Sochi 2014: Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team projected to finish seventh?

From thestar.com:

An international sports data group has predicted that Canada won’t come close to winning a medal in men’s hockey at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

In fact, Netherlands-based Infostrada Sports projects that Canada’s men’s hockey team will finish seventh, just ahead of Slovakia.

Of course, the projection should be taken with a grain of salt. Infostrada’s statistical model is based on results in Olympic Games and world championships. More weight is given for recent events and the Canadian teams at the world championships were made up of players whose teams were eliminated from the NHL playoffs.

In the past four world championships, Canadian teams have been seventh followed by three fifth-place finishes — performances that have downgraded this country’s points tally.

Sweden (2013 world champion) is projected to win the Olympic men’s hockey gold in Sochi.

You can view the full article here: http://www.thestar.com/sports/sochi2014/hockey/2014/01/02/sochi_2014_canadian_mens_olympic_hockey_team_projected_to_finish_seventh.html

First Nations University of Canada charts path for next five years

From CTV News:

REGINA – The First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) unveiled a plan this morning, charting a path for the next five years following years of financial issues.

“The troubles in the past are the past,” said Lynn Wells, the school’s academic vice-president.

The five-year plan includes more community outreach, and developing new academic programs to meet an expected higher enrollment. The university also wants to attract more students from outside the province and eventually around the world.

But in order to achieve these goals, the dollar signs need to align.

“No post-secondary institution really has guaranteed funding,” said Juliano Tupone, acting president, and vice-president of finance and administration for the school. Financial troubles have plagued the school over the years, with the provincial and federal governments yo-yoing funding from the school.

“At this time, all the signals and information that we’re receiving is that our funding will remain in place,” he said.

The latest blow came last month when Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada announced it won’t renew its lease for its 3,200 square metre office on campus, creating a $1 million dollar hole in FNUC’s revenues.

Subsequently, “We might have to put off some hiring of new staff and that sort of thing, but we can accommodate that loss in lease revenue for some time,” said Tupone.

Jaqueline Anaquod, the president of FNUC’s students’ association, said she was pleased with the plan but would have wanted to see “concrete plans” to address the daycare shortage.

“Eighty per cent of our student population are female, and I’m guessing the majority of those are single mothers,” she said.

A daycare on campus is something first-year nursing student Erica Anaquod said would make things for her significantly easier.

“Having to go to daycare, and then have to drive back, and then get all the way here on time, and then also to find parking and what, so there’s a lot of issues there,” said the single mother.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1004549/first-nations-university-of-canada-charts-path-for-next-five-years/

Trinity Western clears law school hurdle despite gay sex policies

From O.Canada.Com:

A private Christian university in B.C. has been given the green light for a proposed law school even though the school has instituted discrimination against queer students.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has granted Trinity Western University preliminary approval for the proposed department. The decision will remove a major obstacle for the university to provide law instruction.

Federation approval means that school is considered capable of producing “graduates competent for admission to law society bar admission programs.”

Trinity Western’s proposal has been highly controversial due to a student code of conduct that forbids “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” That means no premarital sex for heterosexual couples, along with no sex whatsoever for queer students, as the school does not recognize same-sex marriage as legitimate despite it being part of Canadian law.

The footnote for that section leads to Bible passages that condemn homosexuality. In short, it’s a clear message that gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer applicants need not apply.

The school has insisted the queer students are welcome so long as they adhere to the code of conduct — a policy that amounts to “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t have sex.” Further, the university has said that queer students should apply elsewhere if they have a problem with their policies.

Aside from alienating queer students, critics say it’s improper for future practitioners of the law to be educated in a discriminatory environment. Protection from discrimination for the LGBT community is, after all, outlined in Canada’s laws.

The university was dismissive of that concern, and in fact any further debate, in a statement released Monday.

“We recognize,” said Trinity Western president Bob Kuhn, “that there has been considerable debate with respect to the fact that TWU is a faith based university. Now that the Federation has approved the program, we can move on from that debate and build an excellent law school to serve the Canadian public.”

You can read the rest of the article here: http://o.canada.com/life/education-life/anti-gay-trinity-western-university-clears-law-school-hurdle/

CollegeBookRenter.com Launches Big Giveaway And Discount Promotion Just In Time For The Holidays

From prweb.com:

CollegeBookRenter.com, a leading textbook rental company, has announced its “Thanks for Sharing” campaign will run from December 5th through December 20th. The company will be giving away daily prizes on both their website and Facebook page. People can create a CollegeBookRenter account or log into their existing account each day to be entered for that day’s prize. There will also be prizes given away on Facebook to users who like and comment on their posts.

“College is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenging one. We want to thank our current customers for letting us be a part of their education,” said John Wittman, CEO of CollegeBookRenter. “We also want to congratulate all students who completed the semester. While we can’t reduce the expense of tuition, we can help students save a lot of money on textbooks and give out some great daily prizes.”

Some of the holiday campaign prizes include an Xbox One and Playstation 4; an iPad Air; an iPad Mini; $500 gift cards to Southwest airlines and BestBuy; $200-$250 gift cards to Zappos, Ugg’s, Sephora, NorthFace, Anthropologie, and Tiffany’s & Co.; a year subscription to Netflix; and many more.

Students eager to save money on next semester’s books can save an additional 20% on CollegeBookRenter’s already discounted rates with the Early Bird special. Rentals placed by December 25th for spring classes are eligible and books can be kept until May 2014 for one flat rate.

In addition to renting textbooks,CollegeBookRenter buys back textbooks at the most competitive rates and even pays the shipping, providing a more lucrative option than most college bookstores. Customers who apply their return to future rentals will receive an even higher trade-in value.

On average, CollegeBookRenter saves students an average 74% on textbooks, a savings of $440 to $590 per semester. And, unlike many other book-renting outlets, CollegeBookRenter offers straightforward pricing options without costing customers costly monthly fees.

About CollegeBookRenter.com:
CollegeBookRenter.com is an online college textbook rental company owned by Instructional Materials Management Solutions. CollegeBookRenter has been helping students save money in the college marketplace since 2009. The company is dedicated to making college more affordable for students, by saving them up to 85% off of their textbooks. CollegeBookRenter aims to provide students with all of the materials that they need, without any hidden fees or monthly service charges.

You can read the rest here:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11394086.htm

Canadian study analyzes kids’ use of iPads in class

From metronews.ca:

TORONTO – A third of Quebec students surveyed about using iPads in class admitted to playing games during school hours and an astounding 99 per cent said they found the gadgets distracting, suggests a new study based on the experiences of more than 6,000 tablet-toting kids.

But even though just a few students said they felt a tablet helped them learn better, the report’s co-authors still concluded that schools should invest in the technology, although cautiously.

Researchers surveyed 6,057 students, who were enrolled in Grades 6 through 10, and 302 teachers about their experiences so far in using tablets daily in the classroom.

The report concludes that outfitting large numbers of students with costly tablets is a worthwhile endeavour, provided that teachers are well prepared and trained for the radical shift in delivering their lesson plans.

“It would appear that incorporating the iPad into education constitutes a necessary risk for schools, and that this technological tool has breathtaking cognitive potential,” states the report.

But co-author Thierry Karsenti noted that so far, teachers have generally not been well prepared to teach with tablets.

The report notes that 70 per cent of the teachers surveyed said they had “never or very rarely” used an iPad before they were introduced into their classrooms, versus 53.6 per cent of their students.

“Some of the teachers were getting the iPad on the first day of school with their students, can you imagine? All the students were on Facebook, Twitter and the teachers were like, ‘Oh my God, this is not working,’ and blaming the technology because he or she was not ready,” said Karsenti, the Canada Research Chair for information and communication technologies in education.

“You have teachers who are fully unaware of what’s going on in the classroom, they’re sitting reading their notes and the students are doing whatever they want.”

The report notes that a “surprising” number of students — more than one in three — admitted to playing games in class, sometimes with their teachers’ permission after an assignment or task was completed.

Researchers were also surprised that in some ways, the tablet technology wasn’t been used to its full potential. Students said they did relatively little reading on their tablets and were still using paper textbooks, while many assignments were still be submitted on paper rather than electronically. About 85 per cent of the students said they never or rarely used the iPad to prepare written work.

Students also admitted that outside of the classroom, their tablets were mostly used for fun, not work.

“They spent over 76 per cent of their time on the iPad outside the classroom on social activities, amusement, and other recreational uses,” the report states.

“When we add that they spent 12.7 per cent of their extracurricular time on gaming, we may conclude that the students viewed the iPad as primarily an entertainment device.”

Of the more than 6,000 students surveyed just two said they didn’t think distraction was a challenge, as did just one of the 302 teachers polled.

But Karsenti said dealing with distracted students isn’t a new issue for teachers.

“Distraction is a big challenge but we did a couple of studies on the use of cellphones in the classroom and even when it’s forbidden, 95 per cent of the students in Grade 10 and 11 were texting in class, when they’re not even allowed to have a cellphone,” he said.

“So distraction was there before, it was just more discreet. Now you’re officially allowed to be distracted. Good teachers will go around, move in the classroom, change things around, get students busy.”

When teachers were asked about the benefits of using iPads in class, about half said it opened up better access to information, 40 per cent cited the easy portability of the devices, and about a third said it allowed for greater collaboration.

When asked to rate their satisfaction with iPads as teaching tools on a scale of one to five (with five representing very or extremely satisfied) the average score was three, or moderately satisfied. The average score after asking students a similar question was 3.6.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://metronews.ca/news/canada/881346/canadian-study-analyzes-kids-use-of-ipads-in-class/

 

New York school all-in on all-digital textbooks

From the Buffalo News

WHITE PLAINS – At Archbishop Stepinac High School, the backpacks got a whole lot lighter this year because nearly every book – from freshman biology to senior calculus – is now digital, accessible on students’ laptops and tablets.

“The last couple of years, this would have been like 30 pounds,” says sophomore Brandon Cabaleiro, whose load nowadays includes just his iPad, his lunch and a jacket.

But the lost weight and a book bill that dropped from $600 to $150 were not the main reasons the all-boys Roman Catholic school north of New York City has gone all-in on the growing trend of digital textbooks.

Except for books on religion, all the texts the school uses are part of a digital bookshelf kept on an Internet cloud.

“We went to digital because it makes for better learning,” says Frank Portanova, vice principal at Stepinac. “This is the way kids learn today. And the online content is a lot richer. You’ve got assessments, you’ve got virtual labs, you’ve got blogging.”

All the books are available to all the students, so a junior can look back at the freshman algebra book to review a concept. Students can click to find every reference to “osmosis,” say, in all the books. The school’s technology director, Patricia Murphy, says the textbooks have been updated three times this semester alone.

Lisa Alfasi of New Jersey-based Pearson Education, publisher of the digital library, says Stepinac is the only school in the country, regardless of publisher, that arranged access to all books for all students.

Portanova says he’s already seen academic improvement: The list of students on academic probation “has shrunk substantially, which I really attribute to this digital textbook library.”

At Stepinac, where tuition is $9,000 a year, the boys buy their own tablet or laptop. And the transition from paper to digital has hardly been noticeable for a student body of 700.

“It’s just natural,” says Terrence Tonnock, a freshman.

Ann Flynn, director of education technology for the National School Boards Association, says there’s no reliable data on exactly how many schools are going digital, calling it “very much an evolutionary trend now.”

Some districts take a more creative approach than using just one publisher’s digital product. The Vail district in and around Tucson, Ariz., has pioneered a “Beyond Textbooks” curriculum that relies on materials that the teacher, not a textbook publisher, has either found or developed.

Going digital is not inexpensive. Stepinac had to invest $1 million in infrastructure, including increased bandwidth. The expense has been a barrier.

This month, foundations run by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates sent $9 million to a nonprofit working to improve connectivity in schools.

Even with expanded bandwidth, Stepinac had to block social media and gaming sites and has someone monitoring Internet use during the school day to make sure no student is downloading videos for fun or otherwise hogging bandwidth.

“It’s all great,” said junior Joseph Terrigno. “As long as the Wi-Fi doesn’t go down.”

You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.buffalonews.com/associated-press/ap-national-news/new-york-school-all-in-on-all-digital-textbooks-20131222

Canada’s men’s hockey team captures gold at world university games

From the Chronicle Herald:

Canada made it 2-for-2 in hockey at the world university games.

A day after the women’s team won gold, the Canadian men’s squad, comprised entirely of players from the Atlantic conference, defeated Kazakhstan 6-2 in the championship final Saturday at the 26th Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy.

Howie Centre’s Chris Culligan of UNB scored two goals to lead Canada to victory at the Gianmario Scola Arena in Canazei, Italy.

Acadia’s Mike Cazzola, Josh Day of St. Francis Xavier, Creignish’s Nick MacNeil of UNB and UPEI’s Matt Maione added single markers. MacNeil finished third in tournament scoring with 10 points, including seven goals.

Culligan, the team’s captain, also picked up an assist Saturday.

Saint Mary’s goalie Anthony Peters earned the victory with 19 saves. In four starts, Peters went 4-0.

The Canadian women, with St. Francis Xavier teammates Alex Normore of Bedford and Jenna Pitts of Antigonish, captured gold with a 5-0 victory over Russia on Friday.

The Canadian men went 5-1 overall, losing to Kazakhstan in round-robin play last Sunday.

Culligan scored five minutes into the second period Saturday to give Canada a commanding 4-1 lead and sealed the victory early in the final frame with his third goal of the competition.

“Like I said yesterday, the last two games we’ve been coming along really well as a group, the chemistry’s been great both off and on the ice,” Culligan said in a news release from Canadian Interuniversity Sport. “We came out and made it simple for ourselves, took advantage of our chances probably as good as we have all tournament. For us to do that in this tournament is pretty special.

“It’s great to be a world champion. It’s one of those things where everyone has to come together in such a short time, one of those things you can’t really explain. It’s a feeling you get, it’s something you’ll never forget and to do it with these guys and to be the person that represents them as their captain is such an honour.

“I’m really, really thrilled right now.”

The play turned chippy in the third period. Eight players received game misconducts, including three Canadians. Kazakhstan’s head coach and his assistant were also ejected.

The AUS all-stars also won men’s hockey gold in 2007 in Turin, Italy.

 

You can read the article here: http://thechronicleherald.ca/sports/1175461-canada-s-men-s-hockey-team-captures-gold-at-world-university-games

John Wiley & Sons Offers Big Upside and Limited Downside

From www.fool.com:

John Wiley & Sons (NYSE: JW-A  ) is an 84% durable, 16% non-durable business. But you wouldn’t know it based on how the stock market views the company.

The stock market currently prices Wiley as though even the durable aspects of its business will soon disappear. Meanwhile, peers Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK  ) andPearson (NYSE: PSO  ) trade inline with their actual business prospects. That Wiley trades at a discount is a head-scratcher — and indicates that a bargain is available.

John Wiley operates in an oligopoly with Reed Elsevier and others
Most laypeople know Wiley as a book publisher. They may have read a “For Dummies” book or used a Wiley textbook for a college class. Although it derives 43% of its revenue from book and textbook publishing, Wiley earns only 16% of its profit from these business lines.

This means that the book- and textbook-publishing businesses are of small importance to shareholders.

The bulk of Wiley’s profits — 84% — come from its research division. The research division is comprised of academic journals and associated niche books and databases. Wiley, Elsevier, and a handful of others dominate the academic journal market.

Wiley’s journals include Space Weather QuarterlySystem Dynamics Review, and Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System. These are extremely niche; there are only one or two journals of significance in many of these niches — and Wiley publishes them.

In his 2012 letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett argued that local newspapers tend to have wide moats because most cities and towns can only support one newspaper. Academic journals are like local newspapers — most niches can only support one top journal. So there competitors do not pose a threat Wiley’s journals.

Moreover, Wiley bundles its journals into an online offering called Wiley Online Library. Reed Elsevier and other publishers bundle their offerings too. This means that if a customer wants access to one journal, that customer needs to subscribe to the entire bundle.

Wiley’s academic journal clients are predominately libraries and government institutions. University and public libraries need access to journals; if a library was to not purchase any one of the major publisher’s bundles, its patrons would be unable to access top journals across many different fields. No library of consequence can afford not to subscribe to Wiley’s bundle. This gives the company tremendous pricing power.

In summary, Wiley’s journals have wide moats because they dominate niches and Wiley’s bundle has tremendous pricing power because it contains must-have journals. This makes up 84% of Wiley’s profits; so the vast majority of the company’s profits are protected by a wide moat.

Wiley’s less-protected businesses can be sold to Pearson at a premium
Wiley has two other segments: education and professional development. Education consists of textbooks (print and digital) and related multimedia aimed primarily at the college level. Professional development is Wiley’s book business, which includes the “For Dummies” series. Education accounts for 15% of companywide profit and professional development accounts for 1% of total profit. The two combine for 43% of total revenue.

Neither business is nearly as good as Wiley’s research segment and both have an uncertain future. Wiley’s books are primarily technical non-fiction; there tends to be many substitutes for these books. For example, Pearson’s “Idiot’s Guides” series often publishes books similar to Wiley’s “For Dummies” books. In addition, the proliferation of digital books puts downward pressure on prices, which negatively affects profits.

Wiley’s education segment is a better business than professional development, but is still not nearly as good as research. Some textbooks go through many editions and are clearly better than others, but most have direct substitutes. Although professors are not as price-conscious as the students who must purchase the textbooks, one textbook cannot sell at a much higher price than a substitute textbook. Moreover, grumbling about the cost of an education may prompt Congress to implement price controls or other forms of regulation. In any case, the future of the textbook business is uncertain.

Since textbooks and technical non-fiction books tend to have many substitutes, both segments are essentially commodity businesses. The only way to make out-sized profits in a commodity industry is to be the low-cost producer. Pearson, which has much greater scale than Wiley, can earn higher profits in the same businesses. Therefore, management could unlock value by selling its education and professional development businesses to Pearson.

Margin of safety
Even if Wiley does not sell its less-profitable divisions, the stock trades at a cheap price. Over the last five years, Wiley averaged $315 million in free cash flow. If you chop off 16% of that — which writes off all but the research segment — the company averages about $265 million in free cash flow. A wide-moat business that grows as quickly as inflation is worth about 15 times free cash flow. That puts Wiley’s intrinsic value at close to $4 billion. Divide $4 billion by 59.4 million shares outstanding and arrive at a value of $67 per share.

In the worst of all possible scenarios, one in which Wiley’s un-moated businesses suddenly close down tomorrow morning and never open again, the stock is worth 25% more than it trades for today. That is a stock worth owning.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/12/21/buy-john-wiley-sons-and-get-its-book-publishing-bu.aspx#.UrdFjmRDtU8

THE CHANGING TEXTBOOK INDUSTRY

The Internet is transforming the $14 billion U.S. textbook industry. Although this market represents only 1% of overall education spending, the changes brought by the Internet could result in significant improvements in the quality of education as well as cost savings.Legislation introduced on November 14, 2013 by Senators Durbin and Franken would accelerate this process.

The textbook industry is divided into two sectors of roughly equal size: K-12 and higher education. Three publishers, PearsonHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill Education, control the majority of the K-12 market. Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education,Cengage, and Wiley dominate the higher education market.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of textbooks has risen more than 800% over the past 30 years, a rate faster than medical services (575%), new home prices (325%), and the consumer price index (250%). The average college student spends more than $900 a year on textbooks. Not surprisingly, textbook publishers have been highly profitable. In 2012, McGraw-Hill’s profit margin was 25%; Wiley’s was 15%; and Pearson’s was 10%. Moreover, the profit margin of firms in the publishing sector increased on average by 2.5% between 2003 and 2012.

The Internet, however, has begun to disrupt this market. First, the Internet has facilitated the purchase and rental of used textbooks. Although publishers have long had to compete with the sale of used textbooks at on-campus bookstores, online platforms such as Amazon and Half.com (owned by eBay) enable the selling of books between students at different institutions. This is particularly helpful when one institution has adopted a new edition of a textbook, while another institution is still using an older edition.

Moreover, the Internet has facilitated the renting of textbooks. Companies such as Cheggand Amazon allow the rental of textbooks for periods between 30 and 180 days, at a discount from the purchase price. While the publisher collects revenue from the first sale of the book, the subsequent rentals could deprive the publisher of additional sales of new copies.

This use of the scale of the Internet to achieve a more efficient allocation of surplus resources is similar to other online services, such as AirbnbeBay, and RelayRides.

 

Second, the Internet has created a demand for digital textbooks, which has reduced the revenue of the established publishers.  In the higher education market — primarily a B2C market where textbooks are sold to individual students — the price a publisher can command for a digital version of a textbook is lower than that of a physical copy. In the K-12 market — primarily a B2B market where textbooks are sold to school districts — publishers typically charge a school district an annual subscription fee for an e-textbook, which defers income. For example, a publisher could sell a physical textbook for $75, but could only charge $12.50 for an annual subscription fee for the ebook version of that textbook. While over six years the revenue stream would total $75, in the first year the publisher’s revenue is down $62.50.

Third, and most importantly, the Internet has allowed the emergence of new competitors to the entrenched textbook publishers. These competitors take many different approaches. Some are for-profit businesses. Boundless provides low cost alternatives to standard college textbooks. While the average price of an assigned textbook is $175, Boundless sells an online textbook covering the same subject matter for $20. The search feature of the Boundless textbook allows the student to find the information that matches the content of the textbook pages assigned by the professor. Flat World Knowledgeoffers over 100 online textbooks, which professors can customize for their courses. Students purchase an individual textbook for $20, or a “Study Pass” to the entire catalogue for a higher flat fee. Bookboon employs an advertising model to make 1000 textbooks available for free download.

Probably even more transformational is the Open Educational Resources (OERs) approach. OERs are released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing. OERs include open textbooks as well as other materials that support access to knowledge such as lesson plans, full courses, and tests.  OERs usually are funded by government agencies or foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. In 2009, for instance, Congress included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act $2 billion for grants for community colleges to develop educational and career training materials that would be released under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.

The impetus for the development of open textbooks is the belief that they are less expensive for students (in higher education) and school districts (in K-12) than textbooks developed by commercial publishers. Moreover, open textbooks can easily be customized and updated by instructors, enabling them to provide a better learning experience for their students.

One of the leading providers of open textbooks in higher education is OpenStax College, operated by Rice University and funded by numerous foundations. OpenStax provides free access to peer-reviewed textbooks, which professors can customize for their courses.

In 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would fund the creation by California universities of 50 open textbooks targeted to lower-division courses. A California Digital Open Source Library would be created to host the textbooks, and the California Open Education Resources Council would oversee the book approval process. Student will be able to download the books for free, or purchase physical copies for $20.

California has also launched an open textbook program for K-12 students, with the objective of ultimately eliminating the state’s $400 million annual textbook budget. Utah, Florida, Maine and Washington State have begun similar initiatives.  Utah is focusing on textbooks in math, language arts and science. The books will be available for free online and for $5 for a physical copy. The Utah Office of Education decided to create open textbooks for use statewide following a two-year pilot program conducted by the Brigham Young University-Public School Partnership and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The textbooks used during the pilot program were based on OER materials developed by the non-profit CK-12 Foundation.

The movement towards open online education also presents potential competition for commercial publishers. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by platforms such asCoursera or edX typically provide the students with all course materials, thereby displacing textbooks. Even if MOOCs do not revolutionize higher education to the extent suggested by their proponents, open course materials created to support MOOCs nonetheless could supplant textbooks.

 

You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.project-disco.org/competition/112113-the-changing-textbook-industry/