Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

University of Washington video highlights apps for students

by Matt Rosenberg October 1st, 2012

Recently at Public Data Ferret we reported on a number of digital initiatives to enhance the student experience at the University of Washington.

Today we came across a newly-posted video by UW on some of those apps. It gives quick profiles of tools to find study space according to desired criteria; know when buses will really arrive; find courses quickly; be notified when openings in popular courses occur; and navigate Dawg Daze. The video also suggests some key Twitter news feeds for UW students.


Here’s an auxiliary link to the video in case the embed above is acting balky.

Public Data Ferret’s University of Washington archive


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Video: UW info school aids SF Zen Center in digital archiving

by Matt Rosenberg September 27th, 2012

Information and library science experts from the University of Washington feature in a new video segment for UWTV’s UW/360 magazine show. It’s about their work helping the San Francisco Zen Center archive 50 years worth of historical materials. UW Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science Joe Tennis says that to deal with the daily pressures of life he found himself drawn to Buddhism and then to the Zen Center, where when he mentioned his vocation, a staff member’s eyes lit up. They needed help, not knowing how best to preserve and organize decades worth of important historical materials including documents, photos, art and textiles, and cassettes. The video segment describes how Tennis and six UW students in the Master of Library and Information Science program at UW’s Information School have volunteered over the three past summers to help the 50-year-old center organize its materials for analog and digital storage. The UW team lived on site at the center and awoke each morning at 5:00 a.m. for 40 minutes of meditation. Tennis says the meditation underscored the relevance to their archiving work of the Buddhist saying, “Use both hands,” or doing one thing at a time, with mindfulness and intention.

In an email interview, Tennis said it’s not precisely clear when the first digitally archived materials will appear at the Center’s related gateway. “We are discussing ways that more of the currently digitized material can go live. We want to have quality meta-deta associated with it, so it is part of a process.” Meta-data, or data descriptors including key words incorporated by Web masters into items published online, help both information providers and information seekers find what they are looking for.

A valuable lesson for the UW students who participated in the project, says Tennis in the video, was that library and information science studies need not result in work only in traditional public library or university settings, because non-profits and a wide range of other organizations have growing information management needs.

RELATED: Public Data Ferret’s Education+Technology archive; and our Video archive.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Reading gains, but achievement gaps for Highline Schools

by Matt Rosenberg September 14th, 2012

Sixth-graders in the Highline School District in southwest King County fully closed the reading proficiency test score gap last year, catching up with the statewide performance average after years of lagging behind, according to the 2012 State Test Results and Teaching and Learning Review presented to the board earlier this week. The diverse urban district lies just south and southwest of Seattle, serving about 18,000 K-12 students in Boulevard Park, White Center, SeaTac, Burien, Normandy Park, and Des Moines.

UW aims to transform learning via cloud, Web and mobile

by Matt Rosenberg September 12th, 2012

The University of Washington is moving ahead with an ambitious campus technology initiative that aims to transform learning. Key components include electronic textbooks allowing collaborative exchanges among students, a cloud-based cache of teacher lectures with interactive features, a series of new mobile apps aimed at UW students, and the university’s entry into the “massive open online courses” arena led by the Coursera consortium of Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan and other schools. A memo prepared for the UW Board of Regents at its regular meeting this Thursday by Vice-President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Kelli Trosvig, provides an overview.

To meet the needs of increasingly digitally-oriented students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders, the U has been conducting a series of surveys in the last several years. This is resulting, says Trosvig’s memo to The Regents, in adoption of “roughly 12 technologies – bought, built or borrowed – (that) are now on-premises and in the cloud, some in pilot project mode and others in full production.”

Some highlights of the “Two Years to Two Decades, Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Initiative” follow.

  • Pilot projects began last spring and are continuing with eText electronic textbooks that have collaborative features allowing students to help each other understand the material.
  • The cloud-based Tegrity tool allows professors to post their presentations for easy recording by students on their computing devices without special software or hardware. Students can annotate and bookmark the content and teachers can free up classroom time for other purposes. Tegrity is being rolled out on all three campuses – Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell.
  • The university’s IT division is developing several mobile apps that students wanted, and which are said to be coming this fall. MyUWMobile will give students a convenient mobile hub to access class schedules and class Web sites. A student-funded app will highlight best campus study spots.
  • Coursera@UW will align the university with a leading-edge distance learning company and platform to offer no-cost UW courses online to anyone anywhere with Web access, for free, but this “may be extended by self-sustaining, credit-bearing versions taught by UW faculty” through the school’s continuing education program. Three to four courses are expected to be offered this fall via Coursera@UW.

Some of the additional components of the “Two Years to Two Decades” initiative will seek to make administrative aspects of campus life simpler for students and teachers, or are already doing so. The GradePage electronic grading system was adopted in 2009 and by last fall had made paper grading forms unnecessary. Now 94 percent of final grades are turned in on time, versus 75 percent in Winter, 2009. As a result, administrative work to facilitate scholarships, honors and financial aid has been made more efficient, according to Trosvig’s memo.

New technology is also coming to help students better manage their financial aid. This will allow “better messaging and self-service,” as well as “clearer status and actions for online award acceptance, rejection or reduction” of aid, and improvements in tracking of required documents and a student’s total debt accumulation.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

State audit dings Sunnyside schools for poor alt ed scrutiny

by John Stang September 11th, 2012

The Sunnyside school district in Yakima County was wrongly paid $213,110 because it misreported the number of students in a home-based computer learning program, a recent state audit said.

The Washington State Auditor’s Office reported that the district counted 19 too many full-time equivalent students – translating to 95 “student months” – in its Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) program from November 2010 to March 2011. The Sunnyside district reported 552 ALE student months in the 2010-11 school year, or the equivalent of slightly more than 69 year-long students in the program. The program provides online education for students not best served in traditional settings.

Other deficiencies included inadequate ALE class rosters; uncertified staff approving one student’s learning plan; insufficient documentation showing required weekly contacts between students and program staff; six students making unsatisfactory progress; some classes not having syllabuses; and no signed parental agreements for seven students.

The Sunnyside district hired a private company, The American Academy (TAA), to run the program and did not adequately monitor the contract, the audit report said.

The report included a school district reply that said: “We agree that TAA did not comply with all of the paperwork set forth by the state legislators and (Office of Superintendent Public instruction) for ALE reporting. The district is working with TAA to make sure these requirements are met for future reporting. The district reported to OSPI those students that completed classes in the TAA program for reimbursement and therefore feel that we shouldn’t be monetarily impacted for paper work issues that can be corrected.”

The state paid the Sunnyside district $294,615 for ALE students in 2010-11, of which the auditor’s office said irregularities caused $213,110 not to be confirmable for the state’s records.The district’s 2010-11 budget was $63.4 million.

Public Data Ferret’s Education and Management archive

The East Valley school district, also in Yakima County, was dinged for similar problems in a July state auditor’s report – improperly collecting $66,717 in state money for an Alternative Learning Experience program that had inadequate monitoring and financial controls.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Monroe Schools honcho forced to quit after sex pics scandal

by Matt Rosenberg September 4th, 2012

The director of the Monroe, Wash. School District’s high school-level alternative education program called Leaders In Learning, who was earning $109,260 in total salary and benefits, was forced to resign because he used his school computer to view sexually explicit images, including some of his wife. Over a period of six years, the inappropriate content got steamier, as complaints and warnings from fellow employees made uncomfortable, were ignored.

Though the resignation occurred in June 2011, this case was made public only last week through a final order of suspension of the state education certificate of Kenneth Brown, quietly posted online by the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) at a page where hundreds of such disciplinary documents dating as far back as 1992 are linked – but only alphabetically by employee’s last name, not by date or school district.

Audit: oversight lax for alt. ed students in Yakima

by John Stang August 1st, 2012

A state audit said Yakima County’s East Valley school district improperly collected $66,717 in state money for an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) program serving home-based students via computers, by failing to exercise required oversight ensuring the students were adequately participating. In violation of funding conditions, the district didn’t document that many students in ALE were actually making adequate progress, or putting in required hours of work. In some cases, ALE students failed to make contact with district staff for at least 20 days, also in violation of state funding rules. Some of those students had left the program but were still being counted as participants. Overall, full due diligence monitoring wasn’t performed for half the students in the district’s ALE program in 2010, nor for 70 percent in 2011, according to the audit.

After Kennewick teacher’s series of sexual emails: a salary hike, retirement, then a state reprimand

by Matt Rosenberg July 31st, 2012

A teacher at Kamiakin High School in the Kennewick, Wash. school district is finally getting a penalty from the state for using his school email account to receive, view and forward pictures of nude and partially nude women; and for using it to receive and view images of sexually explicit conduct. Among the classes he taught was “principles of technology.” One individual to whom he forwarded sexual content was the district’s Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Ken Smith. But the 45-day teaching certificate suspension conditionally accepted last week by Emil J. “Jerry” Carlson in an agreed order with the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Pubic Instruction comes after Carlson reaped an $11,000 annual increase in pay and benefits while the district knew of his actions; and finally, after his recent retirement noted by the Tri-City Herald. The state disciplinary action against him also comes a full 32 months after the state was informed of the problems by the Kennewick district. No students were involved.