Sunday, January 8, 2012

This Week's Reading List

An exercise in rote, mediocre learning experiences, e-textbook savings hitting the bottom line of someone other than students, and the value of a college degree continues to be questioned, all on this week's reading list.

Stanford's experiment with the "flipped classroom" approach behind the Khan Academy runs into some unexpected criticism from students taking the online courses. This criticism: that "flipped" courses result in route learning experiences that lack challenge and fail to inspire students. Is this because we continue to leverage technology to replicate the one to many classroom lecture model, thereby focusing on scalability at the expense of better learning outcomes?

A study at Daytona State College found that students using e-textbooks only saved, on average, $1 compared to those who purchase traditional course materials. E-publishing should reduce textbook costs by eliminating printing, lowering distribution costs, and eliminating middlemen like the campus bookstore. If those savings are not going into the pockets of students or the scholars producing the content, then whose bottom line is benefiting?

A study by Georgetown's Center for Education shows that college graduates with degrees in the arts, humanities, and architecture faced significantly higher unemployment compared to graduates in health, education, business, and engineering. Critics of the liberal arts and humanities quickly latched onto these findings as further evidence that questions the value of a traditional liberal arts education. But, this study also finds that college graduates in the liberal arts and humanities do have significantly lower unemployment compared to those without any college degree. Behind the sensational headline there is a silver lining.

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