Weeks Six and Seven in CSC 442 Section B at UIS – Transcript

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Today’s podcast is about Weeks 6 and 7 in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.

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Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and I'm speaking to you from my home office in Champaign, Illinois.  Today is Sunday, March 2nd, 2014.  Wow, winter weather is still with us here in east-central Illinois - cold, wind, snow, and ice - we're in the midst of a winter storm watch right now - what a change from my time in beautiful Naples, Florida.  Recall that I cut my time in Florida short due to some health issues that I was having, and I've now been back in Champaign for just over a week.  Well, I saw my personal physician at the clinic here in Champaign this past Monday, and he basically couldn't find anything that would have caused my symptoms - and he gave me a clean bill of health - and that was really good news - outstanding news, in fact.  But he did arrange for me to see a specialist tomorrow - and hopefully that doctor won't find anything wrong, either.  Now, if we could only get rid of winter and get some milder spring weather here....

At any rate, on with the podcast now.  This past week, in Week 6, we looked at two reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that dealt with the Internet and education - and these reports were: The Digital Revolution and Higher Education and The Future of Higher Education.  We also looked at UIS Prof. Ray Schroeder's award winning blog - Online Learning UpdateGosh, we sure discussed a wide variety of topics this week!

For the report entitled The Digital Revolution and Higher Education, we discussed how colleges and universities are now offering many more online courses and degrees than even five years ago.  We talked about the acceptance of online courses, cheating in the online environment, the select private institutions (such as Stanford and MIT) that now are developing online certification programs of large scale, the role of online education at the K-12 level, and a comparison of the pros and cons of online and classroom learning.

For the paper The Future of Higher Education, we had some really good discussions about the ways in which technology will be used in teaching and learning.  We discussed the escalating costs of higher education, the role of workplace learning, the amount of debt that students are graduating with, the comparative values of online and on-campus degrees, and the maturation process that traditional college students usually go through while living on a campus.

I hope you all enjoyed reading some of the articles that were posted in Prof. Ray Schroeder's Online Learning Update blog.  He has been posting 3 articles every day, 365 days a year, for almost ten years now.  And people all over the world link to his blog, and syndicate the RSS feed from the blog on their websites.  No wonder that Google ranks it right at the top of all searches on the words online learning!

We had a provocative discussion of the future of the online classroom, in which we looked at technology-enhanced learning and blended learning.  Many of you wrote about the flexibility of online classes, especially for working professionals and others who can't get to a campus on a regular basis.  We looked into the positives of blended, or hybrid, courses.  And how advancements in connectivity, hardware, and software will give us new tools, such as HD videoconferencing, that will improve the quality of interaction in online courses.

We discussed whether textbooks are becoming obsolete, and we discussed how the Open Educational Resources movement - OER as it is called - is going to revolutionize the way that students get their course content - at a greatly reduced cost.  We discussed MOOC's, and what these courses will mean for the future of higher education.

Let me say that it’s gratifying to see how the majority of this class is so engaged in the weekly discussions, thinking critically about the issues -- the way that the Internet is impacting our lives.  And I really like it when students bring in new sources to support their statements and to teach us all something new.

Well, this next week, in Week 7 of our course, we’ll be looking at the general topic of families and communities - we'll look at three reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project – and these are: Social Isolation and New Technology, How mobile devices are changing community information environments, and Neighbors Online.

The Pew report on Social Isolation and New Technology finds that Americans are not as isolated as had been previously reported. People’s use of mobile phones and the Internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks.  And, when we examine people’s full personal networks – their strong and weak ties – Internet use and the use of social networking services, such as Facebook, are associated with more diverse social networks.

The report entitled How mobile devices are changing community information environments found that local news is going mobile.  That is, nearly half of all American adults (47%) report that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer.  The information they seek out on mobile platforms is practical and real-time; information such as weather updates and material about restaurants or other local businesses - all delivered directly to their phones or tablets.

In the report entitled Neighbors Online, the Pew folks found that Americans now are using online approaches to keep informed about what is happening in their communities.  For example, we now are using e-mail and text messaging to receive alerts about local issues (such as traffic, school events, weather warnings, or crime alerts), and we are using various online technologies, such as blogs, social networking, and e-mail listservs to keep informed about community issues.  I'm sure that this is an area where the use of the Internet will continue to grow over time.

I also put a link to a YouTube video on the syllabus for Week Seven - it is from a TEDxUIUC talk that Sherry Turkle gave on the Urbana campus  in 2011 - her talk was entitled "Alone Together".  She is a professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.  In her talk, she discusses why we expect more from technology and less from each other.

I hope that you all find the Week Seven topics to be of interest - and to be relevant to your own lives.  I’m looking forward to our upcoming discussions.

Finally, let me remind you once again that your first paper is due on March 14th - which is less than two weeks away now.  And that you have to participate in the "Phase One" discussions as part of this assignment.  Recall that I recorded a special podcast about the Paper One assignment - and I hope that you took the time to listen to it.  I'll be glad to comment on a first draft of your paper if you post it to the Phase One discussion forum in Blackboard.  And remember, if you have any questions or concerns about your paper, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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Well, that wraps up this podcast.  So until next time, this is Burks, signing off.

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