Staff get little to no say in campus governance. That must change. — from chronicle.com by Lee Skallerup Bessette
As professors and administrators debate how to reimagine academe after Covid-19, that reform must include a greater voice for staff members.

Excerpts:

Why, then, in all of this recent (and needed) hand-wringing and speculating about the future of the university, post-pandemic, have we not heard many (if any) staff voices? Or for that matter, any calls for our voices to be included in any planning and restructuring?

Faculty members are the experts in their disciplines, but they do not have a monopoly of knowledge around pedagogy, programming, student success, inclusivity, equity, accessibility, among other things. We shouldn’t expect already overtaxed faculty members to be experts in everything and anything. In fact, the intense pressure that many of them are feeling lately is largely because of structures and traditions that discourage professors from collaborating with staff members who are experts in those areas.

With college campuses selling themselves as an entire “experience,” not just a set of courses, it’s high time for those of us responsible for that campus experience to be included in the larger conversation.

 

Digital transformation: 5 ways the pandemic forced change — from enterprisersproject.com by Gordon Haff
The pandemic has reshaped consumer behavior and team expectations. At a recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium event, CIOs detailed what it means for organizations, IT, and the CIO role

Excerpt:

The new CIO role: Chief Influencing Officer
Zemmel says that the evolution of the role of the CIO has been accelerated as well. He sees CIOs increasingly reporting to the CEO because they increasingly have a dual mandate. In addition to their historical operational role running the IT department, they now are also customer-facing and driving revenue. That mandate is not new for forward-looking IT organizations, but the pandemic has made other organizations hyper-aware of IT’s role in driving change quickly. CIOs are becoming a sort of “chief influencing officer who is breaking down silos and driving adoption of digital products,” Zemmel adds.

Experian’s Libenson puts it this way: “The pandemic has forced us to be closer to the business than before. We had a seat at the table before. But I think we will be a better organization after this.”

 

WMU-Cooley Named Top 10 Law School For Ethnic Enrollment in 2019 — from fox47news.com

Excerpt:

LANSING, Mich. — Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, with campuses in Michigan and Florida, was named a top 10 law school for racial and ethnic minority enrollment in 2019 by Enjuris, a collection of independent legal resources for legal professionals.

With Black students comprising 22.4 percent of WMU-Cooley’s total student enrollment in 2019, the law school is ranked in Enjuris’ recently released, Law School Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity (2019) [enjuris.com] report.

WMU-Cooley Named Top 10 Law School For Ethnic Enrollment in 2019

 

Inclusion in Law Firms Should Be About Everyone—Not Just Lawyers — from law.com by Jennifer Johnson
Too many firms leave nearly half of their employees out of diversity and inclusion efforts, only partially delivering on the the full commitment that clients expect.

Excerpt:

Unfortunately, most of these firms are focusing only on their lawyer population, leaving a major component of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) equation without consideration: the contributions of law firms’ business services professionals. These are professionals who are working within the business of a law firm that are not fee earners.

This is no small issue. Among larger firms, it is quite common for so-called “nonlawyers” to comprise as much as 50% of total head count. These business services professionals—members of legal operations, human resources, finance, information technology, marketing and administration functions—are critical to a law firm’s success, but far too often are not treated as valuable members of the larger team.

 

Walmart just started delivering stuff with drones — from futurism.com by Victor Tangermann

Excerpt:

Walmart just kicked off its own drone delivery pilot, a collaboration with drone delivery company Flytrex. The pilot launched today in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is limited to select grocery and household essential items from the retailer’s local stores.

 

Let's keep the drone armies out of the skies please.

From DSC:
It starts off with an army of drones from Walmart joined by another army of drones from Amazon.

Drones from Amazon Prime. Let's keep them out of the skies please.

 

Then company XYZ chimes in. Then company ABC chimes in. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Then the armies of drones change to more powerful, louder, more “capable” delivery vehicles that can handle bigger, heavier deliveries.

And suddenly, the skies are full of noise-making, sun-blocking pieces of human-made machinery that, for the most part, are convenient but not necessary. 

We need to think — and act — very carefully these days.

  • What kind of future do we want to hand down to our children and to our grandchildren?
  • What will the skies look and sound like in 2030 if such armies of drones and other types of airborne delivery vehicles are released?
  • Are we willing to say that our kids won’t mind paying the price?

Is this the future we want to create? Not me. I, for one, appreciate a quiet walk. I appreciate being able to look up at the skies, especially when they are clear. 

We have a responsibility to keep things this way.

To the relevant engineers and C-Suites out there:

  • Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
  • Please take more responsibility for what’s being developed/brought to market.

Let’s shut this down — now — before the momentum gets started. Let’s follow Portland’s example by shutting down facial recognition/AI:

  • Portland adopts landmark facial recognition ordinances — from thehill.com by Chris Mills Rodrigo
    Excerpt:
    “What makes Portland’s legislation stand out from other cities is that we’re prohibiting facial recognition technology use by private entities in public accommodations,” Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said during Wednesday’s deliberations. “This is the first of its kind of legislation in the nation,” he added.
  • Why Amazon tried to thwart Portland’s historic facial recognition ban — from salon.com by Matt Rozsa
    Amazon reportedly lobbied in secret to weaken Portland’s ban on private use of facial recognition technology

 

 

Today’s awkward Zoom classes could bring a new era of higher education — from edsurge.com by Debra Spar

Excerpt:

Indeed, the forced march to Zoom has also forced colleges and universities to wrestle at last with the incipient promise of educational technologies; with the power that was evident, if not yet realized, in the early MOOCs. Much of that power has to do with scale–the ability to take a single course, even a single lecture, and share it across a vast universe of learners. But some also comes from the strange intimacy of the small screen, and from the possibilities of collapsing both time and space.

Office hours, for instance, migrate easily. Bringing in guest speakers works remarkably well, allowing faculty to introduce a wide range of voices into their classroom conversations. On the screen, everyone can see and hear and participate. 

 

Learning from the Living [Class] Room

 

 

From DSC:
The perfect storm continues to build against traditional institutions of higher education. The backlash continues to build strength. And there WILL BE change — there’s no choice now. Alternatives to these traditional institutions of higher education continue to appear on the scene.

Over the last several decades, traditional institutions of higher education had the chance to step in and do something. They didn’t take nearly enough action. As in other industries, these days of the Coronavirus just hasten the changes that were already afoot. 

Also see:

  • Alternative Credentials on the Rise — from insidehighered.com by Paul Fain, with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
    Interest is growing in short-term, online credentials amid the pandemic. Will they become viable alternative pathways to well-paying jobs?
 
 

From DSC:
I’ve heard many people mention that what we did throughout K-16 in the spring of 2020 was remote teaching — an emergency response to the Coronavirus. And I would agree with that assessment and verbiage — that was/is very true. It wasn’t online-based learning as many of us have come to know it over the last 20+ years. It didn’t offer a lot of the things that organizations like the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and Quality Matters have been trying to promote and get us to achieve for years.

But then I hear the expectation that everything has been vastly improved over the summer and suddenly, almost overnight, all teachers, professors, trainers, adjunct faculty members, etc. have become highly proficient in matters involving online-based teaching and learning. In other words, the expectations say that:

  • Students should expect a top-notch experience now that summer is over.
  • Suddenly, Rome was built in a day!

But it wasn’t, and it isn’t.

It takes time and practice to become proficient in how to teach online. That’s the truth. It also takes a great deal of time and investments in hardware, software, tools, training/education/professional development, networking and telecommunications infrastructure, and more. It takes numerous skillsets to do it well. (By the way, that’s why I like to think in terms of team-based content creation and delivery.)

Also, often times, it takes MORE time to teach online than it does to teach in a face-to-face classroom. That is certainly the case for the first time that you will be teaching online. You need to know that going into it. You have to put your course together PLUS learn how to deliver it effectively in an online-based format. You need to learn a variety of tools and related ecosystems. Not a simple, overnight kind of task, I can assure you.

So students, don’t expect your faculty members to become professional online-based teachers overnight Again, it takes time and practice…just like anything we set out to do.

And for you student teachers and Education Departments/Programs out there, keep at it. Don’t dismiss this time as a brief period/phenomenon that will simply go away and we’ll get back to “normal.” Make the necessary adjustments to your curriculum, toolsets, “teacher placements,” and more. Let’s get prepared for the future, come what may.

For higher ed, if you want to continue to use adjunct faculty members to handle a significant amount of the teaching load out there, you will need to better address the training and the $$/reimbursements that you provide to them.

And for all of the teachers, trainers, faculty members — and now even parents and/or guardians — out there, cut yourself some slack, give yourself some grace, and keep trying. One step at a time. Don’t get discouraged.

Also relevant/see:

Build and accelerate beyond the pandemic: Consciously deliver a great online experience for lifelong learners — from evoLLLution.com by Philip Regier

Excerpt:

Today’s learners have high expectations as expert consumers in all aspects of their lives. Higher education needs to create an infrastructure that meets the needs of this tech-savvy demographic. Institutions need to recognize that the online environment is here to stay and is in need of a rebuild in order to deliver the best student experience possible, even post-pandemic. In this interview, Phil Regier discusses the today’s learners’ expectations, scaling a high-quality online environment, and how to build the right infrastructure to support learners in this new and digitized normal.

 

The Pandemic May Drive Principals to Quit — from blogs.edweek.org by Lesli A. Maxwell and Denisa R. Superville

Excerpt:

The physical and emotional strain of the coronavirus pandemic is taking a steep toll on America’s principals, with a large share saying they are speeding up plans to retire or otherwise leave the profession.

Forty-five percent of principals said that pandemic conditions are prompting them to leave the job sooner than they had previously planned, according to a new survey from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. A slightly larger share—46 percent—said the pandemic has not changed their plans to stay in or leave the profession.

From DSC:
Stressful times, indeed. What will the pandemic ultimately do to the learning ecosystems related to the school systems, families, and youth within K-12 within the U.S.? It’s hard to say at this point, but time will tell.

 

Back-to-School Help for Students Without Internet — from by James K. Willcox
For millions of families, broadband access is a challenge. These resources can help bridge that digital divide.

Excerpt:

“If it wasn’t glaringly clear before, the pandemic has confirmed the vital importance of a broadband internet connection—one that is reliable, affordable, and in some cases, simply available,” says Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel in Consumers Reports’ Washington, D.C., office. “Unfortunately, far too many Americans lack access or are unable to afford broadband.”

A new state-by-state report on America’s K-12 students by Common Sense and Boston Consulting finds that almost 16 million students and 10 percent of teachers lack adequate internet or computing devices at home. Minority households are among the most affected. Though 18 percent of white homes lack broadband, the figure rises to 26 percent for Latinx homes and 30 percent for Black homes. The percentage is even higher among Native American households.

From DSC:
Though this solid article lists some very helpful resources, we have to do much better than this as a nation! It’s not right. 

My thanks to James McQueen for this resource.

 

Solid points made by Martin Giles, Senior Editor, CIO Network for Forbes…below is the majority of his CIO newsletter for this week

Now that more and more companies are extending their work-from-home timelines, the issue of how to monitor and manage the productivity of remote workers is becoming even more pressing. Some businesses are rolling out software applications to track things such as workers’ keystrokes or watch what they are doing when they are on the internet. IT teams are central to these efforts, even if they aren’t the ones who initiate them.

Providing the technology is deployed appropriately, the use of such tools may not be illegal. But does it make sense to deploy them? Forbes CIO Network contributor Irina Raicu makes the case against doing so in a thought-provoking post.

Raicu argues that deploying intrusive tech such as keyloggers sends a signal to workers that employers don’t respect their autonomy and dignity. It also penalizes effective workers, who are being made to pay a price in terms of lost privacy so that managers can identify poor performers. Deploying intrusive tracking technologies in homes that are now doubling as workplaces also contributes to the normalization of their use more broadly across society.

Under pressure from business heads and HR departments, tech leaders may be tempted to fold rather than fight the tools’ deployment. But there’s another reason tracking tech can backfire that should resonate with anyone worried about cyber threats—which means just about every CEO and board director in America and beyond.

The sensitive, personalized data monitoring tech gathers is a tempting target for hackers and a breach could trigger a legal nightmare. Given that the bad guys have stepped up their attacks to take advantage of the chaos the pandemic has sown, this threat is even more concerning.

Excerpt from Irina’s article:

However, indiscriminate deployment of tracking tools would create a surveillance work culture that is likely to cause significant harm, while at the same time failing to deliver the results that business leaders expect. 

From DSC:
I see this same type of stuff going on within K-12, higher ed, and even in law schools. Often, we establish cultures whereby students are treated with great suspicion. It’s us vs. them. The verbiage is around cheating and plagiarism and the use of tools like Turnitin, Respondus, Examity, and many others. Why isn’t the focus on being on the same team? i.e.,

  • “Don’t you realize Mr. or Ms. Student that I’m trying to help you become the best lawyer, judge, legislator, etc. as possible?”
  • “Don’t you realize that I’m trying to help teach you skills, knowledge, and ethics that will aid you in your future?”

Why is unity / being on the same team so difficult to achieve in human relationships? I don’t have the answers. It’s just very disappointing. 

It’s clear that we have some major disconnects in our motivations and views of other people. We should be working as members of the same team.

With the need for speed within most organizations today, TRUST is key. Reminds me of this book by Stephen M.R. Covey:

The Speed of Trust -- a book by Stephen M.R. Covey

Addendum on 8/14/20:

  • 6 ways leaders can rebuild trust in their organizations — from fastcompany.com by Cara Brennan Allamano
    A Udemy survey suggests that more than half of workers believe their employers are using COVID as an excuse to cut staff. These strategies can help dissolve their suspicions.
 

First They Came for Adjuncts, Now They’ll Come for Tenure: And who will be left to stop them? — from chronicle.com by Ed Burmila

Excerpts:

If, by their own accord or by caving to outside political pressures, university administrators take the current crisis as an opportunity to eliminate tenure once and for all, who’s going to stop them?

Put another way: Are there enough academic workers with a stake in the tenure system left to defend it?

As go the adjuncts and the nonacademic staff today, so go the tenured faculty tomorrow.

It is in the interest of tenured faculty to fight for their non-tenure-track colleagues. But the key question, as The Chronicle’s Emma Pettit asks, is: Will it be too little too late? When contingent labor protested for years about poor working conditions, it did not find many allies willing to fight alongside it. Now the roles are reversed: Tenured faculty will soon need the rest of the profession to help fight attempts to erode tenure.

Addendum on 8/20/20:

Higher ed group offers ideas for supporting contingent faculty — from educationdive.com by Hallie Busta

Dive Brief:

  • Support for non-tenure-track faculty members continues to be a concern amid pandemic-related cutbacks and pushback over how some campuses plan to reopen.
  • A faculty industry group this week put out a list of principles and recommendations for institutions to protect those instructors, calling for them to get paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, and extended access to rehire or promotion opportunities.
  • The ideas come as calls for greater shared governance grow across the sector in light of the ongoing health crisis.
 

 

The Spanish Flu to Covid-19: How this Pandemic is Pushing Courts to Modernize — from legaltalknetwork.com by Bridget Mary McCormack and Daniel Linna

Episode notes:

Even before the global pandemic, Michigan courts were moving more quickly than many others to modernize. Michigan Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack talks with host Dan Linna about accelerating the state’s plans to offer online hearings, online dispute resolution, and to continue efforts to establish e-filing statewide.

Not everything is going smoothly, but McCormack notes some judges are almost current on their dockets. And importantly, she believes that many temporary quick fixes will lead to permanent changes that improve access to justice statewide and increase public trust in the judicial branch.

 

I’m a teacher headed back to school next month. It’s going to be traumatic. — from co.chalkbeat.org by Autumn Jones
A teacher mental health crisis is coming. Schools should prepare themselves now. 

Excerpts:

Last week, the Colorado district where I teach announced schools would return August 18 for a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. That means that teachers must face the reality of walking into a school building where little of what we were taught about being a teacher will apply. We will be expected at school five days a week, teaching alternating groups of students while also providing remote instruction for those learning from home.

What happens when, instead of getting the virus, we see educators experience anxiety, panic attacks, or stress-induced ailments? Do schools have the necessary supports in place to care for the mental health of its educators?

From DSC:
Which brings up some important questions re: teacher education / student teaching:

  • How are schools of education dealing with the Coronavirus? For example, can a student-teacher get the appropriate credits if they teach a learning pod?
  • How are schools of education modifying how they prepare the teachers of tomorrow? Are they (hopefully) introducing more training in how to teach online? 
  • What curriculum changes are in the works (hopefully) as I write this? 
  • Will many teachers leave this area of work and pursue other pathways/opportunities?
  • And numerous other questions I’m sure.

 

 

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