Posts tagged ‘perception of university’
Diana Franklin has just published a new book with Morgan & Claypool, A Practical Guide to Gender Diversity for Computer Science Faculty. This is exciting to see. I can’t recommend it yet, just because I haven’t read it. What’s great is that it’s a book on how to teach computing — and there are just far too few of those. Other than the Logo books and the Guide to Teaching CS (from Orit Hazzan et al.), there’s not much to help new CS teachers. So glad that Diana has written this book!
Computer science faces a continuing crisis in the lack of females pursuing and succeeding in the field. Companies may suffer due to reduced product quality, students suffer because educators have failed to adjust to diverse populations, and future generations suffer due to a lack of role models and continued challenges in the environment. In this book, we draw on the latest research in sociology, psychology, and education to first identify why we should be striving for gender diversity (beyond social justice), refuting misconceptions about the differing potentials between females and males. We then provide a set of practical types (with brief motivations) for improving your work with undergraduates taking your courses. This is followed by in-depth discussion of the research behind the tips, presenting obstacles that females face in a number of areas. Finally, we provide tips for advising undergraduate independent projects or graduate students, supporting female faculty, and initiatives requiring action at the institutional level (department or above).
Interesting results! My President is gung-ho on MOOCs (e.g., sending email out saying that half of the University System of Georgia schools will cease to exist in their current form over the next five years), as is my Provost and my Dean (who sends articles about MOOCs to the faculty weekly). Maybe that’s not so common?
“Based on these findings, it’s clear that the U.Va. situation is just a canary in the coal mine,” said Brandon H. Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. “College presidents, writ large, are extremely skeptical about the value of MOOCs as it relates to reducing cost, improving quality, and even expanding reach. And with governing boards that have strong business backgrounds and have been reading all of Clay Christensen’s writing about how online education and MOOCs will change the world, there’s bound to be big clashes ahead at most — not just some — institutions.”
Semester Online sounded like a nice idea — getting liberal arts focused institutions to share their online course offerings. The pushback is interesting and reflects some of the issues that have been raised about sustainability of online education as a replacement for face-to-face learning or even as an additional resource.
While Dr. Lange saw the consortium as expanding the courses available to Duke students, some faculty members worried that the long-term effect might be for the university to offer fewer courses — and hire fewer professors. Others said there had been inadequate consultation with the faculty.
When 2U, the online education platform that would host the classes, announced Semester Online last year, it named 10 participants, including Duke, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest — none of which will be offering courses this fall. “Schools had to go through their processes to determine how they were going to participate,” said Chance Patterson, a 2U spokesman, “and some decided to wait or go in another direction.”
Useful piece that helps to explain how the US can be doing so well in terms of education and so awful at the same time. The problem is our enormous variance, in part explain by our enormous size. Averages are way different than individuals.
Part of this is easy to explain: The United States is big. Very big. And it’s a far bigger country than the other members of the OECD. We claim roughly 27 percent of the group’s 15-to-19-year-olds. Japan, in contrast, has a smidge over 7 percent. So in reading and in science, we punch above our weight by just a little, while in math we punch below.
But the point remains: In two out of three subjects, Americans are over-represented among the best students.
If we have so many of the best minds, why are our average scores so disappointingly average? As Rutgers’s Hal Salzman and Georgetown’s B. Lindsay Lowell, who co-authored the EPI report, noted in a 2008 Nature article, our high scorers are balanced out by an very large number of low scorers. Our education system, just like our economy, is polarized.
I’m guessing that the regents at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign does not think that “the end of the University” is near. At least, not in the next five to seven years.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced this week that it would hire about 500 new full-time, tenure-track faculty members in the next five to seven years.
The hiring spree follows years of budget shortfalls that limited hiring at the university, including one year in which hiring was frozen campuswide. University officials now want to restore the total number of full-time faculty members to a level closer to what the campus had in 2007, just before the recession hit.
The hires will be made in two ways, said Barbara J. Wilson, executive vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. Some new hires will fill traditional roles in academic departments. Others will be hired in clusters.
The “cluster hires,” Ms. Wilson said, will be sorted into the six areas that have been identified by the university’s “Visioning Future Excellence at Illinois” project, an effort begun by the chancellor to map out the university’s needs for the future. The review focused on two questions: “What are society’s most pressing issues?” and “What distinctive and signature role can Illinois play in addressing those issues in the next 20 to 50 years?”
Rich DeMillo emphasizes in his book Abelard to Apple that higher education institutions need to differentiate themselves, to avoid being a commodity. I think Amherst College is doing that, in being articulate in their core values and choosing not to partner with any MOOC companies.
“It’s not something they reject totally,” Martin said in a telephone interview, referring to the faculty’s online ambitions. “They just don’t want to do it right now through a firm that may or may not end up allowing us to do what our core values suggest we do in the form of teaching and learning.”
When I read about the burgeoning applications to colleges, I’m reminded of the claim that college degrees aren’t worth anything and that higher education is completely broken.
Stanford offered admission to 2,210 students via electronic notification today, producing – at 5.69 percent – the lowest admit rate in University history.…On Thursday, several peer institutions also reported historically low admit rates. Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton admitted 5.8, 6.72, 6.89 and 7.29 percent of applicants respectively.
Would love to be in London on 12 June to hear this debate! The blurb describing the debate does a balanced job of laying out the questions.
“This house believes that Academic Education will never meet the skills needs of the IT Profession”
‘Universities are failing to educate graduates with the skills we need’ – this is the oft heard complaint by employers of IT graduates. Does the problem start in school with the dire state of ICT teaching and assessment at GCSE and A Level? Should academia be trying to produce graduates with only ‘employable skills’ that have a shelf life of at best a couple of years? Are employers really expecting universities to produce a mature, rounded professional with 20 years experience straight out of university? Is it reasonable to expect Academia to bridge the skills gap when employers are not prepared to provide a robust career path for IT professionals?
David Brooks considers the role of the university in today’s society in the United States, and how those responsibilities might be shared across online and face-to-face education. A more reasonable response than the MOOCopalypse. Recommended.
Are universities mostly sorting devices to separate smart and hard-working high school students from their less-able fellows so that employers can more easily identify them? Are universities factories for the dissemination of job skills? Are universities mostly boot camps for adulthood, where young people learn how to drink moderately, fornicate meaningfully and hand things in on time?My own stab at an answer would be that universities are places where young people acquire two sorts of knowledge, what the philosopher Michael Oakeshott called technical knowledge and practical knowledge.
Of all the open learning movement initiatives, this may be the most important. The credit hour is a poor measure of learning-attained. It’s too large a grain size to be important as a measure of instruction. Moving to competencies (whatever that may end up being) is a move in the right direction, in terms of facilitating our ability to measure the amount of learning and the amount of teaching effort involved in an education program.
The U.S. Department of Education has endorsed competency-based education with the release today of a letter that encourages interested colleges to seek federal approval for degree programs that do not rely on the credit hour to measure student learning.
Department officials also said Monday that they will give a green light soon to Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America, which would be the first to attempt the “direct assessment” of learning – meaning no link to the credit hour – and also be eligible for participation in federal financial aid programs.
One of the positive benefits of MOOCs is that a lot of faculty and administration are exploring educational innovations with technology. When teachers explore how to facilitate learning, improved teaching and learning is likely to result. One of the problems is that many of these teachers and administrators are deciding that MOOCs and other open learning resources are the best bets for addressing educational problems. They are buying into the belief that open learning is the best that there is (or, perhaps, the only thing that they found) and into the associated beliefs (e.g., that existing educational systems are ineffective and unsustainable, that “everyone already knows that a college degree means next to nothing“). Those of us who do educational technology research and don’t do MOOCs are likely in for a stretch where our work will be under-appreciated, or simply ignored. The AI community talks about their “AI Winter.” Let’s call this the Open Learning Winter.
Regular readers of this blog (and I’m grateful that you are here!) know that I’ve been doing a good bit of traveling the last few months. From MIT and Stanford, to Indiana and SIGCSE, I’ve had the opportunity to hear lots of people talk about the educational innovations that they are exploring, why they have decided on MOOCs and other open learning resources, and what they think about those of us who are not building MOOCs. The below are paraphrased snippets of some of these conversations (i.e., some of the parts of these quotes are literally cut-and-paste from email/notes, while other parts are me condensing the conversation into a single quote representing what I heard):
- “You do ebooks? Don’t you know about Connexions? Why not just do Connexions books? Do you think that student interactivity with the ebook really matters?”
- ”You’re making ebooks instead of MOOCs? That’s really interesting. Are you building a delivery platform now? One that can scale to 100K students this Fall?” As if that’s the only thing that counts — when no one even considered that scale desirable even a couple years ago.
- “Ebooks will never work for learning. You can’t ask them to read. Students only want video.”
- “Anchored Collaboration sounds interesting. Can I do it with Piazza? No? Then it’s not really useful to anyone, is it?”
- “Why should we want to provide resources to state universities? Don’t you know that all of their programs are going to die?”
- NSF Program officer at CCC MROE Workshop, “We better figure out online education. All the state universities are going to close soon.”
These attitudes are not going to change quickly. People are investing in MOOCs and other open learning resources. While I do not believe that the MOOCopalypse will happen, people who do believe in it are making investments based on that belief. The MOOC-believers (perhaps MOOCopalypse survivalists?) are going to want to see their investments will pan out and will keep pursuing that agenda, in part due to the driving power of “sunk costs” (described in this well done Freakonomics podcast). That’s normal and reasonable, but it means that it will be a long time before some faculty and administrators start asking, “Is there anything other than MOOCs out there?”
I think MOOCs are a fascinating technology with great potential. I do not invest my time developing MOOCs because I believe that the opportunity cost is too high. I have had three opportunities to build a MOOC, and each time, I have decided that the work that I would be giving up is more valuable to me than the MOOC I would be producing. I do not see MOOCs addressing my interests in high school teachers learning CS, or in end-users who are learning programming to use in their work, or in making CS more diverse. It may be that universities will be replaced by online learning, but I don’t think that they’ll all look like MOOCs. I’m working on some of those non-MOOC options.
Researchers like me, who do educational technology but don’t do MOOCs, need to get ready to hunker down. Research funding may become more scarce since there are MOOCopalypse survivalists at NSF and other funding agencies. University administrators are going to be promoting and focusing attention on their pet MOOC projects, not on the non-believers who are doing something else. (Because we should realize that there won’t be anything else!) There will probably be fewer graduate students working in non-MOOC areas of educational technology. Most of the potential PhD students who contacted me during this last application cycle were clear about how important MOOCs were to them and the research that they wanted to do.
We need to learn to live with MOOCs, even if we don’t do MOOCs. Here are a couple of the hunkering down strategies I’ve been developing:
- While I don’t want to spend the time to build a MOOC, I am interested in being involved in analysis of MOOC data. It’s not clear how much data Coursera or Udacity will ever release (and why isn’t edX releasing data — they’re a non-profit!), but I see a great value in understanding MOOCs. We might also learn lessons that can be applied in other areas of educational innovation with technology.
- My colleagues involved in MOOCs at Georgia Tech have told me that we have the rights to re-use GT MOOC materials (e.g., all the video that has been collected). That might be a source of interesting materials for my research. For example, my colleague Jim Foley suggested that I might re-purpose video from a MOOC to create an ebook on the same content that might be usefully contrasted in a study.
I can’t predict just how long the Open Learning Winter might be. Given the height of the hype curve associated with MOOCs and the depth of the pockets of the early adopters, I suspect that it’s going to be quite a long, cold winter. Make sure that you have lots of jerky on-hand — and hope that it’s just winter and not an Ice Age.
The article from The Chronicle referenced below helped convince me that the MOOCopalypse is unlikely to happen. The MOOCopalypse is the closing of most of American universities (“over half” said one of our campus leaders recently) because of MOOCs. The Chronicle piece is about the professors currently offering MOOCs, and the survey (at left) is only with MOOC providers.
The first and greatest challenge to the MOOCopalypse is economic. It’s a huge cost to produce MOOCs — not just on the professors making the MOOCs, but on all their colleagues who have to cover the teaching and service that the MOOC-makers aren’t providing. For what benefit? Most of the MOOC professors talk about the huge impact, about a “one to two to three magnitudes” greater impact. Not clear to me how universities can take that to the bank. Unlike fame from a great result or influential paper, MOOC fame doesn’t obviously lead to greater funding opportunities.
There is currently no revenue from MOOCs. It is not reducing the number of students who need to be taught, nor the amount of service needed to run the place. It may be reducing the amount of research (and research funding) that the MOOC providers may have provided. MOOC professors who see that MOOCs may reduce the costs to students are consequently predicting fewer tuition dollars flowing into their institutions. Literally, I do not see that the benefits of MOOCs outweigh their costs.
In all, the extra work took a toll. Most respondents said teaching a MOOC distracted them from their normal on-campus duties.
“I had almost no time for anything else,” said Geoffrey Hinton, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto.
“My graduate students suffered as a consequence,” he continued. “It’s equivalent to volunteering to supply a textbook for free and to provide one chapter of camera-ready copy every week without fail.”
The second reason why the MOOCopalypse is unlikely is because those predicting the closing of community colleges and state universities do not understand the ecology of these institutions and how they are woven into the fabric of their communities.
- This year, I chair the computing and information system technologies (CIST) advisory board of local Chattahoochee Technical College. Most of the advisory board draws on local industry, the people who hire CTC’s graduates. They have a say in what gets taught, by describing what they need. How do you replicate that interchange with MOOCs?
- I have had the opportunity to visit several institutions in the University System of Georgia through “Georgia Computes!” At Albany State University, they teach the standard computing courses, but the languages and tools they use are drawn from ones that the local industry needs. At Columbus State University, they teach content that local Fort Benning needs for the military personnel and employees. Courses are set up to meet the logistical needs of the military at Fort Benning. Why would the MOOC provider-professors at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, or Toronto want to meet any of those needs?
My third reason why I believe the MOOCopalypse is unlikely is based on a prediction about the technology. I do not believe that MOOCs are going to dramatically increase their completion rates (even with degree options and accreditation schemes like Accredible.com) ,and I do not believe that MOOCs will be successful in teaching the majority of students. Funders of higher education (e.g., parents and legislators) and consumers of higher education products (e.g., employers) are not going accept the closing of state universities in favor of an option that fewer students graduate from and that produces weaker graduates. We are already hearing the pushback against the plans to move community college courses into MOOCs in The Chronicle. I can believe that some universities may close, but I cannot believe that we as a nation would willingly embrace the closing of a not-great but underfunded educational system for a markedly worse one.
I’m reminded of the A Nation at Risk report and the claim ”If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” That report was about primary and secondary school education. The MOOCopalypse would be an act of war on higher education.
Nice essay, but particularly interesting with the commentary that follows. Siva Vaidhyanathan raises issue of the role of government in education and in supporting the agendas of education start-ups.
This is a very helpful essay that does a good job working through many of the issues surrounding MOOCs. I wish you had considered, however, the problem raised by the political economy of MOOCs-via-corporation: UC makes MOOCs at a high cost per MOOC (and no faculty compensation); UC donates them to Udacity or Coursera; Udacity charges Cal State for their use in courses meant for those who need and deserve the best teaching, not just the latest experimental teaching. The state pays twice. Udacity walks away laughing.
The Computing Research Association conducts an annual survey of US doctorate-granting departments in Computing, called the Taulbee Survey. It’s an important resource for understanding the state of computing education in the United States, but only gives the research-focused side of the picture. The ACM has launched an effort to do a similar survey of the-rest-of-us (hence it’s original name, “TauRUs,” Taulbee for the Rest of Us). Please do help to get the word out so that we can get a clearer picture of US post-secondary computing education.
As of last week, the NDC Survey of Non-Doctoral Granting Departments in Computing (all U.S., not-for-profit bachelor’s and master’s programs in CE, CS, IS, IT, SE), previously known as TauRUs, is live. We have gone out to our list of qualifying schools, but we can use YOUR help in getting the word out so we can get to those who may have been left off the mailing, and those who might “forget” to participate! Among other benefits, there is a drawing for five $2,500 grants for the respondents’ departments!
Here is an informational flyer you can share with your colleagues in the non-doctoral computing program community:
There will also be an announcement in SIGCSE welcome bags and its listserv.
The latest issue of Computing Research News has a report from CRA-E (their Education subcommittee) on where CS PhD’s come from. Research universities, institutions that stop at Masters degrees, four year colleges, or top liberal arts institutions? Turns out the answer is that the vast majority of CS PhD’s get their undergraduate degrees from research universities, but the sum of the PhD’s who get their undergraduate degrees from the top 25 liberal arts institutions is greater than any single research institution. There’s also evidence that the research universities produce better graduate students, using NSF fellowships as the quality metric. That was quite unexpected — I would have guessed that the four years and the liberal arts institutions would have played a much greater role.
In 2010, 1665 Ph.D.’s were awarded in computer science of which 714 went to domestic students. Approximately 71% of the domestic Ph.D.’s received their undergraduate degrees from research universities, 15% from master’s institutions, 11% from four-year colleges, and 4% from other colleges. These proportions have remained essentially unchanged since 2000 with all four types seeing similar increases since 2005.