Sunday, February 13, 2011

Media Week (V4-N7): Underused eBook features, UK Tuition, Mills&Boone, Coin Art

Professors are not rushing to adopt the newest eBooks features (Chronicle):

Publishers studying the effectiveness of their latest interactive e-textbooks are finding that the biggest challenge is getting professors to use the new features of the digital texts.

“On the instructor side, that’s where the inertia is,” says Jay Chakrapani, McGraw-Hill’s digital general manager for higher education. “That’s the biggest challenge that we’re all facing.”

Another publisher, John Wiley and Sons, commissioned a study in 2009 of the use of its WileyPLUS online learning tools by the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Assessment and Evaluation of nearly 500 students at 11 two-year and four-year colleges.

Instructors selected for participation all had at least two years of experience with the program, says Petra Steriti, Wiley’s manager for market research, but instructor use varied widely. “Not all instructors make students fully aware of what’s available,” she says.

Wiley plans to offer more tutorials to give professors a better understanding of the capabilities of the system, which can be used to quiz students on reading material and provide instant feedback.

Tuition rises in the UK have resulted in riots but will tuition waivers ease the pain (Inside HigherEd):
The British government ministers hope that the large tuition-fee waiver for poor students proposed by the University of Cambridge will pile pressure on the rest of the higher education sector as institutions approach D-Day for deciding charges for 2012-3.

Under the plans -- revealed first by Times Higher Education -- the university would charge the maximum £9,000 fee (more than $14,400) but offer a £3,000-a-year “waiver” (more than $4,800) for students from households earning less than £25,000 a year (just over $40,000).

But Cambridge has been accused of playing into the government’s hands with the proposals, which also recommend cutting aid packages by more than half – a move that would leave students with less money in their pockets and the Treasury with more.

Other university vice-chancellors may carp that Cambridge has an ­unfair advantage, given that it has a relatively low intake of poor students compared with other institutions. David Willetts, the universities and science minister, is known to be watching developments at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford closely because of the ramifications that decisions at the ancient institutions with their democratic governance structures could have for fees set elsewhere.
A documentary explores writing for Mills & Boone (Telegraph):

Actually, this is why I’ve never been hooked on M&Bs myself – even at that age when teenage girls discover them and develop what is usually a temporary addiction. I’ve always found the characters unrealistic in their stereotypical attractiveness and conduct. However, lots of women – 1.3 million a month – never tire of the tanned hunks and usually sappy females (however “sassy-mouthed’’ they might be). And this is why Roger Sanderson, who has written almost 50 M&B novels under the pen-name Gill Sanderson, says he would never try to introduce a less than perfect Alpha male as the hero. “He’s got to have a good body, and there’s no way he can be fat or badly dressed,” he says in a new documentary, Guilty Pleasures, which explores the enduring phenomenon of M&B. “And I never have – and never will have – a red-headed hero.”

This seems to me a bit rich coming from a balding man in his seventies. But Roger knows his audience’s predilections.

This is made abundantly clear in Guilty Pleasures, which focuses on three women for whom M&Bs are an obsession; Hiroko Honmo, a demure housewife in Tokyo, Shirley Davies, a single mother from Warrington, and Shumita Didi Singh who lives in India. “Women want to read about their ideal man and for most of them, he doesn’t have red hair,” confirms Julie Moggan, the director of the documentary. In fact, their dream man is someone who looks exactly like Stephen Muzzonigro, a male model from New York, who features on countless Mills & Boon covers in passionate embraces and saucy clinches, depending on the imprint.

Simon Heffer in the Independent mourns the loss of coin art:

In the mid-1960s, it was still common to find Victorian pennies and ha’pennies in one’s change. Most were worn almost smooth, but some were not, suggesting that they had, at some point in their century-long existence, been hoarded for years or even decades before being put back into circulation. Silver coins of that age had disappeared for the simple reason that they were entirely silver: as were all threepences, sixpences, shillings, florins and half-crowns minted before 1920.

The coinage mirrored the decline of the country. Impoverished after the Great War, we made our silver coins only half silver. After 1947, and the blow dealt to our prosperity by the Second World War, these coins were entirely cupro-nickel, and the silver threepenny piece was replaced by the dodecagonal brass threepenny bit.

The half-silver coins lingered for decades: my father, in about 1967, had a huge sweet jar full of pre-1947 half-crowns on his desk at home. And it was one such coin that prompted my blinding revelation about the beauty of our coinage. Others may disagree, but I do not believe we ever minted a more ravishing coin than the half-crown of Edward VII, the design for which, with only the slightest modification, was used on the half-crowns of his son until 1927.

Heffernan thinks there's problems in the coffee shop (NYT):

Many indie New York City cafes now heavily restrict, or ban outright, the use of Kindles, Nooks and iPads. Evidently, too many coffee shops in town have had their ambience wrecked when itinerant word processors with laptops turn the tables into office space. Sure, that phenomenon can be depressing — whether you’re a scornful lady who lunches or the nomadic freelancer who fields glares. And full-dress computers are perhaps too much personal furniture for cafes to accommodate. But banning devices the size of books, like Kindles and iPads, is going too far, and it’s anathema to the character and history of cafes.

Unwholesome things have always happened wherever people drink coffee together. They gossip and complain about powerful jerks; they read, write and scheme about their own comebacks. On the sidelines of those conversations — muttering, silently judging, chiming in — have always been loners who loiter with books and newspapers all day, ready to be recruited into conversation. This might come as hard news to would-be restaurateurs looking only to taste that sweet margin of coffee markup, but loiterers and readers must be part of the cafe equation. People who sit at bars are going to make out and brawl; people who sit in cafes are going to read and talk.

From the twitter this week:

Martin Amis claims only a 'serious brain injury' could make him write children's lit Always one for a quote

Bertelsmann: Could Repay All Liabilities By 2014 - Document - Does this mean acquisitions are on the way?

And in sports: Rooney's goal

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