Tag Archives: academia

What I’m reading 26 Mar 2017 through 29 Mar 2017

What I’m reading 13 Feb 2016 through 20 Feb 2016

bookmarks for May 11th, 2013 through May 18th, 2013

bookmarks for March 25th, 2013 through March 28th, 2013

whither BSU?

I read on the boards today our past and our future.

Martin Weller is coming face to face with the inequities that tuition burdens place on students, as he discusses here.

… The higher education sector in the UK was a widely respected, profitable and functioning system. It was by no means perfect and certainly wasn’t efficient, but it worked. I appreciate it worked because it was funded to an extent by the UK taxpayer, but even in hard economic terms, this shift from Government debt to private debt doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Not all debt is equal – Government debt can be long term and at low interest rates. Private debt creates a liquidity trap in times of economic crisis, because individuals seek to reduce their debt and thus don’t contribute to growth, thereby creating more debt. And a nation’s debt is best measured by combining Government debt, financial institutional debt, and personal debt. Shifting it to individuals then doesn’t reduce the overall debt, it just increases the damage it does to your economic outlook.

We’ve seen the tuition gap spreading in the States over the past 15 years or so, Martin. It gets worse as they privatize the student loan sector. Administrative costs rise. Faculty pay is cut. But worst of all, education becomes too expensive first for students to explore, and then too expensive to engage full time. The kicker comes when they ask the universities to re-work the curriculum so that students can finish a four-year degree in three years. Why? To keep the cost down. The cost they created by shifting funding away from student tuition.

And George Siemens publishes an open letter to Canadian Universities detailing their lack of leadership. As opportunities for education are created by Canadian faculty (MOOCs), the leadership turns south, to the US.

Canadian universities are squandering an opportunity to reply meaningfully to Coursera and EDx. I’m aware of at least two major Canadian universities that are negotiating to join Coursera. Why give not develop your own? Why not create an active experiment in a Canadian context that allows you to build your understanding of emerging learning models?

This is just as spooky as needless tuition increases, but to be expected. It’s a signal that MOOCs will be appropriated as a corporate product. They are using the pseudo-MOOC to sneak mass tuition in by the back door.

Leaders, but no leadership. In desparation, I blame the bankers. Black Friday’s comin’ back.


bookmarks for May 6th, 2011 through May 9th, 2011

reminder: you can’t force the brand – in class or out

RideDigital natives, aka Millenials, are defined along marketing lines, an approach which may serve university PR and recruitment (to an extent – as long as you don’t push student expectations beyond classroom realities) but is inappropriate for teaching and learning. Never mind the limited sample that is the basis of characterizing Millennials; and never mind the clear stereotyping of the group. The Chronicle covered all that back in October, 2009. And never mind the mid-20th century Mad Ave mindset behind characterizing a homogenous audience in a time of fragmentation: Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus takes that down a notch. (And see also a marketing perspective on the implications of Shirky’s thesis from Jason Falls.)

Instead, consider this: The Millennial group rates their computer expertise higher than they perform.

Second, consider the argument I’ve heard more than once: “Students don’t need courses that deal with computers or the internet. They’ve grown up with that. They know all that.” The fallacy in that argument should be obvious to those of us who grew up with television.

Third, consider that a university’s marketing perspective often drives administrative decisions on programs and courses, in part directly, and in part through local PR, and by defining The One True Story the university is supposed to tell the world.

Well, it does at my university, anyway.

So, here’s The Read Write Web on So-Called “Digital Natives” Not Media Savvy

Having been born into a world where personal computers were not a revolution, but merely existed alongside air conditioning, microwaves and other appliances, there has been (a perhaps misguided) perception that the young are more digitally in-tune with the ways of the Web than others.

A new study coming out of Northwestern University, discovered that college students have a decided lack of Web savvy, especially when it comes to search engines and the ability to determine the credibility of search results. Apparently, the students favor search engine rankings above all other factors. The only thing that matters is that something is the top search result, not that it’s legit.

The article mentioned is from The International Journal of Communication: “Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content,” by Hargittai, Fullerton, Menchen-Trevino, and Yates Tomas. Here’s the abstract, and the link:

We find that the process by which users arrive at a site is an important component of how they judge the final destination. In particular, search context, branding and routines, and a reliance on those in one’s networks play important roles in online information-seeking and evaluation. We also discuss that users differ considerably in their skills when it comes to judging online content credibility.

This is the kind of information faculty and administrators need when designing programs and courses – and even the direction of the university – not the marketing orientation. This is the kind of information that drives course design, class and online interaction, knowledge making, and all the other high-minded features we ascribe to our decisions.

Night in PhilidelphiaAnd, finally, a reminder from Falls – not just for Communications and Marketing but for faculty thinking that Social is this Season’s Black (yeah, including me).

The bad news for marketers is that Shirky’s examples quietly illustrate that we can’t force meaningful social activities. They happen organically, if not accidentally. So instead of trying to build branded communities and produce “viral” videos, our best bet is to just be hanging around when something cool happens and be there, not conducting the train.

Faculty can’t force the social, either. Have some more sushi. I’ll be in the corner, reading.