Blackboard, Moodle still LMS leaders

e-Literate's quarterly report on the learning management system market in four global regions shows that North America is the only region with four dominant  systems serving degree-granting institutions, and that the four have a combined market share of 90 percent.

Survey data point to widespread problems for female and minority scholars in astronomy

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Survey data point to widespread problems, but also opportunities for astronomy to lead on improving the climate for women and minorities.

Study: Proximity Still Matters to Collaboration

Face time -- the real kind, not Apple’s version -- still matters, at least when it comes to collaboration among researchers. That’s according to a new study in PLOS ONE. Researchers studied a decade’s worth -- tens of thousands -- of papers and patents affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and found that cross-disciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration is driven by face-to-face interaction in shared spaces.

“If you work near someone, you’re more likely to have substantive conversations more frequently,” lead author Matthew Claudel, a Ph.D. candidate in urban studies and planning, told MIT News. While that makes sense intuitively, he said, “It was an exciting result to find that across papers and patents, and specifically for transdisciplinary collaborations.”

Claudel and his co-authors used network analysis, mapping out of a network of MIT collaborators to find that spatial relations on campus mattered more than departmental and institutional structures. They focused on interdisciplinary research and plotted distance and collaboration across campus, not just within single academic buildings.

Over the years, MIT buildings have been constructed to promote cross-disciplinary research, but the authors were particularly interested to see that the proximity premise held up even in the digital age. Paper collaborators in the same workspace were three times more likely to work together than those located 400 meters apart, according to the study. That frequency was cut in half when the distance was 800 meters apart. Results for patent collaborators were not quite as stark, but still significant. “An Exploration of Collaborative Scientific Production at MIT Through Spatial Organization and Institutional Affiliation” is available here.

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Call for More Transparency on College and Careers

The number and variety of postsecondary credentials, providers and occupations are multiplying rapidly, finds a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, but a lack of good information about college and careers "drives the higher education market toward mediocrity."

The stakes are high for students to make the right decisions, the center said. Yet many college graduates are showing buyer's remorse, with more than half saying they would choose a different major, go to a different college or pursue a different credential if given the chance.

“Higher education has become a $500 billion computer without an operating system,” Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown center and the report’s lead author, said in a written statement. “Learners and workers need a modern guidance system with clear and comprehensive consumer information that will help them make good college and career decisions.”

The report calls on states to do more with integrated education and work force data by developing publicly available tools in five areas:

  • Education projections, business expansion and work force quality;
  • Program alignment with labor market demand;
  • Curriculum alignment with work force requirements;
  • Counseling and career pathways;
  • Job placement and skills gap analysis.
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Some 1,500 adjuncts at CUNY win three-year contracts

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CUNY’s faculty union is starting to see returns on a major push of six-year contract battle: three-year appointments for long-serving adjuncts.

New law prompts debate over 'scholarship displacement,' raising questions about who speaks for low-income students

New state law generates much praise for private scholarship providers and much criticism of colleges, but few have noticed that many of these scholarships aren't awarded based on need.

Samford gives up $3 million in Baptist funds amid dispute over pro-gay group

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Avoiding rebuke of conservative donors, Samford declines to give LGBTQ-oriented group recognition, but gives up funding from Alabama Baptist State Convention.

Wisconsin Board Leader Wants to Hire Nonacademics

John Behling, the new president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, said Friday that he wants institutions to recruit leaders from the private sector and otherwise “streamline” the process for hiring chancellors and other top administrators. In so doing, he might have shed light on why a state budget proposal includes language -- opposed by faculty members -- that would ban the regents from ever considering only academics as top administrators.

Currently, there’s no systemwide policy requiring that the system president or campus chancellors or vice chancellors have tenure or terminal degrees. But Madison campus policy says that its chancellor, provost and vice chancellor must hold a tenured faculty rank, effectively disqualifying nonacademics. Saying that the policy has helped keep Madison a top-ranked institution, members of the campus Public Representation Organization of the Faculty Senate have asked the state Legislature to remove from a state budget bill nonfiscal language saying that the regents can’t ever require that the system president and campus chancellors and vice chancellors be academics.

In his first address to the regents as president, Behling, an attorney, said the hiring process often results in leaders with academic backgrounds and that he wants to expand recruitment of those from outside academe, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The board's vice president will reportedly lead a working group on potential policy changes to the timeline for recruiting chancellors and other university leaders, with the goal of approving new hiring rules by the end of the year.

“Across the country, hiring of private-sector individuals to lead universities is the latest trend,” Behling said, contradicting the findings of a major report from the American Council of Education saying that the hiring of nonacademics as presidents is actually down within the last year. “The University of Wisconsin [must] make sure our hiring process allows for a pool of candidates that is both diverse and dynamic.”

Behling’s statements didn’t go over well with many academics. Here's a social media reaction snapshot.

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Improv Instructor Found to Have Assaulted, Harassed Students

It’s no laughing matter: Nicholas Riggs, a former adjunct professor who led an improvisational-comedy group at the University of South Florida, sexually assaulted one student there and sexually harassed another, according to a campus investigation. Riggs denied the allegations in the investigation and in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times; the newspaper obtained a copy of South Florida’s report on student complaints under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting gender discrimination in education.

According to the report, Riggs and his wife, a former graduate student on campus, often approached students together to proposition them for sex, but questions of consent arose over time and students said they felt pressured by Riggs. One complaint originated from a parent, whose son reportedly grew angry and withdrawn about being part of the group and by 2015 confessed to having had sex with Riggs and his wife.

The student said Riggs pressured him over time to have sex with him alone, and that Riggs made sexual jokes at his expense in group settings. Riggs allegedly showed favoritism to those students in whom he was sexually interested in the on-campus improv group when it came to performing in a second, off-campus improv group, according to that complaint. When the student broke off sexual contact with Riggs, he was allegedly shut out of improv social gatherings. The university concluded that Riggs’s behavior amounted to assault.

Another student filed a complaint against Riggs during the investigation, saying that Riggs told her he “loved her mind” and that he had a “crush” on her, after which she engaged in a sexual relationship with Riggs and his wife, and then Riggs alone. But when the student told Riggs she wanted to end the relationship, he allegedly came to her apartment. The student said she told Riggs she didn’t want to have sex that day, but they had sex anyway. The university concluded that Riggs’s visit to the student’s apartment was harassment.

The university also found some evidence that Riggs had harassed another student and failed to report an incident of nonconsensual sexual contact at one of his parties. Alcohol and marijuana were allegedly present at such events. South Florida’s investigation also raised questions about whether or not Riggs followed proper protocols for research involving human subjects in his dissertation, which has been removed from the university’s website, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Riggs obtained his Ph.D. from South Florida’s department of communication in 2016.

Riggs has been banned from teaching at South Florida and also has stopped teaching at several other area institutions, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

"As soon as USF became aware of the allegations against Riggs, we immediately began to review the matter," spokesman Adam Freeman said. "USF values respectful and fair treatment of all members of our community."

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Illinois leaders re-evaluate higher education after first state budget in two years

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College and university leaders are happy to see the first state budget in two years, but many prepare for less state support in the future and confront lingering impacts of cuts and uncertainty.


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