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EDUCAUSE Joins New E-Learning Alliance

Earlier this year, EDUCAUSE participated in a task force of higher education associations and organizations that have e-learning as a significant part of their strategic agenda. Supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the task force explored how current and emerging public policy directions might either support or inhibit the potential of e-learning to help the nation meet its higher education goals. With Wednesday’s release of the task force report, the participating organizations have also announced the formation of a national e-learning alliance to fulfill the first of the task force’s recommendations:

Free Digital Textbooks, More For-Profit Accountability Coming to California

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, new laws enacted in California will have significant impacts on higher education in the state. The Los Angeles Times reports that two companion pieces of legislation—Senate Bills 1052 and 1053—will create the infrastructure to support access to free digital textbooks for the top 50 lower division courses offered by the University of California, the California State University, and California community colleges.

NACUBO Overview of Sequestration Implications

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) has provided a concise overview of the implications for federal student aid and research programs if the pending sequestration (i.e., automatic budget cuts) approved as part of the federal debt ceiling fight goes into effect at the start of 2013 as currently scheduled. Essentially, depending on the type of program, most of what higher education holds dear in the federal budget (except for Pell Grants) will see either a 7.6% or an 8.2% cut (with defense research programs receiving a 9.4% cut).

$500 Million in Higher Ed. Grants Involving OER Announced

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the college and university winners of its second-round grants under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. Totaling $500 million and representing the second installment of a four-year, $2 billion federal investment in postsecondary education designed to help workers transition to new careers, the TAACCCT grants carry a significant open educational resources (OER) requirement: “All educational materials developed through the grants will be available for use by the public and other educational providers through a Creative Commons license.” For more on the program generally, as well as to see the list of first-round projects, visit: http://www.doleta.gov/taaccct/.

More financial aid fraud rings targeting online learning busted

As reported in Inside Higher Ed, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California announced yesterday the indictment of 21 people in California who were involved in financial aid fraud rings targeting online learning programs at community colleges and low-cost for-profit institutions. (You can access the PDF file of the press release here.) Collectively, the accused allegedly obtained over $770,000 using other individuals’ identities, whether freely supplied by co-conspirators or stolen, to fraudulently register for admissions and financial aid.

FERPA Unconstitutional?

The executive director of a group that provides legal support and education for student journalists has posted an interesting analysis arguing that the Supreme Court's invalidation of the Medicaid expansion requirements in the Affordable Care Act should be interpreted as making FERPA unconstitutional. Since I'm not a scholar of constitutional law (as I told my father when I graduated with my baccalaureate, I'm a conscientious objector when it comes to going to law school), I won't hazard a guess as to the validity of the gentleman's analysis. I'm looking forward to seeing, though, if any of EDUCAUSE's friends in the legal community take a look at this issue and have a contrary opinion.

The Credentialing Contradiction at the Heart of MOOCs

Writing in the September 11, 2012, edition of Inside Higher Education, David Touve, a professor at Washington and Lee University, discusses the credentialing contradiction inherent in the massive open online course (MOOC) projects of various elite universities.

Latest Version of CEDS Now Available for Comment

Our friends at the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) sent us the following information about the status of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) process; note the September 28 deadline for submitting comments on the latest version of CEDS released for public review:

"Someone is going to write the software that eats higher education"

Kevin Carey, director of the New America Foundation’s education policy program and previously policy director at Education Sector, has actively engaged in the debates around the potential of technology to disrupt higher education for some time, largely on the pro-disruption side.

Accessibility A Major Topic at EDUCAUSE 2012

With a couple of months to go before the EDUCAUSE 2012 Annual Conference opens on November 6 in Denver, Colorado (and online), I wanted to highlight the large number of sessions focusing on technology accessibility for persons with disabilities. In addition to the sessions listed below, many others will touch on accessibility to some degree as the higher education IT community continues to expand its emphasis in this area. (For example, many presenters planning to talk about web design and development indicate that their sessions will include discussion of universal design principles.) However, in reviewing the abstracts for the following, I found that they have some aspect of accessibility for persons with disabilities as their core topic. If I missed any, though, please identify them by commenting on this post.

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