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Twitter launches ‘Twitter University’, acquires open source training company Marakana.

Twitter launches ‘Twitter University’, acquires open source training company Marakana. | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Learning at Twitter just took a giant leap forward.

After spending the last few months working with open source training company Marakana on developing an internal training and education ...

Via Cendrine Marrouat - www.socialmediaslant.com
Don Westerheijden's insight:

It's asking for bad jokes even more than a McDonald's University, about *very* short training courses, but it's interesting to note: Twitter sets up training for its own engineers, buys the company that provided it, opens it up for others, and calls it a 'university'.

'What's in a name?' is one reaction, the other might be: can customers/students still trust the name 'university' as a place for broad education ('Bildung', in German) rather than vocational training? What are the qualities of learning in Twitter University as compared to a 'traditional' one? I'm not saying that Twitter University is bad per se, rather that it puts up a challenge to 'traditional' universities to show that they offer *more* and *better* to students.

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New America report takes aim at private college lobby on student unit record system | Inside Higher Ed

New America report takes aim at private college lobby on student unit record system | Inside Higher Ed | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Don Westerheijden's insight:

The discussion in the USA continues: should students know about retention and success rates of the colleges they might enrol in, or should they be guarded against being in another governmental database that other governmental agencies hove been shown to find irresistible to leave alone? Did they ever discuss the option of data on retention and completion published by the colleges, but checked by auditors? (Maybe this is old hat, but sometimes old hats look new again.)

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How Do You Embed Measurement, Minus The Red Tape?

How Do You Embed Measurement, Minus The Red Tape? | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
One of my Measure Up subscribers, Ben, is a performance professional in a large private sector company, with this question: "How do we embed measurement in an organisation without creating red tape?
Don Westerheijden's insight:

'It's the culture, stupid!' is the answer Ms. Barr gives to this question. And she promotes her tool to get a dialogue going to help instill commitment to performance measurement (implying: this is culture). A dialogue is a start, I agree, though a one-time discussion falls far short of a sustained culture, of course. It needs constant attention to maintain commitment to a culture, I guess. Is that less costly than red tape? (I hope so!)

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University Ranking Watch: Ranking News

Don Westerheijden's insight:

Interesting observation: participation in the THE reputation survey has dropped substantially in 2013. With 10,500 respondents it was more than 1/3 less than in the two previous years. Are HE staff opting out consciously?

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University Rankings and Jacques Ellul's concept of “technique ...

University Rankings and Jacques Ellul's concept of “technique ... | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Currently I find myself doing work on world university rankings (Times Higher, ARWU, QS, etc.) and with all the reading of policy and academic papers, fatigue is starting to set in. It seems that rankings are a Good Thing, ...

Via Carles Viladiu
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Interesting take on rankings, coming form a French philosophical background. But the point is in the author's proposal for valuing higher education at different levels: institutions (as in current rankings), activities within them (education and research; with stress on peer review for their evaluations), and higher education systems (as in the Universitas21 ranking—or OECD and World Economic Forum approaches, one might add). 

Good, in this blog post, to focus on the goals/ideals for which such information could be put to use: an efficient market, and democratic ideals of legitimacy and freedom.

Of course, one could try to ask the meta question: why these ideals/goals instead of others? But let's be more focused.

Which market(s)? My guess: first, we need a mechanism to match students and study programmes (content, level, teaching/learning approaches, career outlook), so we need evaluations at the degree/diploma level of these elements. Second, there are markets for different types of research, ranging from fundamental 'blue skies' research (more offered than demanded—as usual with collective goods) to applied research (much more of an individual good benefiting a single principal). These would require different types of information. Scientific publication and impact—the core of current research evaluations—are focused on fundamental research.

Rankings of the meso level are relevant to insititutional leaders searching for benchmarking partners, and for policy-makers who distribute money to institutions as a whole.

System-level rankings are where the democratic values come into play: is the higher education system serving its society? If we still can definine 'society': is it the aggregate of localities/regions where institutions are located and have spil-over effects on the economy and society, is it the federal state or nation-state, or is it the world region (European Union, for instance), even the global society as a whole, with the increasing traffic of students (physically or through using MOOCs) and research outcomes (knowledge read and used everywhere)?

Lots of questions! WIsh I had time to write another article on some of them.. 

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Education Department kicks off public hearings on college ratings system | Inside Higher Ed

Education Department kicks off public hearings on college ratings system | Inside Higher Ed | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Don Westerheijden's insight:

At first announcement, I found the college ratings proposed by the Obama adminsitration sympathetic. Hearings now underway show that implementing a sympathetic idea without creating undesired side-effects is not simple. For instance, one comment in the public hearing, reported in 'Inside Higher Ed', was a: 'concern that underprivileged students would be denied access to education if they were to live in a community where local colleges performed poorly in the ratings system and they therefore received less federal aid' 

Let's see how adminsitrators handle that one. Anyhow, funding effects would not ensue until 2018; they have some time to find workarounds for this--and probably many other--unwanted side-effects.


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International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence - Introduction and Invitation

International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence - Introduction and Invitation | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Conference announcement for the professional rankers of universities. I find it suspicious that they agree to be co-organised by one of the ranking organizations that they have given a kite-mark recently.  Where is the Observatory's independence, which they would need to award credible kite-marks?

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What we should ask on student feedback forms

What we should ask on student feedback forms | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Felipe Fernández-Armesto on the inanity of questionnaires assessing teaching
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Indeed: 'They never ask: “Did the course change your mind?..." '

While I could easily pick out the one course in my study that did just that—and not only with the benefit of hindsight! I knew it after only a week or two into the course: this one is going to change everything. Why cannot we ask for real quality. We have the tools of questionnaires, and they could be so easily turned into much more pertinent *quality* information. 

Do you have any examples of good student feedback forms or mechanisms?

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How to Tell if an Online Program Is Accredited

How to Tell if an Online Program Is Accredited | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Beware of accreditation mills, which provide a false sense of legitimacy.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

All the sophisticated debates we have about how to measure quality in highe reducation, while people still need the basic information if a study programme is genuine.

Should we do a ranking 'shutdown' and deveote all the effort that goes into them to improving bona fide accreditation, and making accreditation results better available to those who need it?

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Student success centers are poised to spread | Inside Higher Ed

Student success centers are poised to spread | Inside Higher Ed | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Don Westerheijden's insight:

US two-year colleges are working on better sharing of best practices (I prefer the term: good practices) to get students to complete their programmes. That's a way to achieve better quality!

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2013 National Taiwan University Ranking (NTU Ranking)

The Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities is announced and released by National Taiwan University Ranking (NTU Ranking). In 2013, NTU Ranking provided the overall ranking, ranking by 6 fields, and ranking by 14 subjects.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

The research productivity ranking, originally in the hands of Taiwan's higher education evaluation agency, is now published by one of the major universities in the country, National Taiwan University. It is a solid and professedly one-dimensinal ranking: papers produced in recent years is what it counts. And I like their answer to the FAQ 'Can this ranking system replace other rankings?' 'No.' 

Great! If research perrormance that is what interests you. I wonder who their audience are. The website does not adress that question, for all I see.

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Higher education needs risk, regulation and more parliamentary debate

Higher education needs risk, regulation and more parliamentary debate | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
The case for a new higher education bill is clear, says Roger King. Without it we're in danger of fire without a fire brigade
Higher education has undergone dramatic change since the formation of the coalition.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Another article by The Guardian on the plans for a Council for Higher Education (CHE) in Britain. Now they stress how the UK is becoming more Continental (*grin*): 'The funding role of Hefce is rapidly losing capacity since the move totuition fees. The CHE consequently requires broad regulatory powers that are not reliant on attaching conditions to the distribution of grants to institutions, as occurred with Hefce.'  The power of the purse is lost, so we need legal power. Is New Public Management exchanged for a new-Weberian state in one of the countries that invented New Public Management, 35 years ago?

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Resurgence or retrenchment for European universities?

Resurgence or retrenchment for European universities? | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it

Contrary results in the 'big three' rankings for European universities.

Don Westerheijden's insight:

Closing words of the article are telling. EUPRIO (PR and Info Officers of universities) President Denis Ancion points out that 'our customers' are looking for 'evidence', and rankings are one of the few sources of 'evidence'. And he asks: 'Are we as communications professionals investing enough time, and is our position within our institutions strong enough, to convince our own policymakers of the importance of these rankings? Do we need to give more attention to the questions our customers and stakeholders are asking?'

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'What has your university ever done for me?': communicating local impact

'What has your university ever done for me?': communicating local impact | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Universities have a direct role in supporting local economies and communities – let's not forget to tell people, says Alex Miles
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Alex Miles of University of Warwick highlights (a) that it is difficult to quantify local/regional impact of universities, but also (b) interesting approaches to it from the UK. He mentions SROI (www.thesroinetwork.org), reports by a number of British universities and the infographics Warwick Uni has made of them--and he mentions U-Multirank! (thanks to THE ranking master Phil Baty). 

Next to the gratification of seeing U-Multirank recognised for trying to develop some indicators of regional impact in its current version, this article holds some inspiration to work on U-Multirank version 3...

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Study: Measuring Student Learning Is Now the Norm | Inside Higher Ed

Study: Measuring Student Learning Is Now the Norm | Inside Higher Ed | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Accreditation drives innovation! Quality 'control' can be more than control, but may set new norms--and I think this is a positive one!

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Colleges tying presidential raises to results | Hechinger Report

Colleges tying presidential raises to results | Hechinger Report | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Informing the Public about Education through Quality Journalism
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Taking performance contracts to the next (individual) level, we might ask if HE institutions are becoming like banks, with bonuses for managers and leaders who perform well on certain predefined, quantitaive criteria. Fromthe article: "It’s too early to judge how much of an impact this will have, advocates and observers said. But performance-based raises are effective in the corporate world, said Pollack." Effective, yes, but are they reaching the desired effects rather than perverse ones? Leadership of (public) HE institutions consists in balancing conflicting goals and demands, and how do you catch that in a formula for bonus payments?

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Don't let dubious Pisa league tables dictate how we educate our children | Peter Wilby

Don't let dubious Pisa league tables dictate how we educate our children | Peter Wilby | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Once again Britain has done badly in the international assessment of schooling.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Ranking craze in secondary education is as bad as in higher ed. As Wilby rightly says in The Guardian: 'As they say in sport, you can't argue with the scoreboard. But in Pisa's case, we can and should.'

And why should we 'teach to the test' with such a partial test? I thought the lesson of defining intended learning outcomes was to reflect on the whole set of learning goals, including those hard to measure.

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Debating role of student learning in federal ratings plan | Inside Higher Ed

Debating role of student learning in federal ratings plan | Inside Higher Ed | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Measuring quality--or at least: measuring things relevant to students' learning--was a hot topic at the annual ASHE conference, last week. too bad I (and you?) missed it. What should be rated? How should ratings be based on measures? Can we measure validly? For whom is it a relevant measure? Those were the underlying questions in debates triggered by the Obama administration's plans to tie student aid to college ratings.

Some interesting points in the article in 'Inside Higher Ed' were to me:

* What is the relevance of rating colleges if they only explain about 10% of students' engagement & experiences?

* “No assessment can serve two masters.”

* While educators moved towards formative assessements to support students in their learning process, outsider stakeholders want summative judgements about the educators + colleges; there is a mismatch in levels as well as purposes, and our funding authorities expect it all to be covered by too simple ratings.

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'Prikkels in wetenschap net zo pervers als bij de banken'

'Prikkels in wetenschap net zo pervers als bij de banken' | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Onderzoekers worden veel te veel opgejaagd om resultaten te publiceren. Onder biotechnologen is het een vuistregel dat de helft van al het ...
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Correct argument in Dutch newspaper interview that scientists are humans and as frail as any other when incentives are 'perverse'--and they are! Quantitative indicators, attached to funding, crowd out considerations of quality. Complete agreement here!

Interviewee prof. Miedema also chides press for not being critical enough. That *could* be a good argument, but I bet most of the press will use it for further dumbing down in its coverage of science (if that is possible--I am afraid I will see some negative surprises...), thus further undermining trust in science and in sane reasoning, in favour of populist primary emotions.

Miedema's new movement 'Science in transition' must steer a safe course between justly criticising science in the name of truth and unjustified distrust in the name of populism. A difficult task!

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Universities putting research before teaching, says minister

Universities putting research before teaching, says minister | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
David Willetts says higher education system lopsided, as survey shows students receiving less feedback than 50 years ago Universities need a "cultural change" towards teaching, the universities minister, David Willetts, has argued, as a survey of...
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Let's debate the balance between research and teaching again... Had no time to read the--at this moment--186 comments, but clearly a lot of people have opinions about this!

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Ranking of unis is 'bad science', says Simon Marginson

Ranking of unis is 'bad science', says Simon Marginson | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
RANKINGS expert Simon Marginson has called on leading universities to band together and expose the weakness of well-known rankings, including the Times Higher Education and QS league tables.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

No holds barred? Maginson confronted rankers at a conference and was pretty explicit about their being 'bad science'. The rankers from THE and QA did not agree. The newspaper did not report if any injuries were sustained during the debate... ;-)

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Gove's education reforms make second chances a thing of the past

Gove's education reforms make second chances a thing of the past | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Government cuts of £90m have forced the Open University to raise its fees, pricing thousands out of the market. Meanwhile, MPs complain about adult literacy figures, says Laura McInerney
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Let's file this under the macro-aspect of quality: what does higher education to to benefit society? What is the public good that higher ed provides? All kinds of policy papers (and research, I think) emphasise that there are more benefits than just the additional dollars, euros or—in this case—pounds earned. Health, civil society, less crime... But in Britain, higher ed is 'under the remit of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where the focus is predominantly on the recession.' So they force the Open University to up its fees to £5,000 p.a. The article's author, Laura McInerney, gets understandably angry: such prices make it impossible for people who missed their first chance to get a higher education degree in a second chance, at the Open University. My sympathy is with Laura and Rita!

My doubts, though, are that studies found that second-chance higher education, open universities and recognition of non-formal learning, are used more by people who already had a higher education degree, more than the poor dears who missed their first chance.

Should we favour a solution with lower prices, or scholarships, for those without a previous degree, while letting the smart ones who want to get even smarter (and prove that through certificates or degrees) pay the full price? Then again, is customer discrimination, making them pay different prices for the same 'product', equitable?

Quality is connected to equity, to social justice. Any philosophers out there who can help solve this riddle?

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OECD educationtoday: Balancing Trust and Accountability

OECD educationtoday: Balancing Trust and Accountability | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Reports on a Norwegian QA initiative in education (not higher education), which shows how to maintain a good balance between 'hard' accountability and 'soft' improvement. The same discussion still is relevant in higher education's QA—and the same strategies for building and maintaining trust should be taken into account in developing national QA systems. Many governments don't do that, and they could learn from their Norwegian colleagues.

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University ranking and U-multirank

University ranking and U-multirank | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
What is U-Multirank? U-Multirank stands for "multi-dimensional ranking of higher education institutions". U-Multirank is based on a proposal in the Commission Communication on modernisation of Euro...

Via Carles Viladiu
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Factually mostly correct (except that the current version of U-Multirank is formally not a CHERPA-network project, but that is really just a formality) and with lots of links to associated (and also critical) literature.

Solid librarians' work! 

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What universities need: regulation, regulation, regulation

What universities need: regulation, regulation, regulation | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
A report from the Higher Education Commission out this week will call for swift action to protect students from fly-by-night colleges
Bankers have it, journalists face it.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

Even in the UK more regulation of higher ed is being considered, to maintain a threshold of quality in order to remain attractive to students from across the globe. A new agency is proposed: 'an overarching regulatory body – the Council for Higher Education (CHE) ... – and better information about the various higher education providers now operating in the UK, all of which should be subject to a new common regulatory framework, with kitemarks for those meeting approved standards.'

Protection against 'fly-by-night colleges' is a good thing; a well-regulated market is a need for markets to operate without too many negative externalities. Especially in a country like the UK where high fees make it attractive for short-term profit-seekers to enter the market of the experience good (i.e. you cannot judge its quality until you've experienced it) of education.

Will this advice be feasible, however: will etablished universities--the ones that make up the powerful lobby groups--accept that they must give up some autonomy for the benefit of future students? 

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For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov

For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov | Higher education's quality measured | Scoop.it
A new study found that reading literary fiction leads to better performance on tests of empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence.
Don Westerheijden's insight:

OK, it's just a short-term effect, but still a measurable effect of reading 'good' literature. Researchers, “found a way to prove true the intangible benefits of literary fiction.” 

By extension: might that imply that people with an arts degree are more social people? And that nerds are, eehh, nerds? ;-)

(I'm a social scientist—I'm objective in this matter ;-) )

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