Monday, December 29, 2008

Another impact of the state budget crisis, because it is a crisis

Common parlance says we're in a recession, some would say a depression, that has spread world wide. But resident students with proper qualifications have never been denied admission to California state colleges and universities, but instead of protecting our future we are cutting financing to educate our future.

Relating to technology, one has to wonder (1) the impact on technology spending as decision makers contend with this crisis and (2) how can technology be used to assist in the crisis?

For the first thought, I surmise that if an organization invested in their technical infrastructure with good decisions when times were flush, the organization should be able to weather this economic downturn with minimal investment. This fact is why computer manufacturers and resellers are also caught up in the economy's vortex for the most part. But having put more money after bad, some organizations still have to make investments in technical infrastructure in this economy.

For the second thought, there has been a world wide push for online learning centers and universities to reduce physical and overhead costs and provide any time access to students from all walks of life. The UC system had begun research into the idea in the 1990's, quick Google & Yahoo! searches reveal nothing about this initiative. Equally notable for me is that U.C. Merced is a thriving campus where 2700 students physically attend classes. I have to wonder what the impact of implementing the Cyber Campus instead of or in addition to would have on our current budget crisis and need to enroll qualified students at a U.C.

This ties my 2 thoughts together: that decision makers have to think long term about finances and students, not necessarily in that order. In the 1990's I had access to data that foresaw this current crisis of surging student enrollments, yet for various reasons unbeknownst to the public (and I can imagine the political, the ego of a large structure vs. an unseen entity) the cyber university was not implemented to alleviate this system strain. So now additional funds in a strained funding and economic environment should be found to ensure students are able to obtain educations. Fortunately other schools and universities have opened their cyber doors for the past 10 years. Though financial resources threaten their traditional enrollment, I encourage these schools to consider expanding their online course offerings as a way to accommodate more students.

And on a side note, what is the point of having a major research facility in the heart of our state's agricultural economy if the campus does not offer a major in agricultural sciences? This is a cutting edge research field in countries where food supplies are difficult or expensive to obtain and a way for a university of the U.C. caliber could make a contribution to the world.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More on Creating a Class Site with Google Sites

I define a class site as a repository for all the information you present to your students in class, information in addition to what you've taught, and things they may find *cool* to tie in to their learning. However because web page design started off as a very techy thing many people are still hesitant to put their classroom information online. I'm here to tell you Google Sites is the answer to their prayers.

Google Sites is very wysiwyg*, just like typing a document in Microsoft Office and saving as a web page, but you're typing directly into a web page. Depending on your computer comfort level you could sign up for a Google account and play your way through setting up a site or read basic information about Google Sites or tutorials on making a Google Site before venturing forth.

The easiest way to start using Google Sites is to create one (1) Web Page and just type your information in. Use the Insert menu to add interesting options to your pages (a photo, a class calendar, maybe). When you're ready to explore even further, read about the types of Pages you can create and add to your site.

By masking the coding and limiting page options to the most useful any teacher can create a great looking web site for their class.

*wysiwyg: what you see is what you get