How will open online courses affect the future of education?
By James O’Donnell
I think I taught the first MOOC in history. It was the spring of 1994.
I call it the best idea I ever had in the shower. About to teach a standard course, introducing the life and thought of St. Augustine, I wanted to do better. What about, I thought in midshampoo, inviting the rest of the world into the classroom? The Internet, after all. …
By today’s standards the technology was primitive. The first graphical Web browser had just been released, but very few people had it—or enough network connection to use it. So we depended on Gopher, the early Internet protocol, to deliver the Continue reading “The Future Is Now, and Has Been for Years”
How do you get the most out of college?
by Brian Strow (Western Kentucky)
A flourishing life is not one dimensional. It involves the search for truth and a striving for self-awareness/ self-improvement. It requires the development of one’s mind, body, and soul. A flourishing life requires faith, exudes hope, and shows love to others. It also requires a broadly defined definition of education.
Self-improvement should be a lifelong passion. Universities and colleges offer a unique development opportunity where students are enabled, and encouraged, to embrace their flourishing in a meaningful way. Universities and colleges are not meant to produce perfect graduates, but rather people who are better equipped to pursue their view of a flourishing life. Too often students obtain their degree without actually Continue reading “For Love AND Money”
What should colleges teach?
By: Brooke Allen (Q4Colleges.com)
The problem with talking about Intellectual Virtues is that it can give intellectuals the feeling they are virtuous when they are just talking.
Colleges might not think of themselves as being in the business of teaching virtues (like honesty, courage, fairness, wisdom, and love of the truth) but the fact is they can reinforce or squash good instincts. For example, a student I know wrote a college admissions essay that began with a graphic description of the earth under attack by aliens when he, as super-hero, arrived to save the day. His essay concluded by saying he wanted to go to college to save the world.
Three years into college I introduced the student to the Heroic Imagination Project (www.HeroicImagination.org). Its founder, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, wrote to the student asking how they might work together to change the world. The student wrote to me, “I’d rather not change the course of history than risk changing it for the worse.” I can not tell you how imagined courage become timidity but I can tell you when and where it happened.
Question: How can the people at colleges do a better job teaching courage? Continue reading “The Problem with Talking about Intellectual Virtues”
Are students learning the best way?
by Marshall T. Poe (University of Iowa)
Although we often forget it, reading is a profoundly unnatural act. We were not evolved to read. Eyes are for seeing, ears are for hearing, but we have nothing specifically designed for reading. That makes reading difficult in two ways. First, it’s hard to learn to read, largely because you have to rewire your brain to do it. That takes a lot of time and effort, so much so that some people never learn to read well at all. Second, even if you have learned to read well, it’s often not physically pleasurable. Natural selection gave us psychological reward systems that favor listening and watching. We generally like to listen and watch regardless of what we are listening to or looking at. In short, we were built to enjoy listening and watching more than reading. The proof of that is manifest. Over the Continue reading “Every Monograph a Movie”
How should you organize your life?
by Len Schlesinger (Babson)
The world was a very certain place when I was growing up in New York City. From an early age, I had my life planned out. Everything was marvelously scripted: I was going to go to a specialized high school; I was going to go to a great university; and I was going to be a lawyer. Despite the fact that my family had no money, through my academic performance I was able to excel in elementary school and junior high school and believed that I could do just about anything I wanted. And much of what I wanted came true. I went to an Ivy League college—and then I got to day one of law school and discovered that I had absolutely no interest in law as a career. Continue reading “Over Planning is Not the Answer in Today’s Uncertain World”
What kind of schools should students consider?
by Bruce B. Henderson (Western Carolina)
A longtime observer of higher education once called the regional state colleges and universities the “colleges of the forgotten Americans.” He meant that as a compliment, praising the regionals for democratizing American higher education. More often, the state regional universities (long known as the state comprehensive universities and now categorized as public master’s universities in the Carnegie system) have been the forgotten universities of America. In the literature on higher education, including much of the empirical research, books on university reform, and in the general higher education media, the state regional universities are frequently ignored. Research universities, liberal arts colleges, and even community colleges get more attention. In a rare instance when the Chronicle of Higher Education mentioned the regional universities they were described as “the undistinguished middle child of higher education.” Continue reading “Higher Education’s Forgotten Universities”
How much do students know?
By Nadine Dolby (Purdue)
I decided to call the panel “Listening to Parents.” As I began the organizing process last November, I was sure that “parents” was the important word in the title. After more than 20 years in teacher education, I had become frustrated and saddened by the attitudes of our undergraduate students toward parents. Although they were only 19- or 20-year-old freshmen or sophomores, our undergraduates already felt that they knew more about children and learning than the parents of their prospective students. They saw parents as annoying obstacles who contributed little to nothing to their children’s education.
As a teacher educator who focuses on multicultural issues, I also realized that the attitudes of our mostly white, female, Christian middle-class students toward parents from backgrounds different from their own was even more troubling. Continue reading “There’s No Learning When Nobody’s Listening”
How can you write better?
By Rachel Toor (Eastern Washington)
When I watch creative writers perform, I hear a host of mostly unspoken questions. In their body language, self-presentation, jokes, and post-reading interactions, they seem to be asking: Am I boring? Am I funny? Are my sentences flat and flaccid? Is the pacing right? Am I losing the audience? Am I making people feel something? Am I good enough? Ultimately, what I think they’re asking, behind all the bravado, posing, and posturing is: Am I attractive?
Listening to academics, I pick up a different set of concerns: Am I making a convincing case? Have I mentioned everything everyone else has said about this topic and pointed out the ways that they are (sort of) wrong? Do you see how much I’ve read? Have I dropped enough important names? Does my specialized language prove I deserve to be a member of your club? Am I right? At the end, I hear hope disguised as an attitude that asks: Am I smart? Continue reading “Becoming a ‘Stylish’ Writer: Attractive Prose Will Not Make You Appear Any Less Smart”
Is competition good?
By Claire Potter (The New School)
Yesterday morning I was gliding down the river in my single scull. I was ten to fifteen minutes from the dock, workout complete, leg muscles burning slightly, warming down and starting to think about the rest of the day. After I navigated the last turn, a long bend that can make you or break you in the annual 3.5 mile race our rowing club hosts in October, it would be a straight shot back to the boat house.
Then I noticed another sculler on my port side: I was about a half length ahead. Continue reading “When Is Competition a Positive Force?”
Are students learning the best way?
By David Jaffee (North Florida)
Among the problems on college campuses today are that students study for exams and faculty encourage them to do so.
I expect that many faculty members will be appalled by this assertion and regard it as a form of academic heresy. If anything, they would argue, students don’t study enough for exams; if they did, the educational system would produce better results. But this simple and familiar phrase—”study for exams”—which is widely regarded as a sign of responsible academic practice, actually encourages student behaviors and dispositions that work against the larger purpose of human intellectual development and learning. Rather than telling students to study for exams, we should be telling them to study for learning and understanding. Continue reading “Stop Telling Students to Study for Exams”