the new release, HorizonMedia audio has been redesigned for easier window management, and is now Java-based. The audio also includes enhancements to improve sound quality even when the network connection is poor. Find out more

Firm Markets "Clone" of CMS Platforms

The maker of a course management "appliance" says its system can serve courses produced in multiple file formats, including courses created for Blackboard.

It claims to be the best least-cost alternative to expensive enterprise CMS systems.

"The analogy we are using to describe this is the PC to clone comparison," said Zeb Bhatti, CEO of Digital Learning Management Corp., describing the company's Java-based VUS (Virtual University System) Appliance. "This is truly revolutionary in that it opens the door for smaller institutions, or those that just don't want to pay hundreds of thousands, to millions of dollars to run an e-learning program."

The VUS Appliance is a hardware and software solution incorporating the company's CourseMate Virtual University system. The device is a standard 1U rack mounted device and is pre-configured with a Course Builder, a Courseware Repository, a LMS and Registration System, an Online Exams Server, an Online Evaluations Server and a Collaboration Server for Online Discussion Forums & Chat Sessions. The system can accept content created in multiple formats and presents that content over the Internet or intranet.

Higher Ed Buying Co-op Adds Online Text Services

The Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC), a European purchasing combine for more than 40 universities and colleges in the U.K. signed a four-year agreement with ebrary.

The schools will use ebrary's Dynamic Content Platform, which provides full-text online books to its member institutions. The deal with SUPC will enable the consortium to provide its patrons content and research tools at better licensing rates.

Under the terms of the contract, consortium members will be able to chose a variety of licensing options for either subscription or perpetual access. ebrary currently offers a selection of more than 60,000 full-text, online books, reports, and other content from more than 200 academic, scientific, and professional publishers


Case Study

eLearning Utopia: iPods Meet Course Management in the Classroom

Robert Viau
Professor of English & Interdisciplinary Studies,
Assistant Director of the Honors & Scholars Program
Georgia College & State University

The knock on eLearning in some quarters is that faculty just throw notes and lectures online and call it eLearning. It’s a persistent stereotype, and there’s some research to fuel it.

I’m less interested in debating the notion than ensuring that readers get a full flavor of at least one notable exception: my course at Georgia College & State University: Utopia/Dystopia: Studies in No Place. My course is anything but a black hole. It involves fiery online give and take on eternal existential questions, integrated with fine art, classical music, “podcasting” and the ubiquitous iPod. I’ve found that structured online discussion and thoughtful content delivery supports complex learning and discovery.

GC&SU is the officially designated public liberal arts university of Georgia. I use a WebCT course management system as the principal Web “interface” for Utopia – the only required course in the Honors & Scholars Program here. Because Utopia is the gateway course for the Honors Program, taken usually by the entering class of honors students, I am especially mindful to engage the students in the core concepts of the Honors Program and the University as well as the core course content. Integral to all three are critical thinking and writing, and it is in this regard that I find online learning most particularly useful. I use our course management system to get students to talk to one another about a wide range of subjects, both specific to and less obviously related to the central course materials.

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Tech Notes

Syllabus2005 Keynotes Video Online

If you missed Syllabus2005 or want to recapture the moment. Campus Technology online has videos of all the keynotes.

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