Thursday, October 31, 2013

Berklee College of Music launches first accredited bachelor's degree programs in music | Inside Higher Ed

October 31, 2013
The Berklee College of Music will next year become the first nonprofit institution to offer fully online accredited bachelor’s degree programs in its field. Since the online degree can only replicate so much of going to college in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, it comes with an incentive: It costs 60 percent less than a residential degree.
The move is unusual among colleges that offer both online and in-person versions of the same programs -- not simply because of the academic discipline, but also because of the substantial online discount.
Berklee’s online degrees are more than a decade in the making. The college began to offer individual noncredit courses about 11 years ago, and later bundled those courses together in certificate programs. The college has also published free content through YouTube, BitTorrent and its Berklee Shares portal, and provides massive open online courses through Coursera and edX. The two 120-credit degrees launching in fall 2014 -- music business and music production -- represent the next gradual and logical step, said Mike King, chief marketing officer at Berklee Online.
“It’s something that people have been asking for ... since we started offering single online courses. It’s taken us a while just to move in that direction,” King said. “Over all, our goal is to be able to provide a range of different options no matter how people want to experience Berklee’s curriculum.”
Berklee Online students starting next fall will pay $14,500 in tuition, compared to the $36,514 residential students pay this year (the cost of attendance for the 2014-15 year has not yet been set). But online students also save on optional charges like room and board and health insurance, which can tack on another $20,000 to the bottom line. When factoring in indirect costs like books, transportation and living expenses, the gulf between the two degree options widens to nearly $45,000. Put another way, 120 credits online could cost less than what a student pays for one year on campus.
Aside from eliminating the optional charges, the lower cost reflects Berklee's assessment that -- for these programs -- online isn't identical to in-person.
"There are things that the physical school has that we don’t,” King said. “There’s an infrastructure that happens at the physical school. If you were to come into Berklee, we’re walking by all these practice rooms, we’re walking by Studio A and Studio B -- all of those things do not exist online.”
Another intangible missing from the online school is the atmosphere. “There are plenty of reasons to come for a residential experience, not the least of which is being surrounded by 4,000 musicians every day,” said Jeanine Cowen, Berklee’s vice president for curriculum and program innovation. “There’s just no feeling like being on campus every day.”
Online collaboration tools and music software -- Berklee uses a heavily modified version of the course management system Moodle -- can emulate parts of the residential experience, King said, “but there are very real things happening here at Berklee that are very positive that we can’t do online.”
The online degrees therefore cater to musicians whose careers prevent them from moving to Boston. Applicants with professional experience can submit their portfolios and receive up to 30 prior learning credits.
“The sweet spot for this online degree are the people who have professional careers, and they’re looking for a way to extend their capacity,” Cowen said. “So they’re not looking for the quad, as you will, but they’re looking to study with these fantastic faculty members.” (Note: Cowen later clarified that Berklee does not have a quad.)
Faculty is one element shared by both arms of Berklee. Most of the instructors in the online school also teach residential courses, Cowen said.
Berklee Online settled on music business and music production due to demand, as the college has seen the number of applications to those programs almost quadruple in the past decade. There is nothing massive about the online degree programs, however. The inaugural cohort will be capped at 300 students.
The two programs were not chosen because they are easier to teach online than vocal performance, for example. In fact, King said guitar is the most popular of Berklee Online’s certificate programs.
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges will conduct a full review of the online programs in spring 2016. Degrees in arrangement, orchestration and performance are “definitely in consideration,” said Carin Nuernberg, Berklee Online’s dean of continuing education, but the expansion plans hinge on a positive review from NEASC.
Berklee faces sparse competition in the online space. The for-profit Full Sail University, which also offers a bachelor’s degree in music production, is one of few rivals. ​Its program is priced at $11,200 a semester -- more expensive than Berklee -- but only lasts for five semesters. A spokeswoman for Full Sail said the university has yet to see Berklee's entry into the market impact its application numbers.
"I think there are a lot of people who say ‘Well, how can you teach music online?’ ” Nuernberg said. “Developing the curriculum for a degree program is not something easily done -- it’s years of investment. I think those two pieces together may make anyone skittish.”

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Inside Higher Ed 

Berklee College of Music launches first accredited bachelor's degree programs in music | Inside Higher Ed

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

States Demand That Colleges Prove Their Students Are Learning - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education

At Northwest Missouri State U., students must take the Proficiency Profile, assessing their skills in math, reading, and writing. The university, among others in the state, has chosen to be evaluated on the basis of the test.
Some of the hallmarks of No Child Left Behind are creeping into higher education.
The 2002 law was intended to hold elementary and secondary schools accountable for improving the academic achievement of all students. It has come to be reviled by many teachers for what they see as a narrowing of the curriculum to the material covered on standardized tests, and for punishing schools for their students' performance.
Professors often invoke the law in objecting to calls for increased oversight—which they fear will come from the federal government or accreditors—as a cautionary tale of accountability run amok. But it is in the states, some of which are requiring colleges to demonstrate what their students are learning, that the real action is taking place.
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States Demand That Colleges Prove Their Students Are Learning - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rutgers U. graduate school faculty vote to block Pearson partnership | Inside Higher Ed

October 11, 2013
The effort to offer more graduate degree programs online at Rutgers University at New Brunswick hit a snag on Wednesday, as faculty members in the Graduate School voted to block new programs from being approved. While faculty union representatives claim a “slam-dunk victory” against corporatization, the rest of the university plans to proceed.
The clash between Rutgers’ administration and some of its faculty members resembles similar debates at other institutions. Last September, the administration signed a contract with eCollege, a Pearson division, to develop and manage online degree programs with the goal of enrolling more than 22,000 additional students by 2019. The New Brunswick campus currently enrolls about 41,500 students. Faculty members, concerned about academic freedom and intellectual property rights, on Wednesday passed a procedural roadblock that automatically withholds approval from any new program to be managed under the agreement with Pearson.
“There’s nothing about this online business model that saves students money,” said David M. Hughes, professor of anthropology. “This is not about Rutgers trying to increase the access and affordability of its offerings. In fact, it’s supposed to bring in a great deal of revenue for both Pearson and Rutgers.”
According the agreement, Pearson will receive half of the tuition revenue in the first academic year. The share drops as more students enroll; if Rutgers were to meet its 2019 enrollment goal, for example, Pearson would take 45 percent the next academic year. Hughes said a growth in enrollment and tuition revenue should be accompanied by more tenured faculty members, not corporate profits.
The resolution, which passed, 39-22, doesn’t bring the agreement to a full stop, but covers all new and existing degree programs managed by the graduate school. That includes the degrees offered by the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the Professional Science Master's Program, but not the School of Engineering or the School of Social Work, for example. Hughes estimated there are about 120 Ph.D. and master's degree programs in the School of Arts and Science alone.
“We haven’t entirely closed the barn door, but we've made it a lot narrower,” said Hughes, a member of the executive council of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents more than 6,600 faculty members there. “Symbolically what this signifies is that it’s a movement among faculty to boycott this Pearson agreement. None of it will work if faculty don’t teach under the limitations of the contract.”
In a statement, Jerome Kukor, dean of the Graduate School, said the university accepts the vote, but that degree programs not managed by the Graduate School will still be free to participate.
“The resolution approved by 39 members of the approximately 1,500 member graduate school faculty is not binding on the university,” Kukor wrote. “It was their decision to reject the option of participating in the program to develop online course offerings. The university will not ignore the vote and will implement its result -- which limits the choice for graduate programs in the Graduate School [at] New Brunswick."
Kukor said the contract was reviewed by a 15-member committee that "included a wide representation of faculty, staff and administrators from all Rutgers campuses.... Faculty unions are not part of the university's contract negotiations with vendors, but Rutgers faculty were represented and consulted throughout the entire process."
Susan Aspey, Pearson's vice president of media relations, said in a statement the company was awarded the contract after a competitive bidding process.
"In the spirit of academic freedom, faculty are free to choose the content they want for their course, including Pearson content," Aspey wrote. "All academic decisions have and continue to be made by the university."
Hughes said the faculty critics have concerns about Pearson and the university. The contract with Pearson stipulates the content featured in online courses can’t include “obscene, threatening, indecent, libelous, slanderous, defamatory or otherwise unlawful or tortious material, including material that is harmful to children” -- a clause that Hughes said could threatens faculty members' academic freedom. For example, he said he was unsure if a course on human eroticism would be deemed harmful to children, thereby violating the contract.
Pearson addressed the "obscenity clause" in a letter to Rutgers in late July. 
"The sole purpose of the contract language is to act as a safety net for Pearson in the extreme situation where Rutgers is unable to resolve the claim through its internal procedures and the user presses a claim against Pearson," the letter reads. "As a point of reference, no issue has ever reached the point where we had to consider taking that route in the 15+ years the platform has been used by universities and their students."
Faculty members have to sign a separate contract with the university to create an online course, which Hughes said strips them of their intellectual property rights. A draft of the agreement states that “Due to the particular requirements of an online program, this license specifically includes the right to have the course taught by others.”
“A lot of faculty see red when they read that,” said Hughes, who pointed out the clause would allow the university to “unbundle” the role of an instructor. In a worst-case scenario, he said faculty members could in the future be replaced by an underpaid “drone army of course facilitators” hired to teach course material created by their predecessors.
Kukor dismissed the claims in his statement. “There are no threats to academic freedom, no corporatization of Rutgers education, no influence by Pearson as to who teaches courses -- that remains solely a Rutgers decision, and there is no claim on any faculty intellectual property rights,” he wrote.
Even though the administration will not reconsider the partnership with Pearson, Hughes said the move was an invitation to debate the involvement of outside firms in online education at Rutgers.
“I think a resolution is a resolution,” Hughes said. “This may go into extra innings. The resolution was not meant as a recommendation. It was not meant as advice. It was meant as a decision.”

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Inside Higher Ed 

Rutgers U. graduate school faculty vote to block Pearson partnership | Inside Higher Ed

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Faculty Coalition: It's Time to Examine MOOC and Online Ed Profit Motives -- Campus Technology

  • By Dian Schaffhauser
  • 10/09/13
  • A coalition of faculty groups has declared war against online learning, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs), because it said it believes that the fast expansion of this form of education is being promulgated by corporations — specifically for-profit colleges and universities and education technology companies — at the expense of student education and public interest.
    The question at the heart of the battle is whether higher education is worthy of public investment or better suited to be an offering of big business. A report issued today by advocacy group Campaign for the Future of Higher Education examines the motives behind much of the current push for online education.
    The report, "The 'Promises' of Online Higher Education: Profits," examines how the rhetoric used to describe new online offerings — "innovation," "expanded access," and "reduced costs" — should be interpreted "through the lens of corporate interest and influence." Specifically, corporations and investors have a major interest in the adoption of education technology to deliver online classes.
    The challenge is communicating the role of online formats and other technological innovations in higher ed in a more nuanced way in order to make more fully informed decisions.
    The campaign coalition includes 65 faculty, student, teacher and union associations from across the United States. The stated mission of the campaign is "to guarantee that affordable quality higher education is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades; and to include the voices of the faculty, staff, students, and our communities — not just administrators, politicians, foundations, and think tanks — in the process of making change."
    According to the campaign, the report is a "first step in looking at who is making money, how much, in what ways, and with whose assistance in online higher education." Only by understanding those aspects of the evolving formats of education, the report explained, will the public be able to "assess the full 'value' of the seemingly endless stream of technologically related innovations in higher education and make the best policy decisions for the future of higher education in our country."

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    Faculty Coalition: It's Time to Examine MOOC and Online Ed Profit Motives -- Campus Technology
    Can University Administrators Nullify A Supreme Court Decision?

    They can certainly try. That’s what Defending the Freedom to Innovate: Faculty Intellectual Property (IP) Rights After Stanford v. Roche, () a newly released draft report from the AAUP, documents—the year-long effort by many of our most distinguished research universities to nullify the US Supreme Court’s historic 2011 Stanford v. Roche ruling. Spearheaded by the entire University of California system early in 2012—and since joined by public and private universities like the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois—this multicampus effort aims to take away the faculty patent rights established by two hundred years of patent law and reinforced by the nation’s highest court in 2011.

    In Stanford v. Roche, the Court ruled against a coalition of universities that had been asserting that the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act not only gave institutions the right to own faculty inventions but also mandated they do so. Faced with a firm rejection of this claim, many institutions responded by trying to nullify the decision. They typically chose one of two routes: either making all faculty sign a new form giving away all present and future patent rights or simply declaring university ownership on a campus website.
    Faculty are beginning to protest, but many are afraid of retaliation. Interestingly, the dispute is not about money. For decades most universities recognized that faculty members owned their inventions and had the right to decide whether they should be commercialized. If they were marketed, a faculty inventor and the campus would usually share any profits. That is still the case. But faculty are losing the power to decide whether and how their inventions should be disseminated. And that right is covered by academic freedom.

    The dispute is no longer only about patents. The MOOC revolution is leading some institutions to demand ownership of online instructional materials as well. For generations, course lectures were covered by copyright and owned by faculty unless they voluntarily chose to grant ownership to their university. As the AAUP’s draft report points out, all a university needs is a license to distribute an online course, but many are pressing unnecessarily for ownership as well.

    The AAUP is launching an educational campaign to inform faculty about their rights and to encourage faculty senates and contract negotiating teams to secure the rights the Supreme Court has confirmed. There is no evidence that university administrators understand inventions better than faculty members do. The AAUP believes the public good is better served by those who know these scholarly products best deciding whether to give them away for free or seek commercialization.

    The draft report—and supporting documentation—is available at It will be followed by a January 2014 book to be published by the AAUP and distributed by the University of Illinois Press, Recommended Principles to Guide Academy-Industry Relationships.

    Cary Nelson, chair, subcommittee on intellectual property
    Henry Reichman, chair, Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure

    Tuesday, October 8, 2013

    Survey compares views of graduate students at unionized and non-unionized campuses | Inside Higher Ed

    October 8, 2013
    Graduate student unionization is very much in the news these days, with the National Labor Relations Board expected to rule soon on whether graduate assistants may unionize at private universities. New York University on Friday offered a deal to the United Auto Workers unit organizing graduate students at the university under which NYU would accept a vote on a teaching assistant union but not a research assistant union. The debates over unions frequently deal with whether the nature of the student-faculty relationship deteriorates with collective bargaining, and whether unionized graduate students earn more.
    Currently, there are no private universities with graduate student unions. But many public universities have them, and the authors of a paper released this year surveyed similar graduate students at universities with and without unions about pay and also the student-faculty relationship. The study found unionized graduate students earn more, on average. And on various measures of student-faculty relations, the survey found either no difference or (in some cases) better relations at unionized campuses.
    The paper (abstract available here) appears in ILR Review, published by Cornell University.
    "These findings suggest that potential harm to faculty-student relationships and academic freedom should not continue to serve as bases for the denial of collective bargaining rights to graduate student employees," says the paper, by Sean E. Rogers, assistant professor of management at New Mexico State University; Adrienne E. Eaton, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University; and Paula B. Voos, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers.
    For their study, the researchers surveyed graduate students at four unionized and four non-unionized universities. Each unionized university was paired with a similar institution, based on geography, size and research spending. The unionized campuses all had been using collective bargaining since at least 1983, so they were campuses were the culture of graduate student relations had not recently been changed by a union election. The graduate students interviewed crossed disciplinary categories -- with 695 graduate students providing enough information for the project to use.
    When controlling for a range of factors (discipline, campus, etc.), the study found unionized graduate students earned more, and were more likely to report that they were paid fairly.
    Much of the study focuses on student-faculty relations, and whether -- as union critics fear -- the presence of collective bargaining turns a mentoring relationship into an adversarial one. The graduate students were asked to respond to a series of statements about their professors as a measure of how they perceived their relationships. On many issues, there were not statistically significant differences. But on a number, the differences pointed to better relations at unionized campuses. Unionized graduate students were more likely than others to say their advisers accepted them as professionals, served as role models for them and were effective in their roles.
    Via e-mail, Rogers said that even if many ratings of professors were the same in union and non-union environments, that backs the idea that collective bargaining need not end supportive student-faculty relationships. And he notes that past studies have made similar findings with regard to professors' experiences. He said that NYU professors may well view unions negatively, but that this study suggests the potential for long-term positive relations.
    Rogers currently teaches at a university without faculty unions. But he was a graduate student at Rutgers, where his co-authors teach, and where grad students and faculty members are unionized. "We simply wanted to test what the NLRB and others have been projecting about grad unionization for 30-odd years." he said. The researchers are now doing a larger study to see if their findings hold when more campuses are included.

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    Inside Higher Ed 

    Survey compares views of graduate students at unionized and non-unionized campuses | Inside Higher Ed