Focus

WILL - Focus - March 21, 2014

The Effects of Gender-typed Toys

Were the toys you played with as a child either pink or blue?  

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(Duration: 51:54)

Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves are painfully aware that they are surrounded by mostly male students in their engineering classes at the University of Illinois. That’s part of the reason they’re behind the new start-up Miss Possible Inc., a toy company with intentions to manufacture dolls for girls fashioned after historical figures like Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart.

“Most toys, especially dolls, are empty,” says Hobbs, “Entrepreneur Barbie wears a suit and has a smart phone; that makes her a CEO?”

This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Hobbs about the start-up, and why Hobbs and Eaves want girls to be interested in science and technology. We’ll also hear from Analisa Russo, part of the company Electroninks, which is bringing a gel pen to draw circuits to market this summer. Isabelle Cherney, a researcher at Creighton University, will tell us how the toys we play can have an effect on our perceived capabilities and our gender identity.  

Then, we’ll switch gears at the end of the hour when Jake Kuebler of Bluestem Financial Advisors, LLC in Champaign joins us to discuss issues in personal finance.  


WILL - Focus - January 30, 2014

The Death Class

Who taught you what you know about death and dying? Did anyone?

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(Duration: 51:37)

author Erika Hayasaki

Erika Hayasaki met Professor Norma Bowe while she was covering the Virginia Tech shootings as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. At the time, Hayasaki says she was reporting on a lot of death. It was when she discovered Bowe’s “Death in Perspective” class that she realized how much she had to learn.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Champaign native, Erika Hayasaki about her new book “The Death Class.” Professor Norma Bowe, who teaches one of the most popular courses at Kean University in New Jersey also joins the show. We’ll hear what makes the class worth putting your name on a three year wait list.

Categories: Education

WILL - Focus - November 21, 2013

The Role of Community Colleges

 This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Parkland College President Tom Ramage and Danville Area Community College President Alice Jacobs.

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(Duration: 51:37)

Parkland College

Tuition at Illinois’ private and public universities has risen by an average of more than 30 percent since 2008. As a cost-saving measure, many students are turning to community colleges to take “general education” courses for the first two years of their degrees and then transfer to four year schools. What happens then, when tuition at community colleges starts to increase? According to the Illinois Community College Board, tuition at the state’s community colleges has also risen by around 30 percent since 2008.
 
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Parkland College President Tom Ramage and Danville Area Community College President Alice Jacobs about the role the state’s community colleges play in  higher education. We’ll hear about some of the challenges Illinois community colleges face and how they’re moving forward despite cuts in state funding and changes in local tax support. We’ll also hear this hour about a program at Danville Area Community College to help train and employ veterans and will find out more about Parkland College’s recent acquisition of the University of Illinois’ aviation program.
 

Categories: Education

WILL - Focus - November 19, 2013

Chancellor Phyllis Wise

University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise joins us this hour on Focus.

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(Duration: 51:23)

University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise

Chancellor Wise, who oversees the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus, has been pushing for “future excellence” through her “Visioning Future Excellence” initiative. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Chancellor Wise about her goals for the university’s future.
 
We’ll also talk with Wise about the university’s growing presence in China, the growing reliance on private support, including philanthropy from individuals and foundations, like the University of Illinois Foundation, for funding, and about the increasing emphasis on diversity as a mission of the university.

Categories: Education

WILL - Focus - October 01, 2013

A Conversation with Former National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh

Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with the Former Director of the National Science Foundation, Subra Suresh.

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(Duration: 51:21)

Subra Suresh

When Subra Suresh was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as director of the National Science Foundation in September 2010, he made history as the first Asia-born director of the organization. Today, he serves as President of Carnegie Mellon University. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Suresh about the NSF, making the transition from director to university president and about the changing nature of scientific research, which Suresh says is taking on an increasingly interdisciplinary identity.

Categories: Education, Science

WILL - Focus - September 04, 2013

What’s Next for Student Newspapers?

The Daily Illini recently announced they will no longer print a Friday edition of the paper. While it’s nothing new that newspapers are struggling, what does it mean that the problems facing traditional print media have now trickled down to include student publications?

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(Duration: 51:38)

The Daily Illini newsroom

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Lil Levant, publisher for the Illini Media Company about the future of the Illini student media and how institutions that train young journalists are trying to adapt to new technology. Ron Johnson, Director of Media at Indiana University in Bloomington also joins us. He says the Daily Illini is not alone in its struggle to maintain financial stability, and many schools are instituting student fees to help support student newspapers.

We’ll also talk about student newspapers and the role they play on college campuses and if online publication carries as much legitimacy as print publication for student journalists.

Are you a student and work for a college paper? Is having an article published online as meaningful as having it published in print? Did you work for a newspaper in college? How did working there affect your college experience? Tell us your story!


WILL - Focus - September 02, 2013

One Child at a Time: Custom Learning in the Digital Age

In most American schools, every student is taught the same basic material at the same basic rate. But school doesn't have to be like that. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear a special documentary produced by AmericanRadioWorks about the rise of “customized learning.”

Gibson City first graders classify mammals in a PBS LearningMedia activity.

Researchers have long known the best way to learn is with a personal tutor. But tutoring is expensive. Providing the benefits of tutoring to everyone hasn't been possible. Now, experts say technology creates new ways for schools to customize education for each student. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear about the rise of so-called "personalized learning,” how schools that are reinventing their approach to education, and how teaching and learning change when personalization replaces the one-size-fits-all classroom.

This hour on Focus was a special produced by American Public Media. We apologize that we are not able to provide a podcast for this program on our website. You can, however, find the full audio for this hour by visiting AmericanRadioWorks' website

Categories: Education

WILL - Focus - August 27, 2013

Encore: Reading with Pictures

Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from them? Today on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation how comics can help kids learn.

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(Duration: 51:30)

Reading with Pictures cartoon saying "Comics Out Loud."

University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol Tilley has always felt strongly that kids need comics. And she’s not the only one. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation with Tilley about how comics played a huge role in her childhood and why she thinks it’s so upsetting that they are less widely available and more expensive than they once were. Award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder also joins us. He’s creating a new series of graphic textbooks for elementary and middle school teachers. We’ll talk with him and Tilley about what sets comics apart and why they’re useful in the classroom.

Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from them? Maybe you oppose the idea of teaching comic books… Tell us your story!


WILL - Focus - May 15, 2013

Reading with Pictures

Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from one? This hour on Focus, we talk about reading with pictures and how comics can help kids learn. 

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(Duration: 51:24)

graphic textbook cover

University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol Tilley has always felt strongly about the fact that kids need comics. And she’s not the only one. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Tilley about how comics played a huge role in her childhood and why she thinks it’s so upsetting that they are less widely available and more expensive than they once were. Award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder also joins us. He’s creating a new series of graphic textbooks for elementary and middle school teachers. We’ll talk with him and Tilley about what sets comics apart and why they’re useful in the classroom.


WILL - Focus - May 10, 2013

Find Out More About What’s Coming Up Next Week on Focus

We'll talk about the psychology of summer camp, the case for comics in the classroom, personal finance and more! 

Next week on Focus, we’ll talk about the magic of summer camp, the growing need for translators and why some are pushing for comics in schools.


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