Higher Education Quick Takes
There's a new kind of massive open online course (MOOC), and it lacks an instructor, The New York Times reported. The course will combine existing materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCoureware project, quizzes from Codeacademy and study groups from Open Study, and will be coordinated by Peer 2 Peer University. With those services, organizers said, an instructor (while central to other MOOC offerings) won't be necessary. The first offering will be on a computer programming language and is called "A Gentle Introduction to Python."
The University of Oregon has called off plans to pay political consultants $25,000 to influence a student vote on new fees to support a major renovation of the student union, The Register-Guard reported. Many students were angry that administrators -- who want students to approve the fee -- would bring in professionals to try to alter student sentiment. (Students have twice previously rejected the fees.) The vote will take place in October.
Woman have been banned from 77 fields of study at 36 Iranian universities, The New York Times reported. At many universities, accounting, engineering and chemistry have been restricted to men. At the University of Tehran, only men will be permitted to study natural resources, forestry and mathematics. "Some fields are not very suitable for women’s nature," said Abolfazl Hasani, a senior Iranian education official.
Taiwan's Cabinet has approved draft legislation to ease the regulations for universities to hire foreign academics, Focus Taiwan News reported. Officials are concerned about brain drain and want to make it possible to attract more foreign talent.
The University of Georgia newspaper board has backed down on asserting the direction of The Red and Black, the student newspaper, The Associated Press reported. Last week, the student editors and staff walked out to protest board guidance that they said took away their control and encouraged them to minimize hard-hitting journalism. With the withdrawal of the guidance and an apology from the board, the students are starting to return to their former positions at the paper.
Steve M. Street, a well-known supporter of adjunct faculty rights and a leader of several organizations working on behalf of adjuncts, died Friday of cancer. He was 56. Street taught writing and literature as an adjunct at several colleges since 1980. Street was part of the New Faculty Majority, the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, and the United University Professions, the faculty union at the State University of New York. Street also wrote about the precarious situation for adjuncts in several publications, including Inside Higher Ed.
“Steve was a clear and forceful thinker and writer, someone who was never afraid to speak truth to power,” said Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, in a message she posted on an e-mail list for adjuncts. “He gave more than he took, and we miss him deeply,” said Mark Street, Steve M. Street’s brother, and an assistant professor of visual arts at Fordham University, in an e-mail.
Many German students are frustrated by the "Bologna Process" reforms under which European higher education attempted to become better coordinated with similar requirements from country to country, Spiegel Online reported. Many German universities used to have four-year undergraduate programs, but Bologna reforms have cut the programs to three years. Many German students complain that there is more material than can be covered in three years, and that there aren't enough spaces in master's programs.
A lab technician at Georgia Health Sciences University has been arrested and charged with public drunkenness after authorities said that they found him drunk and not fully clothed in the locker room for technicians of an animal research lab, WJBF-TV News reported. At the time, two monkeys in the lab were out of their cages. The university released the following statement about the incident: "No animals were harmed during the incident, but the university takes the allegations very seriously. GHSU does not condone behavior that conflicts with the research, education and clinical missions of the university and employees are expected to conduct themselves, at all times, with integrity and respect."
Officials at the University of Ulster, having mistakenly offered admission to all 370 students who applied for its 194 slots to study engineering this year, will enroll all of them even though many of them did not achieve the requisite academic requirements, The Irish Times reported. The university sent out an e-mail offering admission to all of the students who applied, rather than just to those who had qualified for admission. Some of the students would have earned places in other colleges at Ulster, so the number of students who would not have enrolled there numbers about 100, according to the newspaper.
With regularity, new studies document the dangers to college students of binge drinking, generally defined as four drinks at a time for women and five for men. But today new research being released at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association reports that college students who binge drink are happier than those who do not. Carolyn L. Hsu, an associate professor of sociology at Colgate University, and Landon Reid, a law student at New York University, surveyed nearly 1,600 students at a residential liberal arts college that was not identified. The survey found that those students who engaged in binge drinking were happier than those who were not. Further, "higher status" groups on the campus (wealthy, white, male, heterosexual and Greek students, among others) were more likely than others to binge drink and to be happy about it. And students from "lower status" groups, if they engaged in binge drinking, were happier than were their counterparts who didn't engage in binge drinking.