Monday, October 13, 2014

LWRT October 13, 2014

This week in Last Week in Retweets, we consider what might be an actual good argument for MOOCs, a less impressive argument about the software that makes MOOCs possible, jobs, skills gaps (or lack thereof) among minorities, adjuncts, the Carnegie Classifications, rankings (as always), and uh, the loo.

Carnegie Classifications, Via Indiana [and the Lumnia Foundation], Insider Higher Education

The 2015 edition of the Carnegie Classification of postsecondary educational institutions will be produced not by the Carnegie Foundation but by Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research. The change is a response to the increasing complexity of institutional missions, with many schools offering degrees not associated with their traditional missions. Indiana will take advantage of links to other programs at IU, such as the NSSE and classification work with the National Student Clearinghouse. It will also partner with the Lumnia Foundation's Degree Qualifications Profile program to include non-institutional providers of higher education credentials. A substantial revision of the classification is expected in 2018.

Tech jobs: Minorities have degrees, but don't get hired, USA Today

In spite of claims that there is a lack of qualified minority candidates for tech jobs, minorities graduate from top computer science programs at twice the rate tech companies hire them. While Blacks and Hispanics each comprised 9% of 2012 graduates from US institutions and make up 12% and 16% of the national workforce, respectively, they comprise only 2% and 3% of workers at Silicon Valley firms that have released data. A major part of the problem, USA Today reports, is a disconnect between the institutions producing minority graduates and those from which companies recruit.

Global University Rankings and Casualization, CASA

Most global higher education rankings do not consider the use of casual labor, argues CASA, a blog addressing casualization issues in Australian higher ed. The QS and Times Higher Education rankings, the most prominent rankings of worldwide universities, both consider student to faculty ratios as indicators of educational quality but neither considers whether faculty are permanent employees or employed term-to-term. This creates an incentive to employ more adjunct instructors, as universities seek to improve in rankings at low cost by having courses staffed by graduate students.

It’s All about the Assets, Inside Higher Education

Rice University's expanded MOOC portfolio has gone beyond just tech. Carol Levander, the institution's Vice President Strategic Initiatives & Digital Education, argues that Rice has used MOOCs to develop two assets that improve both online and traditional instruction: digital content that can be used in multiple formats to meet a range of needs, and improved knowledge of teaching and learning. This is a significantly different vision of MOOCs from, for example, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, who sees them primarily as ways of increasing scale and reducing costs; Levander notes that MOOCs are expensive and difficult but produce a combination of assets that benefits the University far more broadly.

Gates Foundation Focuses on Courseware to Help Low-Income Students, Phil Hill

The Gates Foundation announced seven finalists for a $20 million challenge to develop courseware for high-enrollment lower-division courses. Courseware is a system that combine curriculum, course content, and delivery platforms in a single product. The expectation is that courseware can develop more personalized learning (without using, you know, people) that will support completion for low-income students. The program emphasizes a long-term development cycle and third-party evaluation of products. The program is controversial, however, with courseware challenged by some as promoting corporate-developed content that homogenizes basic courses through higher education, as well as leading to the overuse of hyphen-intensive language.

One in three jobs will be taken by software or robots by 2025, Computerworld

Analytics leviathan Gartner led off its annual customer conference by predicting that one-third of jobs in today's economy will be taken over by robots or software by 2025. The "super class" of snmart machine technologies will replace both physical and intellectual labor; automated grading is touted as a central example. the announcement was accompanied by the usual platitudes about technology and jobs: that this is similar to other eras of rapid technological advance, that IT will need to rapidly adapt to the new normal, and that IT leaders are poised to be major players in "digital leadership." 

Not noted by Computerworld: The audience for this IT leadership conference had paid $4,750 each to hear that they were about to take over both their organizations and the U.S. economy. In short, read this not as information but as an artifact of a particular political economy, and a lesson in how the claims that challenge higher education come to be.

Is Urinating in the Shower the Next Big Green Idea? Inside Higher Education

No, really. Inside Higher Ed ran that. October 10 must have been a slow news day.

Thanks to this week's contributors: @jenebbeler, @biblioracle, @todmassa, @ctschroeder, @tressiemcphd, @reclaimuc, and @audreywatters.

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