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Rethinking Higher Education Business Models

Stemming from a January convening of CIOs, other higher education thought leaders, and business process experts co-hosted by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and EDUCAUSE, the organizations have jointly released a white paper by Robert Sheets (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Stephen Crawford (George Washington University), and Louis Soares (CAP) highlighting the potential of technology to advance the evolution of higher education, "Rethinking Higher Education Business Models." A companion piece to the paper written by Greg Jackson, EDUCAUSE vice president for policy and analysis, entitled "IT-Based Transformation in Higher Education: Possibilities and Prospects," this brief explores the concept of "disruptive innovation" in relation to higher educatio

NSF, NIH, DOD, Other Fed. Agencies Launch "Big Data" Initiative

The New York Times reports that several major federal agencies--including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Department of Energy--will conduct a live webcast from 2:00-3:45 PM, EST, to jointly announce research programs in "big data" computing as part of a broad federal initiative totaling $200 million across the agencies. (The session will include a panel discussion among experts in the field on the opportunities and challenges it poses.) The collective goal of the projects will be to advance the development and implementation of techniques for mining and analyzing massive data sets to identify opportunities for major research advances in the areas the agencies address.

Creative Commons Launches OER Policy Registry

Creative Commons has announced the formation of an Open Educational Resources (OER) Policy Registry with a call for individuals and institutions to share "OER legislation, OER institutional policies, and supporting OER policy resources" so others may adapt and use them to promote the development and adoption of OER in their national and/or institutional contexts. Submissions are being accepted via an open Google Docs form through May 1. After that, the registry will migrate to a Creative Commons wiki, where interested parties will have to register to participate.

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White House/college presidents affordability dialogue continues

Inside Higher Education reports that a group of 25 state college and university presidents met with White House officials on Friday, March 23, as previously noted to discuss how such institutions can address higher education affordability issues in light of reductions in state higher education funding. The presidents apparently expressed concern about Obama Administration proposals to shift federal funding for campus-based aid programs, such as the Perkins Loans program, among institutions based on their effectiveness in pursuing efforts to improve affordability.

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App Predicts Student GPA, Course Grades Before Semester Starts

Demonstrating the potential of analytics to inform student management of their academic careers, the provost at Austin Peay State University has developed an application, Degree Compass, that draws on multiple data sources, both individual to the student as well as across current and past students, to predict a student's semester GPA within 0.2 of a point and his/her GPA within a course to within 0.6 of a point. Furthermore, as reported in Inside Higher Education:

State Approaches to State Authorization

You may be aware of the state authorization resources and directory hosted by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) association. While the directory provides state-by-state information on state authorization requirements related to online distance learning, the site as a whole does not offer an analysis of state requirements leading to a quick, at-a-glance comparison of which states really require state authorization of online distance learning programs, which only require some degree of notification, which have “physical presence” triggers that could lead to an online program needing state authorization, and so forth. But such an overview is now available.

Another White House Mtg. on College Costs

Inside Higher Ed reports this morning that the Obama Administration is planning another invitation-only meeting of college and university leaders to discuss ways to contain college costs and boost affordable access. The event is scheduled for March 23, but further details, such as the invitation list, are not yet available. For more on the event description, you can read the full article at:

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Arne Duncan: " is a game-changer in the field of education..."

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the South by Southwest Education Conference in Austin, Texas, where he focused his comments on the value of technology in transforming education at all levels in terms of flexibility, engagement, affordability, and learning outcomes. While the bulk of his comments addressed technology in K-12 education, he specifically noted in relation to higher education that, "The only way to serve more students is by leveraging technology in innovative ways." You can read the full text of his remarks at:

And you can also view video of the college affordability townhall he held later in the day at Austin Community College by visiting:

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New U.S. Chief Technology Officer Named

The White House announced this afternoon that Todd Park, currently the chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been appointed as CTO for the federal government as a whole. Park replaces Aneesh Chopra, who resigned last month. You can read the White House press release on Park's appointment at:

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Accessibility Update: GMail and Google Calendar

The Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) has released its latest in a planned series of reports on the accessibility of key components of Google Apps for Education. Its first review, released last October, addressed accessibility issues with Google Docs. In its current report, ATHEN presents its findings on the accessibility of GMail and Google Calendar for those with disabilities. The following summarizes the group’s key finding: “Other than performing some base level operations in each application, neither GMail nor [Google] Calendar can be considered equitably accessible to all user groups, especially for the visually impaired.”