Tag Archives: Higher ed

July 23, 2008, 6:26 am

Getting fired for helping students?

When you’re teaching a class and students are having trouble understanding the textbook, usually the responsible thing to do is provide them with some form of clarification in the form of a handout or some web links to additional resources. But apparently that’s a firing offense if you’re an adjunct faculty at Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College:

Pejman Norasteh — like many adjuncts — didn’t have much control over the material he was supposed to cover [in his statistics class]. But students started to send him e-mail saying that the textbook was unclear. One student said he was getting “depressed” and giving up when he didn’t understand the required assignments. Another student wrote: “As usual, our textbook does a poor job of explaining concepts. I am adding this chapter to my list of examples of how poor our book is….”

In response to the e-mail messages and personal…

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July 3, 2008, 5:02 pm

If I were the university president…

UPDATE Monday, July 7: This blog post was picked up by the student newspaper at the University of Toledo. I welcome all the readers who might be visiting CO9s from that newspaper article. Unfortunately, despite my requests and the reporter’s assurance to the contrary, the newspaper article contains the name of my employer and the rank which I hold at my college and identifies me not as the blogger at Casting Out Nines but as a professor at my college. I want to reiterate: Casting Out Nines is a private blog which is in no way affiliated with my employer. I do not speak for my employer on anything here, and my opinions are my own. The fact that my rank and affiliation were “outed” at the Toledo article was the fault of the editors there and was against my wishes. I have submitted an email of protest to the reporter and the paper about this in which I ask for my rank and affiliation to be …

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June 19, 2008, 7:39 am

Higher education and Web 2.0

Martin Weller of the UK’s Open University notes in this blog posting that there is an emerging cultural conflict between the world of higher education and the world of Web 2.0:

[T]he challenge is this – when learners have been accustomed to very facilitative, usable, personalisable and adaptive tools both for learning and socialising, why will they accept standardised, unintuitive, clumsy and out of date tools in formal education they are paying for? It won’t be a dramatic revolution (students accept lower physical accommodation standards when they leave home for university after all), but instead there will be a quiet migration. The monolithic LMSs will be deserted, digital tumbleweed blowing down their forums. Students will abandon these in favour of their tools, the back channel will grow and it will be constituted from content and communication technologies that don’t require a…

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June 10, 2008, 11:09 am

Graduation in the Arctic

Fascinating story in InsideHigherEd this morning about graduation day at the University of Alaska’s Chukchi campus, located in Kotzebue, Alaska — 33 miles above the Arctic Circle.

Today, at commencement, it is a sunny and crisp 33 degrees. Younger residents don T-shirts and shorts.

The college, in Kotzebue, a settlement of 3,000 people, clings stubbornly to a gravel outcrop on the edge of the Chukchi Sea, where flat snow-covered tundra meets icy waters. Kotzebue is accessible by boat or air during three summer months; and by air, snow machine and sled in the winter. Residents, students, and faculty live peacefully without ordinary facilities such as a dry cleaner, saloons, discos, or a car dealership. There are more snow machines and dogs than cars in Kotzebue. The town includes an airstrip for bush pilots. People headed to the landfill must pause for incoming and outgoing planes the …

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February 17, 2008, 4:49 pm

An end to course evaluations

Having been on the Promotion and Tenure Committee now for two years, and having the job of reading reams of course evaluations for not only myself but many of my colleagues to determine how good a job (or not) they are doing at teaching, I have a new appreciation for just how bad of an evaluative instrument the typical student course evaluation really is. I say let’s ditch the whole system and start over.

shannon.gifI suppose I should elaborate. The whole point of any kind of evaluation on anybody is to gather information. And I think of information the way Claude Shannon did, i.e. information is that which reduces uncertainty. Alice does an evaluation of Bob for some official purpose because the people in charge do not themselves have a clear idea of what Bob is doing, and it would be a little biased to have Bob evaluate himself, so Alice goes in to provide some kind of substantive information…

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November 8, 2007, 9:46 pm

Questions about the algebra course

Jackie asked a series of good questions about the textbook-free modern algebra course and some of the student outcomes I was seeing in it. I tried to respond to those in the comments, but things started to get lengthy, so instead I will get to them here.

Do you think the results are only a result of a textbook free course?

To repeat what I said in the comments: I think the positives in the course come not so much from the fact that we didn’t have a textbook, but more from the fact that the course was oriented toward solving problems rather than covering material. There was a small core of material that we had to cover, since the seniors were getting tested on it, but mostly we spent our time in class presenting, dissecting, and discussing problems. We didn’t cover as much as I would have liked, but this is a price I decided to pay at the outset.

Most traditional textbooks don’t lend …

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October 19, 2007, 8:00 am

Friday morning links

We’re on Fall Break right now and the living is easy — if you count being a temporary stay-at-home dad with two girls under 4 “easy”. So in lieu of real content for the time being, here are some links for you.

  • At Ars Technica’s Apple section, Jeff Smykil is wondering what the deal is with the shrinking size of Apple’s educational discounts. I’ve noticed this phenomenon too. They don’t offer discounts on iPods any more, and the discount for the forthcoming OS X Leopard is just $13 for the single-user license. Even Amazon.com is offering it for less.That’s a far cry from when I bought my iPod and Mac mini a couple of years ago, when I seem to remember getting a discount of something like 15%. (I should note that TUAW is reporting that college bookstores will be selling Leopard for around $69, and that Apple is moving away from offering educational discounts online, where it’s hard for a…

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