C-Level View :: February 28, 2007

Worth Noting

Putting All Your Apples in One Basket?

Wilkes University (PA) announced last week that it would institute a university-wide switch from Windows-based PCs to Apple's new Intel-based Macs. Within three years, the entire university will become an all-Mac campus.

The school's top-level administration is squarely behind the plan: "Macs are constructed with superior technology and hardware, and their ability to run Windows means we still have access to any Windows programs," said Scott Byers, vice president for finance and general counsel at Wilkes University." We're also creating a virtually virus-free IT network." Wilkes President Tim Gilmour commented, " Experience with the most advanced computers available today will provide our students with an edge when they enter today’s job market with increasingly demanding technological expertise."

Though nearly all the university's computer labs are already Mac-centric, the commitment to switch to an all-Mac campus represents a $1.4 million investment to upgrade the institution' s 1,700-computer network over the three-year period.

Apple gives a big thumbs-up to the plan. "For 30 years Apple has been committed to education and worked with faculty and students across the country to enhance teaching and learning," said John Couch, Apple's vice president of Education. "We're thrilled that Wilkes is becoming an all-Mac campus, providing its students with access to the world's most advanced technology and helping to ensure they graduate with 21st Century skills."

Encyclopedias and the Easy Way Out

How many times did your grade school teachers tell you, "Don't just use that encyclopedia for your term paper?" With electronic resources on the Web, now they have to add "Wikipedia," and more, to that admonition.

Some would even forbid the use of certain Web-based resources, but at Purdue University (IN), banning a resource like Wikipedia isn't the real answer. "Students are addicted to Wikipedia, and teachers fight it with stern grading policies and restrictions on its use," says Sorin A. Matei, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication. "But Wikipedia is here to stay, and, despite penalties, people are likely to continue using it." So Matei and others at Purdue are trying to educate students in ways to use Web-based tools wisely, rather than focusing on restrictive policies. Like educators at so many other colleges and universities, they're chipping away at the digital literacy iceberg, and they're starting by recommending good strategies to use with one of the most popular and alluring Web resources: Wikipedia.

IMS Releases "Learning Technology Satisfaction and Trends" Report

On February 12 the IMS Global Learning Consortium released the latest report in its ongoing study of "satisfaction and trends" in technologies used to support education

IMS Global Learning ConsortiumAreas covered by the study include course management, content management, assessment, search, content authoring, Web authoring, mobile devices, classroom capture, screen capture, live presentation, plagiarism, portals, and student information systems. The February 2007 report is based on responses over the past 12 months from about 200 leaders of Internet-supported learning initiatives in North American higher education.

In a February 12 press release, IMS identified the major findings of the report, as follows:

"Certain product categories ancillary to course management systems (CMS), such as assessment, authoring, and digital content, scored higher in satisfaction than the course management systems category itself, signaling the importance being placed on easy ways to include interactive and rich media content in learning experiences.

Among the course management systems, eCollege, ANGEL, and Moodle scored highest in satisfaction. All three rated higher than Blackboard or WebCT, the market share leaders. Sixteen percent of the respondents appeared to be likely to switch course management systems in the coming 12 months.

The significant usage and high ratings of products not necessarily targeted to the educational segment, such as Google, Wikipedia, and iPods, indicates that educators may be incorporating these technologies more rapidly than administrators or IT officials may be aware."

The report is issued in different versions for the public, respondents, and IMS members and subscribers. Access to the public report and summary rankings can be found here.

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