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Posts suspended for a bit while I settle into a new job. . . 

Entries in HigherEd (7)


Clay Shirky on "The End of Higher Education's Golden Age"

I have heard of Clay Shirky, but don't recall having had the opportunity to read him before. According to the Wikipedia,

Clay Shirky (born 1964) is an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He has a joint appointment at New York University (NYU) as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and Assistant Arts Professor in the New Media focused graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). His courses address, among other things, the interrelated effects of the topology of social networks and technological networks, how our networks shape culture and vice-versa.

Here in his blog, he writes starkly about, in general, the development of the current model of higher education and its declension, and, in particular, why higher ed will change to embrace tech-enabled, large-scale, low-cost models. 

The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age

Interest in using the internet to slash the price of higher education is being driven in part by hope for new methods of teaching, but also by frustration with the existing system. The biggest threat those of us working in colleges and universities face isn’t video lectures or online tests. It’s the fact that we live in institutions perfectly adapted to an environment that no longer exists.

In the first half of the 20th century, higher education was a luxury and a rarity in the U.S. Only 5% or so of adults, overwhelmingly drawn from well-off families, had attended college. That changed with the end of WWII. Waves of discharged soldiers subsidized by the GI Bill, joined by the children of the expanding middle class, wanted or needed a college degree. From 1945 to 1975, the number of undergraduates increased five-fold, and graduate students nine-fold. PhDs graduating one year got jobs teaching the ever-larger cohort of freshman arriving the next.

This growth was enthusiastically subsidized. Between 1960 and 1975, states more than doubled their rate of appropriations for higher education, from four dollars per thousand in state revenue to ten. Post-secondary education extended its previous mission—liberal arts education for elites—to include both more basic research from faculty and more job-specific training for students. Federal research grants quadrupled; at the same time, a Bachelor’s degree became an entry-level certificate for an increasing number of jobs.

This expansion created tensions among the goals of open-ended exploration, training for the workplace, and research, but these tensions were masked by new income. Decades of rising revenue meant we could simultaneously become the research arm of government and industry, the training ground for a rapidly professionalizing workforce, and the preservers of the liberal arts tradition. Even better, we could do all of this while increasing faculty ranks and reducing the time senior professors spent in the classroom. This was the Golden Age of American academia.

He concludes: 

It will also require us to abandon any hope of restoring the Golden Age. It was a nice time, but it wasn’t stable, and it didn’t last, and it’s not coming back. It’s been gone ten years more than it lasted, in fact, and in the time since it ended, we’ve done more damage to our institutions, and our students, and our junior colleagues, by trying to preserve it than we would have by trying to adapt. Arguing that we need to keep the current system going just long enough to get the subsidy the world owes us is really just a way of preserving an arrangement that works well for elites—tenured professors, rich students, endowed institutions—but increasingly badly for everyone else.

See the whole post at the link.  

As with many good/provocative blog posts, you should be sure to read the comments conversation at the bottom. 


Beloit College's Mindset List

Part 1: Beloit College has published its annual "Mindset List," which describes the ". . . cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall." The sixty-item list is here, and starts with 

  1. Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.
  2. They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.
  3. GM means food that is Genetically Modified.
  4. As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.
  5. “Dude” has never had a negative tone.
  6. As their parents held them as infants, they may have wondered whether it was the baby or Windows 95 that had them more excited.
  7. As kids they may well have seen Chicken Run but probably never got chicken pox.
  8. Having a chat has seldom involved talking. 
  9. Gaga has never been baby talk.
  10. They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
  11. They have known only two presidents.

 Part 2: the list has finally generated a mockery site. From Inside Higher Ed

Beloit releases annual 'mindset' list -- and two professors try to kill it

Submitted by Scott Jaschik on August 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Beloit College's "Mindset List" has become a rite of fall. Each list (such as the one being released today) offers examples of things that an 18-year-old arriving on campus would and would not have experienced. Names of some people who were significant to their parents' generation (this year Dean Martin and Jerry Garcia, among others) have "always been dead." In theory, professors and administrators get a reminder not to assume that the new students on campus share their cultural and historic signposts.

For Beloit, the list has been public relations gold, resulting in countless articles (including on this website every year), a book, even, and imitators as far away as Australia. There have also been grumbles from academics who have tired of the format (or PR people who admit to being jealous that Beloit thought of this idea first).

Some bloggers have challenged the list. An Inside Higher Ed blogger, Kenneth C. Green, wondered in 2010 whether the list contributes to the sense of many faculty members that today's students somehow know less than did previous generations, a common -- if not necessarily verified -- lament whose reinforcement may not be a good thing for anyone.

This year two anonymous professors -- one from a large public university and the other from a community college -- have declared their intent to destroy the list, which has been going strong since 1998. They are unveiling a site -- Beloit Mindlessness -- that is "dedicated to the mockery and eventual destruction of the Beloit mindset list."

See the full story at list. 

Myself, I find it an interesting enough list, and more a reminder of the increasingly wide delta between students' ages and mine than anything else. . . 


ACRL on Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy

ACRL = the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.

ACRL recently published Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy: Creating Strategic Collaborations for a Changing Academic Environment. It is a white paper that ". . . explores and articulates three intersections between scholarly communication and information literacy." (It is an interactive online publication; there's also a pdf version here.) 

Here is the executive summary (as chapter one): 

This white paper explores and articulates three intersections between scholarly communication and information literacy, arguing that these intersections indicate areas of strategic realignment for librarians in order for libraries to be resilient in the face of tremendous change in the scholarly information environment. The three intersections are:

  1. economics of the distribution of scholarship (including access to scholarship, the changing nature of scholarly publishing, and the education of students to be knowledgeable content consumers and content creators); 
  2. digital literacies (including teaching new technologies and rights issues, and the emergence of multiple types of non-textual content);
  3. our changing roles (including the imperative to contribute to the building of new infrastructures for scholarship, and deep involvement with creative approaches to teaching).

Based on these intersections, this paper provides strategies that librarians from different backgrounds and responsibilities can use to construct and initiate collaborations within their own campus environments between information literacy and scholarly communication. These strategies, or core responses, will support libraries in becoming more resilient in the face of the changing digital information environment.

After articulating these intersections and exploring core responses, the paper recommends four objectives, with actions for each, which could be taken by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), other academic library organizations, individual libraries, and library leaders. The overarching recommendations are:

  1. integrate pedagogy and scholarly communication into educational programs for librarians to achieve the ideal of information fluency;
  2. develop new model information literacy curricula, incorporating evolutions in pedagogy and scholarly communication issues;
  3. explore options for organizational change;
  4. promote advocacy.

This white paper is issued as both a PDF and an interactive format. The latter serves to "model new dissemination practices," an objective of ACRL’s Plan for Excellence (2011). Moreover, we hope readers will add comments and reactions there to help further the conversation. 



Higher Ed Tech Trends

"6 Higher Ed Tech Trends To Watch in 2013," by Bridget McCrea in Campus Technology -- 

Here are six areas that every IT pro in higher education should keep an eye on during the coming year.

With every corner of the higher education space impacted by technology in one way or another, keeping up with the latest and greatest products, tools, applications, and equipment is no easy feat. To help, Campus Technology picked the brains of several university CIOs to get their take on the key IT trends that will take hold in higher education during the coming year. Here are six important areas that IT professionals in the space should keep an eye on in 2013. 

See the link for details -- the six trends are  

  1. More sophisticated use of big data. 
  2. More agile change via technology -- for example, more real-time curricular change based on student performance. 
  3. BYOD killing campus networks. Everyone has multiple gadgets, and they're all using the network. 
  4. Device-agnostic campus computing -- for example, deploy virtual desktops. 
  5. Mobile apps. 
  6. Social media. 

Compliments to this piece at the "Future" tag. 



NMC Horizon Report 2013

The publication of this report is an important event every year. It's a must-read for anyone even remotely connected to education and IT.

NMC = New Media Consortium. The NMC Horizon Report is a product of a collaboration between NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative

From the executive summary of the full report: 

Welcome to the NMC Horizon Report, a series of publications designed to help education leaders, policy makers, and faculty understand new and emerging technologies, and their potential impact on teaching, learning, and research. This specific volume, the NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition, is framed specifically around the unique needs and circumstances of higher education institutions, and looks at that landscape with a global lens over the next five years.

The internationally recognized NMC Horizon Report series and regional NMC Technology Outlooks are part of the NMC Horizon Project, a comprehensive research venture established in 2002 that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education around the globe. Since 2005, this particular edition has been produced via a collaborative effort with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, and examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry within the higher education environment.

To create the report, an international body of experts in education, technology, and other fields was convened as an advisory board. The group engaged in discussions around a set of research questions intended to surface significant trends and challenges and to identify a wide array of potential technologies for the report. This dialog was enriched by an extensive range of resources, current research, and practice that drew on the expertise of both the NMC community and the communities of the members of the advisory board. These interactions among the advisory board are the focus of the NMC Horizon Report research, and this report details the areas in which these experts were in strong agreement.

The report opens with a discussion of the trends and challenges identified by the advisory board as most important for the next five years. The main section highlights six promising technological areas and their practical, real-world applications in higher education settings. Each section is introduced with an overview that defines the topic, followed by a discussion of the particular relevance of the topic to teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in higher education. Next, several concrete examples are provided that demonstrate how the technology is being used. Finally, each section closes with an annotated list of suggested readings that expand on the discussion in the report. 

I encourage you to read the full report -- or at least its executive summary (five pages) and the preview

  • Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less 
    • Massively Open Online Courses
    • Tablet Computing
  • Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
    • Big Data and Learning Analytics
    • Game-Based Learning
  • Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
    • 3D Printing
    • Wearable Technology