UC Davis iAMSTEM
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UC Davis iAMSTEM
UC Davis iAMSTEM
The current state of STEM Higher Education and the people, ideas, and forces acting on its evolution.
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Don’t Believe Everything You Read About Higher Education

Don’t Believe Everything You Read About Higher Education | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

I do not mean to suggest that everything, or much of anything, is rosy for colleges and universities at the moment, nor do I mean to suggest that every graduate or potential student should consider higher education a great value. But people who are concerned about the future of higher education, whatever they think that future may bring, should be able to agree that our reflections on it need to be founded in careful interpretations of the data we have.


Via Alberto Acereda, Ph.D.
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Workers Learned Most Job Skills Outside of Classroom, Study Finds

Workers Learned Most Job Skills Outside of Classroom, Study Finds | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

A majority of professionals who responded to a recent survey about the 21st-century workplace said they had developed most of the skills they use in their jobs outside of the classroom. People with a high-school degree or less were more likely than those who attended college to say they had learned their workplace skills on the job.


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OPINION: Are MOOCs Really the Future of the University? (EdSurge News)

OPINION: Are MOOCs Really the Future of the University? (EdSurge News) | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
What is the cost of MOOCs for society at large? Who profits? And who loses?

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Smithstorian's curator insight, May 24, 2013 1:56 PM

In the last few weeks, faculty at universities from Amherst to Duke to San Jose State have been pushing back at the incursion of MOOCs on their campuses. The San Jose professors offered this reason: that giving in to MOOCs now means that “public universities that have so long and successfully served the students and citizens of California will be dismantled, and what remains of them will become a hodgepodge branch of private companies.”

 

Point well taken! If we centralize teaching through a few commercial or even non-profit MOOC providers, what is the future of the professorate? If undergraduate teaching is centralized by MOOC providers, how can we sustain future graduate programs except at a handful of elite universities? Without graduate departments, what is the fate of basic research?  

 

Government and industry offer less and less support for theoretical and specialized research in the sciences; neither do they support the full range of research in the human and social sciences. As the prospects for teaching careers grow dim and support for teaching assistants dwindles, many fields at many universities will simply disappear. That's a problem, particularly because it may well be the research in these fields--pursued without a clear commercial end product--that results in transformative, world-changing insights, possibilities, discoveries, and breakthroughs.  

 

MOOCs are forcing universities to confront some challenging issues including the cost of tuition, and who wins and who loses as this kind of online education emerges. Faculty and institutions are wrestling with these questions and are often rightly concerned about their future. 

 

But left out of that conversation are the urgent demands of hundreds of thousands of students who are struggling with the cost and access to higher education--and potentially with staggering personal debt. Currently 450,000 students are on the waiting list for California community colleges alone. In the great technical schools in India, the admission rate is less than 2% as selected from only that tiny percentage of students eligible to take the entrance exams.  The average GPA of a student entering the University of California Irvine this year is 4.1 on a 4.0 scale, and the students need perfect test scores and a host of extracurricular activities to get into their state university, too. That’s a tragedy for the students and for society. 

 

MOOCs address students' cost problems by offering free or low-cost courses to anyone, often without prerequisites or entrance requirements.  Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity, in a recent video has said that 300,000 students have enrolled in just one Udacity computer science course.  And, thanks to individual mentoring and tutoring, drop out rates for a number of the San Jose courses offered by Udacity are falling rapidly, even as new research suggests that problem-based, online learning in areas of study such as computer programming can achieve comparable retention rates of traditional lecture-style classes--and rival those classes when assessed on the "applicability" of the work. 

 

It's for those kinds of reasons that Georgia Tech recently announced its first online master’s degree in computer science, funded partly by AT&T and offered by Udacity, and intended to reach a global audience far beyond the normal student body taught by Georgia Tech faculty.   

What we have at the moment are competing values, competing goals, and, unfortunately, a lot of anxiety. 

 

In the present mood of high polemic, hyperbolic promise, and hysterical panic, it is almost impossible to sort out the questions, let alone the answers to these questions, on either a national or international level: Is now the time to reject or embrace massive online learning? Do MOOCs yield improved learning and free and open access to those who have been excluded from higher education—or are they yet another cynical attempt to defund the public and extract profits from tax payers and diminish the value of what virtually all universally claim to be the public good of higher education? 

 

As a small attempt to find clarity and some creative new answers to the problems of access and affordability, I’ve decided to teach a MOOC this coming academic year that, among other things, I'd like to offer up as a referendum platform on MOOCs.  

 

In January 2014, I will offer a six-week Coursera class, “The History and Future of Higher Education,” free and open to anyone. I'd like to turn the class' weekly forums into an opportunity for a massive, global, collaborative, constructive, peer dialogue about how higher education got to its current dilemma. And from there, I hope we can come up with some creative, innovative, and workable ideas to make a better future. 

 

[Click on article to read the rest of this fantastic opinion piece]

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Our Discussion of "Higher Ed in 2018"

Our Discussion of "Higher Ed in 2018" | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
The response to an essay by leaders of a for-profit business.

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The Quality of MOOCs. By Stephen Downes

The Quality of MOOCs. By Stephen Downes | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

Stephen Downes addresses the question of assessing the quality of massive open online courses. The assessment of the quality of anything is fraught with difficulties, depending as it does on some commonly understood account of what would count as a good example of the thing, what factors constitute success, and how that success against that standard is to be measured. With MOOCS, it is doubly more difficult, because of the lack of a common definition of the MOOC itself, and because of the implication of external factors in the actual perception and performance of the MOOC. Moreover, it is to my mind far from clear that there is agreement regarding the purpose of a MOOC to begin with, and without such agreement discussions of quality are moot.


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Develop Hyper-Connected Critical Research Skills for Higher Ed

Develop Hyper-Connected Critical Research Skills for Higher Ed | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

What exactly is critical thinking? You hear about it all the time as a valuable 21st Century skill that everyone should have, and one that a good education will help you develop. If it is so important, why aren’t there specific courses, seminars, self-help videos, or even whole schools focused on helping students develop it? This post, which focuses on research skills, and the next one, "Applying Hyper-Connected Critical Thinking in Higher Education"  present a few things that you can do during your college career to make sure that you develop the kind of critical thinking ability that will make you an innovator and leader in the hyper-connected 21st Century, global economy.


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Colleges Must Prepare for a Buyer's Market - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Colleges Must Prepare for a Buyer's Market - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
Students should be savvy consumers of higher education before they get to the classroom.
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University accountability: why not let the public track performance?

University accountability: why not let the public track performance? | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
Universities hold the keys to economic vitality, says Doug Rothwell, and Michigan is shining a light on exactly how
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Financial Aid Fix May Reverse College Dropout Crisis

Financial Aid Fix May Reverse College Dropout Crisis | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
An influential group of college presidents, civil rights leaders and advocates sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is highlighting what it calls a growing higher education dropout crisis and seeks to fix it in part by linking financial...
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Group Calls for Radical Changes to Standardized Tests - Higher Education

Educational assessments should be revamped to help educators improve teaching and learning instead of being narrowly used—and in some cases misused—for purposes of accountability. That is one of the key ideas that an independent commission proffered Monday as the commission released a new report on what its members envision as a radically transformed “assessment enterprise.”


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Stop Polarising the MOOCs Debate

Stop Polarising the MOOCs Debate | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
Whatever else one may think about MOOCS, their vast popularity proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that very many people want – really, really want – more not less higher learning.
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How To Get College Credit For Online Learning - Edudemic

How To Get College Credit For Online Learning - Edudemic | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
Now we're hearing that more and more students are using services to get college credit for online learning.
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Disruptive Innovation Needed in Higher Education - Huffington Post (blog)

Disruptive Innovation Needed in Higher Education - Huffington Post (blog) | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
Disruptive Innovation Needed in Higher Education
Huffington Post (blog)
To use Steve Jobs' words, they "put a ding in the universe." I like it.

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MOOCs do not represent the best of online learning (essay) | Inside Higher Ed

MOOCs do not represent the best of online learning (essay) | Inside Higher Ed | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

Overnight, MOOCs -- with free tuition for all, attracting unprecedented enrollments reaching into the hundreds of thousands, and the involvement of world-class faculty -- have captured the imagination of the press, public and even legislators looking for ways to expand the availability of higher education at minimal cost. 

 

But thus far little attention has been paid to the quality of MOOCs. Quality in online learning can be defined in many ways: quality of content, quality of design, quality of instructional delivery, and, ultimately, quality of outcomes. On the face of it, the organizing principles of MOOCs are at odds with widely observed best practices in online education, including those advocated by my organization, the Quality Matters Program. Many of the first MOOCs are providing quality of content, but are far behind the curve in providing quality of design, accountable instructional delivery, or sufficient resources to help the vast majority of students achieve a course’s intended learning outcomes.


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MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used - Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education

MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used - Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

Robert Ghrist, a professor of mathematics and electrical and systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, knows that wielding vast networks on behalf of nonuniversity benefactors can be tricky business.

 

Mr. Ghrist specializes in applied topology, an abstract math field. In practice, topological math can help someone harness huge collections of sensory inputs—like those collected by cellphones, for example—to model large environments and solve problems.

 

The Department of Defense has enlisted Mr. Ghrist to do research along those lines. The Penn professor knows he has little power over how the Pentagon might use his insights. But he says that no longer bothers him.

 

“I have long ago dealt with the issue of: What if something I create is put to bad use?” the mathematician says. “And I have found that, throughout history, the benefit of building good things outweighed the hazards,” he says, citing lasers and the Internet as net-positive inventions despite ample opportunity for abuse. “That’s true in my research; it’s also true in my teaching.”

 

That ethical dilemma became relevant to Mr. Ghrist’s teaching only recently, when he began teaching a massive open online course on single-variable calculus through Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based MOOC company.

 

A group of philosophy professors at San Jose State University last month raised concerns to Michael Sandel, a government professor at Harvard, for his offering a MOOC through another provider, the nonprofit edX. The administration at San Jose State is encouraging its faculty members to use edX courses in their own teaching.


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Smithstorian's curator insight, May 21, 2013 6:32 PM

San Jose State is one of the first universities to integrate MOOCs into its traditional curriculum. The major MOOC providers have indicated that licensing their courses to universities might become a key part of their business models.

 

In an open letter, the philosophy professors warned that such collaboration could mark beginning of a long-term effort to “replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.”

 

In a provocative twist, the professors addressed the letter to Mr. Sandel, implying that, by getting in bed with edX, their Harvard colleague would be culpable if their dystopian scenario came true.

 

When it comes to technology tools aimed at reducing operating costs, it is not uncommon for professors to distrust the intentions of university administrators—especially in California, where years of budget cuts have made faculty members especially leery of such “disruptive innovations.”

 

But the San Jose State philosophy professors’ decision to address Mr. Sandel directly introduced a new question: Are professors who develop and teach MOOCs responsible for how those MOOCs are used?

No, absolutely not,” says Mohamed A. Noor, a professor of biology at Duke University.

 

Mr. Noor teaches a MOOC through Coursera, called “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution.” The course is one of five Coursera MOOCs so far that have earned an endorsement from the American Council on Education, a Washington-based group that advises college presidents on policy. (Mr. Ghrist’s calculus course is another.) The council reviewed the courses and determined that students who pass them deserve formal credit toward a degree, making those five perhaps the most likely MOOCs to be adopted, in some way, by other universities.

 

To be clear, Mr. Noor says he believes dismantling departments and replacing them with MOOCs would be “reckless.” But the Duke professor also believes that, in such a case, “the fault lies with the reckless administration,” and not the professor who furnished the MOOC to the vendor that furnished the MOOC to the administration.

 

“I don’t see it as particularly my business how people use the stuff once I put it out there,” Mr. Noor says—though he adds that if dismantling departments were all a MOOC was being used for, “then I’d stop.”

Really, though, it is a university’s faculty, and not technology vendors and their collaborators, that is responsible for reining in reckless administrative efforts, says Mr. Noor. “Ultimately, faculty at individual colleges need to be the driving force behind what students at their campuses are using,” he says.

 

“And if that’s not the case” at San Jose State, says Mr. Noor, then MOOCs are “the least of the faculty’s problems.”

Granted, much of the philosophy professors’ letter was devoted to criticizing their university’s administration and laying out a general case against plugging a Harvard course into the San Jose State curriculum, particularly in a humanities discipline. The decision to take aim at Mr. Sandel seemed to be a publicity tactic, and not necessarily an attempt to tarnish all MOOC professors.

 

In interviews with The Chronicle, the professors who created the MOOCs that have been approved by the American Council on Education nevertheless rushed to Mr. Sandel’s defense, and to their own.

Roger Barr, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke, says his professional obligation is to the students taking his MOOC on bioelectricity, not to colleagues at other institutions that might be advised by their superiors to use it. “I see my job as teaching students,” says Mr. Barr, “not protecting faculty.”

 

Sarah Eichhorn, a math lecturer at the University of California at Irvine, says she sees creating a MOOC as roughly equivalent to writing a textbook, or producing open resources for other teachers.

Ms. Eichhorn says she was surprised when the San Jose State philosophy professors went after Mr. Sandel. “I think it’s a professor’s job to make education available,” she says, “not to restrict it.”

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In the U.S., 21st Century Skills Linked to Work Success

In the U.S., 21st Century Skills Linked to Work Success | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

Young U.S. adults who say they "often" developed 21st century skills -- such as real-world problem-solving and global awareness -- in their last year of school are more likely to self-report higher work quality.


Via Alberto Acereda, Ph.D.
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Best & Brightest Avoid Academia

Best & Brightest Avoid Academia | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
Or vice versa. A group of academics decided to track what happens to bright kids over the course of a quarter-century and found that few of them wound up in academia. They might ponder why this is so.

Via Alberto Acereda, Ph.D.
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Driving students into science is a fool’s errand

Driving students into science is a fool’s errand | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
If programmes to bolster STEM education are effective, they distort the labour market; if they aren’t, they’re a waste of money, argues Colin Macilwain.
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New book explores professors' politics and the debates about those politics | Inside Higher Ed

New book explores professors' politics and the debates about those politics | Inside Higher Ed | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
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How Adults are Stealing Ambition From Kids - Tim Elmore

How Adults are Stealing Ambition From Kids - Tim Elmore | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
One of the most valuable commodities we can cultivate in this emerging generation of kids is ambition.
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Bosses say American workers fall short

Bosses say American workers fall short | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
A new survey finds that most think their employees lack necessary collaborative, communication and critical-thinking skills.

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College Completion: What If the Focus Was On the Student?

College Completion: What If the Focus Was On the Student? | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
One of the most important social, economic and political questions facing America today is how to increase the number of students obtaining college degrees.
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Engaging Faculty as Catalysts For Change: A Roadmap for Transforming Higher Education (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu

Engaging Faculty as Catalysts For Change: A Roadmap for Transforming Higher Education (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it
EDUCAUSE Review Online
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Community colleges to release scorecard rivaling the president’s

Community colleges to release scorecard rivaling the president’s | UC Davis iAMSTEM | Scoop.it

Students planning to attend one of the nation’s 4,500 colleges and universities have a new interactive College Scorecard touted by President Obama in his State of the Union address as a tool “to compare schools based on a simple criteria – where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”


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