Some of the News Fit to Print
Some of the News Fit to Print
ABOUT HIGHER ED
THE END OF COLLEGE?
Online learning, once considered the Yugo of higher education, is now sweeping through American academia faster than anyone thought conceivable just five years ago. Almost every week, some elite private college or public university announces plans to put professors on camera and beam lectures to students half a mile or half a world away. For the schools, the technology is a way to reach people they might not otherwise engage and to experiment with a tool that could transform how they dispense knowledge in the future. The article is in The Christian Science Monitor.
GEORGIA COLLEGES LOOK AT NEW WAYS TO USE ONLINE COURSES
Georgia college leaders joined a new partnership to explore how they can best use the fast-growing market of free online courses. The University System of Georgia announced Thursday it is one of 10 public systems and universities taking a collaborative look at how massively open online courses (MOOCs) could increase access and make a degree less expensive. MOOCs started almost two years ago to offer quality online college courses from elite schools, including Georgia Tech and Emory University. Millions of people worldwide signed up. The article is in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
FLORIDA COLLEGES TO DROP REMEDIAL CLASSES FOR THOUSANDS
Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently signed a bill to overhaul college remediation and allow a large segment of students to immediately enroll in college-level courses, regardless of their academic abilities. The goal is to allow more students to start earning college credits while also offering them support services. Some researchers praise the legislation, but college administrators fear that students are being set up to fail. The article is in the Orlando Sentinel.
THE NEW ‘NEW NORMAL’
Multiple public universities and state systems announced in recent months that they will freeze tuition for at least the next year, with some announcing multiyear freezes. In some states, politicians and campus leaders have imposed the freezes without any new state appropriations for higher education, presenting a budget challenge for university leaders. In others, the freezes are the result of improved state budget pictures and increased appropriations that obviate the need for more tuition revenue. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
SEQUESTRATION HINDERS RESEARCH FUNDING
The fallout of sequestration has made for some scrambling at the U.S. Department of Education's research agency, with plenty of high-quality research proposals that cannot be funded. The Institute of Education Sciences budget is $31 million lower in fiscal 2013, or more than 5 percent lower than in fiscal 2012. IES Director John Easton reported at a meeting of IES' advisory group, the National Board for Education Sciences, that the agency is working to prioritize funding in its remaining grants. The post is from Education Week’s Inside School Research blog.
SWEEPING EDUCATION REFORMS BECOME LAW
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called the education reform bill he signed into law "a turning point in Iowa history," but it lacks many of the provisions included in the administration's initial pitch for improved schools. The final bill, for example, failed to link student performance to teacher evaluations or require high school students to pass end-of-course exams in core subjects. The article is in the Des Moines Register.
LONG-NEGLECTED LAW ON TEACHER EVALUATIONS RISES TO THE FOREFRONT
LOS ANGELES – The road to an agreement on teacher evaluations has been a long and costly one that is not yet finished. But recent litigation has put the Los Angeles Unified School District on a fast track. The spotlight on teacher evaluations widened last June when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled that the district was violating California’s longstanding teacher evaluation law, the Stull Act, by not ensuring test scores were used. The article is from the Hechinger Report.
NEW YORK TO EVALUATE TEACHERS WITH NEW SYSTEM
The New York State education commissioner broke a long and acrimonious impasse on Saturday by imposing a new evaluation system that would rate New York City teachers in part on their students’ test scores and streamline the disciplinary process. The new system, announced after three hectic days of meetings, testimony and arbitration that involved the Bloomberg administration and the teachers’ union, finally brought New York City into compliance with state law — the last district in the state to do so. The article is in The New York Times.
POTENTIAL OF FLIPPED CLASSROOMS
In the flipped classroom, the teacher is available to guide students as they apply what they have learned online. One of the drawbacks of traditional homework is that students don’t receive meaningful feedback on their work while they are doing it; they may have no opportunity to relearn concepts they struggled to master. With a teacher present to answer questions and watch over how students are doing, the feedback cycle has greater potential to bolster student learning. The article is from Education Next.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
DIFFERING VIEW POINTS ON TEACHER PREP FEATURED IN NEW BILLS
Last week, federal lawmakers reintroduced a pair of bills relating to teacher-preparation programs and accountability, in what gives an interesting glimpse into what debates on this topic are likely to feature in the coming weeks and months. The first comes out of a philosophy of "disruptive innovation," or freeing up teacher preparation from things like Carnegie units and faculty research requirements and tenure; the second, an approach of working within the existing structures and policies of teacher education. The first is supported by advocacy groups and organizations typically lumped in the so-called "education reform" camp; the second by groups that have tended to be skeptical of such efforts. The article is from Education Week’s Teacher Beat blog.
DOES GREAT LITERATURE MAKE US BETTER?
Philosophy professor Gregory Currie writes in The New York Times: We need to show that exposure to literature itself makes some sort of positive difference to the people we end up being. That will take a lot of careful and insightful psychological research (try designing an experiment to test the effects of reading “War and Peace,” for example). Meanwhile, most of us will probably soldier on with a positive view of the improving effects of literature, supported by nothing more than an airy bed of sentiment.
NEW DATA ON MOOC STUDENTS
New data on an early MOOC course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are being released today in the journal Research and Practice in Assessment. The data are about the course Circuits and Electronics, which already has been the subject of some analysis. In an article in the journal, researchers reported on the use of course resources by those who earned certificates (greatest use on weekends, when students presumably had more time and just before assignments were due), the use of discussion boards (most students were lurkers, and viewed others comments without adding any of their own), and the countries of origin of students, based on IP addresses and perhaps not completely accurate as a result (greatest enrollments from the United States, followed by India, Britain, Colombia and Spain). The information is from Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes.
STUDENTS CAN LEARN BY EXPLAINING
Children are quick to ask “why?” and “how?” when it comes to new things, but research suggests elementary and preschool students learn more when teachers turn the questions back on them. In a symposium at the annual Association for Psychological Science research meeting in Washington this month, panelists discussed how and when asking students for explanations can best enhance their learning. “Often students are able to say facts, but not able to understand the underlying mathematics concept, or transfer a problem in math to a similar problem in chemistry,” said Joseph Jay Williams, a cognitive science and online education researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. The article is in Education Week.
TEA PARTY GROUPS MOBILIZING AGAINST COMMON CORE
Tea party groups over the past few weeks have suddenly and successfully pressured Republican governors to reassess their support for a rare bipartisan initiative backed by President Obama to overhaul the nation’s public schools. Activists have donned matching T-shirts and packed buses bound for state legislative hearing rooms in Harrisburg, Pa., grilled Georgia education officials at a local Republican Party breakfast and deluged Michigan lawmakers with phone calls urging opposition to the Common Core State Standards. The article is in The Washington Post.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
INCOME-BASED DIVERSITY LAGS AT MANY PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES
Opponents of race-based affirmative action in college admissions urge that colleges use a different tool to encourage diversity: giving a leg up to poor students. But many educators see real limits to how eager colleges are to enroll more poor students, no matter how qualified — and the reason is money. The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon in a closely watched case over admissions at the University of Texas at Austin, and the court could outlaw any consideration of race. Opponents of affirmative action welcome that prospect, arguing that race-conscious admissions favor minority applicants who are not disadvantaged, and people on both sides of the issue contend that colleges should do more to achieve socioeconomic diversity. The article is in The New York Times.
ONLINE COURSES GET BIG BOOST, BUT DOUBTS PERSIST
Critics of online courses aren't sure MOOCs can do what their backers hope. "Whether it costs a little less or a little more, I would not want my child's education to be an experiment," says Eileen Landy, a sociology professor at the State University of New York, Old Westbury. She is with the union that represents the 35,000 faculty members in the SUNY system. "We know MOOCs have about an average of 10 percent completion rate and that's among very highly motivated students," Landy says. "If you target MOOCs for incoming students, students who need remediation, the chances are we'll lose them." The piece ran on NPR’s All Things Considered.