Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Roots of Competency-Based Education and Prior Learning Assessment

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Alan Kay

The best source that I've come across on this subject and the one that Chancellor Brahm referred to in his State of the University message today was posted by CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) in this online report – .

It is noteworthy that both Brandman University with the great work that Laurie Dodge has done and Marylhurst University where I was Academic Dean a few years back were highlighted as best practices institutions.

Two other leaders in competency-based degree completion are Western Governor's University and Excelsior College [formerly Regents College in Albany, NY] .

Both Western Governors' and Excelsior's approaches, however, evolved from pre-new media paradigms.

A qualitatively effective model does not exist yet, but I believe Brandman is in an ideal position to develop one to complement its other innovative, student learning outcomes-based programming.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New New Media's Prospects

New New Media's Prospects: The Once and Future Tablets

Everything old is new again.”

from All That Jazz

First Writing [Static] Medium
Cuneiform Clay Tablet circa 2500 BCE from Sumeria

Current Writing [Dynamic] Medium
Kindle Fire HD Tablet circa 2012 ACE from the globe

Two New New Media Visionaries that you should follow are Michael Saylor and Paul Levinson.

1. Michael Saylor's book in Kindle e-book format is The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything

*Here is a YouTube video in which Michael Saylor explains his educational vision behind the Saylor Foundation's open-access university courses . The free courses themselves can be accessed here

Michael Saylor – The Saylor Foundation

*Here is a YouTube video in which Paul Levinson explains his position: .

Paul Levinson -- New New Media

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coursera Hits 200!

(as of this date, Wednesday, November 7, 2012)

Coursera Hits 200 Courses

from 38 Universities - World-Wide!

For Coursera's Nov. 7th expanded list of open-access, university-grade courses click below:

"Relevant to the internet if you're not timely, you're not relevant.”

ascribed to the great Yogi, Berra

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Affordable, Relevant and Timely Texts?

Are you searching for an affordable, relevant and timely text for your college course? Why not assemble or write it yourself via open-access sources?

I have recently developed a number of multi-disciplinary courses and found that the traditional text-book choices were either non-existent or ridiculously convoluted.

Dr. Melanie Borrego, Associate Dean in Brandman's School of Arts and Sciences, offered a couple of web-based suggestions: Flat World Knowledge and Open Textbook.

Flat World Knowledge

Latest news:  "Flat World Knowledge texts are no longer free."  See this follow-up from the Chronicle of Higher Education: .

What follows is her brief commentary comparing the two. “Flat World Knowledge is still developing. It will need more content and support to make it really useful in all subjects. It's, however, a good fundamental idea because we can take chapters from one source, chapters from another, write some of our own material and reassemble it and post for student access.

There's also Open Textbook which I like even better. All of these books are peer-reviewed by experts in the field before being posted for use. They work on the same model as Flat World Knowledge, but have so far focused on texts for lower-division courses. They also have a hard-copy 'print by order' Lulu feature at a fairly reasonable cost.”

Let's not forget Professor Richard Baraniuk's and Rice University's leadership in the open-access textbook movement.

Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. 
Connexions is a free and open space where teachers can learn and learners can teach.”

Richard Baraniuk

Richard Baraniuk explains the vision behind Connexions, his open-source, online education system which cuts out the textbook, allowing teachers to share and modify units of course materials freely in the following TED presentation.

Below is a link to Connexions at Rice University where I have posted a number of units from my own HUMU 345 course: [NOTE: If you are interested in reviewing them, just do a search for my name “John Freed.”]

And last but certainly not least is an invaluable compendium of university-level, open-access resources compiled by the Hilton C. Buley Library at Southern Connecticut State University.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Old College is Dead. Long Live the New College!

Extra!  Extra!  Hot off the Presses!

Classroom for Let

Brandman University's media watching professor Leigh-Ann Wilson sent me this morning the link to a very illustrative article from Time Magazine.

In it Amanda Ripley extensively describes what MOOC's are like right now and ventures to project what impact they may have long range on the construction of higher education throughout the globe.

As we at Brandman have known for some time, the internet is no longer a “disruptive” force in education; it may well be its “driving” force.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Interdisciplinary Research Study Set-Up

Your Brain on Jane Austen
An Exemplar of an Interdisciplinary Research Study

To Attend to or Distract from

Following Text Taken from an NPR broadcast on Oct. 9, 2012:

Could modern cognitive theories explain character development in one of Jane Austen's most famous heroines — Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett? Dr. Natalie Phillips of Michigan State University thinks Bennett's distractability was key to Austen's characterization of her lively mind — and that Austen herself was drawing on the contemporary theories of cognition in her time.
If neuroscience could inform literature, Phillips asked, could literature inform neuroscience?
She decided to conduct a research study, looking at how reading affects the brain. She had volunteers lie still in a brain scanner and read Austen. Phillips sometimes instructed her volunteers to browse, as they might do at a bookstore. Other times, she asked them to delve deep, as a scholar might read a text while conducting a literary analysis.
Phillips said the experiment produced some surreal moments: "If you asked me on a top 10 list of things that I did not expect to find myself doing as an 18th-centuryist when I first started this study on the history of distraction, I would say laying on my back in an MRI scanner trying to figure out how to position paragraphs by Jane Austen so that you wouldn't have to turn your head while reading with a mirror."
Phillips and her collaborators scanned the brains of the volunteers using a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine. The scanner paints a rough picture of brain activity. A computer program simultaneously tracked readers' eye movements across the page, and researchers kept tabs on the volunteers' breathing and heart rate. At the end of the experiment, Phillips asked each volunteer to write a short essay based on the passages he or she read.
Neuroscientists warned Phillips she wouldn't see many brain differences between the casual reading and intense reading.
"Everyone told me to expect these really, really minute and subtle effects," she said, "because everyone was going to be doing the same thing, right? Reading Jane Austen. And they were just going to be doing it in two different ways."
Phillips said she mainly expected to see differences in parts of the brain that regulate attention because that was the main difference between casual and focused reading.
But in a neuroscientific plot twist, Phillips said preliminary results showed otherwise: "What's been taking us by surprise in our early data analysis is how much the whole brain — global activations across a number of different regions — seems to be transforming and shifting between the pleasure and the close reading."
Phillips found that close reading activated unexpected areas: parts of the brain that are involved in movement and touch. It was as though readers were physically placing themselves within the story as they analyzed it.
Phillips' research fits into an interdisciplinary new field sometimes dubbed "literary neuroscience." Other researchers are examining poetry and rhythm in the brain, how metaphors excite sensory regions of the brain, and the neurological shifts between reading a complex text like Marcel Proust compared with reading a newspaper — all in hopes of giving a more complete picture of human cognition.”

Professor Natalie Phillips, MSU

Here are links to two other articles on Dr. Phillips' study:

The first is from entitled “Your Brain Loves Jane Austen” – – and the second is from Stanford where she conducted the MRI testing for her research study – .

Incorporating Materials into my Undergraduate Course:

I intend to use Dr. Phillips' research set-up and another on cats described in a recent Atlantic article entitled How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy” – – as case studies of the construction and use of the scientific method in my re-development of Brandman's liberal arts core foundations course, LBSU 300.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Introduction to Autism and Related Disorders from Yale's Child Study Center

An Open-Access Course from Yale Not to be Missed

This course [It is in the Yale course catalog as PSYC 350] complete with all of the video lectures and even the accompanying PowerPoint slides is a treasure trove resource for the latest scholarship and methodologies in the current treatment (2012) of autism and related disorders. The course is led by Professor Fred Volkmar, the director of Yale's Child Study Center.

I personally have gone through this course and firmly believe that every prospective teacher, child-care worker and parent should acquire this knowledge. I know of no more efficient way of acquiring it.

It is one click away: .

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Media Opportunities for Undergraduate Students in Humanities' Research Activities

Today's entry is a highlight referral to my good friend's, Ken O'Donnell's, recent post about undergraduate research opportunities on his cutting-edge higher educational blog -- “Diffusions of Light.” .

Ken O'Donnell

My readers may have had the great, good fortune of seeing one or more of Ken's masterful presentations at a recent WASC Conference or on a Cal State campus.

This week Ken featured an exemplary undergraduate research project at the University of Richmond that can be tapped into right now. Its title is "Visualizing Emancipation" :

Ken also provided a link to a range of case studies from the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education: that we can ponder and be illuminated by.

John Freed, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Learning Environments Resource Course from Stanford

Upcoming Open-Access Resource

(related to Brandman's proposed new course – 
 “Education and Society in the Twenty-first Century”)

Designing New Learning Environments (Oct 15, 2012 – Dec. 20, 2012) from Stanford University's Venture Lab

taught by Paul Kim, Assistant Dean of the School of Education

The Course
What constitutes learning in the 21st century? Should reading, watching, memorizing facts, and then taking exams be the only way to learn? Or could technology (used effectively) make learning more interactive, collaborative, and constructive? Could learning be more engaging and fun?

We construct, access, visualize, and share information and knowledge in very different ways than we did decades ago. The amount and types of information created, shared, and critiqued every day is growing exponentially, and many skills required in today’s working environment are not taught in formal school systems. In this more complex and highly-connected world, we need new training and competency development—we need to design a new learning environment.

The ultimate goal of this project-based course is to promote systematic design thinking that will cause a paradigm shift in the learning environments of today and tomorrow. Participants are not required to have computer programming skills, but must have 1) a commitment to working in a virtual team and 2) the motivation to help people learn better. All of us have been involved in the learning process at some point in our lives; in this course we invite educators, school leaders, researchers, students, parents, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, illustrators, interface designers, and all those who are interested in working together, to create a new learning environment.

After the completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Identify advantages, disadvantages, limitations, and potentials of at least 10 interactive learning models and solutions.
  • Describe how online communication, collaboration, and visualization technology play a role in the behavioral, cognitive, constructivist, and social dimensions of learning.
  • Describe the major components and processes involved in development of interactive education systems.
  • Communicate rationales of learning technology design approaches through team-oriented collaborations.
  • Evaluate the value of ideas, principles, and techniques used in educational media or systems.
As a Final Team Project, students will design a new learning model catering to 21st century environments and learners. Each self-formed team will design and develop an application or system that combines team interaction activities and learning support features in ways that are effective and appropriate for today's computing and communication devices. Students must consider potential idiosyncrasies with various learning devices (e.g., tablet, phone, PC), infrastructure requirements (e.g., cellular network, wi-fi, Bluetooth), and any special hypothetical circumstances if relevant. In addition, each team must create and defend a business model (non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid) for the launch and scale up their solution.
Additional consideration will be given to teams that come up with system feature ideas presenting meaningful learning interaction and performance analytics.

Video Introduction to Prof. Kim's course:

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Monday, September 17, 2012

The World According to MOOC's

The World According to MOOC's

MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Course.”

The best known supplier of MOOC courses today is Coursera: . The courses are mostly synchronous meaning they start and stop at specific dates but the information is archived for those who have enrolled in them after the courses close. They seem to be very up-to-date and originate from major universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and Stanford. More of them are being rolled out daily. As of today – September 17, 2012 – there are 124 choices.
Here's more information about the emerging World of MOOC's from Coursera's own website introduction:

About Coursera [Started at Stanford]

We are a social entrepreneurship company [founded by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University] that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.

Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.

Our Courses

Classes offered on Coursera are designed to help you master the material. When you take one of our classes, you will watch lectures taught by world-class professors, learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. When you join one of our classes, you'll also join a global community of thousands of students learning alongside you. We know that your life is busy, and that you have many commitments on your time. Thus, our courses are designed based on sound pedagogical foundations, to help you master new concepts quickly and effectively. Key ideas include mastery learning, to make sure that you have multiple attempts to demonstrate your new knowledge; using interactivity, to ensure student engagement and to assist long-term retention; and providing frequent feedback, so that you can monitor your own progress, and know when you've really mastered the material.

We offer courses in a wide range of topics spanning the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and many others. Whether you're looking to improve your resume, advance your career, or just learn more and expand your knowledge, we hope there will be multiple courses that you find interesting.

More Background on MOOC's:
Here's the link to a very informative recent commentary on MOOC's from “The Chronicle of Higher Education”

More to come:

The huge game-changer question for us all is, “Do MOOC's provide more opportunities than challenges to the evolution of qualitative, global higher education?”

Stay tuned there will be much more on this subject in later installments.

John Freed, Ph.D.
Brandman University

POST NOTE: Leigh Ann Wilson added this link about the MOOC demographics: .

NPR Update on Coursera from Sept. 30, 2012:

Very interesting follow-up on the first round of Coursera courses.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where are we going? Where have we been?

Statement of the purpose of Found Gold:

Every serious venture employs a guide -- a pathfinder, a hawkeye as James Fenimore Cooper would call that individual. From my lengthy experience, this is especially needed for venturing in that great wilderness that we call the world wide web.  Too often "www"  turns into txtspeak for "What? Where? Why?".

Becoming one of these pathfinders is my objective in creating this blog.

What I want to provide here is a shared prospectors' map of those golden nuggets of university-quality, free for the finding, resources that we have discovered that can be used to enrich our instruction or more simply used to continue our own life-long learning.

I encourage all of my colleagues (NOTE: If you are reading this, you are by definition a colleague.) to send links to and brief explanations of your most valued resources to my gmail address --

If I share your enthusiasm, I will repost them to this blog with full attribution of course.

With those final words the raft is now officially launched.

John Freed, Ph.D 
Associate Professor of Humanities/Liberal Studies
Brandman University
a member of the Chapman University System