Friday, November 09, 2007

New - Teacher Vids - Helpful Videos for Teachers

Well, it has certainly been quite a while, hasn't it? :-)

I've been up to a LOT of things - which I will discuss in greater detail later.
In the meantime, here is a video service for teachers - Teacher Tube:

Friday, April 20, 2007

DrupalEd Released! Get it, and get rid of BlackBoard!

Great news for anyone interested in free alternatives to BlackBoard!

DrupalEd is a powerful open source content management system with the power to support the e-learning needs of large educational institutions. It is also easy enough to install and use for individual teachers/professors to implement in their own classes (for teachers who would like to abandon BlackBoard, sans IT Department backing).

Here's an in-depth look at what DrupalEd offers.

As of yesterday, April 19th, DrupalEd is ready to go! You can download DrupalEd here. You can also join the free online support community.

(The best part of using Drupal is that there is extensive support available for users and program administrators--and it's free!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Best Wishes

Best wishes and thoughts to anyone affected by yesterday's madness at Virginia Tech.

Ah.... MySpace

Fool Me Once...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Conflicts of Interest - Blogging Comes of Age?

Interesting situation over at the TechCrunch blog today, which is reflective of a growing number of similar ethical conflicts of interest catching headlines since the credential meltdown at Wikipedia.

Of course, conflicts of interest in higher education are gaining a high degree of press right now as well. It would seem that as students have been forced to carry ever more burdensome loads of debt, the college loan industry has been providing "kickbacks" to financial aid officers -- at at least three major universities.

Coincidentally, there was "A Modest Proposal on Blogger Ethics" over at Business 2.0 today, dealing with conflicts of interest.

Such simple logic:

I have a wild and crazy idea for new-media types who are trying to win the trust of their audience and make a buck: Don't just disclose your conflicts of interest. Try to actively avoid them. Transparency is good. But actually having nothing to hide is even better.

Excellent. Obvious.

Shouldn't it be easy?

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur

Interesting followup to my previous post regarding the shaky foundations of Digg:

Charles Cooper, over at, has written a book review, of sorts:

"Andrew Keen doesn't fit the profile of your garden-variety bomb thrower.

But make no mistake about this erudite British-born entrepreneur: He is out to rattle Silicon Valley and the geekerati by detonating many of the comfortable myths attending the Web 2.0 era.

In a deliciously subversive new book, The Cult of the Amateur, which debuts in June, Keen recounts the many ways in which technology is remaking our culture and society. Anyone familiar with Keen's previous work from his blog will recognize the terrain here. Keen is a gloomy elitist--in the best sense of that term--wistful about a politer, more thoughtful era, but one that's destined to get trampled underneath by the amoral onslaught of the Internet.

Keen may cost himself a few dinner party invitations. Then again, he's not interested in currying favor with bloggers or would-be new media moguls. In fact, I assume he would just as soon welcome their scorn for his book as a searing indictment, a latter day "J'accuse" lamenting the harm he believes they have inflicted upon society.

The subtitle of his book states his thesis bluntly: "How the democratization of the digital world is assaulting our economy, our culture, and our values."


"If we keep up this pace, there will be over five hundred million blogs by 2010, collectively corrupting and confusing popular opinion about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture. Blogs have become so dizzyingly infinite, that they've undermined our sense of what is true and what is false, what is real and what is imaginary. These days, kids can't tell the difference between credible news by objective professional journalists and what they read on'"

Read the rest of the article here.

Certainly, there will be claims of "elitist" hurled at Andrew Keen and his book.

I'm reminded of Nietzsche's fear of the masses. And yes, many terrible things have been done in the name of that fear.

However, he may have a point...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Digg is Broken?

Some very interesting issues on Digg have been exposed recently. And they're worth examining in the broader context of what this means for "Web 2.0" as such.

First--it was revealed that the top 100 Digg users control 56% of Digg's frontpage content. Yikes...

Then this, from the smalls blogger blog, and TechCrunch:

Have a look at Quite a simple idea really - Advertisers, pay $1 per digg. If you are a Digg user - well they will pay you 50 cents if you digg an article which they ask you to digg. The company makes a 50 cent profit.

Subvert and Profit says “…We allow advertisers to purchase actions on social networks… they are 50 to 100 times more cost effective than conventional Internet advertising.”

Its not just Subvert and Profit, here is a listing of sites that will actually pay YOU to digg articles:

I’m sure there are many more, I just couldn’t be bothered to keep looking…

Quite simple really - and it sounds stupid doesn’t it?

So does it really work? Can you pay money and get digged? I did some research, and you know what? The sad thing is - it's actually working!

There was this guy who wanted to conduct an experiment. He submitted a really stupid article to digg and then paid for it to get digged. He even posted about it on Digg confessing he paid $1 per Digg to see what would happen:

“Two hours went by, and I got another digg. Then, suddenly, diggs began to accumulate like bugs on a windshield — smack, smack, a couple every 10 minutes. After four and a half hours, I had 19 diggs. My web logs showed I had no new hits on my site through Digg, however, offering evidence that the diggs had come from people who hadn’t bothered to investigate my blog.”

“When I woke up in the morning, my story had been awarded the “became popular” tag and had 121 diggs. U/S had done what it promised: The company had helped me buy my way into Digg popularity, and my site traffic had gone way up — overnight, I’d been hammered with so many hits that the diggers had to set up a mirror.”

Want to see the result? Check out the article.

It would seem that the "wisdom of crowds" is also a simple perpetuation of the hierarchies of popularity and greed that we see in Life 1.0 (the "real" world). A very small crowd controls the general opinion of what is "news" worthy.

I believe that the original aim of Digg--that of a democratization of what is considered and reported as "news"--is a worthy ideal. It's a shame to see it all go awry.

I suppose that when you see 1000's of people on a service like Digg who are using the site as though it were a full time job (something we'll see much more of with the proliferation of sites like "Subvert & Profit")...then maybe it is a full time job.

As the saying goes, "If it looks like a duck. And it quacks like a duck..."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Did You Know?

I saw this discussed over at Weblogg-ed. It's definitely worth watching. Very interesting!

Now, what does this mean for one's pedagogical practice?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Open Source Alternative to BlackBoard

Now there's one less reason to shell out $, and lose your copyright on all uploaded/posted files--yes, even your syllabus--to a company that practices predatory patent litigation, like BlackBoard:


DrupalEd is based on the open source social networking/content creation software platform Drupal, which is easy to install/configure (I've done it myself over the course of a few hours earlier this week).

To see what DrupalEd looks like, just head over to the site (linked to above). Sign on, and nose around a bit. Then talk to your university's IT department, and tell them you know how to save the university 10s of thousands of dollars a year...

Then maybe they can swing a raise for you.

California State University Faculty Authorize Strike

Big news--thousands of CSU faculty members across the State of California have authorized a strike, which could happen as soon as next month. (Here is an NPR story on the subject.)

Among their list of grievances: salaries that are well below the national average.

This is particularly vexing at a time when executive (i.e. administrative) pay at both public and private institutions is soaring.

The nation's universities are normally about a decade ahead of the rest of the country, when dealing with societal issues. The general rule is that you can take a look at what the hot-button issues are at the major universities, and you can expect to see those same issues at the top of the agenda on Capitol Hill in about 5 to 10 years (the struggle to prevent global climate change, civil rights, etc. all got their start by students and/or faculty). However, the executive compensation issue--while simmering in the private sector for roughly 20 years, before coming to a recent boil, is fairly new to academe.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. There is already a large support base for the CSU faculty on this issue. In something of a break with historical patterns, students and faculty will be calling for change, in chorus with the rest of the nation.

Boards of Trustees, beware. You may look at the pressures regarding executive pay exerted on corporate Boards of Directors as a window to your own futures.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Plagiarism & Misrepresentation - The Sins That Won't Go Away

As Wikipedia grows up, academe reminds itself of its own obligations.

On the heels of the credentials crisis at Wikipedia, there are new charges of plagiarism leveled against Ward Churchill.

You may remember the controversy initially sparked by an essay written by Ward Churchill, a University of Colorado professor, which made national headlines a year or so ago.

This controversy brought his work (which was quite significant--numbering 20+ books and 150+ essays) into the spotlight of his peers. Apparently, this was a virtual first, as he had been published "largely in alternative presses or journals, not in the university presses or mainstream peer-reviewed journals often favored by more conventional academics." (from the Report of the Investigative Committee of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct at the University of Colorado at Boulder concerning Allegations of Academic Misconduct against Professor Ward Churchill).

At the time of the uproar over Churchill's post-9/11 essay, I was of the opinion that, while he displayed poor judgment and a general lack of professionalism, he was certainly in his right to write and research whatever he wished. Academic Freedom is one of those holy sacraments that higher education, and general human intellectual growth, simply couldn't be accomplished without. The case made against him in the popular press was so politically charged, that it was quite chilling to watch--particularly as a member of the Academy.

However, after the creation of a non-partisan committee of his peers, the Investigative Committee found numerous inaccuracies, and instances of plagiarism. In fact, the Committee recommended that Churchill's full professorship appointment be terminated. He has been on paid leave since the judgment of the university's Investigative Committee, and will remain so, while his case is under appeal.

While I can see the "politics" of how he may have chosen to publish in non-peer-reviewed journals and presses, it would seem that such politics can just as easily serve another purpose... That of a convenient veil for shoddy work. These revelations also raise issues for the tenure committees which accepted/approved these publications. No doubt, they shoulder some of the blame, and shame, for not catching these problems.

If ever there were a case study to be made in support of peer-reviewed publications, this is it.

And in today's issue of the Rocky Mountain News I read this:

New questions about Churchill
References cite secret documents available to few

By Berny Morson, Rocky Mountain News
March 12, 2007

Did University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill see secret Canadian government files about child abuse in Indian boarding schools?

Highly unlikely, says a Canadian researcher who reviewed the files and cited them in his 1999 book about the history of the infamous boarding schools.

So how did references to those documents end up in Churchill's 2004 book on the schools?

"Unless he got himself into one of those black suits that Tom Cruise used in that movie and snuck himself into the Department of Indian Affairs at midnight, he's not seen the documents," said John S. Milloy, a professor at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

This is not the first time Churchill has been accused of stealing facts from someone else's research.

Churchill's dismissal was recommended last year after a faculty investigation revealed plagiarism and fabrication of facts in his previous works. His case is on appeal before a faculty grievance panel.

Churchill did not return phone calls or an e-mail message about this latest allegation. His attorney, David Lane, declined to comment.

Churchill's book, Kill the Indian, Save the Man, and Milloy's book, A National Crime, deal with an ugly chapter in U.S. and Canadian history.

Beginning in the late 19th century, Indian children in both countries were taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools, where they were forced to adopt European culture.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fun with Student Bloopers

Every year, English teachers from across the country submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers and writers across the country.

Here are last year's winners of the best worst student writing:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse, without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River .

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New Study Published: Businesses Fair Much Better in Cities with Low Drop Out Rates

The results of a study published today, and reported on by business publication Inc, may help sound the wake-up call to cities and towns who are interested in making economic gains.

The message: Fix your schools first.

Start-Ups More Successful in Cities with Fewer High-School Dropouts

The education level of local populations can have a direct impact on business success, new research shows.

Start-ups that are based in cities and towns with low high-school dropout rates and a high percentage of residents with college educations have greater survival rates than those located in areas with less-educated local populations, according to a new study from the School of Public Policy at George Mason University.

"My view has always been that it's hard to get a job if you're unskilled and uneducated than if you're skilled and educated," said Zoltan Acs, lead author of the paper, which will appear in Papers in Regional Science. Why should that be any different for starting a business?"

Although high school and college do not necessarily teach individuals how to start a business, education does provide future entrepreneurs with relevant skills such as how to meet people, perform analyses, and make contacts, Acs explained.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More on the "Publish or Perish" Dilema

I've written about the need to revise publication expectations for professors seeking tenure.

Now The Daily Princetonian, and Magna Publications, have also joined the discussion:

Rethinking Scholarly Publication for Tenure

The Daily Princetonian reports on its Web news page a story about the Modern Language Association’s task force recommendation regarding “ways in which universities should rethink how they ‘admit’ professors and later decide on their tenure.” Rosemary Feal, executive director of the MLA, said, “We wanted data that we could analyze in light of the changes in the scholarly community.”

Now, lest you think this is yet another effort to jettison the tenure system from the “scholarly community,” let me hasten to assure you that is not the object of this MLA report. After all, tenure foes are much more likely to come from outside academe than from within—and the MLA is about as “within” as anyone can get. No, this is an effort, as Feal puts it, to respond to the “major changes in the way scholarship is published.”

Because colleges and universities—especially top-tier and/or research-oriented institutions—are increasingly emphasizing scholarship as a condition for tenure, and because it is increasingly difficult for professors to find traditional journals willing and able to accept narrowly focused research articles (partly a consequence of shrinking library budgets), a broader definition of “publication” is desirable. Princeton itself seems comfortable with its current scholarship requirements (according to Dean of the Faculty David Dobkin) primarily because, as Feal observed, “it can attract the greatest experts in their field,” those who have ready access to scholarly journals for their work.

But what about the lesser lights, those faculty squeezed out of the most prestigious research journals? This problem is what the MLA’s efforts might rectify.

You can read the full article here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How to Keep America Competitive: Our Universities are Essential

I've written before about the essential role that institutions of higher education play in maintaining America's competitiveness, and the damage that will occur if IHEs continue to become less accessible to worthy studetns from the working classes.

However, Bill Gates' recent article in the Washington Post (which follows below) really spells it out...

How to Keep America Competitive

By Bill Gates
Sunday, February 25, 2007; B07

For centuries people assumed that economic growth resulted from the interplay between capital and labor. Today we know that these elements are outweighed by a single critical factor: innovation.

Innovation is the source of U.S. economic leadership and the foundation for our competitiveness in the global economy. Government investment in research, strong intellectual property laws and efficient capital markets are among the reasons that America has for decades been best at transforming new ideas into successful businesses.

The most important factor is our workforce. Scientists and engineers trained in U.S. universities -- the world's best -- have pioneered key technologies such as the microprocessor, creating industries and generating millions of high-paying jobs.

But our status as the world's center for new ideas cannot be taken for granted. Other governments are waking up to the vital role innovation plays in competitiveness.

This is not to say that the growing economic importance of countries such as China and India is bad. On the contrary, the world benefits as more people acquire the skills needed to foster innovation. But if we are to remain competitive, we need a workforce that consists of the world's brightest minds.

Two steps are critical. First, we must demand strong schools so that young Americans enter the workforce with the math, science and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge economy. We must also make it easier for foreign-born scientists and engineers to work for U.S. companies.

Education has always been the gateway to a better life in this country, and our primary and secondary schools were long considered the world's best. But on an international math test in 2003, U.S. high school students ranked 24th out of 29 industrialized nations surveyed.

Our schools can do better. Last year, I visited High Tech High in San Diego; it's an amazing school where educators have augmented traditional teaching methods with a rigorous, project-centered curriculum. Students there know they're expected to go on to college. This combination is working: 100 percent of High Tech High graduates are accepted into college, and 29 percent major in math or science. Contrast that with the national average of 17 percent.

To remain competitive in the global economy, we must build on the success of such schools and commit to an ambitious national agenda for education. Government and businesses can both play a role. Companies must advocate for strong education policies and work with schools to foster interest in science and mathematics and to provide an education that is relevant to the needs of business. Government must work with educators to reform schools and improve educational excellence.

American competitiveness also requires immigration reforms that reflect the importance of highly skilled foreign-born employees. Demand for specialized technical skills has long exceeded the supply of native-born workers with advanced degrees, and scientists and engineers from other countries fill this gap.

This issue has reached a crisis point. Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually. But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees.

The United States provides 65,000 temporary H-1B visas each year to make up this shortfall -- not nearly enough to fill open technical positions.

Permanent residency regulations compound this problem. Temporary employees wait five years or longer for a green card. During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success and overall economic growth.

Last year, reform on this issue stalled as Congress struggled to address border security and undocumented immigration. As lawmakers grapple with those important issues once again, I urge them to support changes to the H-1B visa program that allow American businesses to hire foreign-born scientists and engineers when they can't find the homegrown talent they need. This program has strong wage protections for U.S. workers: Like other companies, Microsoft pays H-1B and U.S. employees the same high levels -- levels that exceed the government's prevailing wage.

Reforming the green card program to make it easier to retain highly skilled professionals is also necessary. These employees are vital to U.S. competitiveness, and we should welcome their contribution to U.S. economic growth.

We should also encourage foreign students to stay here after they graduate. Half of this country's doctoral candidates in computer science come from abroad. It's not in our national interest to educate them here but send them home when they've completed their studies.

During the past 30 years, U.S. innovation has been the catalyst for the digital information revolution. If the United States is to remain a global economic leader, we must foster an environment that enables a new generation to dream up innovations, regardless of where they were born. Talent in this country is not the problem -- the issue is political will.

The writer is chairman of Microsoft Corp. and co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His wife is a director of The Washington Post Co.

(Many thanks to The Creativity Exchange.)

Back in Town

I'm back.

I've been out of town for the past week. It was a much needed trip.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

The EduPatent Alert System

As I was sorting through the remaining "Worst College Website" nominees this evening, I noticed a very valuable service had just been launched by Michael Felstein, over at e-Literate.

There is now a centralized RSS-based informational service for those interested in EduPatents (such as the furor over Blackboard's abuse of this process).

Definitely check out Michael's post regarding his work on this service. Here's a sample:

"Via Stephen Downes, I see that Mark Oehlert posted a list of Blackboard’s pending patents, 8 of which were filed for in the last year (6 of which were filed in October and November of last year), and many of which are not covered in Blackboard’s patent pledge. This has prompted me to invest a little time in creating a more—dare I say it?–Web 2.0ish edupatent alert system.

You’ll notice that there is a new tab on the top of this blog labeled “EduPatents.” On that page you will find an RSS feed aggregator that displays any blog posts on the web that have been tagged by their authors with the word “edupatents”, any posts that use the word “edupatents” in the body of their texts, and any web pages that have been tagged “edupatents” on"

But it's more in depth than a simple aggregator. Check it out.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Codex of Terrible Higher Ed Marketing Part 1 - Worst Promotional Videos

Many thanks for the links I've received. Going through the video nominations was a learning experience in how NOT to go about promoting one's college.

Here are the ... um ... "Winners":

Grand Prize Winner
Worst College Recruitment / Promotional Video

Appalachian State University
"Appalachian is Hot Hot Hot!"

You know you've produced a cult classic of horrible marketing when fans "honor" it on YouTube.

Second Place
Worst College Recruitment / Promotional Video

North Metro Technical College
"Learn a Few New Tricks..."

Okay... Just what are you trying to say about your admission standards?
How about your students and faculty?
It's like 3 minutes and 36 seconds of an "Even a caveman can do it" commercial
... but without the humor.

Third Place
Worst College Recruitment / Promotional Video

Bridgewater College
"What's it like to be an Eagle?"

Honorable Mention
Worst College Recruitment / Promotional Video

University of Minnesota
"Hats off to thee!"

I don't know about you, but I think Gertrude Stein is the only one who can say (or, heaven forbid, sing) "Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah!" and keep me from gagging.

Honorable Mention
Worst College Recruitment / Promotional Video

Arthur's Beauty College

Honorable Mention
Worst College Recruitment / Promotional Video

East Central University
This is the song that never ends! Oh please, make it stop! This could have been an acceptable promo, if the editors would have cut 5 minutes from this.

Special Selection
How Recruiting Videos have Changed (or not)

Monmouth College Video - 1969

Monmouth College Video - 2006

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Corporate Investments in Higher Ed: Good, Bad, or Somewhere Between?

While the web hunt for examples of the worst higher ed marketing is continuing (and thanks for the email nominations that I've received so far!), I'd like to post a very interesting article from Terra Incognita, a blog from Ken Udas at Penn State:

Should Corporate Investments have a Place in Higher Education?

"There are ongoing questions about the impact of commercial enterprises on higher education and I would like your thoughts. This topic raised its head again for me just recently. As a follow-up to the recent posting titled “Higher Education Reform in Nigeria”, I was reading an article titled “Nigeria: Akingbola Advocates Radical Varsity Reforms” that touched on the investment that Intercontinental Bank is making in the Nigerian higher education system and specifically at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

I am thinking that this topic is not so cut and dry. There are issues around need, compromise, corporate intent as well as the nature of capacity of local governments and the impulse for “Globalization” as Akingbola frames it in the articles cited above."

Read the full post here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Help Create the Codex of Terrible Higher Ed Marketing!

John Moravec, from Education Futures, had a great idea in his comment on When College Marketing Goes Wrong.... As of today, I'm starting a list of terrible college marketing sites and films.

There will be a few categories:

1. "They Paid Someone to Design This?!"
A list of the most poorly designed college websites.

2. "This Video is Supposed to Inspire... Whom?"
A list of the cheesiest and most tasteless college promotional videos. (Currently, Appalachian State holds the title for this one.)

3. "College PR Blunders"
Dumbest moments in college PR. (Such as UNC's 2,700 congratulatory emails on students' un-admission.)

Please, nominate your favorites!
You can use the Comments link below, or simply email me.

Names of participants in this web hunt will be kept private--so you needn't worry about nominating your alma mater, or current employer. :-)

I'll be amassing the list over the next week--from my own web hunting, and via reader nominations.

The results will be posted on February 15th.

Until then--good hunting!

Malleus Advertisarum!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

When College Marketing Goes Wrong...

Non-profit colleges are playing a serious game of catch-up when it comes to marketing themselves. Even the Chronicle of Higher Education has run features on the impact online marketing is having--as colleges come to realize that today's prospective students prefer to conduct their college searches online.

Traditional marketing methods such as print advertising, TV, radio and the ubiquitous college catalogs/pamphlets suffer from an almost total lack of accountability. After enormous up-front costs, there is no performance tracking/analytics of the sort available in well-orchestrated online marketing campaigns.

The old ways of "getting the word out" are too expensive, too difficult to track, and simply don't connect with today's prospective students.

However, if a college enters into new media advertising without the necessary research and expertise, you end up doing an enormous amount of damage to your image by posting ill-conceived promotional videos on YouTube, or creating an ugly and difficult to navigate website.

I came across this video from Appalachian State University on YouTube. Beware! A promotional video can take on a life of its own. This one has been viewed over 245,000 times, and has received almost 300 comments. Most of the comments are like these: "This video makes me what to stab myself in the face!" "This is why I go to Penn State." "Why would you go there after seeing this?!"

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Video: Angry Professor Destroys Cell Phone

Well, if you've been teaching over the past several years--you've probably *wanted* to do this...

However, this professor actually followed through with it.

I've posted before about controlling classroom rudeness, and this "technique" isn't recommended.

--The fact that this class was being filmed leads me to suspect that this was staged. But I really could see this happening, nonetheless.--

Monday, February 05, 2007

Creatives at the Top: Management Skills from the Arts

Jonathan Green is the Dean of the college at Sweet Briar College. In this piece from InsideHigherEd, he shares his thoughts on the management skills he received from training as a conductor of music:

"My discipline is music with a specialization in conducting. The longer I have served in administration, the more I believe my conducting training has provided me with the most valuable preparation for my current career. The following examples are not a claim of mastery on my part, but rather observations of the transferability of leadership skills from one field to another.

Time management: Of all college students, the musicians are generally the best time managers. From the very beginning, they are inculcated with the need to practice no matter what other competing responsibilities arise. The great music pedagogue, Suzuki, said, “Practice only on the days you eat.” This is the creed of most successful musicians. Conductors have the added need to run efficient rehearsals. Ensembles have a fixed amount of rehearsal time to prepare any performance, and in the case of professional groups, time really is money. Decisions must be made instantly. The conductor’s practice time is learning scores and preparing for rehearsals: the better the preparation, the greater the likelihood that these split-second decisions will be good ones. The conductor’s performances, in a very real way, are the rehearsals. In a very real way, rehearsals are the conductor’s performances. This is where a cohesive concert is constructed and where the conductor trains the ensemble. Concerts are a public presentation of the results of the rehearsal.

Strategic planning: The conductor must plan the season, each program, and the individual rehearsals with a complex set of goals in mind. Concert seasons must satisfy board members, cultivate ticket sales, and accommodate the repertoire of visiting soloists. Concurrently, works chosen should educate and enrich the players and the audience. The conductor must navigate a balance between challenging and comfortable works, and must do this with a goal of using these works to make the ensemble not only sound their best in performance, but also improve through the experience. With limited resources and rehearsal time, it is imperative to know where the difficulties will be and how they can best be overcome prior to each rehearsal.

Triage: One of the most important skills for any conductor is the ability to triage any rehearsal situation..."

Read the rest of the skill set here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Today's Desperation Move From Blackboard

Stephen Downes, over at Stephen's Web (one of the oldest and largest sites devoted to all things education) has just posted a response to Blackboard's desperation move today--"The Blackboard Patent Pledge":

"This is the big news today, of course. "The Blackboard Patent Pledge is a promise by the company to never assert its issued or pending course management system software patents against open source software or home-grown course management systems."

That's good, though it's pretty clearly a response to the Free Software Foundation's success in getting the Blackboard patent reviewed. Better to cut a deal before you don't have anything to protect, hm?

And even then, it's not much of a promise. As the Sakai Foundation notes, in its response, "the Sakai Foundation and EDUCAUSE find it difficult to give the wholehearted endorsement we had hoped might be possible. Some of Sakai's commercial partners and valued members of the open source community will not be protected under this pledge."

In particular, Blackboard wanted to reserve the right to take action against colleges and universities, something it needs to do, apparently, because of its current case against the Canadian company Desire2Learn.

Bottom line? It's a cynical ploy intended to divide its opponents. The appeal should be carried through. The patent should be invalidated. Blackboard's nonsensical case against Desire2Learn should be crushed."

Venture Capital Backed University--Part of an Upbeat Statistic

I thought this was apropos to my earlier post about a new type of university. It would seem that a VC backed entrepreneurial program would simply make sense--from a business standpoint. After all, what better way to get a grip on what the 18-35 yr. olds are after, than to have them pitch their own ideas. You also get access to the best and brightest of the new generation of business owners/managers/creatives.

And from a university's standpoint, it would bring much-needed funding, valuable practical experience for students, and likewise much-coveted national press. Of course, there are other issues to deal with--such as Intellectual Property Rights, technology licensing, accreditation concerns, etc.:

Analysts say the increase reflects lessons learned from the dot-com bust.

Fueled by faith in Web 2.0 start-ups and new technologies in the medical-device and alternative-energy fields, venture capitalists invested $25.5 billion in 2006, marking the highest level investment since the dot-com bust in 2001.

VC investment last year increased 12 percent over the $22.8 billion invested in 2005, according to figures released Jan. 23 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Thomson Financial, and the National Venture Capital Association.

"Investment has increased, but not at an alarming rate," said Emily Mendell, vice president of strategic affairs for National Venture Capital Association, noting that most analysts do not see the increase in investment as a sign that VCs have returned to the unrealistic expectations of the late 1990s. "The current venture-capitalist community is composed of people who survived the bubble, which is a good thing because they learned an awful lot."

Read the full article here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A New Type of University: With Venture Capital Backing

Hmmm.... It'll be interesting to see where this goes:

Grand Canyon University features classes taught by full-time business owners, not academics.

"For undergraduates who complain that college doesn't teach them anything about the real world, a new four-year school in Arizona seeks to deliver business lessons from those who know them first-hand.

Grand Canyon University's College of Entrepreneurship, based in Phoenix, will offer courses all taught by full-time business owners, not academics. Classes began on Jan. 10...

Students will have access to money from a venture-capital fund, so that their ideas can be put to work as they study. While this is not the only fund of its kind, it is among those that provide financial resources to undergraduates only."

Read the full article here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Blackboard Set to Lose Unfair Patents

Revisiting a Bad Patent

I've reported on the terrible Blackboard patent before, and how it never should have been granted in the first place.

Well, after EDUCAUSE and the Software Freedom Law Center filed formal petitions to have Blackboard's offending patent stripped--the Fed has finally begun doing its job:

"In response to a challenge from a free and open software group, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to re-examine all 44 claims of a patent that covers e-learning tools.

Patent No. 6,988,138, awarded last year to the academic technology company Blackboard, is titled "Internet-based education support system and methods." It involves the ability to grant different people, such as students and teachers, different access rights to online resources such as grades, files or quizzes.

In November, the Software Freedom Law Center, a New York-based provider of pro-bono legal services to the free and open software movement, asked the Patent Office to rethink the patent grant. In order for an invention to receive patent protection, it's supposed to be novel, useful and non-obvious. The SFLC argues the Blackboard patent doesn't meet that standard and has offered "prior art," or evidence that the invention has been used before."

Read the full post here.

UNC Mistakenly Congratulates 2,700 Students on Their un-Admission------OOPS!

Oh boy...
How would you like to be one of these students?

"An admissions department e-mail sent from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill congratulated 2,700 prospective freshmen this week on their acceptance to the school.

The problem is that none of the applicants have been admitted. They won't start finding out until March whether they've made the cut..."

You can read the full story about the PR gaff here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Minorities Closing the Achievement Gap? Take Another Look...

I came across something VERY interesting over at the Schools Matter blog.

Listening to the State of the Union Address, one might have been lulled into thinking that No Child Left Behind is producing some significant results.

Maybe not...

Here's what G. W. had to say:
Minority students are closing the achievement gap, and student achievement is rising – more reading progress was made by 9-year-olds in five years than in the previous 28 years combined, and reading and math scores for 9-year-olds and fourth-graders have reached all-time highs.

Here's what the NAEP scores (National Assessment of Educational Progress--from the US Dept. of Education) actually are:

And here is where G. W. supposedly sees the "more reading five years than in the previous 28 years combined":

Yikes! I suppose I agree - we do need better education in math (in the White House, that is).

Universities Having Trouble Walking Their Talk

"Pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV, and you can probably find a college professor opining on something - global warming, food security, poverty, you name it. But it isn't so easy to find anyone willing to opine on a college or university's practices in those same areas.

Or at least, it wasn't that easy until Mark Orlowski came along. Orlowski founded the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a Cambridge-based not-for-profit that is a special project fund of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The Institute has just released an in-depth report called the College Sustainability Report Card that looks at the policies and procedures of 100 leading colleges and universities which hold more than $258 billion, or 75 percent of all higher education investments.

The report aims to shine a light on the one part of a higher education institution's practices that aren't already scrutinized. After all, you can find plenty of statistics on academic achievement and financial aid. But as the report notes, "the focus has not been on how schools, as institutions, manage their resources.'"

You can read the full article here.

Cartoon: "ID Please..."

Identify Yourself

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The CIA Gets Social(ly) Networked

As I'd written before, social netowks are becoming a venue for employers, as well as the most popular way Generations X & Y connect and collaborate with one another.

However, employers aren't only looking to weed out the idiots from the pool of applicants...

Social networks have become tools by which potential employers are seeking out the best and brightest candidates.

For example, even the CIA is becoming social(ly) networked:

"If you're a Facebook member, a career as a government spook is only a click away.

Since December 2006, the Central Intelligence Agency has been using, the popular social networking site, to recruit potential employees into its National Clandestine Service. It marks the first time the CIA has ventured into social networking to hire new personnel.

The CIA's Facebook page (login required) provides an overview of what the NCS is looking for in a recruit, along with a 30-second promotional YouTube video aimed at potential college-aged applicants. U.S. citizens with a GPA above 3.0 can apply.

"It's an invaluable tool when it comes to peer-to-peer marketing," says Michele Neff, a CIA spokeswoman."

Read the full article here.

Microsoft Caught "Doctoring" Wikipedia

OOPS! Microsoft caught trying to "influence" Wikipedia articles:

Microsoft Corp. has landed in the Wikipedia doghouse after it offered to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced Web encyclopedia site.

While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.

"We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach," Wales said Tuesday.

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an open-source document standard and a rival format put forward by Microsoft.

Read the full article here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What Drives Innovation in Organizations

John Moravec, over at Education Futures has just posted about a study from Gallup Management Journal, regarding innovation in organizations.

The Gallup Management Journal recently published an article on what drives innovation in organizations. Shelley Mika disentangles innovation from creativity and identifies four driving principles of innovation, based on discussions with key thinkers and leaders. All four principles are focused on people...

Community Colleges' Growing Importance

The debate over the changing role of higher education is ramping up in academe. On one hand, there is the "higher ed should not simply be a training ground for the future workers of tomorrow" crowd, citing the many ethical and political risks associated with that position.

On the other hand, there is the "students are entitled to receive the type of education they will require to succeed post-graduation; besides, with the financial fate of un-skilled workers looking more and more bleak, isn't consigning them to a position among the 'have-nots' the greater injustice?" group. And of course, there are an unlimited number of other positions/perspectives...

Community colleges--long disrespected among 4-year colleges--have recently been gaining ground. In many cases, due to rising costs, students are choosing to complete as many credits as possible at their local community college, before entering their BA/BS programs. Financially, it makes a LOT of sense (I wish I had had that opportunity, but at the time, Northwest PA had no community college all...):

With their low tuitions and convenient locations, community colleges like Massasoit serve nearly half the country's undergraduates – everyone from second-career starters like Mr. Loughran to new immigrants to fast-track high-schoolers. But by some counts, fewer than half of community college students meet their educational goals, and that has a ripple effect in efforts to educate local workforces and make the United States more competitive.

Community colleges are becoming more aware of their shortcomings, experts say, in areas such as student advising, teaching methods, and the process of transferring academic credits. To address the latter, two-year and four-year institutions are collaborating on academic standards to ensure that key courses are transferable and are graded in a similar way...

Read the full article here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lack of Skilled Workers Hurts the US

As I'd reported back in November, there is a well-documented shortage of skilled workers in the US, and it's only getting worse.

Richard Florida's book The Flight of the Creative Class documents much of the "brain migration" that's been occurring in recent years, and I highly recommend giving it a look.

(I've also written about Florida's work here, and here.)

Today, CNN is reporting on further information about what the lack of skilled workers is doing--it is quite literally holding back the US economy!

The biggest problem with job growth right now isn't too few new jobs. It's too few skilled workers.

The Labor Department's December employment report Friday showed stronger than expected job and wage growth, with a net gain of 167,000 jobs in the month, and average hourly wages up 4.2 percent from a year ago. But even in this report, the pace of job gains was showing signs of slowing down.

The fourth quarter gain was below the third quarter and 2006 saw 143,000 fewer jobs added to payrolls than in 2005, or almost a month's worth of hiring. And that's a comparison to a year in which hurricanes Katrina and Rita took a bite out of jobs.

In addition, one survey earlier in the week from employment service ADP released Wednesday showed U.S. private sector employment shrank in December, the first decline in 3-1/2 years.

But many economists and labor market experts say that job growth and the economy overall would be significantly stronger if employers could find the skilled workers they really need.

Read the full article here.

Fear and Loathing at the Office

Here is another "meditation" on the state of business, and its relation to higher education.

Charles H. Green, has a fun post on the role of spite. Reading this, I was reminded of certain departmental tiffs I'd observed over the years.

Many academics like to idealize our lives in higher education, as though we were somehow un-corporate... But in many cases, the academic life is just a mirror of the broader culture:

It’s a fun read, dishing classic stories ranging from how Cornelius Vanderbilt got even (“I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you”), to Katzenberg vs. Eisner (Hollywood dustups are the most entertaining) to Michael Dell vs. Steve Jobs (the jury’s still out on this one, though as of today Jobs has the edge).

There are a few insights: "The simplest way to create a culture is to pick an enemy," says Garnett [CEO of Ingres, and one of many enemies Oracle’s Larry Ellison appears to have crated over the years.] "We have an enemy: It's Oracle."

And, “Revenge is a response to a perceived injustice or what psychologists call narcissistic injury, known to you and me as a wounded ego. This reaction is often acute in entrepreneurs or members of family businesses, whose sense of self-worth is bound to their businesses.”

But for the most part, this article describes, rather than diagnoses. But that’s not because the topic is without implication.

The incidence of revenge, and its motivational power, stand in contradiction to what business education describes as the way things get done.

Read the full article here.

Guest Post: Teaching Ethics in Business Schools

After yesterday's post about MBA programs, I though this was a good "second act" to highlight other recent changes in MBA programs. After the corporate scandals of the past 7 years, the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the stock market crash of 2001/2002, training in business ethics has risen into the range of required courses for nearly every MBA graduate today.

Once again, a meeting of the Liberal Arts and business community...

Teaching Ethics in Business Schools
By Jason Gluckman

Teaching ethics in business schools is essential to direct prospective business personalities to understand and apply a code of conduct concerning their behavior when delivering products and services. The teaching of ethics helps businessmen to tackle difficult situations in their profession constructively. It creates awareness among students about the role of ethics in business in an international and vibrant environment. It also attempts to instill the values of honesty and respect for others in students.

Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral courses in ethics are conducted in business schools. The courses cover concepts of moral interpretation, institutional management, social bonding, and analysis of rights and duties. Teaching ethics in business schools involves an interactive study of various circumstances that lead to success in business. The roles of culture, position of an executive and human behavior are also included in the syllabus.

Leadership and organizational power are key words in the teaching of ethics in business schools. Professors detail with examples and models the ways in which leaders have incorporated ethics in their business dealings. The courses help students to attain organizational quality based on values. Teaching ethics in business schools gives an opening about various issues to be faced when dealing with social challenges.

The works of various philosophers such as Adam Smith, Marx and John Stuart Mill are taught in business schools to connect ethics and economics. Seminars are conducted to hold open discussions on these topics. Specialization in theoretical and applied ethics, along with the management of business, gives students value oriented business knowledge.

Fresh perspectives are introduced in courses with the help of visiting scholars. They conduct joint research projects with faculties of the institution. A wide variety of executive programs to evaluate new tactics, values and leadership in business firms, is conducted in business schools. Case studies, internal debates and seminars are techniques adopted in teaching ethics in business schools. The concept of ethics is always linked with social factors. In addition to values practiced in a business society, the syllabus also incorporates social inference of business strategies and corporate social responsibility.

Business Schools provides detailed information on Business Schools, Top Business Schools, Online Business Schools, Best Undergraduate Business Schools and more. Business Schools is affiliated with MBA Online.

Article Source:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Math Overrated?

If you aren't familiar with Sam Huleatt's blog, Leveraging Ideas (formerly Intelligrad), it's worth a look. He's an MBA student, coming from a Liberal Arts undergraduate background, and he runs a social media consulting business, so much of what he discusses is "from the inside," so to speak.

His post "Is Math Overrated for MBAs?" is a very interesting - and relevant - meditation on the shift in focus taking place in the broader business and academic communities. For example, there is a dire need for interdisciplinarity - which I've discussed in my post regarding the job market for Liberal Arts graduates.

From Sam's post:
Someone recently asked me about my getting an MBA degree, knowing that I was a Liberal Arts major in college. This person was interested in pursuing an MBA, but worried about the amount of math involved. While I could write endless articles on this topic, I am going to stick with one issue for now: Do you need to be good at math to succeed as an MBA student?

Short Answer: No.

When my friend asked me this question, my immediate response was that the liberal arts is the best preparation for an MBA and that overall, math was not as big a deal as one might think.

When pressed, I offered my thought: “Excel can do math for you, but Word cannot write for you.”
Read the rest of his post here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Legislative Push to Study the Quality of Online Education

Yet another salvo in the battle between brick and click universities--this time from the Wired Campus Blog:

"Ever the critic of distance education, Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, Republican of Michigan, has introduced legislation that would require scientific scrutiny of online learning. The Independent Study of Distance Education Act of 2007, H.R. 412, would direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study comparing distance-education programs to classroom instruction. The same measure was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 but was killed during House-Senate negotiations. In an interview with The Chronicle last year, the congressman talked about diploma mills and his concern that some distance education institutions could confer meaningless degrees."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Faculty as Authors of Online Courses: Support and Mentoring

Only a few years ago, if you had polled Simmons College administrators, faculty, students, and even technology staff members, the consensus would have been that “online” learning is not relevant to the mission of our institution. A “small university” with a liberal arts undergraduate program and four graduate schools, Simmons’ culture is “high touch” and personalized. To the uninitiated, distance learning seemed antithetical to our institutional mission and philosophy of learning.

Along with thousands of other institutions of higher education, our views have changed as we have become increasingly sophisticated in our understanding of the tremendous potential for online learning. Today we offer hybrid courses, three fully-online certificate programs, and an online degree program in Physical Therapy. The School of Library Science is a member of WISE, a national network of schools providing online courses in information science. A number of other fully-online and hybrid programs are in development, including courses within the College of Arts and Sciences. Not only do pioneering faculty teach online at Simmons, those in the so-called “second wave” are also developing hybrid and fully-online courses.

Our current challenge is to ensure the development of online learning that engages learners in the open-ended, inquiry-based learning that we believe is at the heart of a liberal arts education. We are finding that excellent professors whose face-to-face teaching is grounded in a liberal arts approach to learning may sometimes encounter difficulties when they take their teaching into the digital realm.

Our experience also suggests that the distinction between “pioneer” and “second wave” faculty is spurious. These labels distract from the insights and unique talents that a particular faculty member can contribute to a project. People don’t fit neatly into categories – they aren’t exclusively pioneers or second wave. Some faculty who are “second wave” in relationship to technology can be pedagogical “pioneers.” To realize the promise of online learning, we believe that academic technologists must learn how to collaborate with good teachers – even when technology isn’t a professor’s strong suit. Conversely, faculty members need help in learning how to work in partnership with academic technologists.

Good professors excel at engaging groups of students face-to-face, but few are prepared to develop courses online.

Read the rest of the article by Deborah Cotler and Gail Matthews-DeNatale here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Open Source Way

Alan Watts may forgive the pun, but there's an emerging realization among commercial software companies--giving it away leads to better growth. (Take note, Blackboard!)

This just published over at Cnet:

What's new:
A small company called Aras is adopting an open-source model for its product lifecycle management application that's built with Microsoft technologies.

Bottom line:
More software companies are deciding that the risks associated with converting to open source--such as lower license revenue and shared intellectual property--offer better growth opportunities than the traditional enterprise software model.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Guest Post: The Battle Between Click and Brick Universities

The Battle Between Click And Brick Universities
by Kadence Buchanan

The role of contemporary universities is currently experiencing tremendous change due to the advancements in technology. Today, it is not just a matter of sound administrative decisions made by institutions, but rather a global realization that e-learning is a dynamically growing industry. Undergraduate and graduate students demand their universities to provide them with the latest technological tools available, so as to increase their efficiency ratios, elevate the quality of their studies, and acquire the needed business skills, which will later help them find the job of their dreams. For-profit or non-profit universities, among other things, produce professionals and need to serve their academic "customers" what they desire if they mean to stay in business. But, are all postsecondary institutions supposed to offer their curriculums through e-learning and what is the outcome of these technological "services" for the academic community?

According to different scholars, as the industrial economy gave its place to what is known today as the "knowledge economy," the academic world was bound to be impacted. A number of alterations in the university's form, the consistency of its faculty, the demographics of its participants, the financial resources available, along with the political and social changes that have emerged, caused higher educational institutions to reconstruct their model and redesign their identity. Continuing incorporating these changes and fostering technological innovations has become a major challenge for academic institutions; who wish to keep up with the global pace, or even lead the future course of action. Internet usage and what has come to be known as the educational model of e-learning have created the grounds upon which various stakeholders argue in favor or against the proliferation of a vast variety of technology-based educational tools.

The primary role of a university is to act as an agent towards discovering, creating, preserving, disseminating, and applying knowledge. The act of accepting or rejecting substantial technological tools as educational breakthroughs, creates an opportunity for contemporary academic institutions to realize the importance of their present role and increase the outcome of their future influence on society. But, not all universities are ready to take this step towards modernization, nor should they try. Actually, the decision depends on different parameters, like the institution's "brand name", the magnitude and timing of the suggested adaptation, the skepticism of the academic environment, the cultural norms embedded in its system, and the acceptance ratio of the society within the institution operates.

E-learning has created two divisions in the academic field that are possible to be united to one great new force. ‘Brick' and ‘click' universities, distinguished by the physical location of their classes, residential or virtual respectively, target the same audience and thus come in opposition. Close observation and qualitative studies have indicated that there is a positive possibility which emerges in-between these two forms of contemporary education. The suggested brick-and-click academic form resembles that of a joint-venture and constitutes a very interesting and rather complete new model that has great future potential in this information age. Under this notion, click and brick universities are not in fact enemies. They are comrades in the vast battlefield of knowledge and they have to remain interrelated in order to increase their performance ratios, ensure higher quality standards for those enrolled, apart from increasing their profit ratios.

The potential benefits from e-learning become clearer, when one considers the global nature of the network constructed through the use of the Internet, the increased number of students in every virtual classroom, the availability of online resources and the ability of business oriented students to enroll. What is probably jeopardized is power and control, in comparison to the traditional model, as the old classic relationship between a professor and a student is transformed, since e-learning lacks personal contact and face-to-face interaction. Nevertheless, as long as the adequate budget and the necessary technological resources are available, administration and faculty members have the ability to use technology and its manifestations towards the improvement of this recently introduced educational tool, while eliminating drawbacks and taking full advantage of the opportunities these new e-learning techniques offer to all.

Although the e-learning educational model has to surpass the threat of creating a rivalry between elite and mass education students, the brick versus click universities battle has to end and these educational forms need to become allies. Constructing a new physical and cyber space community, where people exchange ideas, interact via a variety of tools, learn about different cultures, increase their overall knowledge base, enhance their capabilities, and most importantly learn how to think critically while judging their role during this process, is the primary responsibility of contemporary universities; whether existing online or in a physical space. The conclusion supported is that there should be no battle. Such arguments and debates stall educational exchange and are major setbacks, sacrificing the sacred mission of a university to create and promote knowledge.

Kadence Buchanan writes articles on many topics including Science, Education, and World of Science.

Article Source: reprint-content

Friday, January 12, 2007

An Argument Against High-Cost Degrees

A somewhat contrarian view to the first article in this two-part series is from no less than Forbes Magazine.

Here's a sample from the full article, Is College Worth It?.

...Search engines such as Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) have ushered in the era of open-source learning. Society is rapidly progressing to the point where any Googler is on equal footing with a Widener Library pass-holder.

Most of today’s higher-paying jobs go to those who exhibit a combination of adaptable intelligence, numeracy, communications skills and a strong work ethic, as opposed to evidence of specific knowledge.

Which leads to a third, and no doubt controversial, point. Society once counted on universities to imbue students with the traits named in the paragraph above. It was once assumed, for instance, that a liberal arts degree holder was numerate and literate and knew how to draw lessons from history, weigh evidence, think, write, speak, debate and learn. Or so Larry Summers, the ex-Harvard president, innocently imagined. He thought undergrads should learn about the math-and-science-driven world they’d be entering as adults. This belief conflicted with the postmodern professoriat that prefers cutting rap records to teaching--or, if forced to teach, teaches liberation theology over the American Revolution. Summers lost the battle.

My prediction is that parents who risk their own financial security shelling out $100,000 to $175,000 for a four-year degree will lose, too. History will show that they could have achieved far greater returns for themselves and their children in other asset classes.

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

2 Points of View on the Cost of a College Degree

You may have noticed that the debate over whether a college degree is actually worth the cost has been heating up over the past decade.

As the cost of tuition, fees, room, board, textbooks, etc. grows year after year, many are finding it difficult to keep up (especially students and families from the working classes).

Undergraduate federal student loan debt has reached an average of $19,202. The graduate average is more than double that, and in Medicine it has reached $125,819. (*Source:

When one considers that these averages are calculated using only Stafford and Perkins loan debt, it's rather chilling. The yearly limits placed on these loans are lower than the total costs of most colleges--and that's particularly true for private colleges. There is a growing demand for additional private sector loans, in addition to those offered by the government to supplement the shortcomings of federal, institutional, and state financial aid.

At the graduate level, the student is more likely to beat his/her debt to the grave...

I'm going to present two viewpoints on this subject. The first article can be found here. The opposing view can be found here.

Guest Post: How Much is Your College Degree Worth?

How Much is Your College Degree Worth
By Christine Silva

Although many Americans work in unskilled labor, the outlook for non-college graduates continues to grow bleak. Now, with the majority of unskilled and mildly skilled labor being outsourced, it is almost impossible to guarantee a stable income without some higher education.

According to the US Census Bureau, a college education almost certainly guarantees a higher income and overall lifetime net worth. American workers with bachelor’s degrees earn almost double those with only a high school diploma. The average college-educated US worker earns $51,206 per year, versus only $27,915 for a high school graduate. Those with college degrees also have higher employment rates than those with less education. Workers with advanced degrees are employed at a rate exceeding 86%. They have better job security, better retirement, and have an easier time finding employment.

Non-high school graduates, on the other hand, have a poor employment outlook. Only 52% of these workers are employed, and they retain an abysmal employment outlook throughout their lifetimes. And, if these workers find employment, their relative earnings never exceeds $25,000 per year. Even more alarming, when these workers become senior citizens, very few of them are working. At age 55, only 38% of high school drop-outs are employed. Contrast this with senior degreed workers, who are employed at a rate of 74%. Educated workers also choose to continue working past retirement age at a higher rate. At age 65, educated workers are employed at a rate of 25-33%, almost double the rate of uneducated workers.

Many of these unskilled workers will have a difficult time supporting themselves in their elder years. With Social Security in danger, the outlook for these employees is grim. In some states, such as Alabama and Louisiana, over half a million senior citizens live below the poverty level. These states also have some of the highest school drop-out rates. In eleven states, one student in every four does not graduate from high school. In Mississippi and Puerto Rico, the dropout rate is even higher, averaging 28%.

There is a clear connection between education and prosperity. An education is excellent insurance against financial hardship, and continuing education, especially in financial and computer literacy, is decidedly beneficial to both younger and older workers. Educated Americans make more money, have more job prospects and more job security than those without a college degree. Even a two-year degree has positive impact on future earnings and employment security. With Americans living longer, it pays to invest in a college degree.

Christine P Silva, BA, CRTP

Article Source:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Social Networking's Pros and Cons

Some critics of social networking (and nervous parents) have advocated blocking access to sites like Facebook, MySpace and other high-profile sites at libraries, schools, and from home networks via web filters, etc.

However, these efforts have been rather ineffective and/or counterintuitive. Aside from the age-old guarantee that whatever one's parents disapprove of becomes infinitely cooler, many corporate and college recruiters are actively using social networks as a tool to help them find the best and brightest (as well as weed out the idiots).

Social networks, blogs, etc. are tools which students can use, or misuse. The trick is to educate them about the ways in which these new tools can be investments.

It's up to us--as professors, teachers, etc.--to educate ourselves about these new technologies first, and then help our students to employ them in the best possible ways. In particular, this is a natural fit for those involved in writing instruction... (hint-hint).

Meanwhile, a study has recently been released which details how the MySpace horror-stories are sinking in for today's teens.

It may have taken a while, but it's good to know progress is being made:

There is reason to believe that the next generation of collegiate social networkers might be more circumspect about what they choose to share with the Web at large, according to a survey released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The study, "Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview," found that two-thirds of junior-high and high-school students with MySpace profiles restricted their photos and personal information to people they deemed friends.

You can see the full post here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Guest Article: Negotiating a New Job's Salary

Alexander Rudloff has written this article (reprinted here with permission) about an issue which is bound to come up for those in academe, and the private sector. It is also a timely follow-up to my article on the job market for liberal arts grads.

Negotiating a New Job's Salary
By Alexander Rudloff

Often when receiving a job offer, candidates are eager to sign on the dotted line. Maybe they've been with out work for awhile, maybe it is an increase in pay, or maybe it is simply a better commute.

It is important to remember though, that the most important time in salary negotiations are those early meetings. Be prepared and act confident, it can mean a huge difference in your future lifestyle.

Here is some advice to help you land not just the gig, but the salary that you dream of:

Give a Range

The general rule of thumb in negotiations is that the first person to name a number loses. Unfortunately, most people know this and it can quickly lead to nonproductive encounters. If you are in a position where you are expected to name a number, give the range that you are comfortable with. Research salaries in your area using sites like This will also allow the conversation to move forward so you can learn all the new costs associated with the gig.

Know the Costs

Make sure to factor in all the expenses your new position will require. Will you need a new wardrobe? Does it require you to pay tolls on your commute? Is there overtime pay? What's the health insurance like? Are you going to have to worry about your own retirement package? Total compensation is important in determining the salary that you require for accepting the job. Don't sell yourself short.

Be Bold

Fortune favors the bold. Especially if the bold has previous experience. Remember that managers are trying to keep their costs low. Salaries can often represent the largest cost within a company. If you have a target number in mind, always respond with something higher. Remember one key thing -- If they say no, negotiations are not over. If they say yes, the negotiation period is finished. Many companies have policies that prevent salary increases over certain percentages. You may only grow 4-5% a year once employed by the company. During negotiations, this can be achieved in seconds. Be bold. You owe it to yourself and your family.

Consider Growth Potential

A high salary may mean nothing if you are not learning skills to use later on in your career. Sadly, the concept of a life long position is a disappearing notion. Always try to search out positions that will train you for your next job and improve your resume. If a job has a lower than expected salary, but a ton of growth potential and training, it may be worth considering, especially if you are lacking experience.

Outline Key Goals

Another strong tactic is to work out an outline of suggested accomplishments. Negotiate a follow up meeting for an early review at the 6 month period. When the time comes, be prepared to show how you've accomplished each of the agreed upon milestones. You'll be able to make the case for a higher salary after proving yourself.

Alex Rudloff is a co-founder and CEO of, a powerful online tool for job seekers. Emurse organizes your resume creation, distribution, and upkeep through an easy to use online interface. Users are able to effortlessly send their resume off in a multitude of formats in a variety of methods. History is kept on each resume and its destination to help keep the job hunting process organized. Users are able to turn their resume into an attractive webpage at the touch of a button. Create a free account at

For articles on job hunting, career transitioning, negotiating and more, visit the Emurse blog at

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