Another One Million Students in Online Classes

by bcarr on January 14, 2011

The wonderful folks at Sloan are out with their 2010 Survey of Online Learning — and enrollment online rose by almost one million students from 2009. More than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide surveyed finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.
“This represents Online Studentthe largest ever year-to-year increase in the number of students studying online,” said study co-author I Elaine Allen, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group and Professor of Statistics & Entrepreneurship at Babson College. “Nearly thirty percent of all college and university students now take at least one course online.”
Other report findings include:
The 21%growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population.
Nearly one-half of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for face-to-face courses and programs.
Three-quarters of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and programs.
The eighth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States.
The complete report, “Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010” is available here.

{ 1 comment }

AdTech: The Best for Last

by admin on November 6, 2009

It was AdTech’s last forum, last hour, and they were the last two speakers. But they ended strong. Richard Zwicky, president and founder of Enquisite, gave an impassioned plea for accountability in the SEO space for metrics, focus and budgets. Sharing the message was co-panelist Ryan DeShazer of GyroHSR.

Speaking at today’s optional Friday “Feed Your Brain’ Session on Web Analytics, the duo pointed out that 95% of all referrals come from organic search, yet a typical company’s organic search teams and budgets receives on average less than 3% of a company’s spend. Put another way, they said, organic drives 11.5 times the traffic of SEM, but paid search gets 33 times the budget.

That lopsidedness is natural because SEM spends are measurable, adjustable and produce instant results for better or worse, because of the strong analytics reports that come with spends. So why not have same the same metrics for SEO?

The issue, they said is that SEO metrics are basically left to traffic and “page rank” reports. DeShazer went as far as to say that 18 months ago, he realized that page rank reports are basically meaningless because they don’t go into the depth of SEM reports and tracking on conversion, user intent, and keyword-specific  efficacy.

For example, we can tell an organic search listing send a visitor to a site and that it converted. But what position was that link on the search result on the page at the time of click? They refer to it as “Return on Rank: What is the financial impact of working and investing in SEO to get the the fifth position as opposed to the 8th? We can track all that with SEM, not so much with SEO.

I used to work with a guy who had a sign in his office: In God We Trust, All Others Bring Data.” Let’s look for more SEO data and conversion analytics that mirror the detail in SEM campaigns.

The best practice, they said is to have a strong SEO organization whose goal is that 90 percent of its traffic comes from non-branded search terms — those deep in the tail.


Why Austin-Amercan Statesman ‘Gets It’

by bcarr on August 31, 2009

Last month, a good friend and mentor pointed to this New York Times photo gallery of “One in Eight Million,” a beautifully produced photo essay about a slice of life by the Times online staff. He wrote:

This kind of on-line content is why the NY Times will thrive. And the lack of this kind of content is why other newspaper websites will be distant memories in the not-too-distant future.”

My response to him was some rather harsh disagreement that such beautifully produced, and expensive content — especially given away free with no ad support — is exactly why newspapers were in trouble.

My suggestion to is to look instead at what the Austin-American Statesman did on Sunday along the similar idea and at virtually no cost. Dubbed: “Our Day in the Heat,” the Statesman instead relied on crowd-sourced content from the region to get a true slice of community life during an especially trying heat wave.

Austin-Statesman reader Shawnna Donop submitted this photo of a squirrell trying to beat the heat on her back porch.

Austin-Statesman reader Shawnna Donop submitted this photo of a squirrell trying to beat the heat on her back porch.

Using the free social media platform Posterous, Statesman readers simply e-mailed photos that were easily approved or rejected by the Statesman online staff.  The gallery is not as polished as the Times’ black-and-white Photoshopped pieces of art, nor does is want to be. Frankly it’s more fun and full of whimsy, and cost virtually nothing to produce.

Unlike some typical newspaper photo galleries, this one charged readers with a specific task and turned them into de facto sources. For example, has a gallery of New York State Fair pictures taken by readers, but the interface to upload them is clunky and there’s no overriding theme except the Fair. A better play would have been to “Take a picture of the most relaxed person at the State Fair” or “Find the most look-alike couple” on the boardway or “the best sundown at the State Fair picture” or some such list of categories.

Soon enough, you’ll be seeing more crowd-sourced audio and photo essays appearing on local news sites as the commoditization of coverage reduces expenses and allows more voices to be heard.

Not convinced that’s a bad thing.


MSNBC Buys Hyper-Local News Site

by bcarr on August 18, 2009

In a  boost for the “non-profit foundations should take on media” crowd,, a hyper-local news site that tracks everything from


news videos to rerstaurant inspections in big-city neighborhoods, has been acquired by MSNBC for an undisclosed sum. EveryBlock covers markets in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Seattle and Washington. Here’s the kicker: They were founded only a year and a half ago with a grant from the Knight Foundation. That grant expired June 30, and the six site employees have cashed in with the MSNBC deal.


Nice Boost in Ann Arbor — Will It Last?

by bcarr on August 17, 2009

Lots of inside-the-news- buzz  about the Ann Arbor News‘ move to online has paid off with a significant boost to its online numbers in July. is reporting the average monthly number of indivuduals that went to the site increased more than 1500% in July 2009, from 4,000 in June to 57,000 in July. The only problem is we’ve seen this before, when the attention was on the Rocky Mountain News closing and its spinoff, I Want My Rocky.

As the chart shows, we see a very similar spike the first month, followed by a hard crash and no revival.

But it looks like AnnArbor and publisher Laurel Rogers are off to a much better start — they already have 10,300 pages indexed by Google (and not legacy pages either) compared to just 1,300 for the Rocky, which has been at it for five more months. Ofcourse, Ann Arbor is just a LiveJournal blog trying to support a staff of 54 people, inexplicably including two adminsitrative assistants, so not sure it will be at all profitable.

My prediction is for a settling in at  7,500 to 10,000 unique visitors in August. We’ll see.


Boston Globe’s Auto Section is a Sellout

by bcarr on July 12, 2009

Sad to see the Boston Globe’s sell out its editorial voice.

Sometime in early April or so, the supposedly independent voice of New England turned over its Autos section to the Advertising/Sales department.  That meant they no longer have their writer, Royal Ford, who was a talented must-read on Sundays. After a spirited ride through any of his columns, New England car shoppers and aficionados knew all the test model’s pros, cons,  prices, must-purchase options, horrible waste-of-money options, good times to buy, and the comparison cars to shop it against, and more.

Occasionally he’d throw in an auto-history nugget, a giddy account of an Autobahn run, bg1a European factory tour, or open his mailbag. Great objective stuff and a weekly must-read. I never met the man, but he was a close friend on Sundays  for sure.

Now: The Globe’s Auto section is utter pablum. In a week that saw the rebirth of  GM and the announcement that the new Chevy Camaro orders have topped those of the Ford Mustang, the Globe gave us nothing in depth on the Sunday Auto pages. Instead we get a single “column”  about the Infiniti G37, published after an advertiser-approved process. And it is utter tripe:

Globe: “(The G37) Exhibits typical European restraint: Tidy headlights, conservative tails and relatively straight lines…The G37 also looks distinctly Japanese, the lines meander with near-recklessness.”
Translation: So if you like European styling you’ll be happy. If you like Japanese styling, you’ll be happy. Now run out to that Infinity showroom, and tell them the fence-riding Globe sent you.”

Globe: “The stick shift is rubbery and longish, has short throws and precise movements.”
Translation: Again, you’ll apparently be happy no matter what type of shifting feel you like, so can we get you in a car today?

Globe: “Infiniti’s four-wheel active steering, which includes a variable steering ratio, is optional.”
Translation: Actually, I’m stumped.  What the heck do these options do? Clearly the writer can regurgitate a company-provided list of options. But readers have no idea how these options performed in Boston city streets and if they are worth buying.

Globe: “If you live in an area where the pavement is especially bumpy, like say the Midwest, you may want to consider a trim with a regular suspension…
Comment: Dear Boston Globe: Last I checked, well more than 500,000 Sunday subscribers still live right here in New England, where we’ve been known to have a pothole or two.

Let’s hope new local owners can bring us a short turning radius and get the Globe on track again.

{ 1 comment }

Top 10 U.S. Newspapers Likely to Close

by bcarr on March 10, 2009

Sobering analysis from the folks at Time Magazine and 24/7 Wall Street  as they name the top 10 newspapers that are likely to fold or at least stop printing and move completely online in the next 18 months. 

Here’s the list:

  1. The Philadelphia Daily News
  2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune
  3. The Miami Herald
  4. The Detroit News
  5. The Boston Globe  is, based on several accounts, losing $1 million a week. One investment bank recently said the paper is worth only $20 million. The paper is the flagship of what the Globe’s parent, the New York Times, calls the New England Media Group. The Times has substantial financial problems of its own. Last year, ad revenue for the New England properties was down 18%. That is likely to continue or get worse this year. Supporting larger losses at the Globe will become nearly impossible., the online site that includes the digital aspects of the Globe, will probably be all that remains of the operation.
  6. The San Francisco Chronicle
  7. The Chicago Sun-Times
  8. The New York Daily News
  9. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Wow, what a list. Great analysis by Time and 24/7 Wall Street.  It’s not over yet — at least the Los Angeles Times may have found a sugar daddy.


Insert Your 30-Point Metaphor Here

by admin on March 2, 2009

Couldn’t figure what theat screeshing noise was this morning as I took the snowblower to the 10 inches of snow on the driveway. Sadly, it was the Boston Globe, judiciously Crunch - Globe in snoblowerplaced in my driveway by a trusty delivery guy in the early a.m. before the heavy stuff started to fall.

There’s a few 30-point “Snow” pun headlines here that I’ll just spare you all, you know. I wrote enough of those in my Syracuse days. 

Snow Kidding.


Boston Still a Two-Newspaper Town

by admin on February 28, 2009

Sadly, just a day after Denver became a one-newspaper city, we learn another 20 buyouts are needed to take a buyout at the Boston Herald, heraldwhich Publisher Pat Purcell said will still be in the black for 2009, but needs the cuts anyway.

“We’ve probably been ahead of most other newspaper companies,” said Purcell, when asked about financial trouble facing papers in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and elsewhere. “We have defied the odds for a long time. We continue to defy the odds. We expect to be around for a long time.”

This city needs The Herald, founded in 1846 and if nothing else, a survivor of  Boston newspaper wars over the past century. Exhibit A: In the 1970s, the official name of the paper was the Boston Herald-Traveler and Record American in the morning and Record-American and Boston Herald Traveler  in the afternoon, showing the three other papers that had been absorbed saveover the years by the Herald.

Unfortunately, I need one of the old  Atex systems’  “Save-Get” Keys for these newspaper layoff notes.


R.I.P. to the Rocky

by admin on February 27, 2009

Growing up in a three-newspaper house, this is too incredibly sad to talk about. A fantastic video here on the Rocky’s last days. Good luck folks.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.