Monday, February 13, 2012

This Week's Reading List

More on the need for change in higher education, an introduction to Obama's data wonk on higher education, and concerns about the college completion agenda, all on this week's reading list.

"What You (Really) Need to Know"
Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Secretary and President of Harvard, takes his turn at the wheel to tell higher education how and why it must change. However, unlike the one-to-many world approaches espoused by some, the recommendations by Summers have some significant many-to-many world potential. At the center of Summer's prescriptions is a focus on learning as a collaboration between faculty and students, with a focus on how to process and use information instead of simply imparting it. Those along with several other juicy nuggets make this a worthwhile read.

"A College-Cost Policy Wonk Brings Data on College Costs to the Table"
Jane Wellman is a "pull no punches" self-proclaimed number cruncher, who is advising President Obama on ways to make higher education more affordable. With a reputation for "calling it as she sees it", Wellman is well known for using data to hold all sides accountable, including both state governments ("public universities are getting screwed, and particularly community colleges are getting screwed") and college presidents (who engage in "trophy building" by hiring expensive researchers who never teach). Wellman's work through the Delta Cost Project on on Postsecondary Education Costs is an influential voice in the debate over the affordability of a higher education.

"We're Losing Our Minds"
Is the college completion agenda, the agenda for increasing the numbers of college graduates, hostile to a learning agenda that focuses on deepening the impacts of a higher learning? It could be, particularly if increased use of technology is done only to increase the scalability of a one-to-many model of imparting knowledge. Also covered, why is it that college professors struggle to leave the one-to-many lecture model? Could it be that they do not receive sufficient instruction in teaching while in graduate school? This makes me think back: in the 100 credit hours of my combined Master's and PhD coursework, only one hour was dedicated to a seminar on teaching.

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