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The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter
Vol. 4, No. 4
December 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. Redesign: Bringing It Home
* The Center for Academic Transformation is being redesigned

2. Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign
* Bob Olin Receives the 2002 Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award
* OSU’s Dennis Pearl Selected as Fellow of the American Statistical Association
* Final Pew Monograph
* State of the Art Learning Environments: Lessons Learned from the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign

3. Pew Project Updates
Round I
* University of Southern Maine: Introductory Psychology

Round II
* Carnegie Mellon University: Introduction to Statistical Reasoning
* Riverside Community College: Elementary Algebra
* University of Idaho: PreCalculus
* University of Iowa: General Chemistry

Round III
* Drexel University: Computer Programming I
* Florida Gulf Coast University: Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts
* Iowa State University: Discrete Mathematics
* Northern Arizona University: College Algebra
* Portland State University: Introductory Spanish
* The University of New Mexico: Introductory Psychology
* University of Southern Mississippi: World Literature

4. Common Ground
* Labs Go Online
* ETS Technologies Updates Online Assessment Tool

5. Archives and Reposting

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1. Redesign: Bringing It Home

*
The Center for Academic Transformation is being redesigned.

The Center’s four-year grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts will end on March 31, 2003. Within the last year, the Trusts have decided to re-direct their funding support from higher education to pre-K education projects and to close out most of their higher education projects. While this decision is unrelated to the end date of our grant, it means that we will not receive future funding from the Trusts.

We are extremely grateful for the opportunity provided by the Trusts’ largesse 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. In particular, we want to thank Russ Edgerton, the Trusts’ education program director in 1998 when our program was conceived. Russ encouraged us to think big about this issue, worked with us every step of the way to structure the Pew Learning and Technology Program, and made sure we had the resources to make it happen.

As part of our planning for the anticipated change, we want to tell you how we will make the transition from activities conducted under the auspices of the Pew Learning and Technology Program to a set of activities conducted by the Center for Academic Transformation. We are fortunate that RPI has generously agreed to provide transition support for the Center during the period between April 1, 2003 and the end of the year, as we close out the Pew-supported activities and seek funding to support a new series of activities.

The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign will be re-named the Program in Course Redesign conducted by the Center for Academic Transformation. We will continue to update our Web site as we receive ongoing progress reports from all 30 projects. The Round II final reports will be posted in February 2003, as will the Round III interim progress reports. The Round III final reports will be posted in December 2003. We intend to continue our active program of dissemination activities. In other words, nothing about our activities will change other than the name of the program.

Although our original plan was to publish a series of case study monographs, one for each round of grant awards, the reality of the redesign program has been that different projects are “ending” on different dates. Consequently, publishing three round-based monographs no longer makes sense. Instead, we will provide a series of “living” reports, using our Web site, our newsletter and our electronic mailing lists as dissemination vehicles for publicizing the project results. In addition, Center staff will produce a commentary for each round that discusses what was learned, and these will be distributed in a variety of ways, including conference presentations and published articles in well-recognized higher education journals.

This issue will be the final issue of the Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter. As part of our grant agreement with the Trusts, we were supported to produce 14 issues, and this is the fourteenth issue. Again, we intend a name change rather than a substantive change. Beginning with the March 2003 issue, this newsletter will be merged with The Learning MarketSpace (a monthly electronic newsletter produced by our Center). We will retain the name, The Learning MarketSpace, for the new newsletter, and it will be published on a quarterly basis. We will continue to report on all activities that are part of the Program in Course Redesign as well as on other related efforts in higher education.

Our Center has been extremely fortunate in that the Trusts have enabled us to establish a significant “proof of concept.” In 1999, no one in higher education believed that it was possible to improve student learning while reducing instructional costs. As we enter the New Year, 50,000 students, hundreds of faculty and graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants, and a significant number of administrative staff have been involved in a successful effort showing that it is possible. We are looking forward to continuing to share the efforts of the redesigned Center for Academic Transformation as we move on to new and exciting projects.

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2. Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign

* Bob Olin Receives the 2002 Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award

Jointly presented by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the Virginia B. Smith Innovative Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their ability to foster changes in higher education that result in substantial improvement, benefits to students and a more effective use of resources. Olin has been recognized for his “long-term career commitment to broad-based strategies to improve mathematics education and the use of technology in its instruction,” said Austin Doherty, chair of the Award Steering Committee.

Currently Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama (UA), Bob Olin has been instrumental in the development of UA’s Math Technology Learning Center, which was designed to replace lecture and blackboard instruction with interactive, self-paced computer programs in an environment where students also receive individual tutoring. The center’s design was based on Virginia Tech’s Math Emporium, a program also developed by Olin while he served as chairman of the department of mathematics at Virginia Tech. Both programs have received funding from the Center for Academic Transformation as part of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign.

Congratulations, Bob!

* OSU’s Dennis Pearl Selected as Fellow of the American Statistical Association

Dennis Pearl, professor in the Department of Statistics at The Ohio State University (OSU), has recently been chosen as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. By bestowing the honorary title of Fellow, the Association recognizes full members of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions in some aspect of statistical work. Among Pearl's accomplishments cited in his nomination for the award is his leadership in developing the innovative buffet format used in the redesign of statistics at OSU as part of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign. The buffet model helps students identify their learning preferences and offers them a variety of learning experiences that match those preferences.

Congratulations, Dennis!

* Final Pew Monograph

The last monograph coming from the Pew Symposia on Learning and Technology will be published in February 2003. Entitled “Expanding Access to Learning: The Role of Virtual Universities,” it will examine how far existing state-based efforts, as currently constructed, can go toward meeting their goals of expanding access and contributing to economic development. Other issues that it will address include: 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 than those already in existence? Can virtual universities innovate fast enough to stay ahead of the innovation that is occurring on individual campuses? The monograph will be distributed in print and will be available in PDF format on the Center’s Web site.

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

February 24, 2003 in Dallas, Texas

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.

Co-sponsored by the Executive Forum in Information Technology at Virginia Tech, these seminars provide a unique opportunity for you to:

-- Learn firsthand how to increase quality and reduce costs using information technology from successful faculty project leaders.
-- Find out how to design learning environments for the future by tapping the expertise of those who have done it.
-- Talk with experienced faculty from multiple institutions about how and why they made their redesign decisions.
-- Move beyond "today" and learn where online learning is going . . . find a model that will work for your institution.

To learn more about the agenda, registration materials and logistical details, visit Workshop Information.

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3. Pew Project Updates

Full descriptions of all projects described below are available at Project Descriptions.

Round I

* University of Southern Maine: Introductory Psychology


The USM reinvention of introductory psychology continues to excite the students and faculty. One faculty member on the redesign team has redesigned another course, physiological psychology. Another faculty member, not on the redesign team, has incorporated a very different use of technology and the idea of asynchronous delivery into the second half of the course sequence, with an eye towards increasing the enrollment in this course as well. Colleagues at Colby College are incorporating the USM model in their introductory psychology course during 2003. Colleagues at other University of Maine campuses continue to increase the number and variety of courses that incorporate WebCT as a quizzing tool. They report the ability to increase enrollments in their introductory courses by 25% or more because the computer handles a lot of the grading that used to be done by the instructor. At USM, the team continues to assess the effectiveness of the redesign relative to traditional teaching methods. As expected, students continue to demonstrate increased effort, higher grades, and better performance on measures of course content. For more information, contact John Broida at broida@usm.maine.edu.

Round II

* Carnegie Mellon University: Introduction to Statistical Reasoning

In fall 2002, CMU launched the first fully Web-based version of SmartLab, an intelligent tutoring system that uses a "scaffolding" approach to provide immediate feedback to students as they navigate the learning environment. SmartLab is now being used for homework assignments as well as in-class labs. TAs in the statistics department are now trained using SmartLab. In addition, work is underway to incorporate SmartLab into other courses, such as an upper level statistics course at CMU and an introductory statistics course at the University of Pittsburgh.


A fully online introductory statistics course is being built at CMU using SmartLab as its core as part of a new project called the Open Learning Initiative. The purpose of the project is to create a critical mass of online courses in high-demand subject areas that emphasize the crucial elements of instructional design grounded in cognitive theory, formative evaluation for students and faculty, and iterative course improvement based on empirical data. For more information, visit http://www.cmu.edu/cmoli or contact Joel Smith at joel.smith@andrew.cmu.edu.

* Riverside Community College: Elementary Algebra

Each semester, pre- and post-tests have been administered to determine gains in knowledge. Six learning objectives from the elementary algebra course outline have been mapped to specific pre-test and post-test questions and sub-scores have been calculated for the learning objectives. During the spring 2001 pilot, no significant difference was found between traditional and redesigned sections. In fall 2001, learning gains in the redesigned course were significantly higher than in the traditional format. 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. In spring 2002, redesign students’ scores were significantly higher than traditional students’ scores for two of the six learning objectives; for the other four learning objectives and overall scores, there were no significant differences between the means of redesign and traditional students.

Preliminary analysis of persistence data shows that of those successful in Elementary Algebra, about 2% more redesign students than traditional students went on to Intermediate Algebra the very next semester. Likewise, of those Elementary Algebra students, about 2% more redesign students than traditional students were successful in Intermediate Algebra. A t test run on the grades of those who enrolled in Intermediate Algebra to see if the differences in the two groups are significant showed no significant difference.

In the fall 2002 semester, faculty decided to offer a choice of either a redesign or a traditional lecture format. Altogether, 11 redesigned sections (enrolling 805 students) and 10 traditional sections (enrolling 500 students) were offered. The team intends to do a comparative assessment using the same methodology from past semesters.

After experiencing many difficulties using the software originally selected for the redesign, faculty decided to change and selected another Web-based software, MyMathLab published by Addison-Wesley. Most faculty preferred to have a program that related specifically to a textbook and lecture topics and that would allow homework to be assigned and graded strictly online. After reviewing three different Web-based programs, the decision to switch was made. For more information, contact Sheila Pisa at Sheila.Pisa@rcc.edu.

* University of Idaho: PreCalculus

In fall 2002, an exciting new initiative was the effort to build community among students, in particular, among Hispanic students. Student performance is greatly improved to this point in the semester (3/4 finished). On each of the three class exams, the average from this group is above the average for the total population of 108 students as well as above the average in their section. The team currently expects that 100% of the students participating in this community will not only complete, but also successfully pass the course. What is more gratifying is the extremely positive attitudes these students have toward themselves as math students compared with Hispanic students who took this course in the past. The students are actively working together and helping each other, and are excited about their success. The fact that students learn together in an educational environment that is relatively unstructured in both space and time (thanks to the technology) allows the team to promote the creation of learning communities. For more information, contact Monte Boisin at boisen@uidaho.edu.

* University of Iowa: General Chemistry

The University of Iowa's chemistry redesign is in the midst of the final implementation of all features during the fall 2002 term. A record number of 830 students were enrolled. Several cost-cutting, pedagogical improvements have been implemented over the last four semesters, including online homework and cooperative learning in a 24-person discussion classroom using laptops with wireless Internet connectivity. The most recent redesign feature is the reintegration of the course’s laboratory component. This component features lab experiments in a wet lab setting alternating with group activities in case-study sessions. The latter involve individual and group work on topics that integrate content from the lectures (i.e., the theory) with the experiments (i.e., the practice). The case studies and experiments focus on practical examples from real life (e.g., nitrate fertilizer in Iowa River water, the energy content of food and fuels, acid rain, the colors in fireworks and light emitting diodes). Students' most serious difficulties seem to be related to keeping track of where they need to be in all of these activities. Performance on exams seems to be improved, and the withdrawal rate from the course is at a record low. For additional information, contact Norb Pienta at norbert-pienta@uiowa.edu.

Round III

* Drexel University: Computer Programming I


In fall 2002, Drexel expanded their target audience to include Information Systems (IS) majors. The team added new explanatory material to the modules used in the first phases of the redesign in order to enhance the course for information science majors and for other students looking to cover the two-term content sequence over three terms. The redesign format is the same: online lectures, one hour of formal class meeting, and two hours of active group learning in a dedicated computer laboratory per week. So far, the IS group has handled the material very well; slowing down the delivery and adding more explanatory information seems to be allowing these students to succeed.

Thanks to a gift from a Drexel alumna, the dedicated laboratory is being upgraded to pen-based Tablet PCs. The Tablet PCs allow students to mark up the laboratory assignments with a special stylus as they work through the questions, similar to the way teaching assistants mark up student homework. Students can save handwritten comments from class and distribute them electronically to their teams. Faculty have access to the Tablet PCs during lecture and lab sessions and can mark PowerPoint slides during their presentations, making corrections or adding notes. These marked presentations are saved and made available to students on the Web. Students can also enter symbolic information using a naturalistic handwriting interface rather than having to learn software for entering mathematical notation through the keyboard. This change permits a more sophisticated form of computer-based testing as well as change in delivery of course material.

The redesign team has added a Windows-based interface to the Labrador software and are recruiting faculty in other areas to test it in their classes. Labrador interfaces with WebCT to facilitate getting papers for grading and preparing them for submission to plagiarism and other software. For more information, contact Nira Herrmann at NHerrmann@drexel.edu.

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

During fall 2002, FGCU implemented the redesigned course for all students. The final course design was based on feedback from the spring 2002 pilot as well as from project workshops. The fall term has 387 students registered in one section, working with one instructor, one course coordinator, and 8 preceptors. The preceptors are responsible for overseeing the four Web board discussions (which students complete in Peer Learning Teams of 5 students each) and grading two longer papers. This alternative staffing model has been one of the great successes of the course.

The redesign team has made changes in two crucial areas based on feedback received from the pilot. First, every required assignment receives some number of points to increase the likelihood that students complete all assignments and take them seriously. This approach has paid off as more students have taken the Practice Tests more often, leading to higher exam scores. The average exam score in the traditional course was 72%; the average exam score in the pilot redesign was 79%; and the average exam score in the fully implemented redesign is 85%. Second, the team has worked to increase the inter-rater reliability of the Intelligent Essay Assessor (IEA). In the pilot, only 120 scored essays were entered into the IEA to program the software, even though Knowledge Analysis Technologies suggests entering 200 essays, and the reliability was 68%. Entering more essays has paid off. In the holistic scoring session for the short essay, the reliability in the human scoring was 62% vs. 70% in the IEA scoring.

The team will be working over the winter break to further refine the course Web page for easier access to assignments and course materials. By the end of spring 2003 semester, the course redesign will be complete. For more information, contact Jim Wohlpart at wohlpart@fgcu.edu.

* Iowa State University: Discrete Mathematics

Web-based Discrete Mathematics is nearing the end of its second semester of classroom testing with much greater success than was achieved in the initial pilot. Changes made this term include:

--The homework assignments now run parallel to the text of the book, rather than the problem sections. This forces the students to actually read the text.
--Short lectures that give an overview of the material for each week have been recorded and can be viewed on the Web with accompanying PowerPoint slides.
--The TA holds many of her office hours in the computer lab while students work on their assignments, and she provides immediate help when students get stuck.
--The class was divided into study groups of up to five students. Groups can submit homework assignments as a group.

Although the study groups were a mixed success, all other changes have worked out very well. Dropout levels are below 25%, homework and quiz averages are generally between 70% and 80%, and there have been few complaints. In the spring 2003 term the study groups will be changed. During the fall, the class was divided into study groups arbitrarily. While this method worked in some cases, many groups had "freeloaders," a number of whom were removed from their groups at the request of other group members. In spring 2003, the team will encourage students to form study groups and offer to match them up if they don't know any partners. Overall Iowa State is fine-tuning its redesign rather than making large changes. For more information, contact Fritz Kleinert at keinert@iastate.edu.

* Northern Arizona University: College Algebra

During fall 2002, Northern Arizona University offered two sections of college algebra in a Web enhanced format using the MyMathLab computer software. Earlier logistical problems have been successfully resolved. Early indications so far are that the redesign strategies have improved student experience and success in the course, though analysis of final grades is not yet available. The department will be working with the College of Business (whose students make up the majority of the college algebra population) to look at how additional resources might be used to help students who are identified early in the semester as at high risk for failure in the course. The redesign will be full implemented in spring 2003 using MyMathLab. Two redesign team members will each teach one section and work closely with the TAs who will teach the other 10 sections. For more information, contact Terry Crites at terry.crites@NAU.EDU.

* Portland State University: Introductory Spanish

The redesign is being fully implemented this year. After the spring 2002 pilot, the redesign team made several course enhancements to reduce student anxiety. Graded grammar quizzes are now preceded by an interactive practice, and each quiz begins with an interactive practice question. These activities help assure that students not only respond correctly but also illustrate the type of answer required. WebCT Chat is now being used to extend class discussions beyond the classroom. Chat participation is graded using transcripts of the sessions. These exchanges help students prepare for the weekly Discussion Board activity, in which students summarize and present the information they learned in the week's chat session. The Discussion Board allows instructors to efficiently provide a model of good work. Students read the model before writing their own composition and frequently respond to feedback from the instructor. In both communication media, students have performed well, staying in the target language and staying on task.

The Second-Year Spanish Coordinator is currently applying for an internal PSU grant to help redesign these courses, integrating good practices and methods from First-Year Spanish. Both redesigns focus on automation of menial grading and of administrative tasks while extending communicative activity beyond the classroom. For more information, contact Terry Rhodes at trhodes@psu.edu.

* The University of New Mexico: Introductory Psychology

Students receive credit for completing three online WebCT mastery quizzes each week for 16 weeks, which represents approximately 50% of their grade (the other half is determined by in-class exams). Students can take quizzes as many times as they like, and only the highest scores are counted. Evaluation of prior quiz-taking behavior indicated that the more often students took and spent time on quizzes, and the higher their scores, the better they performed on exams. In fall 2002, students who scored less than 75% on their first exam were required to attend a weekly studio. Undergraduate studio TAs provided a structured review of multimedia CD-ROM activities, presented ways of improving learning skills, and, for some students, focused on improving motivation for doing well in the course.

In previous semesters, students who performed below C could often be characterized by having one or more of the following: poor learning skills, poor motivation, or other priorities. During studios, all students received coaching designed to help them learn better ways of memorizing key terms and concepts. To improve motivation and, perhaps, affect prioritization decisions, students in half of the studios received motivational interviewing (MI). MI is a non-confrontational style of interacting, which has been used successfully in a number of behavioral interventions. Students were divided into two groups: a MI group and a standard prescriptive advice group; a third group was comprised of students who were required to attend but chose not to. Preliminary data indicate that, compared to the third group, the other groups performed better on exams and quizzes. Although there were no early differences between the MI and directive group, effectiveness of MI will be determined by comparing final course grades of students receiving MI to those receiving learning skills coaching alone. For more information, contact Gordon Hodge at ghodge@unm.edu.

* University of Southern Mississippi: World Literature

The team has fully implemented its plan designed to transform its World Literature course from a traditional, multiple-section format to a single-section, technology-mediated one with approximately 400 students enrolled in one hybrid, online section. A four-person faculty team offers presentations that students have the option of attending. The presentations are taped and placed online along with instructors' notes, additional media resources, quizzes, exams, and essay assignments, which together constitute the required elements of the course.

Of the 400 enrolled students, 300 are not registered for another course at the time of the optional-attendance presentations and therefore could come to class. Only about 30 of those students, however, are still choosing to attend the live lectures at the close of the fall 2002 semester. While engaging the course as a fully online experience apparently works well for many students, for some (as their grades indicate) it turns out to be a poor choice, a choice that they discover too late does not accord with their individual learning styles. Although the faculty team repeatedly encouraged students to come to class, if they thought they needed to during the fall term, in spring 2003 the faculty will put even greater emphasis on the importance of engaging the hybrid traditional/online course in the way that best suits each student. An improved first-week introduction to the course will be launched to help students make informed choices that will help them succeed in the redesigned course. For more information, visit http://www.usm.edu/worldlit or contact Michael Salda at michael.salda@usm.edu.


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

* Labs Go Online

New software developed at Brigham Young University supports an inorganic chemistry lab experience online. Called Virtual ChemLab, the software simulates labs in organic synthesis, inorganic qualitative analysis, and quantum mechanics. According to Brian Woodfield, the developer, the inorganic-chemistry version of the software can simulate 10,000,000,000,000,000 -- or 10 to the16th – different outcomes, depending on what chemicals are mixed and how the student conducts the experiment. Although presently used in about 20 campus-based programs, the software has the potential to help distance-education students satisfy laboratory requirements. For more information, please see http://chronicle.com/free/2002/12/2002121001t.htm.

At UNC-Greensboro, physics labs are being redesigned to include computer simulations and graphic animations so students can test principles of mechanics, waves, electricity, magnetism, and optics online. Called Learn Anywhere Anytime Physics, the lab is being constructed to incorporate discovery learning and to help distance-education students satisfy an introductory-science lab requirement. For more information, please see http://chronicle.com/free/2002/12/2002121601t.htm.

* ETS Technologies Updates Online Assessment Tool

Educational Testing Service subsidiary, ETS Technologies, Inc., has enhanced its Criterion Online Writing Evaluation tool, a Web-based service that evaluates students' writing skills and provides diagnostic feedback. New features include providing feedback that annotates a student's writing with specific suggestions for improvement, specifically heuristic-based diagnostic feedback that helps writers focus on their errors as they revise their essays, and a work-in-progress revision capability that allows them to make changes as they review the feedback. Instructors can insert comments about an essay both within the essay and in a message board. All components are saved to a secure virtual portfolio for instructor and student access. For more information, please visit http://www.etstechnologies.com/.

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5. 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 ~ December 2002
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