From ICASIT director, Professor Steve Ruth
Hello everyone – welcome to ICASIT in 2021—two new research projects: uneven e-learning outcomes and carceral studies
Last year we were active on several fronts, all very closely related to the overall mission that ICASIT has pursued since 1990 – examining the practical payoff of various Information Technology interventions. As usual there have been several interns that help with our work – usually two or three every year. This year I’m pleased to welcome Cathee Lee, an attorney, and Sosorburam Tumenjavkhlan, a medical doctor. Both are in the Schar School MPP program and both have already published refereed articles in journals of their profession. In 2021 ICASIT is moving into two new areas of research directly related to the aftereffects of the pandemic in the context of learning technology in K-12 as well as postsecondary environments. Specifically, Cathee is examining a range of topics related to jails and prisons, where e-learning and other electronic education interventions are very challenging to deploy. In a few months we hope to be able to have a comprehensive list of the most successful e-learning approaches in jails and prisons and also a useful, shareable database for researchers. We’ve already learned that there are some exciting success stories out there. Prof. Ruth recently interviewed Dr. Amy Lopez, who was set up a very successful program at the DC Jail where there are 1800 prisoners. Her insights and findings will be part of this database now under development, along with those of over a dozen others around the country.
Sosor is working on a related type of research. She’s examining the impact of the pandemic on a group of college students that is always on the fringe of e-learning implementations– those with disadvantages based on health, wealth, family background, education, Socioeconomic Economic Status (SES) etc. They enter the world of e-learning significantly distanced from the more sophisticated, Internet -savvy, better financed students. The first deliverable on this project is a survey paper summarizing current situation which will be presented at the INTED conference in March 2021.
Here are two conference papers we have presented (virtually) in 2021
Ruth, S. and Sosorburam, T. (2021). “Online Learning Solutions in Jails and Prisons—Could a GED e-Learning Paradigm Succeed? Edulearn Conference, Barcelona,, August 2021
Ruth, S. and Sosorburam, T. (2021). “The Digital Chasm for Disadvantaged Students in Postsecondary Education—Bandwidth Is Only Part of the Problem” Proceedings of the INTED Conference, Valencia, March 2021
Previous ICASIT Projects and Stories– 2020
First, an introduction—Uhunoma Edamwen, a Schar School graduate student, was recently awarded an ICASIT internship. He’s a graduate of the University of Virginia and has research interests in communications and the media. This semester he is helping to develop a number of databases for use by Schar School graduate students who are studying technology policy. The first database is already complete and includes close to a dozen links for each of about 60 different information technology challenges. It’s already being used in my artificial intelligence policy class, POGO 750. Here’s a story about another of Uhunoma’s successful projects
Update: Uhunoma Edamwen awarded $1,500 OLLI scholarship
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at GMU recently announced that Uhunoma Edamwan had been awarded one of their achievement scholarships to ICASIT based on his performance during the Spring Term 2020. The scholarship will apply to tuition in the fall 2020 term.
Previous ICASIT Projects and Stories– 2019
“Businesses are rapidly adopting MOOCs –universities aren’t-what can be done?,” In 2019 Jinhee Yi and I presented a paper at the 2019 INTED conference in Valencia, Spain, which examined a peculiar apparent countertrend taking place in distance learning in postsecondary education. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have for a long time been touted as an eventual supplement or even replacement for face-to-face learning.. What we found was that while distance learning is dramatically increasing on college campuses – over a third of the 19 million college students in the United States are taking at least one online course – MOOCs are barely making a dent in those numbers. Most of the distance learning is in a more traditional format, which we have called Plain Old Online Courses (POOC’s), after the telecommunications world’s long-time acronym for “normal” telephone lines, Plain Old Telephone Systems” (POTS). POOCs are typically designed by a professor or a team and utilize traditional learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle. In the article we also took note of the fact that many large companies have their own proprietary MOOCs, which are referred to generically as Corporate Open Online Courses (COOCs) and that these systems are flourishing. Incidentally, George Mason University had one of the largest growth rates POOCs from 2017 to 2018, 25%, ranking in the top five of growth rates nationwide.
“The strategic paradox of online learning: administrators and students approve–faculty not so sure” Another ICASIT intern, Kevin Zhikuan Lin, and I have recently finished an article that will come out in March 2020. Kevin did some extensive review of almost 20 years of studies on the attitudes of faculty, especially full time and tenured faculty, toward online learning. It’s surprising but since 2003 the percentage of full-time faculty that are willing to equate online learning with face-to-face has generally hovered around 30%, in spite of the dramatic increases in students actually taking online courses over that time. During that same interval the attitudes of administrators toward online learning have been consistently and unhesitatingly positive, in a range of 70% approval. In our article we examine the implications of this somewhat unusual dichotomy – managers enthusiastically approving online learning but professors generally more hesitant, to say the least.
Jinhee Yi was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from GMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, (OLLI). The picture below is from the OLLI award ceremony at Fairfax Country Club on April 5th 2019.
Previous ICASIT Projects and Stories– 2018
At ICASIT we’re also going to be 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 at ICASIT for 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 local 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 in 2018 , is below.
ICASIT Intern Lauren Foust Awarded OLLI Grant of $1,000
ICASIT intern and Schar School senior Lauren Faust with Schar Professor Dr Ann Ludwick at The Country Club of Fairfax after the award 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, 2018, 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.
Professor Ruth’s Two Asynchronous Graduate Courses Spring 2021
POGO 750 DL1 Dangers of Technology: AI and Beyond (Elective Course Taught Completely On-line) For a 12 minute video description of this on line course by the instructor click here
PUBP 503 DL1 Culture , Organizations and Technology—Core Course Taught Completely On-line) For a 10 minute video description of this on line course by the instructor click here
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