Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Game of Thrones' T-shirt case might have violated prof's rights, Bergen Community College says

North Jersey
October 30th, 2014

Bergen Community College may have violated a professor’s constitutional rights in January when it sanctioned him for posting a photo online of his daughter wearing a “Game of Thrones” T-shirt that read, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood,” the college said in a letter to him.
The Sept. 29 letter to Francis Schmidt, an art and 3-D animation professor, was posted online Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The foundation helped Schmidt secure a lawyer.
Schmidt posted the picture of his daughter on Jan. 12 on Google+, sharing it with his social media contacts, one of whom was a dean at the college. He said he was called before college officials the next day, who questioned him to determine if the photo represented a threat against the dean.

College Admits Error for Disciplining Professor for ‘Game of Thrones’ Photo

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 30th, 2014

A community college has admitted that it may have violated a professor’s constitutional rights when it suspended him for posting a photograph of a shirt featuring a quotation from the popular HBO television series Game of Thrones, reports The Record, a New Jersey newspaper.
Bergen Community College suspended Francis Schmidt, an art and animation professor, after he posted the photo, which shows his daughter, on Google+ in January. The quote on her T-shirt—“I will take what is mine with fire & blood”—apparently alarmed a dean at the college.

Pressure on the Presidents

Inside Higher Ed
October 30th, 2014

Twenty-eight percent of public four-year college and university presidents say they feel pressure from their governors to conduct their presidencies in ways that differ from their judgment about what's best for their institutions.
That is among the findings of the latest snap poll of presidents -- conducted by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed -- on breaking issues. A total of 620 presidents responded to the latest survey. They were assured anonymity, but their answers were grouped by sector. The latest survey was conducted amid the latest push by allies of Texas Governor Rick Perry to force out Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin, and amid growing debate over the use of climate surveys as one tool to combat sexual assault on campuses. (Powers survived, but in part because he was agreeing to retire anyway, just on his schedule instead of the governor's.)
The results showed that a considerable minority of public university presidents (but very few private college presidents, who typically have less interaction with state politicians) appear to have a tough balancing act with respect to their governors. And the results showed mixed feelings about climate surveys.

The Future of MOOCs

Inside Higher Ed
October 29th, 2014

MOOCs are not dead, but MOOC mania has certainly abated.
Predictions made in 2012 that MOOCs would totally disrupt the existing higher education model were certainly exaggerated. But that does not mean that MOOCs won’t have an profound impact on the future of higher education.
As Bill Gates once said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.”
MOOCS played a historic role in stimulating discussion in teaching across the academy. MOOCs engaged faculty and gave new legitimation to online education.
MOOCs also provided an experimental space where content specialists, instructional designers, and educational technologists could test new pedagogies and teaching tools including auto-grading, interactive simulations, and educational gaming,
For the most part, however, MOOCs today have not evolved significantly in approach beyond those available in 2012. If next generation MOOCs are to appear, they will need to draw upon the experience of online retailers, journalism, online dating services, and social networking sites.
Here are ten challenges facing MOOCs and lessons they might learn from the commercial world.
 

Don't React Personally

Inside Higher Ed
October 29th, 2014

The academic life, even a “successful” one, is a life filled with rejection. We are rejected from some of the colleges we apply to as high school students, as well as some of the universities where we apply to undertake graduate study. When we graduate yet again and seek academic appointments, rejection becomes an ever-present force as never before, so common in fact that the employers rejecting us have pre-prepared form letters, which they often reuse from year to year, made up to deliver the news, sending them out well beyond the day when we have already realized that we didn’t get the job.
Even after we are installed in an academic appointment, of any variety, rejection is as present and real as ever. When it comes to publishing, even top scholars quickly become reacquainted with rejection, as it is a routine part of the effort to publish scholarly work.  Rejection of academics includes students who refuse to engage our courses, never responding to our methods. Rejection is a phenomenon that confronts all teacher-scholars.

Demystifying the MOOC

New York Times - Education
October 29th, 2014

When massive open online courses first grabbed the spotlight in 2011, many saw in them promise of a revolutionary force that would disrupt traditional higher education by expanding access and reducing costs. The hope was that MOOCs — classes from elite universities, most of them free, in some cases enrolling hundreds of thousands of students each — would make it possible for anyone to acquire an education, from a villager in Turkey to a college dropout in the United States.
Following the “hype cycle” model for new technology products developed by the Gartner research group, MOOCs have fallen from their “peak of inflated expectations” in 2012 to the “trough of disillusionment.”
There are several reasons for the disillusionment. First, the average student in a MOOC is not a Turkish villager with no other access to higher education but a young white American man with a bachelor’s degree and a full-time job.

Read more here

Working Out the Meaning of ‘Meaningful’ Work

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 30th, 2014



Many educators and scholars, in essays like this one, have already denounced the “do what you love” mantra (or, as its known in its abbreviated form, DWYL). Miya Tokumitsu criticized it as an elitist battle cry and a classist whisper.
The objections raised in those essays may appeal to leftists who abhor the idea of a world in which we all walk around grinning and saying “I love my job.” They question the expectation that work should be a source of pleasure. But the idea that work is inherently displeasing -- or provides the worker disutility (to borrow a phrase from classical political economist Jeremy Bentham and from microeconomics textbooks everywhere) -- is equally troubling.


Many educators and scholars, in essays like this one, have already denounced the “do what you love” mantra (or, as its known in its abbreviated form, DWYL). Miya Tokumitsu criticized it as an elitist battle cry and a classist whisper.
The objections raised in those essays may appeal to leftists who abhor the idea of a world in which we all walk around grinning and saying “I love my job.” They question the expectation that work should be a source of pleasure. But the idea that work is inherently displeasing -- or provides the worker disutility (to borrow a phrase from classical political economist Jeremy Bentham and from microeconomics textbooks everywhere) -- is equally troubling.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/781-working-out-the-meaning-of-meaningful-work#sthash.yaxJ9SbA.dpuf

What the Wonks Are Saying About the Final Gainful-Employment Rule

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 30th, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education released the full text of its final gainful-employment rule on Thursday morning, and it’s a big one, weighing in at 945 pages. But sheer volume has never been enough to discourage the most devoted of higher-education observers: the diehard policy wonks, who took to Twitter with observations and analysis.
The biggest change, as The Chronicle’s Kelly Field noted, is the elimination of cohort default rates as a measure that career-education programs will be subject to, leaving the debt-to-earnings ratio as the sole metric. It’s a win for community colleges, which had protested the use of default rates. Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, posed the simple question: Why the change?

The Syllabus: Digging into UNCG's budget

News & Record
October 29th, 2014


To hear UNCG talk about it, times are tough. The university cut 150 positions this summer to trim $12.8 million from its budget. Since 2008, UNCG has seen roughly $110 million in budget cuts. Considering the university's annual budget is in the ballpark of $360 million, those cuts hurt.
But an accounting professor from Michigan has a different take on this year's budget cuts: "Did they need to cut $12 million last year? No way."
The accounting professor is a guy named Howard Bunsis, who teaches at Eastern Michigan University and is active in AAUP, the nationwide group of university professors. UNCG faculty (its AAUP chapter and Faculty Senate, to be precise), invited Bunsis to campus Friday to talk about UNCG's budget.

Online Ed Skepticism and Self-Sufficiency: Survey of Faculty Views on Technology

Inside Higher Ed
October 29th, 2014

The massive open online course craze may have subsided, but the debate about the role of online courses in higher education persists. Even as more faculty members experiment with online education, they continue to fear that the record-high number of students taking those classes are receiving an inferior experience to what can be delivered in the classroom, Inside Higher Ed’s new Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology suggests. 
Gallup surveyed 2,799 faculty members and 288 academic technology administrators this August and September on issues identified by Inside Higher Ed. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

Charges Are Dropped Against Fired Employees at UNC-Greensboro

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 30th, 2014

Prosecutors have agreed to drop felony charges against three former employees of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who were fired for allegedly using university equipment to operate a freelance photography business. The firings sparked faculty unrest over the treatment of the three, who worked in university relations.
Two photographers, Chris English and David Wilson, will see their charges dropped in six months if they each pay restitution to the university and complete 40 hours of community service. Lyda Carpen, who supervised them, saw all charges against her dropped.

Dartmouth and Stanford Apologize After a Political-Science Experiment Gone Wrong

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 29th, 2014

A joint letter from the presidents of Stanford University and Dartmouth College will be sent to nearly 100,000 Montana voters to apologize for an experiment by three political-science professors at the two institutions. The letter comes after voters and state officials objected to a mailer, sent by the professors, that featured the state’s official seal and offered information about the political leanings of candidates for the state’s Supreme Court as part of an attempt to see whether such information would alter how Montanans voted.
The experiment has been condemned by other researchers in the field as unwise and perhaps unethical. Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard University, told Talking Points Memo that the research struck her as a "lapse in judgment."
The apology letter, which will cost the universities around $50,000 to send out, asks voters to ignore the mailer and states that "no research study should risk disrupting an election."
Which should go without saying, but in this case apparently had to be said.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How They Made It to the Top

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 27th, 2014

David A. Thomas wrote the book on how to get an executive-level job if you’re an African-American man. Mr. Thomas is dean of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Earlier in his career, he spent four years at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, followed by 21 years at Harvard Business School as a professor and associate dean. He holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Yale University.
As he built that career, Mr. Thomas had a template to follow: his own research. His 1999 book, Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America, written with John J. Gabarro, compared the trajectories of minority employees with those of white employees, looking for differences in success patterns and other factors that help make or break careers.

Town and Gown: What Great Cities Can Teach Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 20th, 2014

Cities and colleges are more alike than people think. Both are considered economic engines that also offer rites of passage and an escape from parochialism. Both host sports teams and their own police forces. Recently the overwhelming debts run up by cities and by students have forced themselves on the public’s attention. Yet despite the significant woes of Detroit and the impending bankruptcies of other American cities, no one is expecting urban living to disappear or be radically transformed. Higher education, however, is not so lucky.
Some doomsayers predict the rise of a completely online educational system, spurred by the spread of massive open online courses. Telecommuting did not destroy cities, but many fear it will do so to colleges.
In the 1970s, some critics thought that cities were finished. There was nothing you could get in a city that could not be found in a suburb, at least nothing you would want. With the advent of telecommuting in the 90s, even Bill Gates championed a new exurban existence. Home offices would replace office buildings just as shopping malls replaced downtown department stores.

You Don’t Do Politics?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 28th, 2014



A recent Faculty Senate vote on a departmental restructuring at my university got my attention even before the debate turned contentious. The restructuring proposal seemed completely practical and straightforward to me (I’ll spare you the details as they are only of interest internally). Asked for my advice before the vote, I encouraged a colleague supportive of the proposal to engage in extensive conversation before it hit the Senate floor. And, most important: I suggested making a special effort to communicate with those Senate members known for being especially suspicious about change.
“The rationale makes sense,” I said, “you just need to make sure everyone understands why this would be beneficial.”
The organizers secured the support of Senate leadership in advance of the meeting, but they neglected to “educate” the other members of the Senate. The issue was put before the membership cold and it was not received warmly. While an adequate number of votes was eventually secured, the process to achieve that was painful and protracted. “Line up the votes before you get in the room” -- Rule No. 12 of The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook -- was broken that day. The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook does not actually exist, but if it did, it would contain a full chapter on how to ensure that no debate of significance occurs inside formal meetings.


A recent Faculty Senate vote on a departmental restructuring at my university got my attention even before the debate turned contentious. The restructuring proposal seemed completely practical and straightforward to me (I’ll spare you the details as they are only of interest internally). Asked for my advice before the vote, I encouraged a colleague supportive of the proposal to engage in extensive conversation before it hit the Senate floor. And, most important: I suggested making a special effort to communicate with those Senate members known for being especially suspicious about change.
“The rationale makes sense,” I said, “you just need to make sure everyone understands why this would be beneficial.”
The organizers secured the support of Senate leadership in advance of the meeting, but they neglected to “educate” the other members of the Senate. The issue was put before the membership cold and it was not received warmly. While an adequate number of votes was eventually secured, the process to achieve that was painful and protracted. “Line up the votes before you get in the room” -- Rule No. 12 of The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook -- was broken that day. The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook does not actually exist, but if it did, it would contain a full chapter on how to ensure that no debate of significance occurs inside formal meetings.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/774-you-don-t-do-politics#sthash.TXVFyGuW.dpuf