Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of California at Irvine, ed tech company Instructure and entertainment network AMC will this fall come together to offer a free, eight-week-long online course based on the hit TV show "The Walking Dead." LINK WILL GO ONLINE TOMORROW

Instructure will provide the class, called "Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s 'The Walking Dead,' " through its MOOC platform, Canvas Network. Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, said the company came up with the idea after casting about for ideas about how to infuse its online course offerings with pop culture. "We have a lot of fans at the company," Whitmer said. "There was overwhelming feedback that this would be 'freaking awesome.’ "

Each module of the course will use examples seen in the first three seasons of the show and tie it to topic areas including mathematics, physics, public health and social sciences. Even though the course uses clips and other materials provided by AMC, lecturer Sarah E. Eichhorn said she is not concerned that the company's involvement affects the course's integrity. "I just saw this as a venue to promote my discipline and share some interesting mathematics," Eichhorn said. "No money is exchanging hands on any sides."

UC-Irvine was announced as a major Coursera partner in September 2012. Melissa Loble, assistant dean of distance education, said the partnership with Instructure represents another avenue for the institution to experiment with online education.

"We’ve used Coursera in the past because that’s where an opportunity came to us," Loble said. "We really believe in experimenting with all MOOC providers."

The class "meets" for the first time on Oct. 14 -- one day after the first episode of the fourth season airs.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 3:00am

Some of the nearly 100 undergraduate students in a new dormitory at Michigan's Cornerstone University will have an unusual view out of their bedroom windows -- and at least the passing risk of getting hit by a foul ball, MLive reported. Facing a campus space crunch as its residential population grew, the university built a 48-room residence hall -- as the second and third floors of the facility ringing its new baseball stadium, above a ground floor that contains athletics offices and concessions, among other things.

“I’m going to sit on my bed and watch baseball games,” one student, Matt Lewis, told MLive. “You can’t do much better than that.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3:00am

A professor of psychology at Central Michigan University is on paid leave, facing embezzlement charges. Justin Dohoon Oh-Lee is accused of creating aliases to collect more than $35,000 in subject stipends from Parkinson’s disease research he oversaw, the Morning Sun reported. He allegedly used the funds to gamble at casinos across the country, including in Las Vegas. A senior university auditor found irregularities in Oh-Lee’s professional development account in April and contacted police, according to the report. Another university official noticed suspicious activity in an account related to Oh-Lee’s research in November 2012.

Oh-Lee is out on bail. He did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

In an e-mail, a university spokesman said the institution is aware of the charges against Oh-Lee, and is conducting an internal investigation as it continues to cooperate with outside legal authorities concerning the case.
 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 4:18am

Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College of the City University of New York, has had considerable success with fund-raising and building projects, The New York Times reported. But she has also seen rapid turnover in key positions, especially in the College of Arts and Sciences. One assistant dean departed with a letter accusing her of "personal attacks and a culture of fear and mistrust." Raab defended her management of the college, and said that critics were outliers.

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3:00am

A survey of 3,700 scientists across disciplines has found large numbers reporting that their research and the way they spend their time have been severely affected by the across-the-board budget cuts ordered by Congress. The survey -- conducted by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular in collaboration with other science groups -- reported the following findings, among others:

  • 18 percent are considering continuing their research career in another country.
  • 64 percent report that they are having difficulty getting grant funding.
  • 45 percent have a colleague who has lost his or her job.
  • 80 percent report that the time they spend writing grant applications has increased.
  • 64 percent said that their grant funding has decreased.

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Anders Garm of the University of Copenhagen reveals what starfish vision can teach us about the evolution of more complex eyes. 

And if you missed Monday's Academic Minute because of the Labor Day holiday, you can catch up on it here.

Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 4:21am

The trend of college newspapers shifting more editions from print to online is growing, Poynter reported. Publications are noting that they save money and that campus readers increasingly prefer to get information online, not in print. Among the publications that have recently announced shifts: The Daily Illini of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The Maneater of the University of Missouri at Columbia and The Aztec of San Diego State University.

 

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3:00am

Geraldo Rivera, the media personality, took to Twitter last week to report that Duquesne University had revoked an invitation for him to participate in a symposium on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. "Just heard Duquesne Univ cancelled my appearance at JFK assassination panel because of 'selfie'. Fact I first aired Zapruder film less impt.," Rivera wrote. The "selfie" reference is to a naked photograph of himself (primarily of top half of his body) that he recently posted online (click here only if you want to view the photo). A spokeswoman for the university confirmed the report, and via e-mail cited the university's Roman Catholic heritage. "The administration felt that Mr. Rivera’s decision to post a nearly naked picture of himself on social media was inappropriate and inconsistent with who we are as a Catholic Spiritan university and therefore withdrew the invitation," she said.

The spokeswoman added: "We warn our students not to post questionable material on social media due to the possibility of negative consequences -- you could consider this teaching by example."

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3:00am

Utica College, in New York, has been punished by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for failing to monitor its Canadian International Student Award program, with the end result being that Canadian athletes -- ice hockey players, primarily -- received more financial aid than the general Canadian student body at the college. Utica created the award program in 2010 in order to make the cost of attendance roughly equivalent for Canadian and domestic students and thereby attract more Canadian students to under-enrolled majors. However, Utica suspended the scholarship program for incoming Canadian students for the 2012-13 academic year after discovering that the aid was disproportionately going to athletes, a violation of Division III rules.

“This was unintentional and Utica College and the NCAA agree it is,” Utica’s athletics director, Dave Fontaine, told the Utica Observer-Dispatch. “Nonetheless, we have to be accountable. We take full responsibility. We self-reported it.” 

Sanctions for Utica include two years of probation and postseason bans for teams whose rosters include one or more athletes who received a Canadian International Student Award. Utica is not the first college to get in trouble with the NCAA for disproportionately awarding a scholarship intended for Canadian students in general to ice hockey players in particular:  Neumann College, in Pennsylvania, was similarly penalized in 2012. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 3:00am

The falling value of the rupee has become a major source of concern for Indians studying overseas, the Economic Times reported. The rupee has lost 20 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last year, causing some students to scramble for additional loans or part-time jobs. 

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