I’ve got a dynamite guest post from two scholars who were at the recent American Council of Learned Societies conference last weekend in Baltimore that I hope to publish later today. They attended the session on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and have a lot to say about the way that power appears to work in and through them. As newspapers used to say, WATCH THIS SPACE for a fascinating post soon. As the Drudge report also says: “Developing. . . “
Archive for the 'students' Category
Trying to avoid grading final exams? Slate offers a diversion with a feature called “What’s the worst thing a teacher ever said to you?”
The Slate writers had some pretty funny stories, usually involving teachers who were irritated about being corrected by their students, but the stories in the comments below are funnier. Check out the story of the kid who tried–and failed!–to convince his high school honors English teacher that Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote takes place in Spain instead of the Netherlands. (Because windmills–duh!) And the stories about not understanding a teacher’s thick Southern or New England accent are pretty funny too: what would you do if you were asked to lead your class “down yonder hill,” or if instructed to draw a picture of that cozy autumn ritual we know as a “barn fire?”
The worst thing I can remember was probably said by a student teacher in his late 20s Continue Reading »
Baa Ram U. announced that tuition next year will increase by 9%, making the cost of one year at my university for Colorado residents the princely sum of $7,494. Unfortunately, the Denver Post buried the lede in the final paragraph, in which the uni’s president notes that “‘If you’re the one writing the check for that $619 increase, that’s what you see, that you’re being forced to pay more money,’ [Tony] Frank said of [the tuition] hike. “That’s not abstract — but what people don’t see is how less of your taxes are being used to buy down the cost of that education.’”
No $hit, Fred. And yet, we’re still treated to blathering by people–most of whose college degrees have at least 25 years’ worth of dust on them–who want the American people to question the value of a college education. Moreover, these are in many cases the exact same people who have championed the disinvestment in higher education that started more than thirty years ago.
Interestingly enough, in the very same newspaper in which I read of this tuition increase, I learned from Ask Amy that the average price of a wedding in the United States is now $30,000. If that number is anywhere near true, then I call bull$hit not just on the Bill Bennett’s of the world, but on the spending priorities of the American people. Continue Reading »
I love the Amherst faculty’s commitment to educational rather than “edupreneurial” (or edupredatory) values. To be sure, there was the huge issue of institutional mission versus the mission–so far as anyone can figure it out–of these unproven for-profit ventures we call MOOCs:
Some Amherst faculty concerns about edX were specific to Amherst. For instance, faculty asked, are MOOCs, which enroll tens of thousands of students, compatible with Amherst’s mission to provide education in a “purposefully small residential community” and “through close colloquy?”
Then there was the issue of the ill-thought out vision of edX itself, as well as the sheer incompetence on display in edX’s sales approach, compared to the thought that the Amherst faculty had invested:
EdX also tried to sell Amherst by dispatching representatives to the campus over the course of several months. Those trips did not assuage concerns and, at some points, may have inflamed them, according to faculty members.
Adam Sitze, an assistant professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, opposed efforts to join edX. He said faculty members raised questions that edX “didn’t and in some cases couldn’t” respond to.
“Relative to the internal study of MOOCs that we did, edX was not persuasive,” Sitze said.
Perhaps, if I’d had Ms. Patton’s wisdom and foresight about what really matters in college, I wouldn’t have taken so many pesky classes, and instead concentrated on designing my hair, makeup, attire and personality to create the perfect man-catching machine.
Perhaps it would have all worked out exactly as Ms. Patton implies — the perfect house, kids, husband and future. And yet I’m skeptical. I made a lot of stupid decisions in college; I’m really glad the choice of life partner wasn’t one of them. How many people, do you think, could choose a tattoo at 22 years old and still be happy with it by the time they are 50? Let’s be generous here: maybe a quarter of all people? And tattoos don’t even talk. Continue Reading »
Comrade PhysioProffe‘s post last week on Thomas Friedman’s puffery of MOOCs calls out MOOCs as a “class warfare scam,” and makes an interesting comparison of mass-produced MOOC education to mass-produced poor quality chain restaurant food:
The children of the wealthy will never, ever be subject to MOOC-based education, and the elite institutions they attend–who are perfectly happy to publish some courses on-line for free viewing by the public–will never, ever allow their students to take MOOCs for course credit. (Or if they do, they will be *extremely* restricted in the total number of MOOC credits they allow to count for major and graduation.) These kids are being prepared to be leaders and bosses of the poor mooks who are gonna be subject to MOOCs, so they need real education.
Just like the Tom Friedmans of the world don’t eat cheap greasy fattening nutrient-poor corporate swill at Denny’s, they don’t allow their kids to be subject to shitteasse greasy educational corporate swill like MOOCs.
Compare this to a speech by the resurrected William Howard Taft in Taft 2012, by Jason Heller, pp. 186-87: Continue Reading »
Mustaches: they’ve been on my mind lately because of all of the interest in Thomas Friedmans’ “The Mustache of Understanding” mooky MOOC-fest earlier this week. But I’ve also been seeing them riding some young men’s lips around my campus–not so many that I can say that it’s a look on the rise, but not so few that I can dismiss them all as U.S. Civil War reenactors, or actors in a play set in the 1970s.
Beards are always in fashion in Colorado–and unfortunately, a lot of younger men in Fort Collins appear to prefer the crazed Lubavitcher/Amish/Unabomber beard (see below) to the neatly trimmed kind. Continue Reading »
- No one cares what you learn in college, because Google!
- College professors have no certification that we can teach, and all we do is lecture at students who passively take notes, and then administer tests of their passive learning skills.
- Lecturing to 14,000 “with audience participation” is a terrific way to share knowledge.
I just love these experts in “disruptive innovation” who trash learning in college classrooms and lecture halls with 15, 40, or 125 students because “all professors do is lecture,” who then turn around and brag about how scalable their educational model is because–wait for it!–it’s based on lectures! To 14,000 people who swooned like bobby-soxers fainting for Frank Sinatra.
Continue Reading »
From the “No $hit, Fred,” files: Some Groups May Not Benefit From Online Education, via Inside Higher Ed:
Some of the students most often targeted in the push to use online learning to increase college access are less likely than their peers to benefit from — and may in fact be hurt by — digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction, new data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College suggest.
“Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas,” by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, researchers at the center, examines the performance of nearly 40,000 Washington State community college students who took both online and on-ground courses, and finds significant differences in how various subgroups performed. Students of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes[. M]en, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums.
I’ve written here before about my skepticism that the MOOC and online “revolution” is being led by people affiliated with highly selective private universities, when after all they’re producing a product that’s intended for the state uni and community college crowd. Here’s why it’s important to talk to faculty who teach first generation students, working-class returning students, nonwhite students, and students who are financing their own educations through heavy student loan borrowing: Continue Reading »
Take it from Shmuel Ellis—a business professor and administrator at Tel Aviv University (via Gawker):
Ellis said in his email that the business school recommends undecided undergraduate students choose disciplines like pure sciences, math, economics, psychology, computer science, history, literature, philosophy and architecture.
“Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs,” he said.
Lemme translate this biz-speak for all you non-biz majors out there: “Don’t major in business, major in a real field of study instead.” What is this guy, Sojourner Truth, Professor of Truth at Truth University? (Learn about who Sojourner Truth was, and what “truth” means, in real majors, like history or philosophy.)