Yale classes are already streamed around the world in high definition through the University’s revolutionary Open Yale Courses initiative. This program allows students to watch lectures and access certain class resources from anywhere at any time, but not for course credit. The idea that Yale credit cannot be earned through an online only program began to change in 2010, however, when Yale Summer Session Dean William Whobrey was approached by university officials about the possibility of introducing online courses for Yale credit in the summer of 2011. After a four course pilot, the experiment has been labeled a success and is expanding in the summer of 2012. To describe the ideas behind the Yale Summer Session Online courses, and the technology that powers the program, Dean William Whobrey and Richard Collins from the Yale Summer Session, and Lucas Swineford, from the Yale Broadcast and Media Center, came to TwTT to present on distance learning at Yale.
The first priority of program planners was to ensure that the courses offered online were held to the same high standards as their conventional
classroom counterparts. Besides putting each course through vetting by the Course of Study Committee, each class had to meet a strict set of criteria before students could be allowed to register. All online classes were versions of courses taught in previous years on the Yale campus in conventional classrooms, ensuring the existence of a comparative metric and effective subject material. To control for the possibility of an atypical student body, registration in the pilot was limited to current Yale undergraduates, and enrollment was capped at 25 students or fewer, creating a “seminar feel.” Despite the small class size, each course was also assigned a teaching fellow to maximize student access to material. Despite all these controls, Bill argues that what ultimately makes these classes unique is the outstanding teaching quality. All courses were taught by Yale ladder faculty, bringing students as close to a Yale campus experience as possible, regardless of their location in the world.
Like many academic library patrons in 2010, if Yale library users found a book available on Kindle through Amazon and wanted to get it from the library, they would have to find a print copy of the book in the Yale system and go to a library to pick it up. This changed in June of 2011 when Yale University Library became one of only a few academic libraries in the world to offer eBook lending through Overdrive. In order to explain how this came to pass, and to describe some of the challenges associated with integrating eBooks into the collection of a major reference library, Tod Gilman, librarian for literature in English, and Marsha Garman, acquisition librarian and interim head of library acquisitions, came to TwTT to talk about the development and implementation of the two year Overdrive pilot.
Patrons have wanted to borrow eBooks almost since their invention, but the lending of an intangible work poses many challenges, not least of which is the technical one. Without running afoul of copyright law, the library had to figure out a way to distribute electronic texts where readers had to return the books for use by others after the lending period, without keeping permanent copies for themselves. Initially this was set to be done through the lending of entire Kindles, but with ambiguous wording in the Amazon user agreement, as well as the physical difficulty of lending and collecting the reader, this approach was deemed infeasible. Instead, the Yale library turned to a service that has become popular in public libraries known as Overdrive.
Overdrive is an eBook lending service that allows libraries to purchase items from a catalog of over 650,000 electronic books and audiobooks and then distribute them using a web site branded for the individual university, but maintained by Overdrive. This creates an online digital library, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that behaves much like a conventional print library. Users search for and check out a title, which they can then download to their portable reader or audio device. Once they have checked out a title, it is theirs for a period of 7, 14, or 21 days and cannot be used by other readers at their institution unless the library has purchased multiple copies. If users finish an eBook early, then they can return it from the device they initially used to download it, freeing their account to borrow another book up to a limit of five at a time. Titles that are not returned before their deadline are automatically returned for use by another reader.
Since the 1970s, students at the Yale School of Management have gathered in conference rooms and ballrooms in groups as small as 15 students and as large as 240 students to test their financial prowess in a game that simulates the New York Stock Exchange. Although the original game was developed to be played with colored paper and a deck of playing cards, in today’s TwTT Professor Roger Ibbotsson and Instructional Technologist Sam Cohen presented a new web-based version of the game that could expand the market simulation to an audience limited only by server capacity.
Before Sam presented the updated version of the game, Professor Ibbotson took the audience back 30 years to invention of the simulator. At that time, there was a need to teach students the dynamics of a trading floor where most transactions were carried out in person. To this end a game was developed where four fictional companies, identified by color, are assigned a hidden value using playing cards drawn at random from a deck. Students are issued an equal number of shares from each company and $200 of simulated cash. They can then buy “peeks,” a glimpse of 3 of 10 cards that determine value, from which they form a notion of the value of a company. Shares are then exchanged as traders try to acquire shares of a company for less than those shares are worth. At the end of the game, companies are liquidated, and players are ranked by their final assets. To monitor progress up to this point, however, graduate students had to roam the room, listening to traders shouting sale prices and updating a blackboard, or more recently a projected spreadsheet, at the front of the room.
As electronic trading supplants floor trading, the Yale Stock Market Game’s playing cards, spreadsheets, and shouted trades began to appear dated. To bring the game into the age of electronic finance, Professor Ibbotson contacted the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2) to work together on the creation of an electronic version of the game. The outcome of that collaboration was a browser based, iPad friendly, backwards compatible web application written in Java 1.6. A persistent client server connection ensures that as soon as a transaction occurs between any two people, it can be seen by all players, and a tabbed interface makes research and market watching closer to a modern electronic trading platform where trades are directly between players than a physical trading floor or trade with a bank.
In the past few months, most students and some faculty members received invitations to leave behind the old central webmail and its infamous horde interface to transition to the new EliApps system which is based on the Google Apps for Education platform. More than an email system, however, EliApps offers an expanding suite of tools to students and faculty, and Loriann Seluga, Adam Bray, and Laura Tomas of the Yale Student Technology Collaborative (STC), along with Ken Panko of Yale’s Instructional Technology Group (ITG) came to TwTT this Tuesday to give Yale’s first public presentation on the educational applications of EliApps.
What is EliApps, and How do I get an account?
Rather than thinking of EliApps as any one application it is better to conceive of the platform as a modular collection of applications offered by Google that can be turned on or off individually for the Yale network. The core of the current package comprises five apps: Mail, Docs, Calendar, Sites, and Groups. The Maps, Books, and Bookmarks services have also been enabled, and more applications are being examined for deployment at Yale, particularly Google Moderator.