Friday, August 14, 2009

More Second Gilded Age Blogging

My world has been full of language labs, cat doors, hiking, assessment, fence building and course prep recently and I've neglected to blog about much. Meanwhile, we keep bailing out the upper 6%. The average income of this 6%? Over 30 million dollars per year. On a global scale, 300 or so individuals are worth more as a group than the bottom 2.5 billion (Harvey, A Brief history of neoliberalism). What irks me is that this is an absolutely radical transformation from 40 years ago, yet we act (see Forbes, Bush, Palin, McCain, Norquist, Newt, Armey, John Roberts, Scalia, Goldman Sachs, etc.) as if these folks are under some kind of burden, held back by meddlesome government and jealous commoners. Right.

Anyway, as always, Brad Delong gets it right, channeling Krugman quoting Saez...

More Second Gilded Age Blogging: "

Via Paul Krugman:

Even more gilded: With everything else going on, the latest inequality numbers from Emmanuel Saez, now updated to 2007, didn’t get much attention. But they’re truly amazing:

Even more gilded - Paul Krugman Blog -

That means that the top 1-10,000 of the American income distribution receives 6% of pretax household income--meaning that their average income is 600 times that of the average.

Time for a more progressive income taz, is what I am saying...

The curious thing is that Emmanuel's office is only 7 doors north down the hall, yet I have to find out about this via a loop to New Jersey...


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lab renovation continues

I spent most of the morning in the lab today just staring at the new tables we got yesterday.  We're going from 14 fixed PC stations to 6 fixed stations and conference tables.  The tables will allow us to have seminars, better tutorings, and, with laptops, have even more people at a computer than before.

Of course, you might have noticed all the cables coming out of the floor.  Placing new outlets and running new cables is the next step.   Once that's done, we'll really be able to clean up and organize things.

You might also notice the couch and tv (running foreign language programming).

Anyway, I'm always excited about progress, and this should be a much more flexible space than before, and hopefully a little friendlier (in the spatial sense) too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learning Management

Educause's recent survey  shows a tremendous increase in LMS usage among campuses.  Whittier is certainly part of that group, having "chosen" Moodle.  In 2007 we had no LMS (unless you count Luminis' paltry, resource-poor system).  By 2009 we were noting thousands of logins per week--quite a feat for a school of 1400 students.

You can read the quote below, but mostly what I want to underline is the increasing reliance on an LMS to teach.  Portfolios, federated logins, social networking and modular  are already or will soon be a feature of the LMS (particularly open-source varieties). 

I can't stress enough the usefulness--even in a small-class-size liberal arts environment--of the LMS.   Here's a quote from the survey:

The learning management system (LMS) has become a mission-critical enterprise system for higher education institutions. According to the EDUCAUSE Core Data Service: Fiscal Year 2007 Summary Report, 93 percent of all campuses responding to the survey supported at least one LMS. In fact, only 0.5 percent of respondents did not deploy and had no plans to deploy such a system.6 In Campus Computing 2008, Kenneth C. Green reports that the percentage of college/university courses that use an LMS has risen from 14.7 percent in 2000 to 53.5 percent in 2008.7 Accordingly, the LMS faces challenges and concerns similar to all other enterprise systems: acquisition strategy, local needs, rising costs, data migration, system integrity, integration/interoperability with other campus resources, and expansion to purposes for which it was not initially intended.
Although the commercial LMS providers (e.g., Blackboard/Angel Learning and Desire2Learn) dominate higher education, the percentage of campuses using open-source applications (e.g., Moodle and Sakai) has nearly doubled in the last two years.8 Given the rising cost of the commercial LMS, the current economic climate, and the pattern of consolidations in the commercial LMS market, the open-source LMS may be a viable alternative for some institutions. For those institutions with an already established LMS, however, the human and technical resources needed to migrate to a new system may be a concern.
Over the years, the LMS has evolved from a content (course) management system (CMS)9 to a more all-encompassing system that includes groupware and social networking tools, as well as assessment and e-portfolios to track learning across courses and semesters. Although the LMS needs to continue serving as an enterprise CMS, it also needs to be a student-centered application that gives students greater control over content and learning. Hence, there is continual pressure for the LMS to utilize and integrate with many of the Web 2.0 tools that students already use freely on the Internet and that they expect to find in this kind of system. Some educators even argue that the next requirement is a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) that interoperates with an LMS.10
At the same time, the question remains: is the LMS being used effectively at the institution, by both faculty and students? Institutions need to ensure that there are quality guidelines for the LMS, that both faculty and staff receive training,11 and that assessment is conducted regularly.
Critical questions for Learning Management Systems include the following:
  • What factors at the institution favor buying a commercial LMS or supporting an open-source application?
  • What systems need to be integrated with the LMS: portal? e-portfolio? ERP? library resources? Does the LMS support the integration of these systems?
  • Does the institution have the development and support expertise either to support an open-source LMS or to integrate open-source components into a commercial LMS?
  • Has the institution conducted, or is it planning to conduct, an assessment of how effectively the LMS is being used? What training/support resources are available to help faculty and students make better use of the LMS features?
  • If a change will be made to a new system, what plan is in place to ensure the smooth migration of existing materials to the new system?