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  • Dispute in Ireland over academic freedom and internationalization April 9 2020
    A fight between scholars and senior managers at an Irish university has highlighted the ongoing tension between internationalization and academic freedom. A working group established by the academic council at University College Dublin last month proposed an addendum to the institution’s statement on academic freedom, in which it explained that it was important for "a university with a large international footprint, to consider and appraise the risk of tension arising between the obligations regarding academic freedom and the strategic imperative to internationalize higher education." The draft addendum added that “there is little firm ground (including case law) on which to rest an agreed definition of what academic freedom means” and pointed out that “learning about and engaging with other traditions of academic freedom is a valuable component of such international partnerships.” It said the university should establish “whether divergent approaches to academic freedom can be reconciled or accommodated” during partnership negotiations. The working group revised its recommendations this week just hours after academics signed a petition claiming that the addendum “amounts to a serious weakening of [a] crucial academic value” and Times Higher Education approached the institution for comment. Some scholars had also raised concerns that the draft addendum and a survey on the subject were shared with staff when they were distracted by the COVID-19 crisis. However, academics said they were still concerned that the initial proposals had been considered, and they speculated about whether the university would attempt to reintroduce them at a later date. The revised recommendations suggest that UCD should introduce measures to ensure that scholars are informed about “the specific context applying to academic freedom in other jurisdictions where they may be required to teach.” They add that academic freedom should be “addressed in the initial stages of all international partnership negotiations with the aim of promoting the tradition and ethos of academic freedom as articulated in the UCD Statement of Academic Freedom.” Wolfgang Marx, associate professor in musicology at UCD, who started the petition, said the original proposals would have “relativized” and “downgraded” academic freedom from a basic principle to “a legal nicety that needs to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis and can be sacrificed if it stands too much in the way of … the acquisition of lucrative fee-paying students, and the setting up of joint programs and campuses.” While Marx described the university’s U-turn as a victory for academics, he added that the increasing financial pressure on universities as a result of the coronavirus crisis might result in other institutions considering changes to their academic freedom policies in a bid to secure more international partnerships. Patrick Paul Walsh, full professor of international development studies at UCD, said it was “quite concerning” that the university “would even consider trading off” academic freedom “to profit from internationalization of education.” “A lot of governments are not open to the idea that academics can talk absolutely freely … Maybe we just shouldn’t be setting up partnerships in these countries,” he said. Grace Mulcahy, chair of the academic freedom working group at UCD, said it had “revised its recommendations in response to the feedback received from faculty.” “The objective of the working group was to provide additional protections to strengthen academic freedom,” she added. GlobalEditorial Tags: IrelandTimes Higher EdIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
    Roundup: Emergency aid, budget cuts and a rhyme April 9 2020
    The novel coronavirus continues to upset our worlds. But it's possible we're getting closer to a vaccine, as those who had the virus donate their blood and plasma for research. In possibly more disturbing news, apparently we are all having the same nightmares, fueled by anxiety around COVID-19. To ease that anxiety, here are some palate cleansers. First, a roundup of funny memes and videos to ease your mind. Here's a nice rhyme to send your would-be Passover Seder guests during this time. pic.twitter.com/G2wv3BOu8W — Prof Dynarski (@dynarski) April 8, 2020 And, if you're bored, here's a handy guide to at-home bird watching.​ Let’s get to the news. New York is on a roll. Andrew Cuomo, the state's Democratic governor, announced New Yorkers who have private student loans will get some relief, including the ability to defer their loan payments for 90 days. Advocates have called for Congress to extend some of its federal student loan relief conditions to private borrowers, but that wasn't included in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. The City University of New York has started an emergency relief fund for students who are struggling because of COVID-19. It hopes to eventually raise $10 million for the fund and will initially give $500 each to 14,000 students. Law graduates who can't take the July bar exam because of the coronavirus may still be able to practice law. The American Bar Association's Board of Governors passed a policy resolution urging state licensing authorities to let recent graduates practice in a limited capacity. Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you): Institutions are changing how much they weigh students' evaluations of instructors due to the ongoing health crisis. Doug Lederman explores what that could mean for the common tool. Many colleges have agreed to offer dorm room space for first responders to the coronavirus pandemic. This can require them to clean out students' belongings -- which doesn't always go smoothly, Greta Anderson reports. In the midst of all this, an annual survey from the American Association of University Professors found that faculty pay is flat, as it has been for the past few years, Colleen Flaherty reports. Scott Jaschik wrote about another study that found minority enrollment decreases at colleges in states where affirmative action is banned. News From Elsewhere Education Dive has a piece on online proctors, which are in high demand now that higher education has gone virtual. The National Association of Student Financial Aid and Administrators wrote about expected budget cuts in states, including cuts to higher education. The pandemic-induced recession is hitting the higher education industry unevenly, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Small colleges are particularly concerned. Percolating Thoughts This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others. The president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities makes the case for a national coalition aimed at retaining at-risk students and building digital infrastructure. Higher Learning Advocates, a D.C. think tank focused on nontraditional students, asks institutions to not "waste a crisis." A professor and a dean discuss how to teach labs online in the age of coronavirus. Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below. We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together. Editorial Tags: CoronavirusImage Source: Istockphoto.com/FPMIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
    Americans are losing income and preferring online education April 9 2020
    Six in 10 Americans have lost jobs, hours or income from the coronavirus pandemic, according to results of a new survey from Strada Education Network, a nonprofit that researches and funds education and employment pathways. These results are the second weekly batch in a multiweek longitudinal study. The share of respondents who have lost income is up 15 percentage points from the previous week's results. Strada's data suggest that degrees and credentials are not insulating Americans from the economic effects of the pandemic. Two-thirds of associate or vocational degree holders and 63 percent of bachelor's degree holders reported lost income, compared to only 54 percent of participants with some college experience but no degree. "Although this is hitting everyone really hard, in some ways that population was a little bit less impacted by losing jobs or income," Nichole Torpey-Saboe, Strada's director of research, said in reference to the participants with some college credit but no degree, noting that in the future the organization may want to look at the industries where those respondents are employed. About a third of respondents said that if they were to lose their job, they believe they would need additional education or training to maintain their same income, consistent with the previous week's results. Of those, 64 percent said they would look for a job in a different field. The Strada respondents also demonstrated a large preference for online instruction. Over half said that if they were given $5,000 to invest in their education, they would spend it on online education, as opposed to in-person education or employer-provided training. Torpey-Saboe said that while a person's level of education affected what degree level they would choose to pursue in that situation (bachelor's degree holders aren't looking at community colleges, for example), the preference for online was felt at all education levels. "We haven't seen any sort of pattern that stands out for level of education," she said. The survey did not address how consumers believe they will pay or would like to pay for any future education. Dave Clayton, Strada's senior vice president for consumer insights, said that when the dust settles and government stimulus bills have been completed, that may be a better time to ask the question. Andrew Hanson, director of research at Strada, said that while the survey did not look at exactly how this downturn is affecting employment pathways, there is definite concern in that area. "Access to things like internships and other options that employers provide are of concern I would think going forward, but it's probably too early to tell," he said. In the 2008 recession, he noted, more recent employees were usually the first to be let go. "No reason to anticipate that will be different this time," he said. The latest survey was conducted with 1,000 respondents over the age of 18 and was representative of the general population in terms of age, gender, region and race. Editorial Tags: CoronavirusFinancial impactsImage Source: Istockphoto.com/Freer LawIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Out of WorkTrending order: 2Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
    Community college faculty members adjust to remote learning April 9 2020
    As the novel coronavirus spread, colleges around the country were forced to quickly close campuses and move learning online to help flatten the curve. But not all at once. Colleges with fewer resources (and smaller endowments) stayed open for weeks after many highly selective institutions made the switch. Some cited concerns for their students, many of whom rely on campus services like food pantries and computer labs to be successful. By now, though, instruction nearly everywhere has gone virtual. Inside Higher Ed asked faculty members at community and technical colleges how the shift to remote learning is going at institutions that often have less federal and state funding support while serving some of higher education's most vulnerable students. Some were optimistic they would get through this with their students, despite difficulty learning how to adapt to online instruction. Others are using a plethora of virtual tools to keep students connected and learning. Those who teach hands-on skills face the most challenges, from finicky technology to concerns for how to grade students' understanding of the lessons.​ Their emailed responses, which have been edited for length and clarity, are below. David Shapiro, founding faculty member of philosophy at Cascadia College in Washington I have been a classroom teacher of philosophy for more than a quarter century, and I am, if I do say so myself, pretty good at it. I know how to engage students in the questions, I’m skilled in techniques for fostering dialogue and discussion, and I have countless exercises in my bag of teaching tricks for creating a vibrant community of inquiry in the classroom. I have developed my abilities over the course of my teaching career thanks to some excellent classroom teachers of my own, lots of hard work, hours of professional development and decades of trial and error. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, and every day in the classroom I learn something new that can help me be better tomorrow. Now, however, I’ve been thrown into the world of online teaching and have had all of one week of “extended spring break” to convert my spring quarter classes to the virtual environment. I’m committed to doing the best job I can, but it’s ludicrous to imagine that the learning experience for my students will be anywhere near as rich as what they would get in the “face-to-face modality.” My heart goes out to them; they had been expecting their professor to be an experienced educator; what they’re getting is something more like the graduate student I was the very first time I TAed -- that inexperienced person in front of the classroom with the deer-in-the-headlights look in their eyes. We’ll make the best of it, I’m sure, but I feel bad about how bad I will be at teaching online. I suppose the positive takeaway is that I’ll learn from the experience. A quarter century from now, I might be pretty good at it. Christian Moriarty, professor of ethics and law and academic chair of the Applied Ethics Institute at St. Petersburg College in Florida Our move to remote learning was, fortunately, a relatively smooth one. Just under half of St. Petersburg College (a state community college in southwest Florida with an enrollment of about 45,000 students) was already [using] online modalities, with all of the infrastructure and staff to support it. There was significant behind-the-scenes scrambling in the short period of time after spring break, both from the administrative and academic sides of the house, but we have a great team who got everything together. Particularly our Online Learning Services folks, who have been nothing short of miracle workers. We have synchronous meeting and proctoring software up and running to be available to anyone to wants it, students and faculty alike. There are pockets of issues here and there, such as science lab classes and clinicals, but we’re getting them handled to where both our accreditors and our students are as happy as they can be under the circumstances. A challenge we’re facing head-on is our students who are suddenly finding themselves in a full-remote atmosphere when they did not originally plan for it. After we conducted a survey, a significant contingent reported that they are feeling economic impairments due to the responses to COVID. Not only may they be out of work, but they may also be taking care of family and children at home, making them unable to concentrate as fully as they would otherwise like to on school. We’ve addressed this challenge in three major ways: bringing to bear the full attention and care of our faculty to our students and establishing a sense of normality in addition to academics, collating and distributing information and assistance on learning effectively and shifting to an online environment, and the St. Petersburg College Foundation putting the Student Emergency Fund into high gear. While we have always had the fund, focusing on helping students through tough economic situations, I’m incredibly proud of the community who have stepped up their giving to these scholars in their time of need. We’re happy to help them with what we can, such as bills, food and whatever else that can establish stability and finish the semester strong. Jeff Elsbecker, lead instructor in the digital modeling and fabrication program at IYRS School of Technology & Trades in Rhode Island Because most of my program's faculty are adjunct, we already conducted most of the communication outside of class by way of email and a digital classroom. In addition, a major part of the curriculum is CAD, which is done on computer and can be shared digitally. Finally, the bulk of our hands-on instruction had been completed. Some of the groundwork was already there, so the transition to online was not cold turkey. We've had to redefine final projects to a largely digital outcome. Some challenges include students' loss of a daily routine, which created a noticeable drop in productivity, and students' loss of access to the studio equipment, as this is still a program about making things. To help overcome some of these, we've been holding regular individual check-ins with students and morning video meetings. We've also been extending deadlines somewhat. Each student has a 3-D printer they took home with them. They are able to do a good deal of prototyping at home. Some faculty are still on duty in the studio. Students are able to send proven digital files, which we can put on our more advanced machines. They can pick these up curbside. Nels Larson, lead instructor of marine systems at ​IYRS School of Technology & Trades in Rhode Island Remote learning was new to me and personally not the way I would like to learn on a full-time basis. I always found tutorials helpful in a subject that I was familiar with. For those reasons I chose to do our presentations live. To achieve this we presented our lectures live in the classroom with no changes or preparation for one to two hours a day. This did keep the attention of the students and was well received for one and a half weeks. The problem we started to have was getting the hands-on presentations and the hands-on experiential learning needed to continue the class. It will take a substantial investment to prepare and deliver that type of material. We prepared a pre-record[ed] demonstration and presented it to the students. The lesson was using a volt meter and ampacity of wire. We physically burn a wire. This demonstration is dangerous and necessary to understand the lecture. We recorded, and it took three different takes before we were ready to present. The presentation was good but did have some inaccuracies. This would be acceptable in the shop. At that point we determined all record[ed] demonstrations need to be of a high standard. We also felt the students who needed to ask questions did not ask them. I believe that remote learning will not work with students who have no experience in the topic being taught. The amount of material needed to learn in a six-month period cannot be delivered remotely. Technical trades can only be taught remotely in tutorials to students who have a technical [background] and in small doses. AnneMarie Garmon, instructor of criminal justice at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina​ My approach to remote teaching was to focus on maintaining a high level of learning and connection while also minimizing stress for my students. I knew that all of the unknowns of our current situation were causing a lot of anxiety for me personally, and when I thought about what my students might be feeling, I realized that their mental health was also very important to our collective success. I have made communication the No. 1 focus, because if we can talk with each other, about not just academic topics but also life challenges, we can begin to feel as if we have a little more control of the “new normal.” Some items that I’ve implemented to help keep communication open include Google Hangouts, WebEx teams/meetings and Calendly (which students can use to schedule one-on-one virtual meetings). I also have given my students a phone number they can text through Google Voice. Because we have so many ways to reach out, I wanted to capitalize on as many options as I could to appeal to the students’ preferences as well. The last thing I’m considering adding is a platform on social media, like Facebook, for a more informal way to socialize. One of the most effective tools that I have used in teaching, which fosters great communication for both academic topics and current events, is Packback. A platform for online discussion, Packback allows the students to discuss topics and issues that are subject-related while also not overburdening me as the instructor. The use of AI in the platform also gives students feedback to help them create thoughtful questions and responses, and not just the typical “I agree” that we see in discussion boards. I added this tool to my classes that went from seated to online, and thus far it has been easy for the students to use. Now that we have settled into the online environment with our traditional students, I hope to keep adding tools to help us continue social interactions virtually. I am also going to organize some optional activities for the students, like using Zoom to have a coffee meeting or using Kast to host a watch party online. I believe that learning can take place in these settings just as easily as the classroom -- we just have to adjust and accept change. Hans Scholl, instructor of boat building and restoration at IYRS School of Technology & Trades in Rhode Island The predominant part of our curriculum is hands-on shop work, restoring wooden boats, and is not transferable to nor replaceable by remote learning. For the part that teaches theory, we spent one week preparing for remote teaching. Half of that week was implementation, training and testing of technical options, mostly using Zoom. The other half was preparing content and preparing the students in one-to-one phone calls for the upcoming remote teaching.​ We are currently holding two classes every morning, with the afternoons spent on documentation, one-to-one phone interaction with students, where needed, and mostly with preparing content for next days’ classes. Because we can directly demonstrate practical skills in the shop during regular class, we had little incentive in the past to create videos of these demonstrations. On the other hand, these videos would be good to have in the current situation. We have started to film in the shop but have not had the time nor resources to get very far. The session we filmed was done by one instructor in the shop, taking video with his phone, which was then part of the Zoom recording. Though the result was commendable to be used in the current situation, any results obtained in this fashion remain inferior to a dedicated video, filmed by a second person with professional video-photography and editing skills, good lighting and a dedicated camera, where the instructor is free to fully focus on content and not also taking video. ​We have encountered mostly technical problems, such as the low bandwidth of Zoom, which makes it not feasible to stream video and results in choppy audio and pixelated video in general. At times, not even screen sharing of text was possible, leading to early termination and rescheduling of one class.​ Platforms other than Zoom had similar issues. The best option for small student groups and coordination between instructors has been Apple’s FaceTime. During a typical school day, student understanding of the theory taught is mostly verified during the subsequent hands-on work on restoring boats, where subjects that were not clearly understood by the student become visible during their application and can then be retrained and practiced. This approach is not feasible during remote learning. We reverted to more discussion to obtain student feedback, which was often compromised by the technical problems and low audio quality. Some students have no video capability, which makes us miss visible cues that we would get face-to-face. We plan on testing understanding through quizzes but haven’t had any time to prepare, administer, correct and follow up with students yet. Editorial Tags: CoronavirusTechnologyFacultyCommunity collegesImage Source: Istockphoto.com/damircudicIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0