Archive for November 2009

Internet Pie

November 21, 2009

Four students and a faculty member from the School of Communications are back from covering the 2009 Internet Governance Forum in Egypt.

Elon is the only university in the world that sends students to cover the global forum. Our coverage from Athens, Rio de Janeiro and now Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, is on our Imagining the Internet Center site.

Eugene Daniel speaking in Egypt

One of our students, Eugene Daniel, participated in a panel in Egypt where he discussed the persistent use of the internet in all aspects of his life including finances, schooling, social interaction and even ordering pizza.

It’s fascinating to look at internet penetration worldwide. Three-fourths of North Americans have internet access, according to Internet World Stats, whereas fewer than 7 percent of Africans have internet access. Europe is at 52 percent, Latin America 30 percent, and Asia below 20 percent.

The Middle East has the most rapid growth in internet penetration, from 23 percent in June to 28 percent just three months later. That’s fast growth.

The pie chart below takes the world’s population into consideration in projecting where the world’s internet users live.

As internet penetration grows in Asia and the Middle East, this pie chart will dramatically change. Because penetration rates already are higher in North America and Europe, the percentage of the world’s internet users in the Western Hemisphere will decline. Meanwhile, red and green on the pie chart will get significantly larger.

Elon’s 2009 National Pacemaker Award

November 8, 2009

Elon’s student newspaper, The Pendulum, has received the most prestigious award in college journalism — a 2009 national Pacemaker Award.

pendulum

Fewer than 20 universities in the nation received the award this year — student dailies at Yale, Minnesota, Michigan State, Oregon, Kent State and Ball State, and non-dailies at Elon, Indianapolis, MIT, Miami, Chicago, Nevada, Creighton, Western Kentucky, Columbia College, Alaska Anchorage, Cal State Chico, Art Institute Chicago, and Washington University.

For Elon, it’s a story eight years in the making.

Upon coming to Elon as founding dean in 2001, I remember remarking to a faculty member that, within 10 years, our student paper could be transformed into a national Pacemaker recipient. The faculty member smiled, but I don’t think he believed it.

We relocated The Pendulum to a prominent downtown location, added the presence of a staff adviser, and upgraded the newsprint quality. In turn, students redesigned the paper, splashed it with color, adopted a “daily” mindset through a vibrant Web site, and built a strong newsroom culture.

Congratulations to The Pendulum student staff and to adviser Colin Donohue for the success story!

A Moment of Change in Saudi Arabia

November 5, 2009
saudi-conversation2

Talking about U.S.-based accreditation with Saudi professors, who were gracious hosts; more than half of the department's professors have Ph.D. degrees from the U.S. or U.K.

RIYADH — Wanting to transition from a petroleum-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, Saudi Arabia now allocates about 25 percent of its national budget to education.

Still, for education to flourish, cultural change also will be needed — and I was an eyewitness to one small step.

On the final day of our accreditation consultation at King Saud University, another American dean and I met with two male and two female teachers in our hotel lobby. (No photograph was taken, and one of the women wore a full veil that covered even her eyes.)

The faculty members belong to the same Mass Communication Department and had talked on the phone before, but had never met face-to-face. Other than in fields such as medicine, that isn’t acceptable in the gender-separate culture of Islamic absolutism.

It showed in a dramatic way the power of American accreditation overseas. The pursuit of accreditation created this final-day conversation after we kept asking to meet faculty from the women-only campus some 20 miles away.

In time, the men’s and women’s campuses at King Saud University are to be side-by-side. And who knows, someday men and women may be in the same classrooms studying under the same teachers. After all, a new graduate-level university in the more-cosmopolitan Jeddah has co-educational classes, to the consternation of clerics.

But for now, in Riyadh, we witnessed an important breakthrough — male and female faculty in the same Mass Communication Department seeing each other for the first time.

From Illiteracy and Stuttering to ’60 Minutes’

November 1, 2009

Step_Out_on_NothingI read a terrific book while flying to the Middle East this week.

CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts, who is on the School of Communications Advisory Board at Elon, is the author of “Step Out on Nothing.”

The book tells the story of his functional illiteracy and stuttering problems that went deep into his schooling years, and how faith, family and friends helped him overcome enormous obstacles to become a correspondent for the nation’s premier news show “60 Minutes.”

Pitts writes about how his love for words is the result of his long struggle with literacy, and he tells about his broadcast journalism career leading to CBS News assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq and ultimately to “60 Minutes.”

His advice?  “Never say you’ll try. Say you will.”