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December 13, 2010
"Why are you beating this horse to death? I mean how many blog posts about Blackboard getting bought can you possibly write?" (Tim Roberts, comment at 12/13/10 post) Fair question Tim. I'm not actually only flogging the Blackboard horse. Truth is, I'm obsessed with what the next 5 years will hold in terms of acquisitions and mergers in the ed tech space.Here are my reasons:
December 13, 2010
It may be exam week for my students — and my daughter — but it’s grading week for me. This means that the dining room table is covered in papers, notes, knitting needles, yesterday’s newspaper, and crumpled tissues. (No, the papers aren’t making me cry, but I do seem to have a cold). It also means that my status updates have been full of self-pity and procrastination techniques. (Hence, the knitting needles.)
December 13, 2010
What do Amazon, Google, Facebook, I.S.P.s and most Internet corporations have in common? They are all private, for-profit corporations.What does the Constitution promise or protect? Government action. And since the twentieth century, via the legal doctrine of incorporation, all government action, including state and local, not just federal government action as was the original intent and meaning of the founders.
December 13, 2010
Acquiring Blackboard would make strategic sense for Google, Microsoft or Cisco. Price matters, and Blackboard is expensive at a market capitalization of $1.46 billion. But if the acquisition makes good strategic sense, the price over the long-run (a few hundred million here, a few hundred million there) makes little difference.
December 12, 2010
Friday’s IHE did a story featuring a report by Douglas Harris and Sara Goldrick-Rab that’s well worth reading in its entirety. In a nutshell, it measures the ‘productivity’ of various programs, using what boils down to dollars-per-graduate. Among other things, it suggests that call centers to nudge students into attending class have great bang for the buck, but that Upward Bound and similar programs are wildly expensive for what they achieve.
December 12, 2010
My sister recently visited a physician in Manila who turned out to be a former undergraduate student of mine in Iloilo. Recognizing the common surname (Arcala), the doctor gushed about how I had tempted her to switch from a Biology major to a Political Science major, upon taking my General Education class in Social, Economic and Political Theory. To this day she remembers Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau and Marx and the engaging manner in which I embedded their ideas in their historical milieus.
December 12, 2010
It is typical at the end of both the fall and spring semesters that there are extra meetings as every committee and aspect of University governance does all it can to complete the semester’s agenda. And, of course, the tempo in courses is similar; as hard as we try to maintain an even pace in our courses, very often we accelerate at the end to cover all the material that should be covered.
December 12, 2010
I am enrolled in two singing classes. One I attend religiously; the other sporadically — it’s held at an awkward time, but it’s inexpensive and helpful, so my deal with the teacher (and myself) is that I pay the full tuition at the beginning of the semester and come when I can. A number of people in the class have similar arrangements. As a result, there are often people I don’t know in the class.Last week, I attended this class for the first time in nearly a month. There were two unfamiliar students among the regulars.
December 11, 2010
India faces a severe shortage of teaching staff as it rapidly expands it higher education system. At such top institutions as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management, the generation of academics who matured with these schools is now retiring and there isn’t another cohort in the pipeline to take their places. Similarly, there are shortages of well-qualified staff in departments as most Indian universities responsible for graduate (post-graduate) degrees.
December 11, 2010
Soulful Russian folk songs would not have been out of place on our drive last week across the unending frozen landscape of the Midwest. My friend Mike Finke, a Slavic scholar, and I were headed for the 2010 International Chekhov Conference at The Ohio State University, after all.

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