Archive for Monday, January 23, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Journalism prof details how iPads worked in his class; look for bioscience audit today, other KU matters coming later; law, business students offering free tax help

January 23, 2012


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• As a bit of an addition to the stuff I’ve been doing recently on e-textbooks, I also chatted some with Estella McCollum, the director of the KU Bookstores.

She told me on the Lawrence campus, e-textbooks are in use in just a small handful of courses. Getting your hands on the technology to lug the books around (like an Apple iPad) can be a difficult price entry point for some.

But, she told me a few KU schools are looking at incorporating iPads into the classroom in a variety of different ways. I’m aware of a few such initiatives myself, but many are still in the very early planning stages.

And McCollum also turned Heard on the Hill tipster on me and alerted me to this ProfHacker blog post from the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Doug Ward, an associate professor of journalism, detailing his experience with iPads in class.

In Ward’s case, his dean approved the purchase of 10 iPads for the class that students got to use, provided they return them at the end of the semester. He’s got a number of great observations on the positives and negatives of this approach, and I’d really recommend you go check them out.

• I’ll be in Olathe today watching over a meeting of the Kansas Bioscience Authority’s Board of Directors. We’re scheduled to get a look at the audit ordered for the authority today, so it should be interesting wading through that stuff. Look for an update later this afternoon.

It’s been interesting covering the authority for the past few months, as I’ve had a front-row seat to all the requests KU has made to the authority.

One issue that may come up this week is a retention package for a KU engineering professor.

We may get some more information on that if the professor moves forward with the retention package — including the professor’s name. Look for an update on that and a whole host of other issues today and tomorrow.

• Here’s a good program that’s worth a reminder that it exists.

Law and business students from KU are offering free tax services for people who qualify from Feb. 13 to April 16.

To qualify, you have to make less than $49,000 per year while not itemizing any deductions.

Students who helped last year prepared about 400 returns.

Here’s where they’ll be. It’s a first-come, first-served basis.

• Mondays: 6 to 8:45 p.m., Green Hall, computer lab 306D, third floor library, 1535 W. 15th St.

• Tuesdays: 1 to 3:30 p.m., Penn House, 1035 Penn.

• Wednesdays: 3 to 5:30 p.m., Green Hall, computer lab 306D, third floor library, 1535 W. 15th St.

• Thursdays: 3 to 4:45 p.m., Ballard Center, 708 Elm St.; and 5 to 6:30 p.m., Lawrence Housing Authority, 1600 Haskell Ave. #187.

• Saturdays, 10 to 11:45 a.m., Green Hall, computer lab 306D, third floor library, 1535 W. 15th St.

No sessions are scheduled for Feb. 25 or March 17-24.

• I can’t prepare your taxes for you, but I can take your tips for Heard on the Hill at


Evan Ridenour 6 years, 5 months ago

In my experience, any course that requires actual studying by a student requires a real textbook. Actions like referencing other pages, margin notes, highlighting, etc... none of it is near as efficient in electronic documents as it is in a real book. Maybe this will change, but I doubt it, I haven't seen anything that is remotely as convenient and I can't even think of a way it would be possible.

Electronic books to me is just a scam to get a higher percentage of profit from students who are already getting taken advantage of.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

I completely agree with Eride. You have to have the real text before you to mark on, highlyight, come up with ideas, refer back to. I don't think the IPOD is a choice at all for REALLY studying with a textbook.

Online courses also have a problem - people need other people to interact with. Most people can't just sit and watch a screen. It becomes very old after a while. I do think, as supplementary material, or where there is no other choice, online videos is a good supplemental approach. But to that, you've got to have people to talk with, share your ideas with.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

I've now read through the article by Doug Hacker. It has a very noticeable bias towards electronics, which I didn't like at all - perhaps because he's typical (?) of many professors at KU and elsewhere. His "cutting edge" remark is ridiculous, and another commenter remarked on that as well. Whether or not it is "cutting edge" depends on many things - not just the current technology which will probably be surpassed shortly. (And by the way I use the computer to write my articles and comments - but the real work is in writing, not the technology behind it.)

I hate to see students or schools spend hard-earned money on these things, unless they have real value demonstrated over a period of time.

I work in Silicon Valley, and there is so much hype from Silicon Valley on everything new that comes out here that it is ridiculous. Half to two thirds of the products and product ideas have a very short life. The people who spend money on them find their money doesn't last very well in the long term.

It comes through very clearly in the article and comments, plus other articles he refers to, that the I-Pad has not that much going for it for real study and writing. Take a look for yourself at the article. See if you can imagine the cost of the I-PAD and then, for most people, what it can really do - which is look at pictures and play games.

There's much more to real education, both studying and writing, than Doug Hacker seems to realize. It doesn't surprise me. I've seen the quality of the Daily Kansan, and it is often very poorly produced. But there are exceptions, like Marshall Schmidt's articles, for example.

You'd often be better off to start a blog, learn to take pictures, and find your voice in that way. Employers value true experience today. And it costs far less!

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