Sunday, December 25, 2011

This Week's Reading List

A law school sues the ABA over it's decision to deny accreditation, MIT makes an attempt to disrupt higher education, and a community college on the cutting edge gets some well deserved attention, all on this week's reading list.

Less important is the substance of this one decision by the ABA, but in the larger context of the relationship between schools and accrediting bodies this is one worth watching. Accrediting bodies lack the resources necessary to defend themselves from lawsuits by large or for-profit institutions who use the courts to appeal decisions they don't like. Because of this mismatch in resources, can traditional accrediting bodies really be expected to police higher education effectively?

MIT's plans to offer basic credentials, through a non-profit affiliate, for those who master competencies through free online courses similar to its OpenCourseWare initiative. Many questions abound, particularly whether employers and institutions alike will recognize MITx credentials. The more interesting question for me: will students in traditional degree programs continue to accept that portions of their rising tuition bills are undoubtably subsidizing free initiatives such as these?

Perhaps the community college leader when it comes to using technology to build scalable, inexpensive college courses for both traditional and non-traditional students, Rio Salado College's innovative approach to pedagogy and learning gets some long overdue coverage.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Week's Reading List

Students paying for a faculty member's BMW, sabermetrics comes to higher education, and the return of Herbert Marcuse, all on this week's reading list.

"Buying the Professor a BMW"
This article paints many negative pictures about the business of higher education. I'm not sure which one is worse: what is inferred by the title, the data and analysis contained in the essay, or some of the responses to the article presumably by faculty and administrators alike.

"Colleges Mine Data to Tailor Student Experiences"
"Colleges Pool Data to Prevent Dropouts"
These are good times for information resource organizations in higher education, provided that they are nimble and flexible enough to focus on the analysis of data just as much as on the technology supporting collection and storage of the data. Is your IT organization prepared to support your institution in these critical endeavors?

"Occupy This: Is it Comeback Time for Herbert Marcuse"
We spent a lot of time discussing Marcuse when I was in grad school, particularly his emphasis on the ways advanced capitalist economies create false needs to fuel rampant consumerism. I am not surprised to find his work revived given growing debates about income inequality. But I do remember that it was Barack Obama who first evoked Marcuse's spirit in his 2008 campaign when he talked about middle class conservatives focus on guns and social issues as blinding them to the perilousness of their economic circumstances.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Week's Reading List

Here are three stories that caught my eye this past week.

"U.S. Universities Feast on Federal Financial Aid"
We live in an age where the public is adamantly against bailouts and government support for private enterprise. Yet, higher education is one of the few businesses left whose customer's primary credit lines are guaranteed by governments. Historically, what have been the consequences of increased financial aid support for students? More importantly, what happens to higher education if these programs are reduced or student loan guarantees are eliminated?

"Western Governors University Reaches 30,000 Students"
Both private and public higher education leaders have long suspected that for profits such as the University of Phoenix charge premium prices for learning experiences that are comparable to community colleges. That cannot be said for Western Governors University, which delivers competency-based instruction at tuition levels comparable to state institutions. If someone is going to figure how to use increased productivity and scalability to increase access and drive down the cost of higher education, Western Governors will probably be the one who does it.

"Colleges Buy '.XXX' Domains to Prevent Porn Parodies"
For some reason this has been controversial for some. But higher education institutions have brands and trademarks that require protection no differently than marks for companies such as Coca Cola or Federal Express. The first rule of trademark protection is that one must actively seek to protect one's marks, thus the rush to register the new .xxx domains by institutions.