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Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Business of Higher Education

For-profit institutions are a significant force in higher education as they take the well-practiced marketing ideas of selling convenience and service to adult students.  They have taken advantage of the excess demand for post-secondary education that is not being met by traditional colleges and universities.  I can’t fault entrepreneurs for seeking out opportunities to take failing traditional schools and reinventing them as for-profit institutions, but they should take responsibility to set up proper management of these schools, if only to protect their own investment.  High pressure enrollment tactics may produce short-term results of high profits, but if these schools ultimately lose their accreditation, and thus their ability to participate in the federal student loan program, then both students and investors lose.

That regulators now want to impose a “gainfully employed” standard to measure the success of for-profit schools is not surprising given the massive amount of advertising they are undertaking.  Truth in advertising is not a new concept.  The FDA ensures that the health benefits touted by drug manufacturers and sellers are accurate and that there aren’t undisclosed negative consequences.  Banks are scrutinized for their advertising of loan and investment rates.  Why shouldn’t colleges – for-profit or non-profit – be held to a similar standard?

The argument can be made, however, that it’s not as simple as providing the education needed to find a job.  Other factors in the economy can impact one’s ability to become gainfully employed, as I have come to realize all too well this past year.  And yet, I, too, have turned to furthering my education as a way to make myself a better candidate for employment.  While the program I have chosen is not geared for a specific occupation, students who are seeking specific training of specific skills should be able to demonstrate competency at the end of that training.  If they cannot, then the course has failed to meet its objectives.  And if schools are going to be run as businesses, they need to be charged with meeting their goals by delivering on their objectives, just as any company would be.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in ADLT 603

 

This Class Is Our Class

(Credit to Woody Guthrie for the inspiration for this take on his American classic.  This Land Is My Land – instrumental)

This class is your class, this class is my class
From the time you walk in to the closing bell;
From the first assignment to the final paper
This class was made for you and me.

Woody Guthrie’s song was immediately rolling around in my head when I read the quote in Weimer’s (2002) book, “’This is not my class; it is not your class; this is our class, and together we are responsible for what does and doesn’t happen here’” (p. 101).

I’ve often heard teachers say “this is YOUR” class, but never “OUR” class.  That’s an interesting idea to ponder as I walk this thin line between being a student and wanting to become a teacher.  I like the idea of “our” class because it implies that as a teacher, I’ll learn something, too.  Maybe I’ll try to work that into my course objectives so that not only do the students know what they will learn, but they’ll understand what I hope to learn from them and from teaching them, too. 

 Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that information highway;
Nobody living can ever make me stop learning
This class was made for you and me.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in ADLT 603

 

The Long & Windy Road

When it comes to distance learning, I still have a long way to go.

Technology has changed just about every facet of our lives.  The automobile made us a mobile society.  The Internet has made us a virtual society.  You can sit in a Starbucks and send email on your phone.  It probably won’t be long before the transporters from Star Trek become reality, and we’ll be able to beam ourselves just about anywhere!

The classroom has always been a place to embrace technology to assist in learning, and now the classroom as we’ve known it is becoming a victim of that technology.  Distance learning, e-learning, online learning – whatever you call it, it’s here to stay. 

The “traditional” college student (18-22) has grown up with technology, so using it in the classroom is second nature to them.  But many adult students, even if they use technology at work, are unfamiliar with its use in – or as – the classroom.  My first venture back to graduate school came only a few years after I graduated from college, and even in that short period of time, so much had changed.  I remember writing my first paper citing sources found only on the Internet and hoping they were legitimate.  Blackboard seemed like something from the future to me then. 

Fifteen years later, the thought of going to the library to look up a source seems archaic, and checking Blackboard for assignments and announcements is second nature.  From that perspective, I am very comfortable with the role technology plays in my studies.  So why do I still feel a bias toward an in-person, traditional classroom? 

The biggest reason I think I prefer it is for the personal interaction not only with the instructor but also with the other students.  And yet, in my professional career, I have become adept at building relationships via phone and email with co-workers who I often know for months or years before I ever meet them face-to-face. 

Another reason for my hesitation may be the initial impression I had of online classes when they first became popular with the for-profit institutions.  Call it skepticism or snobbery, but they just didn’t seem to carry the same credibility as a “real” class.  Now, though, as top colleges and universities have embraced the idea of distance learning, that credibility gap is closing. 

I guess I just need to see it for myself.  I look forward to having an opportunity not only to learn more about how to design effective distance learning curriculum but also to participate in distance learning as a student.  I haven’t always been on the leading edge of technology personally, but if I am serious about wanting to teach (or train), I need to broaden my technology horizons.  I think I’m ready.  Scotty, beam me up!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2010 in ADLT 603