Week in Review: January 24–30

Having posted daily headlines for over a year now, I wanted to try a weekly round-up of the key stories from the previous week. This is the first effort in that project. My goal is to identify the key stories that a college educator should know about, and occasionally to pass along some “assorted extras” that might be useful or amusing to teachers and students.


Academic Freedom

The AAUP announced this week that they’ve begun a new publication, The AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom, to focus on the significant questions of what we can teach, when and how we can teach it, and what difference our teaching and research decisions make upon our careers (ProfHacker).

At the same time, students in Culpepper, Virginia are denied the chance to read the newest edition of The Diary of Anne Frank, due to the “sexually explicit material and homosexual themes” (Washington Post). Also facing censorship, students at work on the newspaper at L.A. City College have found administrators attempting to control the topics they cover and information they publish (LA Times).

Assessment

A campus-wide understanding of how students are learning and how each campus contributes to a national snapshot of educational outcomes was the focus of discussion recently at the annual conference of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s annual forum (Inside Higher Ed).

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is developing discipline-specific tests to measure learning outcomes and cross-institutional comparisons, with the participation of the U.S. government (Inside Higher Ed).

Improving instruction and student achievement may rely greatly on eliminating obstacles and motivating faculty, according to commentary at the annual conference of the Association of American Colleges and
Universities (Chroncile of Higher Ed).

Government

President Obama’s State of the Union address proposed changes to financial aid and support for lowering the high cost of a college education. Meanwhile Jill Biden stressed the presidential administration’s support for community colleges. Congressional Reps. Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Michael Castle (R-Del.) introduced legislation to help identify and eliminate diploma and accredidation mills.

Tablet Computing

Predictions ran wild early on (Inside Higher Ed) about Apple’s much anticipated tablet PC this week, but turned to criticism as the iPad was introduced with a conceivably ill-chosen name (PCWorld) and an all-white male introductory video. Tablets are a hot topic of discussion in educational circles (Chronicle of Higher Ed) because of their potential effect on collaboration and electronic textbook use.

Obituaries

Assorted Extras