Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not So Fast

Inside Higher Ed
July 23rd, 2014


The Service Employee International Union’s adjunct organizing drive seemed for a time to be on cruise control, with “yes” votes for unions at more than a dozen campuses from Washington to Los Angeles since 2012. SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign did hit a speed bump at one institution outside Boston – Bentley University – but the union defeat there last year was by a narrow margin, and many onlookers chalked it up to Bentley’s unique business focus. The campaign quickly returned to speed in that city, with successful union drives at Lesley and Northeastern Universities (in addition to Tufts University), and others across the country.
Then the campaign hit the Twin Cities. Adjuncts at Hamline University in June overwhelmingly voted to form a union, but elsewhere there have been two major roadblocks: a canceled vote at St. Paul's Macalester College last month amid calls by many adjuncts to slow down, and a decisive defeat just this week at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis.
Accounts from adjunct professors on both sides of the vote at both institutions detail persuasive outreach from the colleges’ administrations – neither of which formally challenged their adjuncts’ legal right to form a union – and a failure on the part of SEIU to quickly convince adjuncts that unionization was their best chance at gaining better working conditions.

5 Academics Are Awarded 2013 National Humanities Medals

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 23rd, 2014

President Obama on Tuesday announced the 10 winners of the 2013 National Humanities Medals, which recognize individuals or groups whose work has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Driven Out for Speaking Up?

Inside Higher Ed
July 22nd, 2014

Lisa Guinn was one of the lucky ones. The historian was offered a tenure-track job at one institution in 2008 after a one-year stint there as a temporary professor. Two years later, she got lucky again – or so she thought – when she and her husband, also a historian, were both offered tenure-track jobs at Upper Iowa University. Knowing how rare dual assistant professorships are in history, they took the jobs. They believed in the university’s liberal arts mission and were looking forward to reviving its history major, which they did in 2012.
Now, despite strong faculty reviews, both Guinn and her husband, Thomas Jorsch, are out at Upper Iowa, and they still haven’t been told why. Jorsch was able to find a tenure-track position at Bethany College, in Kansas, but Guinn will be working there as an adjunct. The irony is biting.
So what happened?
Guinn and other faculty members say shared governance and academic freedom at Upper Iowa have eroded over time, and their vocal opposition to proposed curricular changes put targets on their backs, as well as those of several other untenured professors.

Bill Gates Talks Performance Funding and MOOCs in Conference Keynote

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

Bill Gates, a founder of Microsoft and billionaire philanthropist, touched on a myriad of issues facing higher-education institutions during his keynote address on Monday at the annual conference, in Seattle, of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Here are some of the highlights:
On access: “The United States really stands for the proposition of equal opportunity. We’re striving in our work [at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] to have the U.S. maintain and strengthen that, where access to great education is the key element. When we ask about the strength of our country in the decades to come, renewing this strength, helping it stay on top is one of the most important things that we need to do.”

Adjuncts Vote Down Union at Minnesota’s U. of Saint Thomas

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 22nd, 2014

A campaign to unionize adjunct instructors at private colleges in Minnesota hit a snag on Monday, as the part-time faculty members at the University of Saint Thomas voted against forming a union, according to the Star Tribune.
The campaign, run by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, won a victory last month, when part-time professors at Hamline University, another campus in the Twin Cities area, voted to unionize. The effort is part of a nationwide campaign by the union.

A Sociologist Asks What Happens When Art Goes Academic

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 22nd, 2014

Several dozen students and professors gather around an artist and his latest creation. The sculpture: "Into the Abyss," a six-foot wooden maze that resembles a digestive tract. The artist: David Bodhi Boylan, an M.F.A. student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Mr. Boylan listens, chin in hand, as the crowd plunges into a 45-minute critique of his "Abyss."
"I’d like to hear you speak a little bit more about this notion of expectations," says one person.
"The question of the front and backness of the work—I want it to be more complex."
"If we’re going to stay in binary mode … a more productive space to look at it is interior versus exterior and how that relates to utility versus aesthetics or judgment."

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Course, Your Content

Inside Higher Ed
July 21st, 2014

Another professor’s learning materials? In my course? It’s more likely than you think.
The nonprofit research organization Ithaka S+R this month released its highly anticipated report on its work with the institutions in the University System of Maryland, which for the past 18 months have experimented with courseware from Carnegie Mellon University, Coursera and Pearson in face-to-face courses. Backed by a $1.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study aimed to produce some sorely needed research about massive open online courses and their usefulness to brick-and-mortar institutions.
Eighteen months later, the MOOC frenzy has calmed, and Ithaka’s findings are similarly muted.
“Our findings add empirical weight to an emerging consensus that technology can be used to enhance productivity in higher education by reducing costs without compromising student outcomes,” researchers Rebecca Griffiths, Matthew Chingos, Christine Mulhern and Richard Spies write.

Outsourced in Michigan

Inside Higher Ed
July 21st, 2014

Colleges and universities have outsourced lots of services in the past several decades, from food preparation and delivery to bookstores to sanitation. But to many academics it is taboo to even consider outsourcing the faculty.
Not in Michigan. In recent years, a handful of community colleges in that state have outsourced the recruitment and hiring of adjunct instructors – who make up the overwhelming majority of the community college teaching force – to an educational staffing company. Just last week, the faculty union at a sixth institution, Jackson College, signed a collective bargaining agreement allowing EDUStaff to take over adjunct hiring and payroll duties.

Great Colleges Create a Culture of Accountability and Cooperation

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

Issues related to workplace quality, faculty and staff engagement, and institutional culture can be found daily in the headlines, including stories of leadership transition and votes of no confidence, concerns regarding "civility" (or worse, cases of bullying and sexual harassment), and debates over the continuing challenges of diversity initiatives.
There’s no shortage of examples of how workplace quality and climate have evolved beyond simply having "happy" faculty and staff members, and there seems to be a growing awareness of the strategic importance of employee engagement and organizational culture. One measure of that awareness is the participation level in the annual Great Colleges to Work For survey, administered by ModernThink LLC for The Chronicle. (All survey-related content in this issue, including college presidents’ statements about what makes their institutions great places to work, was compiled by ModernThink.)

Court Orders Iowa State U. to Pay Former Employee $650,000

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered Iowa State University to pay a former employee $650,000 for being mistreated by his superiors, the Associated Press reports. After Dennis Smith, who was a marketing employee in the College of Engineering, reported alleged mismanagement by his boss, she “engaged in unremitting psychological warfare” against Mr. Smith, the court said.

The Difference a Boss Makes

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 21st, 2014

In the perhaps na├»ve belief that no one at my institution reads my columns (go on, prove me wrong), I have decided to spend some time reflecting on my current state of uncertainty as a middle manager who doesn’t know who her next boss will be.
Waiting out the search for your new boss is unnerving. Because when you’re a dean, your boss makes a big difference in how you do your job—and, sometimes, in how well you do your job. Tenure-line faculty members don’t have bosses. Administrators really, really do.
In an academic department, your boss is your department chair—and that might someday be you. Department chairs are drafted or elected or take their turns in rotation, and they usually slide back into their normal roles as department members after. Knowing that someone down the hall will be your next boss serves a real function in keeping most of us honest as department chairs. The colleague you offend today could be your chair in a few years.

Friday, July 18, 2014

ACE Studies on Faculty Roles and Business Models

Inside Higher Ed
July 17th, 2014

The American Council on Education on Wednesday released two reports from its Presidential Innovation Lab. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded lab asks more than a dozen chief executives to think about how technological, pedagogical, organizational and structural innovations can close the student achievement gap.
The first paper, called "Unbundling Versus Designing Faculty Roles," traces the evolving role of the faculty, from mainly tutors in the 18 and 19th centuries, to the increasingly professionalized faculty of the early and mid-20th century, to contemporary professors, for whom teaching, research, service and others duties increasingly are “unbundled” or disaggregated. The paper argues that this unbundling is particularly acute in large introductory courses, where instructors mainly teach rather than design courses, and in massive, open, online courses, or MOOCs. At the same time, the paper says, unbundling is occurring in myriad ways, and “there is no single model.”
A common concern related to such unbundling, the paper says, is the potential for the decline of the “complete scholar,” whose research, teaching and service combine to positively impact students. But, the paper notes, community college teachers understandably may focus more on teaching than research. The paper also says that technology can help integrate teaching and research by making teaching more inquiry-driven, and by making teaching a kind of research process through student data analytics. The paper concludes that unbundling of professor duties is not necessarily bad for students, but that it requires further study. Colleges and universities may do well to study unbundling within their institutions and more intentionally assign faculty roles based on their evolving duties, as some institutions have done. But those conversations also should happen at the national level, the paper says.

‘Pay It Forward’ Plans Are No Cure for Rising College Costs, Report Says

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 18th, 2014

A new report refutes the proposed “Pay It Forward” model of paying for college, saying in a point-by-point analysis that it would leave most graduates deeper in debt than if they had taken out loans, and would throw colleges’ balance sheets into uncertainty, among other things.
The report, released by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, assails the idea of allowing students to attend college without having to take out loans while requiring them to devote a portion of their later earnings to paying off tuition. First proposed by students at Portland State University, Pay It Forward has drawn increasing criticism since Oregon passed a law to study the idea.

New Politics of Partner Benefits

Inside Higher Ed
July 18th, 2014

Now that gay marriage is recognized in their state, faculty members and other employees within the University of Minnesota system with same-sex partners no longer need access to domestic partner benefits. Right?
The university has a clear answer to the question: Right – and it’s canceling same-sex domestic partner benefits at the end of this year. But some say it may be acting too quickly in eliminating those benefits, and failing to give enough thought to how the policy change will impact diverse families.
As many states have recognized gay marriage in the last year, and as states without gay marriage have started to see court rulings that could change the law there as well, public colleges and universities have been considering a range of questions. Because many public colleges moved to offer partner benefits years before their states recognized gay relationships, some -- in places like Minnesota -- wonder if they need to keep those benefits. And in other parts of the country, including states where any benefits for same-sex partners were decidedly off the table until recently, that is changing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blaming the Victim: Ladder Faculty and the Lack of Adjunct Activism

The Chronicle of Higher Education - Vitae
July 17th, 2014



In April 2013, I attended Adjunct Action’s first symposium in Boston, where the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was kicking off its efforts to organize adjuncts at area universities. In a little over a year since that meeting, I’ve watched from the sidelines as fellow attendees—part-time faculty at Tufts, Lesley, and, most recently, Northeastern University—have voted yes to unionization. And I’ve seen the SEIU’s metro-organizing strategy spread to cities across the country.
As a full-time adjunct professor, I am not currently eligible to vote in a union election. The adjunct labor movement has necessarily prioritized the working conditions of part-time faculty, many of whom are living below the poverty line. But adjuncts need not be card-carrying union members to benefit from these victories, which have transformed academia’s once-invisible underclass into its most vocal majority. The inequalities in academic employment may still be firmly in place, but thanks to these unionization efforts, contingent faculty are now active participants in the national conversation about the future of higher education. 


In April 2013, I attended Adjunct Action’s first symposium in Boston, where the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was kicking off its efforts to organize adjuncts at area universities. In a little over a year since that meeting, I’ve watched from the sidelines as fellow attendees—part-time faculty at Tufts, Lesley, and, most recently, Northeastern University—have voted yes to unionization. And I’ve seen the SEIU’s metro-organizing strategy spread to cities across the country.
As a full-time adjunct professor, I am not currently eligible to vote in a union election. The adjunct labor movement has necessarily prioritized the working conditions of part-time faculty, many of whom are living below the poverty line. But adjuncts need not be card-carrying union members to benefit from these victories, which have transformed academia’s once-invisible underclass into its most vocal majority. The inequalities in academic employment may still be firmly in place, but thanks to these unionization efforts, contingent faculty are now active participants in the national conversation about the future of higher education.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/613-blaming-the-victim-ladder-faculty-and-the-lack-of-adjunct-activism#sthash.1x94A2LZ.dpuf

I Just Used to Work Here

Inside Higher Ed
July 17th, 2014

Recently, an assistant dean at a university at which I’ve taught sent me an email. A former student of mine had reached out to this deanlet because the student — whom I'll call Jill — “received an F in [my] course and she and her father [had] asked for clarity.” A few days later, a department secretary from another university I’ve worked at sent me an email that said that a former student of mine had called her “regarding the grade of an ‘F’ received” in my class. According to the secretary, the student — whom I’ll call Jack — “said that he should’ve received a ‘B,’ ” and asked her to ask me to give him a call on his cell phone. As an adjunct, these students’ problems shouldn’t be my problems, yet somehow they are.
I used the past tense of the words “teach” and “work” above to describe my relationship with these universities because I no longer teach for or work at either of these colleges and haven’t since May, nor is there any guarantee that I will work for them in the future. I am, after all, only an adjunct. I am, by definition, “something added to another thing but not essential to it.” I understand that, and I thought the university administrators who have long thought it best to add cadres of nonessential folk such as myself to fulfill the university mission of education instead of hiring full-time faculty understood this as well.

What It Takes to Help Students Succeed

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 17th, 2014

President of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County since 1992, Freeman A. Hrabowski III thinks he knows what students need: lots of support. Morally, colleges owe it to students to do everything possible to help them succeed, he said in a recent visit to The Chronicle, and a higher retention rate means more tuition dollars, too.

U. of Iowa Scholar Will Get New Trial in Promotion-Bias Case

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 15th, 2014

A federal appeals court has granted a new trial to a University of Iowa scholar who accused the institution of discriminating against her because of her conservative views, The Des Moines Register reported.
The scholar, Teresa R. Wagner, had asserted in a lawsuit that a former dean of Iowa’s law school refused to promote her because of her political beliefs and her work with conservative groups. In 2012 a jury found that Ms. Wagner’s First Amendment rights had not been violated, but deadlocked on a second claim that she had been denied equal-protection rights under the 14th Amendment.
A judge later dismissed the equal-protection claim and rejected Ms. Wagner’s bid for a new trial.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

UNC-Wilmington Settles With Professor Who Won Anti-Bias Suit

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 16th, 2014

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has completed the terms of a settlement with a professor who sued the institution, and won, over being denied a promotion because of his conservative writings, reports the Star-News, a Wilmington newspaper.
Michael S. Adams, a criminology professor, will be promoted to full professor, awarded $50,000 in back pay, and given a salary of $75,000 per year. The university will also pay $615,000 in lawyers’ fees.

Adjuncts Urge Labor Dept. Inquiry Into Working Condition

Inside Higher Ed
July 16th, 2014

More than 500 adjunct professors and their advocates have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their working conditions. The petition's authors, all current or former adjuncts at various colleges and universities, allege that they are being paid for only part of the work they do, and that that amounts to wage theft. The petition is addressed to David Weil, director of the agency's Wage and Hour Division, and urges him to "open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty, including adjunct instructors and full-time contract faculty outside the tenure track." The investigation should be conducted at the "sector" level, they say, rather than individually.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Question of Quality

Inside Higher Ed
July 15th, 2014

If students in a face-to-face course emailed their provost with concerns that their professor had stopped lecturing, chances are that someone -- a department head or an administrator -- would intervene. But what if the students were scattered across different countries and time zones in a not-for-credit massive open online course?
The issue of MOOC quality control has resurfaced in the wake of the #MassiveTeaching debacle, the MOOC-turned-social experiment that last week inspired a scavenger hunt across the internet.
By Tuesday afternoon, one observant Inside Higher Ed commenter had cracked the case. After a successful first week of “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” Paul-Olivier Dehaye, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Zurich, deleted the course content as part of a social experiment to show students how their data can be manipulated online. But since Dehaye had not notified anyone of his intentions, the experiment raised confusion rather than awareness.

Moody’s Issues Negative Outlook for Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014

On the heels of a similarly downcast assessment by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service has issued a negative outlook for the higher-education sector in the United States. The credit-rating agency also issued individual reports on median benchmarks for the finances of public and nonprofit private colleges, noting significant tuition-revenue declines at both types of institutions.
While American higher education faces limited growth prospects over the next 12 to 18 months, Moody’s says, positive trends like strong long-term demand for higher education and reduced household debt could help create conditions for colleges to stabilize over the next year. But Moody’s cautions that the institutions will face continued financial pressures in the near term.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Benefits Options for Adjuncts

Inside Higher Ed
July 14th, 2014

Many adjuncts not only work for low pay, but do so without employer-provided health insurance. So the American Federations of Teachers’ announcement on Friday that it was partnering with the Freelancers Union to offer adjuncts – even those who aren’t part of AFT – access to benefits came as good news to many. The AFT is not paying for benefits, but rather is offering adjuncts access to various plans that might be difficult or more expensive to obtain individually.
Earlier this year, the Freelancers Union announced the launch of a National Benefits Platform, through which independent workers can search by ZIP code a “suite” of various benefits. Offerings include health and dental insurance and retirement and term life insurance. The new AFT partnership will offer adjuncts a special web portal to access these and other programs and services offered by both unions, starting this fall.
The Freelancers’ membership already includes about 3,000 educators, most of whom are adjuncts. The union offers legal representation and other services to its members -- about 250,000 nationwide. About 10 percent currently purchase their insurance directly from the union, in New York State only. This fall, Freelancers will start offering members ways to purchase insurance in 49 other states through various third-party providers.

AFT Reaffirms Commitment to Fighting Exploitation of Adjuncts

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014

During its convention over the weekend in Los Angeles, the American Federation of Teachers reaffirmed its commitment to fighting to end academe’s reliance on contingent instructors and to replace that model “with a system of academic staffing that is sustainable for students, faculty, and the economy.”
A resolution unanimously approved by AFT delegates states the organization is committed to “improving the lives of contingent faculty by ending the rank exploitation of the majority of the higher-education instructional work force.” That exploitation, it says, is undermining the educational and civic missions of colleges and universities, and is negatively affecting the quality of the college experience for students.

College, on Your Own

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014

Nichele L. Pollock felt like she was moving through college in slow motion. In seven years, she had gotten about halfway through her bachelor’s degree.
But recently she’s been racing forward, racking up 50 credits in just eight months at Northern Arizona University, more than most full-time students earn in three semesters. She’s done it while holding down a full-time job coordinating clinical trials at a medical-research facility in Tucson. She has no classmates, no classroom, no lectures, and no professor-led discussions with fellow students.
And she’s the model for how competency-based learning could transform higher education.
For decades, competency programs have served a niche market of adults seeking credentials to help them advance in their careers. Now, they are attracting broad interest and making forays into the liberal arts. Competency programs are going mainstream.

Friday, July 11, 2014

AFT Makes New Effort to Offer Benefits to Contingent Faculty Members

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 11th, 2014

The American Federation of Teachers announced on Friday that it was teaming up with a nonprofit organization for independent workers to provide colleges’ contingent faculty members with access to health insurance and other benefits.
Benefits offered by the new partnership—between the AFT and the Freelancers Union, which serves a wide range of independent workers—will be open to all contingent faculty members at American colleges, whether or not they belong to the AFT. The deal will enable them to tap into a web portal with access to both AFT and Freelancers Union programs and services, including health, dental, liability, disability, and life insurance offered by the Freelancers Union through a benefits platform established last month.
"This partnership provides access to much-needed benefits contingent faculty wouldn’t otherwise have, as well as access to information, resources, and supports to improve their lives and professions," Randi Weingarten, the AFT’s president, said on Friday in a written statement announcing the new collaboration. Contingent faculty members will have access to the new web portal beginning this fall.

How the U. of Texas Flagship’s Chief Built the Power Base That Saved His Neck

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 11th, 2014

William C. Powers Jr.’s fortunes as president of the University of Texas at Austin seemed to shift quickly this week, when the system’s chancellor announced that the imperiled leader would be granted another 11 months at the helm of the flagship campus. But the Lazarus act, which allows Mr. Powers to leave office on his own terms, was actually years in the making.
The president will resign, effective June 2, 2015. That will allow for the sort of "graceful" exit that he had sought last week, when Francisco G. Cigarroa, the system’s chancellor, gave the president an ultimatum: resign by July 4, effective October 31, or be fired. The agreement this week put a fittingly messy coda on a years-long power struggle between an aggressive cadre of board members who wanted the president out and a steely campus chief with powerful connections.

Falling Short

Inside Higher Ed
July 11th, 2014

Summer means lean times – leaner than usual – for many adjuncts, as fewer courses offered means fewer available sections. So adjuncts at Northern New Mexico College who say they were shorted by a third on their last two paychecks say they’re not only angry but have been thrown into an unexpected financial bind.
Adjuncts also say it’s symptomatic of larger, ongoing problems between the college’s faculty and administration.
“No one would have signed a contract if they’d known – it takes an hour for most of us to commute there,” said Miranda Merklein, a former adjunct instructor of English at Northern New Mexico who has stopped teaching there due to the shorted paychecks. “There are adjuncts taking out payday loans and barely surviving.”

Union Ends Ties With UNCF, Faulting Its Connection With Koch Brothers

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 11th, 2014

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has ended a joint scholarship program with the United Negro College Fund, citing disapproval of a $25-million donation the fund accepted from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation. Lee Saunders, president of the union, called the organization’s relationship with the activist-conservative Koch brothers “a betrayal of everything the UNCF stands for.”
Michael Lomax, president and chief executive of the UNCF, defended the donation in a statement: “UNCF has over 100,000 donors with a wide range of views, but they all have one thing in common: They believe in helping young students of color realize their dreams of a college education.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Giving Up (Some) Control in the Classroom

Inside Higher Ed
July 10th, 2014

This past spring semester I decided to shake things up a bit in one of my courses by tossing some of my routine (and control over the course), right out of the window. I have always advocated for student responsibility in my classroom — I don’t micromanage them, I don’t take attendance (no, I’ve never had a problem with low attendance in my classes), and I try to build assignments with enough flexibility to allow students to explore their interests. However, this past semester, I did two things in my Sex, Gender, and Society course which involved giving up a significant amount of control in some crucial areas of the course.


Texas Showdown Is Averted, With President to Stay On for a Year

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 10th, 2014

The searing spotlight that has been shining on the University of Texas cooled slightly on Wednesday, when the system’s chancellor, in a surprising about-face, announced that he would allow the flagship’s president, William C. Powers Jr., to stay on another year.
The move pre-empted what had promised to be a bitterly divisive meeting of the system’s Board of Regents on Thursday, when the board had been expected to fire Mr. Powers.
Faculty members who had gathered in a special meeting on Wednesday to protest the president’s apparently imminent ouster gasped and cheered when they learned that the chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, had backed down, agreeing to let the president leave on his own terms, at the end of the next academic year.

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Unionize at U. Illinois

Inside Higher Ed
July 10th, 2014

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has certified a union for nearly 500 non-tenure track faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The organizing drive was by the Campus Faculty Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors.

Can MOOCs Help Professors Teach Traditional Courses More Efficiently?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 10th, 2014

Using free online materials such as massive open online courses in traditional classes can help colleges teach more efficiently without harming students, according to a long-awaited report from Ithaka S+R, an education-technology nonprofit group, and the University System of Maryland.
However, the report notes practical barriers that might make it difficult for professors to incorporate MOOCs or similar materials into their classes without incurring other costs. Those costs might limit any gains in efficiency, according to university officials.
In their study, researchers closely tracked 17 courses at universities across the Maryland system that incorporated “interactive online learning platforms” into existing courses, including 14 that used MOOCs from Coursera. (Some courses used online software from the Open Learning Initiative and Pearson.)

U.S. House Passes Job-Training Bill

Inside Higher Ed
July 10th, 2014

A key federal job-training bill has been updated for the first time in more than a decade. The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which governs more than $3 billion in programs, many of them aimed at community colleges. The bill, which the U.S. Senate passed last month, has drawn praise from higher education leaders. It should eliminate red tape and redundancy, they said, while also creating standardized performance metrics and emphasizing better links between K-12, higher education and employers. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation, which has been hailed as a rare bipartisan compromise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Facebook Organizing: Legal Do’s and Don’ts

Labor Notes
July 9th, 2014



Workers are using Facebook to talk to each other about what happens on the job and in the union, and some are even using it to organize for change.
Walmart workers trade advice and stories on the “Organization United for Respect” page, which has 47,000 “likes.” Boeing Machinists opposed to a proposed contract linked up through “Rosie’s Machinists 751.” And many union reformers set up Facebook pages when they are running for office.
Those are the success stories. But if you read the tabloids, you’ve probably seen some horror stories, too: teachers fired for Facebook posts that criticize their students, restaurant workers fired for posts that insult low-tipping customers.
Here we’ll examine the do’s and don’ts by looking at two cases where posts were legally protected—and one where they weren’t. 


Workers are using Facebook to talk to each other about what happens on the job and in the union, and some are even using it to organize for change.
Walmart workers trade advice and stories on the “Organization United for Respect” page, which has 47,000 “likes.” Boeing Machinists opposed to a proposed contract linked up through “Rosie’s Machinists 751.” And many union reformers set up Facebook pages when they are running for office.
Those are the success stories. But if you read the tabloids, you’ve probably seen some horror stories, too: teachers fired for Facebook posts that criticize their students, restaurant workers fired for posts that insult low-tipping customers.
Here we’ll examine the do’s and don’ts by looking at two cases where posts were legally protected—and one where they weren’t.
- See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2014/07/facebook-organizing-legal-dos-and-donts#sthash.zwxBfHlX.dpuf

Room for Creativity?

Inside Higher Ed
July 9th, 2014

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: academic Twitter can be incredible. Natalie Dorfeld emailed me after the column featuring Jessica Lawless and Miranda Merklein ran and asked what she could do to help. Noting the “kick ass work” these columns have been doing — why thank you, Natalie — she volunteered to participate. After learning about some of her professional experiences and interests, I did what any academic connected to social media would do: I crowdsourced to find a partner for an adjunct interested in ESL pedagogy, creative writing, narrative theory, contemporary poetry, and contingent labor issues. Not long after I tweeted my request, Ishai Barnoy volunteered. He didn’t know Natalie, so they approached their interviews as strangers with common interests and experiences.
I’m thrilled with the work they’ve done here.
“Room for Creativity?” raises the question of how adjuncts try to balance their own creative and/or scholarly interests with teaching demands. I asked them to cover how they’ve both balanced (or tried to balance) their interests in poetry and other creative work with what they’ve been allowed as adjuncts to teach in the name of “course coverage.”

U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 8th, 2014

The University of Zurich says it has cleared up the bizarre case of the MOOC that went missing. But the university is offering few clarifying details to the public, which has been left to piece together theories from the university’s statements and from cryptic tweets by the course’s professor about an unspecified experiment he might have been trying to conduct.
As I reported this morning, the content of a massive open online course taught by one of the university’s lecturers, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, vanished last week without explanation, leaving an empty husk on Coursera’s platform. The course, “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was one week into its planned three-week run when the videos and other course materials disappeared. Coursera officials said Mr. Dehaye, a mathematician, deleted the materials on July 2, and the company has since restored them. But the company’s officials initially were as confused as everyone else.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Power of Grad Students

Inside Higher Ed
July 8th, 2014

In the Ivory Tower, labor organizing is no easy task. Teaching assistants, who have recently unionized at New York University and the University of Connecticut, don’t have factory floors where collective bonds can be readily formed. We’re scattered throughout classrooms spread over vast campuses, each grading for different professors and advisers, with different and often incommensurable working conditions. We don’t stand before an assembly line with parts of metal and plastic – we work face-to-face with students, who are sometimes apathetic and bemused by our decision to prolong our schooling, but sometimes enthusiastic and insightful enough to remind us why we thought a life of teaching and research could be worthwhile.
When I started graduate school at the University of California at Santa Cruz, I proudly signed a union card the first day of orientation. The unprecedented contract agreement reached this year between the University of California and my union, United Auto Workers Local 2865, which represents graduate teaching assistants at all UC campuses, reflects our strategy for dealing with these challenges.

While Debating Visas, U.S. May Miss Bigger Keys to Scientific Success

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 8th, 2014

For years, U.S. policy makers have been debating the idea of granting green cards to foreigners with science doctorates. The cell biologist Xiao-Wei Chen, at the University of Michigan is no longer waiting for them to decide.
Mr. Chen, whose work on cholesterol metabolism helped him win a job competition this year at the National Institutes of Health, is instead making plans to return home to China and his undergraduate institution, Peking University.
"The opportunities there might be more nourishing for young people like me to develop scientifically," he says of China.

In a MOOC Mystery, a Course Suddenly Vanishes

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 8th, 2014

A massive open online course on making sense of massive open online courses caused massive confusion when the course content was suddenly deleted and the professor started writing cryptic things on Twitter.
The MOOC, called “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was taught by Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a lecturer at the University of Zurich. Offered through Coursera, the course had been conceived of as a meta-MOOC designed to help disoriented educators find their feet in the online landscape. The course “grew out of the author’s experiences as an early adopter and advocate of newer technologies (such as Coursera) for online teaching,” according to a description on Coursera’s website.
So far, the course has produced chaos rather than clarity. All the videos, forums, and other course materials mysteriously vanished from the website last week. As students in the course grappled with the bizarre turn of events, Mr. Dehaye offered only vague, inscrutable tweets.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Extra Credit for Defying Gender Norms on Body Hair

Inside Higher Ed
July 7th, 2014

Breanne Fahs, associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University, has an unusual way to teaching students about defying gender-specific norms. She offers extra credit to all female students who opt not to shave any body hair below the neck, and to male students who shave all of their body hair below the neck. Students must shave (or not shave) throughout a 10-week period and keep a journal related to their experiences. “There’s no better way to learn about societal norms than to violate them and see how people react,” said Fahs in an Arizona State article about her teaching technique. “There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.”

In ‘July 4 Coup’ at U. of Texas, Flagship’s Chief Is Asked to Resign

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 4th, 2014

Tensions at the University of Texas are boiling after reports that the system’s chancellor has told the president of the flagship campus, William C. Powers Jr., to resign or risk being fired this week.
Faculty members are planning an emergency meeting for Wednesday, the day before the system’s Board of Regents is scheduled to meet and could vote on Mr. Powers’s dismissal. Students, employees, and alumni took to social media over the weekend to rally support for the president, and a legislative panel that is pursuing impeachment proceedings against one of his fiercest critics reiterated warnings to the regents not to fire him.
Well-placed sources confirmed news-media reports that the chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, told Mr. Powers last week to submit his resignation by Friday, July 4, effective October 31. Mr. Powers, who enjoys strong support from the faculty but has frequently butted heads with a faction of the regents who are closely aligned with Gov. Rick Perry, reportedly refused but said he would be open to leaving if he could stay on through June 2015, after the legislative session and academic year have ended.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ph.D.’s, Adjuncts, and the Teacher-Training Conundrum

The Chronicle of Higher Education - Vitae
July 3rd, 2014



Well, I complained back in the winter that graduate programs don’t spend enough time talking to teaching-intensive institutions about what they need out of new Ph.D.’s. Grad students ought to know how to get jobs and be successful at colleges and universities with 4-4 and 5-5 teaching responsibilities, so why not ask those institutions what “success” means?

It didn't seem as if the problem was going to solve itself in a hurry. So with some help from a friendly graduate dean, I rustled up a bunch of New England deans and other folks from research institutions in my region, some representatives from regional comprehensive universities like mine, and a bunch of faculty and administrators from Massachusetts community colleges.

We all got together in May to talk about a couple of key questions: How do we set up a system that lets us link the three sectors (along with some liberal-arts colleges that expressed interest) to give doctoral candidates more training about teaching at other kinds of institutions? And how can we teaching-intensive schools cultivate helpful relationships with research universities?
 
Well, I complained back in the winter that graduate programs don’t spend enough time talking to teaching-intensive institutions about what they need out of new Ph.D.’s. Grad students ought to know how to get jobs and be successful at colleges and universities with 4-4 and 5-5 teaching responsibilities, so why not ask those institutions what “success” means?
It didn't seem as if the problem was going to solve itself in a hurry. So with some help from a friendly graduate dean, I rustled up a bunch of New England deans and other folks from research institutions in my region, some representatives from regional comprehensive universities like mine, and a bunch of faculty and administrators from Massachusetts community colleges.
We all got together in May to talk about a couple of key questions: How do we set up a system that lets us link the three sectors (along with some liberal-arts colleges that expressed interest) to give doctoral candidates more training about teaching at other kinds of institutions? And how can we teaching-intensive schools cultivate helpful relationships with research universities?
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/591-ph-d-s-adjuncts-and-the-teacher-training-conundrum#sthash.WRGpgTvB.dpuf
Well, I complained back in the winter that graduate programs don’t spend enough time talking to teaching-intensive institutions about what they need out of new Ph.D.’s. Grad students ought to know how to get jobs and be successful at colleges and universities with 4-4 and 5-5 teaching responsibilities, so why not ask those institutions what “success” means?
It didn't seem as if the problem was going to solve itself in a hurry. So with some help from a friendly graduate dean, I rustled up a bunch of New England deans and other folks from research institutions in my region, some representatives from regional comprehensive universities like mine, and a bunch of faculty and administrators from Massachusetts community colleges.
We all got together in May to talk about a couple of key questions: How do we set up a system that lets us link the three sectors (along with some liberal-arts colleges that expressed interest) to give doctoral candidates more training about teaching at other kinds of institutions? And how can we teaching-intensive schools cultivate helpful relationships with research universities?
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/591-ph-d-s-adjuncts-and-the-teacher-training-conundrum#sthash.WRGpgTvB.dpuf
Well, I complained back in the winter that graduate programs don’t spend enough time talking to teaching-intensive institutions about what they need out of new Ph.D.’s. Grad students ought to know how to get jobs and be successful at colleges and universities with 4-4 and 5-5 teaching responsibilities, so why not ask those institutions what “success” means?
It didn't seem as if the problem was going to solve itself in a hurry. So with some help from a friendly graduate dean, I rustled up a bunch of New England deans and other folks from research institutions in my region, some representatives from regional comprehensive universities like mine, and a bunch of faculty and administrators from Massachusetts community colleges.
We all got together in May to talk about a couple of key questions: How do we set up a system that lets us link the three sectors (along with some liberal-arts colleges that expressed interest) to give doctoral candidates more training about teaching at other kinds of institutions? And how can we teaching-intensive schools cultivate helpful relationships with research universities?
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/591-ph-d-s-adjuncts-and-the-teacher-training-conundrum#sthash.WRGpgTvB.dpuf