Monthly Archives: February 2014

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We Should Apply the Slow-Food Movement to Higher Education

Why take the time to make a loaf of bread? It is simple enough to toss a shiny cellophane bag of bread into the grocery cart instead of taking a couple of hours to mix the ingredients, knead the dough, let it rise, knead it some more, then shape it into the desired form. The process of cooking from scratch and the growing popularity of the slow-food movement are a fitting analogy for the need to redesign and reshape current forms of higher education.

In a lot of ways the design of higher educati…

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Autism, Hackers, and the Future of Higher Education

As a graduate student in Professor Davidson’s “History and Future of Higher Education” course and a teaching assistant in her similarly titled MOOC, I am interacting with more than 17,000 participants online and encountering them in a surprisingly personal way. Recently, a 19-year-old MOOC participant who self-identified as ADHD and a “hacker of his education” wondered in an online forum why we were dealing with higher education specifically. It is a good and valid question, one that resonates w…

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Aim Even Higher: Designing Higher Education From Scratch

handheartA debate among higher-education leaders at Duke University broke out in 2003, when news emerged that Nannerl O. Keohane, then president, was working with faculty members, led by Elizabeth Kiss, then an associate professor of political science and philosophy, to found the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

Stanley Fish, who had previously served as chair of the English department at Duke, believed ardently that the university would be violating its fundamental purpose of producing “value free” knowl…

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Attention and Focus in the Age of Online Education

I am a perfect example of the kind of unlearning and relearning that Professor Davidson discusses this week in her MOOC, “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education.” As a Ph.D. candidate in classical studies, I am more comfortable researching and writing alone in a carrel, handling antiquities such as Greek papyri or Latin manuscripts, than plunging into new media in collaboration with my peers.

This course has been an immersion experience in digital literacy for me. Not that I am complete…

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Adjuncts’ Livelihood: Let’s Make It a Political Issue

Last week there was a small piece of hopeful news: a key Congressional panel’s report calling attention to the destructive effects of poor working conditions on an increasingly adjunctified faculty base in higher education.

The report was the result of sustained advocacy by Maria C. Maisto, a former adjunct professor of English from Ohio, and her organization, New Faculty Majority. Since its founding, in 2009, the group has shone a spotlight on the changing demographics of the professoriate. Mor…

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Why It Makes Sense for Students to Grade One Another’s Papers

By the time this post appears, the first peer-graded assignment in Cathy Davidson’s Coursera MOOC, “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education,” will have come and gone, and students will be well into the second. Unlike programming projects, algebra exercises, and multiple-choice questions that can all be reliably graded by a computer, Coursera offloads the task of evaluating essays to students. After the deadline for an assignment has passed, students have a week to evaluate five of their …

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MOOCs, Trust, and the Signature Track

courseraverified

On Sunday I received an email from Coursera letting me know that the Signature Track was now available for Cathy Davidson’s MOOC, “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education.” I felt myself tense up a little.

The Signature Track, for those who aren’t familiar with it, uses multiple forms of authentication (government-issued photo ID, webcam, credit card) to verify that people taking a course are who they say they are. The signature component of the verification is a biometric technique. …

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From ‘iConsumers’ to ‘weLearners’: Negotiating Online Communities

weLearners: The 60+ courses and programs that are engaged in face-to-face activities around the MOOC. (Click for interactive view.)

weLearners: The 60+ courses and programs that are engaged in face-to-face activities around the MOOC. (Click for interactive view.)

In one of the videos this week for the MOOC History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education, there is a discussion of the iPod experiment, where, in 2003, students at Duke received free iPods and were challenged to use them in innovative ways for educational purposes. The video introduces the idea of how the “i” in “iPod” is a reference to the Cartesian cogito ergo …