Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 9, 2013

Desire2Learn on Tuesday announced an upgraded version of its learning management system has begun rolling out to the company’s roughly 750 clients. The newest version of the Learning Suite reflects the series of startups Desire2Learn has acquired in recent months, including group collaboration software created by Wiggio.

John Baker, president and CEO of Desire2Learn, said one of the major goals of the new platform is to smooth out the technical difficulties of collaborating across different applications and websites. Instead of logging in to access their online documents on one site and their photos on another, users will be able to tie those credentials to their Learning Suite account.

The platform also features support for institutions to create their own massive open online courses without the use of a MOOC provider. The upgrade will come at no charge to Desire2Learn’s existing customers.

October 9, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Richard Boylan of Rice University explores the connection between prison reform and a reduction in social aid programs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 9, 2013

Large numbers of students who have transferred to a four-year institution from a community college before earning an associate degree may be eligible to receive that credential, according to a newly released study from the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report, which is dubbed "Credit When It's Due," looked at the potential for "reverse transfer" policies in 12 states, finding that 27,000 students who had no credential four years after transferring would have been eligible for an associate degree. 

October 9, 2013

Three researchers will share the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems." The winners are Martin Karplus of Université de Strasbourg and Harvard University, Michael Levitt of Stanford University and Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California.

 

 

October 9, 2013

Princeton University's new president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, has appointed a faculty committee to review the institution's grading policies. In response to concerns about grade inflation, the university in 2004 adopted a policy stating that each department, over time, award no more than 35 percent of its grades in the A-range. The policy has been widely praised by educators who worry about grade inflation, but many Princeton students have been frustrated by it. In his charge to the committee, Eisgruber wrote: "Since the implementation of the policy ten years ago, the number of A-range grades awarded across departments has become much more consistent. Likewise, the grade inflation of the late '90s and early 2000s has been halted. Yet concerns persist that the grading policy may have unintended impacts upon the undergraduate academic experience that are not consistent with our broader educational goals."

 

 

October 8, 2013

Trustees of Loyola Marymount University on Monday voted to end coverage for elective abortions in employee health insurance, The New York Times reported. At the same time, the university announced that another health plan would be available at a higher premium for those who wish to continue coverage of elective abortions. The changes were criticized both by those who have pushed the university to adopt policies more consistent with Roman Catholic teachings, and with those who said the changes were a sign of disrespect to the many non-Catholics who work at the university.

 

October 8, 2013

Amid a slew of actions on the first day of its 2014 term, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand two appeals court rulings that raised free speech issues on college campuses. In one, Crystal Dixon v. University of Toledo, the justices declined to hear a challenge to a 2012 decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld Toledo's firing of a former human resources administrator who had made comments some viewed as anti-gay. The Sixth Circuit panel ruled that Dixon was a policy maker who engaged in speech on a policy issue related to her position, and that the university’s interests in upholding its equal opportunity polices outweighed her interests in commenting on a matter of public concern.

The Supreme Court also declined to hear Ed Ray v. OSU Student Alliance, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last year ruled that student journalists at Oregon State University had provided sufficient evidence to prove a free speech violation by administrators who signed off on the seizure of a conservative publication's distribution bins, but were prevented from presenting it because the lower court judge erred in not letting them amend their lawsuit.

October 8, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Berry Brosi of Emory University explores the impact of pollinator loss on bee behavior and fidelity to their favorite flowers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 8, 2013

First the University of Phoenix paid millions of dollars to plaster its name on the stadium where the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals play their games. Then Bridgepoint Education, a fast-growing for-profit education company, sponsored the Holiday Bowl college football game in San Diego, where its corporate headquarters are located. But with Bridgepoint's primary institution, Ashford University, facing significant scrutiny from Congress and challenges (now mostly resolved) in retaining its accreditation, the company opted to let its sponsorship expire this year.

Now another university -- a nonprofit one -- is stepping in. National University, a professionally focused institution that is part of a growing system of similar colleges, will become the title sponsor of the Holiday Bowl this year, the Union-Tribune of San Diego reported. National does not have any sports teams itself.

 

 

October 8, 2013

A state legislator has introduced legislation aimed at largely exempting public university executive searches from Florida's expansive open meeting and public-record laws, The Gainesville Sun reported. Florida's sunshine laws are among the most reaching in the country, and the legislation introduced by State Rep. Dave Kerner says that the laws create a "chilling effect on the number and quality of applicants" for president and other top university jobs. The bill would protect the names of candidates until finalists are chosen, at least 21 days before a final candidate is selected.
 

 

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