Logo

Lynda.com training available for MTSU faculty, staff, students

To hear the talk around MTSU, you might think there is a new teacher on campus named Lynda whose class everyone wants to take.

And you wouldn’t be far off — the University’s new contract with online training website Lynda.com is creating a lot of buzz this fall.

Billy Pittard, chairman of MTSU’s Department of Electronic Media Communications, knows the company’s namesake, Lynda Weinman, and in fact worked for her three years before joining the MTSU faculty in 2011.fall_2016_communicator_lynda_graphic

He said the campus-wide Lynda.com subscription is a tremendous benefit for educators, staff and especially the University’s 22,000-plus students.

Billy Pittard

Billy Pittard

“It’s a tragedy when you have to spend class time teaching software skills, because everyone is at different levels,” said Pittard, who worked at Lynda.com in California during 2008–2011. “This is one of those opportunities to flip the classroom. You can assign learning software skills outside of class, then in class learn how to do something worthwhile with that software.”

Frustrated over the complex, hard-to-follow technical manuals available at the time, Weinman launched Lynda.com in 1995 as a site where students could get free training. Such resources are common today, thanks in large part to her work.

With thousands of training videos, Lynda.com is designed to help anyone learn business, software, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals.

Pittard, who developed content and recruited teachers for Lynda.com, said the first step in getting the most out of the website is to learn how to learn from it.

“You can go ahead and browse Lynda.com to get ideas about how you might use the materials for your classes—and also about how you might use them for your own professional/personal development. Lynda.com has excellent search-ability, so give that a try for any specific topics you might be interested in,” Pittard said.

He said his department has been using it for years and envisions a benefit for every campus college.MTSU Wordmark

“You can assign a whole ‘course’ and require the students to earn a certificate of completion. The subscription includes the ability to download all materials used in the course videos,” he said.

The benefit for MTSU students from this subscription will be long-lasting, he said, both for their education and subsequent career. An individual subscription to Lynda.com costs hundreds of dollars.

“When I was working at Lynda.com, it was amazing to me the feedback we got from subscribers. A total stranger would walk up and say, ‘So you work at Lynda.com?’ I would say, ‘Yeah.’ They would say, ‘I got my job because of Lynda.com,’ ” he said.

Michael Wheaton

Michael Wheaton

“For someone trying to learn a piece of software, I honestly don’t think there is a better way.”

Michael Wheaton, assistant to the director of library technology at the James E. Walker Library, has already discovered that.

“I was trying to figure out how to make a YouTube video accessible to people with hearing disabilities. I was having trouble figuring out how to caption a video,” he said.

He did a quick Lynda.com search for “captioning YouTube video” and 3 minutes later was doing it.

“I didn’t have to sit through a long lecture that covered way more than I needed to accomplish that task. Instead, I received exactly the dose of information needed,” Wheaton said.

“Because Lynda.com tracks progress by user, it allows larger training packages to be broken into manageable chunks based upon the amount of time available, and when it is convenient, students return right where they left off.”

— Craig Myers, Information Technology Division

MTSU survey: State consumers sour on economy, prefer Trump

Tennessee consumers are feeling much less positive about the economy headed into fall and prefer GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to address economic issues, according to the latest statewide consumer survey results from Middle Tennessee State University.

The overall Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index measured 47, down sharply from 77 in June, and the declining outlook was consistent across all three regions of the state. The current online survey of 621 Tennessee residents was conducted Sept. 2-12, with a margin of error of 4 percent.

tn-consumer-outlook-chart-sept2016

Respondents were also asked a series of questions relating the two major party presidential candidates (Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton) to economic attitudes. Overall, Tennessee consumers favor Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton when it comes to the economy, a general pattern consistent across the state’s three regions.

The Office of Consumer Research in the MTSU Jones College of Business conducts the quarterly survey, which consists of a series of questions that measure areas such as how consumers feel about the local, state and national economies as well as their personal financial situations and the job market. A copy of the full report and previous report are available at www.mtsu.edu/consumer/tnoutlookreports.php.

Dr. Tim Graeff

Dr. Tim Graeff

Dr. Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research, noted that one of the index’s subcategories, the Current Situation Index, slipped further into the negative range this month, dropping to -27 from -10. Only 15 percent of Tennessee consumers said current economic conditions in the country are “good,” whereas 28 percent said they were “bad.”

This word cloud shows the sentiments of Midstate consumers who responded to the September 2016 Consumer Outlook Index online survey.

This word cloud shows the sentiments of Midstate consumers who responded to the September 2016 Consumer Outlook Index online survey.

Perceptions of the state’s economy are a bit more positive, with 28 percent saying “good,” and 19 percent “bad.”

Concerns about the job market continue to drag down consumers’ outlook, Graeff added, with only 12 percent of respondents saying that jobs are “easy to find” compared to 31 percent who said they are “hard to find.” And only 17 percent expect there will be “more job openings” in the next six months.

Middle Tennessee consumers continue to be the most optimistic about the economy, with West Tennesseans being the most pessimistic.

For more information, contact Graeff at 615-898-5124 or Tim.Graeff@mtsu.edu. Or visit www.mtsu.edu/consumer.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

tn-consumer-outlook-graph-sept2016

New provost featured on MTSU’s ‘Out of the Blue’ TV show [+VIDEO]

Veteran MTSU administrator Dr. Mark Byrnes, who became interim provost in April, is the featured guest on September’s “Out of the Blue,” the university’s public affairs television program.

This month’s program, which airs on NewsChannel 5+ and cable outlets throughout Middle Tennessee, also includes an interview with Dr. Chrisila Pettey, chair of MTSU’s Department of Computer Science, and looks back at the August commencement speech by former Faculty Senate president Dr. Tricia Farwell.

Andrew Oppmann, the university’s vice president for marketing and communications, became the show’s permanent host in September.

The show has had interim hosts since the departure of Mike Browning, who left MTSU in 2014 to become public information officer for the city of Murfreesboro. Watch the full episode below:

https://youtu.be/TWx9pRJJWRA

Byrnes, a 1983 graduate of MTSU, joined the university faculty in 1991 and has served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts since 2010 until he was named chief academic officer by President Sidney A. McPhee. Byrnes talks with Oppmann about his new role and his goals as provost.

Andrew Oppmann

Andrew Oppmann

Pettey recalls in her segment the successful Hack-MT, a 36-hour marathon in MTSU’s Science Building last January, when students teams from around the region created apps, games and gadgets.

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Dr. Chrisila Pettey

Dr. Chrisila Pettey

And the show concludes with a four-minute clip from Farwell’s commencement speech in August, which was described by McPhee as the shortest such talk in the university’s history.

“Out of the Blue” airs at 3:30 p.m. Sundays on NewsChannel 5+, which can be found on Comcast channel 250 in Nashville and Murfreesboro; Charter channel 182 in Nashville and WTVF’s HD channel 5.2.

It also airs daily at 7 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Comcast channel 9 (MTSU’s Education Resource Channel) in Murfreesboro; AT&T U-Verse channel 99 in Murfreesboro; channel 195 on DTC Communications in Alexandria, Tennessee, and channel 206 digital on United Communications in Chapel Hill, Tennessee.

It is available online on the university’s Out of the Blue playlist on YouTube, which can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/MTSUOutoftheBlue.

Sept. 21 MTSU symposium focuses on reducing gang-related violence

MTSU is providing a forum on Wednesday, Sept. 21, for an in-depth discussion of one of the most pervasive social issues of our time: reducing gang violence.

MT Engage logo-webMT Engage, a program focused on enhancing student engagement, will sponsor a symposium on gang violence reduction hosted by the university’s Department of Criminal Justice Administration and Department of Social Work from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in the Student Union’s Parliamentary Room.

A printable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Dr. Michael Sherr

Dr. Michael Sherr

“Making serious inroads to reduce gang violence requires multisystemic problem-solving and action,” said Dr. Michael Sherr, professor and chair of the Department of Social Work.

“The symposium brings students and community members together to raise awareness and discuss options for addressing such a devastating social problem.”

Dr. Carter Smith

Dr. Carter Smith

Dr. Carter F. Smith, a lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice Administration, will moderate the panel discussion.

Smith is a three-time winner of the Frederick Milton Thrasher Award from the “Journal of Gang Research” for excellence in scholarship and service in public safety issues posed by gangs.

“Both our areas are putting Band-Aids on a problem,” said Smith. “Nobody’s doing radical surgery. If you would have criminal justice professionals talking to social work professionals on an ongoing basis, both of their jobs would be easier.”

The panel will include:

  • Neal Pinkston, district attorney general for Hamilton County, Tennessee, and an MTSU alumnus.
  • Dr. Barbara Turnage, a social work professor at MTSU.
  • Cornelius Carroll, a former gang member who is now a nationally recognized gang expert, counselor and author of “Black Gangs in America.”
  • Detective Sgt. Chris Haney of the Murfreesboro Police Department’s gang unit.
Dr. Barbara Turnage

Dr. Barbara Turnage

“Looking at gang membership through a variety of lenses — sense of belonging, support system, identity, etc. — I will be focusing on what gang membership gives to the youth, not just the harms of gang membership,” said Turnage.

Street gang membership increased in about 49 percent of law enforcement jurisdictions between 2012 and 2014, according to the 2015 National Gang Report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The same report states that 50 percent of jurisdictions had increased gang-related crime during that period. About a third of jurisdictions report an increase in gang threats to law enforcement.

The symposium is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact Sherr at 615-898-5673 or michael.sherr@mtsu.edu or Smith at 615-656-3505 or carter.smith@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

2016 gang violence symposium poster web

BERC: Home prices still on upswing; delinquency rates drop in 2Q

As the unemployment rate remains low, Tennessee’s housing market continued to perform well in the second quarter of 2016, according to the latest statewide report from the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center.

Dr. Murat Arik

Dr. Murat Arik

“One of the highest points this quarter is in the area of home closings and inventories,” said BERC Director Murat Arik. “Every area tracked in this report showed positive performance over the quarter and especially over the year.”

Also, home prices are up in every area the report tracks for the first time in over four quarters, with major growth in the Nashville MSA (up 9.8 percent), Jackson MSA (up 4.9 percent) and Morristown MSA (up 4.6 percent). Statewide, housing prices increased 6.3 percent versus 5.4 percent for the United States in the second quarter.

The report is funded by Tennessee Housing Development Agency to provide regular metrics on the state’s housing market. See the full report with detailed breakdowns and summaries at http://mtsu.edu/berc/housing.php.

Click the image for the detailed second quarter housing report, with charts and summaries, from the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center.

Click the image for the detailed second quarter housing report, with charts and summaries, from the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center.

Other report highlights include:

  • Tennessee quarterly homeowner and rental vacancy rates declined.
  • Over the year, Tennessee housing permits outperformed the South and the U.S.
  • Over the year, inventory fell and home sales rose in all three metro areas (Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville).
  • Mortgage delinquency rates are down overall for Tennessee.

Under contract with THDA, BERC releases the “Tennessee Housing Market” report each quarter. The report offers an overview of the state’s economy as it relates to the housing market and includes data on employment, housing construction, rental vacancy rates, real estate transactions and mortgages, home sales and prices, delinquencies and foreclosures.MTSU Wordmark

The Business and Economic Research Center operates under the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU. For more information, visit http://mtsu.edu/berc/.

THDA publishes research on affordable housing, its programs and beneficiaries. THDA also coordinates state planning for housing through the Consolidated Planning process, annual Action Plans, and annual Performance Reports.  See http://thda.org/research-planning/research-planning for more information.

MTSU will test tornado sirens across campus this Wednesday

MTSU plans to test its tornado sirens on campus and at the Miller Coliseum Complex Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 11:15 a.m.

This will be a brief, routine test of the system, and no safety actions will be required.

If harsh weather is in the area around the time of the scheduled testing, the test will be canceled.

MTSU notifies the campus and surrounding neighborhoods before these tests each month. Tests are conducted on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays to minimize distractions for classes and neighbors.

Members of the campus community can prepare for emergency weather situations anytime by checking MTSU’s list of recommended shelter locations at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUTornadoShelters. You also can make note of the siren-testing schedule by visiting www.mtsunews.com/tornado-siren-testing. Bookmark both sites!

Remember that, in the event of a weather emergency, all students, faculty and staff automatically receive a Rave alert at their MTSU email addresses. If you’re not already receiving text and/or voice alerts too, visit www.mtsunews.com/weather and use the “click here and log in” link to make those notification changes.

Dairy Hill Stampede 5/10K runners to start at MTSU Dairy Sept. 17

The fourth annual Dairy Hill Stampede 5K and 10K race will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the MTSU Experiential Learning and Research Center atop the hill adjacent to the MTSU Dairy, 3211 Guy James Road in Lascassas, Tennessee.

The event benefits the Farm Animal Coalition of Tennessee and the Veteran’s Recovery Center Council. Late and race-day entries are welcome; register online at http://tinyurl.com/hwl8gjq. To view a course map, visit www.tnfacct.com/dairy-hill-stampede-map.

dairy-hil-stampede-postcard-2016-web

Runners will receive a gender-specific tech T-shirt, cowbell finisher medal, fresh-baked breads and MTSU chocolate milk at the finish line, said Dr. Rhonda Hoffman, MTSU professor, interim horse science director and Dairy Hill Stampede volunteer.

There are also age group trophies and a perpetual trophy for the largest team. Both the 5K and 10K races are USA Track & Field-certified courses.

Rick Insell

Rick Insell

Dr. Rhonda Hoffman

Dr. Rhonda Hoffman

There are also “virtual” options for both races, allowing the distance to be run off-site, Hoffman said. Virtual runners can pick up their tech T-shirts and report their times to get finisher medals at the Farm Animal Coalition’s office in Murfreesboro.

In previous years, some virtual participants were veterans or others who needed to complete their race distance at H3O Aquatics on an underwater treadmill.

Coach Rick Insell and members of the Lady Raiders basketball team will be at the finish line to present medals and awards, just as they have for the last three years.

MTSU’s involvement includes representation on the race committee, site-hosting and personnel support for the race, Hoffman said.

The dairy and MTSU Farm are part of the university’s Experiential Learning and Research Center. The School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, one of seven event sponsors, is one of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

For more information about the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience and its various programs, visit www.mtsu.edu/abas. To learn more about the college, visit www.mtsu.edu/programs/plant-science.

Other sponsors include Rutherford County Farm Bureau, H30 Aquatics, TriGreen Equipment, Nave Truck Sales, Redstone Credit Union and Rutherford Farmers Co-Op.

For more information about the race, call Lou Nave, executive director at Farm Animal Care Coalition of Tennessee, at 615-970-8065 or visit www.tnfacct.com/dairy-hill-stampede.html.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

 

‘Captain America’ screens for guests with disabilities through Saturday

A movie screening at MTSU through Saturday night will mark the beginning of a new era for people with disabilities.

Captain America poster web

According to the Disability and Access Center, MTSU’s Student Programming and Raider Entertainment will present the university’s first disabled-accessible movie, “Captain America: Civil War,” at 6 and 9 p.m. Sept. 8 and at the same times Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10, in the Student Union Theater.

A printable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

disability access symbols webThe film will have accessibility features such as closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired and audio description for guests who are visually impaired.

Devices allowing these features will be available in the theater. Beginning with tonight’s screening, all movies played in MTSU Student Union Theater will be accessible to all patrons.

The movies are free with an MTSU ID. For more information about film screenings at MTSU, contact Student Programming and Raider Entertainment, or SPARE, at 615-898-2554 or check the SPARE website.

For more information about MTSU’s services for students with disabilities, contact Sara Read, Disability and Access Center coordinator, at 615-898-2783 or sara.read@mtsu.edu. The center’s website is located here.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Celebrate cultures at ’Boro International Festival Saturday

MTSU and its Confucius Institute will be among the sponsors of a glorious celebration of Murfreesboro’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity.

international festival 2016 poster webThe ’Boro International Festival will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Cannonsburgh Village, 312 S. Front St. in Murfreesboro.

The event is free and open to the public.

A children’s parade of flags, followed by a community sing-along of “We Are the World,” will kick off the festivities.

Groups from China, Thailand, Laos, India, Iran, Panama, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Ecuador, Italy and South Sudan will be represented.

Craft merchants and food vendors will provide varied multicultural items for sale. Booths displaying interactive exhibits and historical items will illustrate aspects of the cultures represented at the festival.

Fashions native to the nations represented will be on display at an international fashion show. A children’s game area will be available where youngsters can play international games and create crafts representative of other countries.

MTSU’s Center for Chinese Music and Culture will provide music from a quartet of Chinese musicians playing traditional instruments, including a hammer dulcimer, a two-stringed fiddle, bamboo flutes and a zheng, which is a plucked instrument with 18 to 23 or more strings and multiple bridges.

“This will be the first performance of me with three Chinese musicians/teachers/professors who come to work at the center for a year,” said Dr. Mei Han, center director and music professor.

Center for Chinese Music logo webThe ’Boro International Festival is sponsored by Reeves-Rogers Elementary School and Murfreesboro City Schools in partnership with MTSU, the Confucius Institute and Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation.

Confucius Institute logo web“We are looking forward to the ’Boro International Festival,” said Mike Novak, assistant director of the Confucius Institute at MTSU.

“The Confucius Institute has worked with the local school systems in many ways to celebrate culture, and this should be one of the biggest public celebrations yet.”

The Confucius Institute at MTSU, a resource center for Chinese language, history and culture, works to facilitate engagement with China and create opportunities for exchange and collaboration between communities in Tennessee and China.

For more information, contact Tena Bailey at tena.bailey@cityschools.net.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU, local students again share memorable exchange trip to China

BEIJING — Karmel Washington walked on the Great Wall during her trip to China as part of a MTSU delegation, but she said the trip became real when she learned about the country from kids her own age.

“No matter what all people say you’re going to experience, you have to basically see and experience for yourself,” said Karmel, a senior at Siegel High School. “We all have so many pictures and memories that will last a lifetime.”

President Sidney A. McPhee and Dongcheng Educational Group Chairman Lin Zhengfan exchange gifts at the closing ceremony for the MTSU educational delegation’s August visit in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

President Sidney A. McPhee and Dongcheng Educational Group Chairman Lin Zhengfan exchange gifts at the closing ceremony for the MTSU educational delegation’s August visit in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Karmel was among a 28-member delegation, which included Rutherford County schoolchildren, parents and teachers, that traveled to six cities in China for two weeks in August. The trip was part of an ongoing cultural and educational exchange between the organized by MTSU.

It was the third such trip led by MTSU President Sidney McPhee and his wife, retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher Elizabeth McPhee. The visit was part of the reciprocal exchange with Dongcheng Education Group of Hangzhou Normal University.

The delegation participated in enrichment activities, connected with Chinese families during home visits. They also visited cultural and tourist sites in Hangzhou; Shanghai; Qiandao Lake; Jiashan and the nearby ancient town of Xitang; and Beijing.

Also, Elizabeth McPhee, aided by teachers in the delegation, conducted a joint class for Chinese and American students, then hosted a workshop for Chinese teachers.

Micah Owens, a member of the MTSU educational delegation, is introduced on stage of the closing ceremony in August at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Micah Owens, left, a member of the MTSU educational delegation, is introduced on stage of the closing ceremony in August at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

“What sets this annual exchange apart from other programs is our connection to the classrooms,” said President McPhee. “This is not merely a sight-seeing trip. We engage with families, attend classroom demonstrations and exchange ideas with educators.”

Rutherford students also visited China with MTSU in 2012 and 2014, and Dongcheng students came to Murfreesboro in 2013 and 2015.

MTSU’s Confucius Institute, a joint effort between the Hangzhou and Murfreesboro universities, oversees the annual exchange. Families paid their travel expenses to and from China, but most housing and travel costs in country were covered by grants from Dongcheng and private donations.

Hanban, the international headquarters of Confucius Institute, also provided funding for the trip.

Other students on the trip were Sean Eastman; Gabriela Flowers; Michaela Flowers; Micah Owens; Daniel Owens; Emily Priestley; Elijah Rachell; Joshua Rachell; Makena Sanders; Chase Scott; and Megan Scott.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Megan Scott and Sean Eastman, members of the MTSU educational delegation, perform a Chinese dance during the closing ceremony in August 2016 at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Megan Scott and Sean Eastman, members of the MTSU educational delegation, perform a Chinese dance during the closing ceremony in August 2016 at the Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

Students, faculty and staff of Dongcheng Education Group’s middle school in Jiashan pose for a group photograph with members of the MTSU educational delegation. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students, faculty and staff of Dongcheng Education Group’s middle school in Jiashan pose for a group photograph with members of the MTSU educational delegation. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, members of the MTSU educational delegation approach the entrance of one of Dongcheng Educational Group’s facilities in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, members of the MTSU educational delegation approach the entrance of one of Dongcheng Educational Group’s facilities in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, the skyline of Shanghai, China, on the Huangpu River as seen from the Bund, a famous waterfront area in the city’s central district. (MTSU photo)

In this August 2016 photo, the skyline of Shanghai, China, on the Huangpu River as seen from the Bund, a famous waterfront area in the city’s central district. (MTSU photo)

The MTSU educational delegation visited the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, as part of its cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

The MTSU educational delegation visited the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, as part of its cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

Members of the MTSU educational delegation enjoy a trip to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China, as part of their cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

Members of the MTSU educational delegation enjoy a trip to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China, as part of their cultural activities in the country in August 2016. (MTSU photo)

Students from Dongcheng Educational Group demonstration Chinese calligraphy for members of the MTSU educational delegation during an August visit to Jiashan, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students from Dongcheng Educational Group demonstration Chinese calligraphy for members of the MTSU educational delegation during an August visit to Jiashan, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU educational delegation members join in a traditional Chinese dance during an August welcoming ceremony in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU educational delegation members join in a traditional Chinese dance during an August welcoming ceremony in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)