Chronicle of Higher Education



Free-Textbook Group Will Sell Its E-Books on Chegg, for a Small Fee
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2013/01/09

I'm not sure what the problem is, but according to this Chronicle report, "some producers of free e-textbooks have had trouble persuading professors to adopt them." It's the sort of story the Chronicle loves. So they report with glee "one backer of 'open-source textbooks' has decided to sell its titles on Chegg, an online textbook retailer, for a small fee in hopes of reaching a wider audience." I'm not sure exactly how charging money will increase readership. We're supposed to believe the problem is that "few professors have heard of the Twenty Million Minds Foundation or of OpenStax College, the Rice University-run service that hosts the free textbooks produced by the foundation." To me that says the problem is with the professors, not the books. No surprise, that.

Today: Total:89 [Comment] [Direct Link]
‘History Harvest’ Project May Spawn a New Kind of MOOC
Marc ParryMarc Parry, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/12/21

I like the concept. It reflects the idea in connectivist MOOCs that the learners are expected to bring new resources to the mix. The idea is that each person brings a unique perspective, and learning occurs when these perspectives are placed in juxtaposition. In this case the new perspectives are communicated using historical artifacts. Nice.

Today: Total:65 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Size Isn't Everything
Cathy N. DavidsonCathy N. Davidson, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/12/11

I have to admit, I am one of the people bemused by all the attention MOOCs are getting, not so much that I would join some sort of anti-MOOC brigade, but enough that I know that were I know so closely associated with the concepted, I would by now be one of the people yearning for journalists to write about something else. Of course, a good amount of the journalism about MOOCs is a part of the anti-MOOC brigade, and this item is in part a case in point. Davidson summarizes, "Far too many of the MOOC's championed in the (Forbes) article use talking heads and multiple-choice quizzes in fairly standard subject areas in conventional disciplines taught by famous teachers at elite universities. There is little that prepares students for learning in the fuzzy, merged world that Negroponte sees as necessary for thriving in the 21st century." For me, what's revolutionary about MOOCs isn't size, it's openness - and openness isn't just about free content, it's about ownership over the process. And I don't see anyone who is bored (yet) of talking about open education.

Today: Total:83 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Providers of Free MOOC's Now Charge Employers for Access to Student Data
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/12/06

Another business model fpr MOOCs. This one is a bit unique - it doesn't charge the students, or even government. It charges employers. "Providers of free online courses are officially in the headhunting business, bringing in revenue by selling to employers information about high-performing students who might be a good fit for open jobs." It does make the case clear, that education expenditures, always viewed as a benefit directed toward studnets, are in fact a corporate subsidy, relieving companies of the need to train staff. Interestingly, the corporations who pay for data herepay for more than just marks. "They also highlight students who frequently help others in discussion forums. Mr. Thrun, of Udacity, said those 'softer skills' are often more useful to employers than raw academic performance."

Today: Total:114 [Comment] [Direct Link]
10 Highly Selective Colleges Form Consortium to Offer Online Courses
Alisha AzevedoAlisha Azevedo, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/11/20

I giggled when I read this. "A group of 10 highly selective colleges has formed a consortium to offer online courses that students enrolled at any of the campuses can take for credit." It is, of course, how you create MOOCs if you're an elitist ivory tower - you open up your courses, but only to each other. Oh, and you don't make them massive. "The software from 2U will give universities a platform for small online undergraduate courses capped at 20 students each." And, of course, it allows students to travel around the world while earning credit from their highly selective school. There's no word yet on whether Club Med membership is included with tuition.

Today: Total:80 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Twitter Email Facebook What You Need to Know About MOOC's
Various AuthorsVarious authors, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/11/16

Short article and timeline documenting the 'history' of MOOCs. I put 'history' in quotes because it refers only to Chronicle articles, and is thus a graphic demovstration of the fact that the Chronicle completely ignored the subject for several years. As a result they posit a revisionist history that eliminates any mention of the actual development of the form. It's all the more odd given that the Chronicle actually co-sponsored this year's MOOC with George Siemens and myself. Finally, the plural of MOOC is MOOCs, not MOOC's, because the apostraphe indicates possession, not plurality.

Today: Total:88 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Flat World Knowledge to Drop Free Access to Textbooks
Jennifer HowardJennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/11/05

Flat World Knowledge, once widely-known for free and open access textbooks, will now be charging access fees, according to the Chronicle. The change was first reported by Campus Marketplace. “While free access goes away, our mission to be fair and affordable remains as strong as ever,” said Flat World CEO Jeff Shelstad. Accoding to the Chronicle report, most affiliated institutions and authors are in support of the move. Observers - including me - are more sceptical. As I commented on the Chronicle article, we now see why the people at Flat World so vehemently argued against the use of the Creative Commons non-commercial tag.

Today: Total:82 [Comment] [Direct Link]
San Jose State U. Says Replacing Live Lectures With Videos Increased Test Scores
Alisha AzevedoAlisha Azevedo, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/10/17

This of course is exactly what the experts tell us cannot happen. "The midterm-examination scores of students in the flipped section were higher than those in the traditional sections, said Mr. Ghadiri. Although the midterm questions were more difficult for the flipped students, their median score was 10 to 11 points higher." The format, notes the article, generates a lot of resistance from students - some because they have to learn more, others because they have to move at the speed of the class, rather than letting it all slide and cramming at the last minute. But it's interesting, it seems to me - in a certain sense, all my philosophy classes were like this. No, we didn't watch videos. But we were expected to do the readings, and come into class prepared for a discussion. There's a discipline you get when you have to be 'on' on a regular basis - for me it was derived from my classes and from my work on the newspaper. Today it's derived from OLDaily and my conference presentations (two activities, interestingly, viewed as having no value by my employers, especially the latter).

Today: Total:52 [Comment] [Direct Link]
MOOC Madness
Various AuthorsVarious authors, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/10/04

With the Chronicle's unyielding sense of irony, half the publication's special coverage on MOOCs is locked behind a subscription paywall. Free articles available include 'Five Ways that EdX Could Change Education', 'Self-flying Helicopters', and 'A Pioneer in Online Learning Tries a MOOC'.

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Enclosure: Size: bytes, type: [Comment] [Direct Link]
Stanford U. Releases New Open-Source Online-Education Platform
Alisha AzevedoAlisha Azevedo, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/09/14

There's some code already available and, of course, with the whole thing open sourced there is the potential for the wider community to build something more significant. As the Chronicle reports, "Stanford University is continuing a high-profile push into online education with a new open-source platform called Class2Go, which will host two massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, during the fall quarter."

Today: Total:81 [Comment] [Direct Link]
MOOC’s Could Hurt Smaller and For-Profit Colleges, Moody’s Report Says
Alisha AzevedoAlisha Azevedo, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/09/12

Under the heading of "No, Really?" a Moody's report traces a key implication of MOOCs offered by large big-name universities: Using MOOC’s produced by other universities could also lead to faculty and staff cuts, said Karen Kedem, vice president and senior analyst at Moody’s and the report’s author. The report also predicts that MOOC’s will most hurt the bottom line of low-cost local colleges, primarily commuter campuses, and for-profit colleges."

Today: Total:81 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Students Find E-Textbooks ‘Clumsy’ and Don’t Use Their Interactive Features
Angela ChenAngela Chen, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/08/22

Another anti-tech article from the Chronicle (it's like they can't let go of the genre). "Many students find the e-textbooks 'clumsy' and prefer print." But from my perspective, e-books represent the end-point of the document-based culture. The last gasp of the paper metaphor. The way of the future is to see online content as data or as Dave Winer says, streams, or a 'river of news'. Anil Dash captures the idea in a post last week. "tart moving your content management system towards a future where it outputs content to simple APIs, which are consumed by stream-based apps that are either HTML5 in the browser and/or native clients on mobile devices. Insert your advertising into those streams using the same formats and considerations that you use for your own content."

Today: Total:59 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Coursera Hits 1 Million Students, With Udacity Close Behind
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/08/16

Not that we're keeping track of this sort of thing. But before people get excited by these numbers, let me point out that having huge centralized providers is a weakness, not a strength. It's easy to build a platform and market it to people; companies have been doing that since the early days of the internet. It's hard to put a learning and networking tool into the hands of the people. This is such a challenging idea that my employers (not to mention most of the rest of the world) cannot even grasp it. When I think 'MOOC' I am thinking "individual people nwith their own piece of a learning network", not signups on a web form. But hey, signups are easy to count; that's hpow you get the millions of dollars of seed funding.

Today: Total:114 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Why Online Education Won't Replace College—Yet
David YoungbergDavid Youngberg, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/08/13

Without further ado, here are the reasons, according to the Chronicle's David Youngberg:

  • it's too easy to cheat
  • star students can't shine
  • employers avoid weird people (he writes: "Getting an unconventional degree suggests you're probably one of the usurpers who are more trouble than they are worth. MOOCs are the nose rings of higher education.")
  • computers can't grade everything
  • money can't substitute for ability

Youngberg writes, "If only one or two of these issues existed, the days of higher education as we know it would be numbered." In fact, none of these are genuine issues, as they are rooted in perception rather than any fact. If you get past a vision of the world where students compete with each other through grades then you see a world in which a MOOC is normal and acceptable, as students participate in online projectys that reflect their true abilities, creating portfolios than can be judged with much more fine-graded nuance than opaque grading systems.

Today: Total:91 [Comment] [Direct Link]
At New Online University, Advertisers Will Underwrite Free Degrees
Angela ChenAngela Chen, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/08/08

Maybe this will work, but it has to be done well. The ham-handed model suggested in this article is not it ("students may be asked a question like 'Are you a runner?' ... if a student checks “yes,” he or she will thereafter see ads for a certain brand of running shoes). More likely such a site would collect demographic information that would be used to inform political and advertising campaigns not overtly associated with the program itself (for example, a tendency among influential students to speak negatively about a certain policy would result in a campaign around that issue) and brand placement and awareness campaigns inserted into learning material (for example, a series of placements in exercises intended to normalize, say, gun ownership or privatized health care). That, of course, is both the opportunity and the danger of advertising-supported learning.

Today: Total:59 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Berkeley Joins ‘EdX’ Effort to Offer Free Open Courses
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/07/24

It looks like EdX is seeking to expand in the same way Coursera has, by creating a consortium of universities. This appears to be the case after Berkeley's announcement it is joing the consortium, and the statement that "that more institutions will eventually be admitted to the exclusive group." I wonder whether partners in Coursera and EdX have an exclusivity clause, or whether we could eventually see the same university joing both, and more, online course consortia.

Today: Total:104 [Comment] [Direct Link]
College Degrees, Designed by the Numbers
Marc ParryMarc Parry, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/07/20

You will want to read this article beginning to end, because there's a lot of good information in there, but you'll have to get past the Chronicle's typical anti-technology bias. The article looks specifically at the way Artizona State uses data analysis to help students monitor progress and sign up for new courses. The data - CETIS calls it paradata and I've referred to it in the past as 2nd party metadata - accumulates the information a student leaves in his or her wake navigating through online learning - tests taken, grades received, late night sessions working on problems, the works. The Chronicle is worried that this focus on learning will interfere with the real purpose of a university education: socializing. "Campuses are places of intuition and serendipity," writes the author. "A professor senses confusion on a student's face and repeats his point; a student majors in psychology after a roommate takes a course; two freshmen meet on the quad and eventually become husband and wife." At a certain point, though, the public loses its interest in paying for rich kids to experiment and get hitched.

Today: Total:50 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The Biggest Student Uprising You’ve Never Heard Of
Marc BousquetMarc Bousquet, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/04/27

I think the author has a point. "While the Quebec student strike is comparable in scale to student movements in Europe and Latin America, it is entirely unique in the context of Canada and the continental United States, which makes the absence of media coverage outside the province puzzling at best and disturbing at worst." There is a manifesto for a 'Maple Spring' (the French word for 'Maple' is 'érable', very similar in pronunciation to 'Arab') which you can find in translation on Rabble.

Today: Total:54 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Shift Happens
David WeinbergerDavid Weinberger, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/04/27

Sheri Oberman recommended this article on the 50th anniversary of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I'd read it a few days ago buy passed on the link, but maybe it's worth a moment's thought. Kuhn's work wasn't seen as so incendiary at first - it was published as a monograph in the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, intended to be the defining text of the logical positivist view of the world. This is where I read it, and it stood as a bridge between my classical positivist education and my radical post-modernist education (I like to think I've preserved the best aspects of both). I prefer the earlier uncompromising Kuhn, with its inherent relativism and thesis of incommensurability between paradigms (the idea that words mean different things depending on which side of the paradigm shift you're on). As Weinberger summarizes, "All understanding is historical, and no human project escapes the characteristics of history-based humanity: fallible, limited, impure of motive, social, and always situated in a culture, a language, and a time."

Today: Total:48 [Comment] [Direct Link]
New TED-Ed Site Turns YouTube Videos Into ‘Flipped’ Lessons
Nick DeSantisNick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/04/25

I'm not sure why the Chronicle couldn't link to the new TED-Ed site is describes in this article - the Forbes article manages to link to it, The Atlantic has no problem, nor does Mashable, nor any of the other half dozen sites I saw covering the release (surely a testament to the pull TED has in the traditional publishing community). "The new Web site, unveiled today, lets professors turn TED’s educational videos—as well as any video on YouTube—into interactive lessons inspired by the 'flipped' classroom model." Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

3 Major Publishers Sue Open-Education Textbook Start-Up
Nick DeSantisNick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/04/05

Hm. "A group of three large academic publishers has sued the start-up Boundless Learning in federal court, alleging that the young company, which produces open-education alternatives to printed textbooks, has stolen the creative expression of their authors and editors, violating their intellectual-property rights." This isn't a case of copying and publishing content: the publishers are claiming something broader. Students list the traditional texts they have been assigned, and the publisher pulls together a collection of open source content covering the same domain. "The company calls this mapping of printed book to open material 'alignment'—a tactic the complaint said creates a finished product that violates the publishers’ copyrights." See also Audrey Watters coverage at Inside Higher Ed. Today: Total:66 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Beyond Critical Thinking
Michael S. RothMichael S. Roth, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/03/12

critical thinking is about much more than debunking faulty reasoning, argues this columnist. It involves being able to learn. For example, we should develop modes of engagement "that allow our students to enter in the value-laden practices of a particular culture to understand better how these values are legitimated: how the values are lived as legitimate." Indeed, "If we humanities professors saw ourselves more often as explorers of the normative than as critics of normativity, we would have a better chance to reconnect our intellectual work to broader currents in public culture." I endorse this aspect of critical thinking. Most of what I do in my own work involves exploring, whether it be a new culture, new technology, or new way of seeing the world. My critical thinking skills are like explorer's gear, helping me see and understand and guide my way. This is not a new view of critical thinking - I've seen it expressed in various fora before - but it is a valuable one. Today: Total:82 [Comment] [Direct Link]

A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn't Working
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/02/13

In a bit of an "I told you so" article the Chronicle gleefully lets us know that tech-guru Michael Wesch has changed his ways because the tech tricks no longer worked. "The students thought it was chaos." And in words that must have been magic to the Chronicle's ears, he said, "the No. 1 thing that was missing from it was a sense of purpose." Or in other words, "It doesn’t matter what method you use if you do not first focus on one intangible factor: the bond between professor and student." So now it's away with "remote-control-like gadgets that let students ring in answers" and in with the traditional lecture, tech now placed firmly into the background. I know a lot of people really liked what Michael Wesch did, but what really worked for him was that he never really strayed far from the classroom and the traditional university environment at all. This is the inevitable result. See also D'Arcy Norman, who has a similar comment. Today: Total:109 [Comment] [Direct Link]

4 Start-Ups Are Offering Free Online Courses
Nick DeSantisNick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/02/10

À propos of what I was talking about in my presentation, the MOOC generation is passing from the 'development' stage to the 'commercialization' stage. At least, that's what I would judge from looking at the activity in the space now. Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

'Badges' Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/01/11

A well-written and fair article from the Chronicle on the controversial subject of the use of badges to recognize learning. It outlines some of the early initiatives - MITx, Mozilla Badges - and then interviews David Wiley on the subject, who gets right to the heart of the matter: "We have to question the tyranny of the degree," says Wiley. "As soon as big employers everywhere start accepting these new credentials, either singly or in bundles, the gig is up completely." The author then raises the question of whether this commoditizes the idea of learning, which prompted me to consider that the traditional college degree is already well-commoditized. The article then looks at how a site called OpenStudy rewards achievement. "We've been called a massively multiplayer study group," says designer Preetha Ram. And "Winning recognition for underappreciated educational activities drives many of the college officials who are experimenting with badges." Today: Total:90 [Comment] [Direct Link]

E-Textbooks Saved Many Students Only $1
Nick DeSantisNick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2012/01/05

Alan Levine quite rightly growls about this Chronicle article that takes the most negative possible spin on the distribution of eBooks. In addition to the slim savings had by some due to "publisher pricing decisions" the article also describes the difficulties some students had opening the materials "thanks to disparities in basic computing skills" and the dissatisfaction they registered on a survey. Levine, who actually read the study before commenting, writes, "The fact is, in looking at the report, A Study of Four Textbook Distribution Models (EDUCAUSE Quarterly), which is quite detailed, I had to do a keyword search to find this one sentence." The old saying is, "if it bleeds, it leads," and as Levine says, "few do it more bloodily than the Chronicle of Higher Education." Having read the article, I don't see it as being particularly favorable to eBooks, but agree that the Chronicle went overboard, producing coverage that doesn't resemble the original. Instead of adopting the hysterical approach, they would have been better to focus on the study's findings: "Institutions seeking to implement campus-wide e-text adoption should be prepared to address specific concerns, including faculty choice, infrastructure needs, student technological skills, cost savings, and instructional adaptation." Today: Total:58 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Reading with the Stars: Teaching with the HIGHBROW Annotation Browser
Prof. HackerProf. Hacker, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/12/06

I was asked this morning to talk about the difference new technologies bring to research. This post provides an example of the sort of thing I was attempting to describe. "Using important texts such as the Bible, the Divine Comedy, and Shakespeare (First Folio), Reinhard’s widget brought these texts together with some of their more famous commentaries. A spike graph at the top of the screen showed viewers where the text had received more (or less) comment, and scrolling down into the text allowed viewers to see specific comments from a range of well known thinkers." Yes, you could have done this with a large table and a whole bunch of index cards, I suppose. But this sort of look at large bodies of data all at once - a 'macroscope' - can only be done electronically. Today: Total:57 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Where Are the Philosophers? Thoughts from THATCamp Pedagogy
Prof. HackerProf. Hacker, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/11/22

The Chronicle's Prof. Hacker says "there are not... numerous examples of philosophers using techniques of the digital humanities to _do_ philosophy or using digital tools to teach philosophy." I comment in reply, "Well, I *think* I am doing digital philosophy, but philosophers (properly so-called) may disagree. But if we agree that philosophy is "the discovery, development, classification and analysis of human concepts and reasoning," then I am definitely doing philosophy online (perhaps even using the techniques of the digital humanities, whatever those are). Additionally, my background and formal academic training are in philosophy, up to my ABD (yeah, I'm one of those people more stubborn than their supervisor). But if you think 'doing philosophy' is 'being employed as a philosophy professor and offering classes', then I'm not doing philosophy. But who would want to define philosophy *that* way? To find people using new technologies, we have to look outside the usual places." Today: Total:63 [Comment] [Direct Link]

In Victory for Open-Education Movement, Blackboard Embraces Sharing
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/10/19

Two comments: it's about time, and welcome to the party. Blackboard has "announced plans to add a 'Share' button that will let professors make those learning materials free and open online." What's significant is that institutions will be able to share access without cost to themselves. "In the old contract, colleges could have been charged extra for every additional person who viewed course materials placed on the Blackboard software platform... [now] any outsiders who are invited to look in will not bring extra charges to a college, says Mr. Henderson. 'If it’s non-revenue for you, we understand it’s going to be non-revenue for us,' he says." See also Inside Higher Ed on the same story. Here's the Blackboard press release. See also this Audrey Watters article and her Google+ discussion. Also, a short notice on the Creative Commons blog. Today: Total:170 [Comment] [Direct Link]

In New Partnership, James Madison U. Offers Credit for Online Rosetta Stone Course
Marc ParryMarc Parry, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/10/11

Well, if James Madison University can offer credit for a course in a box sold at the local computer shop, how much longer can it be before it (or some other university) can offer credit for informal learning generally? "The partnership marks the first time a university in the United States has offered credit to students who complete a Rosetta Stone program, according to Cathy Quenzer, the company’s senior director of education." This is the sort of thing that could take off in a hurry, with universities signing all kinds of special deals with content and service providers (for, of course, a piece of the action). Today: Total:48 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Episode 88: Why Universities Should Experiment With Massive Open Courses
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/10/07

The Chronicle picks George Siemens, the MOOC-meister who is the most diplomatic of the bunch of us and who has not called them out publicly over and over, and they still introduce their interview with him with a snide attitude: "George Siemens, who leads Athabasca University’s Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute, makes the case for why colleges should experiment with inviting tens of thousands of students to participate in their courses free online. The model poses challenges to traditional education models, but will it work for teaching Chaucer?" They also get the name of MOOCs wrong in the title. I haven't listed to the interview (I'll catch it later) but I hope Siemens gave it to them. Siemens also comments on the interview. Today: Total:97 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Major Publishers Join Indiana U. Project That Requires Students to Buy E-Textbooks
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/09/20

So do you think universities are doing their students any favours by entering into deals with textbook publishers such that students are required to purchase books from the publishers? No, me neither. Today: Total:85 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The First Free Research-Sharing Site, arXiv, Turns 20 With an Uncertain Future
Josh FischmanJosh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/08/16

If you work in physics, you don't read journals, you read arXiv, the pioneering pre-print and document repository established - can you believe it? - in 1991. The Chronicle makes much of the fact that arXiv has "an uncertain future" and is currently in a round of fund-raising. But perhaps that's because the service questions the traditional stance: "It baffles me that scientists in some fields can announce results in a public forum, such as a meeting, while another group can reproduce the results, publish first in a journal, and be given complete intellectual precedence,” he [arXiv founder Paul Ginsparg] writes. Journals and referees need to take more care to give credit where credit is due." Hear hear! See also Ginsparg, arXiv at 20, in Nature. Via Stevan Harnad on the BOAI Forum. Today: Total:38 [Comment] [Direct Link]

U. of Illinois at Springfield Offers New ‘Massive Open Online Course’
Marc ParryMarc Parry, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/06/22

Coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education of the U. of Illinois at Springfield eduMOOC mentioned here a few days ago. "Nearly 500 people from two dozen countries have registered so far, with 1,000 expected to sign up by the time the course begins next Monday." Today: Total:65 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Free for All: National Academies Press Puts All 4,000 Books Online at No Charge
Josh FischmanJosh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/06/02

Remarkable. "Today the National Academies Press announced it would offer its entire PDF catalog of books for free, as files that can be downloaded by anyone.... Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for the press, said it had previously offered 65 percent of its titles-ones that were narrow in scope-for free. 'The 35 percent that we are adding today will reach a wider audience, and we are doing it because it's central to our mission to get this information to everyone,' she said." The system asked me for my email address before allowing me to download the PDF, but I could read the HTML on the website without paying anything. I figured the email address was a good thing to exchange for a free copy of Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations, which I have open in my PDF reader right now. Today: Total:61 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Publishers Criticize Federal Investment in Open Educational Resources
Josh KellerJosh Keller, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/05/30

Should government produce open educational resources? The Chronicle quotes publishers with out all the cliches in this troll:
- "I think it's very dangerous for them to be in the product business," said Bill Hughes, vice president of business development and innovation at Pearson Education.
- "There's no free lunch," said James Kourmadas, vice president of strategic marketing at McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
- "I fear when big bucks from government is put into certain places, it actually stops pushing people to innovate," said Kevin Wiggen, chief technology officer of Blackboard Xythos.
The responses in the comments are much better than the 'published' piece. Cable Green also offers a formal response from Creative Commons. Today: Total:150 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online?
Rob JenkinsRob Jenkins, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/05/24

OK, if we're going to have a conversation about dirty little secrets, let's have it. Rob Jenkins writes in the ever-reliable Chronicle of Higher Education that the dirty little secret of online learning is that so many people fail. "Isn't it time that we had an honest national conversation about online learning?" he asks. "With countless studies showing success rates in online courses of only 50 per cent-as opposed to 70-to-75 percent for comparable face-to-face classes- isn't it time we asked ourselves some serious questions?" Well, fair enough. But here's the flip side, as Will Richardson observes: "Of the 2 million graduates in the class of 2011, 85 percent will return home because they can't secure jobs that might give them more choices and more control over their lives." Sure, it's harder to study online. It's harder to succeed. And you usually have other stuff happening too, like your family or your job. But while the rarefied university atmosphere may make it easier to succeed academically, it may be hurting you elsewhere. Today: Total:94 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Quiet Revolution in Open Learning
Kevin CareyKevin Carey, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/05/23

Kevin Carey follows up his badge article with a description of the 'quiet revolution' that is the emergence of Open Educational Resources. Not surprisingly, he focuses on the well-known projects, such as MIT's OpenCourseWare, and on government programs around OER's, such as the proposed funding of college OERs by the U.S. government. And he tracks what appears to be an emerging trend in government funding: "Community colleges that compete for federal money to serve students online will be obliged to make those materials-videos, text, assessments, curricula, diagnostic tools, and more-available to everyone in the world, free, under a Creative Commons license." There remains the problem of credentials, but this problem is solvable: "assessment-driven 'cognitive tutors' developed by learning scientists at Carnegie Mellon are woven into science, engineering, and philosophy courses... Assessments create evidence. And that's all a credit is, in the end: credible evidence of learning." This is the direction we're headed, and I find it interesting that though Carey and I are at the very opposite end of the political spectrum, we still see the same end-game. Today: Total:67 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Slow-Motion Mobile Campus
Josh KellerJosh Keller, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/05/10

It's always frustrating to read the Chronicle of Higher Education when it covers technology because so often it just doesn't get the program. Calling Stanford students "tech-savvy" because they sleep with their iPhones should in no way entail they would embrace the partially-functional and non-utilitarian iPads in a classroom setting. This is especially the case if the wireless doesn't work. To cite student reticence to depend on a devioce that isn't ready for prime time, on a network still struggling with down time, does not in any way show that the concept is ill-conceived. And there are zingers throughout the article, somehow linking the iPad to digital ID and attendance tracking.

And this: "For an anatomy course, instructional-technology officials built a three-dimensional, interactive map of the brain for the iPad. But a professor who had supported its use happened to stop teaching the course, and his replacements didn't want to use the iPad. The map hasn't been used since." For goodness sake, why didn't it occur to the reporter to ask the Stanford PR people why they hadn't released the map as an open educational resource where it would be widely used by students worldwide? Like I said, they're just not with the program... Today: Total:53 [Comment] [Direct Link]

QuickWire: Blackboard Is Considering Takeover Proposals
Josh KellerJosh Keller, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/04/19

Interesting: "Blackboard Inc., the course-management software company, announced on Tuesday that it was considering proposals to acquire the company. It did not disclose the source of the proposals. Blackboard's stock jumped by nearly 30 percent early on Tuesday afternoon to its highest point since 2007." Any bets on possible suitors? Today: Total:120 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Busting the Myth of College Admissions
Kevin CareyKevin Carey, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/04/19

If only students got better information about college success rates, writes Kevin Carey. Then they would not be applying at inappropriate schools and the problems of low admission rates and high tuition wouldn't be issues. If only more people knew about the financial aid available at elite schools like Harvard or Yale. Then they 94 percent rejection rate wouldn't be a chronic embarrassment. Crock. It's not like getting more information out to students will lead Harvard (say) to enrol more low-income students; the new low-income earners will simply push out other low-income earners. And steering students away from liberal arts colleges and toward business schools won't increase their ROI, it will simply relocate the enrolment crunch. Carey would have readers believe the real problem is one of consumer information. But that's just a fiction, a free-market fantasy. Today: Total:53 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Taking a Closer Look at Open Peer Review
Jennifer HowardJennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/04/12

I think that if peer review were open, rather than constituted by smallish groups of people working in secret, we'd see very different papers published, from very different authors. To this end, "The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given New York University Press and MediaCommons a $50,000 grant to take a closer look at open, or peer-to-peer (P2P), review." The money will be used to author a while paper that will take a close, critical look at the idea. Today: Total:64 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Netflix Effect: When Software Suggests Students' Courses
Jeffrey R. YoungJeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/04/11

The concept of recommenders has been around for ages - I first saw such a system in 1996; it was called 'Firefly' and was bought by Microsoft and quietly killed; I talked about them as early as 2004. So it's not surprising to see a project that reportedly 'recommends' courses to students a la Netflix. So we see this item about Austin Peay State Uni­versity automated system which "considers each student's planned major, past academic performance, and data on how similar students fared in that class. It crunches this information to arrive at a recommendation. An early test of the system found that it could lead to higher grades and fewer dropouts, officials say." Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Colleges Spend Far Less on Educating Students Than They Claim, Report Says
Robin WilsonRobin Wilson, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/04/08

This is interesting: "While universities routinely maintain that it costs them more to educate students than what students pay, a new report says exactly the opposite is true." How is this so? "Student tuition payments actually subsidize university spending on things that are unrelated to classroom instruction, like research, and that universities unfairly inflate the stated cost of providing an education." According to Gillen, Denhart and Robe, "between 52% and 60% of students attend institutions that are paid more than they spend to educate them. If wasteful spending is disallowed, the figure rises to 76%... As Bob Samuels noted, 'Many professors have told me, they do not believe that the public would support the research mission of the university, so the university has to hide how it spends its money.'" Via Computing Education Blog. Today: Total:87 [Comment] [Direct Link]

TED, Known For Big-Idea Conferences, Pushes Into Education
Jeff YoungJeff Young, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/03/02

Expect to see a set of shortened, carefully vetted, rich-patron-friendly and TV-pretty presentations on education in the near future. Yes, TED is bringing its brand of "ideas worth spreading" to education. "The system is not up yet, but the online forum is scheduled to open as early as next week, says Logan Smalley, whose title is TED-Ed catalyst. The videos will be added in the coming months, he says." Tell 'em Jimmy says, if the ideas in education are worth spreading, they're in OLDaily, not TED. Today: Total:64 [Comment] [Direct Link]

New Web Venture Offers ‘Syndicated Courses'
Tushar RaeTushar Rae, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2011/01/14

Interesting twist on the 'course as consumable' model. Omnicademy's "system will let professors upload material from courses they're already teaching and offer the courses to students at other colleges through the Omnicademy site... Universities can review the courses and decide which ones they want to adopt and offer credit for. When students log into Omnicademy-using a .edu e-mail address-they will only be allowed to select from courses that have been approved by their institution." I hesitate to call this a 'web venture', beyond the incidental fact that course components are offered online. It's more of a course federation system, with the bulk of the novelty being in the facilitation of course-sharing between universities. Today: Total:50 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Founder of 'Arts & Letters Daily' Dies
UnattributedUnattributed, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2010/12/28

Denis Dutton, the founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily, has died. See also this notice in the L.A. Times. I once met Dutton on my first and only trip to New York, in 2000. I had been invited by Jeffrey Kittay, then the publisher of University Business to discuss the future of online learning and learning technology with him. He had just published my paper Nine Rules for Good Technology. Founded in 1998, A&L Daily was acquired by University Business in November 1999. When University Business folded in 2002, the website was taken over by the Chronicle of Higher Education. I was a regular reader of A&L Daily, and had designed NewsTrolls in a similar format. And for my new email newsletter, which I began sending in 2001, I borrowed from Dutton the 'Daily' of OLDaily. A tip of the OLDaily cap, then, a salute and a "hail! well met!" to Denis Dutton, a pioneer in our field. Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Great College Degree Scam
Richard VedderRichard Vedder, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2010/12/10

Richard Vedder cites statistics showing that a significant number of college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college degree, and then observes, "the push to increase the number of college graduates seems horribly misguided from a strict economic/vocational perspective." It is keeping people out of the workforce, being used as a terribly inefficient screening system by employers, and of course not compensating students themselves for their effort and expense. And yes, if we view education as nothing more than preparation for employment, this argument could be made. But the other thing about an education is that it is enlightening, liberating and empowering. Yes, we should make the system more efficient and affordable. But what we should not give up on is the idea that every person has a basic right to access the sum total of human knowledge, development and culture. Today: Total:57 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Articulated Arm of an Archive Raider
Prof. HackerProf. Hacker, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2010/12/08

It's funny that the Chronicle depicts people who photograph archives as 'archive raiders'. They actually do no damage at all! When I used paper-based libraries in the 80s, I'd frequently find pages cut up or completely cut out, a permanent and scarring form of raiding. People taking photos of archives are benign. Today: Total:66 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Hard Times Require Better Planning and More Online Offerings, Speakers Tell Public-University Leaders
Paul FainPaul Fain, Chronicle of Higher EducationChronicle of Higher Education, 2010/12/01

It's really easy to tout online learning as the solution to the mounting financial crisis facing the education system. I've done it; indeed, I've been singing that song since the mid-1990s. But it's a lot more difficult to describe just how that works. Simply converting to online courses won't save a whole lot of money. Converting your pedagogy to 'guide on the side' brings in a number of new expenses, such as instructional design. Meanwhile, the same labour budget educates fewer and fewer students, and the potential of the internet to support education remains unrealized inside the classroom. Today: Total:59 [Comment] [Direct Link]


(Still working on this)