April 2008

On April 24, 2008, CGS released a major new report, Graduate Education and the Public Good, at a legislative forum at the Library of Congress.

The report illustrates the value of graduate education to the U.S. economy and our quality of life by showcasing alumni of U.S. graduate schools and the significant contributions they have made to the nation and the world.

Excerpt and Executive Summary

Press Release

Full report available from the CGS Online Bookstore

From Chronicle of Higher Education News blog, April 24:

Universities may be labeled “ivory towers,” but many people find a master’s degree or a doctorate an important steppingstone to career advancement in the wider world as well. But how does all of that advanced education translate into the betterment of society at large? And, more important, do legislators, policy makers, and the average citizen know how much graduate education matters?

A new report released today by the Council of Graduate Schools argues that those advanced degrees not only make a tangible difference in people’s lives, but provide American society with a vital knowledge base, economic capital, and social cohesion.

The report, “Graduate Education and the Public Good,” cites knock-on effects from graduate education that extend past technological advances in medicine and other disciplines to include higher average salaries (which yield greater tax revenue) and replenishment of the nation’s teaching corps.

Furthermore, the report observes, “the new global competition for talent places increasing importance on maintaining a world-class graduate higher-education system.” —Richard Byrne


Last week Forum for Education and Democracy released a report entitle Democracy at Risk: The Need for a New Federal Role in Education,”

You can obtain a copy of the full report here.

Craig A. Cunningham writes at the Educational Policy blog a concise review indicating that this report:

…argues strenuously for a new approach to education at the Federal level.

……The report specifically attacks the No Child Left Behind approach that uses “compliance checklists” instead of true reform initiatives. “Rather than providing access to new programs, technologies, and supports that could dramatically change schools and communities, the law has been managed in ways that push schools back to out-of-date notions of learning and stifle the use of new technologies.”

[One example of the ways that NCLB stifles the use of new technologies is the ways in which it forces many schools–particularly those with high numbers of poor and minority children–to focus the curriculum exclusively on “drill” in so-called “basic skills,” rather than the type of higher-order thinking tasks and inquiry-based problem solving that new technologies foster.]

The report cites statistics showing that reading improvement under NCLB has been slower than before the law was enacted, that high school graduation rates have started to decline again, that pverty rates among children in the US are the highest in the industrialized world, that the US ranking on international tests has plummeted, that “trust” and “community involvement” among people in the US is in rapid decline, and that increased expenditures on the prison system have far out-paced increases in spending on education.

(read full here)

From the Chronicle of Higher Education News blog, April 26, 2008:

India’s prime minister, who last year described the country’s universities as dysfunctional, has again lashed out at them, calling them “teaching shops and degree-giving authorities” that have lost their tradition of research-oriented teaching.

“I say this as someone who has been a teacher,” Manmohan Singh said on Friday in a commencement address at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. “I have often said that I have strayed into politics by accident but my preferred career was teaching. I recall that in the days I used to be a student and a teacher, universities placed great emphasis on doing research along with teaching.”

Since taking office in 2004, the prime minister has often criticized the state of India’s higher-education system. Last year, he lambasted the governance of state universities and described them as below average. “A dysfunctional education system can only produce dysfunctional future citizens,” he said then.

On Friday Mr. Singh said his government had spent more money on public education than any other recent administration. But “it is not enough to spend it on buildings and salaries alone,” he said.” Some of it should be earmarked for research … and for providing scholarships to promising students.” —Shailaja Neelakantan

The Free Software Directory is a project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The website catalogs useful free software that runs under free operating systems — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants. Licenses are verified for each and every program listed in this directory. Link: http://directory.fsf.org/

Literature review on local governance, community participation, and school processes

From Eldis:

Title: School processes, local governance and community participation: understanding access
Authors: M. Dunne; K. Akyeampong; S. Humphreys
Publisher: Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity , 2007

The main aim of this study is to provide an overview of the research that has explored aspects of access that surround formal state schooling. The specific focus of this review concerns research on the relations within and between schools, communities and local governance institutions and their combined influence on access within local contexts. Each of these three social sites individually could be the subject of a research review but in distinction from this, in this review the authors draw together literature that contributes to understandings of the local processes, that is, the ways in which schools, communities and school governance institutions inter-relate to produce particular access outcomes. The underlying assumption of this review is that it is these inter-connections are central to the local conditions of access and exclusion.

In order to understand what is happening in terms of access in local settings at the point of educational service provision, in this paper we have located schools in a network of relations: first with local systems of educational governance and administration and second with their communities (see Figure 2 below). So, while the key focus is upon access to schools, the authors’ assumption is that schools do not operate in isolation but that relations with the community and with local governance institutions shape what happens in schools and in the processes of educational inclusion. The document explores the literature provides information about these particular sets of inter-institutional (school – local government – community) relations and their influences on access.

The review identifies gaps in research on teacher management, school governance, decentralisation, processes of exclusion, characteristics of vulnerable communities, school processes, and progression through schooling. It invites research concerned with improved access to build on what is known and translate this to different contexts and the concerns of stakeholders at local levels.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff offers a very complete list of free learning tools for professional development:

A Free Learning Tool for Every Learning Problem?

Let’s explore the idea that there is at least one excellent free learning tool for every learning problem (or issue)!

I want a FREE:

  1. Easy-to-use and secure Internet browser? Firefox
  2. e-Mail system? Gmail
  3. Social bookmarking tool? del.icio.us
  4. Online RSS reader? Google Reader
  5. Online Calendar? Google Calendar
  6. Learning Management System (LMS)? Easy, Moodle
  7. Hosted LMS? Here are SEVEN!
  8. Learning Activity Management System? LAMS
  9. Collaboration tool? Connect with Ning
  10. Social Networking tool? Tricky one! Facebook
  11. Content authoring tool? How about two? eXe & CourseLab
  12. Screencasting (recording) tool? Wink
  13. Hosted screencasting tool? Jing
  14. Audio recording tool? Audacity
  15. Tool to host my audio recordings? Odeo
  16. Virtual Classroom? DimDim
  17. Hosted Virtual Classroom? WiZiQ
  18. Videoconferencing chat service? Vawkr
  19. Tool to make calls from my computer? Skype
  20. Online Quiz tool? ClassMarker
  21. Online polling tool with a bit of fizzle? Polldaddy
  22. Online survey tool? Click here to choose!
  23. Tool to broadcast myself to the world? USTREAM
  24. Online suite of office tools? Google Docs
  25. Wiki tool? PBwiki
  26. Blogging tool? WordPress! Why aren’t you using WordPress? Good Question!
  27. Microblogging tool? Twitter
  28. Tool to share my slides? Too easy man! SlideShare
  29. Tool to share my videos? Come on! YouTube
  30. Tool to download videos from any video sharing site (YouTube, Metacafe, etc.)? ClipNabber
  31. Tool to share my pictures? Are you joking! Flickr
  32. Tool to create flowcharts, diagrams, technical drawings? Gliffy
  33. Tool to create cool personalized images? Custom Sign Generator Widgets
  34. Tool to create comics and cartoons? ToonDoo
  35. Image Resizer? Dosize
  36. Metasearch engine with visual display interfaces? What! Here is KartOO!
  37. Watermarking tool? uMark
  38. Screen Color Picker? ColorSchemer
  39. Tool to make screenshots from different browsers with one click? Browsershots
  40. File hosting solution that allows me to share files up to 250MB each? FileCrunch
  41. Online visual dictionary and thesaurus? Visuwords
  42. Mindmapping tool?FreeMind
  43. Interactive 3D business simulator? INNOV8
  44. Tool to create Flash games (templates)? ClassTools.net
  45. Self-publishing tool (books, papers, articles, etc)? Scribd
  46. Tool to improve my typing skills? Peter’s Online Typing Course
  47. Gaming tool to help me learn ICT? ReviseICT.co.uk
  48. Tool to highlight text in a webpage? The Awesome Highlighter
  49. Tool to aggregate all my resources, mail, RSS feeds, etc, in one place? iGoogle
  50. Site to make you shut up? About time! Here we go:

25 (must-have free) Tools: Professional Development Programme (Jane Knight)

In short, for every learning problem (or issue) we have today, there is probably a free tool out there that enables us to solve it. If not, I am pretty sure some genius out there is constructing it right now. If no one is doing it, perhaps we can do it.
Another challenge is to integrate all our learning tools efficiently and effectively into our learning spaces. On the positive note, more and more tools are creating integration modules to widely used systems like Moodle and Facebook, so it might not be so difficult after all. Also, with OpenID we can increasingly login to all our favorite websites without much hassle. Single-login to all our learning tools! Now that is something we all can appreciate! Remember one password! Tough one!

FreeTechBooks.com lists free online computer science, engineering and programming books, textbooks and lecture notes, all of which are legally and freely available over the Internet.

Link: http://www.freetechbooks.com/

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