Competency-based Education (Part 4)

By | February 1, 2015

A good many years ago, when we were first putting together the curriculum for the all-online university, TUI (that would later become Trident University), I suggested a version of competency-based education that would entail the assembly of a degree out of a series of specific sub- degrees. Although I never worked out all the details of this approach,

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Competency-based Education (Part 3)

By | January 30, 2015

In this part of the discussion, I’m going to present an example of how CBE thinking interacts with a real-world problem. As part of the recent LinkedIn dialogue, I tried to think about how CBE might approach one of my own experienced areas of competence – data analysis. Our personal case studies (N=1) are always good sources of data –

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Competency-Based Education (Part 2)

By | January 29, 2015

Coincidentally, Inside Higher Education today has an article on a new report from the Carnegie Foundation that basically concedes much of the critique I offered in Part 1 of this series, but then rather arrogantly goes on to describe their “unit” as a gold standard, and asserts that there’s no better way to maintain educational accounting.  When even this august foundation,

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Competency-Based Education (Part 1)

By | January 27, 2015

Higher education -indeed, virtually all education – is quantized in the form of the “credit hour” -the famous Carnegie Unit. I have been convinced for many years now that the Carnegie Unit is just about the dumbest possible way to package student learning. It exists almost entirely for the convenience of the instructor and even more importantly, the institution –

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Internal contradictions in the academic labor market

By | December 21, 2014

In the December 16, 2014, issue of the Inside Higher Education blog, there’s a story called “One Course Without Pay”, describing the plan of Arizona State University to require their full-time non-tenure-track faculty members to teach five sections per semester (of twenty-five students each) of first-year writing courses. As the article notes,

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Educational experiments for fun and profit

By | December 14, 2014

Academia has always been a place for widely differing kinds of educational practices – it’s part of its charm, and why we have each of us generally managed to find our appropriate niches. But in the world of online education, this variety has reached staggeringly divergent levels, with no two schools and often no two programs within one school using similar approaches,

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Academic work as a Moral Tale: An agony in a mere six fits [Part 4]

By | December 8, 2014

Fit the Sixth

Let’s now return to where we began this excursion – the question of the academic job market. Whatever it is, it’s pretty clear that it isn’t what it was 30 years ago, or even 15 or 10 years ago. The old assumption was that if you completed a PhD in a reputable field from a reasonably reputable institution under the supervision of a reasonably reputable committee chair on a reasonable topic using reasonable research techniques,

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Academic work as a Moral Tale: An agony in a mere six fits [Part 3]

By | December 6, 2014

Fit the Fifth

So at the moment, there are a series of groups of faculty, who often have relatively little in common with one another:

  • The old-line tenured faculty, pursuing the traditional faculty courses and roles and quite comfortable with how things are working out, but aging and moving towards retirement. They may or may not hold administrative titles as well.

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Another new story

By | December 4, 2014

I recently published in Medium a brief memoir:

A historical footnote on graphs, social networks, and research in the old days

It recalls the days back in the early 1980s when at the National Science Foundation we began to apply social network analysis – then a largely unheard-of line of inquiry –

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Academic work as a Moral Tale: An agony in a mere six fits [Part 2]

By | December 3, 2014

Fit the Third

But using the tools of politics to repeal politics turned out to be a dangerous game. Neoliberals lying down with politicians caused the public generally to wake up with giant flea hickeys rather than just cautionary fleabites. Deregulation removing Depression-era policies like Glass-Steagall allowed the rawest kinds of market pressures to shape big financial institutions and multinational industrial firms into enterprises rooted in no single body of law (and thus essentially immune to it);

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