18 December 2008

Tech Note: The Current and Future Web

[The Higher Ed Assessment blog will be "off" during the winter holidays. Back on January 6, 2009.]

Accessibility standards are updated per the December 2008 announcement by the World Wide Web Consortium (known by the acronym W3C). The strategies for making and keeping web technologies accessible by all users are labeled Success Criteria and written as testable rules. The new standards, expected to be widely adopted, provide for future developments in what some describe as a technology-neutral manner.

Recommended quick read for the new standards: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 are detailed on the web page How to Meet WCAG 2.0. Non-technical readers can gain a sense of the scope of WCAG simply by scanning the Table of Contents. (Scroll down just a little from the top of the web page for this section.)

Another December release from W3C is much more limited but has import in light of a December report from Pew. The "minor update" from W3C is the CSS Mobile Profile 2.0, concerned with how cascading style sheets (CSS) are implemented on mobile devices such as cell phones. The W3C profile is of interest to technical readers; the related Pew report is more digestible to non-technical readers.

The Future of the Internet III is the product of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Internet experts were surveyed on what we might expect about web computing in the year 2020. Strong agreement was registered for two assertions made in the survey: that the Internet will be improved (not replaced) and that mobile devices such as cell phones will provide the primary connection to it.

[The Higher Ed Assessment blog will be "off" during the winter holidays. Back on January 6, 2009.]

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

17 December 2008

Final FERPA on Emergencies

The U. S. Department of Education web page for "Federal Register: Final Regulations, Priorities, and Other Rules" posted the Final regulations for FERPA on December 9. The regulations take effect January 8.

HTML version

PDF version

These regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act are published by the Department of Education's Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Prompted by the shootings at Virginia Tech, proposals were developed to increase flexibility in handling student information when health or safety of students and other individuals is threatened. The resulting changes and clarifications to FERPA include increased ability to share information with students' parents in some situations.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

16 December 2008

SACS Follow-up: Ordering Conference MP3 Recordings

Just yesterday the SACS web site posted a copy of the order form (PDF file) for MP3 files of conference sessions. The annual meeting held a couple of weeks ago in San Antonio is represented by more than 120 recorded sessions available on CD.

Cost ranges from $49 + shipping (a pre-ordered set of 12 to 16 sessions or a self-selected set of 5 sessions) to $379 for all sessions (no shipping charge on this order for 8 disks).

Recommended: CHEA's Dr. Judith Eaton's gritty (but not necessarily all doom and gloom) address, GS-2 - Accreditation After the 2008 Reauthorization Act.

To help make selections, use the search function of the draft program posted in September. Few changes were made in the program since that time, so the file can be put to good use to locate abstracts of presentations.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

11 December 2008

Tech Note: NING for Evaluators

Evaluation Practice is a social network for evaluators, assessors, and anyone interested. At 193 members, it's not the largest social network or even a mid-size group for a list serv. But it is an inventive approach to shared space.

Of course, Facebook and LinkedIn and other web sites famously host groups in the tradition of SIGs (Special Interest Groups). It's not unusual to see groups of thousands or tens of thousands of members.

What's new about Evaluation Practice is that it's not a social network within a social network. It is its own parent organization courtesy of Ning, free software for setting up your own social network.

Ning numbers are good-sized (3019 for a Barry Manilow fan network) and the company claims "hundreds of thousands" of networks that have formed using the software. The web site says that "Ning powers the largest number of social networks on the Internet."

Ning software is free, as is basic file storage for the social networks. The company makes money by posting promotional links and ads on the pages. A network can have the ads removed for $25/month or the network can run its own contracted ads for the same fee of $25/month to Ning. Space beyond the default allowance (10gb storage and 100gb bandwidth) can be purchased for $10/month.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

10 December 2008

ePortfolio West Coast Summit

A low-cost conference on ePortfolios, Day of Dialogue, is set for February 29, 2009, in San Francisco. The Day's fee is $125.

Conference sponsor California State University maintains a helpful web site called ePortfolios in the CSU. A clever conceptualization on the site captures major themes for ePortfolios with graphics and phrases.

The CSU site is of highest value to institutions searching for a starting point in selecting an ePortfoio system. Enough platforms are mentioned to drive home the important point: there is no single recommended software. Even though needs vary from one institution to the next, some guidance in selection procedure is possible and the materials here provide that.

(I will be on one of the panels at the Day of Dialogue in San Francisco. Hope to see you there.)

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

08 December 2008

Live Blog from SACS

Perhaps SACS (and many more conferences) will move to streaming keynotes and presentations in future, but we're not there yet. Still, I am writing this from the general session on Monday morning, enjoying Dr. Judith Eaton's address from her CHEA perspective on "Accreditation After the 2008 Reauthorization Act." Yesterday afternoon, I heard the Honorable Henry Cisneros on "The Essentials of Leadership for the 21st Century."

Both addresses stimulate good thinking with, as you might guess, divergent foci. Mr. Cisneros moves us to ideals with demographic realities of the next half-century. Dr. Eaton points to more immediate pragmatic concerns of higher education, but with just as much vision and inspirational call.

While we await instant-conferencing to share conference keynotes such as this, we rely on recordings. At my first SACS conference, that meant ordering cassette tapes in the big white plastic holder. Today, the sessions come in mp3s on CDs. And that's a change just since 2005. Unfortunately, the company creating the mp3s doesn't provide a web address so all I can pass along today is Audio Master's email address: audio2k@bellsouth.net (toll free phone is 866-858-2475).

Dr. Eaton is wrapping up her speech. Yes, I was listening. But I'm also pleased with the multitasking possible. Thanks to SACS for the free wifi this morning. Now, I'm going to visit the vendors. Walking the show is actually something that's harder to stream via the web....

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

04 December 2008

Tech Note: Telecommuting Calculator

SUNY's distance learning folks have a commuter's online calculator recently updated to calculate commuter savings with distance learning classes. It is based on gasoline cost of $4/gallon; originally programmed at $2/gallon, that historical version would actually be more accurate in some seasons. You may want to adjust your miles entry into the calculation accordingly.

As faculty, both full-time and part-time, increasingly redesign their work schedules to accommodate distance learners' schedules, there is more telecommuting to campus (and computer servers) than ever before. So, the SUNY calculator is just as valuable for instructors as for students.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

03 December 2008

Proactive Assessment: Example of Tracking Veterans in HE

An initiative at U of Arkansas, described on the institution's Daily Headlines web page, shows promise for tracking a population from the start of program: veterans returning from Iraq in December and January. Assessment is already being planned by a task force that anticipates increased enrollment by veterans taking advantage of expanded education benefits.

The work of the campus task force is largely one of coordination of campus services. The attention to assessment includes initial needs assessment from the veterans themselves to "identify ways to ease their transition into academic life."

University officials also contribute to the state's Yellow Ribbon Task Force, which addresses broader issues of veterans. The Task Force was established in mid-2008 to study reintegration efforts of soldiers, expecting to track their progress over years, not just the first months of return.

Similar programs around the country relate to the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, which will serve more than 2 million veterans. Additional supports will find their way to "vet-friendly" institutions, notably the ACE/Wal-Mart Success for Veterans Institutional Awards. ACE (American Council on Education) will also provide its own vet-friendly outreach in the form of a web site to explain veterans' options under the new Act.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

02 December 2008

New GI Bill: Higher Ed Story for 2009

A higher ed story for 2009 will be implementation of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, which will serve more than 2 million veterans. In January, the Department of Veterans Affairs will co-sponsor with the American Council on Education (ACE) open meetings to explain the Act's provisions and also hear concerns about how payments will be made for veterans' education. The open meetings are scheduled for:

* January 6, 2009: Los Angeles, California
* January 9, 2009: Washington, D.C.
* January 14, 2009: Chicago, Illinois

As reported on the ACE web page about the June 2008 Veteran's Summit, Charlie Reed (Chancellor, California State U System) challenged institutions to "do an assessment of how you're doing with programs and services for military veterans." For campus assessors who need an orientation to the issues, I recommend the ACE Issue Brief (12-page PDF) entitled Service Those Who Serve: Higher Education and America's Veterans.

FAQs about the new education benefits from the veteran's perspective are answered on the GI Bill web site of the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Tomorrow's blog will highlight the U of Arkansas initiative on campus services for and experiences of veterans.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

20 November 2008

Resource Center: First-Year Experience

For all sorts of reasons, "first year" has become a good replacement for "freshman." Among them is the attention the status earns through the excellent work at the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

The Center delivers on resources, as the name promises, as well as gateway to five listservs. Not so obvious but worth the experiment is the link to University 101, U of South Carolina's initiative that serves 80% of its new students and continues to offer support all the way to University 401, a senior capstone experience. (University 101 is responsible for much of the development of the Center.)

Low-cost publications are described on the site and a sample issue of the E-Source newsletter
can be downloaded (requires clicking through a couple of web pages):

E-Source for College Transitions
6 issues $40; institutional subscription $100

Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
semiannual, refereed
$45; institutional subscription $110

[The Higher Ed Assessment blog will be "off" next week for Thanksgiving. Back in December.]

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

19 November 2008

Online Education: Oversight Needed

Online education has become big business. Cross-border education (referring to the online variety) makes it global big business. Ten years ago, faculties debated whether to put a course or a program online; today, the question is simply, how fast? Regardless of the business model and fee structure, mounting online courses means keeping market share. Not mounting online courses means losing market share.

An Insider Higher Ed story about the continuing increases in online enrollment asks, will faculty follow? The question isn't just about faculty incentives to teach online but also about the basic business model (or not) adopted (or not) by institutions well before the first online class is scheduled. The question of quality comes next. No one can say for sure whether a heavily adjuncted online degree is the most efficient model just as no one can promise that course quality is higher when the teacher of record is on regular faculty.

The article from Insider Higher Ed relates a horror story or two about incentives run amok as well as a couple of business models that appear to be working. I would suggest that most discussions do not warn adequately about just how bad online education can be. (I am a distance educator. I consider the learning to be superior to face-to-face learning. But I am also a realist.)

1. Incentives may induce sign-ups by faculty but may not have a thing to do with the eventual course. Over an EDUCAUSE box lunch, a young instructional designer at a large state university confided to me that she had an ethical dilemma. "Faculty members get release time for two semesters to work with us on a new course. And they get paid a bonus, too. But I never see them after the first meeting and they just choose a textbook with a cartridge."

2. A graduate student at a Campus Technology conference told me of online courses for which senior professors log in once or not at all, perhaps hold a face-to-face seminar, and grant grades based on number of emails in the Inbox.

There is such a thing as a good course cartridge from a publisher and maybe the course quality is adequate at that instructional designer's institution. And university faculties have always included mediocre and even fatally flawed professors. The missing piece in these stories is oversight by administrators who (a) understand the processes of online education, and (b) care.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

18 November 2008

Resources: the Learning Sciences

At the Sloan-C conference in early November, a publisher recommended the Cambridge Handbook of Learning Sciences as a source for curriculum planning. The topic at the Sloan-C session was online collaborative learning, which commands a chapter in the Handbook. But the entire book speaks to what we have learned about learning in the past couple of decades. Foundational chapters address the "new science" of learning and the "interdisciplinary science" of learning.

Like any collection, the book crosses topics rapidly, from constructionism to project-based learning to "anytime, anywhere" computing devices. The thread running through the collection is the attention to scholarship.

Leading academic resources for Learning Sciences

U of Nottingham: Learning Sciences Research Institute
Carnegie Mellon U and U of Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center
U of Illinois at Chicago: Learning Sciences Research Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology: Learning Sciences and Technology
Goergie Institute of Technology: Journal of the Learning Sciences

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

13 November 2008

Online Program: Big Central Texas College

Without purpose of promoting Blackboard (which doesn't need any promoting), this link to a Bb Case Study is nevertheless an endorsement—of the professionalism of Central Texas College (CTC) in managing tremendous growth in online learning enrollments.

I have met CTC faculty and administrators in seminar setting and followed their growth over the past several years. While the Bb narrative serves to explain how the LMS supports the community college's online programs, it also concisely relates the numbers story:

Enrollment in 2001-2002: 15,235
Enrollment in 2005-2006: 57,484
Estimated for 2008: 92,000

For the scope of CTC's online presence, visit the school's Distance Education web site. CTC ranks 20th in the nation as a "top producer" of Associate's degrees and certificates. It is also acknowledged as a leading provider for education for military service members.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

12 November 2008

Online Simulations for Ethics

EthicsGame.com produces corporate as well as higher ed ethics curricula, which can include bundling print textbooks with online simulations. The company also produces online-only options, such as the EthicsGame-Hot Topics. These are short, stand-alone modules that can include pre- and post-administrations for assessment purposes.

The online experience of about 2 hours is supported by the company to insure that technology is not a problem. Statistics on student time on task, ranking, and discussions are provided to the instructor. The instructor can weight the elements of participation to create a grading scale for the assignment.

The company web site also serves as subscribers' portal to the simulations through an icon labeled "Game Door." Visitors can take advantage of four free online orientations (each takes about an hour). These introductory sims are accessed through the menu item "Orientation" that appears throughout the web site.

A web page description of the online EthicsGame-Hot Topic gives sample costs per student and per module (base price is about $30 per student).

[No disclaimer for this blog...I don't have any association with the publisher and learned of the product last week at the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning.]

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

11 November 2008

B-School Online Simulation $12.50 a Pop

A recent release from Harvard Business Publishing was highlighted last week at the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning: Root Beer Game, based on the classic (MIT) Beer Game from the 1960s.

The publisher dusted off the B-school classic and fashioned an online sim for students of Operations Management and Supply Chain Management. The Root Beer Game is not as complex as other sims but that's also its allure: basic principles that are highly digestible for undergraduate Business majors as well as MBA students.

Student access to this particular sim is $12.50 (full price $37.50) via credit card online or pre-payment by students' institution. Faculty can request full access to review sims in order to make selections.

Anyone can view a demo version of the Root Beer Game on the publisher web page. Click on the "Demo" link near the top of the description.

Descriptions of some other sims are located on the site and extensive curriculum materials can be searched by discipline, as well.

[No disclaimer for this blog entry....I don't have any association with the publisher and was introduced to the library of sims just last week.]

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

06 November 2008

Elections: Money for Higher Ed

Election news turned up the below list of successes for higher ed funding. A fair number involve gambling. The Chronicle is tracking a much fuller list of referenda, noting what voters have rejected, too.

Arkansas voters approved a lottery to support college scholarships.

California voters authorized bonds for children's hospitals, including facilities operated by the University of California.

Colorado voters increased hours of and maximum bets in casinos, with most of the resulting dollars going to community colleges.

Maryland voters OK'd slot machines with a portion of the revenues going to capital projects at higher ed institutions.

Missouri voters increased the percentage of casino revenues reserved for higher ed.

Montana voters renewed their property tax, which will include monies for higher ed.

New Mexico voters authorized bonds for construction projects for higher ed.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

05 November 2008

Geography and Acceptance Rates at Selective Schools

Fall 2008 numbers provide insight into the acceptance rates at selective institutions. The NYTimes story Geography (11/2/08) includes a handy chart with examples from Amherst, Carnegie Mellon, Rice, Spelman, and 36 others.

So, Carnegie Mellon accepted 50% of its applicants from Mississippi and only 29% of those from California. Meaning comes when you learn that applicants numbered 10 in Mississippi and 2,352 in California.

The NYTimes item identifies New York, California, and New Jersey as big feeder states for selective institutions. Smaller trends are also evident from the chart. It's worth a 10-minute perusal.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

04 November 2008

Probability of Grade by Class Size in Higher Education

I promised a colleague that I would locate the graphic above. It is one that I have carried in memory since 2005 and it may have the same effect on you. The source is The Effects of Class Size on Student Achievement in Higher Education, a 2005 paper by E. C. Kokkelenberg, Michael Dillon, and Sean M. Christy of Binghamton University (published by CHERI).

Even without a good key or great clarity here, you can make out the major finding from the Binghamton University researchers: probability of A/A- grades (at bottom of graph) is much higher in smaller college classes. When class size rises above 20, the highest grades settle into a narrower band that holds as the lecture hall fills to hundreds of students.

The researchers resisted naming cause, satisfied to report on nearly a million observations that cross disciplines at a northeastern university (highly selective research institution). The data are clear, holding for all variables, that grades and class size are negatively associated in higher ed.

Perhaps smaller class size really does produce more learning (assumes that grades reflect learning). Perhaps enrollment in small classes reflects self-selection by high achieving students. Perhaps professors like to give high grades to the students they spend more up-close time with.

One more link about grades and their use in university assessment efforts: Why Not Grades? on the web site of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment at Old Dominion University.


Source published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI), Cornell University:
Kokkelenberg, E. C., Dillon, M. & Christy, S. M. (2005) The effects of class size on student achievement in higher education (CHERI Working Paper #67). Retrieved November 3, 2008, from Cornell University, ILR School site: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cheri/24/

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

30 October 2008

Tech Note: Evaluating Higher Ed Web Sites

When is Humboldt State University ranked higher than Vassar College? When a talented geeek tours the institutions' web sites and critiques them in a several-minute off-the-cuff review. Actually, time on Humboldt was spent on their "Giving" page, and the review of Vassar was on Admissions. Fair comparison? Yes, when the criterion is effectiveness of communication based on web design.

The talented geek is Nick DeNardis, who produces the short Flash clips on his own, with emphasis on the coding behind the web sites. Don't let this mention of coding dissuade you from visiting EDU Checkup: Live Higher Ed Web Site Review.

(Even if you have no technical knowledge of web site design and creation, you will find the tour informative. When Nick explains that "bandwidth matters" you don't actually have to be able to define it in order to appreciate his message to higher ed administrators.)

EDU Checkup is only 7 episodes old. Discover it now, in its first days.

An older cousin to the site is eduStyle, a little more than a year old and a site billed for "inspiration for campus web designers." Users on the site have opportunity vote on a campus web page/site as being "My Style" or "Not My Style."

Just for comparison's sake... at eduStyle, Humboldt State U's site was voted 6 positive, 0 negative. One of its comments: "this is one of my favorite higher ed sites on the Web. I like the simplicity and creativity of the design." (Vassar was voted mostly positive, with numerous sites and pages from the College posted.)

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

29 October 2008

Benchmarking in Higher Education

These benchmarking consortia and companies serve higher ed (and some extend considerably beyond the higher ed community). Details are accurate to October 2008.

BearingPoint
This consulting company addresses benchmarking for the Higher Ed community in four areas: Human Resources, Research Management, Student Affairs & Services, and Strategic Financial Analysis. These areas display previous reports (years 2002-2005, for example) for public access; locate through "Library" links within the web site.

CHEBA: Consortium for Higher Education Benchmarking Analysis
Membership organization (no member fees) sharing the costs of research to produce benchmarking research for use in higher ed. Currently, CHEBA has about 55 institutional members, including U of Maryland, McGill U, and North Carolina State U. CHEBA is part of The Benchmarking Network, Inc., which claims 140,000 members and serves many business areas.

EBI: Educational Benchmarking, Inc.
With a client list of more than 1200 institutions, EBI serves a broad community including 2- and 4-year institutions, military entities, and online universities. Assessments are available in the areas of housing, student center, first-year experience, fraternity/sorority, as well as Education areas of Management, Teaching, Engineering, and Nursing. New Product: MAP-Works developed with Ball State for early intervention to students at-risk.

Primary Research Group
This firm publishes benchmarking studies and surveys for higher ed (as well as other concerns as disparate as hospitals and museums). Costs range from roughly $100 to $400 for higher ed topics. Prices are considerably higher in other areas (e.g., $1500 for a telecommunications study). Recent titles are Survey of Assessment Practices in Higher Education and Research Library International Benchmarks. Survey topics are broad enough to encompass Library Cafes and Student Retention (not combined in the surveys but it would be interesting to know if they should be). Sample prices:
College Alumni Relations Benchmarks $295 (Paper or PDF)
Assessment Practices in Higher Ed $110 (PDF)
Student Retention Policies $119 (Paper), $134 (PDF)
2007-2008 Survey of Distance Learning Programs in Higher Ed $129 (Paper), $137.50 (PDF)

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

28 October 2008

Brief Survey of Instrument Costs

This brief survey of assessment instruments is based on October 2008 prices as advertised on the publishers' web sites:

ACT CAAP = $13 - $20
ACT Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency
Common use: Gen Ed

CARS tests = $7 per online test
Center for Assessment & Research
James Madison University
Sample titles:
Information Literacy Test
Quantitative Reasoning Test
Scientific Reasoning Test

College BASE = couple of bucks + scoring cost
Assessment Resource Center
University of Missouri
Common uses: Gen Ed, Teacher Education

ETS Major Field Tests = $25 - $30 per online test
Educational Testing Service
Sample titles: Biology, Economics, Music

GPI two administrations = $500 (ends June 2009)
Global Perspectives Inventory
[unlimited n for a limited time]

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

23 October 2008

Investigating ePortfolio Software

Most institutions struggle with the challenge of software adoption as products (and pricing structures) change annually and learning communities across campus differ in their preferences for software. If there is not a strong history of making campus-wide adoptions, programs seeking ePortfolio software may have to rely on short demonstrations or (better) trials to compare software features of competing products.

From a data collection perspective, the most efficient ePortfolio would be fully integrated with a learning management system (LMS) and institutional data content management system. Functions of ePortfolios can include learning documentation, planning, evaluation, job-seeking; and uses include student presentations, program review, and institutional effectiveness. This broad scope means that at the same time that institutions adopt ePortfolio software and set standards for students’ use, administrators and faculty may also be establishing processes to extend to programmatic documentation, including faculty credential and performance reports.

Through web demonstrations and conference calls with vendors, the following questions permit comparisons among products:

  • Cost to student, to university
  • Cost, time of sysadmin on campus
  • Server location (hosted or on campus)
  • Accessibility (e.g., Section 508)
  • Customization (templates), Branding
  • Training, support for educators and students
  • Standards sets (for national and state accreditations)
  • Help Desk (cost, hours, provision by company/university)
  • Length of access - by student to materials, to webspace
  • Archiving (to support studies of institutional effectiveness)
  • Practical limits of long-term storage
  • Security of student products
  • Copyright of student material
  • Copyright of educator material
  • Copyright of institution material
  • Consultancy service for educators
  • Rubric maker and other utilities
  • Portability

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

22 October 2008

ePortfolio Inspiration

Aside from the stunning collection of student art works, the Otis College of Art and Design web display of ePortfolios serves as a model for institutional responsibility for such presentations. The school's directory links to some 65 pages of student products. Look for clues on the entries to guide your surfing. An ePortfolio that has had thousands of hits may be worth your time. A project with 45 hits probably means it is an unfinished (or even abandoned) product.

Featured ePortfolios can be clicked from the ribbon at top of page. The larger collection can be sampled with the help of tabs such as "By Category." While the emphasis is on individual products, some entries reflect learning communities within courses.

The Otis site excels in two areas of best practices for institution-sponsored web sites: copyright and protection of student identity. As is common for art schools, there is emphasis on copyright acknowledgments. Harder to maintain is protection of students. Most of the ePortfolios that I sampled offered web-based forms for contact with authors. I spotted only a few ePortfolios that displayed personal information such as an email address or mailing address.

Especially as institutions aim to help students in job searches, the online portfolio becomes a challenge: should it include standard resume data? Or is its exposure too great to disclose personal information? Many employment web sites mask the identity of job seekers but that standard is not universal.

[An academic portfolio should display a student's best works, not her home phone number, street address, primary email address, and enough personal details to invite attention. I had planned to list on this blog some of the collections of portfolios posted through academic depatments and programs. (And there are some great ones.) But as I reviewed individual sites to vet the URLs, I ran into too much personal information—enough that I was no longer comfortable with directing readers to the sites.]

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

21 October 2008

On dropping the e in e-portfolio

In a recent Campus Technology article on andragogy, Trent Batson* (of MIT) refers to student portfolios with an important aside: "we can drop the "e" before portfolio because we now take for granted that portfolios are digital."

Batson's commentary on andragogy and evidence-based learning begins and ends with ontology, the set of our fundamental assumptions about higher education. With insight into the role of technology, he neatly makes the case for the student portfolio as vehicle for the needed shift to student-centered learning, especially for adult learners. Andragogy has not had much play in higher education and Batson correctly places it squarely before us as the "better fit."

Although seemingly a small matter, Batson's assumption that we can drop the "e" from e-portfolio deserves more discussion. My experience is that the electronic portfolio is still a matter of debate on some campuses. Not among students, who routinely put Web 2.0 tools to use. Not among IT professionals, who understand the relative ease of either constructing or contracting for portfolio technology (either as a single platform or as a flexible collection of tools). Rather, the electronic version of portfolio continues to see resistance from some faculty and administrators. In this sense, resistance to the "e" illustrates Batson's main thesis that the ontology of higher ed "does not fit at all with the new nature of knowledge construction in a Web 2.0 world."

* Trent Batson, "The Institutional Path for Change in This Age: Andragogy, not Pedagogy," Campus Technology, 10/8/2008, http://www.campustechnology.com/article.aspx?aid=68283

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

16 October 2008

Campus Assessment Tool for Technology

There's always a tendency to not download the Full Report of a study because (a) the file will be big, (b) the text will be dense, and (c) one wonders if the material will ever be put to use, anyway.

Here's the exception: CDW-G's study report on campus technology and the accompanying 21st-Century Campus Assessment Tool. They can be put to use by campus administrators. Both can be accessed from the CDW-G Newsroom web page; they require a sign-in with email address.

The "Full Report" is actually a very digestible slideshow in a PDF file. The report's 31 pages are fast reads with excellent graphics to make results meaningful. A technology manager could easily select 10 pages to drive a discussion among staff.

An Assessment Tool is also provided so that a campus can compare its own resources to national results and (as stated on that web page) "gauge how well your institution is integrating technology into the educational experience, identify program strengths and challenges and establish future program goals. Results from the assessment will also help individual universities track campus technology trends over time."

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

15 October 2008

Assessment Podcasts by the Teagle Foundation

The Teagle Foundation podcasts are 20-minute clips on the web on assessment topics, most from 2007. If you share assessment articles with folks on campus, the podcasts offer a different approach to catch their interest. Some speakers and their topics:

Richard Hersh on the CLA
Judith Eaton on the state of accreditation (perspective of CHEA)
Andrew Delbanco on the future of American UG education

And presenting what may be the most unusual story-telling about campus assessment, a Teagle web page is devoted to 6 episodes of The Amazing Adventures of Indigo Jones, Classical Archaeologist! (The exclamation mark is part of the title. Although it also suits my description as the most unusual....)

Teagle Foundation Grantees are described briefly on the web site, along with dozens of publications and resources. The philanthropic organization was founded in 1944 by Teagle of Standard Oil (now Exxon). Funding continues by his family.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

14 October 2008

Upcoming Conferences with Registration Deadlines

Conference notices sometimes scream This Will Sell Out if you read between the lines (and some will tell you explicitly). In the past week, I've reacted to three such notices [my reactions are embedded in the list below]. It's hard to keep up with higher ed conferences so the following list is incomplete, of course. I will admit to being drawn to only the most affordable so you'll see <$500 offerings.


TaskStream free Fall Harvest Dinner at IUPUI Conference

27 October 2008, 6:45p
Indianapolis, IN
[My reaction: I wish I were going! The TaskStream invitation reads, "...dinner, open bar, live music and a ridiculous amount of good cheer." The free dinner tickets are nearly gone but Lyn Cooperman, 800-311-5656 x259, will try to accommodate if you call by October 15. The IUPUI Conference closed registration last week so this note is of value only to folks already set to travel to Indianapolis.]


NEEAN: New England Educational Assessment Network

Fall Forum: How Assessment Improves Teaching and Learning
7 November 2008, 8:30a - 3pm
NEW LOCATION: Worcester State College, Worcester, MA
$130 includes breakfast and lunch
Registration should be received by October 24
http://www.neean.org


South Carolina Formative Assessment Conference

9-11 November 2008
Myrtle Beach, SC
$250 for 2 days; $150 for 1 day
Last day to register: October 31
http://www.scformativeassessment.com


SACS Annual Meeting

6-9 December 2008
San Antonio, TX
$425
Registration ends November 3
http://www.sacscoc.org/aamain.asp


Claremont Graduate University

2009 Stauffer Symposium on Applied Psychology
24 January 2009, 8:45a - 6:45p
CGU, Claremont, CA (near Los Angeles)
$45 professionals; $25 students
http://www.cgu.edu/pages/5808.asp

[My reaction: A $45 conference that includes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? Deal of the century. Sure enough, the web site states, "Seats are still available today. However, we do expect this event to sell out."]


Savannah College of Art and Design

MUSE: Measuring Unique Studies Effectively
8-11 February 2009
Savannah, GA
$300; Pre-conference institute $150
http://www.scad.edu/events/muse/2009


Texas A&M Assessment Conference

22-24 February 2009
College Station, TX
$175 + low-cost pre-conferences and roundtable
http://assessment.tamu.edu/conference

[My reaction: The lunch-provided "SACS Roundtable General Education Competencies: Reviewer Expectations" will undoubtedly sell out. Worth the $25 add-on.]


New Mexico Higher Ed Assessment & Retention Conference

26-27 February 2009
Albuquerque, NM
$85; pre- and post-conferences for $65 each
http://www.nmsu.edu/~NMHEAC


Association of American Colleges and Universities

General Education, Assessment, and the Learning Students Need
Network for Academic Renewal Conference
26-28 February 2009
Baltimore, Maryland
$400 early bird price by February 3
http://www.aacu.org/meetings/generaleducation


© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

09 October 2008

Tech Note: Comparing CMS Tools

Choices in content management tools are overwhelming. A web site called cms matrix reduces the overwhelm dramatically for folks who must sift through the hundreds of products to make an adoption. Based on vendor-supplied information, the web site does two things very well:

1 - display a comprehensive list of 950 CMS tools, and
2 - permit comparisons among the tools on system requirements, security, support, ease of use, built-in apps, and five other criteria (drilling down to 135 features).

Vendors keep their details updated and pay the site for the display of information. The display is in WebGUI, one of the vendors on the site. How did WebGUI gain that placement? It was the first CMS to sign on.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

08 October 2008

VSA's College Portrait & Beneficiaries


College Portrait
http://www.collegeportrait.org

Project of VSA (Voluntary System of Accountability)
Sponsored by NASULGC (National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges) and AASCU (American Association of State Colleges and Universities)

Purpose = share reliable information about higher ed institutions in digestible format.

The primary audience is identified as students and families seeking to learn about universities and colleges. The important secondary audience consists of the higher ed community, the legislative community, and government agencies.

Through the voluntary system, schools construct a portrait and upload their data to the Internet. The portraits have these common themes: (a school's choice of) standardized test results, student learning outcomes, and display of standard statistics that permit comparisons.

As I read many portraits over the past week, I imagined who benefits from the collection that is promised to grow over years as more schools come on board and as the ones already participating add more detail, including test data.

Prospective students are reading other guides to colleges.

Prospective college students' families may indeed access College Portraits, more likely from schools' web sites rather than the VSA web site. The College Portrait logo will make the report instantly recognizable from one college site to another, which is a genuine service of the well-designed logo.

High school counselors and admissions advisors will probably put the VSA web site to best use as a convenient source of literally hundreds of short profiles. (Can't you imagine the number of printed PDFs that will be distributed in advising sessions this year?)

The higher education community itself is the greatest beneficiary of the effort in these ways:

1. College Portraits are a remarkable display of cooperation and flexibility by two large membership organizations (for planning) and their members (for participating). Regardless of a few missing states and some lag among the institutions that intend to be online, the overall image is of higher ed being on the same page in recognizing the need for accountability. Paired with the activity of independent colleges and universities in U-CAN, the message is promising for the future.

2. More difficult to articulate and demonstrate is the meaning of a College Portrait to the campus itself. I do not refer to public relations or school pride, which are more the product of rankings, anyway. Rather, the sheer fact of having a standardized published profile on its web site says to the faculty and staff, "we have to make public reports on what we do here."

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

07 October 2008

Higher Ed Accountability: VSA and its URLs


There is much to applaud about the College Portrait program that represents a Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) and I'll offer that applause this week. So, today's post merely gets the "location" issue out of the way.

I was aware that VSA's sponsoring organizations (AASCU and NASULGC) had selected "org" for the type of domain for this program, so I started with the obvious test of the URL*. Had the selection of URLs included singular and plural versions of the program name? It had. The web page is produced by either of these URLs:

http://www.collegeportrait.org
http://www.collegeportraits.org

But if a user types in the singular version with .com as the extension, the resulting page is the NCES College Navigator.
http://www.collegeportrait.com
= http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

And if the user types the plural version with .com, the result is U.S. News & World Report's Rankings (including colleges, grad schools, high schools, hospitals, and about a half-dozen more "best" lists).
http://www.collegeportraits.com = http://www.usnews.com/sections/rankings

One last test, singular with .net, produced the Princeton Review College Rankings.
http://www.collegeportrait.net = http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings.aspx?uidbadge=

URLs are becoming less obvious to users via google searches and intuitive hyperlinks (e.g., "College Portrait" proceeding directly to the correct page without a text display of the URL except, in some browsers, a preview of the URL at bottom of window). Add to that the growing practice of using a hyperlink to generate a search or to link to a web site's other pages about the highlighted word. In short, hyperlinking is evolving and is not as predictable as in the past. The problem with the URLs surrounding VSA's College Portrait site is that for a project aiming to promote transparency, there's an awful lot of web sites that may be accessed by anyone trying to type in a URL.

The positive aspects of the project will be highlighted starting tomorrow. (And there are a lot of positive aspects.)

* URL = Uniform Resource Locator, the unique address of a web page on the Internet.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

02 October 2008

Enhancing College Applications: CollegeSupplement


Portfolios coming and going.
Web-based portfolios are a superior means of assessment—and they can serve that purpose at both start and finish of a college career. A new platform called CollegeSupplement displays high school students' multimedia content as supplement to their college applications. Samples on the new web site follow a template for a guided eportfolio of video and text. (A simpler display of only video can made, too.)

College applicants create their own video and either upload it to YouTube and embed the code in the template (free) or upload it to the CollegeSupplement servers (fee). Then, they direct admissions officers to the location through a code generated by CollegeSupplement. Applicants are not notified as to whether or when anyone uses the code.

The web site suggests that the "supplemental" information is an alternative to visiting campuses and interviewing for admission. The company acknowledges that their own servers display better quality video than does YouTube, and it also offers scholarships whereby students can receive full CollegeSupplement services free of charge. If YouTube is elected for video storage, the student can code it as "private" so that it is accessed only by admissions officers using the CollegeSupplement link. While young people are certainly aware of such privacy provisions on the web, CollegeSupplement responsibly underscores the option; personal data are likely in a college application video and could expose a student on the Internet. (Notice the run-of-the-mill youth-produced YouTube video: it is more anonymous than you'd expect. But a college application video is likely to announce the applicant's name, high school, town, and favorite activities, all of which make the person find-able.)

A BusinessWire release about CollegeSupplement describes some early adoptions (Michigan State University, K-12 districts) that may spur the institutionalization of "in-coming portfolios" by college students. Aside from introducing students to the concept of portfolio presentation, some great pre-test data are created. The post-test would be four years later in the form of the college exit portfolio, whether for assessment of course products or for employment applications.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.