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CourseSmart at WCET Annual Conference: Using Technology to Enhance Higher Education Teaching and Learning

October 31st, 2012 by CourseSmart

wcet-connect

And we thought it would calm down after Back-to-School season…

CourseSmart is firing on all cylinders as we head into the last few months of the year (can it really be November already??) We have two conferences and a handful of big announcements coming up, and we could not be more excited about everything going on around here!

Up next: the WCET Annual Conference, in San Antonio, Texas. For those of you that don’t know about WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies), it is an organization that champions “the adoption of effective practices and policies, advancing excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education”. CourseSmart is privileged to have been a partner of WCET for a number of years, and we can’t wait to see what is in store for this year’s conference!

CourseSmart will participate in quite a few events at the conference, which runs from October 31 – November 3. If you are in town, be sure to stop by and see us!

WCET Tabletop Expo: Thursday, November 1, 10:15-10:45am and 2:45-3:15pm
If you want more information about CourseSmart, please feel free to stop by our table.

“Content for Free Range Learners” Panel Session: Thursday, November 1, 10:45-Noon
Shannon Meadows, CourseSmart SVP of Business Development, will be on a panel discussing digital learning content in all its forms and formats: commercial, open, and faculty/student published content.

“Infrastructure for Digital Integration” Session: Friday, November 2, 9:30-10:45am
Chris Manriquez, CSU Fullerton’s associate vice president and information technology and academic technology officer, will discuss his institution’s digital textbook pilot program.

Buzz Breakfast Session - “Cracking the Code on Digital Course Materials”: Saturday, November 3, 8-9am
Come and chat with us over breakfast! We will be tackling big questions about how to increase student adoption and engagement with digital course materials.

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Reach and Adoption of Digital Course Materials in the Evolving Higher Education Space

July 9th, 2012 by CourseSmart

The Future of Education
Recently an article (oped) on CNN.com highlighted an education experiment conducted by Sebastian Thrun of Google fame. The experiment was essentially an attempt to provide very high quality higher education at a very low cost to a wide range of participating students. The course was a grad level artificial intelligence class taught at Stanford University that was delivered over the web for free and reached 160,000 ’students’ - including the 200 Stanford attendees. This model now used by Sebastian Thrun’s website Udacity.com, by way of online delivery, while not new (see Khan academy, Coursera, the MITx project, etc.) does underscore the ability to scale higher education to a much wider audience to include students that are unable to attend the institution for a myriad of reasons – such as the cost of enrollment.

Cost considerations are not limited to those that are traditionally required to enroll in a course but also to those that are required to ensure the student is armed with the appropriate materials to help them succeed in their courses – and here is where digital course materials provide value. While open educational resources are available and other online content that may be free is at a students disposal, they don’t always provide the level of quality pedagogy that is found in course content that is developed and put through the rigorous scholarly review and editorial process found in published higher education materials.

The move to digital course materials is also driven by the same attention to cost to the student where the digital versions are much lower cost and can scale to be available to an almost limitless number of users. Marrying the new and creative methods for delivering quality higher education to a much wider pool of students with digital course materials that can greatly (and arguably better) assist the learner in grasping content and promote better learning outcomes is something that definitely has a place in the evolving higher education space and CourseSmart is excited about taking a leadership role in this evolution.

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Higher Education Faculty Members: Skeptical Innovators

July 1st, 2012 by CourseSmart

Faculty and Online Education, 2012

Faculty don’t dig online learning. So concludes the recently-published Inside Higher Ed article examining faculty attitudes about the quality of online learning. According to the Babson Survey Research Group, which conducted the surveys summarized in the article, a meager 6% of faculty members consider online learning outcomes to be superior to those achieved through face-to-face instruction.

Given the fact that my career depends almost entirely on faculty adoption of digital course materials, this is a troublesome statistic indeed. I suppose I should throw up my hands and move into a field with a more appreciative audience. However, I happen to quite like my job, so before I jump ship, I would like to reexamine the conclusions drawn by the study.

Maybe 6% isn’t so bad after all. Consider for a moment the history of that little device that we have all come to know and love: the iPad. In March of 2010, the world seemed to be humming along just fine. People toted around their behemoth six-pound personal computers, and waved off marketers’ attempts to interest them in the “tablet” models introduced by Microsoft in 2001. Despite bold predictions for immediate adoption, by 2007, only 1.2% of PC sales were from tablets.

Amusing skepticism dominated the press: Wired magazine quoted a reporter as saying, “My PDA annoys the hell out of me, but it fits in my pocket. I suspect the Tablet will annoy me just as much, and will also annoy me further when I have to lug its bulky butt around town.” And then, on April 3, 2010, Apple launched the iPad, and we all got on board.

Progress happens in fits and starts, and it is difficult to predict when the next revolution will occur. Before online learning becomes a truly accepted method of instruction, technology and training will need to make some serious headway. However, considering that only 1.2% of the population was interested in tablets before the iPad, 6% isn’t such a bad start for online learning, right?

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CourseSmart Announces a Series of LMS Integrations to Improve Student and Faculty Access to Digital Course Materials

November 9th, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart®, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and other digital resources, has recently partnered with several educational software platforms with the aim of seamlessly integrating CourseSmart software with services already being used by many institutions in higher education. CourseSmart is a leader in the eTextbook industry and this is further made evident with the company’s new single sign-on feature made available with this new service.

  • CourseSmart® Makes It Easy To Access Digital Course Materials through Custom Integrations Demonstrating its commitment to providing low cost digital course materials to students, CourseSmart recently announced it is expanding access to low-cost course materials through customized learning management system (LMS) integrations. With the ability to integrate into LMS platforms already used in schools via CourseSmart’s new Learning Tool Interoperability technology, more students and faculty are able to gain access to CourseSmart’s low-cost eTextbooks and eResources options. Additionally, by integrating with these systems, student and faculty workflows are streamlined with single sign-on access to the world’s largest catalog of digital course materials.
  • CourseSmart® Launches Integration for the Blackboard Learn Platform CourseSmart recently announced the new Blackboard Building Block™ for the Blackboard Learn™ platform. This new platform has been designed to integrate into the technology ecosystems already in place on university campuses. The Blackboard Building Block, which is free to higher education institutions, provides educators the opportunity to seamlessly create and share homework and assignments with students. And with the new single sign-on feature, students can log into Blackboard and get access to their CourseSmart materials without needing to remember a second set of credentials for CourseSmart.com access.
  • CourseSmart® Integrates With Desire2Learn® Learning Management System CourseSmart most recently announced it is partnering with Desire2Learn, a provider of teaching and learning platforms, to offer end-to-end integration programs which provide students and faculty one-stop access to their digital course materials. For instructors, utilizing the CourseSmart/Desire2Learn integration means accessing CourseSmart materials quickly and easily through the Desire2Learn platform using one set of credentials. Additionally, the integration allows for the use of CourseSmart’s eTextbook services, such as copying and pasting, annotating, sharing, and printing, all within the Desire2Learn platform.

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