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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Open textbooks gain ground as economical, educational alternative

With community college enrollments and textbook prices on the rise, a U.S. and Canadian consortium of community colleges has devised a plan to expand a free digital textbook initiative with $1.5 million in funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Efforts by the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative over the next two years could save students millions of dollars by increasing the number of free high-quality textbooks available online as alternatives to expensive printed textbooks sold by publishers. The collaborative also will train community college instructors in how to get the most out of free digital textbooks to meet the learning needs of their students.

"This grant comes at an opportune time,"' said Mike Brandy, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which is leading the collaborative. "It coincides with the growing interest in open educational resources, such as President Obama's proposal to invest $500 million over the next decade in developing free high school and college courses. Open textbooks are moving into the mainstream as financially distressed states such as California look to free digital textbooks to reduce the cost of public education."

The grant from the Hewlett foundation will support a campaign to raise awareness about open textbooks among community college instructors and students and increase the number of free, high-quality digital textbooks available online for community college courses with the highest enrollments.

Funding for the collaborative will expand the work of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER), which includes 94 member colleges across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2007 by the Foothill-De Anza district, the consortium already has peer-reviewed several new open textbooks for use in community college courses and identified more than 250 others for consideration. Open textbooks are freely available for use without restriction and can be downloaded or printed from Web sites and repositories.

"The collaborative will make it much more convenient for faculty to feasibly explore alternatives to expensive textbooks," said Judy Baker, dean of Global Access at Foothill College and founder and director of CCCOER. "Digital content is much more flexible than a printed textbook, so instructors can customize their content using free material on the Internet, instead of having to adjust their instruction to match what a publisher locks into print."

Open textbooks will gain greater acceptance as more faculty become familiar with them through training, and as more of the textbooks are peer reviewed, Baker said. Until those things happen, adoptions of open textbooks will be limited to what she calls "innovators and early adopters."

Such limited use would be a loss, Baker said, because not only do open textbooks save students money, they also can improve the learning experience for both students and faculty.

"Open textbooks let students and faculty bring greater context, timeliness and relevance to their instruction through Internet linking and networking opportunities," she said.

Using Web-based social networks, the collaborative will link community college instructors into a learning community where they can share their knowledge and experiences with creating and using open textbooks for their courses. The collaborative also will solicit authors to write open textbooks and assemble panels of subject-matter experts to review open textbooks for standards of quality, accessibility and cultural relevance.

For more information, visit oerconsortium.org.

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