SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, October 18, 2006


STEM, NCLB, MIDWEST & UD: What's With the Acronyms and Our Nation's Future?

By Alice Anderson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In Washington, D.C., debates continue on how to encourage students to seek careers in science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM). At the same time, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) drives the election agenda. I see this as a conundrum and question where we’ll find new scientists if the process is driven through NCLB. Riddles we need answers for include:

  • Are we losing our edge in competitiveness in the world because we can’t interest students in STEM pathways to learning?
  • If so, is K-8 the right time and place to develop student interest and skills in the STEM fields? Are high school interventions too late?
  • Do students with disabilities enrolled in postsecondary education (estimated at 9% of the total postsecondary student population) represent an underutilized resource as we struggle to meet our STEM demands?

It’s common for students to struggle with complicated concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math, but if you are a student with a disability, the struggle is compounded. Imagine being blind, visually impaired, or color blind and trying to participate in experiments to demonstrate why leaves change color, or exercises that require reading pH level indicators, or are based on measuring the hues of long and short wavelengths. What would it be like to travel by wheelchair to collect soil samples or lake algae? Imagine being deaf and viewing uncaptioned videos that explain fluid mechanics. For many students with disabilities, these and other barriers greatly hinder them from pursuing a future in STEM academic programs or careers...

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News & Product Updates

E-Book Explores Learning Spaces

EDUCAUSE has published a new e-book called Learning Spaces...

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Web Site Offers Discussion on Transcending Biology

Ray Kurzweil was a featured speaker at the 2007 EDUCAUSE Conference...

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Collaboration Opens Up Online Learning

The Common Cartridge initiative is a collaboration among publishers, course management system providers, and others interested in...

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Case Study

Podcasting at the University of Connecticut: Enhancing the Educational Experience

By David B. Miller, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut

At the beginning of my freshman year of college in 1966, I wanted to pursue a career in radio broadcasting. I even had a small amount of high school internship experience at local radio stations on which to build my dreams. However, by the second week of college I reexamined that decision because of doubts regarding future career options, especially for someone whose voice was far from the requisite baritone. So I switched to psychology for no better reason than I had done “OK” in a half-year of psychology in high school. Thus began my second career as an educator. Some forty years later, in September 2005, I purchased my first iPod (a first generation Nano) and realized that an opportunity existed to come full-circle. Combining what had become my career in psychology with my original passion for broadcasting, I discovered podcasting.

My first podcast was recorded using the built-in microphone of my Apple iBook G4. It was a recording of my midterm exam review session (attended by only a few students) and I made it available as a podcast for the entire 315 students enrolled in my class. Being among the more tech-savvy professors at the University of Connecticut, I quickly learned the basics of RSS feeds, XML files, uploading files to the Apple iTunes store, and publicizing podcasts on aggregator sites and blogs. With the help of some “how to” Web sites (e.g.,;, I was up and running within a week.

As the first person to incorporate podcasting into courses at the University of Connecticut in fall 2005, I decided not to simply “coursecast” (i.e., record actual lectures). I felt that there was nothing particularly novel about recording lectures and questioned their educational value. I recall a memorable montage from the 1985 motion picture, Real Genius. The sequence depicts a class in a lecture hall at various points during the semester. In the beginning, the lecture hall is full of students. Tape recorders gradually appear at the students’ desks, and ultimately the students disappear, leaving only tape recorders. By the end of the film, the professor has been replaced by a tape recorder broadcasting the lecture to the students’ tape recorders. This recurring image makes me question the pedagogical value of routine coursecasting...

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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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