- A Manifesto for Community Colleges, Lifelong Learning, and Autodidacts. Interesting read–thanks to Inside Higher Ed’s Matt Reed for the alert and smart thoughts. Particularly striking, from the “Manifesto” (which as Reed points out is not really a manifesto because there is no concrete call for action), “The problem with MOOCs and MOOC campuses is that they’re primarily derivative of undergraduate education at research-intensive institutions, and therefore generally rely on the most vacuous of pedagogies”:
Ultimately, what must happen is the development of a pedagogy, and an institution supporting that pedagogy, that is resilient in the face of the most rapidly-evolving learner in history. We must have pedagogies (and pedagogues) that are as responsive and flexible as our technologies. We must do more learning and teaching on the fly, collaborating with rather than corralling learners.
- This sounds like something that could be usefully combined with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. After getting a lot out of Taleb’s Black Swan (see Black Swan Anthropology), I’ve finally ordered this book. I’m still very engaged in efforts exploring liberal arts relevance, and look forward to ideas about crafting an Antifragile College.
- Enrollment Decline Picks Up Speed. I really dislike headlines like these. While it is true that overall college enrollment is down, the one sector leading the decline is the four-year for-profit colleges, a sector that wasn’t even a sector not long ago. On the other hand, what some consider the most traditional sector, the “four-year private nonprofit colleges actually saw their enrollments grow by 0.5 percent from spring 2012 to spring 2013.” Was someone writing a manifesto about disrupting higher-education? Why are the “most rapidly-evolving learners” apparently shedding the for-profits and short-term alternatives while growing the traditional four-year private non-profits? As Matt Reed said about the manifesto “color me wary.” Maybe the Antifragile College is already here.
- Before Jefferson, There Was Ramée. Rather fascinating story of the French and French Revolution roots of U.S. college campus design, starting with Union College. A good article for those interested in the grounded campus. College as archaeological dig certainly must qualify as Antifragile College, and the large enrollment this year is a testimony to the ongoing demand and dedication.
- Thinking Context: Professors and Teachers. Interesting thoughts from John Warner at Inside HigherEd:
In my experience, our students see us as “teachers.” Please know that I have great respect for teachers . . . I’ve long known that I don’t have the stuff, the spirit, the grit to do what they do. To ask college students to see their professors as something different from teachers is not to imply that professor is better, just that they are not the same, and students benefit from knowing this.
Warner goes on to say that in his own work “one of the things I want my students to know is that in addition to my classroom duties, I concurrently maintain a professional life as a writer and editor. I want them to know that I do these things because I enjoy them, but also out of a certain amount of economic necessity. Doing these things I enjoy requires a certain amount of hustle.” Warner’s words are a reminder that unlike some of the rather tweedy and derogatory presentations of professors Taleb uses in The Black Swan, many are already quite immersed in this kind of hustle (for better or worse, see previous link #3 on Woody Allen). So once again, perhaps the Antifragile College is already here.
- Where’s My Ghost Money? Qais Akbar Omar on what Afghanistan needed, and still needs: water, sewers, electricity.
- Small Private Colleges Lose More Students Despite Rise in Discounting. Despite some good news on the Liberal Arts, cannot neglect the expense pressures for tuition-driven institutions and financial aid policies.
- Woody Allen Extremely Busy Updating WoodyAllen.com. As much as I enjoy and embrace new opportunities for academic blogging and social media, this Onion spoof captures some of the realities of the new identities:
“I’d say in any given week, I spend about 40 percent of my time on my creative projects and the other 60 percent updating my site,” said Allen, explaining that while he “has a guy to help with the more technical stuff,” he updates the website himself and has even picked up some basic HTML and CSS coding.
- Carbon Dioxide Level Passes Long-Feared Milestone.
Scientific monitors reported that the gas had reached an average daily level that surpassed 400 parts per million–just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering. The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
- As a follow-up to the Sustainable Investing: TIAA-CREF Social Choice, decided to put any non-TIAA-CREF investments into Pax World Global Women’s Equality Fund and Global Environmental Markets Fund.
- Call for Blog Posts – Anthropology on Immigration.
- “Blinging up Baby: The Importance of Consumption as Reproduction,” a talk by Sallie Han, Monday, May 13, 3:30pm at Hartwick College, Golisano Hall, room 323. Sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Hartwick College. The talk is a preview of Han’s book, Pregnancy in Practice: Expectation and Experience in the Contemporary U.S., which will be published by Berghahn Books in July 2013.
- Small Colleges Well-Positioned To Weather The MOOC Storm:
If there’s any kind of institution of higher learning whose basic model isn’t threatened by technological change, it’s the Amherst (and Swarthmore and Williams and Colby and Wellesley and Pomona and so forth) model of very exclusive small liberal arts colleges. These are places that, starting before the Internet ever existed, marketed themselves to students and parents on the basis of discussion-oriented classes, low teacher:student ratios, and person-to-person engagement. What’s more, not only are these schools small but there aren’t that many of them. It’s a model that’s never educated a large share of the American population and has never aspired to educate a large share of the American population.
This was a huge part of my argument for defending liberal arts relevance during a curriculum review.
- Daniel R. Porterfield, president of Franklin & Marshall College writes Let’s Make 2013 the Year of the Seminar:
Imagine a team of national-security leaders in 2025 analyzing whether promoting economic development would prevent terrorism. Imagine government officials, public-health experts, anthropologists, and economists searching together for the solution to a border-crossing disease. All taking account of multiple views. All trying to interpret data. All working at the mind’s limits. The vital work that takes place in such a scenario is the real-world form of the seminar–still one of the best models for developing the mind that has emerged in four centuries of American higher education.
- Understanding the Dark Horse of Personality: When Will the Pessimist Win? 3 May 2013, 4pm, Friday, Eaton Lounge. Justin A. Wellman: “Pessimism has long been regarded as an unfortunate personality trait, while optimism is associated with a plethora of beneficial outcomes–particularly in the area of health. Wellman’s lecture will review past research showing the benefits of optimism before discussing a model of behavioral self-regulation that predicts the specific conditions under which pessimists will outperform optimists.” Interesting in part because I reviewed some of optimism-pessimism issues for Anthropology and Moral Optimism.
- Hartwick College Open House for High School Juniors. Hartwick College will host an Open House program on May 4, 2013 geared toward current high school juniors who are interested in becoming part of Hartwick’s Class of 2018.
- Hartwick College – Nahal Zamani To Present Hardy Chair Lecture. 6 May 2013, 7pm, Monday, in Anderson Center for the Arts Theatre. Nahal Zamani presents the second 2013 H. Claude Hardy Chair in Sociology Lecture. Zamani, the Advocacy and Program Manager for Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Government Misconduct and Racial Justice division, will share a lecture titled “Advocating for Change: Dismantling Discriminatory Policing Practices/Dismantling Stop and Frisk.”
- Out of the Barrio. 9 May 2013, 7pm, Thursday. “Stephanie Elizondo Griest will describe her ‘escape’ from South Texas to become a globe-trotting foreign correspondent, human rights activist, and author. She will also speak about how she fought racial, gender, and cultural stereotypes, and her struggles with her Mexican identity and her experiences interviewing Mexican undocumented workers, indigenous resistance fighters, and gay/lesbian activists.” This fits well with my Introduction to Anthropology course where we are now reading Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, Labor and Legality: An Ethnography of a Mexican Immigrant Network.
- Student Showcase: An Exhibition of Liberal Arts in Practice. The Student Showcase: An Exhibition of Liberal Arts in Practice is Hartwick’s day-long celebration of student achievement. The Sixth Annual Student Showcase will take place Friday, May 10, 2013. [See my post on the 2012 Hartwick College Showcase]
- The 1 Percent’s Solution. Paul Krugman: “This makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies? I hope not; I’d like to believe that ideas and evidence matter, at least a bit. Otherwise, what am I doing with my life? But I guess we’ll see just how much cynicism is justified.”
- Krugman again, The Story of Our Time. “So what could we do to reduce unemployment? The answer is, this is a time for above-normal government spending, to sustain the economy until the private sector is willing to spend again.” This is an argument Krugman has made repeatedly, in his columns and in End This Depression Now! The argument is correct. I simply repeatedly wonder if ending the suffering and pain of the unemployed is an effective plea, rather than concentrating on investments to reduce resource use or on education and poverty (see links #3 and #4).
- The Coming Revolution in Public Education:
Without being too unfair to the diversity of views on this, the key consensus is that the most important step we could take to deal with our education problems would be to address poverty in the United States. We don’t have an “education problem.” The notion that we are “a nation at risk” from underachieving public schools is, as David Berliner asserts, errant “nonsense” and a pack of lies. Rather, we have a poverty problem. The fact is that kids in resource-rich public school systems perform near the top on international measures. However, as David Sirota has reported, “The reason America’s overall scores on such tests are far lower is because high poverty schools produce far worse results — and as the most economically unequal society in the industrialized world, we have far more poverty than our competitors, bringing down our overall scores accordingly.” Addressing poverty and inequality are the keys to serving America’s educational needs.
Thanks to Daniel Lende for the link!
- No Rich Child Left Behind. This entire essay is very worth a read. The gaps between educational outcomes by income have widened significantly, but it appears to be mostly that the wealthy are now leaving the middle-class behind: “The academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students. This difference in preparation persists through elementary and high school.”
- Dr. Allen Wells, the Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History at Bowdoin College gave a fascinating talk at Hartwick College, “Representative Charles Porter and the Latin American Crusade for Democracy during the Cold War.”
In July 1958, two months after Vice-President Richard Nixon was spit on, taunted, and pelted with rocks and garbage in Caracas, Venezuela and Lima, Peru during an ill-fated “goodwill” tour of the region, a young, first-term congressman from Oregon drew an enthusiastic crowd of 20,000 who cheered his every word at a political rally in the Venezuelan capital. How had a political neophyte who did not speak a word of Spanish become an instant celebrity in the region? What resonated so well was this congressman’s championing of democracy and his opposition to his government’s practice of coddling brutal dictators.
Allen Wells is the author of Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa.
- Vote for a wheelchair accessible vehicle for Logan:
Please take a moment from your day to help Logan win a wheelchair accessible van. All you need to do is vote today (and hopefully every day) until May 10th. Logan is an amazing little 9yo boy who has Hunter Syndrome–a disease which causes systematic loss of function. While he can no longer speak, his smile lights the room. He is losing his ability to walk. He has had at least 10 surgeries. Despite this, he is usually happy, except when he is in the car. A regular vehicle does not support his legs and back well—his legs hand down, putting strain on his lower back which is stenotic, and this causes him to cry with pain, especially on his frequent long trips to Albany NY (1.25 hours away) where he receives his specialty care. Please help him us help him. Vote once or daily til May 10th. Share this with your friends and family. Together we can make a difference.
- I’ll bet you Debt to Donuts…. My colleague in economics Karl Seeley has some fun with the Reinhardt and Rogoff Excel error, and see his comment: “And from an ecological perspective, this whole conversation is full of cognitive dissonance anyway, since our real concern right now shouldn’t be to grow as fast as possible, but to have an economy that meets human needs with minimal growth, or even degrowth. So we shouldn’t be worried about debt.” [See also anthropology on debt.]
- Nation Starting To Realize New Era Of American Innovation Never Gonna Happen. Sadly, The Onion pretty much nails it. Could have been different.
- On the other hand, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Plans to Add 500 Full-Time Professors. Not just some good news for higher-education hiring, interesting that a good number of these will be “cluster hires” according to executive vice provost Barbara J. Wilson:
The “cluster hires,” Ms. Wilson said, will be sorted into the six areas that have been identified by the university’s “Visioning Future Excellence at Illinois” project, an effort begun by the chancellor to map out the university’s needs for the future. The review focused on two questions: “What are society’s most pressing issues?” and “What distinctive and signature role can Illinois play in addressing those issues in the next 20 to 50 years?” After receiving input from professors, staff members, students, and community leaders, Ms. Wilson said, the focus areas were narrowed to: energy and the environment, health and wellness, social equality and cultural understanding, information and technology, economic development, and education.
Kudos to U-Illinois at Urbana-champaign for trying to make American innovation a reality.
- More links on MOOCs. The World Is Not Flat argues we know very little about culture and online education:
“If they are going to democratize education, which is a good goal, you have to go to the different democracies and see what they want,” Lani Gunawardena, a professor of instructional technology at the University of New Mexico who also teaches online courses, said. “You cannot put your personal point of view there and say you’re democratizing education.”
- MOOCs and the Quality Question:
The first wave of MOOCs were designed by faculty from elite institutions that, ironically, had largely ignored online learning as an acceptable approach for their own students. They chose to model their MOOCs on successful lecture courses rather than consult the hard-won knowledge of effective strategies for delivering courses in this new medium, as developed at hundreds of two- and four-year colleges and universities over the past 20 years. The result is a format that may be effective for the bright self-starter, who can work independently and is focused on his or her own educational goals. On the other hand, the format is strikingly unsuited for encouraging and sustaining the average or challenged student, who requires the instructor to establish clear, measurable objectives, engage students individually and with their peers, monitor progress and hold students to deadlines and performance benchmarks, provide regular feedback on their work, and encourage their efforts on an almost daily basis.
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