Higher Education Quick Takes
One-third of faculty use some form of social media as part of their teaching, according to a survey to be released today by Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group. However, they tend not to do so regularly. Even the most popular form of social media for teaching -- blogs and wikis -- were used more than once per month by fewer than 10 percent of professors in the survey.
Video, meanwhile, has become an extremely popular teaching tool. Nearly 90 percent of faculty members in the survey said they use video for teaching. Use of video was fairly consistent across disciplines except for mathematics and computer science, where only 66 percent of professors reported using video to help teach -- an outlier that might come as a surprise to fans of Khan Academy and the major MOOC providers, all of whom rely heavily on video as a medium for teaching math and computer science concepts. Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group have conducted versions of the survey since 2010.
Barbara Mink is the new director of the community college leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin, the university announced this week. Mink, a clinical professor at the university, takes over for John E. Roueche, the program's founder, who stepped down this year after helping train scores of community college presidents during his 41 years at the helm. Earlier this year Roueche announced that he was starting a similar program at National American University, a for-profit. His departure led to speculation about the future of the leadership program and its affiliates, the Center for Community College Student Engagement and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.
Morehouse College will furlough faculty and staff and make budget cuts after an enrollment decline it says is attributable in part to increased denial rates on parent PLUS loans, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday. Loan denials went up this year after a change to underwriting standards cast a wider net for poor credit history, and the effects have been felt most acutely at historically black colleges. The Education Department says 95 percent of PLUS applicants at historically black colleges go on to finance their education in other ways, but Morehouse administrators told the newspaper that 125 students fewer than expected enrolled this year and it believes the new loan rules are at least partially to blame.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21-year-old terrorism suspect arrested Wednesday after allegedly attempting to detonate a 1,000-pound bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, entered the United States in January on a student visa to study cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri State University. According to The Christian Science Monitor, Nafis was recruited by a commissioned agent working on Southeast Missouri's behalf. The New York Daily News reported that Nafis attended classes in Missouri for one semester before transferring to the ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology, in New York City, where he attended classes regularly.
Asked about the monitoring of international students, a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday that all applicants for visas are checked against a database called the Consular Lookout and Support System, which contains 39 million records regarding admissability into the United States. "So without speaking about the specifics of this case, let me reassure you that all cases are checked against this," Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "But it goes to the question of what existed in our databases."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Educause on Wednesday announced grants to a set of colleges and schools positioned to create or expand "breakthrough" models of college readiness and completion. The latest round of Next Generation Learning Grants, valued at $5.4 million, will go to the following higher education projects:
- Kentucky Community and Technical College System, $1,000,000, for a competency-based associate degree program. (This was profiled on Inside Higher Ed in August.)
- Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, $1,000,000, for a partnership with Columbus State University to develop an online bachelor's degree with a strong service-learning component.
- Altius Education, $300,000, to create “America’s Transfer College,” building on its Ivy Bridge College.
- Ameritas College Educational Services, $250,000, to support the development by Brandman University and University Ventures Fund of bachelor's programs aimed at Hispanic adults.
- University of Washington, $884,000, for an online undergraduate degree-completion program using MOOCs, using Coursera classes.
- Rio Salado College, $970,000, for “All Roads Lead to Student Success,” to help students in early college programs, educational service partnerships, and those seeking to obtain credit for prior learning.
A study released Wednesday by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonpartisan think tank, found that deregulating the governance structure of public higher education institutions -- a primary component of Ohio Governor John Kasich's higher education agenda -- doesn't have a significant effect on outcomes such as enrollment, graduation rate and the number of low-income students who graduate, but could lead to higher tuition rates, at least in the states examined. The study looked at three classes of institutions: "highly deregulated" (Virginia and Colorado), "partially deregulated" (Illinois, New Jersey and Texas), and "coordinated" (Kentucky, Maryland and Minnesota) and compared their outcomes to that of the nation and Ohio over the past decade.
"Given the track record of deregulation in other states, we have little reason to think that this approach will make tuition more affordable, increase access for low- and moderate-income students, or increase graduation rates," the report's authors write. "The primary factor affecting access and affordability is state support for higher education and state targeting of support for low- and moderate-income families."
The report's authors readily acknowledge that most of the deregulation took place about halfway through the decade and that confounding variables in the states selected might have an effect on the overall outcomes.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Wednesday stayed a federal appeals court's order requiring Boston College researchers to turn over oral history transcripts to the British government, citing the scholars' planned appeal to the high court, The Boston Globe reported. Ruling in July in a case involving research into the violence in Northern Ireland during the period known as the "Troubles," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit concluded that concerns about confidentiality, academic freedom and scholarly research could not trump government's interest in investigating crime.
A number of students at Mercer University are upset about the appearance on campus of fliers calling for November or December to be declared "White History Month," The Macon Telegraph reported. "It is just as fair to have White History Month/s as it is to have Black History Month/s. How much will you bet that there will be controversy over this?” the fliers said. The university doesn't know who put them up, and is encouraging students to engage in discussions of issues in ways other than anonymous leaflets.