There have been some pretty scary pictures of what’s happening in some parts of the Front Range, but so far as I can tell, if you don’t live in the wildlife-urban interface and/or a canyon, and you don’t live in a mobile home, you’re probably OK. Sadly, the people with the fewest resources were disproportionately affected here on the plains.
The one exception to my rule about living in cities/not in mobile home parks to stay safe appears to be Longmont, Colorado, which is right on the St. Vrain River and which is apparently still really bad. The western side of Loveland, Colorado all the way up to Estes Park–through the Big Thompson canyon–has made for some dramatic news footage, I am sure. Fort Collins, where Baa Ram U. is located, seems to be getting back to normal after the Cache la Poudre River left its banks Friday–some of the lowlands near I-25 look a little floody, but not too bad. Most of the scary photos and videos you’ve seen recently that might have been labeled Greeley are probably Evans, Colorado, which is right on the South Platte River. We live right between the “two rivers” in Greeley, so we are high, dry, and lucky. Continue Reading »
To paraphrase General William T. Sherman: teaching is hell.
Forgive me but–bwa-hahahahahaha!–I’m sure it’s very, very difficult to be called “David” instead of “General Petraeus.” (Nice move, though, walking in front of the city bus to try to lose your tormentors!) And to think: you’re doing it all for a single, lousy greenback instead of the $200,000 paycheck you signed up for.
Except maybe. . . profit!??!?!
Here’s a university administrator who apparently sees through the smoke, mirrors, and Thomas Friedmanesque rainbows-and-unicorns technofluff of the Lords of MOOC Creation, Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zeland (h/t to regular commenter truffula. Maybe it takes an ocean of winds and a position outside of the U.S. and Europe to blow away the bullcrap and see them for what they’re worth?) Hayne writes,
The University of Otago has considered the issue of MOOCs very carefully. Over this past January, I personally studied everything that I could lay my hands on about the subject. I sought specialist advice on the issue from international experts in distance education and online learning. I discussed the matter extensively with my counterparts in New Zealand and overseas. The conclusion from all of these quarters is that, although there may be a handful of opportunities in this space, the concept of the MOOC will not displace the traditional university experience and the business case for the future of MOOCs actually hangs by a thread.
Although the current enrolment in MOOCs is extremely high, completion of any given course is very low. In most instances, more than 90 per cent of the students who sign up for a course, never complete it. Given this, we have to ask ourselves two questions. First, why do so many sign up? That one is easy – the courses are currently free. Once this aspect of the MOOC system changes (and it will have to change if anyone is going to make any money), then I suspect that enrolments will plummet. Second, why do so many students fail to complete? There are probably many reasons, but the most parsimonious one is that the courses quickly get boring. Even when you place the best speaker in the world on the internet, the experience pales in comparison to face-to-face interaction. Continue Reading »
Today is the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, 27-year old Oliver Hazard Perry’s unlikely victory over the British fleet in Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The fact that the commander of the U.S. Navy in Lake Erie was 27 years old is a sign of just how desperate and underdeveloped the Navy was in 1813! Nevertheless, his confident (and only slightly boastful) statement that “we have met the enemy, and they are ours,” is remembered today, especially by people who live near Lake Erie. And, it was probably for the best that the Navy got its use out of him while young, as it did with most of its seamen, as he died of yellow fever at the age of 34 in 1819.
You can read more about the battle and its re-enactment on Labor Day this year at The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial webpage, complete with a video of the replica of Perry’s ship The Niagra. (Unfortunately, it’s marred by using that hideously ubiquitous song by “F.U.N.,” which is pretentious and overplayed.) They’ve set up a Twitter account for the old commodore, and there’s more information about the battle at “The” Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, a freshwater research lab on Gibraltar Island in Lake Erie. Continue Reading »
Check out this article about the Harvard Business School’s two-year old (so far) scheme to close the gender gap in terms of student grades and participation in class. It’s been a huge success, and it also appears to have increased students’ overall satisfaction with their experience at HBS. (Also, if you don’t already know, you’ll learn about what a “search fund” is. Sounds pretty scammy and potentially a kind of pyramid scheme to me–I’m not really clear as to where our HBS grads are adding any value whatsoever, but you be the judge.)
[HBS '13] had been unwitting guinea pigs in what would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy: What if Harvard Business School gave itself a gender makeover, changing its curriculum, rules and social rituals to foster female success?
The country’s premier business training ground was trying to solve a seemingly intractable problem. Year after year, women who had arrived with the same test scores and grades as men fell behind. Attracting and retaining female professors was a losing battle; from 2006 to 2007, a third of the female junior faculty left.
Some students, like Sheryl Sandberg, class of ’95, the Facebook executive and author of “Lean In,” sailed through. Yet many Wall Street-hardened women confided that Harvard was worse than any trading floor, with first-year students divided into sections that took all their classes together and often developed the overheated dynamics of reality shows. Some male students, many with finance backgrounds, commandeered classroom discussions and hazed female students and younger faculty members, and openly ruminated on whom they would “kill, sleep with or marry” (in cruder terms). Alcohol-soaked social events could be worse. Continue Reading »
Sorry for the radio silence–we’re back to school and I’m up to my skirt in it already. If you’re looking for something to read over the lunch hour, go read Monica Potts’s sympathetic, sad exploration of the life and death of Crystal Wilson in “What’s Killing Poor White Women?” in The American Prospect.
Wilson isn’t anyone you’ve probably ever heard of, but Potts makes her obscure life and death in Cave City, Arkansas, a fascinating case study. The author aruges that the death of opportunity in rural America has hit girls and women without high school degrees especially hard. It also implies towards the end that feminism is at least part of the cure. In the words of the technology coordinator for the Cave City schools Julie Johnson,
“You don’t even hear about women’s lib, because that’s come and gone. Continue Reading »
Kelly J. Baker has a thoughtful and interesting report on her blog about why she’s decided to take a break from academia for the year, and perhaps forever:
In May, I quit my job and moved to Florida. Both decisions might seem big (they were), but they were remarkably easy. My lecturer gig paid little, the teaching load was heavy, and my department was dysfunctional. Leaving behind students, friends, and colleagues was hard. Watching my daughter mourn the loss of her friends was harder.
. . . . . .
After six years on the job market, I found myself burned out. I’ve had conference interviews and campus visits. I’ve been a second choice for tenure track jobs multiple times. I applied for jobs while teaching three and four classes a semester. And I finished my first book, wrote articles and book reviews, received a contract for a new book, edited a journal, organized panels, and experimented with an ebook. The harder I worked, I thought naively, the more likely I was to get a job. Optimism is hard habit to kick.
During this past spring semester, something broke. My tireless drive to research and write dissipated. The latest round of rejections hit harder than previous rounds, and I was tired. Why make myself get up extra early to write if there was no tenure track job for me? Why spend the time researching when I would rather spend time with my daughter? Why kill myself for a job opportunity that would never materialize? I found that I couldn’t do the work I used to love. My motivation stalled.Something broke, and it seemed irreparable. Continue Reading »
I’ve been putting the finishing touches on an essay on age in American history, and one of the editors asked me what seemed like a completely reasonable question, viz., “did everyone in early America know their birthdays and their exact ages?” I had to confess that I didn’t even know if birthdays were common knowledge among Anglo-Americans, let alone Native Americans, enslaved Africans or African Americans, or French colonists. I figure that the iced layer-cake with candles on it appeared in the later nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, but I had no clue about colonial North American birthday awareness or celebrations thereof.
A little research on birthdays (or “birth-days,” as it’s more usually spelled in eighteenth-century English-language printed material) suggests that around the turn of the eighteenth century if not earlier, the annual acknowledgement of Anglo-American birthdays appears to have been commonplace. Thomas Foxcroft wrote in The day of a godly man’s death, better than the day of his birth (Boston, 1722) that “The anniversary celebration of birth-days is an ancient custom,” 31. Unfortunately, Foxcroft didn’t leave it at that: Continue Reading »
How would we do that? Let’s try to learn from those innovators in places like Redmond and Palo Alto, shall we?
- Recognize that “stack ranking”-style review systems for teachers and professors, in which there must be a fixed percentage of high, average, and low achievers, lead only to counterproductive internal competition, not innovation or work of real value.
- Act like innovation matters by reserving time for all teachers and professors to develop creative projects on their own, because as a Google spokesperson says, “the company recognizes people are more productive when they are working on projects that excite them. Google engineers are given a lot of flexibility when choosing projects, and encouraged to pursue company-related interests.”
- Realize the value of human contact by prioritizing and adequately funding face-to-face teaching, because as Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer says, Continue Reading »