Archive for the 'News' Category

Apple allows eBooks on iTunes U sparking eBook Poker: I see your Shakespeare’s First Folio and raise you 100 interactive eBooks

Books and Poker Chips
Books and Poker Chips
Originally uploaded by Ben Dodson

Apple have announced the ePub (one of the eBook formats) is now available on iTunes U. Users of iTunes have been able to view eBooks in ePub format for some time using the iBook app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but users of iTunes U have been restricted to distributing text using PDF.

Brian Kelly has recently been questioning What Are UK Universities Doing With iTunesU? as well as iTunes U: an Institutional Perspective, which is a guest post by Jeremy Speller, Director of Web Services at UCL. In the later post Jeremy highlights that for many iTunes U is ‘PR fluff’, mainly used by institutions to market their brand over any educational benefit. Jeremy saying:

For some reason this view is quite prevalent among those who don’t use the system and in my opinion misses the point of iTunes U completely. Sure, there is publicity to be had and, in UCL’s case as a launch partner, was valuable. Of course general PR shorts can be provided. But the real assets should be educational and examples of your institution’s scholarship.

I have to put my hand up and say I’m in the ‘iTunes U is a PR tool’ camp, but can you blame me when the Open University’s VC Martin Bean highlights that 88% of their iTunes U traffic is from outside the UK and is perceived as free marketing.

There is undoubtedly a cost to making resources available, to the point that even one of the biggest players in this field MIT are considering an OER paywall. At the same time there are also benefits, if not educationally, as a marketing opportunity. This in itself has got to be a good thing, stimulating the sector to release content, even if it is just to grab headlines. Besides I’m quite enjoying iTunes U poker: I see your Shakespeare’s First Folio joins iTunes U and raise you OU makes one hundred interactive eBooks available on iTunes U.

[And guess what if you need a tool to make ePub eBooks our Create&Convert tool can help.]

15-year-old media experts, twitter and intelligent filters

A research note written by a 15-year-old Morgan Stanley intern on the media habits of his generation made it to the front page of the Financial Times this week sparking various headlines including ‘Twitter is not for teens, Morgan Stanley told by 15-year-old expert’ and ‘Teenage media habits: was the whiz-kid correct?’.

Apart from various other teenagers being poked and prodded by journalists to give their analysis of teen-media Jenna McWilliams at the Guardian asked “Why is one 15-year-old’s middling analysis of teen media use being interpreted as the new bible of social media?”.

Her answer:

The answer is simple. We’re lost in a forest, and we’re looking for a guide to lead us out. We live in a world where knowledge is abundant and access is near-ubiquitous. What’s scarce is the ability to sift through the information, to extract, synthesise and circulate key ideas to a public that’s starving for someone to serve as an intelligent filter. Lost in the new media universe -

Hopefully MASHe is serving as ‘an intelligent filter’ (although by highlighting the ‘middling analysis’ of a teenager I’m probably setting myself up for a fall – the full copy of the research note is here).

The week in Higher Education (Week 37)

Universities have allowed themselves to become the casual
Times Online - UK
That country, she said, invested 2.9% of its national product in higher education, compared with Britain’s paltry 1.1%. Universities therefore had to stop
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Higher, busier, costlier … a business motto for 2012
Times Online - UK
Although if you are working in high-tech medical research, London has some of the finest academic establishments in the world (London’s higher education
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Centre for Higher Education Practice
University of Ulster Online - Coleraine,UK
Professor Desmond Hunter has been seconded to Staff Development for up to a three year period to head up a pedagogic support unit and to provide academic
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Troubled university’s merger plan
BBC News - UK
A troubled university is in talks with other higher education institutions about a possible merger. Lampeter university in Ceredigion, the oldest in Wales
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UK slipping down graduate league
BBC News - UK
Getting half of all young people to enter higher education would, so we were told, devalue university degrees. Graduates would find it difficult to get jobs
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Bradford students rack up £80 million of debt
Bradford Telegraph Argus - Bradford,England,UK
But Bill Rammell, Minister of State for Higher Education, said: “I want people to aim for university confident that they’ll have the help they need to fund
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Students praise course teaching
BBC News - UK
But a spokesman for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) said the Kingston matter was a “very specific case”. “It [the National Student
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Minister wants to ‘lower threshold for complaints’ against
Independent - London,England,UK
John Denham, the Universities Secretary, said yesterday that he wanted the Quality Assurance Agency, which monitors higher education standards,
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How to Advertise
times higher education - London,England,UK
The Times Higher Education Supplement has been at the heart of the UK’s higher education sector for over 36 years. During this time it has built a solid
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Students more satisfied than ever before
times higher education - London,England,UK
A total of 149 higher education institutions from across the UK took part in the survey, with almost 210000 students taking part.
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The week in Higher Education (Week 36)

Not philistine, just practical - UK
It’s certainly true that the expansion of the higher education system since the 1950s has resulted in wider access to a university education.
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Academia and the NHS - bridging the gap
Health Service Journal - London,UK
The initiative and funds for the programme came from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s strategic development fund.
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Made in Britain: the man who can see an industrial renaissance
Independent - London,England,UK
They also want greater incentives to get the young through higher education. The next priorities on the CBI’s hitlist are energy security and climate change
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Comment: How universities and graduates can thrive
Independent - London,England,UK
The extent to which this happens in UK higher education institutions varies. An NCGE study – Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education – mapped
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Providing vital information
Aberdeen Press and Journal - Aberdeen,Scotland,UK
Rachel Sandison, head of student recruitment and admissions at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The Grampian Higher Education Convention is a prime
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First Minister marks the opening of new university
WalesOnline - United Kingdom
These three colleges united in 1976 forming the West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education. In 1992, this title changed to Swansea Institute of Higher
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Wales ‘Must do better’ in education, says professor
WalesOnline - United Kingdom
It should also be noted that capacity within the Higher Education system to monitor, evaluate and develop new educational policies may also have been absent
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Higher education funding ‘is broken’
Public Servant Online - Staffordshire,UK
The system of funding higher education is broken and the government shouldn’t try to ignore that fact, the National Union of Students has said in a report.
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Students in colleges have no one to complain to – so is it time
Independent - London,England,UK
If higher education is anything to go by, an FE ombudsman will be kept busy. Last year, the number of complaints made to the OIA rose by 25 per cent to 734.
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Education Officer
The Engineer - London,UK
Educated to degree level, you will need direct experience of planning and delivering attractive student programmes and events at the Higher Education level.
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UHI granted degree awarding powers

UHI Logo

The UHI Millennium Institute has recently been granted degree awarding powers by the Privy Council. This is a key step towards gaining a full university title.  Previously degrees from the UHI were validated by the Open University and the change gives the Institute more flexibility in developing new courses. UHI Millennium Institute have a full press release on their site. Congratulations UHI!!!

[I must admit I missed this story when it first came out (I blame my parents, they live in the UHI heartland, I'm surprised they never mentioned it :-)].

The Scottish Agricultural College becomes Scotland’s Newest Higher Education Institution

SAC Logo

SAC have announced that after two years hard work they will become Scotland’s newest higher education institution in August 2008. Previously education at SAC was funded via the Rural Affair Department of the Scottish Government. From 1st August SAC will become a full member of Universities Scotland and receive funding from the Scottish Funding Council.  SAC have made a full press release on their site. Congratulations SAC!!!

Scottish Higher Education: Probably the best higher education in the world?

Yesterday saw the the publication of the first interim report from the Joint Future Thinking Taskforce on Universities on ‘New Horizons: responding to the challenges of the 21st century’. Various papers comment on the potential implications of this report for Scotland’s universities funding (see ‘Related Google News Feed’ for examples). As well as outlining a roadmap for a framework for the future of funding the report highlights what the Taskforce sees as the current strengths of Scotland’s universities. These include:

  • three Scottish universities in the world’s top 100 research universities
  • three universities in ranked in the top 10 new universities in the UK
  • 4.3% of Scottish students fail to leave university with a successful outcome (degree, other award or transfer to another educational programme)

So are we probably the best higher education in the world?

University lectures on iTunes

“Studying for class”
Originally uploaded by jakebouma

Last week the BBC reported that the University College London, the Open University and Trinity College Dublin are putting lectures onto ‘iTunes U’. Course material on iTunes isn’t new and in March Brain Kelly (UK Web Focus) highlighted that one of the UKs ‘Top of the Pods, Podpickers’ was the University of Bath whose podcasts were “popular enough to get us featured in the top 50 podcast originator on i-Tunes in the “Science and Medicine” section, ahead of any other university in the world.”

There is a very good article in the Times Higher Education which touches on the pros and cons of podcasts asking the question are ‘Podcasts set to know lectures off the podium’.

21st centrury lecturer - more admin than teaching

“Dealing with 100-250 emails a week, spending over half your time on administration, coping with rising seminar and lecture sizes, but spending less time with students.” UCU 2008

These are the findings of a recent UCU survey of 321 higher education lecturers. The headline figures are:

  • more than half of lecturers (53.9%) say they spend most of their working week dealing with administration
  • over half of lecturers (53.6%) spend at least 15 hours a week on administration with a quarter (27.4%) devoting more than 25 hours of their working week to the task
  • more than a quarter (28.7%) said they deal with over 250 emails a week and those with 250 or more emails a week said they did just 0-5 hours of research a week, 5-15 hours of teaching, but 25 hours or more of administration
  • over two thirds (71%) reported increases in class sizes at their institution in the last 10 years, but only a quarter (23.4%) said they now spend more time with students than they did a decade ago
  • of the 71% who reported growing class sizes, nearly half (44%) said they were spending less time with students.

More information on these figures is available in this UCU news briefing.

The Sunday Times: Scots universities skew policy to aid poor

The Sunday Times reported recently that they had evidence that some Scottish universities had changed their admission procedures to ‘positively discriminate’ in favour of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In particular the article highlights admission policies for the University of Edinburgh and St. Andrews University which would seem to favour students applying from poorly performing schools. For example at the University of Edinburgh some students from poorly performing schools can receive extra points to their UCAS Tarrif. Should we be concerned by this social engineering? Is the Funding Council aware that these practices are being carried?

I’ll start with the last question. Not only is the Scottish Funding Council aware that pupils form disadvantaged backgrounds are receiving additional attention by colleges and universities, they are proactively encouraging it through ‘optimal participation’. For a review of the Funding Councils actions to tackle this area the SFC Widening Participation Review Group published ‘Learning for All‘ in 2005.

Should we be concerned with this social engineering? First we should look how ‘fair’ the original system is. Entry into higher education is largely dictated one single factor, UCAS Tariff points. Is a student’s performance at school a reliable indicator of what they will achieve in higher education? The ‘Schooling effects on higher education achievement‘ report published by HEFCE concluded that grades achieved by a student was “the single most important factor in determining the expected HE achievement” however “the effect of school performance was inconsistent”. In particular, “students from independent schools appear to consistently do less well than students from other schools”. So if the system isn’t fair in the first place shouldn’t we try and fix it?

Attack by Lord Patten as Oxford University launches £1.25bn appeal
Times Online - UK
The Government was attacked yesterday over its attempts to push deprived teenagers into higher education when the Chancellor of Oxford University said that
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This blog is authored by Martin Hawksey e-Learning Advisor (Higher Education) at the JISC RSC Scotland N&E.

mhawksey [at] | 0131 559 4112 | @mhawksey

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