Mad Professors — from inthesetimes.com by Rebecca Burns
The adjuncts are at the barricades.

Excerpt:

That so many advanced degree-holders are toiling in poverty conditions flies in the face of the assumption that higher education is a path to prosperity. But low wages and precarity represent the new norm for what some adjuncts have termed “academia’s version of apartheid.”

Hired on a contract basis, adjuncts (who may include contingent full-time faculty) are paid by the course—the average rate is $2,900, according to crowd-sourced figures from the website the Adjunct Project. Most contingent faculty are also excluded from access to health insurance or other benefits, and are guaranteed neither a full teaching load nor a steady contract.

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Hacking the Academy: A book crowdsourced in one week — from MPublishing/University of Michigan Press

.

On May 21, 2010, we posted these intentionally provocative questions online:

Can an algorithm edit a journal? Can a library exist without books? Can students build and manage their own learning management platforms? Can a conference be held without a program? Can Twitter replace a scholarly society?

We asked for contributions to a collectively produced volume that would explore how the academy might be beneficially reformed using digital media and technology. The process of creating the edited volume itself would be a commentary on the way things are normally done in scholarly communication, with submissions coming in through multiple channels, including blogs, Twitter, and email, and in multiple formats—everything from a paragraph to a long essay to multimedia. We also encouraged interactivity—the possibility that contributors could speak directly to each other, rather than creating the inert, isolated chapters that normally populate edited volumes. We then sent out notices via our social networks, which quickly and extensively disseminated the call for submissions. Finally, we gave contributors a mere seven days, the better to focus their attention and energy.

Preface | Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt

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Excerpt from “About the Book

MPublishing, the publishing division of the University of Michigan Library, is pleased to announce the open-access version of Hacking the Academy, The
Edited Volume
. The volume is forthcoming in print under the University of Michigan Press digitalculturebooks imprint.

This volume was assembled and edited by Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt from the best of over 300 submissions received during a spirited week when the two editors actively solicited ideas for how the academy could be beneficially reformed using digital media and technology. For more on the unusual way this book was put together, please start with Cohen and Scheinfeldt’s preface.

 

 

40percentfreelancersby2020-quartz-april2013

 

Also, from Steve Wheeler’s

Etienne Wenger recently declared: ‘If any institutions are going to help learners with the real challenges they face…(they) will have to shift their focus from imparting curriculum to supporting the negotiation of productive identities through landscapes of practice’ (Wenger, 2010).

We live in uncertain times, where we cannot be sure how the economy is going to perform today, let alone predict what kind of jobs there will be for students when they graduate in a few years time. How can we prepare students for a world of work that doesn’t yet exist? How can we help learners to ready themselves for employment that is shifting like the sand, and where many of the jobs they will be applying for when they leave university probably don’t exist yet? It’s a conundrum many faculty and lecturers are wrestling with, and one which many others are ignoring in the hope that the problem will simply go away. Whether we are meerkats, looking out and anticipating the challenges, or ostriches burying our heads in the sand, the challenge remains, and it is growing stronger.

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Also see:

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401kworld-friedman-may2013

 

Also see:

  • The Nature of the Future: The Socialstructed World — from nextberlin.eu by Marina Gorbis, Institute for the Future
    Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future (iftf.org) discussed the evolution of communication and its consequences at NEXT13. She analyzed the perks and challenges of the new relationship-driven or “socialstructed” economy, stating that “humans and technology will team up”. Her new book ‘The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World’ was published in early 2013.  Watch her inspiring talk on April 23, 2013 at NEXT13.

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From DSC:
My best take on this at this point:

  • Give students more choice, more control of their learning
  • Help them discover their gifts, abilities, talents, passions
  • Help them develop their gifts, abilities, talents, passions
  • Provide content in as many ways as possible — and let the students work with what they prefer to work with
  • Implement story, emotion, creativity, and play as much as possible (providing plenty of chances for them to create what they want to create)
  • Utilize cross-disciplinary assignments and teams
  • Integrate real-world assignments/projects into the mix
  • Help them develop their own businesses while they are still in school — coach them along, provide mentors, relevant blogs/websites, etc.
  • Guide them as they create/develop their own “textbooks” and/or streams of content

 

My reflections on “MOOCs of Hazard” – a well-thought out, balanced article by Andrew Delbanco


From DSC: Below are my reflections on MOOCs of Hazard — from newrepublic.com by Andrew Delbanco — who asks:  Will online education dampen the college experience? Yes. Will it be worth it? Well…


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While I’m not sure that I agree with the idea that online education will dampen the college experience — and while I could point to some amazing capabilities that online education brings to the table in terms of true global exchanges — I’ll instead focus my comments on the following items:

 

1) Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are recent experiments — ones that will continue to change/morph into something else.
They are half-baked at best, but they should not be taken lightly. Christensen, Horn, Johnson are spot on with their theories of disruption here, especially as they relate to innovations occurring within the virtual/digital realm.  For example, the technologies behind IBM’s Watson could be mixed into the list of ingredients that will be used to develop MOOCs in the future.  It would be a very powerful, effective MOOC indeed if you could get the following parties/functionalities to the table:

  • IBM — to provide Watson like auto-curation/filtering capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, as well as data mining/learning analytics expertise, joined by
  • Several highly-creative firms from the film/media/novel/storytelling industry, who would be further joined by
  • Experts from Human Computer Interaction (HCI)/user interface/user experience design teams, who would be further joined by
  • Programmers and interaction specialists from educational gaming endeavors (and from those who can design simulations), joined by
  • Instructional designers, joined by
  • The appropriate Subject Matter Experts who can be reached by the students as necessary, joined by
  • Those skilled in research and library services, joined by
  • Legal experts to assist with copyright issues, joined by
  • Other specialists in mobile learning,  3D, web development, database administration, animation, graphic design, musicians, etc.

It won’t be long before this type of powerful team gets pulled together — from some organizations(s) with deep pockets — and the content is interacted with and presented to us within our living rooms via connected/Smart TVs and via second screen devices/applications.

2) The benefits of MOOCs
  • For colleges/universities:
    • MOOCs offer some serious marketing horsepower (rather than sound pedagogical tools, at this point in time at least)
    • They are forcing higher ed to become much more innovative
    • They provide great opportunities to build one’s personalized learning networks, as they bring forth those colleagues who are interested in topic A, B, or C
    • They move us closer to team-based content creation and delivery
      .
  • For students:
    • They offer a much less expensive option to go exploring disciplines for themselves…to see if they enjoy (and/or are gifted in) topic A, B or C
    • They provide great opportunities to build one’s personalized learning networks, as they bring forth those colleagues who are interested in topic A, B, or C
    • They provide a chance to see what it’s like to learn about something in a digital/virtual manner

3)  The drawbacks of MOOCs:
  • MOOCs are not nearly the same thing as what has come to be known as “online learning” — at least in the higher ed industry. MOOCs do not yet offer what more “traditional” (can I say that?) online learning provides: Far more support and pedagogical/instructional design, instructor presence and dialog, student academic support services, advising, more student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction, etc.
    .
  • MOOCs are like drinking from a firehose — there are too many blogs/RSS feeds, twitter feeds, websites, and other resources to review.

4) It would be wise for all of us to be involved with such experiments and have at least a subset of one’s college or university become much more nimble/responsive.

 

Also see:

Scientific articles accepted (personal checks, too) — from the nytimes.com by Gina Kolata

Excerpt:

The scientists who were recruited to appear at a conference called Entomology-2013 thought they had been selected to make a presentation to the leading professional association of scientists who study insects.

But they found out the hard way that they were wrong. The prestigious, academically sanctioned conference they had in mind has a slightly different name: Entomology 2013 (without the hyphen). The one they had signed up for featured speakers who were recruited by e-mail, not vetted by leading academics. Those who agreed to appear were later charged a hefty fee for the privilege, and pretty much anyone who paid got a spot on the podium that could be used to pad a résumé.

 

Excerpt of some recommendations/suggestions from Mr. Steve McMullen, Assistant Professor of Economics, Calvin College:

  1. Only publish in journals that you know are legitimate and long standing.
  2. Only go to conferences hosted by an institution or association that you respect.

These two rules immediately rule out all the suspect journals and conferences, but they do so by granting power to the traditional gatekeepers. I recognize that if everyone behaves this way, it might be difficult for the open-access movement, which is sometimes laudable, to take off in our field.

Another observation:  It is probably important for departments to have some statement written into their scholarship statements/guidelines that indicate the sort of journals that count and those that don’t, and a process for evaluating publication outlets.

A seat at the table at lastfrom campustechnology.com by Andrew Barbour
One result of the Year of the MOOC is that IT is finally getting a say in the strategic direction of the institution.

Excerpt:

It’s interesting that it took an external force to propel IT into this inner circle. I can’t recall how many stories CT has run proposing strategies for how CIOs could win a place at the table. At the end of the day, though, changing an institution as hidebound as the average college is not easily tackled from within. In contrast, there’s nothing like a little existential angst to shake things up.

But MOOCs aren’t the only drivers of this change. We often think of BYOD as stripping IT of control but–on the broader stage–it may be playing its own part in elevating IT’s profile on campus. For years, faculty resisted IT recommendations on how technology could improve teaching and learning. Saying no was easy–preserving the status quo always is. That’s changing now. BYOD is a force that faculty can’t resist. It is, after all, their customers bringing the devices to school. Suddenly, faculty are faced with demands for new styles of teaching that accommodate student preferences for technology and much more. Enter IT and a host of others who see the potential of tech in education.

Also relevant/see:

  • The University’s Dilemma– from strategy-business.com by Tim Laseter; with thanks to Ross Dawson for the recent tweet on this

Per Jim Bradley (Mathematics, Emeritus) at Calvin College:

Francis Su is a Christian teaching at Harvey Mudd, a secular liberal arts college. He was recently selected to receive the Haimo Award*, one of the mathematics community’s highest teaching honors. Receiving the award entails giving an address at the annual math association meeting, going on now in San Diego. In writing his talk, Francis asked himself, “What does the gospel have to say to this large, mostly secular group of mathematicians?” He answered, “Grace.” Here’s a link to a written copy of his talk. I think it’s quite an inspiring and enjoyable set of reflections on teaching by an obviously great teacher.

http://www.facebook.com/notes/francis-su/the-lesson-of-grace-in-teaching/10151372450043217 
(From DSC: Facebook deleted the above original posting by Franic Su — not sure why)

Per Francis’ new blog:
After giving this talk, I had so many requests for the text that I
shared it on Facebook.  But Facebook deleted it.
So I created a blog just for this.  I hope you find it helpful.

It was the hardest thing I ever had to write:
because it is deeply personal, truly me,

and about my biggest life lesson… given at a
conference in front of hundreds of people who,

I’m sure, struggle with the same things that I do.



The Lesson of Grace in Teaching
From weakness to wholeness, the struggle and the hope

Francis Edward Su
MAA Haimo Teaching Award Lecture
Joint Math Meetings, January 11, 2013
An audio file is available: bit.ly/W4gyD0.

 

 

Excerpt:

Knowing my new advisor had grace for me meant that he could give me honest feedback on my dissertation work, even if it was hard to do, without completely destroying my identity.  Because, as I was learning, my worthiness does NOT come from my accomplishments.  I call this

The Lesson of GRACE:

  •      Your accomplishments are NOT what make you a worthy human being.
  •      You learn this lesson when someone shows you GRACE: good things you didn’t earn or deserve, but you’re getting them anyway.

I have to learn this lesson over and over again.
You can have worthiness apart from your performance.
You can have dignity independent of achievements.
Your identity does not have to be rooted in accomplishments.
You can be loved for who you are, not for what you’ve done—somebody just has to show you grace.

 

 

From DSC:
Powerful messages…often times, it’s hard for me to get my arms around the lessons/messages that Francis addressed — especially seeing as we live in a world that constantly measures us by our performance, our achievements, and/or our productivity.

 



* From The Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics web page:

In 1991, the Mathematical Association of America instituted Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics in order to honor college or university teachers who have been widely recognized as extraordinarily successful and whose teaching effectiveness has been shown to have had influence beyond their own institutions. In 1993, the MAA Board of Governors renamed the award to honor Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo.

List of Recipients

2013
Matthias Beck, San Francisco State University
Margaret Robinson, Mount Holyoke College
Francis Edward Su, Harvey Mudd College

 

Top 12 Teaching and Learning articles for 2012, part 1  — from facultyfocus.com by Mary Bart

Excerpt:

As another year draws to a close, the editorial team at Faculty Focus looks back on some of the top articles of the past year. Throughout 2012, we published approximately 250 articles. The articles covered a wide range of topics – from group work to online learning. In a two-part series, which will run today and Wednesday, we’re revealing the top 12 articles for 2012. Each article’s popularity ranking is based on a combination of the number of reader comments and social shares, e-newsletter open and click-thru rates, web traffic and other reader engagement metrics.

Top 12 Teaching and Learning articles for 2012, part 2 — from facultyfocus.com by Mary Bart

From DSC:
Some reflections on New platform lets professors set prices for their online courses — from InsideHigherEd.com by Jeffrey R. Young

Excerpt:

Professors typically don’t worry about what price point a course will sell at, or what amenities might attract a student to pick one course over another. But a new online platform, Professor Direct, lets instructors determine not only how much to charge for such courses, but also how much time they want to devote to services like office hours, online tutorials, and responding to students’ e-mails.

The new service is run by StraighterLine, a company that offers online, self-paced introductory courses. Unlike massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, StraighterLine’s courses aren’t free. But tuition is lower than what traditional colleges typically charge—the company calls its pricing “ultra-affordable.” A handful of colleges accept StraighterLine courses for transfer credit.
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StraighterLine-ProfsDirectlyToStudents-12-12-12

 

 

From DSC:
The power of online-based marketplaces. We’ve seen it in other industries.  Are we now going to see more of this within higher education as the unbundling of higher education seems to be a possibility?  Will there be an increased importance of professors’ individual brands? Could be.

The Power of Online Exchanges

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DanielChristian-The-unbundling-of-higher-education

 

From DSC:
Congrats Burck & Co. on your continued innovative thinking and business models! Way to help keep a college education accessible to many!

 

Praying for jobs [Jaschik]

Praying for jobs — from insidehighered.com by Scott Jaschik
Since 2008, academic job openings in religion have dropped sharply — and the positions that do exist are more likely than in the past to be non-tenure-track.

 

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Conflicted: Faculty and Online Education - June 2012

 

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Excerpt:

The study was based on a pair of related surveys about online education, co-designed by Inside Higher Ed and administered and analyzed by the Babson Survey Research Group, which has studied online education for more than a decade. The surveys garnered responses from representative samples of 4,564 faculty members (of about 60,000 who were sent invitations to participate) and 591 academic technology administrators, from all types of institution. The surveys asked a wide range of questions of both groups about their perceptions of online quality, institutional support and training in instructional technology, and compensation, among other things. The response rates for both surveys were below 10 percent.

A PDF copy of the study report can be downloaded here. To read the text of the report, click here.

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From DSC:
I urge faculty members to give online learning a try — not only for your students’ sakes, but for your own career’s sake:
  • Take a course from an organization that has a good reputation for their online courses
    or
  • Take a course re: instructional design for teaching online
    or
  • Try your hand at teaching your own course online.
I don’t mention this piece of advice as a threat or to come across as a scaremonger.  Online learning has been — and continues to be — reality.  In Christensen’s terms, face-to-face classrooms practice sustaining innnovations but online learning is a disruptive technology that keeps gaining ground.   [When either mode are done well] it’s now not only at least as good as face-to-face learning, but the powerful tools that keep being added to online learning will take it far beyond what we are able to currently offer in a face-to-face classroom.
One comment at the end of the article stood out for me as well:
  • “In a capitalistic society consumer demand dictates the products it will provide and sell.”  

For those interested in this topic, take a moment to check out the other comments as well.

From DSC:
Yesterday, I introduced a vision that integrates a variety of trends and emerging technologies that I’ve been keeping an eye on.

 

Click this thumbnail image to access the larger image / vision

Today, I want to focus on what this means for jobs, employment, career development — especially as it relates to higher ed and the corporate world.

As the trends are pointing out, there will be teams of specialists — with a variety of skillsets required — and each of these team members will play a different role. Some of these positions are captured in the graphic immediately below:
(many for-profit schools already have that table set)

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Within higher ed, the extent to which this affects faculty members depends upon how these teams are formed. If faculty members don’t go along with this, institutions will likely reach out to adjunct faculty members — or contracted firms/help — to fill the gaps. Unless there are some other distinguishing factors, those institutions who don’t move towards a team-based approach will become irrelevant. It will be increasingly difficult for one person to develop the content that can compete with a team of specialists.  Also, organizations of excellence — who have higher initial development costs — will be able to spread these costs out over a global pool of students — resulting in a significantly cheaper alternative.  Organizations who don’t move in this direction may find that the pipelines coming into their institutions continue to get smaller.

There will be new jobs available — and changes to some existing jobs — as well, such as:

  • Virtual tutors
  • Virtual field trip guides (picture a person with some type of mobile device capturing a variety of places, events, talks, etc. in another country).
  • Curators
  • Technical support personnel specializing in building and supporting these platforms
  • Data analytics professionals
  • Artificial intelligence specialists
  • Specialized programmers
  • User interface designers
  • User experience designers
  • …and more

Roles may be altered for professors, teachers, and trainers. But teaching others how to discern quality information will likely continue to be important.

Employers may end up developing their own curriculum/cloud-based apps.  Apprentices, interns and prospective employees will be able to access these materials, with the understanding that they will be assessed at some point.

The web-based learner profiles will demonstrate where someone has been — and where they are currently at.

That’s it for now, but I will be jotting down further thoughts re: this vision from time to time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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GoodSemester.com

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https://www.goodsemester.com/?p=featuretour

From DSC:

  • Tie this type of cloud-based platform in with learning analytics, new types of certifications/assessments/badges, web-based learner profiles, and the ability to continue building your own cloud over a lifetime, and you may find yourself enjoying a very powerful learning ecosystem!!!

 

 

American Association of University Professors -- Program Closures

Excerpt:

The financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ensuing reductions in state support for higher education have led to devastating cuts at colleges and universities across the country. A growing number of institutions are eliminating majors, graduate programs, or even entire departments; the map above tracks program closures that have been reported in the media since the start of the crisis.

This map is not comprehensive. It is designed solely to highlight media coverage of program closures, which is sometimes flawed and can quickly become outdated, and does not reflect the ongoing casework of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

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