“Worth Reading” is a hand-picked weekly collection of new and not-so-new articles, ideas, events and other items for busy professionals in higher education.
Community Colleges are becoming more central to US education policy. This may be simply due to the fact that they are so central to the desire (within the Obama administration, particularly) to increase the rate of post-secondary participation. Here, the New York Times highlights the way that community colleges are often seen as second-class.
Excerpt: “I heard it again, another community college putdown. This one came from an educator explaining criteria for high school graduation. She followed her summary with these words to her audience of parents and incoming freshmen: “So that’s the minimum requirement. But here’s what you should take if you want to go to real college — you know, not community college.”
Always interesting, the Babson Report for 2014 is now available. One of the results attracting attention is the significant divide between faculty belief (interest?) in online education and the importance of the online format to the university’s leadership. Worth a look.
Excerpt: “Is Online Learning Strategic?
Background: Previous reports in this series noted the proportion of institutions that believe that online education is a critical component of their long-term strategy has shown small but steady increases for a decade, followed by a retreat in 2013.
The evidence: The proportion of academic leaders who report that online learning is critical to their institution’s long term strategy has grown from 48.8% in 2002 to 70.8% this year. ! The proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is at an all-time high. ! For-profit institutions account for the change for 2014; for the first time ever they are reporting a higher rate than public institutions. ! The proportion of institutions reporting online education is not critical to their long-term strategy has dropped to a new low of 8.6%. ”
APLU is presenting the HBCU Conference in June 2015. This is crucial time in the evolution of these institutions. We’ll be attending.
Excerpt: ” . . . over 250 HBCU senior level administrators, students, faculty and staff to learn about best practices and develop strategies for historically Black institutions to improve student success.”
The deadline for submitting proposals is March 15. More information available here.
File under “Technology: Wow.” A study conducted at Stanford University suggests that computers can be remarkably accurate measurements of even the most human issues: personality traits.
Excerpt: “Based on what you’ve “liked” on Facebook, computers can pin down your personality traits more accurately than your friends and colleagues can.
In fact, artificial intelligence can draw inferences about a person as accurately as a spouse, according to Michal Kosinski, co-lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.
A new study compares the ability of computers and people to make accurate judgments about our personalities. People’s judgments were based on their familiarity with the judged individual, while the computer used digital signals—Facebook “likes.”
According to Kosinski, the findings reveal that by mining a person’s Facebook “likes,” a computer was able to predict a person’s personality more accurately than most of their friends and family. Only a person’s spouse came close to matching the computer’s results.”
As noted above, faculty attitudes about instructional technology have shifted little in the last decade. The Gates Foundation recently released a study they sponsored that looks squarely at what’s behind these attitudes.
Excerpt: “To that end, we commissioned research from FTI Consulting to help us better understand how different factors influence faculty willingness to learn about and incorporate new ideas and approaches in their teaching, particularly approaches that personalize learning (such as courseware) in undergraduate education, and spread these new ideas to peers and campus leaders. The results are inspiring on a number of levels.
Most notably, the report:
- Shows that a significant proportion of faculty is open to using courseware and other innovations to improve their students’ success;
- Demonstrates very specific obstacles that faculty face in evolving their practice; and
- Illuminates approaches that colleges and others can take to help reduce or overcome those obstacles.