December 2006

Practical Tips for Teaching Large classes is a booklet, published by UNESCO Bangkok giving tips to teachers on how to handle overcrowded classrooms.

This booklet comes out with a larger “Learning-Friendly Environments” (ILFE). This toolkit contains six Booklets, each of which contains tools and activities for self-study to start creating an inclusive, learning-friendly environment (ILFE). Some of these activities ask reader to reflect on what his/her school are doing now in terms of creating on ILFE, while others actively guide reader in improving his/her skills as a teacher in a diverse classroom.

(From the Development Gateway by Thomas Bekkers, 12.26.06)

[Thomas Bekkers writes] The guide is dedicated to the immense contribution of teachers across the globe in awakening potential and fostering the fundamental capacity of human beings to seek knowledge, to disseminate information and to share their collective wisdom. This 66 pages PDF document is available for free.

Related links:

Practical Tips for Teaching Large Classes: A Teacher’s Guide (Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-friendly Environments Specialized Booklet, 2)


(From The Chronicle: Daily News Blog, 12.27.06)

[The Daily News Blog writes] Nearly 2.3 million students received degrees from four-year colleges and about 557,000 earned degrees from community colleges in the 2004-5 academic year, according to a report released today by the U.S. Education Department.

The report, “Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2005 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2004-05,” provides a first look at the latest data on college costs and degree attainment that the Education Department has collected through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The system, commonly known as Ipeds, compiles information from reports that colleges that receive federal funds are required to file.

According to the report, in the 2005-6 academic year the average tuition and fees charged were: $16,888 for students at private four-year colleges, $13,894 at for-profit colleges, and $2,514 at community colleges. Out-of-state students at public four-year colleges paid an average of $12,652, while in-state students paid an average of $5,206.

Meanwhile, according to the report, the overall average price of attendance for undergraduates living on a campus was the highest at for-profit colleges, at $28,250. That was about 2 percent more than the $27,754 that students at private four-year colleges were charged, on average. Out-of-state students at public four-year colleges paid an average price of $22,791, while in-state students paid an average of $15,114.

Not surprisingly, community colleges offered the lowest price of attendance over all in 2005-6: $6,200 for students living off campus.

More-current data on tuition and fees — for the 2006-7 year — appear in a database of College Board figures that The Chronicle published in November. The most-recent final statistics on earned degrees conferred — for the 2003-4 year — were published in the Almanac issue of The Chronicle, in August.

(From Academic Commons by

[Academic commons writes] The Internet Scout at the University of Wisconsin has just unveiled the AMSER project–the Applied Math and Science Education Repository. It is funded by the National Science Foundation and serves up information about applied math and science resources in an easy-to-use format. From the Scout release: “Though specifically created for teachers and students at community and technical colleges, AMSER is free for anyone to use and is part of NSF’s larger National Science Digital Library initiative. Users can find a wide assortment of materials at AMSER, from large web sites focusing on an individual applied science or math topic to Flash animations that demonstrate specific science or math principles in action. AMSER also offers users a variety of features including rating and commenting on resources and having new resources recommended to them.”

Related links:

Scholarpedia is the first “free peer-reviewed encyclopedia,” a kind of morphing of open access (OA) publishing with wiki technology.

[From Eduresources by JH, 12.19.06)

[JH writes ] I use Wikipedia often, along with many other online information tools, but Scholarpedia is new to me: Linux Insider’s brief note and Peter Suber’s Open Access News comments provide a quicky overview. The Scholarpedia introduction by the Editor in Chief, Dr. Eugene Izhekevick, describes the similarities and differences between Wikepedia and Scholarpedia. Worth visiting and checking back to see how this resource develops for academics and students; for now, the topics covered are confined to areas of computational science. ____JH

Scholarpedia feels and looks like Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Indeed, both are powered by the same program – MediaWiki. Both allow visitors to review and modify articles simply by clicking on the edit this article link.

However, Scholarpedia differs from Wikipedia in some very important ways:

  • Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).
  • Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.
  • Each article has a curator – typically its author — who is responsible for its content.
  • Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.

Herein also lies the greatest differences between Scholarpedia and traditional print media: while the initial authorship and review processes are similar to a print journal, articles in Scholarpedia are not frozen and outdated, but dynamic, subject to an ongoing process of improvement moderated by their curators. This allows Scholarpedia to be up-to-date, yet maintain the highest quality of content.
[Open Access News]
Comment. Two quick ones: (1) Scholarpedia launched before Citizendium, by eight months, not after. (2) If Scholarpedia is superior to Wikipedia, then let’s find a way to praise it, even as “an answer to freely available scholarship online”, without leaving the false impression that the large and growing body of peer-reviewed OA literature suffers from the same problems as Wikipedia.

(From Development Gateway by Thomas Bekkers, 12.19.06)

[Thomas Bekkers writes] The Professional Education Organization International (PEIO) offers 8 open courses available online related to finance, accounting and macroeconomy. Many other courses are under construction. Courses are built by authors subscribing to the virtual community. There is no fee or charge for viewing and using any material, test, assignment, citation or link of a PEOI professional course. Its content is published under Creative Commons licence. To learn more about PEIO please visit the Web site of the organization.

Related links


(From IIEP’s web site)

The Virtual University Models and messages:Lessons from case studies is a report release by UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) wich examines models and messages for the virtual university, “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) offers the university both an opportunity and a challenge. By using ICT the university can provide increased flexibility to students while reaching students beyond the usual catchment area. However, institutions need to develop and apply appropriate policies, and to plan and manage effectively for a new mode of teaching and learning. The virtual university warrants examination as it represents an important development in the use of ICT to increase flexibility and extend provision of higher education in both developed and developing countries.”

The document refer to the guidelines for monitoring education efficiency across borders. I was published by the Unesco Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education.

(From Eldis, 12.14.06)

This toolkit is intended to act as an aid in regulating quality assurance for countries that are involved in providing and receiving cross-border education. The toolkit examines cross-border education generally, highlights regulatory frameworks for receiver and provider countries and gives examples of various country regulatory frameworks.

Particular quality issues and implications for cross-border education include:

  • programme quality related to low standards and inadequate teaching resources
  • misleading or dishonest information including false claims about the programme and its certification
  • financial issues including default on fees, cessation of programmes due to the financial difficulty of providers, or even complete provider collapse
  • national interest concerns such as programmes that do not cater well to national, cultural or economic needs.

To address these issues, the toolkit highlights different models of regulatory frameworks and practical steps in setting one up. It also outlines possible pitfalls drawn from the experience of some systems to date.


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