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Online Education and the Future of the MBA

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I came across a CNBC article on trends in business education. At first, I misread the article’s title and mistakenly thought that someone was proposing a 25-year MBA program. That seemed to me, of course, a shocking inversion of the current trends, one which would give a whole new meaning to the phrase the “career student.”

The actual title of the article is, however, “The Unbundled MBA: How You’ll Earn the Degree in 25 Years.” The author of the article, John A. Byrne makes a number of compelling observations and draws equally compelling conclusions from those observations.

He starts by asserting that in 25 years almost no MBA students will be educated on site—that almost all MBA students will be enrolled in online courses, where they will watch digital lectures and other digitized classroom presentations until they master the material. Byrne compares the process to watching Seinfeld re-runs until one…

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Imitation Is the Sincerest—and Most Historically Predictable– Form of Flattery

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Developers have been surrounding Chinese largest cities with upscale suburbs modeled on the major cities of Europe and North America. Not all of these “themed” developments have been equally successful, but they have attracted international media attention, especially in those nations whose urban landmarks have been replicated.

Bianca Bosker has just contributed an article to The Atlantic that shows how this trend in China has extended to new construction on the campuses of Chinese universities. Bosker does emphasize that the Chinese are doing essentially what Americans did a century ago, when new buildings on our campuses were purposely designed to imitate the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the United Kingdom and of the major universities in the other nations of Western Europe.

The following images are not from Bosker’s article but the buildings are treated in her article. Notice the similarities in the rotundas that serve as the…

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How to Write a Book Using Software Designed for Note Taking and Archiving

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The following is the opening of an article that Nicholas Carlson has written for Business Week, in which he explains how he used Evernote to write a 90,000+-word book called Marissa Meyer and the Fight to Save Yahoo. I am not necessarily promoting the use of this particular software, but I think that the slideshow that Carlson provides with the article may be of interest to those who are open to alternative ways of approaching large scholarly projects:

“It was a weird choice by me because Evernote is not a word processor. It’s a note-taking application. It wasn’t built for book-writing.

“One reason I used Evernote was because I kept all of my reporting notes and research in Evernote, and I wanted quick access to all that while I was writing.

“It felt less clunky switching between screens in the same app than switching between Evernote and a…

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Banned Books Week Is Next Week

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In 2013, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented the banning of 307 books in locations across the United States.

The ten most frequently banned books of 2013 were the following:

Captain Underpants (Series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence.

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James.
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group.

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit.

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

The…

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On Trigger Warnings: I Am Issuing a Sort of Gatling- Gun Salvo of Trigger Warnings Ahead of Your Reading This Post

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

There is almost no contemporary fiction that I could confidently describe as being universally inoffensive. I mean this without any snideness whatsoever, but I don’t know how English faculty at Christian colleges and universities manage to teach any courses in contemporary literature.

I occasionally teach an interdisciplinary Honors seminar called “The Meanings of Rivers,” in which I usually assign novels set along each of the major rivers that we focus upon. There are not many novels in English set along the Amazon. I initially tried Peter Matthiessen’s At Play in the Fields of the Lord, which thoroughly outraged a number of Christian students with its very unflattering depiction of missionaries.

So I then tried Emperor of the Amazon by the Brazilian novelist Marcio Souza. The novel treats a mercenary hired by interests headed by Henry Ford to lead an insurrection that would have created Fordlandia, an independent state around…

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More “Innovation” from Mitch Daniels

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Over the last several weeks, Purdue University has announced that its School of Communications and its College of Technology have received $500,000 grants from President Mitch Daniels for creating, respectively, a three-year baccalaureate program and a competency-based program.

In the media coverage, there has been a great deal of positive spin on the possibilities opened up by these “innovations” and almost no comment on their significant liabilities or on the ways in which they represent very corporate and potentially very destructive approaches to improving higher education. The article on the competency-based program in technology in the local newspaper, the Lafayette Courier and Journal has been very typical in sounding largely like a press release from Daniels’ office: http://www.jconline.com/story/news/2014/09/04/purdue-creates-competency-degree-program/15069165/

In an earlier post, a review of Saving Higher Edu­cation: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Pro­gram [http://academeblog.org/2013/04/29/review-of-saving-higher-education-the-integrated-competency-based-three-year-bachelors-degree-program/], I made the following points:

–The accelerated model may save some students…

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John Oliver Compares Student Debt to an STD

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

On this past Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” show, John Oliver devoted about two thirds of the show to an extended riff on the student-debt issue.

At one point, he compared taking on student debt to getting a sexually transmitted disease: “Essentially, student debt is like HPV. If you go to college, you’re almost certainly going to get it. And if you do, it will follow you for the rest of your life.”

Oliver not only highlighted the dramatic increases in student debt over the past decade but, much to his credit, linked the increases to reductions in state support for higher education, which he characterized as resulting much more from ideological priorities than from fiscal necessities.

Here’s a link to the full “Last Week Tonight” segment on student debt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8pjd1QEA0c

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Computer Grading of Essays

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Diane Ravitch’s Blog includes two items of considerable interest on the topic of the computer grading of essays.

In the first post, titled simply “Why Computers Should Not Grade Student Essays” [http://dianeravitch.net/2014/09/03/why-computers-should-not-grade-student-essays-2/], Ravitch chronicles the efforts to create software that can generate essays that the grading software will evaluate as excellent. Although the computer-generated essays are structurally sound and grammatically correct, they are actually largely gibberish, and the purpose in creating them is to emphasize all of the elements of effective writing that cannot be reduced to patterns and rules. A computer program cannot distinguish nuances in tone nor can it recognize the subtle ways in which support for an argument can be turned so that rather pedestrian details become charged with meaning.

In the second post, titled “Gates Funds Programs to Grade Student Essays” [http://dianeravitch.net/2014/09/03/gates-funding-machines-to-score-writing/], Ravitch provides overviews of four examples of how funding from…

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Mills College, a Selectively Progressive Institution

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The Oakland College Has Been Very Progressive on the Rights of Transgender Students but Not on Collective-Bargaining Rights or Adjunct-Faculty Rights

In a very recent post, I commented on Mills College’s becoming the first single-gender institution to admit transgender students [http://academeblog.org/2014/08/26/mills-college-becomes-the-first-single-gender-college-to-admit-transgender-students/].

The college’s progressivism on that issue, however, seems to stand in fairly stark contrast to its stand on the unionization of its adjunct faculty, who now account for about two-thirds of the faculty at the institution.

These faculty voted by a more than 3 to 1 margin to affiliate with SEIU Local 1021, and they have just recently begun their negotiations for an initial contract.

But, according to “The Battle for Adjunct Faculty Rights,” an article written by Sam Levin for the East Bay Express [http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-battle-for-adjunct-faculty-rights/Content?oid=4026313], the college has already been retaliating against the union’s organizers and vocal supporters:

“SEIU 1021 has already filed four…

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One Might Ask Steven Salaita Why There Are No MOOCs on Gaza

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In late July, Kris Olds wrote a piece for Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U: Global Higher Ed titled “Why No MOOCs on Gaza?” [The complete article is available at: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/globalhighered/why-no-moocs-gaza]

Rightly recognizing that the MOOC format would be perfectly suited to providing succinct overviews of the conflicts in the world’s hotspots, Olds searched sites of the half-dozen most prominent MOOC providers, a process that she describes in detail in order to illustrate that on most sites identifying the courses by topic is counterintuitively difficult. Initially she searched for courses on the conflict in Gaza. But when that search yielded no results, she looked for courses on the comparable, ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq. But none of these searches produced any results.

Olds then reflects on the implications of the seemingly complete lack of MOOCs on these regions in conflict:

“These are not insignificant places and conflicts…

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