Archive for July, 2009

A fast-paced news environment doesn’t always highlight the significance of events being reported, said Dr. Betty Winfield, a specialist in mass media history from the MU School of Journalism.

In Cronkite’s era, watching the news was an event, and people set aside time for it, Winfield said.

“When he spoke, people weren’t bored. They were engaged,” she said.

The quality of the news is lost when corporations worry more about beating the competition and reporting every detail to the public, Winfield said. Reporters need to focus on what is most important — the news, she said.

“It was easy for people to trust him because he wasn’t blow-dried and overly made-up. No matter how bad the situation was, he always provided reassurance for the country.”

View the full news release at munews.missouri.edu/expert-comment/2009/0721-winfield-cronkite.php.


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Even though the story has not officially run yet, I am posting the additional interview information to provide further background and overall insight.

Peggy Wright, biology professor who is teaching the online interactive science course at Columbia College

With the lab class, there were eight labs included from Labpaq, with five additional labs Wright designed herself.

Wright demonstrated the labs for other faculty members to ensure quality and understanding. This led to her realization that more explanation would be needed in order for her students to successfully complete the sheep heart dissection lab.

In order to get an education degree at Columbia College, one must take five hours of sciences.

Wright researched several companies when selecting which one to order the kit from.

This class will be the first online class Wright has ever taught.

“There’s a lot of work,” she said. “This is not an easy class.”

Wright expects more science labs to follow this one at Columbia College in the future, but she asks the underlying question of, “Can we always make an online class the same?” She said she wonders with this course possibly being one of the few science courses taken and the only lab possibly, will this be enough preparation for future science courses?

“I’m so nervous about launching this class that it is all I’m thinking about,” Wright said.

The on-campus course costs $90 with a $25 lab fee, which makes it slightly cheaper than the online course.

Gary Massey, Columbia College

Three graduate programs have been developed in the past two years in the online program.

As of March, enrollment in online courses had reached 14,000.

Since a lot of people have lost their jobs due to the economy, a lot of older individuals are going back to school, and the online program best serves them, Massey said.

Massey also said the online program is great for individuals involved in the military and “anyone who works weird hours.”

Massey said new courses are being developed constantly, such as the photography courses.

“Columbia College is always redeveloping classes to update technology.”

“People are becoming better every year at delivering online classes.”

“The more people are comfortable with the idea causes the raise in enrollment.”

He also said he thinks the program will continue to grow because the cost of the college is affordable.

Amy Gipson, PR for Stephens College

The R.O.S.S. program was popular because of the availability of the courses for the residential students. They can move back to their hometown but still take Stephens classes.

This program will be offered next summer.

“We were looking at ways to meet students’ needs and increase revenue,” Gipson said in response to why this program was developed.

The courses are either eight- or 10-week courses, and student can take up to 18 hours.

Tara Giblin, Stephens College biology professor

The course she offered online is a biology forensics class.

“When the course is offered in the classroom, there are lots of visual hands-on components,” she said.

Giblin made some videos to include on the Web site for her class, one of which includes the difference between a male and female skull.

The go-to meetings discussed in my article are optional in Giblin’s class. She used one for a DNA PowerPoint to further sort out any confusion.

“It’s nice to be able to know there are people in my class,” she said, laughing. “It makes it more of a well-rounded experience.”

Dana Vessell, from MU Direct

“In general, the technologies have gotten so much easier.”

“It’s gotten so much easier with video conference.”

Susan Bartel, department chairwoman of graduate business programs for Stephens College

With the advancements in technology, there’s more opportunity to build community and give the individual the benefit of being able to do the coursework on their own time but takes self motivation to complete, Bartel said. She finds graduate students involved in MSL are more self-motivated, hence the all-online opportunity, she said.

Bartel said with recent developments, online classroom discussion has risen, mentioning she’d heard of a group of students who use Twitter to communicate.

Chris Belcher, superintendent for Columbia Public Schools

The online educational system will only be offered to juniors and seniors at first in the district who are disciplined, mature, responsible, independent and hold a high GPA, Belcher said.

“Not every child can be successful online,” he said, explaining that it is a common misconception that online classes are easier.

Belcher said he was very enthusiastic about starting this program. “Let’s do something.” he said.

Linda Esser, an MU library science professor

When Esser first used Wimba, she did not want to force her students to use it and left it as an optional experience.

Esser sent me the feedback on Wimba, and it showed nothing but positive feedback.

Esser’s Teen Literature class filled up in three days, namely because of the Wimba component of it.

Zac March, vice president of academic affairs at MU

“The best students are engaged the best when they learn how to manipulate the material to their own benefit.”

“It’s high on the food chain to make these technologies work.”

Curt Fuch, MoVip K-12 level

There is so much interest in online enrollment that they often have to turn down students from the program due to lack of space, Fuch said. But with the passing of the new bill, he hopes this will change.

“We’re really trying to meet student needs,” Fuch said.

Jennifer Green-Williams, student of Tara Giblin at Stephens College

Q: What year are you and what is your major?

A: Senior, health information administration

Q: Have you taken online classes before?

A: Non-stop since 2004.

Q: What have you thought of Tara Giblin’s online course?

A: She works really hard to bring the information to life and make sure we have all the opportunity to understand the material.

Q: What did you think of the technology used in it, particularly the advancements in technology such as the smaller discussion groups and “conference” call sessions?

A: Extremely helpful!

Wayne Keene, professor at Stephens College teaching an online course through R.O.S.S.

Q: Can you briefly explain a quick synopsis of the class itself?

A: The class is the introductory principles class. It acts as a survey of the field of marketing and is a prerequisite to many of the higher-level courses in a variety of our majors.

Q: How was writing this course for online use? What components of the course had to be looked at or changed to better accommodate it as an online course? What components stayed the same? Why the similarities or differences?

A: The course had to be modified from its residential design to fit the different time aspect and the online delivery system. There are a few more writing assignments in a residential class that were changed to be used in the discussion board activities. The residential course generally has four exams and two quizzes. That was changed to three “super” quizzes for the online course. The residential students generally have a “marketing plan” assignment as groups for their semester project. It is more difficult to manage that in a summer online setting as the students are in different places. I therefore changed the assignment to an individual “marketing mix” assignment. I had them study a company or product and research how they approached the four P’s of marketing (place, product, price, promotion). Incidentally, I have really liked how that assignment has worked and may incorporate it into the residential class.

Q: How is this class taught differently online versus in class?

A: Taught differently is an interesting question. People try to equate an online class as just being the residential class delivered electronically. It is not. Online is just online, and you teach it as an online class. The delivery format gives us tools such as the discussion boards, and we tailor the desired learning outcomes to the tools we have available — just as we would in a residential setting.

Q: How long has this class been offered online?

A: This is a first-year pilot program, and we will assess the outcomes as we do our other course offerings.

Q: I was told that this is one of the most popular online classes this summer. Why do you think that is?

A: As I said previously — the 250 class is a prerequisite, required class for many of our interdisciplinary partner majors and minors on campus. For many of the students, this is the best time to fit it in based on their other course requirements and the times those courses are available.  The marketing minor is also one of the most popular on campus, and the summer option lets many students who may not have had the space in fall or spring, especially our students in BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) programs, get the course and start progressing through the minor.

Q: Is this an eight- or 10-week course this summer?

A: Eight weeks.

Q: Will this class be offered next summer?

A: I would imagine, but the final decision has not yet been made.

Q: What changes will be made to the course online?

A: I would foresee a continued drive to greater interactivity and utilizing more of the tools in the delivery system (BlackBoard).

Tawna Kerr, a student of Tara Giblin at Stephens College

Q: What year are you, and what is your major?

A: I am a senior. My major is health information administration.
Q: Have you taken online classes before?
A: The only online classes I have taken have been through Stephens.
Q: What have you thought of Tara Giblin’s online course?
A: I have really enjoyed the class. It is interesting to learn about this topic.
Q: What did you think of the technology used in it, particularly the advancements in technology such as the smaller discussion groups and “conference” call sessions?
A: The conference call sessions have been hugely helpful.  Hearing her explain the topic and being able to ask questions at the same time while I’m watching her presentation is incredible. It is just like being in the classroom.  The smaller discussion groups can be difficult to coordinate. For the most part, we are non-traditional students with work and family requirements. This can make collaborating with a group a very difficult task.
Brenda Fuller, student of Tara Giblin at Stephens College
“I am a senior at Stephens College (will graduate in May of 2010), and my major is health information administration.

“I had not taken classes online prior to my enrollment at Stephens, but I truly love it as it works so well for me as a professional. I work long hours at my current job, and online is perfect for me. I can get up very early and work or work until the late evening hours. Even though I believe you have to be very disciplined to do online classes, I truly love online learning, and I hope to be able to teach classes online someday as well.

“I love Tara Giblin’s class! She is a very interactive instructor (which is a must for online learning). The group discussions allow for classmates to interact and get to know one another, much like face-to-face contact. The conference call sessions allow for true classroom learning, and the benefits are exactly like the classroom. You can ask questions and interact with Tara and the other classmates.

“I have no complaints — online learning is hard — but I believe it is great for the working class or stay-at-home moms who want to increase their knowledge.”

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Columbia College’s science department has grown substantially over the past six years. With this growth, the department must try to keep up, such as, mentioned in my story running Sunday, a new science building.

When interviewing Julie Estabrooks, chairwoman of the science department, she got the chance to give me a tour of the current facilities used to teach science courses.

When the photographer, Estabrooks and myself entered the Robnett-Spence Center, I was not sure what to expect. We walked down the hall past the only bathroom in the building to have lab coordinator Laura Coe unlock the two upstairs classrooms used for the chemistry lab and upper-level biology.

The chemistry lab room wasn’t very big at all and, to be honest, like quoted in my story, not any better than my lab I had for chemistry in high school. The fume hoods, used for ventilation purposes, instead of being above what needed ventilation, were crammed in the back corner of the room, blocked by supplies. At campuses like MU, the fume hoods reside every lab pair directly above the experiment table, Estabrooks said.

The upper-level biology classroom was not much either, with more crammed up supplies, filling a lot of the space.

After the tour of the upstairs, the three of us traveled downstairs to the student research room, which wasn’t much bigger than a walk-in closet, cluttered like the other rooms.

The general science lab room looked like a classroom. The instrument room provided additional lab space for chemistry and other courses, but it could be a safety hazard, due to the fact that an instructor is forced to travel back and forth between two classrooms, Estabrooks said.

After the tour of that building, we walked down the road to the Science Lab Annex, where additional classes are held. Microscopes are stored in kitchen counter like compartments, and Coe mentioned that they have to bring over distilled water from the other building for experiments.

My story has sources discussing why the Columbia College science department needs a new and improved building.

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The pioneers of the early western frontier are often depicted as burly men with beards and axes, chopping down trees and hunting buffalo to survive in the untamed wilderness.  But beside the Davy Crockett frontiersmen stood the no less brave but little recognized frontierswomen. Mary Easton Sibley was one of those women. Founder of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., Sibley was a pioneer of frontier, and women’s education.

To celebrate Sibley’s contributions and accomplishments, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced a program in which Kristie Wolferman will discuss her new book, The Indomitable Mary Easton Sibley: Pioneer of Women’s Education in Missouri. The program will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Missouri State Archives.

“Wolferman’s book is the first to fully draw on Mary and George Sibley’s journals and letters, which shed light on Sibley’s views regarding women’s social and political roles, slavery, temperance, religion and other topics,” according to a news release from the office of the Secretary of State.

Sibley was a key figure in paving the way for women’s education nationwide.

The Missouri State Archives is at 600 W. Main Street in Jefferson City.  The program is provided free of charge.

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The Netflix of textbooks

The New York Times recently reported on a business that has taken off called Chegg.com which allows college students to rent textbooks instead of buying and selling books back to University bookstores.

The site works just like Netflix. You select a book to rent and then choose the amount of time you want to rent the book (a semester is 125 days, a quarter is 85 and a summer rental is 60). When you’re done with the book, you send it back, with free shipping. Chegg.com lists the book’s list price and tells you how much you’re saving as you browse.

The site, which claims to have saved students more than $40 million in a constantly updating ticker, also plants a tree for every book rented, sold or bought.

I’ve been a college student for two years now, so I’ve seen every money saving book scheme there is. Frankly, I’ve never been impressed. I’ve tried them all — Half.com, the tents set up at various places around campus, the bookstore itself — and none of them have saved me more than a few dollars with twice the hassle. So I did a little experiment on Chegg.com and searched the book I had to buy a few semesters ago for Statistics 1300H.

The list price for the book was just under $125 depending on which website you consult. If I’m paying list price for books, I’m not eating.

I paid right around $85 for the book on Half.com. The book came in two halves, tattered, without a cover that stayed on. I’m not allergic to duct tape, but this thing was in awful shape. When I tried to sell it back to the University Bookstore, they looked at me like I was crazy and then said they no longer needed that version of the book. It went into the dumpster behind my dorm. I got nothing back for it other than the satisfaction of ripping it up and tossing Statistics out of my life.

Chegg.com rents the book for $48.59 and says the book will be shipped in perfect condition.

It might not be a perfect fit for everyone. With 25% late fees, I can imagine myself looking for my lost keys and finding Friedman’s Statistics collecting dust (and late fees) under the couch. However, in the world of increasing education costs, I just might try it next semester.

More info:



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Visiting the ARC

For those unaware, the ARC at 2800 Maguire Blvd. is a completely different building from the ARC at 1701 Ash St. Although they share the same acronym, they offer completely different services. The ARC on Ash Street is Columbia’s Activity and Recreation Center, while Maguire Boulevard contains the University of Missouri’s Assessment Resource Center.

Once I made the connection that an associate research professor probably wouldn’t have her office at a public gym, I was able to meet Christi Bergin for an interview. When I told her about my initial confusion, she informed me that she usually refers to the location as the A-R-C and not ARC. She then joked that if her office were at the ARC, we could lift weights while I interviewed her.

After interviewing Bergin for my story on positive teacher-student relationships, she showed me around the Assessment Research Center. From the outside, the building is large and somewhat warehouse-like. On the inside, it houses researchers and staff who do research or provide assessment tools for clients.

The center provides research for anyone who may want to contract with them, Bergin said. Testing services are offered at the kindergarten through college level. The center has been around for more than 70 years; it has a full-time staff of 30 and 80-100 staff who score open-ended assessments, such as essay tests, their Web site states. Outside contractors also assist with special projects, it said.

One particular project the center does is grade the evaluations that MU students fill out at the end of each semester. The machines at the ARC can grade up to 30,000 tests each hour, Bergin said.

My interview with Bergin not only allowed me to learn about her research, but an educational resource run by the university I attend.

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Tickets for the University Concert Series are now available online at http://www.concertseries.org.

Tickets can be purchased at 409 Jesse Hall or by calling 882-3781. Payroll deduction or student charge also applies.

All performances, unless otherwise noted, are in Jesse Auditorium.

• Huey Lewis and the News: 7 p.m. Sept. 14
• The Wedding Singer: 7 p.m. Oct. 28
• Camelot: 7 p.m. Nov. 1
• Clint Black: 7 p.m. Nov. 4
• Avenue Q: 7 p.m. Dec. 1
• Wynonna: 7 p.m. Dec. 9
• Cirque Dreams: 7 p.m. Dec. 13
• The Wizard of Oz: 7 p.m. Jan. 26
• Peking Acrobats: 7 p.m. Feb. 9
• Ladysmith Black Mambazo: 7 p.m. Feb. 17

• Cabaret: 7 p.m. April 26

• Moscow Festival Ballet’s Giselle: 2 p.m. May 2

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