SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, November 1, 2006


Distance Ed and Institutional Performance

By William H. Graves

Distance learning is sometimes viewed by nonprofit colleges and universities as either an end in itself or a positioning factor in a rapidly changing market that is increasingly responsive to flexible for-profit postsecondary programs. Yet there’s more to the flex model than student convenience. It’s time to focus on how flex courses, programs, and services can address some of the institutional performance obligations that are reshaping the social compact between nonprofit higher ed and the public and its policy makers.

First though, to think differently about distance learning, let’s drop “distance” as the defining characteristic of the flexible course and program access models that deserve strategic attention today. Distance is sometimes a factor, but the defining characteristic, from a student perspective, should instead be convenience.

Extolling convenience, however, often sparks a “student-as-customer” academic dust-up. Students, nevertheless, are customers when they ask about institutional options for how learning services and other services are delivered, and want to know what learning is required and how it is assessed. Based on the answers to such questions, students can decide either not to apply or, if admitted, to decline the offer. On the other hand, students have no more right to determine curriculum and their own grades at an institution than a bank’s customers have to set their own interest rates and loan terms. Convenience of access to courses, programs, and services is about giving students delivery options, and such options apriori need not compromise the faculty’s dominion over curriculum, learning objectives, and grading. So, let’s examine convenience of access from a student perspective...

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News & Product Updates

Call for Entries

Good news for schools in need of high-end projection capability...

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U of Maine Equips Visitors with Device for Informed Wandering

The University of Maine at Orono is equipping campus tour groups with a personal digital assistant/cell phone device with global positioning system technology...

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Carnegie Mellon and Portugal Launch Research and Education Collaboration

Carnegie Mellon University and the Portuguese government, through its Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, today announced plans to enter into a long-term collaboration to significantly expand research and education in the area of information and communication technologies...

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Case Study

Marshall U Tries Locking Down Browsers During Exams

By Linda L. Briggs

Curbing attempts at digital cheating during exams is a growing issue when online computers are used for testing, as they often are through course management systems like Blackboard and WebCT. Issues can arise when students have access to an online system’s full complement of powers during testing, including the ability to search the Internet and to send and receive messages.

Marshall University, a 16,000-student university with a central campus in Huntington, West Virginia, is using a product from Respondus in some classrooms to control the student experience online during test-taking...

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Tech Notes

Network Security: Stand and Deliver

By Matt Villano

October is national Cyber Security Awareness Month (visit the National Cyber Security Alliance), and for the world of higher education, that means it’s high time to take a look at defense systems and plan for the future.

Clearly, more planning is needed now than ever before. According to the majority of IT market research firms, phishing and identity theft have leapfrogged spam and spyware as top concerns; viruses and e-mail worms are at an all-time high; and other affronts to the network (such as distributed denial of service – DDoS – and zombie, or “botnet,” attacks) are occurring with greater and greater frequency. Even hackers are getting in on the act: A recent USA Today review of 109 computer-related security breaches reported by 76 college campuses since January 2005 found that 70 percent involved hacking of one form or another... (Campus Technology)

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