A Full Day of Activities at OLC’s ACCELERATE!

Dear Commons Community,

The Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) ACCELERATE Conference here in Orlando had a full day of activities for attendees.  Dozens of presentations, workshops, and an awards luncheon, made for quite a busy time. 

In the afternoon, I was on a panel (see photo above) entitled, Higher Education’s Digital Future Is Closer than We Think, with Chuck Dziuban, Patsy Moskal, Mary Niemiec, and Karen Swan.   The room was filled and there was good give and take with the audience.  On behalf of my fellow panelists, I thank all who attended our session.

In the evening, I had dinner with colleagues Alexandra Pickett and Peter Shea at Kimonos, a fine sushi restaurant at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel.

Today is a travel day and I will be heading back to New York.



Record 57% of NYC High School Graduates Moving on to College!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that more city high school students are moving on to college after graduation and are academically ready for the transition.  A record 57% of students from the class of 2016 enrolled in college, vocational or public service programs after graduation, up from 55% in 2015, according to the new figures from the city’s Department of Education.  As reported:

“The DOE numbers also show 46% of students from the class of 2017 met City University of New York benchmarks for college readiness, up from 37% in 2016 as CUNY eased college readiness requirements.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said educators across the city are working hard to prepare grads for college.

“More of our public school graduates are going to college than ever before,” said de Blasio. “That is great news for our graduates and their families, and for the future of our city.”

Public school students’ college readiness and enrollment rates have been climbing for the past several years, along with the city’s high school graduation rate, which reached a record high of 72.6% in 2016.”

Our colleague, David Bloomfield, education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, was quoted as saying that rising grad rates and college enrollment and readiness numbers are only part of a winning equation.

“It’s good that college acceptance and readiness are moving upward but it’s important that these students are able to succeed in college and not just go to college,” Bloomfield said. 

Congratulations to the teachers, students, and administrators in the New York City public schools.


Day 2 of the ACCELERATE Conference in Orlando!

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday I attended several sessions, all of which were quite good.  I especially enjoyed a session entitled, When AI Meets Education:  Strategies for Realizing the Potential, presented by Larry Ragan and Brad Znedek of Penn State.  Their presentation described a new initiative to develop the Penn State Center for Online Innovation in Learning that opened this past year.  The Center wil be focusing on the role of artificial intelligence in education.

In the afternoon, the keynote address was given by Matthew Luhn of Pixar.  Entitled, The Power of Storytelling to Inspire and Engage.  A lot of interesting comments about the role of storytelling in producing award-winnng animated films as well as in everyday life.

In the evening, Mary Niemiec and I had the honor of making presentations to the three new OLC Fellows:  Laurie Dringus (Nova Southeastern University), Vicki Cook (University of Illinois at Springfield), and Jill Buban (Online Learning Consortium).

At dinner, a group of eight of us had dinner at the Bluezoo seafood restaurant.


Food and Drug Administration Approves First Digital Pill!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has an article entitled, First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’, this morning.  Here is an excerpt:

“For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill — a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.

The approval, announced late yesterday, marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, longstanding problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed.

Experts estimate that so-called nonadherence or noncompliance to medication costs about $100 billion a year, much of it because patients get sicker and need additional treatment or hospitalization.

“When patients don’t adhere to lifestyle or medications that are prescribed for them, there are really substantive consequences that are bad for the patient and very costly,” said Dr. William Shrank, chief medical officer of the health plan division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Ameet Sarpatwari, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the digital pill “has the potential to improve public health,” especially for patients who want to take their medication but forget.

But, he added, “if used improperly, it could foster more mistrust instead of trust.”

Patients who agree to take the digital medication, a version of the antipsychotic Abilify, can sign consent forms allowing their doctors and up to four other people, including family members, to receive electronic data showing the date and time pills are ingested.

A smartphone app will let them block recipients anytime they change their mind. Although voluntary, the technology is still likely to prompt questions about privacy and whether patients might feel pressure to take medication in a form their doctors can monitor.

Dr. Peter Kramer, a psychiatrist and the author of “Listening to Prozac,” raised concerns about “packaging a medication with a tattletale.”

While ethical for “a fully competent patient who wants to lash him or herself to the mast,” he said, “‘digital drug’ sounds like a potentially coercive tool.”

Other companies are developing digital medication technologies, including another ingestible sensor and visual recognition technology capable of confirming whether a patient has placed a pill on the tongue and has swallowed it.

Not all will need regulatory clearance, and some are already being used or tested in patients with heart problems, stroke, H.I.V., diabetes and other conditions.”

This is just the beginning.  Over the next decade, we will see many bio-sensing digital technology breakthroughs for all manner of medical treatments.



Day 1 of the ACCELERATE Conference in Orlando!

Dear Commons Community,

I spent the morning at the Online Learning Consortium’s meeting of the Board of Directors.  The Consortium has had a good year under the leadership of Executive Director Kathleen Ives.  We said goodbye to Joel Hartman from the University of Central Florida whose term on the Board expires next month.  Joel was a first-rate Board member who provided the Consortium with sage advice during his years with us.  Marie Cini from the University of Maryland University College, ended her term as President and will be replaced by Eric Fredericksen from the University of Rochester.  Marie has led the Consortium well and I am sure that Eric will do likewise.  

In the afternoon, I attended the Leadership Network Session, an annual event which brings together college leaders who discuss important issues related to online education.  This session was kicked-off by Doug Lederman, the Editor of Inside Higher Ed, with whom I had pleasant conversation last night about the state of our colleges and universities.  In the evening, eight of us had dinner at Shula’s, one of the hotel’s restaurants. 

Today the regular sessions start and will conclude with a keynote by Matthew Luhn of Pixar.


24/7 Wall Street Report:  Most Segregated Cities in America!

Dear Commons Community,

24/7 Wall Street has compiled a report of the most segregated cities in America.  Topping the list is Detroit, Michigan.  Here is an excerpt:

“Next year will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act. The landmark bill prohibited by law long-standing practices of housing segregation based on race by landlords and local governments. Despite the law, housing discrimination never fully disappeared, and the effects of decades of discrimination are evident in U.S. cities — many of which still highly segregated.

The forced segregation of black Americans in neighborhoods with suboptimal schooling, poor public transportation, and fewer job opportunities has led to worse social and economic outcomes for residents in those neighborhoods.

To identify America’s 16 most segregated cities, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the percentage of metropolitan area black residents who live in predominantly black census tracts. While certain racially homogeneous neighborhoods exist in every large metropolitan area, some cities are far more starkly divided. In several U.S. metropolitan areas, more than one-fourth of the African American population lives in neighborhoods that are at least 80% black. In two metro areas, more than half of black residents live in a predominately African American neighborhoods.”

Stark reality of  what we are not doing in our country!



At Online Learning Conference in Orlando!

Dear Commons Community,

I am here in Orlando at the Online Consortium’s ACCELERATE Conference.  Met yesterday with several collegues including Liz Ciabocchi and Ken Hartman.

I have a full agenda of meetings scheduled today with members of the OLC Board of Directors.  Later I will stop by to visit The Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) Master Class, a leadership development program sponsored by Penn State and the Online Learning Consortium. Now in its 9th year, IELOL serves the development needs of emerging leaders and institutional teams responsible for a variety of online learning initiatives. Participants work with colleagues from around the world and join a growing network of leaders in higher education

The conference program looks interesting and  has a fine mix of presentations, all of which relate to online learning and instructional technology.  CUNY colleague, George Otte, is on the program. 


Traveling Today to Attend the Online Learning Consortium Annual Conference in Orlando!

Dear Commons Community,

I leave today for Orlando to attend the Annual Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C) ACCELERATE Conference.  This is the premiere event for online learning. This year’s program will highlight initiatives that reflect and showcase communities of practice through presentations, panel discussions, express workshops, research highlights, discovery sessions, and pre-conference workshops.  There are six strands as follows:

  • Research
  • Professional Development and Support
  • Institutional Strategies and Globalization
  • Learner Services and Support
  • Learning Effectiveness
  • Innovations, Tools and Technologies

All of the details about the program are available at the Conference website.

I have a session on Thursday afternoon with colleagues Chuck Dziuban, Patsy Moskal, Mary Niemiec, and Karen Swan on Higher Education’s Digital Future Is Closer Than We Think!  Below is the abstract.

If you are attending, please feel free to stop by.  We would love to see you!


Higher Education’s Digital Future Is Closer Than We Think!

Date: Thursday, November 16th
Time: 1:30 PM to 2:15 PM
Conference Session: Concurrent Session 8
Lead Presenter: Anthony Picciano (CUNY – Graduate Center) (Moderator)
Co-presenters: Chuck Dziuban (University of Central Florida), Patsy Moskal (University of Central Florida), Mary Niemiec (University of Nebraska ), Karen Swan (University of Illinois Springfield)
Strand: N/A
Location: Asia 2
Session Duration: 45min
Brief Abstract:

A panel of leading educators will speculate on higher education’s digital future.  Critical issues examined will include the changing role of college faculty, the ascendency of instructional design and off-the-shelf courses, the role of online education in promoting changes in institutional missions, strategies, and student social class separation, The discussants will consider both the near future (2020s) and more distant future (2030s and beyond) and will explore the roles of adaptive technology, brain-machine interfaces, and artificial intelligence on teaching and learning.  The panel will specifically examine predictions posited in the book Online Education Policy and Practice: The Past, Present, and Future of the Digital University (Taylor & Francis/Routledge, 2017) by Anthony G. Picciano.


Frank Bruni on Jesus’ Parents and Roy Moore!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, analyzed in today’s edition, Jim Zeigler’s comparison of Roy Moore to Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph.  Earlier this week, Ziegler, the state auditor of Alabama and ardent Moore supporter, drew from the story of Mary and Joseph to justify Moore’s having sexual contact with teenage girls.  Here is an excerpt from his Bruni’s column:

“When Zeigler was asked by The Washington Examiner about an allegation that the Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, Zeigler cited the biblical couple to say, essentially: No biggie! This is as old as Christianity.

“Take Joseph and Mary,” he explained. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.” He made it sound as if Moore were some religiously inclined analogue to those military-history enthusiasts who dress in the uniforms of yesteryear to travel back to the Revolutionary War. Moore was merely re-enacting the New Testament in the name of lust.

It’s worth pointing out that there is something illegal here: A 14-year-old girl is below the age of consent in Alabama, and that was true as well four decades ago, when the incident is alleged to have occurred. It’s also worth pointing out that Jesus supposedly arrived via virgin birth, so Joseph’s interactions with Mary up until that point may have been considerably more G-rated and gallant than in Zeigler’s version.

It’s further worth pointing out that millenniums ago, girls were treated as chattel and sold off as child brides, a practice that no one in his or her right mind would regard as inspirational and cite as an exonerating precedent.

But such fine points tend to elude people insisting on the most convenient, self-serving narrative available, and Zeigler was rationalizing his sustained support for Moore.

Besides, logic and moral consistency aren’t prevalent among Bible-thumping scolds.

Moore has vehemently denied the allegation, which was detailed in a Washington Post article on Thursday that was reported and written meticulously. Part of what made it so persuasive was that the girl — now woman — spoke on the record and has repeatedly voted for Republicans, including Donald Trump. She’s putting her name to her accusation and risking the harassment that could come with that, and she’s not easily cast as a pawn of Democrats trying to buoy Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones.”

Bruni concluded:

“On Thursday, Moore tweeted that “the forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal — even inflict physical harm — if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me.” So this is a war waged on him and his kind? What about the war that his breed of conservatives has been waging on the rest of us? It is arrogant and without empathy, and some of its generals use their cause as camouflage.

They also read the Bible selectively.”

These holier than thou hypocrites such as Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and Pat Robertson have a special place reserved for them in the afterlife where it is hotter than…………



Donald Trump’s Son-in-Law Jared Kushner Reportedly Asked Time Warner Executive Gary Ginsberg to Fire 20% of CNN’s Staff!

Dear Commons Community,

As a follow-up to my previous post, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly asked Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg to dump 20% of CNN’s staff, due to its supposed faulty analysis in the 2016 US Presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

“Citing people familiar with the matter, the report said that the meeting, held earlier this year, took place after Kushner was displeased with the network’s coverage during the election cycle. 

Ginsberg reportedly replied to Kushner that Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, would not be able to do that, sources told The Journal.

The Journal continued that, according to a White House official, Kushner was merely making a point, and did not mean to be taken seriously.

Kushner reportedly filed complaints to CNN executives on a regular basis during the campaign, and was particularly displeased with its fact-checking, which, according to The Journal, prompted Kushner to call CNN president Jeff Zucker to say that members of the Trump campaign would not appear on the network.

The icy relationship between the network and campaign became apparent on the campaign trail, as Trump began criticizing the mainstream media and accused CNN of peddling “fake news.” Behind the scenes, CNN executives appeared to meet with Kushner in order to develop ties with the campaign and provide news coverage, the Journal reported.

News of Kushner’s remarks come amid AT&T’s plans for a $84.5 billion merger with Time Warner.

According to reports, the Justice Department has required AT&T and Time Warner to relinquish either Turner Broadcasting — which includes CNN — or DirecTV, for the merger to be approved. This requirement sparked speculation amongst people in the companies that the Justice Department may have been influenced by the Trump administration, according to The Journal.

But AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the Justice Department never asked his company to divest from CNN in order to acquire Time Warner.

“I have never been told that the price of getting the deal done was selling CNN, period,” Stephenson said at a conference Thursday. “And likewise I have never offered to sell CNN. There is absolutely no intention that we would ever sell CNN.”

Great intrigue in the world of cable news!