Week of 1/14/13
It's difficult to measure success of online courses
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 13, 2013)
Research on the benefits of online education is mixed, and even universities with online experience express hesitancy about MOOCs, or massive open online courses.
The U.S. Department of Education, reviewing studies of online learning in 2010, concluded that "students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face interaction." But the studies focused on K-to-12 education. And most involved few students, said Shanna Smith Jaggars, assistant director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College.
Jaggars examined the experiences of more than 150,000 community college students in Virginia and Washing-ton state and found that those who took online classes were less likely to continue their education or receive a degree. She summarized a major complaint from the online students: "I feel like I have a hard time understanding what I'm supposed to do and getting that information from my instructor."
That research, Jaggars said, makes her wonder about the effectiveness of MOOCs: "The community college students we talked to seemed to place a lot of value on there being an actual person who had a relationship with them. It seems to me in MOOCs that's what they're taking out of the equation." ...
Coursera announced Wednesday that students in five courses - none from the University of Virginia - could receive a "Verified Certificate" if they provide ID and complete the classes.
Administrators at Old Dominion University and Virginia Tech said they still thought it best to go it alone in the online world. "What we're about is world-class, tenured faculty teaching courses," said Andy Casiello, associate vice president for distance learning at Old Dominion, where registrations in Internet classes exceeded 19,000 in the 2011-12 school year. "It's not about 75 TAs (teaching assistants) poring through message boards of students." (More)
Not lion: Charles makes us happy
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, January 12, 2012)
Thank you, Charles the Monarch, for your frightening, furry, funny mane.
News in January can be so hard to take: congressional conflicts, General Assembly antics, global warming warnings, Academy Award nominations. Drudgery after depression after disses.
Then came you, striding up Colley Avenue proud and playful, looking, from a distance and in the right light, like a baby lion. Maybe a lion "about the size of a Labrador retriever."
Technically, a Labradoodle, a Labrador-poodle mix owned by Daniel Painter, a Riverview resident and loyal fan of the Old Dominion University Monarchs, whose mascot - a-ha! - is a lion. Charles' haircut heightens his resemblance to the king of the pride lands. Especially when the pride lands resemble Foreman Field.
Police dispatchers received several breathless phone calls when Charles roamed free this week.
"I'd like to report a lion sighting," one caller said.
"Say that again?" replied the dispatcher.
Such callers might have been dismissed as folks with vivid imaginations had Charles not been so close to the Virginia Zoo.
So, technically, Painter should keep Charles the Monarch a bit closer to heel. But his adventure prompted more than 330,000 YouTube hits on Charles' video along with appearances on national news outlets including NBC's "Today."
Plenty of folks grateful for a reason to smile just want to give Charles a pat and a scratch. We're glad the Lab-a-lion calls Norfolk his jungle. (More)
ODU honors lion-y Labradoodle who fooled 911 callers
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 13, 2012)
He has appeared on national television, been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and was honored at halftime during an Old Dominion women's basketball game.
But Charles the Monarch's best trick? Sit and smile.
Charles, a Labrador-poodle mix with a well-groomed, lion-like mane, posed for pictures with fans an hour before ODU's tipoff Sunday. The 3-year-old dog generated a national fervor last week thanks to a few 911 calls about a baby lion on the loose Wednesday in Norfolk.
Fans young and old flocked to the Ted Constant Convocation Center to get a shot with the now-famous "Lab-a-lion," as owner Daniel Painter calls him.
"My friends are all jealous," said Lisa Jones, who was first in the photo line with 3½-year-old son Brody and a box of Milk-Bones for Charles. "They're waiting for the pictures already."
Charles' Facebook page has about 49,000 fans, and his Twitter account - @CharlesMonarch - has more than 1,000 followers. Now, the regular at the Monarchs' football tailgates has become a worldwide name. That, Painter said, is no exaggeration. (More)
PETA leader Ingrid Newkirk can still rattle cages
(The Daily Record (N.J.)/The Associated Press, January 9, 2013)
Ingrid Newkirk has spent half her life trying to get in your face. She'd like to keep that up after she's dead.
The PETA founder's last will and testament, posted on the group's website, reveals just how far Newkirk is willing to go in her mission to draw attention to the treatment of animals.
She wants her "meat" publicly barbecued, her skin made into leather products and put on display - and that's just for starters.
Wing nut? If so, she's our wing nut -a 63-year-old true believer who leads the world's largest animal rights group, headquartered in an office building that overlooks the Elizabeth River. And while Newkirk's final wishes may be just another over-the-top statement from an outfit that thrives on them, the woman herself is still a surprise. ...
Jeff Jones, a communications professor and pop culture expert at Old Dominion University, finds PETA's advertising fascinating - a game plan that shouldn't work, but somehow does.
"I can't get think of another example where the sole dedication to a cause overrides everything in its communicative message," he says.
By alienating so many, he says, "Catholics, Jews, women, fat people, Democrats, the anti-porn people," PETA has fostered a kamikaze-type image - "a name recognition that suggests they'll stop at nothing to get their point across. That's what makes people think they're crazy. And people don't want to trigger a response in the crazy. No one wants them on their trail." (More)
'Lion' dog on the loose spurs 911 panic
(The New York Post, January 11, 2013)
We'd be lion if we said this wasn't a dog.
Panicked residents of Norfolk, Va., called 911 after spotting this roaming, 3-year-old Labradoodle - a Labrador-poodle mix - that had been groomed to look like the king of the jungle.
But it wasn't a big cat, just a pooch named Charles, here in Times Square yesterday, enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.
"There was a lion that ran across the street. A baby lion. It was about the size of a Labrador retriever,'' HamptonRoads.com reported one caller telling 911 Tuesday.
"I just saw a baby lion,'' another anxious caller reported. "I don't think it has caused any problem so far."
Even police dispatchers bit.
"OK. You think it's looking for food?'' the police employee asked.
"I don't know.''
Cops reached out to the Virginia Zoo - but both its lions were accounted for.
It turns out that Charles, who enjoys the occasional pizza handout at the parlor near Old Dominion University, belongs to Daniel Painter, who runs a local lawn and garden business.
He had Charles shaved to look like Old Dominion's costumed lion mascot.
"I tell people he's a Lab-a-lion, and half the people believe that,'' Painter chortled. (More)
Scientist of the Week: Mounir Laroussi
(Laboratory Equipment, January 10, 2013)
Every Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry's latest headlines. This week's scientist is Mounir Laroussi from Old Dominion Univ. He and a team found that plasma beams can kill cancer cells while keeping the healthy cells intact.
Q: What made you interested in attempting to fight cancer with plasma beams?
A: In the last few years we showed that low temperature plasmas can inactivate bacteria while at low doses they do not affect mammalian cells. Plasmas are known to affect cells especially during their replication phases. Unlike normal cells that die naturally by a process referred to as "apoptosis" (or programmed cell death), cancer cells are cells [that] "forgot" how to die and keep replicating. Since cancer cells monopolize all the resources available to them to keep the replication going, they are most susceptible to be negatively affected by the chemically reactive species generated by plasma. We also hypothesize that oxygen based species generated by plasma may trigger cell signaling including that which leads the initiation of apoptosis.
Q: What are the future implications of your research and findings?
A: Plasmas appear poised to be a technology upon which a new healthcare approach could be based. The interesting thing about plasmas is they can be produced locally at the point of need. So there is no need for storage of chemicals/medications, inventory, etc... This is not only practical but also very economical. (More)
Flu hitting Hampton Roads hard
(WTKR-TV, January 9, 2012)
People across Hampton Roads are battling the flu and it's packing quite the punch.
Doctors think this might be one of the worst flu seasons in nearly a decade.
Hospitals in Hampton Roads have joined together and put out an alert asking folks to mask up to prevent spreading the flu.
Related: Area hospitals recommending masks to fight flu
NewsChannel 3 talked with several folks home fighting the flu via Skype and FaceTime Thursday.
Brittany Marsh is a waitress and ODU student. She's been stuck at home fighting the flu since Saturday.
"I couldn't move. I was coughing and sneezing and I had a fever, My body just hurt. My head hurt. Everything hurt," Marsh said. (More)
ODU student's 'invisible' prank goes viral
(WAVY-TV, January 10, 2013)
A prank where an "invisible" driver stumps drive thru workers has gone viral with more than 3 million hits on You Tube.
The prank was devised by 24-year-old Gazi Hussain, a student at Old Dominion University from Newport News.
The video has nearly 4 million views on YouTube so far. (More)
Invisible Driver at Drive-Thru Inspires 'Epic' Video
(ABC News, January 9, 2012)
Virginia college student Rahat Hossain had a bright idea. Why not create a car-seat costume, don it and wear it to the drive-thru windows at various fast food restaurants so it looks as though there's no driver in the car?
Hossain carried out his plan, then filmed the workers' reactions, which ranged from shocked to scared and mystified. The video, posted Tuesday on YouTube, had already racked up more than 1 million views as of Wednesday night.
In the video, a female worker opens the drive-thru window with a cheery "Hello," but, brought up short by the empty driver's seat, adds: "What the heck is going on?"
Others are genuinely perplexed. "Am I tripping, son?" another works asks herself upon seeing the empty car.
A third employee appears so confused that he repeatedly opens and closes the drive-thru window to look at the car, all while holding the bag with Hossain's order.
Hossain, 24, of Newport News, Va., said he made the car seat costume in about 12 hours. The costume covers him totally and matches the color of his own car seats perfectly, so the casual onlooker sees a driverless car. He said he was nervous the first time he tested it at a KFC.
"I was sitting there shaking, because I had no idea how this was going to turn out," the Old Dominion University student said Wednesday. (More)
Norfolk 911 calls for 'baby lion' turn up a coiffed dog
(AUDIO, The Virginian-Pilot, January 9, 2013)
The first caller was fairly calm.
"I'd like to report a lion sighting," he said.
"Say that again?" a dispatcher responded.
And thus began the drama over baby lion sightings in Norfolk on Tuesday. Police said Wednesday that they actually got three 911 calls about the "lion."
The first came at 10:19 a.m.
The animal was running on Granby Street, a male voice said.
Then a woman took the phone. She sounded anxious as she described the proximity to the zoo.
"There was a lion that ran across the street. A baby lion. It was about the size of a Labrador retriever."
It was near Granby and 38th, she said. "It's roaming loose in the neighborhood."
A second call came five minutes later.
"I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion." It had "the mange and everything," a man said. He had seen it on Delaware Avenue near Llewellyn Avenue.
"I don't know if it got away from the zoo, or what," he said.
The dispatcher said they already had received a report. "I'm not sure if it actually is a lion or not, but I'll update the information."
A third call came at 1:19 p.m.
"I just saw a baby lion at Colley Avenue and 50th Street," a man reported. (More)
Adorable Labradoodle mistaken for lion
(VIDEO, NBC Today Show, January 9, 2012)
Residents in Norfolk, Va., dialed 911 when they thought a lion was roaming around the town, but it turned out to be an adorable 3-year-old Labradoodle who was groomed to look like the king of the jungle. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports. (More)
Will Governor McDonnell's tax plan fix our transportation problems?
(WTKR-TV, January 9, 2013)
It's a no-brainer for people here in Hampton Roads that we need new tunnels, bridges and new roads.
But there is a big problem - the state's 17.5 cent gas tax, which pays for those projects, hasn't gone up in over 25 years, resulting in the roads we love to hate, and the traffic we hate to sit in.
Enter Governor Bob McDonnell, who at the beginning of the 2013 legislative session introduced a plan he says will fix our funding problems by getting rid of the gas tax, and increasing the sales tax to 5.8%, with all the money raised going to transportation.
The change won't mean a lot of money out of people's pockets. It will only increase the average Virginia family's taxes by $200 over the next five years.
Still, the plan is raising eyebrows of many around the state for not being big and bold enough, including ODU Professor of Economics James Koch.
"There isn't enough money coming from this to fix most of our problems. This will mostly be for repairing the holes in the road, not building new surfaces, tunnels or bridges," said Koch.
According to the Governor's estimates, his plan will raise $3.1 billion over the next five years.
Compare that to the expansion of the Midtown Tunnel. That one project alone cost $2.1 billion.
Economics professor addresses sales tax
(WAVY-TV, January 9, 2013)
Lawmakers and pundits are already battling over Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to end the gasoline tax and increase the sales tax.
The intent is to pay for roadways, but many are questioning how it would work.
10 On Your Side crunched some numbers with Old Dominion University professor Gary Wagner to see how it would really affect your wallet.
It cost Lucy Benavides just more than $56 to fill up her gas tank. Just more than $3 of that is the state gasoline tax.
Benavides said she fills up at least once a week so if the gas tax were to be dropped, she would save $145 per year.
"That's great, I would love that," Benavides said.
On the flip side, WAVY.com spoke with shopper Jennifer Worden who had just spent around $45. Her sales tax was $2.25 and would increase by 37 cents with McDonnell's proposal.
"It doesn't seem like it hurts all that much, I mean I guess 37 cents is 37 cents," Worden said.
But that can add up. (More)
Dog shaved to look like lion sparks 911 call in Norfolk
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 9, 2012)
The 911 caller reported that the baby lion was walking down Colley Avenue, possibly looking for food, near 50th Street. So police called the Virginia Zoo around 10:15 a.m. to make sure the lions were all accounted for, said Winfield Danielson, a zoo spokesman.
Mramba, the male lion, and Zola, the female, were in their habitats.
As it turns out, it was Charles the Monarch that was out and about.
Neighborhood regulars know Charles, who hangs out with his owner at Daniel Painter's business, Daniel's Lawn & Garden Center, on Colley Avenue.
Charles is a cross of Labrador retriever and poodle shaved to look like the mascot of Old Dominion University.
He likes to dine at University Pizza.
"He has a thousand-and-200-some friends on Facebook," Painter said Tuesday.
By evening, with the media attention, his fan base was growing.
Police spokesman Chris Amos said he did a double-take when he first saw Charles at an ODU game. On Tuesday, a Talbot Park Civic League official emailed people to tell them the "lion" was just a dog. (More)
Labradoodle passes for 'lab-a-lion' in Va. Beach
(Richmond Times-Dispatch/Associated Press, January 8, 2012)
A lion reported on the loose in Norfolk is actually a Labradoodle with a cut resembling the shaggy mane and tawny coat of a big cat.
Daniel Painter's dog, Charles the Monarch, so resembles the king of the jungle, police received a call Tuesday of a baby lion on the loose.
Police called the Norfolk Zoo to make sure their two lions were in their cages, which they were.
The dog's coif is, in fact, intended to look like the mascot of Old Dominion University.
This wasn't Charles' first case of mistaken identity. Painter said police have told him several times people have reported seeing a lion when it was really his dog.
He often tells people he's a "lab-a-lion." (More)
Va. Beach mayor says arena project is dead for now
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 9, 2013)
The proposed Oceanfront arena deal is dead for now, suspending once again the region's long-held hope to land a major league professional sports team.
Months of talks between an NBA team and the company that would have operated an 18,500-seat arena failed to yield an agreement that city officials could have taken to the General Assembly to make a pitch for state funds.
"The city doesn't see a clear opportunity at this point and, as such, it's not something we're aggressively going after," Mayor Will Sessoms said Tuesday. "The city is kind of withdrawing. We're not doing anymore consultants, lawyers or lobbying."
The Beach and its economic development authority have spent about $1.2 million on the arena proposal.
Sessoms said the sports and entertainment company Comcast-Spectacor will continue to negotiate with the team, which sources have said is the Sacramento Kings. ...
Some arena supporters and sports fans remained optimistic.
"The arena project is NOT dead.... This thing is far from over," said a post by the administrator of the Facebook page "Bring the Sacramento Kings to Virginia Beach," created by Old Dominion University student Chris O'Brien. (More)
McDonnell names Romero as health commissioner
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 8, 2012)
Gov. Bob McDonnell has named Dr. Cynthia Romero Virginia's next health commissioner.
She assumes the post after Dr. Karen Remley resigned in October, saying the environment in the wake of new abortion clinic regulations compromised her ability to fulfill her duties.
McDonnell's office on Monday announced the hiring of Romero, who serves as the first female chief medical officer at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and manages a private family medicine office, according to the administration.
A University of Virginia graduate who received a medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School, Romero served as the 2010-11 president of the Medical Society of Virginia. ...
McDonnell also appointed Lisa N. Robertson, a children's advocate in Hampton Roads and daughter-in-law of religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, to the State Board of Social Services. He appointed Joan Wodiska, director of the Education & Workforce Committee for the National Governors Association, to the Virginia Board of Education.
Oktay Baysal, dean of the Batten College of Engineering & Technology at Old Dominion University, was appointed to a full term on the Board of Education. (More)