Monday, April 1. 2013
The Supreme Court has made a ruling on copyright law that might affect colleges. It gave foreign buyers of things like books and movies the right to resell them in the United States without the permission of the copyright owner.
The 6-3 decision (with somewhat surprising dissent by Ginsburg, Kennedy and Scalia) involved the case of a USC student from Thailand who saw a profitable opportunity by purchasing textbooks at lower costs in Thailand and reselling them in the United States.
From the Washington Post
Monday, March 18. 2013
If you use Google Reader, as I do, you have seen the notice there that Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013. Google Reader is a content application and platform that aggregates content served by web feeds. I have used it since 2005 to collect all the RSS feeds of blogs and sites that I want to follow but don't have the time to check every day or even every week. The Reader does it for me and I have folders of categories. So, I can look at my Poetry folder or my Social Media folder or one full of Educational Technology feeds and see all the new things from those sites in one place. Without it, I probably will not look at more than a few of these sites.
After Google launched it in October 2005 through Google Labs, it grew in popularity and eclipsed some other readers that had been popular before. But this month Google announced that it will be shut down on July 1, 2013, due to declining usage.
It bothers me that it is going away and I have no alternative in mind right now. But it bothers me in a much larger sense that this is another Google product/service that is going away. The blog post I saw from Google (in my Google Reader, ironically) was included in a post about "a second spring of cleaning." There have been protests and complaints thrown up in years past when Google gave up on other services like Wave or Buzz but to no avail.
I'm not alone in being very much tied into the Googleverse of tools and I do like that thing talk to each other. My mail knows about my calendar and addresses in email and my calendar become links to Google Maps. And I know that Google wants to tie everything to Plus - which still has not gotten any traction with any of my friends who are not techie by nature. (most of them still live in Facebook.)
In another post "Powering Down Google Reader" that talks about the declining usage as a main reason for
the shutdown, I started to wonder what will be shuttered next. Imagine if Gmail's usage dropped or Google decided (as they did a few years ago) that email needed to be rethought and included a version of email in Google Plus? Should I start moving over to Outlook.com?
It's like when you have a multi-day power outage and you realize how much you rely on certain things to survive or just make life more enjoyable. Yes, Joni Mitchell, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone."
There has been some online protest in support of Reader, but it seems like a done deal.
Alternatives? I guess I will look at trying to move my feeds to feedly or some other service. If you'd like to download a copy of all your Reader data, you can do so through Google Takeout. You'll receive your subscription data in an XML file, and a JSON file will include lists of people that you follow, who follow you, items you starred, liked, shared etc. Click here to start downloading your Reader data from Takeout. Once downloaded, your subscription data should be easily transferable to another product.
Saturday, March 16. 2013
A plan in California to require public colleges to award credit for certain online courses offered by other institutions and providers has attracted considerable interest and considerable faculty scrutiny.Read more:
Tuesday, February 12. 2013
In an article from The Chronicle by Stacey Patton, she asks "The dissertation is broken, many scholars agree. So now what?"
The article covers an issue that is not new. In the big mix of things that are changing in higher education, rethinking graduate education, particularly Ph.D. programs, is in that mix.
The short list of sub-issues includes reducing the amount of time it takes to complete degrees and reducing attrition - the two are certainly connected. The dissertation
For doctoral candidates, another push is to better prepare them for nonacademic careers. With debt for students increasing, there is also increased competition for academic jobs. Jobs are not increasing; they are decreasing.
Is it time to move away from the traditional, book-length dissertation that more and more students and faculty a relic of the past?
What would a University 2.0, 21st-Century dissertation look like? If you look at the rise of the digital humanities, there are digital possibilities for digital dissertations with video, 3D animation, audio, interactive mapping and more. It is a scenario that probably scares many academics.
Wednesday, January 16. 2013
Ask professors what kind of students they want in their classes and you might hear attributes like initiative, persistence and leadership. How well are those attributes measured by admissions tests? Yeah, not so well.
But can we create a way to make non-cognitive assessments that help colleges measure the attributes that we value? An article in The Chronicle is what got me thinking about it.
We know the history. It's actually similar to what we find in trying to measure writing ability. Portfolios, self-evaluations and short essays are a better measure, but very time-consuming to assess. And it is even harder to get people to agree on what is good writing. That's why for admissions purposes cognitive measurement has been the way.
SATs and other college-entrance tests have been and still are the established measures of knowledge and ability. Non-cognitive attributes are all the ones that are "not grounded in or directly derived from rational thought" according to David T. Conley and the researchers and psychometricians who study the tests.
There have been articles and research for years telling us that standardized-test scores don't do a very good job at predicting a student's long-term potential to succeed. What about grade-point average? Also not very good at predicting merit or potential.
That's why alternative indicators of student potential have interested colleges. Probably all of us submitted a personal statement and letters of recommendation. Most admissions people believe those are useful, but like all writing assignments, difficult to assess.
The two big players in admissions testing, The College Board and Educational Testing Service, have experimented with ways to measure non-cognitive qualities. Those qualities include artistic and cultural appreciation, integrity, communication skills and teamwork.
Tuesday, January 1. 2013
Remedial courses are supposed to get under-prepared students ready for college-level work. Unfortunately, all the numbers indicate that too often these students hit a dead end and often never move into college-level work and drop out. Leaders of four national higher-education groups said last month that there need to be sweeping changes in how such students are remediated.
The report, "Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education: A Joint Statement" comes from Complete College America, the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the Education Commission of the States, and Jobs for the Future and is based on studies by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College.
One of their recommendations is that more developmental students should be placed directly into full-credit college courses that are accompanied by services such as mandatory tutoring and facilitated computer labs.
They also report that there is skepticism from faculty members who would have to integrate the extra support into their classes. Their concern is that bypassing developmental courses will set up students for failure in courses that they are not prepared to take.
Another concern identified in the report is how students end up being placed in remedial courses. Very often the placement is based on a single standardized test. Having administered that test at a community college for several years, I know that students do no preparation for the test and often don't take it seriously. Though we know it is a "high-stakes" test, these new students don't understand what it will mean to their first year at a college.
Five of their core recommendations are:
1. Colleges shouldn't rely on a single test to place students in the appropriate classes.
2. Students who are significantly underprepared need accelerated paths to college-level work.
3. Enrollment in gateway college-level courses, with additional
academic support, should be the default placement for many more students.
4. The content of those courses should align with a broad category of majors, such as social sciences or human services, that students choose when they enroll in college.
5. Helping students complete gateway courses, the report says, is key to college completion.
The report says that less than 10% of students that take three or more semesters of remedial math end up completing the first-year college-level math course for which they were preparing. When it comes to English, the numbers are better but still poor with fewer than one in three of the students in three remedial courses will complete the college-level course that they were preparing to take.
Friday, October 12. 2012
The average scores on the SAT fell two points this year. On average it dropped a point each in critical reading and in writing. It stayed level in mathematics. The drops are smaller than the six-point decrease last year. Scores were pretty flat for a few year before that.
What does it mean? Does it mean anything?
The average scores on the ACT were flat this year. The ACT overtook the SAT this year in the number of test-takers by by about 2,000 students. Both exams had more than 1.66 million test-takers.
The College Board's own report says that most students aren't taking the courses that would prepare them to do well in college.
More disturbing is the data that shows that gaps in the average scores and levels of preparation for college in different racial, ethnic groups and different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Monday, August 20. 2012
An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education says that there have been
"Dozens of Plagiarism Incidents Reported in Coursera's Free Online Courses by students even though the MOOC's carry no credit.
Students cheating even when the stakes are low? What are we to conclude?
Eric S. Rabkin, a U. of Michigan professor who teaches a free Massive Open Online Course, posted to his 39,000 students that he wanted them to stop plagiarizing. The people at Coursera (who offer the course) are reviewing the issue and will consider adding plagiarism-detection software in the future.
What is interesting is that in the Coursera humanities courses that have complaints, the complaining has come from other students. The courses use peer grading and each student is asked to grade and offer comments on fellow students.
I am happy that a student says "I just graded my second batch of peer essays and was saddened to find one of them was lifted from Wikipedia" because it means that he is being educated about plagiarism from the other side of the desk, and that he does not approve of it. But I am also surprised that he is surprised that it occurs. The article goes on to say that many students (in the online discussion) "expressed surprise that their peers would resort to fraudulent behavior in a noncredit course."
Is that what they find surprising - not the plagiarism but it occurring in a non-credit course? (Students who complete a course can get a certificate showing that but the courses do not count for credit at any university.)
Of course, as soon as MOOCs came into being, faculty were immediately skeptical (most still are) and one question asked was "Who will monitor and grade the work of thousands of students?" Quality control is certainly an issue, as it has been for decades in online courses of any size.
We will see what changes occur. Perhaps, students will be able to take MOOCs from a source outside their college, but will be tested and evaluated on what they have learned by their own college and awarded credit based on that evaluation.
Plagiarism is a very old academic issue. Academic integrity in online courses has been an issue for about 40 years. MOOCs have inherited those issues, but are so new that they have not had to really address them as of yet.
Cross-posted in a slightly different version from my blog at http://pcccwriting.blogspot.com
(just so I am not accused of self plagiarism)
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