Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Charleston Conference, November 2012

(by Sue Vazakas)


·         Link subject guides in 856 fields
·         Add “ask a lib” link or widget to web site 404 page
·         Change catalog location of e-books to say E-BOOK

Pre-conference about E-books

  •  Most users don’t read the whole book, like reference linking, and hate DRM     

  •  Most publishers are still designing print and then converting to electronic

  •  TRLN Consortium (Triangle Research Libraries Network) worked a deal with OUP – all 4 schools get a given e-book and one shared print copy. (Nancy Gibbs, Head of Acquisitions at Duke)
  • Duke had many questions about e-book choices, processing workflow, etc., so they formed an E-book Advocacy group
  • Before they started buying, they interviewed patrons, and then wrote a statement about how Duke can be advocates for patrons regarding e-books [PDF on the right]
  • Duke also held an “E-book Boot Camp” for technical and reference staff, including overview, hands-on exercise, and how to find usage stats
  • Texas A&M canceled their e-books packages and went back to choosing individual titles in GOBI to save money, and also went to PDA. Before doing any of that, they had a meeting of all the stakeholders to discuss.
  • All speakers agreed that: (1) hiring new people and training of all personnel are crucial, (2) getting e-book records into the discovery layer as fast as possible, preferably daily, is crucial, (3) workflows will need to be disrupted, but lay it all out ahead of time and make sure that person/people in charge of e-book workflow(s) has project management experience
Conference Opening Speakers   

·         CEO of MacMillan (which publishes Nature) – She talked about tools that help you organize your lab, help you with compliance, and share your results. Someone commented that nothing she talked about was publishing, but rather all software. She replied that she’s looking for a word to replace “publisher/publishing.”
New publishing modelsSmashwords (self-publishing), Unglue.It (crowdsourcing the funding to publish out-of-print books  

Quality products – Libraries should participate in this! The way to honor readers with self-published books worth reading is to offer instruction about good writing and editing.
“Positively Perplexing E-books”

University of Florida Life Sci and Eng Library surveyed 321 undergrads and 64 grad students

  • Over half of the students didn’t know what e-thing they were looking at
  • They were shown a sample of 18 online resources, such as journal articles, e-books (like Springer), open web sites, the catalog, a gov doc
  • Springer e-book: 47% said it was a web site; only 28% knew it was an e-book
  • Google Books e-book: most recognized what that was, not only because of familiarity but because of the simple uncluttered screen
  • ScienceDirect article – 37% said it was a journal article
  • The kids are becoming “format agnostic”; they don’t know or care what kind of thing they’re looking at and just want the info
“You Call That Perpetual?”

Libraries do a poor job of tracking perp access once something is canceled or goes to another publisher. Keep link resolvers aiming at things we have if it’s perpetual!

License language can be vague and incomplete; get firm statements from vendors (for example, don’t accept “TBD”) 

E-BOOKS: (1) Which edition is perpetual, new editions or only what we bought? [the old one could vanish from their site but if we didn’t buy the new one, we no longer have access to any edition] (2) Wiley/IEEE gives the author the choice of what happens to new editions. (3) We should set up alerts on e-book platforms so we hear about new things.
PANEL - What Provosts Think Librarians Should Know

Funding is going down, and competition is going up (e.g., MOOCs, community colleges). They don't sleep well at night.

Help the provost know your story so that they’re prepared when board members returning from trips are loaded with buzz words; your provost needs to be able to answer them, and tell them WHY what we’re doing is important for the university

“Big Data” is crucial – Whoever has them and understands them is powerful. If we can tell the provost “I’ve got data; let me tell you about our library/our departments/how they’re working,” provost will love that

Don't come to the provost asking for money. Come to him/her to give information about their university

  • In 2012 so far, e-textbooks have been $4 billion, which is only 6% of the total e-book market, so there’s much room for growth
  • Students still prefer print textbooks; profs reluctant to use because the edition they want isn’t available online or they’re just not interested, but this will change
  • E-texts are about 50% cheaper than print
  • E-texts are better than print because you can get usage stats, they have links to data/videos, they have self-assessment tools (if you do poorly they create a remedial lesson!), and profs can see what the students read. But these must be accessible across devices, and allow highlighting/notes/copying.

SCOAP3 Update – 2013 will be lots of calculations about what libraries pay now and signing of contracts; GO LIVE is January 1, 2014!
“Well, of Course the Students Will Love Them!”

This Connecticut consortium of Wesleyan, Trinity College, and CT College did a small (28 undergrads) but in-depth usability study of various things including e-books.

  • The librarians took video of what the students did on screen, and audio of them explaining why they did it
  • There was a script; e.g., “What’s an e-book? Have you ever used one? Find one, and use one [on various platforms].”
  • Depressing results – They didn’t understand most of the language or icons that *we* understand, they love scroll bars (none on eBrary), and most screens were much too busy (e.g., MyiLibrary). Things weren’t intuitive, things were buried, it’s a steep learning curve to use our tools, confused about limits on printing/downloading, confused about browser vs. platform functions
  • They can *define* e-books but can’t find them or use them
  • About half the kids started looking *outside* the library
  • They wanted to print or download the whole book to read later or mark up
  • Their wish list for the future: using touch to flip a page and take notes, more e-textbooks, share notes with friends and prof, more intuitive, have audio
  • WE need to pressure vendors to include students in their usability testing!
  • AFTER these interviews, the students’ opinions of e-books were higher (education is good!)
  • Q/A – You’re buying e-books and set approval plan to “e- preferred,” but the kids are lukewarm, so why? Because usage stats are up so they’re voting with their feet despite what they say (or maybe they don’t know they’re using them)
EBL Talk – Some interesting upgrades to the back-end, and they’re building in a reader for EPUB5/HTML5 for more interactive notes etc. (but don’t know when).
Finally, here is a funny (yet a little scary) spoof from ACLU about how our privacy is pretty much nonexistent anymore. http://www.aclu.org/ordering-pizza

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

HathiTrust UnCamp

On September 10-11, I attended an Uncamp at the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) in Bloomington, Indiana. This turned out to be more of a traditional conference than an uncamp, but it did give me the chance to learn more about the HTRC. I was hoping for more discussion about how libraries are actually using the HathiTrust (HT), but the HTRC looks promising for digital humanities research.

The HTRC's goal is to provide computational access to a large portion of the works in the HathiTrust. Being able to run textual analysis tools on a large corpus such as HathiTrust would enable humanists to do some interesting research. The mix of languages and subjects in the Trust closely resembles that of the physical collections of the contributing libraries. For now access is mostly limited to pre-1923 American publications that we know are in the public domain. They are starting to allow researchers to submit requests for analysis of items that are thought to be in copyright. The rationale behind this is known as "non-consumptive research", that is, the researcher would not be reading or "consuming" the text, but instead, would just be analyzing the words contained there. The proposed text-mining could be done only by researchers at institutions who have a signed agreement with Google as they would primarily be mining works scanned by the Google Books project. All of this is very much up in the air at this point.

The public domain materials in HT comprise about 2,500,000 print volumes. There is about 2.3 TB of raw OCR text and 3.7 TB of managed OCR text. The latter has had some processing and error correction. The entire HT collection includes 10.5 million volumes or around 1,000,000,000 pages! HTRC is building analysis tools for researchers to perform sophisticated operations. For instance, one topic modeling tool looks at how words cluster within a document and across the entire collection. It keeps iterating until it is able to assign words to topics based on the probability that it will occur with similar words. They have also created tools that will check the quality of the OCR and create tag clouds with data. 

What might a philosopher do with millions of words? One interesting research project that used the HTRC infrastructure compared the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy with the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Analyzing the terms "anthropomorphism" and "parsimony" in the two works yielded wildly different results. Each term was examined to see what words clustered around them in order to provide context for the main term. The convergence and divergence of certain terms gave a good view of the focus of each of the encyclopedias. Much of the math that explained this was beyond me, but the presenter made a good case for its accuracy. Scaling this type of analysis to larger collections will have its issues. The HTRC is going to have to expand its computing power greatly to enable large text-mining projects.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maryland Library Association Conference, 2012

Maryland Library Association/Delaware Library Association
Joint Conference
Ocean City, Maryland
May 9-11, 2012

Mark Cyzyk

The thing about this conference is that it's geographically-determined, so the full range of the Library World within that geographic boundary is represented:  Research libraries; academic libraries; special libraries, school libraries; public libraries; even prison libraries, all represented in one form or another.  As always, the great diversity of Maryland's libraries is impressive; and the fact that they share most of the same challenges despite being differentiated by user group, funding sources, etc., seems always to be the moral of the story.

The Opening Remarks were supposed to have been by Alexander Sanchez, Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation -- but he left that post earlier in the week!  So his Deputy Secretary, Scott Jensen, appeared instead.  It so happens that Jensen is a Philosopher by training and education and is intimately familiar with the great research libraries of New York City.  So before he ever entered public service, he was a big fan of libraries.  However, now that he serves in the Maryland DLLR he's even more of a fan, noting the great symbiosis between that department and the mission of public libraries across the state, at least with respect to the promotion of job growth and vocational training.  He foresees a merging of the various DLLR One Stop centers across the state with local public libraries.  He is, in fact, currently working on getting DLLR-mandated GED testing services to be hosted physically by local public libraries.

Anirban Basu, he of WYPR/NPR Fame, gave the keynote, essentially an extended riff on the global economy, the national economy, the state economy, and our local economies, with attention paid, here and there, to where libraries, primarily public libraries, fit in.  Basu noted that public libraries are "in the business of promoting job growth."  Let's hope that's not all they're in the business of, but good point.  He then noted that over the past few years and despite the recession something like 1.8 million jobs were created in this country, mostly in the professional and business services sectors.  Public libraries are crucial to this growth.  Nevertheless, his numbers indicate that state and local financial support of public libraries is falling, while actual public library visitation and use is sharply climbing.  During down times in the economy, people turn, as they should, to their local libraries.

If you ever have a chance to see Basu speak, take it!  His delivery is rapid-fire and hilarious.

As I do each year, my notes from this conference are attached below, for whatever they're worth.  They give me just enough of a reminder of what I attended and the high points of each presentation just in case I ever need to go back and delve a little deeper.


GENERAL SESSION - Scott Jensen, Deputy Secretary, DLLR

GENERAL SESSION - The Dog Ate My Home, Anirban Basu

Technology Core Competencies for Library Staff
Beth Tribe and Maurice Coleman
Primarily public library staff.  Howard County/Harford County public librarians
Library users and random devices
Nook, eReaders, instruction
eBooks on smart phones, apps
"Dedicated eReaders are the eight track tape decks of our time"  "One trick ponies"
Public librarians WRESTLING with this issue!
anti-dedicated-eReaders.  We need Options.
Tablets, smart phones  Tablets Rule.
iOS and Android ecosystems.  Part of our jobs
Tablets and HDMI, librarians putting tablet display on large screen
"rooting" the Nook for full-blown tablet
Not everyone has Internet access at home.  Libraries to the rescue
Mobile Websites for Library or library catalog
Future is not OS dependent.  "Mobile site that lives in the Cloud..."
Must work in ALL browsers
Smart phones and barcode scanners
Pintrest -- photo sharing.  Local libraries participating
Quick Response QR code, smart phone scanning
QR code takes you directly to enhanced content
Google QR Generator
QR can send patrons directly to help
QR in the stacks
QR for room reservations
Creator/Maker/Hacker Spaces in public libraries
3D printers
STEM lab in Howard County Public Libraries.  Create mobile games.  Music production.  Peer instruction
Virtual training statewide
Shared training videos in the MD public library systems, eReaders and Overdrive
"There are two buttons on the thing -- one of them must turn it on.  Press one!"
iPads on loan.  Some public libraries doing this.  Loaning of Nooks.  Some eBooks cost more than the hardware.
Instruction crosses the line to tech support all the time.

Don't Miss the Hidden Treasures!  Ideas for Successful Library Outreach
Nedelina Tchangalova, Engineering and Physical Sciences Library, University of Maryland
Gergana Kostova, UMBC Library
Simmona Simmons, UMBC Library
At UMD, Library Award for Undergraduate Research
About 50 US Universities making such awards.  Open access to student research
Papers go into IR.  Selection for award is based on these submissions.
Evaluation rubric -- assign points to each submission.
Posters, ad in campus newspaper, ebulletin boards, library blog, library Website, social network sites
Subject librarians broadcast
33 applications in first year, including 6 teams
three awards of $1000 each
Most applications from the College of Arts and Humanities

Embedded Librarianship
embedded in department

International Coffee Hour
showcase library resources and services

Speaking of Books
conversations with campus authors
similar to public library book talks

UMBC Outreach:
to new students
attract students to new learning center
Coffee Hour, Mini-sessions, Branded events, Q&A sessions, Library orientations
collaboration with Undergraduate Education; Residential Life; Student Life; International Education
YouTube video:  "Don't miss the treasures!"

UMBC outreach to Faculty
high touch; low tech
Welcome email to new faculty, announcements of new resources, attend faculty meetings
Invite faculty to sit on library committees, hiring committees
Escort new faculty through library, quick tour

Making the Most of User Comments, Surveys, and Focus Groups with Qualitative Data Analysis
Patricia McDonald and Shana Gass, Albert S. Cook Library, Towson University
Prove value of libraries, improve services
quantitative vs. qualitative
open ended, free questions, observations
content analysis
Cook Library Assessment Committee
LibQUAL+  open comments at end of survey, ripe for content analysis methods
2500+ responses, 900 free comments
Observation study; focus groups
Steps toward content analysis:
What do you want to know?
Unitize data.  break comment down into the smallest categorizable unit
Taxonomy:  Categorize topics
Coding scheme:  rules to apply taxonomy to comments
Interrater reliabilty:  Make sure multiple graders agree on application of taxonomies
Report findings
Adapted Brown's LibQUAL taxonomy, 2005
Towson Taxonomy
nuggets of meaning within each comment
Software used:
NVivo <-- Towson used this
Weft QDA, open source
Demonstration of coding with NVivo
Interrater agreement of 80% == goal
Coding practice.  Interesting disagreements
Content categories must be mutually exclusive, equivalent, and exhaustive
"Wordled" to create tag clouds
MS Word Frequency macro

Through the Users' Eyes
Elias Darraj, Yoni  Glaser, Lucy Holman, University of Baltimore
Students are driven away from library Websites due to their unintuitive, complicated Natures
Discovery tools, multiple resources through single index.  Preharvested metadata
ExLibris Primo; Encore; Vufind; Summon; WorldCat; Ebsco Discovery Service
USMAI institutions, UMD System, plus St. Mary's and Morgan State
UBalt Interaction Design and Information Architecture program
user research design,  user centered design
task based design
three primary audiences:  Undergrad; Grad; Faculty
compared four tools across three audience types
six tasks, scenarios based on task
21 participants
UBalt usability lab
eye tracking software -- duration and intensity of participant's gaze.  Heat map of gaze.  Cool!  (yet I have no doubt this would NOT work with my eyes)
two known item searches; two topic searches; item save and retrieval

EDS interface:  Intuitive; facets; simple.  But "right-side" blindness for tools in right-side pane.  Easy search for known items.  Difficult for topic searches.  Students still going to Google to get basic info about a book! even when the EDS detail screen of that book is in front of them!

Summon:  Overwhelming main interface; pretty clear results page; inconsistent detail records.  Very confusing how to save results.

Primo:  Basic and Advanced on front screen.  Clean interface.  Simple, consistent interface.

Faceted search.  filter based on attributes in collection.  supports exploratory searching.  Most relevant filters near top of screen.  Provide many filtering options.  Allow multiple selections of filters before updating.  Display faceted search options on left side.  Avoid jargon.  Visual cues -- what you've clicked.

Summon:  Overwhelming main interface; pretty clear results page; inconsistent detail records.  Very confusing how to save results.

Need to mimic what Google has done.

Save/Retrieval functionality.  Must be clear indication that something has been saved.  Visual cues.

USMAI is going to go with EDS.  Content and cost figure in.  Go Live in Fall?

Google Plus or Google Minus
Patricia Anderson, Joel Shields, J. Shore, Julie Strange
NLM, AskUsNow, Western Maryland Consortium
Google+ more like Twitter than Facebook
Your Circles -- you control where your messages are going
Public and Limited posting
Google+ Hangouts
subject or audience or age-based Circles
sharing Circles with specific people or with other Circles
use as blogging tool
polling mechanism
Hangouts, plugin, similar to Adobe Connect.  10 people at a time in video window.  Free video conferencing
Screen sharing, share documents, collaborative editing, meeting in Google Hangout
Hangout On Air feature:  Broadcast push to public audience
automatically pushed to YouTube
Help Desk hangouts,  Reference hangouts, support group hangouts

Security and privacy:  SCARY STUFF.  Photos automatically uploaded from cellphone via Google account.
Google reruns its algorithm every 45 minutes based on YOUR data
Custom, focused advertising, personalized based on what's in your Google account

There is a woman sitting next to me who is KNITTING!  And when she's not knitting she's taking notes with a PENCIL and paper.  This is somewhat distracting -- and the juxtaposition of this old school technology with the glow of the video streaming in from the Google+ Hangout in the front of the room was at first jarring.

And yet, I now find it somehow comforting.

Maybe I should take up whittling wooden fisherman figurines while loading the latest Ubuntu?!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Research Data Access & Preservation Summit 2012

March 22nd and 23rd I attended and presented at the ASIS&T Research Data Access & Preservation Summit in New Orleans.  This is a small but focused meeting with about about a hundred attendees. Participation was highly encouraged with lots of questions being asked, spontaneous discussion, and spur of the moment lighting talks.  Everyone there was focused on issues related to managing, curating and preseving data.  Overall there was considerable discussion throughout the two days centering on solutions for addressing data managment requirements, with many institutions launching or using traditional institutional repositories to address this requirement seemingly in the absence of other options.  The other thread throughout the two days consisted of the need to create training in data management and curation for experienced librarians who are being asked to help support these endeavors. 

Some highlights from the panels which were centered around the following five themes.

Data management plans and policies - Suzanne Allard with DataOne emphasized the need to focus on developing the tools scientists need in order to shift the culture, in particular she pointed out their continued focus and work on interoperabily and the need for everyone to work together on this. RUCore at Rutgers, built on Fedora, was showcased as one model for data management.  They've integrated with the researcher's workflow system, created discipline specific portals, and are developing tools such as RUAnalytics that let researchers annotate video for example.  The Texas Digital Library is also looking at workflow and has integrated their repository with the Open Journal System for their community.

Data Citation - It was noted that ASIS&T will be publishing best practices for citing data soon. DataCite's Mark Martin spoke to the confusion around citing data e.g. no real acknowledgement, processed and packed forms, which mirror was used, which edition or version of th data, where to get the data, etc. The idea of citation landing pages garnered a heated discussion ranging from concerns of whether you'd need landing pages for subsets of collections and others noting that that this starts to sounds like a MARC record system. Paul Uhlir from the National Academy of Sciences spoke about philosophical differences between the US and Europe in the approach to developing a citation style.

Curation Services and Models - David Minor of the University of California San Diego spoke to their experiences with high performance computing and storage management and recent pilots in data curation ranging observational data of the human brain to archeology to geological collections. Michael Witt explained how Purdue's PURR is being set up to support data management and the process they plan to put in place for managing data. I was one of the panelists for the Curation Services and Models panel and presented on the services we've been developing and building at Johns Hopkins. There was good interest in the work we're doing particulary in how we've scoped and modeled service provision within the JHU DMS. 

Sustainability - The ArXiv.org presentation pointed out how their community is expanding into other scientific domains and the success of this resources.  Models for financially sustaining ArXiv.org are being reviewed including a potential membership model.  Dryad's Peggy Schaeffer talked about their financial model with involves working with publishers and charging them a fee everytime an author deposits data in Drayd in association with a publication. Fees are kept very low but so is the storage allocated for that fee.

Training Data Management Practitioners - Kirk Borne of George Masson University shared his experiences with training high school students in data mining and the importance of building these skills in young people.  Peter Fox talked about the Computer Science Programs at Rensselaer Poloytechnic Institute the need to think about application themes by domain.  Jian Qin of Syracuse University talked about their new online training opportunities in data services.  She noted that data literacy is not just important for science students but also important for librarians.

Besides panels there was a lively poster session and lots of opportunities to network and learn from others.  The models for data management and service provision range widely as the needs of researchers and communities differ from institution to institution.  - Barbara Pralle

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ASERL Spring Meeting

On April 11-12 I attended the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) meeting in Charleston, SC. Hopkins is a new member of this consortium of 40 libraries stretching from Louisiana through Maryland. I attended as Winston Tabb's representative. I will report on a few of the more interesting highlights.

Apple e-textbook initiative

Francis Shephard from Apple talked about the possibilities of faculty using the iBooks Author application to produce electronic textbooks for the iPad. University administrators are concerned about rising textbook costs and the limitations to updating information in printed materials. Students are embracing mobile devices, so the iPad seems like a good possibility for textbooks.

The iBooks Author app has an easy interface that enables authors to begin publishing multi-touch books with an hour or so of practice. It has great support for embedding video, 3D models, slide shows, and even real-time data updates. Each of these has its own "multi-touch widget" that the author can just plug in and populate the page. I have to admit that it looked pretty slick.

Authors can distribute iBooks in one of three ways:

  • simply give it away on a thumb drive or put it on a server
  • distribute free through iBooks Store--minimal IP agreement with Apple
  • charge for iBook on Store--more complex and more checks and balances about who owns copyright

Apple is touting the fact that you can update an iBook at any time in order to keep it current and accurate. Big discussion about how that affects references. Since there is no "edition" or versioning, fact checking for editors can become a nightmare. While the same is true when citing a website, most researchers would expect information in a "book" to remain constant or be updated with successive editions. The Apple rep just did not get it on that issue. The other huge drawback is the fact that the application is only available on the iPad.

Another selling point is that libraries could use the iBooks store to sell books created from their collections. Turn this into a money-making venture. While this bears watching, many of the attendees thought that this app is not a good fit for libraries at this time.

Libraries as Publishers: Current and Best Practices

Representives from the Scholar Commons at the University of South Florida and the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia talked about the publishing services that they offer to their community.

Scholar Commons offers a suite of services that includes repository services, eScholarship services, OA publishing services, geoportal & data repository. They started by taking over a journal that was failing at the request from a faculty member. Things quickly grew from there. They use the bepress platform for publishing and help with creating the journal site and training editors. They did a cost study and found that the cost per article for their OA journals is about 10% of the cost of a subscription journal. They currently host six journals and are in discussions with a couple more.

Before taking on a new journal project, they look at three things:

  • aim aligns with library
  • peer reviewed
  • health and active editorial profile
The Center for Digital Research and Scholarship employs 15 full time staff, all on hard money! They host 90 Columbia-based journals run by undergrads, grad students, and faculty. A lot of these are law reviews while others are basically blogs. They offer a variety of services including:

  • platform software hosting: OJS, WordPress (most common), blogs and wikis
  • consultation: digitization of back issues; copyright, licensing, author agreements; open access and other business models
  • ISSN and domain acquisition
  • print on demand
  • design, content migration
  • workshops on journal best practices

The Center has been very successful at Columbia. They try to remain flexible in their approach and be more "weblike" than traditional publishers. Whenever possible they teach publishing skills to their customers so that the journal can become self-sustaining. One of their challenges has been lack of engagement from liaison librarians. Many of them are not sold on the idea, so their outreach has been minimal. They are also struggling with how to gauge success. This is an expensive operation, so they need to prove their worth.

Friday, March 16, 2012

MDLA Spring Conference 2012

I attended the Maryland Distance Learning Association (MDLA) Eleventh Annual Spring Conference on March 1st. This conference was broad in scope. The attendees were mainly educational institutions with a heavy concentration in online learning. The workshops focused on trends in the delivery of content; standards, design and technology applications for course development; and andragogy.

Presenters were from many backgrounds such as education (professors, researchers) instructional design, and business (publishing & technology).

The keynote speaker was Hall Davidson, Director of Global Learning Initiatives: Discovery Education. He is the author of Not Your Father’s eBook: New Kinds of Learning Tools for New Kinds of Learning. Hall spoke about the importance and trend in ebooks being interactive so that the reader can manipulate content and engage in and contribute to their own learning. He provided us with an example of what he meant by creating an interactive ebook, using augmented reality. The user was able to select the characters they wanted to use to tell their story as well as select the environment where the story was to take place. There a website with free resources that can be used to create these interactive ebooks. Hall selected participants from the audience to create their own ebooks, selecting characters, creating the audio with their own voices and choosing a topic by selecting scenery representative of the environment they preferred. It was truly interactive learning. Most of the resources were compatible to the iPad, e.g. Zooburst, Word Lens (questvisual), Voice Net and Virtual Eternity.

This method of teaching and learning gives new life to simulations and can really enhance areas like the sciences.

I attended a variety of workshops:

Teaching the Military Learners in 2012: Addressing the Real Issues focused on teaching instructors sensitivity training. The concentration was on the military population, which can be a high percentage of online learners because of the accessibility from anywhere. The attention was placed on the stressful lives that military men and women experience. Knowing what they go through in this environment and understanding their way of life and being sensitive to their needs allows them to be a more successful student and an instructor much more effective in teaching. UMUC has a faculty development training program that they highly encourage new faculty to take. I could see this type of training being effective for most institutions because of culturally diverse populations.

Building Student Success and Retention Through Open Educational Learning Tools: The Bridging to Success Project focused on a research pilot of online courses using tutorials created in math and study skills to increase student success rate in the online environment. The funding to create these Open Educational Resources is a part of the Next Generation Grants. The courses create a learning community for students online in an effort to encourage peer to peer learning and help students transition to college, successfully. Assessments are built into the program both pre and post learning. The B2S (Build to Success Projects) are being offered to colleges with an interest in piloting activities for retention and persistence (http://b2s.aacc.edu).

New Accreditation Guidelines for Distance Education: What are you Doing to Prepare and Comply? focused on revised guidelines for institutions with online programs. The guidelines are more prescriptive and detailed in what is expected. The document was developed by the Council of Regional Accreditation Commissions and is endorsed by U.S. Accrediting bodies (e.g.MSCHE). If you have online courses and are developing programs online, knowledge of this document is critical. Here is a link to the document: http://www.msche.org/publications/Guidelines-for-the-Evaluation-of-Distance-Education-Programs.pdf

I attended a Roundtable session facilitated by the Quality Matters organization. This organization has created a method of determining quality assurance in online/blended courses. “Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses.”

The roundtable was an effort to determine how the organization can conduct research in collaboration with institutions to establish the impact on student outcomes as a result of this process. Many suggestions were made on what could be measured like student satisfaction, instructional growth (instructor/faculty); organizational impact, etc. There were also conversations about what incentives could be offered to institutions to gather and share their data.

Anita Norton