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Access at Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Ed., D. Arendale   Click this web link to learn about my recent book

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     Access at the Crossroads Blog

    These blog entires identify best practices to increase success for historically-underrepresented college students including excerpts from my book, Access at the CrossroadsClick here to subscribe to this blog. Previously, I posted the new podcast episodes to this blog. I have now moved them to their own blog. Click on "my podcasts" tab above.


    Monsters University: The Way All Colleges Should Set up Web Sites

    I watched the Pixar animated movie, Monsters University, this evening. My history classes at University of Minnesota start up after Labor Day. As part of promotion for the movie, the Pixar animators created a website for the university with short videos touting the school's features, academic expectations, and the like. The website has been taken down (a victim of frequent hacking), but the short videos live on through a YouTube channel dedicated to it. In addition, to be very funny, the videos actually communicate some deep messages about belonging, academic and social opportunities, and the value of attending college. Take a look. Click on this link to go to the YouTube page so you can watch other videos.

    Living with Diabetes

    Normally this blog is focused on my academic work and scholarship by others.  A close friend and I were talking and the issue came up about my living with diabetes.  I shared the text below with him and thought maybe someone else might find it useful.  Unfortunately, diabetes is a fraternity that is gaining too many new members every day. 

    Dealing with Disease by Youself
    When you live alone, you do not have the luxury to just "lose it" by weeping or crying with the knowledge that the partner/spouse is there to excessively comfort, listen to the long complaints, and the rest.  I have the day job as professor at the University of Minneosta to keep me going and feel responsible to the kids in my history courses to show up prepared, grade their homework promptly, and attend meetings. 

    The Defining Moment
    My defining moment came when I was having my blood tested for being slightly anemic (a common diabetic fellow-traveler, not a big deal).  My general practitioner doctor sent me to the best doctor at the helath complex on the Minnesota campus for that, the hematology clinic.  I had no idea what it was.  Just another of the numerous clinics in this sprawling complex of buildings.  When I walked in I quickly realized this clinic served a large number of cancer patients.  Then I saw the child.  Probably six years old and lying on a gurney, too weak even for a wheelchair I guess.  It was impossible to guess the gender of the child.  The skin was like that of a white ceramic doll.  Except no facial or top hair.  The child's eyes were open, but lifeless.   I locked gaze with the child for a moment.  I think I tried to smile.  No reaction from the child.  At that moment, I guessed the child would never live to see Christmas.  That was the moment when all my angst over the numerous system failures of my body melted away.   

    Chronic vs. Acute Disease
    Diabetes is a chronic, but not an acute disease.  You die a little bit more each day and realize if you are lucky, you can finish life with most of your foot and only lose one or two decades of living.  Not all the afflictions hit you at once.  It is sort of like going to Baskin Robbins.  Trouble takes a number and waits its turn to attack.  I have a skilled family of doctors, staff, facilities, cheap prescriptions to keep going.  I try to help with going to the YMCA for exercise, watch what I eat at home, don't go out and eat steaks the size of car hubcaps, only eat out when doing so with a friend, and the rest.   

    I take ownership for causing all or part of my affliction and realize that genetics also played a part.  My body humbles me and encourages me to seek support from God rather than leaning on a family.  All life is precious and should be lived to the maximum.  I know too many people who died early from diabetes, particularly those from type one diabetes.  That was pure genetics and they contributed nothing to the consequences of the disease.  I feel responsible to those who are not here anymore.   

    A Slogan for Life
    I now include a saying at the bottom of my email messages.  I used to detest the email postscript message from others.   They always looked so happy and sometimes appeared to be trite.  Now I include the following message:  "Every day is Christmas when we make good choices. Those choices unwrap unexpected presents of joy that await us if we do our part and trust God for the rest."  I get the chance everyday to make choices.  Maybe not as many choices are available as be fore.  A favorite line from a Huey Lewis and the News song, "The Heart of Rock and Roll" says when talking about New York City where you can " half a million things at a quarter-to-three (in the morning).  I'm in bed at 3 am.  But no complaints from me.   

    The Journey
    Lots of people have stuff to deal with.  Some people with disabilities talk about others who do not appear to have physical problems as "TABS".  That stands for "temporarily able-bodied (TAB)".  It is not generally said in a mean way, but a recognition that eventually everyone will be afflicted short-term or long-term before they leave this planet.  For me, I focus more on enjoying each day and happy I have choices to make.  May I make them wisely.  I am a different person today as a result of diabetes.  I would like to think I am a better person.  I would prefer to have learned my lessons and shaped my character in a different way, but if this was the path to get where I am, so be it.  May your journey in life be one that makes you a better person.

    Why I Like Apple TV for Personal and Professional Reasons as a College History Teacher

    The following is one of the entries in my directory of favorite Apple TV apps for personal and professional use as a college history teacher. Click this link to download the latest copy of this directory and also one for iPad/iPhone apps.  Enjoy.

    I enjoy Apple TV since I am able to watch on a large-screen with a great sound system the same content that used to be confined to my iPhone, laptop, or desktop computer.  There is enough free content available through Apple TV that I could cancel my cable TV subscription.  I will be interested to see the bundle of cable channels that will be eventually available for a monthly charge from Apple. 

    At the University of Minnesota where I am a history professor, the Apple TV device has been integrated into a growing number of classrooms so that students can share video content through the room projection television system.  First-year students in the College of Education and Human Development receive an iPad upon arrival and use of it is integrated into many of their first-year courses.  I use the history apps to help me connect today’s events with the history topics we are studying in class. 

    Apple TV App Store Selection

    I believe the Apple TV has been an underappreciated technology that Apple has significantly improved through this fourth-generation unit.  This annotated directory identifies the apps that I use on my Apple TV unit at home on a regular basis for personal use and to identify news stories that I could integrate into my global history course.  There are many other apps that I do not profile in this abridged directory simply because they require an additional charge for their use or are not of interest.  A good example is all the educational apps for children and older youth.  I remember when I purchased my first iPhone and then with the first iPad and there were a relatively small number of apps.  Now the library of Apple apps exceeds half a million.  While I don’t expect the same exponential growth for Apple TV, their library will rapidly expand. Many of these Apple TV apps are also available for use on iPhones and iPads.  If you have set up for automatic download of new apps on all your iOS devices, do not be surprised to see some of these apps appearing on other Apple devices.

    Open the App Store on your Apple TV to browse apps. When you find an app that you want to add to your Apple TV, select the app.  Then select the price (Buy) for a paid app or select Get for a free app.  For some apps, the app can be used for free with limited access to the contents, but an “in-app purchase” unlocks all the content.  If prompted, enter your Apple ID password. Learn more about how to browse and buy apps.  With the revision of the App Store in May, you now can see the top paid, top grossing, and top free apps.  It appears that the list will list the top 200 of each category. 

    Some apps might require that you sign in; subscribe to a service; activate your account through your cable or satellite provider; or use another device, such as a computer, to complete the sign-in process.  If you can't sign in to an app on your Apple TV, contact the content provider.  Apps that you currently have on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch might also be available for your Apple TV. You can see your previous App Store purchases in the Purchased menu at the top of the main App Store screen.  Find out how to get your past purchases on your Apple TV.

    The Apple TV device allows many free Internet video sources to be accessed through televisions.  Unless noted otherwise, all apps in this directory are free to download and use on Apple TV.  There are others (especially games) that require a small fee to download (most under $5) and may also include in-app purchases for additional features or for games to obtain more resources. 

    Creating Folders/Subdirectories to Organize Apps

    Just as with the iPad and iPhone, custom subdirectories can be created to organize these apps.  The process is the same for creating this subdirectories as with the other Apple mobile devices, click on an app until it begins to wiggle.  Then drag that app onto another to create a subdirectory.  The Apple TV is intuitive and will recommend a name for this file folder.  If you want a different one, the name can be replaced by typing a new one.  The file folders can be dragged and dropped in different locations as well.  If you want to add a new app to a preexisting folder, clip on the app until it jiggles.  Then click the bottom button on the left side of the controller and a menu will appear.  Click on the preexisting folder and it will automatically move there.  Or create a new folder by clicking on the first option in the menu.

    In-app Purchases

    Some apps are free and offer in-app purchases for additional services.  In the Apple TV settings this ability to make these purchases can be disabled.  This is especially important with the game apps and use by children who might not feel inhibited regardless of what you say.

    Some Apps Download to Other iOS Devices

    A side benefit of some of the Apple TV apps is that they will download to your other iOS devices such as iPhone or iPad.  Part of the reason is that these apps were originally developed for those devices and then adapted for use on Apple TV.  This automatic downloading only occurs if the iOS devices have the automatic downloading enabled through the settings of the iOS device.  I have noticed that some Apple TV apps will download to the iPad but not to the iPhone.  This may have to do with whether they can display on the smaller iPhone screen than the larger iPad.

    Voice Command through Siri

    With the new Apple TV and remote, Siri is at your voice command.  Speak your requests and it'll get you results, even if they're really specific, like all movies directed by a particular director of featuring a specific actor.  If you use Siri from the home screen, it can search for a show, movie, or particular app among all apps.  Request a specific app ("Find the Tasting Table app") or a category of app ("Find music apps"). The software update also added support for dictation, so you can speak into search boxes or dictate usernames and passwords letter by letter. Just press the microphone button on your remote and spell things out. If your passwords have uppercase letters, just say it (for "davidA," say, "D-A-V-I-D uppercase A").

    Check the App Store Often

    This abridged directory contains apps that are often free and are of my interest and taste.  With additional ones being added weekly, this directory does not try to be inclusive of all of them.


    Annual Scope of Learning Assistance (Part Four)

     The following is an excerpt from my book, Learning Assistance at the Crossroads.  More information about obtaining a copy of the book is provided in the upper left-hand column.  It may already be in your school library.

    About 20 percent of institutions provide developmental courses and non­credit workshops for local business and industry. Two-year institutions are ten times more likely to offer these services than their four-year counterparts (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). About 50 percent of two-year colleges offer these services, compared with only about 5 percent of other types of institutions. Of the institutions that provide services to local business and industry, the most popular are in mathematics, followed by reading and writing (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). Although course objectives and content are similar, these courses are repackaged for the business commu­nity, when they are often called professional development and job readiness workshops. For example, a Fundamentals of English course might be called a business communications workshop, and a Fundamentals of Reading course might be repackaged as power reading. Commonly these workshops and courses are offered at the business site (89 percent) and to a lesser extent on the institution’s campus (74 percent) (National Center for Education Statistics, 1985, 1991, 1996, 2003; Lederman, Ryzewic, and Ribaudo, 1983; Wright and Cahalan, 1985).


    Annual Scope of Learning Assistance (Part Three)

    The following is an excerpt from my book, Learning Assistance at the Crossroads.  More information about obtaining a copy of the book is provided in the upper left-hand column.  It may already be in your school library.

    About 30 percent of first-time, first-year students enrolled in one or more developmental reading, writing, or mathematics courses since the 1980s. This rate rises to 40 percent of students who are the first in their family to attend col­lege (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003, 2005). For the past two decades, 600,000 to 700,000 first-year students enrolled annually in such courses. As a result of the research protocols used by the federal government for these stud­ies, the data do not include sophomores, juniors, seniors, or graduate students who enroll in remedial or developmental courses; students who participate in noncredit academic enrichment activities such as tutoring, group study review groups, learning strategy workshops, or similar activities; and students of any clas­sification who enroll in remedial or developmental courses in science or study strategies. Therefore, it is reasonable to estimate the number of students access­ing credit and noncredit services at 2 million annually (Boylan, 1999).

    The following finding comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s study focusing primarily on developmental courses (National Center for Edu­cation Statistics, 2003). Of students enrolling in these courses, three-quarters successfully complete them. Most students enroll in developmental courses during only one academic term. Students are twice as likely to enroll in the courses at two-year institutions than in four-year colleges and universities. About three-quarters of institutions offer only institutional credit for the courses, while others offer graduation credit. In these cases, the credit counts as a free elective. About three-quarters of institutions require students to enroll in remedial or developmental courses based on their entry-level test scores. This percentage has increased during the 1990s. About two-thirds of institutions restrict concurrent enrollment in graduation-credit courses and developmen­tal courses. Nearly a quarter of institutions establish a time limit for success­fully completing these courses. A traditional academic unit such as the English or mathematics department is the most frequent provider of developmental courses, with a separate developmental department following in frequency. Learning centers are less frequently used, though the percentage has grown.


    Annual Scope of Learning Assistance (Part Two)

    The following is an excerpt from my book, Learning Assistance at the Crossroads.  More information about obtaining a copy of the book is provided in the upper left-hand column.  It may already be in your school library.

    Understanding the scope of learning assistance throughout the United States requires careful review of national studies of enrollment patterns in developmental courses, participation in noncredit activities, and institutional and state policies affecting learning assistance activities. Table 1 focuses on one element of learning assistance, developmental courses in reading, mathematics, or writing. No uniform state or national reporting systems exist for noncredit services such as tutoring and attendance in learning centers (explored later in this report). The terms “remedial” and “developmental” course are used inter­changeably in this section.

    Learning assistance often expresses itself differently among various institutional types: two-year and four-year, public and private. The services also appear differently in these categories among institutions of differing admissions selectivity. Although noncredit services such as tutoring and learning centers are commonly found among institutions, the provision of developmental courses is more commonly found at two-year institutions. Many institutions, however, provide both credit and noncredit services.

    Many students who enroll in postsecondary education participate in learn­ing assistance activities in one form or another. Boylan (1999) confirms that nearly 2 million of the 12 million students enrolling in U.S. postsecondary education enroll in a developmental course or participate in other noncredit services such as tutoring or use of a learning center. Because 600,000 to 700,000 students enroll in the courses, more than 1 million students access noncredit services such as tutoring and learning assistance centers (Boylan, 1999; National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). For the past twenty years, nearly three-quarters of higher education institutions enrolling first-year students have offered at least one developmental reading, writing, or mathe­matics course. Although four-year research institutions decreased course offer­ings in this area during the 1990s (Barefoot, 2003), most institutions showed little overall significant change (National Center for Education Statistics, 1991, 1996, 2003). Offerings vary widely among institutional types. The highest percentage offering such courses are public two-year colleges (98 percent), fol­lowed by public four-year (80 percent), private two-year (63 percent), and pri­vate four-year (59 percent) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003).


    Annual Scope of Learning Assistance (Part One)

    The following is an excerpt from my book, Learning Assistance at the Crossroads.  More information about obtaining a copy of the book is provided in the upper left-hand column.  It may already be in your school library.

    It is difficult to estimate the total number of college students who use learn­ing assistance annually. Depending on the institution, learning assistance activ­ities may include enrolling in remedial or developmental credit-bearing courses as well as attending noncredit activities such as tutoring, using learning assis­tance center resources, or attending a study strategies workshop. Because this chapter focuses on contemporary uses of learning assistance, it emphasizes stu­dents who are academically underprepared in one or more academic content areas. This report, however, also includes case studies of learning assistance use by students who do not fit that profile. These students have used it to enrich their learning and support them with rigorous coursework in graduate and professional schools. These enrichment and noncredit learning assistance ser­vices expand the number of students participating beyond the one-third of all entering college students enrolling in a developmental course (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). Rather than counting the number of noncredit users of learning assistance services such as learning assistance cen­ters and tutoring, the national studies report the high percentage of institu­tions that offer these services (National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). As described earlier, the reasons for the use of learning assistance become more complicated when the same student accesses learning assistance in one class because of academic difficulty, uses a different set of learning assistance ser­vices in another to supplement his or her learning, and uses none in other courses during the same or subsequent academic terms. As stated earlier, the use of learning assistance is based on the need presented by the academic course and not necessarily an attribute of overall academic weakness by the individual student.

    Some institutions enroll a high percentage of students who are academi­cally underprepared in one or more academic content areas yet graduate them at high rates. The Community College of Denver, through the Center for Educational Advancement (, provides a comprehensive array of learning assistance services. Accurate assessment and course placement are essential, as most students enroll in one or more devel­opmental courses. Compared with other Colorado community colleges, this institution has the highest number and percentage of students enrolling in these courses. Students completing these required developmental courses grad­uate at a higher rate from college than students who were admitted and advised not to enroll in developmental courses. Comprehensive learning assistance ser­vices enable the institution to broaden access for students with a wider range of academic skills and achieve a high rate of timely graduation for all.

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