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Online class sizes: one size doesn't fit all

Some colleges cap online class registrations while others adhere to their face-to-face limits. Still others consider each specific course. Which strategy works best?

A professor bemoans representing in class the status quo that she originally hoped to challenge (essay)

Teaching Today

The classrooms that we as professors have tried to create -- spaces where inequities are voiced and the status quo challenged -- are becoming reality, writes Lynn Cockett. The problem is we now represent that status quo.

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Critics of proposed legislation on First Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities say it goes too far

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Critics of proposed legislation to ensure First Amendment rights at Wisconsin public universities say it could backfire and limit expression. Requirement for political neutrality alarms professors and administrators alike.

Colgate Releases First Findings on False Alarm on Shooter

Colgate University released its findings from a 10-day review that examined what went wrong May 1 when the university mistook a black student carrying a glue gun for an “active shooter” on campus.

Colgate students received two campus security alerts that evening. The first indicated a person with a gun had entered a campus building. The second reported an active shooter on campus and ordered a lockdown. It caused fear and anxiety on campus, as well as a social media frenzy.

Upon learning that the “active shooter” was a student who needed a glue gun for an art project, Brian W. Casey, the president of Colgate, promised to review what happened and make the results public. He said he believed racial profiling could have contributed to the escalated events from that night.

The findings -- as well as some recommendations -- are now available on the university’s website. The review found the university should improve its emergency response structures as well as the flow of communication surrounding potentially threatening situations.

The two senior administrators leading the review said in the report that the matter of racial profiling or bias is inconclusive.

“There is no appropriate way within the time frame and scope of this investigation to fully, or even preliminarily, assess the role that bias might have played in the initial report to Campus Safety of perceptions of an armed person,” the report said.

“The university should aggressively consider the ways in which it can shape the campus environment to minimize the likelihood that members of our community will be inaccurately perceived as threats.”

The report recommends the university provide more information and training for all students, faculty and staff in dealing with emergency situations.

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Indiana University's active-learning initiative expands, exceeds expectations

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The university brings its active-learning initiative to regional campuses, seeking to boost student engagement.

Tennessee Free Speech Bill Signed Into Law

A free speech bill backed by state Republican lawmakers in Tennessee became law there this week. It is separate legislation from what was previously dubbed the “Milo bill,” after fallen Breitbart star Milo Yiannopoulos, whose February appearance at the University of California at Berkeley sparked violent protests from non-students. The news law says that it “is not the proper role of an institution to attempt to shield individuals from free speech, including ideas and opinions they find offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical or wrong-headed.”

Tennessee lawmakers regularly oppose the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s annual Sex Week and earlier this academic year opposed a guide from the university's diversity office encouraging the use of gender-neutral pronouns for students who request them. But Anthony Haynes, vice president for government relations and advocacy for the University of Tennessee System, praised the new law and said it had been drafted by with the input and support of colleges and universitites. “The campus free-speech act that just passed in Tennessee clarifies and protects free speech on college campuses as provided by the First Amendment, but it appears to be the first state law in the country to protect academic freedom in the classroom," he said in a statement. "It was a fresh perspective developed independently as a Tennessee solution to a growing national debate and concern."

Similar bills have proved controversial in other states this year over concerns that they go too far in demanding certain administrative responses to free-speech flaps. Tennessee’s new law requires that institutions adopt policies consistent with the University of Chicago’s statement on free expression, prohibit “free speech zones” that confine protests and other forms of expression to certain areas on campus, and define student-on-student harassment by a legal standard described as so “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it limits one party’s access to education. It also bans institutions from revoking invitations to speakers, prohibits the denial of student fees to student organization based on their views, and protects faculty members from being punished for classroom speech that is germane to the subject matter, according to an analysis by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Robert Shibley, FIRE's director, in a statement called it “the most comprehensive state legislation protecting free speech on college campuses that we’ve seen be passed anywhere in the country.” (Note: This story has been updated to correct an earlier error conflating it with the 'Milo bill,' and to include a statement from the university.)

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Online exam proctoring catches cheaters, raises concerns

Many administrators and faculty members say online exam proctoring works and is vital to expanding online programs. But some question, at what cost? 

Is Online Running Out of Steam?

Looking at supply and demand, Robert Ubell says blended delivery is the next extension in digital learning.

2U acquires GetSmarter

As reported in Inside Higher Ed this week, the online program management company 2U is describing its acquisition of GetSmarter as an effort to expand into new course modalities and parts of the world, but analysts are divided on whether the company is getting its money’s worth.

Trial and Error: Lehman and Hunter Colleges boost chemistry course passing rate to 80 percent

Students taking general chemistry at Hunter and Lehman Colleges were passing at 60 and 35 percent rates, respectively. A new course format that includes videos, podcasts and no textbooks quickly improved outcomes.

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