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Sequester Impacts: Army, Marines Suspend Tuition Assistance

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) recently reported about another impact of the across-the-board automatic federal budget cuts known as the “sequester" that is likely to be of significant Interest to many EDUCAUSE member institutions. AASCU has learned that the Army and Marine Corps “have suspended active duty tuition assistance programs indefinitely as a result of sequestration.” (It is not yet known whether the Air Force and Navy will follow suit.) On the positive side, this suspension only impacts new tuition assistance awards; existing or already approved awards are not affected.

Latest State Authorization News from WCET

 

Friend of the blog, Russ Poulin of the WlCHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), recently posted a new blog entry on current and pending developments in state authorization reciprocity. Chief among them are the following:

ACE Concerned by Wyden-Rubio "Student Right to Know Before You Go Act"

Roughly a year ago, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced Senate Bill 2098, "The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act," which quickly gained Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as a co-sponsor. I posted an extensive review of the bill at that time, but the introductory paragraph from that post, which I've included at the end of this piece, covers the basics. Essentially, the bill would greatly increase the role of state longitudinal data systems (SLDSs) in higher education data collection and reporting, with the explicit goal of providing to the public employment and income data on recent graduates by not just institution, but by specific majors and programs within institutions.

E-Text Platform Provider's Accessibility Announcement

Last week, Courseload, an e-text platform provider that has consistently participated in the EDUCAUSE/Internet2 E-Text Pilot Series, announced that it had achieved major progress in making its platform's collaboration functions (e.g., peer and faculty highlighting and annotation) accessible in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the technology accessibility guidelines established for federal agencies under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The E-Learning Policy Environment (Updated 02/14/13)

I presented a session entitled "The E-Learning Policy Environment" this January at the EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference (MARC) and just last week at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) 2013 Annual Meeting. In the presentation, I review the factors I see as major drivers of the increased policy and regulatory focus on e-learning over the last few years, the key impacts and community responses to that increase in policy and regulatory activity, and some of the issues likely to rise in importance in this policy space in the near term. The slides from those sessions, which vary slightly due to some updates I made for the ELI conference, are available (under the session "Resources" tab) at:

Distance Ed Regulation Commission’s Work Continues

As highlighted before the holidays, in both a blog post and an EDUCAUSE Live! online presentation, the Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education, chartered by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), has been actively exploring the potential of a state authorization reciprocity agreement (SARA) model for right-sizing the burden of state regulation on online learning programs. The Commission will hold its final face-to-face meeting on Monday, January 14, in Washington, DC, to review and discuss a draft set of recommendations.

Federal Report Highlights The Economic Case for Higher Education

The U.S. Departments of The Treasury and Education recently announced the release of a joint report highlighting the economic value of higher education achievement for individuals and the country as a whole. Entitled The Economics of Higher Education, the report confirms the continuing importance of postsecondary success to economic progress, including key findings such as the following:

· There is substantial evidence that education raises earnings. The median weekly earnings of a full-time, bachelor’s degree holder in 2011 were 64 percent higher than those of a high school graduate ($1,053 compared to $638).

Comment on U.S. Dept. of Ed. Learning/Academic Analytics Report

The U.S. Department of Education has released a request for public input on a new report, Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World,  addressing how institutions, policymakers, and learning technology developers can advance and capitalize on learning analytics and academic analytics to increase the sucess of individual learners as well as the learning enterprise as a whole.

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Google Response on NFB Google Apps Concerns

Earlier in the week, I posted a review of the most recent concerns about the accessibility of Google Apps for Education expressed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). In that piece, I noted the NFB view that "there is no indication yet that Google intends to address accessibility problems that arise from users accessing Google Apps via other market-standard browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox) and assistive applications (e.g., the JAWS screen reader, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition application)." Google has since provided the following clarification of its plans for Google Apps accessibility in non-Google browsers and assistive applications, which I quote in its entirety:

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NFB Google Apps Concerns Continue

Via email, Dan Goldstein, outside counsel for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), was asked to address NFB’s current views on the accessibility of Google Apps for Education. (Thanks go to Terry Thompson, accessibility technology specialist at the University of Washington and immediate-past leader of the EDUCAUSE IT Accessibility Constituent Group, for initiating the dialogue.) In his response, Dan noted that the concerns NFB raised at the start of 2012 about Google’s approach to addressing Google Apps’ accessibility problems have only grown over the course of the year.

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