Tuesday, September 1, 2015

News Links | September 1, 2015


EdCC gets infusion of equipment thanks to Boeing deal
It's a bit of on-campus cross-pollinization: Edmonds Community College's Engineering Club is building a machine to help the Beekeeping Club get honey from hives. Former Engineering Club president Johnathan Mensonides is one of five students working this summer on the honey extractor. To do so, the students have spent time at Monroe Hall using 3-D printers to build parts for the machine. ... The 3-D printers are new pieces of equipment the college received as a direct result of the deal the state put together to help convince the Boeing Co. to place the final assembly and wing work of the future 777X jetliner in Everett.
Everett Herald Business Journal, Aug. 29, 2015

Cailloux hired as vice president for Skagit Valley College’s outlying campuses
Skagit Valley College’s new vice president for its Whidbey Island campus in Oak Harbor is no stranger to the college or the community. Laura Cailloux, who for the past eight years has been the dean of workforce education at the college’s Mount Vernon campus, stepped into the position of vice president on July 1. She will also be the vice president for the college’s South Whidbey Island campus in Clinton, the San Juan campus in Friday Harbor and the Marine Technology Center in Anacortes.
Skagit Valley Herald, Aug. 19, 2015


Opinion: Meritocracy is in retreat in 21st-century higher education
Once the thing that mattered most was to get a good degree: a first-class or 2:1. Now it is more important to have been to a good university, usually defined as one of the Russell Group elite universities, although there are several non-Russell institutions just as good or better. One supposed reason for this revealing shift is that with so many universities and so many subjects, it is more and more difficult to accept that a first is a first, whichever university awarded it.
The Guardian, Sept. 1, 2015

No love, but no alternative
As recently as three years ago, it seemed unlikely that the existing system of accreditation would survive the next renewal of the Higher Education Act in anything remotely resembling its current form. From across the political spectrum (right and left) and from various segments of higher education itself (particularly community colleges in California and elite universities across the country), many asserted that the system of peer-reviewed quality control was irretrievably broken and in need of replacement. In some ways little has changed today. Accreditors still have enemies aplenty, and the twin (and in many ways conflicting) critiques that accreditors go too easy on poorly performing institutions and that accreditation is a barrier to innovation (an argument made by President Obama and candidates on the 2016 presidential campaign trail) are not going away.
Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 1, 2015

Ban on banning words
Washington State University on Monday announced that it would not allow instructors to make "blanket" bans on the use of certain words or phrases in class, even if those words and phrases offend people. Further, the university said that instructors could not punish students for use of such words or phrases.
Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 1, 2015

Humanities paradox
A new analysis published late Monday by the Humanities Indicators Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences may point to a key paradox for those trying to predict the future behavior of college students. The data show a decline in the proportion of high school students (as they take the SAT and as they prepare to graduate) who say they plan to major in the humanities. But something seems to be happening to those students when they actually enroll in college — and interest in majoring in the humanities goes up.
Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 1, 2015

Survey finds more students are using pot daily
A national survey by University of Michigan researchers has found that 5.9 percent of college students used marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis in 2014. (Daily or near daily is defined as 20 or more times in the past 30 days.) This level of pot use is up from 3.5 percent in 2007.
Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 1, 2015

Minimum-wage work alone won’t get you through college
Politicians and pundits love to talk about the character-building experience of working your way through college. But how realistic is that ideal? As one way of answering that question, here’s a thought experiment: Let’s say you’re planning to attend your state’s best-known public university (at the in-state rate, naturally) and you’re hoping a minimum-wage job will cover the cost. How long would you have to work at that job to recoup a year’s worth of tuition and fees? We’ve created a tool to show you.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 28, 2015

Learning to adapt
Like most community colleges that enroll large numbers of low-income students, Essex County College has a serious graduation rate problem, with remedial math being a primary stumbling block. Essex, located in Newark, N.J., had a graduation rate of 8 percent a couple years ago. About 85 percent of the college’s incoming students place into the lowest level of developmental math, and only 10 percent of those students end up completing a college-level math course. So the college’s new leadership decided to give adaptive math software a whirl. Adaptive learning is an increasingly trendy form of instruction, typically featuring computerized courseware that adjusts to students’ learning styles and levels of achievement.
Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 28, 2015

Trend: Crowdfunding for college tuition
As students from across Western Washington prepare for college, some are turning to a new way to get money for their tuition. The process involves complete strangers footing the bill through crowdfunding. On websites like GoFundMe.com, users create profiles, set goals and then watch the money come in. The sites allow complete strangers, as well as friends and families, send money online.
KING 5, Aug. 28, 2015

Readers’ definitions of ed-tech buzzwords: Confusion and skepticism continue
Professors, administrators, and ed-tech vendors don’t always speak the same language when it comes to talking about experimental approaches to teaching and research. Terms like “flipped classroom” and “digital humanities” get thrown around a lot these days, but different people often mean different things by them. And some people still don’t know what they mean, despite their buzzword status. To get a sense of the buzzword landscape, we asked Chronicle readers to give their definitions of four ed-tech terms. We emphasized that we weren’t looking for the perfect definitions, just a sense of what comes to mind immediately. Though the responses were anonymous, we asked people to give a sense of their role in higher education to put their answer in context.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 28, 2015

Study outlines when in year students start substances
A new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reveals when in the calendar year college students are most likely to start using various substances. June is the month students are most likely to start using marijuana, and is also the month for people to start underage drinking. Winter months, however, tend to be when college students start nonmedical use of prescription drugs.
Inside Higher Ed, Aug. 28, 2015

Maryland university to eliminate textbooks
The University of Maryland University College plans to eliminate textbooks this fall to save students money by using resources online. Kara Van Dam, a vice provost, said Thursday students will be able use a variety of materials like readings and videos online at no cost.
WUSA 9, Aug. 27, 2015


Top educator agrees: FAFSA needs to change
One of the biggest obstacles for parents with college-going children is filling out the FAFSA, the federal government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The form asks more than a hundred detailed questions about a family’s income in order to measure whether a student should be eligible for aid. But it’s so complicated that it’s seen by many educators as a barrier for low-income and first-generation students who want to go to college. U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell, in Seattle last week to promote the Obama administration’s proposal to make community college tuition-free, described the FAFSA as “a running joke, and I enjoy participating.” Mitchell is the top federal official overseeing higher education for the U.S. Department of Education.
The Seattle Times, Sept. 1, 2015

Opinion: Why we need a U.S. Department of Talent
If you tell an audience these days that the way to solve big national problems is to reorganize the federal government, you’re liable to get laughed offstage. And I can understand why. Not only is faith in the federal government at near-historic lows, but the record of some past efforts at federal reorganization does not necessarily inspire confidence. However, I’m going to argue here that one of the keys to making America a more educated and economically competitive nation is to take a number of different federal agencies and combine them into a new entity, which I will call the U.S. Department of Talent.
Washington Monthly, September/October 2015

Educators share lesson plans on making college free
President Obama wants to make community college tuition-free. The state of Tennessee has eliminated tuition at its community colleges for most Tennessee high-school graduates. And last month, the legislature in neighboring Oregon made community-college tuition low cost or free for its recent high-school graduates. After years of steep tuition hikes, is the pendulum swinging the other way? That’s what the Campaign for Free College Tuition hopes. The California-based nonprofit came to Seattle last week to host a summit on college affordability — part of a larger effort it endorses to make all public colleges tuition-free.
The Seattle Times, Aug. 29, 2015

Opinion: Washington wisely stays course with Common Core 
The first round of Common Core-based test scores, released two weeks ago, shows Washington students falling far short of last year’s performance. Bad news? Not really. The new Smarter Balanced Assessment exam demands more. Unlike previous statewide tests, it reflects rigorous national standards — which means Washington’s scores can be compared directly to scores in, say, Massachusetts or Texas.
The News Tribune, Aug. 29, 2015

Corinthian ruling could mean loan relief for student debtors
The hundreds of thousands of students who attended the institutions of the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc., are still on the hook to the federal government for billions of dollars in student loans. But a decision this week by a bankruptcy court could improve the chances that they won’t have to repay those loans, according to their lawyers. That means the millions, or perhaps billions, lent to them by the government might never be repaid, although officials at the U.S. Department of Education said it was premature to speculate on how such legal actions might affect loan-relief requests. The U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware approved the Corinthian liquidation plan on Wednesday.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 28, 2015

Dept. of Education failed to hold loan-management company accountable, audit finds
The Education Department failed to hold Xerox Education Solutions, a company it had contracted to track defaulted student loans, accountable for fixing persistent problems in its student-debt-management system, the agency’s inspector general said in an audit report released on Thursday. According to the report, the department failed to ensure that Xerox met milestones for fixing the system and routinely offered extensions when the company missed its deadlines. At the same time, the agency did not “independently verify” that fixes had been made, the report said. Thursday’s report is the latest in a string of audits and investigations criticizing the Education Department’s oversight of the companies that service and collect on federal student loans.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 27, 2015

Opinion: Support community college students
Remember college? Four years dedicated to learning. Long nights discussing how to change the world with people who would become your lifelong friends. Sleeping late because your classes started at 10:00 a.m. Professors who encouraged you and advised you on your future. Interesting work/study projects that challenged you. Now imagine if while you were in college you had to support a family and work more than 35 or more hours a week at a low-paying job as a home health aid or fast food worker. ... That's the experience of many of the more than 10.5 million students in this country who attend community colleges. One out of three community college students has family income of less than $20,000, and 69 percent work 35 hours or more a week.
Huffington Post, Aug. 26, 2015