SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Frank Tansey and Steve Acker, co-editors


The Demise of the 50% Rule: Challenges and Opportunities

By Frank Tansey, Co-Editor

It didn’t take much, just a few paragraphs in the recently-passed federal budget bill, to eliminate the 50% rule. In case you don’t know, the 50% rule required colleges to deliver at least half of their courses in a classroom setting on a campus in order to qualify for federal financial aid programs. The 50% rule was designed as a response to diploma mills that provided little in the way of education as long as someone paid the bill. In many cases it was federal financial aid that footed the bill.

I can remember mentioning this issue in a 1998 keynote address at the AACRAO Technology Summit. At that time I noted that quality online content could drive changes in the 50% rule. In a number of conference discussions, I strongly urged that the accreditation process should play a major role in assuring that online courses were benchmarked against measurable standards of quality.

Now that the change has been enacted, I am left wondering whether quality content or effective lobbying is more responsible for such a significant change. There is no doubt in my mind that there are great examples of quality online learning to be found in colleges and universities. Since its inception, this newsletter has featured great case studies and thoughtful viewpoints illustrating the pursuit of quality.

Still, even with the explosion of online learning on campus, I am still struck with the fact that so many of our online courses are built around repurposed Word and PowerPoint documents. As my son Ryan indicated in an October 2004 viewpoint, “Most of my learning still depends on class attendance and class reading assignments.” We have made progress using class discussion boards and other collaboration tools, but the fact remains that, for many classes, seat time is essential to making the grade...

News & Product Updates

Questionmark Perception Integrates with uPortal

Questionmark and Unicon, Inc. have teamed to integrate Questionmark(TM) Perception(TM) testing and assessment software through uPortal, a free, open source, sharable portal for colleges and universities...Read more

Brown University Launches Center for Pen-Based Computing

Microsoft pledged $1.2 million to develop the Microsoft Center for Research on Pen-Centric Computing at Brown University's campus…Read more

Mobile Routers Changing WiFi Access

There is now a device that allows a user to access the Internet on a laptop virtually anywhere…Read more

Case Study

Blending Educational Technologies at Radford University

By Dennie Templeton, Director of Distance Education
Radford University

In developing and deploying distance education technologies, defining distance education can be as difficult as implementing it. The primary objective, of course, is to maintain the connection between educator and learner through various media and technologies.

Hybrid, or blended, instruction reflects the interactive nature of distance education and closes the gap between distance education and the traditional classroom model. Radford University has taken this approach to distance education instructional technologies and the collaborative support infrastructure...

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Tech Notes

Academic MP3s: Is It iTime Yet?

A student at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry gathers up her books and notes at the end of her class. After briefly stopping off at the dorm to grab her gym bag and update her Apple iPod with the campus server, she spends an hour on the exercise machine at the gym while reviewing the recorded lecture from the class she just completed.

On his way home from campus, a professor listens to a recent audio book offering, focused on his area of instruction. It plays through his car’s stereo from his iPod, and he can continue his review of the audio content at home.

Stumped by the illustrations in his textbook, a math student views a short clip on his video-enabled iPod and is able to better understand the effect of assigning a continuous value to a calculus formula for a function — all as he sips coffee at a campus hangout. The iClassroom — wherever and whenever — is here. But while iContent might be quickly available at the touch of an iPod’s button, successful iEducation requires careful preparation and considerable effort on the part of both faculty and administrators. (Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

Creating the Classroom of Tomorrow
Posted by: jmoney

Exchange ideas on the latest enterprise technologies and discuss the dilemmas of implementation and budget issues.

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