Monday Morning Digest: Wrong Answer

The Paper Boy, Mike Bailey-Gates, CC BY-NC-NDFor those back from holiday, we hope it was a good one, and for one and all, our best wishes for a wonderful week ahead. Some heavy topics ahead…we’ll touch on professors’ salaries, gender equity in promotions, academic freedom, and (ugh!) human error…we end on some high notes. If you find food for thought, by all means, start a conversation below, carry a link over to your preferred debate venue, share this post, or let us know where the conversation should go next week (catch up with us on social media or email).

photo credit: Mike Bailey-Gates via photopin CC BY-NC-ND


SAT ‘Problem of the Day’ gives wrong answer (WaPo)
A lively discussion has arisen in the comments over whether this is more mountain or more molehill. We incline toward the latter, but this raises an interesting question: as education becomes more diversified, immediate, decentralized, commodified…who watches the watchers (and tests the testers)? The debate rages on, of course, but we think there are worse things than being forced to make an argument for your answer (critical thinking skills and all that). Naturally, we’re immune to human error, but, you know, just in case…we do take feedback.

Khan Academy partners with Taghreedat to localize its education videos into Arabic (AMEinfo.com)
One of the most-talked-about benefits of Open Education Resources is also one of the most under-utilized: the ability to make derivatives, including translations, of the materials. For all the glamour of “localization,” it’s also labor-intensive and pricey. But Taghreedat is not the first, and certainly will not be the last organization to undertake such efforts…kudos!

Grades are in for a pioneering free Johns Hopkins online class (WaPo)
Our first mention of MOOCs this week! Like most of those we’ve seen so far, the pass and completion rates easily offend the traditionally-minded (attrition is, um…high). The money quote comes from the prof, in reflection: “it is awesome to be a professor in a time where teaching is the hottest topic in higher education at research-driven universities.” Teaching? Learning? At a university? Sounds a little radical, but we’re gonna support it.

A New Type of Certification for Learners in the Digital Age (OCW Consortium)
When it rains, it pours, eh? In partnership with Open Study, the OCW Consortium, 20 Million Minds Foundation, and Excelsior College will offer college credit for online courses. This comes on the heels of similar announcements by Coursera and, if we may, by the Saylor Foundation. Initial courses will come from OCW members UC Irvine, Notre Dame, and TU Delft. Stay tuned for more credit options on our end, too…we’ve got some news in the not-too-distant future that we’ll be proud to share!

Accreditors Are Urged to Take New Steps to Protect Academic Freedom (Chronicle of Higher Education)
This story is almost quaint in its subject matter…these day, when we hear “academic freedom,” we might think of the liberating advantages of online teaching or the increasing freedom of students to forge their own academic pathways. Nevertheless, according to the advisory statement quoted in the article, “in today’s highly charged political environment” challenges to academic freedom show “no promise of abatement.”

Working for Change in Higher Education: The Abysmal State of Adjunct Teacher Pay (TowardFreedom.com)
First off: apologies (or, alternatively, “you’re welcome!”) for the ideological slant of this outlet…but really, we should apologize for our manners…in the U.S., it’s generally rude to talk salaries, except in the cases of CEOs, celebrities, teachers, and a handful of others (and in these cases, everyone’s got something to say). The story of pay for higher education doesn’t get as much play as salaries of primary and secondary educators, and gets short shrift was well from all our talk about tuition, etc. But or course it matters to the professors, it matters to the schools, it matters indirectly to the students, and it matters for free education providers (*cough, cough*) who are sometimes thought to undermine what works in higher education.

Philippines Leads Pack in Promoting Female Academics (NY Times)
Here’s a nice shout out to our friends in the Philippines, and promising news for other nations as well (with some recommendations to keep the trends positive).

Montgomery high school teacher engages students by putting math lessons to rap (WaPo)
We’re throwing this one in for a little bit of the lighter side — and as an homage to all the teachers who work so hard to make inspired teaching look so easy. Also, if this wins any new listeners to Nerdcore, well, we’re pretty happy about that, too.

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