Thursday, June 25, 2015

Predatory Colleges Find Friends in Congress (
Assigning value to a college program based on its value in the economy is problematic for me in three ways: 1) it narrows the value of college down to economic value when in reality that value is much more complex and influenced by several other factors, 2) it takes a lot of the consumer-ish responsibility students need to have to make choices about where to go to college and what program to enroll in, and 3) colleges have very little control over how the economy values a set of skills. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Articles for June 24, 2015

Adults, Computers and Problem Solving (OECD)
This report is especially interesting because it looked at how well adults accomplished "problem-solving tasks that require the use of computer applications, such as e-mail, spreadsheets, word-processing applications and websites..." Specifically, the report found that "...literacy proficiency and age have the strongest independent relationships to proficiency in problem solving in technology-rich environments..." (p. 54).  Of course, these skills apply to several career clusters, but the technical fields are especially susceptible to advances in technology and use a lot of specialized computer programs. Students who have trouble creating an e-mail or using Microsoft Word are not going to have an easy time working with image editing software, repair databases, or even just managing all the files that result from several drafts and separate pages typical of a technical field. This is not to mention those fields that need to create and/or repair technologies, like in a car, machine, or network, or the fact that many technical fields now conduct hiring processes electronically. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Articles for June 22, 2015

Higher ed as a commodity? Colleges have only themselves to blame (
This is a response to Hunter Rawling's post College is not a commodity, stop treating it like one (June 9), and it's pretty reflective of the other side of the balancing act colleges are facing. The hard reality is that colleges need tuition to operate, and not all would-be tuition-payers would be convinced by the message author Jeffrey Selingo feels higher education needs to promote. 

Selingo offers three reasons why the commoditization of higher education is its own fault: 

  1. For decades, higher education has promoted the personal economic value of higher education. 
  2. Students are not solely responsible for their success. The college does matter. 
  3. Colleges have turned the four-year degree into an assembly line of getting in and getting out as quickly as possible. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Articles for June 19, 2015

The Watchdogs of College Education Rarely Bite (The Wall Street Journal)
The Journal uses plenty of data to talk about a dimension of the college graduation/loan default rate conversation that has seemed to have been left alone until now: accreditation. Although it lays blame without really laying blame, the article offers several statistics on how many colleges accreditors have closed, and what the graduation and loan default rates are at those colleges they haven't. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Articles for June 17, 2015

Defining Competency (
Some in higher ed who were hesitant at first to accept the concept of competency-based education (CBE) are now starting to warm up to the idea, myself included. My feeling is that a lot of the hesitancy was based on mistrust--particularly, the legislative bodies don't trust individual colleges, nor do colleges trust individual instructors. It's much easier to 'cover up' a trouble spot that might hold a student back inside the context of an 18-week course; CBE potentially exposes weaknesses--but also strengths--in students, instructors, curriculum maps and course content, and assessment methods. The major decision-makers in higher education seem to have been nervous about approving a structure that might make those potential soft spots public, and the effects thereafter. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Articles for June 15, 2015

Lazy Rivers and Student Debt (
Although there are some political undertones--especially in the comments section--about the recent attention brought to this issue by Chris Christie and Elizabeth Warren, this article does offer some hard data about how much amenities like aquatic centers and climbing walls actually cost in relation to other causes for rising tuition costs. The argument is usually that large, expensive amenities like these attract students; the counter is that college affordability and repairs to academic facilities should be the priority. To me, though, this seems like the end of a long breadcrumb trail. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Articles for June 10, 2015

College is not a commodity. Stop treating it like one. (
This is a fabulous, fabulous post written by Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities and former president of Cornell University and the University of Iowa. His main point is that the public forms all perception about higher education as if it is a commodity by focusing on the economic dimension of it; he uses the example of a car. However, "unlike a car, college requires the 'buyer' to do most of the work to obtain its value" (para. 4). He goes on: "...most public discussion of higher ed today pretends that students simply receive their education from colleges the way a person walks out of Best Buy with a television" (para. 5).