NASA (Heliophysics Program) Video: Incandescent Sun – Absolutely Beautiful!

Dear Commons Community,

To start our Memorial Day Weekend, here is a video from NASA’s Heliophysics Program that shows the surface of the sun in incandescent light. The dazzling video features images  from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, making surface structures more visible. It’s hard to look away. The sun appears to twinkle and gleam as the video covers about 24 hours of activity from Sept. 25, according to NASA.



David Brooks: Advice to Recent College Graduates – Think about How to be as much as What to be!

Dear Commons Community,

David Brooks has advice in his New York Times column today
for this year’s college graduates.  Essentially it comes down to:
it is not what you do but who you are and how you do it.  He provides
examples of graduates from elite colleges who want to make a good
deal of money on Wall Street as well as the altruistic graduates who
want to work in service to others.  He suggests that we seek excellence in
whatever it is we do.  His conclusion is a doozy:

“It’s worth noting that you can devote your life to community service and
be a total schmuck. You can spend your life on Wall Street and be a hero.
Understanding heroism and schmuckdom requires fewer Excel spreadsheets,  more Dostoyevsky and the Book of Job”.




Graduate Center Commencement Last Night at Avery Fisher Hall!

Dear Commons Community,

It was a proud evening last night at the Graduate Center’s Commencement at Avery Fisher Hall.  President Bill Kelly and Provost Chase Robinson presided over the ceremonies for our492 doctoral  and  82 masters degree graduates.  The main speaker was Janet Gornick, professor of political science and sociology, who referred to the importance of activism on the part of all of us and how we need to learn from and support Occupy Wall Street.   Honorary degrees were given to Marian Goodman, influential gallerist, who has exhibited many of the foremost artists of our time in New York and Paris, and Philip Levine, poet laureate of the United States.   The President’s Distinguished Alumni Medal was awarded to Binnaz Toprak, member of Turkey’s parliament, who received a doctorate from the Graduate Center in 1976.

Congratulations to all!!!




New Study Comparing Blended/Hybrid Course to Face-to-Face Instruction!

Dear Commons Community,

CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs sent an email yesterday drawing attention to a just-released report on an experiment comparing introductory Statistics taught in hybrid and face-to-face versions:  The study was conducted by ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization.  The hybrid course was developed at Carnegie Mellon University as part of its open courseware initiative.   Students were assigned to one or the other version of the course using a random assignment procedure.  Among the participants in this study were three CUNY colleges (Baruch, BMCC and CCNY).  I read the report last night and it is an important addition to the scholarship of online learning.  The results indicate that students learned as much in the hybrid version as they did in the face-to-face version, even though the students spent less time on the hybrid version of the course.



Romney Announces Education Policy Advisory Group!

Dear Commons Community

Mitt Romney announced yesterday the members of his Education Policy Advisory Group (see list below). The announcement indicated that the group “is composed of individuals with deep and diverse experience in a variety of roles across K-12 education, post-secondary education, and workforce training in both the public and private sectors.”  In looking at the bios , the list is dominated by a number of George W. Bush U.S. Department of Education appointees combined with individuals who have had affiliations with right-wing think-tanks such as The Hoover Institute.

I don’t think the American education system could survive No Child Left Behind II.




K-12 Education Co-Chairs

Nina S. Rees
Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Knowledge Universe; Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education (2002-06).

Dr. Martin R. West
Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Executive Editor, Education Next.

Higher Education Co-Chairs

Phil Handy
Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Industries; Chairman of the Florida State Board of Education (2001-07); Twice appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Board of Education Sciences, served as Vice Chairman; Member of the Florida Governor’s Council of 100 (1987-present), Board of Directors, and Chair, preK-14 Education Committee; Director, Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Bill Hansen
Chairman & CEO of Madison Education Group; Chairman & President of Scantron/Global Scholar (2009-11); Deputy Secretary of Education (2001-03); President of the Education Finance Council (1993-2001); Assistant Secretary of Education for Management and Budget & CFO (1991-92); serves on numerous corporate, university, and philanthropic boards.

Workforce Training Co-Chairs

Dr. Carol D’Amico
Vice President of Project Lead the Way; Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education (2001); Chair of National Advisory Council on Institutional Quality and Integrity (2004-07); Board Member, Institute for Education Sciences (2003-07); Director, Center on Workforce Development, Hudson Institute, and co-author of Workforce 2020, Published Hudson Institute (1997); Executive Vice President, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana (2004-07).

Emily Stover DeRocco
President of the Washington, D.C.-based Manufacturing Institute (2008-present); Assistant Secretary for Employment & Training at the U.S. Department of Labor (2001-08); Senior Advisor to Secretaries of Energy and the Interior (1981-88); holds two University Board of Trustees positions.

Special Advisor

Dr. Rod Paige
U.S. Secretary of Education (2001-05); Dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University, established the University’s Center for Excellence in Urban Education; Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District; 2001 National Superintendent of the Year; Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


John Bailey
White House Domestic Policy Council; Deputy Policy Director to the Secretary of Commerce; Director of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education; currently works with education entrepreneurs, philanthropies, and private sector investors.

Dr. Robert M. Costrell
Professor of Education Reform and Economics, Endowed Chair in Education Accountability, University of Arkansas; Chief Economist, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2003-06); Education Advisor to Governor Mitt Romney (2005-06).

Christina Culver
President of CH Global Strategies; Acting Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education (2003-06);  Co-Author, “Virtual Schooling: a Guide to Optimizing Your Child’s Education.”

Dr. John E. Chubb
Interim Chief Executive Officer, Education Sector; Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution.

Dr. Bill Evers
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Education (2007-09); Senior Adviser for Education, Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq (2003); National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board (2001-02).

Scott Fleming
President and Vice Chairman of Madison Education Group; former Senior Vice President at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Scantron; Senior Education Policy Advisor and Professional Staff to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (2002-06).

Julio A. Fuentes
President & CEO of Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO).  Hispanic CREO’s mission is to improve educational outcomes for Hispanic children by empowering families through parental choice in education.

Tom Luna
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction (2007-present); President of Council of Chief State School Officers (2011-present); Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige (2003-05); Chair of Idaho’s Assessment and Accountability Commission (2000-02); Chair of Nampa School Board (1997-2000).

Dr. Paul E. Peterson
Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Editor-in-Chief, Education Next; Member, Independent Review Panel, No Child Left Behind, U.S. Department of Education (2002-06).

Jim Peyser
Managing Partner with New Schools Venture Fund and Chairman of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers; Former Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1996-2003); Former Executive Director of Pioneer Institute (1993-2000).

Dr. Herbert Walberg
Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution.

Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst
Senior Fellow and Director of the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy; Director of the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences (2002-08); Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education (2001-02); Board of Directors of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2004-07).


Father Doesn’t Know Best: Maureen Dowd on the Catholic’s Church’s Lawsuit Against President Obama!!

Dear Commons Community,

Maureen Dowd has it right today in her column in the New York Times that the Catholic Church, its cardinals and archbishops are wrong in fighting President Obama’s attempt to get insurance coverage for contraception for women who work or go to college at Catholic institutions. The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church. It’s about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it’s about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn’t be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be.  Dowd cites:

“a Gallup poll Tuesday showing that 82 percent of U.S. Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable. (Eighty-nine percent of all Americans and 90 percent of non-Catholics agreed.) Gallup tested the morality of 18 issues, and birth control came out on top as the most acceptable, beating divorce, which garnered 67 percent approval, and “buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur,” which got a 60 percent thumbs-up (more from Republicans, naturally, than Democrats).”

Her conclusion:

“The church leaders headed to court hoping to undermine the president, but they may help him. Voters who think sex is only for procreation were not going to vote for Obama anyway. And the lawsuit reminds the rest that what the bishops portray as an attack on religion by the president is really an attack on women by the bishops.”




Fewer Black and Latino Freshmen at CUNY Senior Colleges – New Report!

Click to Enlarge


Dear Commons Community,

Since ending open admissions to its four-year colleges, a marked shift has occurred at CUNY’s top institutions as freshman classes now enter with far better academic credentials and also a different demographic mix.

According to a report by the Community Service Society of New York, and as reported in the New York Times:

“The changes began in 2000, with new minimum requirements for test scores for college admission, continued as academic standards were raised in stages over the years and accelerated sharply with the recent recession, as CUNY’s bargain prices beckoned far more applicants.

At the university’s five most competitive four-year colleges — Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter and Queens — nearly 12 percent of freshmen entering in 2001 had SAT scores of 1,200 or more. In 2007, for the last prerecession class, the figure was up to 16 percent, and by last fall, it had jumped to 26 percent.

At the same time, black representation among first-time freshmen at those colleges dropped, to 10 percent last fall from 17 percent in 2001. Over the same period, the Hispanic share rose slightly for several years, then fell once the recession began, to 18 percent, while the white portion fell slightly, to 35 percent.

Asians are now entering the top colleges in the greatest numbers, composing 37 percent of those classes, up from 25 percent a decade earlier.

The ethnic changes at CUNY’s top colleges confirm the predictions made during the battle over ending open admissions, one of the city’s most charged political disputes of the 1990s: Proponents said the colleges would rise in status, while opponents said black and Hispanic enrollment would fall.

“We’re not condemning CUNY; we just don’t think they’ve taken into account the long-term effects of what’s happening,” said David R. Jones, the president and chief executive of the Community Service Society of New York, an antipoverty group, which has just completed a study of the changes. “If you’re taking a lower percentage of blacks and Latinos out of high school, you should try to make sure this doesn’t continue.”

The CUNY chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, said enrollment changes among first-time freshmen were a concern, but he noted that transfer students had outnumbered first-time freshmen at the five top-tier colleges for the past three years. The racial and ethnic mix has shifted among transfer students, as well, but not as drastically, according to CUNY figures.

Where students end up matters more than where they start, Dr. Goldstein said, adding, “We are graduating more black and Hispanic students than we ever have before.”

Across the country, the most selective public colleges have been growing more so for decades, with many of them seeing a notable shift in the past few years. The share of entering freshmen who were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes rose to 73 percent last fall from 69 percent in 2007 at the University of Texas at Austin, to 57 percent from 49 percent at Binghamton University and to 80 percent from 76 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to name a few.”




Soliciting Chapter Contributions for Book on Blended Learning Research!

Dear Colleagues,

Two colleagues, Chuck Dziuban (University of Central Florida) and Charles Graham (Brigham Young University) and I are editing a new book on blended learning research (see blurb and chapter proposal format below).  If anybody would like to submit a chapter proposal, the deadline is July 1, 2012.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or one of my co-authors (email addresses below).




Research Perspectives in Blended Learning

(Publisher:  Taylor and Francis, Inc.)



Anthony G. Picciano

City University of New York


Charles Dziuban

The University of Central Florida


Charles R. Graham

Brigham Young University



In 2007, twenty-five researchers in the United States contributed to Blended Learning:  Research Perspectives.  It was hailed as the first and most comprehensive book dedicated entirely to research in blended learning and examined issues related to definition, conceptual frameworks, and models and reported on primary research in what was a new instructional technology phenomenon.  A. Frank Mayadas (The Alfred P.  Sloan Foundation) commented that this book “is the first major and long-overdue work of research on blended learning…A must read for anyone serious about understanding today’s pedagogical practices”.  Diane Oblinger (President, EDUCAUSE) stated “If you’re an administrator or faculty member who wants to do blended learning really well, this [book] is an important resource that integrates theory, research and experience”.  At recent meetings of the Sloan Consortium, several of the original contributors, discussed whether or not the time had come to publish a new edition of this work.  Given the growth and importance of blended learning environments to education at all levels, the authors are preparing a new edition that will update as well as seek new research and knowledge about blended learning as it has evolved over the past five years.


Blended learning presents one of the most important vehicles for education reform and improvement in our educational system.   As government, foundations, schools and colleges move forward with plans and investments, the timing is perfect for a new examination of the research on blended learning. This proposed book will be designed to provide this new examination. The first edition of Blended Learning: Research Perspectives was published by the Sloan Consortium primarily as a resource for its members, however, with minimal marketing, it received widespread distribution. The first edition remains the only exclusively research volume on this subject. We anticipate that this new edition will be more popular because of the growing interest in blended learning.


Chapter Proposal

  1. Title (APA Format)
  2. Author(s)
  3. Brief Statement of the Problem
  4. Brief Statement of the Methodology
  5. Brief Statement of Findings or Conclusions (if available)


Sample Chapter Proposal

Title:  Relationship of computer science aptitude with selected achievement measures among junior high school students.

Authors:  Sam Smith (University of Denver) and Jane Lewis (University of Denver)


Statement of the Problem 

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between computer science aptitude and achievement at the junior high school level.


Hypotheses/Research Questions 

  1. A correlation exists between computer science aptitude and general achievement, mathematical achievement, and achievement in courses using computer-assisted instruction (CAI).
  2. Are there differences for the above based on the sex of students?



Seventh and eighth grade upper-middle class students from a private metropolitan junior high school participated in this study (N=69). The Konvalina, Stephens, and Wileman Computer Science Placement Test (KSW) was used as the computer science aptitude measure. The Science Research Associates Survey of Basic Skills Test, the students first semester mathematics grade, the students second semester mathematics grade, and the final first semester exam score of programming work done in BASIC were the achievement variables. To measure the relationship between the aptitude and achievement variables, the Pearson Product Moment correlation coefficient was used. The 2-sample t-test was used to test for differences in computer science aptitude for males and females.



A high positive correlation between KSW performance and each of the achievement variables was found for all groups. The findings indicate no difference in computer science aptitude test scores between males and females.


Proposal deadline: July 1, 2012

Send proposals to: Anthony Picciano (,

Charles Dziuban (Charles.dziuban@ucf,edu), Charles Graham (


Why Are the Elite Colleges Inviting the World Online? Or Here Come the MOOCs!

Dear Commons Community,

In the past few months, several of the elite colleges, Stanford, M.I.T., Harvard, and Princeton, have embarked on offering massive open online courses or MOOC’s free of charge and not for credit.  The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article speculating on why and specifically what is the business plan for these endeavors.  These institutions are investing tens of millions of dollars in developing and offering MOOCs, what is the return on their investment.   The article suggests:

“They could eventually follow the iTunes model and sell access to a course for $1.99. That starts adding up to real money if you get 100,000+ people to sign up. Depending on the course subject, they could sell access to corporate recruiters. That’s essentially what Sebastian Thrun did last fall, when he sent the résumés of his best students from his Stanford MOOC to Google and other Silicon Valley companies.

Perhaps the best idea I’ve heard so far is that the universities could use these courses as an alternative admissions system. This makes sense given these institutions recruit far and wide to expand their pool of applicants in the hope of finding that perfect student. Most of the time they choose correctly. Sometimes they miss. Either way, it’s a time-consuming, difficult, and expensive process each and every year.

The MOOCs enable the elite universities to discover talented students participating in classes just like the ones offered on their campuses, and completing assignments made by their professors. It’s an easier and cheaper way to find that diamond-in-the-rough student from a village in Turkey. And it’s a safer bet that these students will ultimately succeed, given they’re already doing the work.”

The admissions rationale makes a lot of sense.  Here come the MOOCs!


Multitaskers: Need to Learn Control!

Dear Commons Community,

An Education Week article looks at young people and their ability to control multitasking activities.  For a generation of children immersed in technology, emerging research suggests that while the temptation to multitask may be pervasive, the ability to control it could be the real bellwether of academic success. The article cites:

“Those under 18 multitask more often and more extensively than previous generations, says Larry D. Rosen, the author of the 2012 book iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us. On average, he found, 13- to 18-year-olds use more than six types of media simultaneously during out-of-school time.

The pervasiveness of technology and social media, coupled with a fear of missing out on something important, has led students to pay “continuous partial attention” to everything, but has resulted in their having difficulty concentrating deeply on anything, according to Mr. Rosen and other researchers who took part in the Web-Connected Minds Conference, held near Washington this month.

They highlighted emerging research on the way the brain copes with doing too much.  Simply put, the brain can’t be in two places at once.

Not only can people not process two tasks simultaneously, but it also takes longer to multitask than it would to do the individual tasks one after the other, according to Steven G. Yantis, the chairman of the psychological and brain sciences department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

It’s fine to walk and chew gum at the same time, but when a person tries to do two things at the same time that each require a choice, there’s a brief “bottleneck” in the prefrontal cortex—the decisionmaking part of the brain—that delays the second task, he said.”


The full article requires a subscription or registration and is available at: