Textbook Exchange

Submitted by Jason Mariasis on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 10:10am.
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Here I'd like to discuss a textbook exchange project I've been working on which some of you may be interested in helping develop.

Before I explain the project, I first would like to present some facts:
1. There are approximately 17 Million college students in the U.S.
2. On average, each student pays $898/year for textbooks (CALIRG, 2005)
3. Retail bookstores make a 35.1% profit on the sale of used textbooks, on average (NACS study)
4. 1986-2004: Textbooks rose 186%, or 6% a year
5. 1986-2004: Other prices rose 3% (GAO study)
6. 50% of original price - Typical bookstore buyback price of a book originally bought new (Koch report)
7. 10% to 15% of original price - Typical bookstore buyback price of a textbook originally bought used (Koch report)

I've asked myself and others to think about the follow two questions:
Q1: Does the 35.1% profit retail bookstores make on 17 million college students seem best for students?
Q2: Is there a way for students to purchase textbooks for less than $898/year or is $898/year the lowest possible price?


Low-Cost Kuali Too Pricey for Schools

Submitted by Jeannie Crowley on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 10:07am.
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Kuali Logo

We have been following the progress of Kuali, an open-source administrative software project, for almost two years (here and here). In response to the staggering costs of course management systems, the Kuali project was created to design "a collaborative model for delivering open source enterprise-scale software for higher education". Ironically, it seems the costs of the Kuali project may be too high.

The Andrew W. Mellon foundation, which has provided $6.5 million to the Kuali project, closed its grant program in January. Florida State University pulled out in March, citing massive budget cuts as the reason. This week, MIT announced it will no longer provide $150,000 to $500,000 a year to support the project. MIT stated it was ending the partnership because it "must make difficult choices about allocation of its resources".


Research Digest: Teachers are digikids too!

Submitted by Ting Yuan on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 9:55am.
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Graham, L. (2008). Teachers are digikids too: The digital histories and digital lives of young teachers in English primary schools. Literacy, 42(1), 10-18.

Article Review

Graham (2008) explores 25 teachers' experiences of using digital technologies in both their personal and professional lives. Informed by the contemporary "digital generation" and the purpose of knowing about young teachers' digital worlds -- their digital histories and practices and attitudes in bringing digital technologies into classroom, Graham conducted individual interviews with teachers. Graham identified emergent themes and categories from the data and grouped participants in three categories based on their digital learning experiences: the serious solitary self-taught, the serious solitary school-taught, and the playful social. Her findings indicate that teachers from the former two groups tended to use basic technological tools, such as Excel and Word, and none of them were engaged in social digital worlds such as online chatting or collaborative computer game. Also, as indicated by their childhood/teenage experiences, none of them had been interested in exploring those social digital tools. Thus, those two teacher groups are currently “forced” to move toward the world of ICT as required by their working environment, and they are not ready at all for engaging themselves with playful digital texts via social digital tools. One exceptional case was that Graham found one teacher who used to be serious solitary talked about her transition from "digital immigrant" to "digital natives". Graham's further investigation of the third playful social group conveyed that teachers in this group were fluent user of tools such as iPod, texting, gaming, and online chatting. However, most playful social teachers claimed that they received inadequate computer education and they learned about and attained their current digital worlds outside the classroom, and they had experienced learning in "communities of practice" (Lave & Wenger, 1991) via social digital tools. Graham proposes that it would be helpful to introduce digital literacy histories in teacher education which can let teachers consciously reflect on their digital routes as well as whether or not their routes are serious solitary or playful social.


Koha revealed

Submitted by Joann Agnitti on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 4:16pm.
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The more I learn about Koha, the more I like it. This completely web-based, open source ILS offers features librarians (and patrons!) have long been dreaming of. Don’t take my word for it, though… see for yourself!

This video walks you through a Koha tutorial, showing you both the OPAC and admin functionalities.

The following are the OPAC interfaces of Koha and our current ILS. I thought it would be helpful to compare these two to get a better sense of what we offer patrons now vs. what we could offer them. For info on the admin interface, refer to Shaoqing’s earlier post

OPAC Comparisons

Book search

Clicking on a search item gives you the following...

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the progress of the ILS research. What do you think of the potential move? What questions do you have about either system that would allow you to form a better opinion? We're listening :)


Lessons with Maps

Submitted by Max Sklar on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 4:06pm.
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In one of our Critter discussions, we were talking about web technology being used in ways other than originally intended. This got me thinking about how a website that I developed back in 2006/2007, Stickymap, was used for an educational lesson in a third grade classroom in Verona, Wisconsin. Stickymap was originally intended to be a bullentin board of geographically-based discussions.

To learn about goods and services, each student reported on a business in town. They also placed that business on a map, and that's where my tool came in. They created a website here, and the results are also included in Stickymap's interface.

This example illustrates the opportunities for innovation in map-based learning with technology. In this case, the innovation came from a teacher who found the website. In the future, I can imagine map based games that combine skills in map reading with lessons in community, civics, and economics.


2010 ICELW: What's New in Online "Courses"?

Submitted by Ting Yuan on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 2:09pm.
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I met Dr. Khan during the Friday lunch of the 2010 ICELW. She is a professor in Biotechnology from Maryland University College. She presented findings from her grant project (sponsored by the Department of Education), a trial mentoring project associated with one of the graduate online biotech courses she taught. From our conversation and viewing the slides she sent to me this morning, I felt one of most intriguing parts of the project is the design of the mentoring project. For the project she recruited 31 voluntary mentors from the biotech industry for her 31 graduate students who was taking her online course. She developed optional guiding documents for mentors to help students meet their academic and career goals. She also created an online space for groups to "meet" via multiple web 2.0 tools such as a video chat tool named Dimdim. The project received popularity among both students and mentors: they "met" online more frequently than expected; they used other chatting tools in addition to the provided; students all performed well at the end of the course and they felt motivated; the mentors showed enthusiasm in continuing to help students.

This study led me to think about the great value of human resources and questions such as: How to go beyond the traditional boundary of online courses? What other "courses" can an online program offer in addition to content replication of a physical class? In the case of TC, what TC alumni can potentially offer to new teachers?


ITS - Day 2

Submitted by Ankit Ranka on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 11:09am.
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I am attending the "Natural Language Interaction" session -

paper 1 - "Automatic Question Generation for Literature Review Writing Support"

question - can we generate meaningful useful questions automatically?

value of questions- generic questions can help but contextualized can be more helpful, however good contextualized questions are difficult and time consuming to generate

- previous work focuses on generating questions to improve reading proficiency

generic questions for literature review -
> have you clearly identified contribution of literature reviewed?
> identified the research methods?

content related quesions -
types - aim, openion, result, method, system, application, own

citation extractor - rule based approach

parser - part of speech tagger (stanford parser)

named entity tagger - (Univ of illinois) for names

sentiwordnet for sentiment detection

citation classifier - (statstical citation classifier)
training set - 372 citation from 40 papers


Trends In Ed-6.13.2010: Community Colleges Emerging As Training Centers

Submitted by George Nantwi on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 9:49pm.
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Last year President Obama unveiled a $12 billion program, American Graduation Initiative, aimed at helping community colleges train those students who cannot afford to attend traditional four-year institutions and also train new skills to old workers. His efforts to use community colleges as a sort of training avenue is gaining momentum in California, where community colleges are using their space and professors to train local workers in new technologies. According to program officials, “developing highly trained and effective workers is more important than ever for small businesses, which play a major role in the California economy and its recovery.”

The federal government has promised over $2 billion in grant money to community colleges over the next four years as part of an effort to retrain laid off workers and place them in new jobs in their communities. California’s program is mostly free or low cost for small businesses, the largest benefactors of the program.


Research Digest: Conceptual Tools for Teacher Community Research

Submitted by Ching-Fu Lan on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 6:51pm.
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Levine, T. H. (2010). Tools for the Study and Design of Collaborative Teacher Learning: The Affordances of Different Conceptions of Teacher Community and Activity Theory. Teacher Education Quarterly, 37.

Article Review
Teacher professional community has been advocated by scholars in the field of education as a vehicle for professional development and growth. Inquiry communities (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1992), communities of learners (Barth, 1984), and community of practice (Wenger, 1998) are but some variations on this research theme of teacher community. While teacher community help educators to address historic isolation of its profession, this widely and loosely used term might become a shallow concept without careful conceptualization. Levine (2010) addresses this issue in this paper by summarizing various conceptualizations of teacher community and adding two theoretical foundations-activity theory and third space--to the popular conceptions of teacher community. Levine (2010) summarizes four camps of teacher community conceptions--inquiry community, teacher professional community, community of learners, and community of practice, and provides several caveats on these current conceptions. In the context of historic isolation of teacher's work in the United States, scholars might romanticize the experience and work of teacher communities. Levine (2010) contends that teacher community should be understood as a means for educators' self-specified ends. In addition, these teacher community conceptions should draw on more learning theories to frame the actual experiences and activities occurring within these teacher communities. He suggested that activity theory, with one of its focuses on (conceptual) tools, and the notion of third space that encourages divergent perspectives, could be two theoretical frames to strengthen the concept of teacher community.


Kay Cassell: How to Get Published

Submitted by Melanie Hibbert on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:28pm.
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This is a short video based on a library talk given by Kay Cassell on tips for getting published, accompanied by some lo-fi animation. (As someone who has never published anything, I thought these suggestions were helpful). If anyone has any feedback about this video format for library talks, that would be great. Trying to find a good way to present workshop-style presentations through video, (i.e. how to write grants).

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