Hello everyone – welcome to ICASIT in 2019. As usual we have a bunch of interesting projects simmering. Lately, we have become interested in the surprising lack of MOOCs in postsecondary education, despite the immense hype. In a paper that will be given in March at the INTED conference in Valencia, Spain, ICASIT intern Jinhee Yi and I examines that situation. We think that MOOCs may be getting ready to make a resurgence in the Academy, after amazing success just about everywhere else – short courses, competencies, plus, of course the success of several emerging offerings of complete online Masters degrees at half the sticker price of typical university courses. That is going to get a lot of attention.
Were also looking into the gig economy, examining the possibility that at least the sharing economy side of it may be a zero-sum game, where legacy providers as well as platform providers earn less over time. Personally, I have enjoyed presenting a lot of the ideas that we come up with that ICASIT at various public forums, especially Arlington’s own Encore Learning, and the thriving Fairfax group, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). These audiences are enthusiastic and I encourage anyone in our area to check them out.
Finally, my own work at the Arlington Jail made it possible to develop a learning tool they can be used in any jail or prison in the United States to help volunteers know more about the breadth of opportunities available. Here’s a link to it. Story about ICASIT intern Lauren Faust, who developed it, is below.
ICASIT Intern Lauren Foust Awarded OLLI Grant of $1,000
At a recent ceremony Schar School senior Lauren Foust was awarded an academic scholarship $1000 from the GMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The venue was the Country Club of Fairfax where OLLI had its annual awards and achievements breakfast. Lauren was honored because of her exceptional work on an ICASIT project aimed at developing a new data resource to be used by jail and prison volunteers. Its purpose was to make fresh, new, interesting material associated with many facets of volunteering at jails and prisons more available to the volunteers. ICASIT director Stephen Ruth, himself a jail volunteer at Arlington County Detention Facility, described the relative insularity of most volunteers’ training and the ability of this resource to broaden their scope. “This database opens up almost a dozen areas associated with volunteering at jails and prisons that I never knew about – and it makes my job of teaching GED a lot easier, too”, he said. The database was officially deployed on April 30, and how is in use at several local jails, and soon will be more broadly deployed. It will soon be added to various websites of the Virginia Adult Literacy Council, and will be featured in other Commonwealth outlets also.
Brief description of Professor Ruth’s new elective course for Spring 2019 Dangers of Technology: AI and Beyond
Hello everyone – here’s a brief description of the fall elective course I will be presenting, the 10th in a continuing sequence of electives aimed at today’s — and tomorrow’s–technology challenges. It’s targeted at all students, regardless of their technology proficiency. Over many years I have found that Schar School students enjoy this kind of a class as an occasional departure from some of their normal studies. What I can guarantee is an abundance of rich, policy-related content, updated frequently, and a group of topics that will be quite challenging, since most ICT problems are very difficult to legislate.
Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions about the course.
Description of Course:
Over the years the instructor has offered a wide variety of elective courses aimed at studying the public policy implications of information and communications technology (ICT). Examples are: Islam and the Internet; the Internet – Technology or Tyranny? ; Facebook and Public Policy; the Technology Tuition Paradox; Blogs, Social Networks and Public Policy; International Issues in E Government, and others. This on line course, equally aimed at geeks and non-geeks, places the student directly in the midst of one of the most significant policy dilemmas imaginable – unpredictable and undisciplined growth of the Internet and related technologies coupled with increasing powerlessness of governments to exert any control. Of particular interest in the course will be the effects of Artificial Intelligence and robots, both of which continue to be in the center of many public policy debates concerning job displacement, dangers of “accidental” wars, etc. But over a dozen other policy threats will also be included from phishing to cryptocurrencies and block chain to online censorship.
The course format allows students to specialize in several areas among dozens associated with the potential dangers of ICT, like the “Dark Web”, Revenge Porn, Ransomware, Bots and Scrapers, Internet Dating, Phising, Internet fraud, Hactivism, the “Twitter effect”, and many others. A partial list can be found here and here.
Notice about this course—an alert for prospective students:
It is a completely on line—so both student and instructor are required to have a continuous, productive and content-specific communications on line from beginning to end. In fact, 35 percent of the course’s grade is based on the quality and frequency of on line participation. So if being face-to-face is what you like best in a college course, this section of PUBP 750 may not be for you. There will be extensive class participation—far more than in a face-to-face class—but all of it will be Internet-based. Caution: this course requires considerably more original writing than the average course.
If you would like to know more about us, contact me at or email@example.com.
E-Learning Instructor Demographics – ICASIT’s First Research Project for 2018
Newest research project ICASIT has initiated a new funded project involving Schar School’s Dr. Stephen Ruth and Dr. Dalton Daigle, aimed at developing several research papers in the literature of distance learning, similar to many authored by ICASIT associates during the past decade. This research project uses databases from George Mason University and Old Dominion University to examine the demographics of the instructors who are teaching distance-learning. While distance-learning methodologies and MOOC’s (massive open online courses) are widely covered in the online learning literature, there is very little attention to the issue of demographics of faculty who actually teach the courses. Almost a third of all courses taught at institutions of postsecondary education in the United States are online and the number is increasing at a faster rate than for traditionally taught courses. Nevertheless, a stubbornly unchanging statistic over more than a decade is that only 30% of full-time college faculty approve of online learning. Very little is known about the demographics of these approving and disapproving instructors.
At GMU, every academic year about 1800 online courses are offered and taught, and the number at Old Dominion University is even higher. With the help of Dr. Stephen Nodine, GMU’s director of online instruction, and with the approval of Vice President Michelle Marks, we have obtained the GMU data for 2016 and 2017 and soon expect the ODU data for 2017. Two ICASIT interns are now developing an extensive spreadsheet summarizing the information. What we expect to find is that relatively very few of the online courses are taught by tenure/tenure track faculty even though online courses receive about the same student evaluations as those taught in the traditional way. There may be surprises, though, since the literature clearly indicates that some institutions, like Arizona State University and Georgia Tech, have been able to involve full-time tenured faculty in active roles in their world-renowned online programs. Results should be available in a few months, and we expect to generate three or four journal articles, since the research topic is surprisingly underreported, in spite of its importance. Two published articles have already been generated in this project. See here and here.