Week in Review: January 30–February 5

The “better late than never” edition of news for this week. Be sure to check out the “Assorted Extras” links to an image placeholder technique you can share with web design students and a poetry interactive.


Campus Issues

Donations have decreased at colleges across the country (Inside Higher Ed). Yale will cut staff and freeze some salaries to meet a $150 million budget gap (NYTimes). Princeton’s efforts to squash grade inflation are meeting with complaints from students (NYTimes). In a ten-year strategic plan, the president of University of New Hampshire calls for interdisciplinary collaboration and rewards for innovation to ensure the school’s future (Boston.com).

Intellectual Property Rights

UCLA has removed all copyrighted films from their course Websites because complaints of copyright violation from the Association for Information and Media Equipment (Chronicle of Higher Ed). IP rights and piracy have been at issue for centuries (Inside Higher Ed), and many universities are unsure what is and isn’t legal (Inside Higher Ed). The UCLA action has lead to speculation about the role of video projects in education (Inside Higher Ed) and emerging understandings of copyright and online streaming (Inside Higher Ed).

In a strike against a possible plagiarism mill, an Illinois court has shut down an online term paper site until it can prove ownership of the essays it sells (USA Today).

Government

Federal funding for FY2011 may fall short for Pell Grants, the Department of Labor’s Career Pathways Innovation Fund, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (Inside Higher Ed). The proposed end to the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program could spell the end of millions of dollars in matching funds from state coffers for students (Inside Higher Ed). Lobbyists are challenging the federal plan to end government subsidies to private lenders and provide the monies to directly to students (NYTimes).

A letter from Jill Biden counters misconceptions about federally-subsidized loans and urges community colleges to offer the loans to students (Chronicle of Higher Ed).

According to a recent report, the number of nonprofit schools gaining federal funding as “Hispanic-Serving Institutions” is increasing (Inside Higher Ed).

Tablet Computing

The new iPad has inspired discussion of the tablet’s educational benefits (PCWorld), how students will respond (Nevada Sagebrush), and how the various tablets stack up (Lifehacker). Apple’s decision to use a proprietary format for ebooks on the iPad complicates things for consumers and publishers (Yahoo! News). The free Blio Reader may change expectations for ebooks, with features that duplicate layout and appearance of paper-based books (eSchoolNews). Regardless of the evolution of ebooks and tablets, author Katherine Paterson argues that we’ll still read paper-based books (NY Daily News).

Technology

Universities report increasing interest in hybrid courses, which combine online and traditional classroom experiences (eSchoolNews). A Brigham Young University experiment found that free online distance courses did not harm traditional course enrollment (Chronicle of Higher Ed).

A recent Pew Trust report finds that teens do not use Twitter or blog but their interest in social networking sites is growing (Washington Post). Regardless of teen engagement, teachers can benefit from using Twitter to connect with other teachers (Educational Leadership). For tenure purposes, however, a UC-Berkeley reports indicates professors should focus on traditional publication options (Chronicle of Higher Ed).

Assorted Extras

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