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 'wankers' 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 »
Check it out: Amanda Hess’s analysis of Jonathan Franzen’s recent essay in which he screams at the children to get off his lawn, and to take their Twitter-machines with them:
Franzen blames the Internet for eradicating “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” which “assured some kind of quality control,” in favor of an apocalyptic hellscape punctuated by “bogus” Amazon reviews and “Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.” Back in Franzen’s day, “TV was something you watched only during prime time, and people wrote letters and put them in the mail, and every magazine and newspaper had a robust books section, and venerable publishers made long-term investments in young writers, and New Criticism reigned in English departments.” He goes on: “It wasn’t necessarily a better world (we had bomb shelters and segregated swimming pools), but it was the only world I knew to try to find my place in as a writer.”
Wow. Not too many white people can openly express their nostalgia for segregation or apartheid and get their 6,500 word essays published in The Guardian! But that’s not all: apparently, guys like Franzen really are victims! Of something. The important thing to know is that Jonathan Franzen can no longer “find his place. . . as a writer” in our modern dystopia. But the pre-internet world doesn’t seem all that awesome in his telling:
And then there is the tale of the German chick, told to pinpoint exactly the moment Franzen became an angry person. Continue Reading »
Will shattering the Oval Office’s glass ceiling and electing a madam president be an inspiring achievement for this country? Of course. Do we also need madam mayors, madam senators, madam councilwomen, madam sheriffs, madam governors and madam congresswomen all across the nation? You betcha.
. . . . . .
Unfortunately, women running for elected office confront greater barriers than their male counterparts. Their appearance, qualifications — even psychology — are subjected to intense, often crass, scrutiny.
You don’t say! Have you glanced at the archives of The Nation from 2007-08 lately? No? Need a refresher? Look here. And here. And here, where notorious d!ckbag Tom Hayden calls Hillary Clinton a “screech on the blackboard. From First Lady to Lady Macbeth,” and in a very manly rhetorical maneuver, blames his Clinton Derangement Syndrome on his wife’s influence. (She “is inspired by Barack Obama’s transformational appeal,” he wrote.) Clinton didn’t run a primary campaign. No. Hayden claims that it was a “path of destruction.”
Who was the editor who published that sack of $hit? Hmm? Continue Reading »
Go read Michael Lind on the inevitable fallibility of our modern political and media elites. I think there’s something in there that speaks to the pump-and-dump cycle we’re seeing now with MOOCs:
The politicians and pundits who get the most attention — at least for a while — are those who treat a genuine but limited and reversible trend as evidence of imminent utopia or approaching apocalypse. Such hype is then magnified by an infotainment industry that promotes drama and penalizes nuance.
. . . . . .
When it comes to the hype market, you will seldom err by betting against it. When everybody who is anybody in politics and the press agrees on something, it’s time to raise some doubts. Continue Reading »
Geoffrey Miller, a psychology professor, has been censured by the University of New Mexico, two months after he sent out a fat-shaming Twitter post that caused an angry Internet uproar.
It may have taken Miller less than a minute to write out this message and hit the “Tweet” button: “Dear obese Ph.D. applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth.” But the consequences of that tweet will last much longer.
According to a university memo released on Tuesday, Miller — who has tenure at the University of New Mexico and was a visiting professor at New York University this summer — will be required to:
- Not serve on any committee involving the admission of graduate students to the psychology department for the duration of his time as a faculty member at the university.
- Work with the faculty co-advisers of the psychology department’s diversity organization to develop a plan for sensitivity training on obesity (for himself to undergo, said a university spokeswoman). The plan must be approved by a co-adviser or by the chair of the department.
- Be assigned a faculty mentor for three years with whom he will meet on a regular basis to discuss potential problems.
- Have his work monitored by the chair of the department.
- Apologize to the department and his colleagues for his behavior.
Miller did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Continue Reading »
Reza Aslan defends himself against charges of “bias” in his new book on Fox News by pointing out that he is a prominent scholar who writes about many religions. Slate says that “this may just be the single most cringe-worthy, embarrassing interview on Fox News:”
Fox News anchor Lauren Green had religious scholar Reza Aslan on her FoxNews.com show Friday to talk about Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, his book that has been stirring up some online controversy recently. And right off the bat, Green gets to what is important: “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Aslan seemed a little flabbergasted: “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”*
But Green just wouldn’t let it go: “It still begs the question though, why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?” Aslan then starts talking to Green slowly, as if she were a child: “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.” But Green insisted, accusing him of failing to “disclose” that he’s a Muslim and at one point asking him about a stupefying claim on whether a Muslim writing a book on Jesus isn’t sort of like a Democrat writing a book on former president Ronald Reagan. Continue Reading »
Does this read like a Coursera or Udacity press realease to you, too?
Whether for good or ill, MOOCs augur a disruption of the relationships among students, colleges and trade schools, and the credentials those schools offer — a relationship that has stabilized higher education for at least a century. Yet if done right — a big if, as recent events at San Jose State and Colorado State universities have shown — they may help address the quality and cost of higher education.
What’s the nature of the disruption?
For the moment, providers of MOOCs make their courses available to anyone. There is no admissions process. As in a video game, anyone can start, but you have to master levels that can include very difficult work. For the 10 percent who get to the end, the learning is real.
What about that experiment to offer dramatically reduced tuition for MOOCwork courses at Baa Ram U.? It’s even more hilarious than you can guess: Continue Reading »
- Mitch Daniels is a micromanaging creep, a bully, and a liar who has no business being president of Purdue.
- MOOCs are inferior to actual college classes.
- “Gun rights” pushers are sociopaths.
On the Mitch Daniels/Howard Zinn issue: a commenter on the linked Inside Higher Ed story wrote that “Zinn basically saw American democracy and capitalistic economy as a sham while . . . he made a good living tucked in the loving bosom [of] its higher education institutions.” I happen to know exactly how much money Zinn made back in the late 1980s, and it was far from “a good living.” Here’s the comment I wrote in response to this classic right-wing diversionary tactic. (It’s a shorter version of the story I shared about Zinn when he died three and a half years ago.): Continue Reading »