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The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter
Vol. 4, No. 2
June 2002
Editor: Carolyn G. Jarmon

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An electronic newsletter of the Pew Learning and Technology Program (PLTP) highlighting ongoing examples of redesigned learning environments using technology and examining issues related to their development and implementation.

. . . sponsored by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Redesigning Learning Environments
* Round I Final Results

2. Pew Learning and Technology Program
* EDUCAUSE Pre-Conference Workshop
* Be Prepared When Implementing a Course Redesign
* State of the Art Learning Environments: Lessons Learned from the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign – Round III Results
* New Monograph Available
* Upcoming Pew Invitational Symposium

3. Pew Project Updates
Round II
* Carnegie Mellon University – Introduction to Statistical Reasoning
* Fairfield University – General Biology
* Riverside Community College – Elementary Algebra
* University of Alabama – Intermediate Algebra
* University of Iowa – General Chemistry
* University of Tennessee – Introductory Spanish

Round III
* Drexel University – Computer Programming
* Florida Gulf coast University – Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts
* Ohio State University – Introductory Statistical Concepts
* Tallahassee Community College – English Composition
* The University of New Mexico – Introductory Psychology
* University of Southern Mississippi – World Literature

4. Common Ground
* The Import/Export Business
* Is Secure Online Testing Becoming a Reality?

5. PLTP Calendar

6. Archives and Reposting

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1. Redesigning Learning Environments

* Round I Final Results

The results of the first round of projects from the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign are in. All of the participants indicate that they intend to continue to make improvements to their redesigns, but for purposes of the Pew program, all have submitted their final reports. Below are some highlights of the findings. Detailed results for each project are now posted on the program Web site (begin at Fully Successful Projects and follow the links to each project’s “Final Report.”)

Institutions participating in Round I were:
* Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI): Introduction to Sociology
* Penn State University: Elementary Statistics
* Rio Salado College (Maricopa Community College District): Introductory Algebra
* University at Buffalo (SUNY): Computer Literacy
* University of Central Florida: American National Government
* University of Colorado-Boulder: Introductory Astronomy
* University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign: Economics Statistics
* University of Southern Maine: Introductory Psychology
* University of Wisconsin-Madison: General Chemistry
* Virginia Tech: Linear Algebra

Highlights from the final reports include:

* Five institutions showed significant improvements in student learning; four showed no significant difference; one had inconclusive results.

* Five institutions showed increased retention as measured by a decrease in the number of drops, withdrawals and/or failures. Given the important role these introductory courses play in the continued success of students, these improvements are extremely valuable for improving overall institutional retention rates.

* All ten institutions showed actual (vs. planned) cost reductions, ranging from 77% to 7%, with an average of about 35%. The savings will be used for a variety of purposes by the individual institutions, but a frequently cited choice is to redesign other courses using the principles and processes learned in the Pew program.

* Five institutions showed an improvement in student attitudes regarding the course subject matter. Since students with positive attitudes are more likely to take additional study in that area, these results are especially valuable, particularly in areas like science and mathematics.

* The most significant pedagogical improvement techniques that contributed to improved student learning were mastery learning and frequent assessment; greater interaction in labs or online among students and instructors; the use of Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs); online tutorials; and abundant Web-based learning resources.

* The most significant cost reduction techniques included course management software; online, automated assessment of exercises, quizzes and tests; online tutorials; staffing substitutions using a variety of personnel such as undergraduate tutors or course assistants; increased classroom space availability; and shared development of learning resources among multiple faculty.

* The most significant implementation issues were software and hardware problems, especially those connected with scaling up; course development that entailed more work than originally anticipated; achieving collective agreement among faculty regarding course goals and activities; finding the “right” faculty to participate in redesign; facilities issues; student attitudes; and the level of campus support for the project.

* No two design models were alike. Rather than gravitating toward one perfect model, each institution created a design that met the learning needs of their students and the capabilities of their faculty, while achieving the overall goals of the Pew program. For example, some developed a hybrid online/face-to-face model; some required time in a computer lab; some moved all instruction to an online environment.

* All ten institutions believe strongly that their redesigns will be sustained now that the grant period is over. Several have embarked on additional redesigns, and most report that others in the institution are adopting many of the strategies used in the redesign for the Pew program.

A monograph including case studies for each institution and an overall analysis of lessons learned from Round I will be available in late August in both print and PDF formats. The Program staff is extremely pleased with these results and congratulate our pioneering faculty and staff for their vision, their hard work and their ongoing commitment to improving student learning while reducing instructional costs.

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2. Pew Learning and Technology Program

* EDUCAUSE Pre-Conference Workshop

On October 1, 2002, Carol Twigg and Carolyn Jarmon will offer a full-day seminar entitled “Improving Quality and Reducing Costs: Redesigning Campus Learning Environments” as part of the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Atlanta. This seminar will replicate the workshops that have successfully taught grant applicants from 30 institutions how to redesign large-enrollment, introductory courses. Through presentations, case studies, and group work, participants will learn the basic planning steps as well as how to adapt the redesign model to the needs of their institutions. Space is limited, and there is a separate registration fee for this workshop (11F). For more information, visit the EDUCAUSE 2002 Conference Web site at http://www.educause.edu/conference/e2002/seminars.asp.

* Be Prepared When Implementing a Course Redesign

Providing just-in-time assistance when students need it is one of the important goals of many of the Pew projects. Faculty are not the only people who can provide such help. Institutions like Virginia Tech, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Alabama and the University of Idaho are finding that undergraduate peer tutors are more attuned to the issues that students face including frustrations they may have. In addition, students are eager to work with their peers. To learn more about undergraduate peer tutors, see

-- Virginia Tech at Virginia Tech
-- University of Colorado at University of Colorado at Boulder
-- University of Alabama at The University of Alabama
-- University of Idaho at University of Idaho.

Learning to think critically and to write well is a goal of almost every introductory undergraduate course, but the time required to evaluate written assignments is a continuing challenge for all faculty. Two Pew projects are pursuing different strategies to address this challenge. Tallahassee Community College (TCC) has outsourced the evaluation of initial student essay drafts in their English composition course to SMARTHINKING, a company that provides a range of tutoring services with quick feedback to students. As a result, students submit better essays for final evaluation by the course faculty. Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is using software called the Intelligent Essay Assessor to evaluate short essays. This software requires careful preparation for use, but once fine-tuned, it can reliably score short paragraphs and save faculty a lot of grading time. For additional information about these two options, contact Sally Search at TCC at search@tcc.cc.fl.us or Jim Wohlpart at FGCU at wohlpart@fgcu.edu.

* State of the Art Learning Environments: Lessons Learned from the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign – Round III Results

December 6, 2002, in Atlanta, Georgia

This seminar will present the results of Round III of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign. Faculty project leaders from four institutions will talk about their models of course redesign, including their decisions regarding student learning objectives, course content, learning resources, course staffing and task analysis, and student and project evaluation. They will share their experiences and respond to questions about how they are accomplishing their objectives and what challenges they have met and overcome! These models provide varied approaches that demonstrate multiple routes to success, tailored to the needs and context of each institution. For more information and registration materials, visit Workshop Information.

* New Monograph Available

The latest monograph from the Pew Symposia in Learning and Technology, entitled “Redefining Community: Small Colleges in the Information Age,” will be published in late June. The monograph discusses ways that information technology can address resource constraints confronting small, residential colleges; how methods for improving academic quality and controlling costs developed at larger institutions can transfer effectively to the small college environment; and new approaches being pioneered at peer institutions that are transferable to others. The monograph is also currently available in PDF format on the program Web site at Redefining Community: Small Colleges in the Information Age.

* Upcoming Pew Invitational Symposium

A new Pew symposium entitled “Expanding Access to Learning: The Role of Virtual Universities” will be held in Aspen, Colorado, on July 18-19, 2002. Almost every state in the nation is engaged in some kind of virtual university effort. Many state leaders believe that online or distance learning can expand educational access and contribute to economic development and do so cost effectively. Most also believe that the best way to organize these efforts is to put resources into a consortial virtual university. These consortia have yet to prove their long-term viability. Indeed, some question how far these efforts, as currently constructed, can go toward meeting their key goal of economic development. For now, state and system leaders view them as a vital part of the solution for meeting statewide educational and economic needs. Are virtual universities meeting the goals for which they were designed? What have we learned thus far about the advantages and disadvantages of different organizational models? What business models work best? What are the political and policy obstacles that must be overcome for a successful virtual university effort? Are there potentially more effective alternative models to those already in existence? Can virtual universities innovate fast enough to stay ahead of the innovation that is occurring on individual campuses? This invitational roundtable will explore these and other issues facing statewide virtual university initiatives as they move into their next stage of development.

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3. Pew Project Updates

Round II

* Carnegie Mellon University - Introduction to Statistical Reasoning

Carnegie Mellon's Smartlab is an intelligent tutoring system that uses a "scaffolding" approach to provide immediate feedback to students as they navigate the learning environment. It keeps students on course, enabling them to avoid wasting time on bad problem-solving strategies while allowing for exploratory, active learning. A new version of Smartlab creates a model of the learning process as the student moves through the tutor, thus enabling the tutor to give better and more detailed feedback. A Web-based version allows Smartlab to be used for homework assignments as well for in-class labs. The goal is to have the Web-based version replace the client-based one for the 2002-2003 academic year.

Preliminary anecdotal evidence indicates that the tutor is changing the focus of the students' thought processes during the labs. One TA noted that while she used to spend much of her time with students explaining the mechanics of solving statistics problems, she is now able to spend more time discussing statistical concepts. Smartlab both frees TAs to have higher-level conceptual discussions with students and lowers overall costs by reducing the number of TAs needed in the course. The goal is to reduce TAs by half; preliminary results indicate that this is feasible. For more information, contact Joel Smith at joelms@andrew.cmu.edu or see Carnegie Mellon University.

* Fairfield University - General Biology

The 2001-2002 academic year was very successful. A lecture hall was renovated in summer 2001 to create a computer-enhanced wireless classroom ready for students on the first day of class. For the second straight year, students had few complaints about the “large” lecture environment in the introductory course (120 students per semester). Students have begun to show greater proficiency at data analysis and presentation in laboratory reports compared to those in previous years. Fairfield also realized significant cost reductions for the second straight year (e.g., fewer adjuncts hired, fewer classrooms required, reduced laboratory expenses). Faculty are currently evaluating and revising each instructional activity to maximize its pedagogical impact. Assessment has compared the performance of students in a second-year Genetics course one year after completing the introductory course; preliminary results are very encouraging. Finally, Fairfield’s efforts were highlighted on Apple Computer’s Web page when they ran a Macs-in-Action story about the new biology course (http://www.apple.com/education/hed/macsinaction/fairfield/). To learn more, contact Malcolm Hill at mhill@Fair1.Fairfield.edu.

* Riverside Community College – Elementary Algebra

Since the spring 2001 pilot, RCC has enrolled more than 3600 students in its redesigned Elementary Algebra course. Each semester, surveys of students were conducted on math attitudes and learning styles; pre- and post-tests were administered to determine gains in knowledge. Six learning objectives from the Elementary Algebra course were mapped to specific pre-test and post-test questions and sub-scores were calculated for the learning objectives. Focus groups of both faculty and students were conducted as well.

During the pilot, no significant difference was found between traditional and redesigned courses in terms of the mean scores on the common final exam. Based on information obtained from the focus groups and from test data, faculty made a number of changes in the course structure. One of the biggest modifications was to require that students spend a minimum of two hours per week in math labs to increase the amount of interaction among students and instructors. Another change was to augment the Web-based homework, which was not necessarily related to lecture topics, with homework each week that related to the lecture material. These changes have been successful: data collected during the fall 2001 semester indicate that learning gains in the redesigned course (mean = 7.66) were significantly higher than learning gains in the traditional course (mean = 6.38, t = -3.77, d.f. = 618, p<.001). Students in the redesign learned more for four of the six learning objectives; there was no significant difference in the means for the other two. For additional information contact Sheila Pisa at spisa@rccd.cc.ca.us or see Riverside Community College.

* University of Alabama - Intermediate Algebra

As refinements have been made in course pedagogy, student success has improved. During the 2001-02 academic year students were required to attend a 30-minute weekly class session focused on student problems identified in testing. The sessions also built community between students and instructors. The success rate (grade of C- or better) for the fall 2001 semester was 60.5%, which is 10% higher than the fall 2000 pilot and 20% higher than in the fall 1999 traditional format. The spring 2002 success rate was 51.2%, a 15% improvement over the spring 2001 rate. These changes also resulted in an appreciable increase in the completion rate (80% of the students enrolled in fall 2001 and 75% enrolled in spring 2001 completed the course).

Analysis of success rates for various subpopulations shows the redesigned course is particularly effective for females and African-American students. The success rate for females is approximately 10% higher than the rate for males. African-American students are about 20% more successful than Caucasian students in the redesign format. First-time students are also about 20% more successful than repeat students.

In recognition of the increased student success and decreased cost, the Mathematics Technology Learning Center and the redesign of Intermediate Algebra was recognized by the Alabama Quality Control Council with a Judges Special Recognition Award for “exemplary results from effective benchmarking and implementing of best practices for creative response to student mathematics needs.” To learn more, contact Joe Benson at dbenson@AS.UA.EDU or visit The University of Alabama.

* University of Iowa – General Chemistry

Internet-based skill-building exercises have been used as graded homework for the last five semesters. Students have found that these exercises are academically challenging and require a substantial time commitment. Earlier resistance has given way to more widespread use. Successful completion of modules, particularly early ones, correlate well with improved exam scores. A general use classroom was re-outfitted and wired to promote increased student participation and to change the role of the teaching assistant from instructor to mentor. Reintegration of the laboratory component with the lecture and discussion portions is being pilot-tested this summer for new guided-inquiry experiments to be offered in alternating weeks with case-study discussions. The case studies include group work that relates topics presented in lecture and discussion to real problems in lab experiments. To learn more, contact Norb Pienta at Norbert-pienta@uiowa.edu or visit University of Iowa.

* University of Tennessee - Introductory Spanish

Several changes were made to the online format in spring 2002 based on student feedback and to take advantage of new flexibility in Blackboard 5.5. Practice exercises were collapsed into larger units, reducing the number per chapter; chapter quizzes were created from select practice exercises; and chapter quizzes were separated from the practice exercises in the course structure to reduce student confusion.

In spring 2002, 19 sections were offered with 8 sections taught by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and 11 by instructors. In examining the midterm and final exam scores, the sections taught by instructors had higher means than the sections taught by the GTAs. Preliminary findings using the Strategies Inventory for Language Learning show no significant difference between students in the traditional group and those in the redesigned format for the midterm or the final exams. Preliminary findings of a qualitative analysis of the Speak Test suggest there may be some qualitative differences in oral production outcomes between the two formats. Students in the redesign had higher word counts: they said more. Preliminary results also indicate a wider range of lexical usage from students in the redesigned format.

Further cost-savings are expected in fall 2002 by increasing class size and changing the personnel structure to include one instructor supported by a GTA. For additional information, contact Julie Little at jklittle@utk.edu or visit The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Round III

* Drexel University - Computer Programming

Drexel is expanding implementation of its redesign: all sections taught in spring 2002 are in the redesign format. Assignments can now be submitted electronically, graded with comments on a tablet computer with a stylus, and returned to the students electronically as a marked PDF document, all without use of paper. Both faculty and students have expressed concern that there is not enough in-class time (currently one hour of lecture and two hours of laboratory activity each week). Students suggest that the number of credits be increased to accommodate additional in-class hours per week. Faculty are contemplating adding a second laboratory component to the class, holding all office hours in the laboratory, and exploring other mechanisms for providing students and faculty more opportunities to interact. For additional information, contact Nira Herrmann at NHerrmann@drexel.edu or see Drexel University.

* Florida Gulf Coast University - Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts

During spring 2002, FGCU launched the redesign pilot with 36 students, only six of whom had taken a distance course before. The course’s two primary goals--learning the content information that provides a foundation for the arts and developing the skills needed to analyze art works thoughtfully—have been met extremely well. Content information is learned through studying the text, taking practice exams and applying the information in short essays and critical analysis essays. Skills are learned through studying sample short essays, critiquing them in peer learning teams, and then writing essays. Students scored one full letter grade higher on exams and a full letter grade higher on short essays in the redesign compared to students in traditional sections. Faculty are planning to provide sample critical analysis essays on the Web for students to critique before they write their own essays; the expectation is that grades will improve there as well. To learn more, contact Jim Wohlpart at wohlpart@fgcu.edu or see Florida Gulf Coast University.

* Ohio State University - Introductory Statistical Concepts

Ohio State piloted its "buffet style" learning approach in spring 2002. Orientation sessions went smoothly as students were given two choices of large-group activities tailored to specific patterns in the active versus reflective and the global versus sequential learning style dimensions. Also, three choices of small-group activities were offered to accommodate specific patterns in the sensing versus intuitive and visual versus verbal learning style dimensions. Carefully planned scheduling allowed all students to receive their first choice of large-group sessions, and 90% of students to receive their first choice of small-group sessions. Mid-quarter evaluations found that students were enjoying the course and were pleased with being given choices. For more information, contact Dennis Pearl at pearl.1@osu.edu or visit The Ohio State University.

* Tallahassee Community College – English Composition

Conducting eight successful pilot sections has enabled the redesign team to select the elements that will be featured in the full implementation scheduled for fall 2002. Instructors will have a common template with pre-loaded writing assignments, thus increasing course consistency and increasing the centrality of critical reading skills into student writing. Instructors will be trained to utilize the following components of their new Web sites, with materials supporting the redesigned curriculum: the announcements page; the discussion board; the companion Web sites for the reader and grammar handbook; communications access via group and individual email; pre-loaded assignments; a new final exam intended to promote new exit standards; a new assessment rubric; procedures for individualizing the review process for the state standardized tests in reading, writing, and language skills; a new library information literacy online orientation; and hotlinks to word processing tutorials and the Writing Center Web site with online grammar review links and online tutorial services. An online training site will be available on July 1, 2002.

Technological ancillaries will be treated as Web-assisted features, rather than Web-based, an important distinction since the pilot sections revealed that the redesign features were best utilized from the students' homes. Faculty are also considering adding other features such as reading comprehension quizzes and grammar assessment materials; alternative handbook versions on CD-Rom and e-yext formats; electronic text versions of review materials for the state test; a flow chart of review materials and procedures; use of local electronic tutors using annotated text features; and an online gradebook. For additional information, contact Sally Search at search@tcc.cc.fl.us or visit Tallahassee Community College.

* The University of New Mexico - Introductory Psychology

During the spring 2002 semester, full implementation began in one section (n = 450 students) with a comparison section (n = 325) serving as a quasi-control for some aspects of the redesign. Because the redesign appeared to improve performance dramatically, the team decided to provide all students with all elements of the redesigned course. However, although students in both sections had access to the same instructor, text, CD-ROM, curriculum, and Web-based mastery quizzes, students in the redesigned section were required to complete all aspects of the course. Students in the comparison section were able to take mastery quizzes, attend studios, and work with the CD-ROM, but they were not required to do so.

Comparison of test performance and final grades between the redesigned section and the quasi-control section revealed important differences. In all section exams and the final exam, students in the redesigned section received more As, Bs and Cs and fewer C- and below grades than students in the control section. In the redesigned section, 59% received C or better; in the control section, 43% received C or better. For more information, contact Gordon Hodge at ghodge@unm.edu or see The University of New Mexico.

* University of Southern Mississippi - World Literature

In spring 2002, World Literature was offered in both traditional and online hybrid formats. A total of 243 students completed the course: five traditional sections of 163 students and one hybrid section of 78 students. Both groups used the newly developed common syllabus, quizzes, exams, and essay assignments. Cross-grading eliminated instructor bias in the essay grading. Students in the redesigned hybrid format submitted all assignments through WebCT, had the option of attending lectures live or watching them online and had many Web resources to develop the reading, thinking, and writing skills that the course seeks to foster. Students who completed the hybrid course gave it high marks. One goal of the redesign is to improve four target areas in which World Literature has historically scored lower than average on student evaluations: presentation, instructor's ability to explain, instructor's ability to stimulate thinking, and timely return of graded work. The hybrid students gave the course above average marks in all these categories.

Final grades were approximately the same for all sections. However, the hybrid section had a significantly higher drop rate--almost 30%--by comparison with 7% in the spring traditional sections and 15% in the fall traditional sections. Data are now being analyzed to determine why students dropped so that the course can be modified before full implementation in fall 2002. For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.usm.edu/worldlit/, contact Michael Salda at michael.salda@usm.edu or see The University of Southern Mississippi.

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4. Common Ground

Reporting on initiatives that share the goals and objectives of the Pew Learning and Technology Program.

* The Import/Export Business

Franklin University in Columbus, OH is offering a unique online program called the Community College Alliance (http://alliance.franklin.edu/). This program allows students with associate’s degrees from 116 community colleges in 19 states and one Canadian province to complete a bachelor of science degree without leaving their communities. Students complete bridge courses at the partner community college followed by 40-48 hours of "capstone courses" offered online by Franklin. Everyone benefits: students enrolled in the Franklin program can utilize the community college facilities, the community colleges collect additional tuition beyond the associate’s degree for the bridge courses, and Franklin has a steady stream of new enrollments.

* Is Secure Online Testing Becoming a Reality?

A vexing problem for those offering online courses is how to deal with tests and examinations. Two new software programs, Securexam (http://www.softwaresecure.com/) and Softest (http://www.examsoft.com/framepr.html?mid=/products/index.html), are moving to increase the security of online testing. The software packages encrypt exams, and students need passwords to open them. While the tests are open, students cannot use other software programs for information. Softest is currently used for bar exams in seven states.

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5. PLTP Calendar

A comprehensive calendar of meetings, symposia, publishing dates, and relevant deadlines for the Pew Learning and Technology Program community.

*** JUNE ***

June 17 and 18
Workshop 4: Assessing the Results
A workshop for Round II grant recipients to share final results of their projects and to compare planning and assessment goals with outcomes.
Pittsburgh, PA

Publication of Redefining Community: Small Colleges in the Information Age, a monograph based on an October 2001 symposium.

*** JULY ***

July 18 and 19
Pew Symposium in Learning and Technology
Expanding Access to Learning: The Role of Virtual Universities
Aspen, CO

*** AUGUST ***

Publication of Case Studies in Redesign: The Results of Round I of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign, a monograph summarizing the learning gains and cost reductions of the first 10 projects.

*** SEPTEMBER ***

Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter
Vol 4, No. 3

*** OCTOBER ***

October 1
EDUCAUSE Pre-Conference Workshop
“Improving Quality and Reducing Costs: Redesigning Campus Learning Environments”
Replicating the workshops that have successfully taught grant applicants from 30 institutions how to redesign large-enrollment, introductory courses.
Atlanta, GA

*** DECEMBER ***

December 6
Public Seminar: State-of-the-Art Learning Environments
Faculty project leaders describe how to redesign large-enrollment courses to improve quality and reduce costs.
Atlanta, GA

Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter
Vol 4, No. 4

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6. Archives and Reposting

The Pew Learning and Technology Program is an $8.8 million, four-year effort to place the national discussion about the impact that new technologies are having on the nation's campuses in the context of student learning and ways to achieve this learning cost effectively. The program has three areas of work: The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign, the Pew Symposia in Learning and Technology, and the Pew Learning and Technology Newsletter. For more information, click here.


* Archives of The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter are available.

* You are welcome to repost The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter without charge. Material contained in The Pew Learning and Technology Newsletters may be reprinted with attribution for noncommercial purposes only.

Copyright 2002, The Pew Learning and Technology Program

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Pew Learning and Technology Newsletter ~ June 2002
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