New Kindle Textbook Pilot

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:20 am

Arizona State University, Princeton University, Case Western Reserve University, Reed College, and Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia are partnering with Amazon in a pilot program to give the new Kindle DX to selected classes of students instead of paper textbooks.

I’m not sure if the DX has improved note-taking and highlighting functions–that would seem to be a deal-breaker in terms of textbooks. Also, I still think a backlight would be nice!

You can see why textbook publishers would absolutely love this idea. The Kindle books might be a little less expensive to students than the paper books, but every semester, every new student in every class would have to buy a new copy. No more resales of textbooks at all.


Macaulay Social Network Moving Along

Filed under: — Joe @ 6:39 am

socialWith the recent announcement (finally!) of the release of BuddyPress 1.0, I took the opportunity to upgrade the Macaulay Social Network site, and give it a light touch of redesign. (Also partly inspired by the great work with BuddyPress right here at the Academic Commons, I must admit!). We had a very successful period of piloting with the beta version(s), and even though it wasn’t supposed to be used in production environments, it seemed to serve very well. There were a few small but annoying bugs, and it’s really looking like the upgrade has now fixed all of those. I’ve got the summer now for more testing and tweaking, and I’m expecting to see very heavy usage from students this fall. There are features (the directory, the searchable profiles, the messaging, the groups) which our students have really been requesting, and it will be great to see how they help us continue to connect the Macaulay Community!


A Webby Award for Open Education

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:09 pm

smarthistoryThe annual Webby Awards (what the NY Times calls “the internet’s highest honor”) were announced today, and in the education category, the very-deserving winner was the excellent Smarthistory.org site (full disclosure–the site is the work of my wife and her colleague, and I’ve had some marginal technical involvement in it myself from the beginning).  Smarthistory is an educational site actually designed and built by educators–two art historians who wanted alternatives for teaching and learning.  Dissatisfied with what textbooks, or even ArtStor, could offer, and not interested in closed models or walled gardens, they started from scratch with open source tools (beginning with WordPress, and now using ModX).  The site is dedicated to open sharing of educational resources, and makes full use of the tools and abilities of Web 2.0.  It’s about art and history…and even more about conversation and interaction around those.  But it’s hard to describe–better just to experience it.  To see a site like this win this prestigious and competitive award, beating established museums and huge well-funded foundations, is more evidence of how when things get done right, they work!


Are we totally missing it?

Filed under: — Joe @ 5:54 pm

Sometimes a comic really hits the real points…

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