Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates
Image by 1yen
The commencement speaker. As expected, there were some vocal protesters, but they were quickly silenced. Gates spoke of the importance of public service; it was actually a nice commencement speech.
Photo by Eyton Zelazo
p53 Is Biomarker in Patients With DLBCL on R-CHOP
The role of p53 mutations as a marker of poor prognosis in DLBCL patients treated with CHOP therapy has been well studied; however, its role following the advent of immunochemotherapy with rituximab (Rituxan, Genentech)—R-CHOP—had not been well …
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Higher diabetes risk for breast cancer survivors
As more U.S. women survive breast cancer, understanding the long term health risks for survivors is becoming more and more important. Although studies have shown that women with diabetes have higher risks of postmenopausal breast cancer and up to 50 …
Read more on The Grio
Image by EURES, the European Employment Service
Stand of Disneyland Paris
Interview with Amanda Findikian, Academic adviser
European Online Job Day 2011 #EOJD
Manchester – Uk – 9 November 2011
© European Union
Economist Visits Valve, Lives The 'Dream', Sees The 'Future'
You may have heard of Yanis Varoufakis, the economist who recently took up a position at Valve as 'Economist-In-Residence'. Currently he is observing and experimenting with the economies and sub-economies that exist within Steam — people trading hats …
Read more on Kotaku Australia
Economists, White House at odds over role of mortgage debt in slow recovery
obam-geith-foreclose.jpg From left, President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; a foreclosure sign outside a house. The Obama administration and top economists are at odds over the role of mortgage debt in the recession recovery.
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Media Advisory: Presidential debates offer body language tips for job interviews
Considering President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney are seeking the nation's top job, watching tonight's Presidential debate could be just the prep needed to ace your next job interview. Sound like a bunch of malarkey? Not so fast.
Read more on Wake Forest University News Center
ISSCC 2013 at 60 will combine the old with the new
They have assembled a panel of industry and academic circuit designers to challenge, and entertain, the audience and each other with questions that often arise during job interviews. The audience will be able to judge which interview questions are fair …
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An interesting question caught my eye recently: what’s the half-life of knowledge, for facts we think we know? Samuel Arbesman provides an answer in his recent Harvard Business Review article called, “;Be Forewarned: Your Knowledge is Decaying.”
Based on his new book, “;The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything we know has an Expiration Date,” the article first cites knowledge that entire generations accepted as truths that turn out to be false. For example, Pluto is not actually a planet. He then touches on data that changes slowly over time, requiring us to constantly stay informed. For example, he shared that, “;A friend of mine, for example, was speaking recently with an older hedge fund manager who began his story with the following: ‘Since we all know that there are 4 billion people on the planet…’” Actually, now there are over 7 billion people on Earth. There are more examples, from babies to hand-washing practices, in the TEDx video below.
Arbesman also explains that changes to knowledge do have patterns. He says, “;Overall, there is a shape to how knowledge grows.” For example, by looking at the changes in data, he describes how the increases in the number of elements in the periodic table “;obeys regularities,” and how, “;even the number of universities over time obeys regularities -; from the medieval period to the modern day.”
Number of Universities Founded in Europe
Source: TEDx video
The Half-Life of Facts: Sam Arbesman at TEDxKC
It seems the only thing we can predict is that knowledge will keep changing. Clearly, using outdated information to support decisions has the potential to create all sorts of problems. Not only does this reminder about ‘knowledge decay’ encourage the personal pursuit of lifelong learning, but there are implications for every industry, including higher education.
Things are shifting relatively slowly in the higher education world, and as Arbesman points out, “;We should be concerned most about facts that change slowly, the facts that change over the course of years or decades or an entire lifetime.”
How do you keep up with it all?
Rob Gee is a PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of Maine and a permanent author at GradHacker. You can follow him on twitter at @robgee18.
It struck me as a bit odd, given the orientation of GradHacker towards technological tools that can support and promote grad student research, organization, and productivity (basically…life), that online teaching did not make more frequent appearances in the great pantheon of blog topics. I went back a year or so in a staggeringly unscientific survey of GradHacker offerings and found only two posts dedicated to the topic. One was a piece last spring in defense of online teaching and learning generally, written by Nick Sproull. The other a great piece last winter from Andrea Zellner about the more nitty-gritty aspects and approaches to online pedagogy—a piece I could not recommend more highly for anyone who missed it. Because I was sensitive to the criticisms by online and distance education detractors that all of the proponents of online tools and techniques in higher education were coming from the ed, ed tech, and library science corners, I wrote my own defense of it last summer, which you can find here.
I'm inclined to leave the technical aspects of online pedagogy and teaching tools to those who, like Zellner and Katherine O'Flaherty (whose piece on Blackboard you can read here), have greater experience and expertise than I. What I want to talk about here is whether or not online teaching makes sense for you as you strategize your trajectory through graduate school and into whatever professional future compels you. So this is not about how to do it better, this is about whether, as a graduate student, to do it at all. As with most questions you encounter in this business, there is no definitive answer—merely a disjointed collection of more questions and things to think about.
Online Teaching in Theory
Despite what critics would have you believe, there is a vast spectrum of online teaching, and what it looks like in practice varies dramatically from one learning management system to another, one institution to another, and one discipline to another. One thing most experts and probably most students would agree upon is that courses that are created by merely making face-to-face course material available online are among the least successful. Course content, approaches to instruction, assignments, and assessment and feedback all need to be completely reimagined in order to succeed in an online format. This means that the work load of delivering an online course may (depending again on the system, institution, and discipline) be wildly out of step with what you've grown accustomed to either as a TA or instructor for more conventional courses.
For starters the semester's timeline will look very different. While much of the time commitment to a conventional course falls during the semester itself as you write lectures, prepare lessons and activities, and generate and ultimately grade assignments, much of this type of preparatory work in an online context needs to happen before the semester begins. In my own experience I would take the time spent writing a syllabus and choosing texts and multiply that by, say, 15x to 20x. Certainly these figures would ease a bit for courses you've offered multiple times. Additionally course evaluations from online courses demonstrate that students report the best experiences when their instructors are highly visible. Just as you can't simply transplant content, you also can't transplant the concept that you only need to appear before the students one to three times a week. You need to carve out time to be active and visible to your online students EVERY day. Your daily time demands may not be large, but may require different approaches to time management than you're used to. Consider this and be prepared to adapt if you opt to undertake online teaching.
Online Teaching in Graduate School
Generally speaking, I would say that the greater breadth of experience and skills you can amass during graduate school the better. If you're interested in online teaching there are a number of things you can do to get started. If your institution offers online courses at any level, they likely also offer faculty development seminars that you can take for free to get some orientation to the learning management systems supported. Even if you don't seek to teach a course, being able to list these completed seminars on your CV and honestly claim you have some familiarity with them can be a positive step. You can also seek out faculty members in your department or college who teach courses online and offer to TA or help with grading in exchange for some orientation to the process of online teaching. Given the need for visibility and frequent contact, many instructors would be overjoyed by such an offer—and may even be compelled to reciprocate with a nice recommendation and/or teaching evaluation, which will come in handy down the road. Armed with this experience you can develop a course of your own, either for your own institution or for others that may have a broader commitment to online teaching and learning.
A number of institutions also have pre-packaged online courses—not unlike courses at community colleges or business schools where you inherit your syllabus and textbooks when you get hired. Here you will need to be familiar enough with the delivery platform to maneuver in the course and provide content instruction and feedback, but the development work has been done for you. While not ideal from a variety of perspectives, these can be a means to some valuable experience, and may yield opportunities to develop curricula and course content down the line. We can have the philosophical debates about promoting the use of adjunct labor and relocating more teaching away from content experts another time—the fact of the matter is the job market it tight, both inside the tower and out, and if you can position yourself as someone conversant in the issues and technologies germane to your chosen industry, I think you probably owe it to yourself to do that. And if in the process of doing so you can rake in a little extra gas money (assuming you don't drive much) then that doesn't hurt either.
Online Teaching in the Job Market
As I've said, experience teaching online, knowledge of the tools, and some sense of pedagogical issues at play are all good things to bring with you into the job market. What you inevitably find when you get there though is that the academy is a far wider and more diverse place than your experience of two or three campuses would ever have led you to imagine. You may be applying for jobs outside of the discipline in which you were trained, and you may also find that your own discipline is imagined in dramatically different terms, such that prospective colleagues are compelled by a whole different range of issues and priorities than what you've grown accustomed to. You will find some places very interested in your online teaching background. You will find other places very NOT. Try to discern this up front when crafting your cover letters, but certainly take steps to find out before engaging in a phone or campus interview. A search committee may be interested in your online teaching background because it jives with their own commitment. They could also believe that online education is the bane of their existence, the origins of their exploitation, or merely the topic of unsavory discussions with their administration. If they take no interest, ask yourself how important online teaching is to you and if you'd be satisfied to see it relegated to the less active regions of your CV. If they are interested, ask yourself (hell, ask them) if it's because it is reflective of their institutional mission, orientation and interests—meaning, you'd be joining a team of like-minded professionals—or if it's because someone has told them they need to begin to embrace online teaching and rather than comply and do so themselves, they've opted instead to merely hire someone who will. If that be the case, ask yourself if you're willing to teach every online course the department offers.
More and more academic job ads feature references to online teaching. In some cases they make clear what the job will actually look like in that respect. In most cases though, the reference is vague and underdeveloped—almost as though someone else edited the words in there! It's the 21st century and regardless of what we might think of its merits or shortcomings, I think we owe it to ourselves to be the strongest job candidates we can be, while recognizing that those jobs, while not as plentiful as we'd like, are actually tremendously diverse. You do not need to dedicate your life to online teaching, but some familiarity with the tools, and even just the ability to carry on an informed conversation about the future of technology and approaches to higher education may serve you very well—both in thinking about your own research and development of course content and in preparing for your next step.
What's your approach to online education? Let us know in the comments below.
Let’s begin with an old story about using technology to innovate in the classroom. In the 1990s, when the Internet was coming into its own, Professor Antonio Gonzalez at Wesleyan University found an early way to utilize this technology to enhance his class. He recited and recorded a poem, by early 20th century poet Antonio Machado, that students would listen to over the internet while they looked at the text of the poem. At a particular place in the poem, students would click on highlighted text to find a picture and explanation of a “noria,” a water well used traditionally in rural Spain, whose circular imagery and use of water are key to the understanding of the poem. When students arrived in his class, instead of listening to Professor Gonzalez read the poem and needing to imagine the symbol’s image and context, students were ready to dive into a discussion of its meaning.
Today more than ever, Inside Higher Ed and other daily higher education reports are replete with new ways of using technology that purportedly will transform colleges and universities. Truth be told, many are not so new, others are not really scalable, and most are not transformative. As Alexandra Logue argues in her recent essay in Inside Higher Ed, “;it is not the existence of the latest technology or its potential uses that will help us to maximize student learning, but using what we know and have.”
To be sure, there will be major technological innovations that contribute to the shape of higher education. The expanded use of MOOCs (massive open online courses) may rise to the top of the new ideas and have a very significant impact on higher education.
In the fall of 2011, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig offered a MOOC on artificial intelligence and 160,000 people signed up. While on-line learning is certainly not new, this course caught people’s imaginations given the large number of enrollees and the fact that the instructors came from Stanford. Since that time, Thrun announced that he would leave Stanford and form Udacity, a company that specializes in MOOCs.
Within the past year, many prestigious institutions have jumped on the MOOC bandwagon. MIT, Harvard and, subsequently, Berkeley and the University of Texas, formed edX. Coursera was formed with a dozen or so high profiles institutions, Princeton and the University of Michigan among them, and now has 33 colleges and universities on board. Beyond the “;big three” of Coursera, Udacity, and edX, it was recently reported that course management systems, including BlackBoard, will incorporate MOOCs into their platforms. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the MOOC phenomenon is that there is no clear business model for how this mix of for-profit and not-for-profit entities will generate income.
This rapid rise of MOOCs and their endorsement by the most prestigious institutions in the country suggest that all institutions of higher education need to examine whether and how this innovation will change the way they operate. The question for Mash Up is: what impact does the growth and broad institutional acceptance of MOOCs have on institutions which blend the liberal arts with professional training?
The initial reaction of many of the institutions which strategically provide both liberal arts and professional degrees will be to reject the incorporation of MOOCs into their planning. After all, such institutions would claim that the liberal arts curriculum is about learning higher order skills like critical thinking which cannot be engendered in a class of thousands. They would add that professional training also requires interactions between professor and student as well as between student and student in a way that will build problem-solving skills for the workplace. MOOCs will be beneficial to some students and some institutions, but not ours.
There are many reasons to think again about the value of MOOCs. All students, especially younger ones, are tech savvy and ready to utilize on-line learning resources. MOOCs, TED talks, the Khan Academy, and related ventures offer exciting, current content that is difficult to match in a campus lecture hall. And, most importantly, these on-line resources offer institutions the opportunity to realign their costs so that they can apply resources to strategic priorities.
It is this last reason that is critical to the future of many institutions of higher education, including those trying to prepare students who are career ready and prepared for life. Doing so is an expensive proposition. It involves providing intimate settings where faculty, students and even staff interact and learn from one another. While these settings are the opposite of a MOOC, they do not need to be in opposition. Faculty and staff should be asking themselves how students can utilize MOOCs and other on-line resources to enhance the classroom experience.
The answer could be as simple and elegant as recording a poem and linking to images that add visual meaning or as complex as linking an entire MOOC to a semester of activity in a traditional classroom setting. The goal should be to reserve classroom time for activities that can only be done in the classroom. Similarly, instead of preparing and giving lectures, faculty time can be reallocated to the more intimate experiences that achieve instructional and institutional goals. At Educause, Daphne Koller, of Stanford and Coursera spoke about utilizing MOOCs to get the “;mundane content” out of the classroom. She states as a goal to use precious classroom time for activities that can best be conducted in the classroom, for example, “;just-in-time teaching, real-world case studies, and team problem solving.”
Institutions should take stock of their mission and current strategic planning initiatives to ensure that they are not simply chasing after the newest trend in higher education. It also is critical that they involve faculty and students in the process of determining how to incorporate MOOCs into their specific institutional culture. If the planning is done in a strategic and inclusive manner and then communicated well to the outside, institutions stand to gain a competitive edge.
Historically, higher education has incorporated technology into the classroom -; e.g., slide projectors, video tapes, computer projection — at a snail’s pace. Because events are moving faster than ever and many institutions are facing existential threats, analyzing the value of an innovation too slowly puts an institution at risk. While at first glance MOOCs may not appear to be useful to you, looking more closely to see where they might be of use is a timely question.
William H. Weitzer is currently a Senior Fellow at the Spencer Foundation. After completing his Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology, he has served for thirty years in administrative positions at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Wesleyan University, and Fairfield University.
Did you check out the Pearson's OpenClass booth at EDUCAUSE? If not, it is worth spending some time on the new OpenClass site www.openclass.com.
How would you answer the following questions:
1. Where does OpenClass fit into the LMS ecosystem?
2. If you are doing an LMS bake-off, is OpenClass among your main contenders (with Blackboard and Moodle and Canvas and D2L and Sakai)? Why or why not?
At EDUCAUSE, Adrian Sannier (SVP of Product Pearson Education) gave a terrific presentation as part of a panel called Disruptive Innovation: Current Trends and Future Directions. (You can get the slide deck for the presentations at the EDUCAUSE session site).
It is worth paying attention to what Adrian thinks about the future of the LMS (and higher ed in general) because a) he is a smart guy with a strong iconoclastic streak, and b) Pearson is a big (and becoming bigger) player in the edtech platform, services and content space.
I've been trying to make sense of Pearson's strategy with OpenClass (to answer question #1 above), and listening to what Adrian has to say is one of our best roadmaps to calibrating where Pearson may go. You can check out a short (4 minute) video of Adrian talking about the vision for OpenClass at this link.
A summary of Pearson's OpenClass strategy would go like this:
A. Course development remains predominantly a "craft" exercise – with individual faculty developing their own courses. Most courses, even blended or online courses, are not "born digital" – rather they are translated from a traditional face-to-face classroom setting.
B. In order to achieve both better quality courses and courses that can scale up to more students it is necessary to move to a course development (and teaching and support) method optimized for the digital world. This means team developed courses, with content pulled in from publisher and open source content, and design strategies benefit from pedagogical research (implemented by learning designers) and continuous improvement driven by data.
C. The value proposition of OpenClass is that it lowers the barriers for a school to adopt the platform (as OpenClass is a free cloud based LMS), and moves the conversation towards the value added services for program or course design / re-design that truly impact both quality and coasts. Pearson is developing more capabilities around value-added services (see the EmbanetCompass acquisition), as well as being able to leverage a large services infrastructure and content / simulation library.
OpenClass is an argument that the LMS is the "least important" part of the learning value chain. By making OpenClass free, Pearson is highlighting what attributes really do add value (course design, content, data driven improvements, learner support, etc.) – and is confident that they can deliver value (and revenues) along these dimensions.
Is that about right? How would you improve my analysis of the Pearson OpenClass strategy?
My argument with OpenClass is that I believe that "free" is more powerful than Pearson recognizes. I think a full-service program/course development model (with learning design, content, support etc.) is only one strategy for improving higher education. An important strategy, one that we will see more with a growing number of non-profit / for-profit partnerships. But only one strategy.
I think that there is potential in the market for a Gmail / Google Docs version of an LMS. A free, cloud based based learning management system with the potential for robust integration to the campus student information system (SIS).
What if Pearson had invested in OpenClass in as big a way that Instructure invested in Canvas? What if Pearson had the faith that building a large community of practice, a large number of adopters, could later be effectively monetized around services and content?
Pearson has deep enough pockets necessary to make a long-term investment in a free OpenClass.
It would, I believe, be necessary to break the OpenClass team off from the main Pearson Education mothership – to give the unit some independence and autonomy. That autonomy would ease the concerns of the higher ed community about adopting a Pearson product. This could be done without hurting Pearson's long term play of transitioning from a print product to a digital content and services company.
I think that a more aggressive and independent OpenClass rollout is the right way for Pearson to move forward.
What do you think?
How 'soccer mum' Paula Broadwell caused CIA chief David Petraeus's resignation
Yet Paula Broadwell, a national security specialist and a PhD student at King's College London, has become embroiled in a sex-and-spying scandal that has wrecked the career of America's most distinguished general. The resignation of General David …
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Show Me the 'Get to Zero' Money!
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Why Politics Are Stuck in the U.S.
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