So pardon me if I’m less than impressed by Koller’s new-found defense of face-to-face interaction between professors and students. Say what you will about Sebastian Thrun. At least his company will soon only be shortchanging customers who won’t be wiped out by the experience. Continue Reading »
Archive for the 'jobs' Category
I assume you’re all familiar with Sebastian Thrum’s “ooopsie–my bad” last week on the argument that MOOCs can educate the uneducated masses and at the same time make money for his deluded investors. I haven’t had the time or energy to say “I told you so,” especially because Jonathan Rees has a nice round-up (with a bonus Monty Python joke and clip) of the issue.
However, I’ll chime in this morning to note this survey of MOOC users at the University of Pennsylvania: 80% of them already hold advanced degrees! This makes perfect sense in terms of what Jonathan, I, and every other critic of MOOCs has pointed out from the very beginning, which is that the people who really need college educations also–unfortunately for the edupirates like Thrun and Daphne Koller–need human beings to teach and guide them. Continue Reading »
L.V. Anderson has done some new reporting on the death of adjunct French instructor Margaret Mary Vojtko in Pittsburgh this summer. The real story turns out to be more complicated than just “adjunct work killed Professor Vojtko.” She earned a nursing degree but preferred medieval studies. However, she never finished her Ph.D., apparently had signs of mental illness for years, and individual members of the Duquesne University community (NOT the institution itself) had repeatedly reached out to offer her help, appropriate housing, and similar assistance. (It’s interesting that Vojtko once wanted to be a nun; she remained a devout Catholic, and to the end of her life lived like one–but more on the self-sacrifice later in this essay.) UPDATE. 11/22/2013: Last night, to my chagrin and embarrassment, I discovered that Flavia at Ferule & Fescue had already commented on this story in a post earlier this week, after having written about the story when it first broke this summer. She offers some interesting thoughts about the Catholic perspective, hers and Duquesne’s.
This reminds me of the simplistic moralizing that flowed from the suicide of Aaron Swartz, the illegal downloader targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The larger story, as Larissa McFarquar reported in The New Yorker earlier this year, also included a history of mental illness and quite possibly chronic malnutrition, neither of which help people make informed decisions about their futures.
In addition to her reporting on the Vojtko story, Anderson published an essay explaining “Why Adjunct Professors Don’t Just Find Other Jobs” that I found pretty nutty. She explains that adjuncts must teach such a heavy load that they don’t have much time left over for writing, publishing, and applying for jobs–all true. But then she also explains–through the help of some adjunct faculty correspondents–that the academic calendar somehow prevents them from looking for work: Continue Reading »
Remember my high dudgeon over my students’ failure to appreciate the convenience and effectiveness of Chicago-style citations? I had my panties in a wad over a stack of papers I collected a few weeks ago, in which about half of the students used (or attempted to use) Chicago-style citations, which I thought I had made a requirement of the essay assignment.
Looking over the essay assignment once again as I sat down to record the grades last night, I noticed this instruction on my essay assignment:
As always, your essay must have a clear argument and use proper citations (either Chicago- or MLA-style is fine, so long as you cite both your primary and your secondary sources faithfully.)
The professor who wrote that essay assignment seems perfectly reasonable! The professor who marked the essays, however, is kind of an idiot. Continue Reading »
I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about conference themes, specifically organizing themes for some of the really big conferences like the AHA, the OAH, the Berks, etc., as opposed to smaller conferences focused on more specific subfields. He wondered why historians bother with coming up with themes, when the themes tend to be so broad that pretty much anyone with a brain can figure out a way of making their research fit the chosen theme, which ends up making the conference about everything and no specific theme in the end. Continue Reading »
Howdy, friends–no time to waste this morning, but did you hear about this sting of open access science journals published in Science today? From the article, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”, by John Bohannon:
Over the past 10 months, I have submitted 304 versions of the wonder drug paper to open-access journals. More than half of the journals accepted the paper, failing to notice its fatal flaws. Beyond that headline result, the data from this sting operation reveal the contours of an emerging Wild West in academic publishing.
From humble and idealistic beginnings a decade ago, open-access scientific journals have mushroomed into a global industry, driven by author publication fees rather than traditional subscriptions. Most of the players are murky. The identity and location of the journals’ editors, as well as the financial workings of their publishers, are often purposefully obscured. But Science‘s investigation casts a powerful light. Internet Protocol (IP) address traces within the raw headers of e-mails sent by journal editors betray their locations. Invoices for publication fees reveal a network of bank accounts based mostly in the developing world. And the acceptances and rejections of the paper provide the first global snapshot of peer review across the open-access scientific enterprise. Continue Reading »
Posted under jobs
My long-lost friend in the blogosphere Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar has reappeared recently to offer a series of posts on the academic job market this year. (You can call me George to her Nancy Drew–I can help out this season, but I probably won’t be the lead investigator, because, you know, the book.)
Notorious writes that there are a number of issues she’d like to discuss, such as the fact that the hiring process has changed a great deal since she was first hired. “[T]he past ten years has completely changed things in some ways. I’m envisioning a bit of a generational culture clash as a new orthodoxy (online materials submissions, Skype interviews, googling candidates) runs headlong into search committee members who don’t see the reason for all this techy stuff (or vice-versa).” Continue Reading »
When Tenured Radical wrote a blog post about the “Grafton Challenge” this summer, I was both impressed and completely intimidated by the blistering pace at which Tony Grafton writes: 3,500 words a day! Amazing. Then when she followed up to report that Matthew Gutterl had drafted a book this summer by. . . sitting down to write every day and cutting out distractions like blogging!. . . I thought to myself: how much longer do I really want to live with the book I’m writing now, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright? Isn’t it time to move on?
So, I decided to finish a rough draft of my book this fall, with Christmas day as my drop-dead date. When I finished the second draft of Abraham in Arms eight years ago, the only time I had to myself that was completely free of familial distractions or responsibilities was from 4-6 a.m. So, several days a week I now get out of bed at 4 a.m. and try to write for two hours. It’s not as difficult as you’d think. Caffeine helps, as does a shockingly early bedtime the night before. I’ve had a cold this week, and the high-test antihistamines I’m on also give me a kick. (I think it’s the stuff they cook meth out of, so no wonder.) I prefer the silence of the tomb when I work, and my brain is freshest first thing in the morning, so 4-6 a.m. it is.
(I was reviewing a chapter I had already drafted, and I re-read something I had written last summer about how the Ursuline nuns I’m writing about would rise at 4 a.m. to begin their day. Coincidence? Continue Reading »
A graduate student of mine alerted me to this brilliant YouTube series of short videos, Ask a Slave. (Don’t we get all the best ideas from our students? I sure do!) Ask a Slave, directed by comedian Jordan Black, is based on the real-life experiences of actress Azie Mira Dungey who worked as a “living history character” to portray an enslaved maid at Mount Vernon.
One of the things I think Lizzie May does very well is to suggest the ways in which white women were just as complicit in the creation and maintenance of slavery as white men. Continue Reading »
This strikes me as a sensible intervention into the typically un-nuanced conversation about the price of a four-year undergraduate degree. And what’d'ya know–it’s from a panel of admissions officers, the kind of people whose job it is to know their target audience and to recruit and retain students?
Steven Graff, senior director of admissions and enrollment services at the College Board, said it’s become “knee jerk” to say college is too costly.
“But,” he said, “what I think we have to do is move away from the monolithic assumption that the word ‘college,’ the word ‘price,’ the word ‘cost’ are the same for every student, every institution, for every situation we are dealing with.”
Instead, the panel argued, college prices and costs require a more nuanced view than the one offered by most in the media or perhaps even by President Obama, who last month went on a campaign-style tour to tout his plan to curb college costs.
Graff and two consultants from the enrollment management firm Art & Science Group argued that there is a significant difference between college cost and college price, in part because of financial aid, and there are also rather significant differences among prices at different kinds of institutions.