Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 1, 2013

Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of massive open online courses, is entering the teacher education market. The company is partnering with teachers colleges and other educational institutions to provide online professional development courses for K-12 teachers and parents. The company described the new effort as its first foray into early childhood and K-12 and its first partnerships with non-degree-bearing institutions, including art museums.

With this, the company may be eyeing a professional development market that includes about 3.7 million teachers in American plus millions more across the world. “We want to help K-12 students by helping their teachers,” Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng said in a statement announcing the new program.  “Many schools just don’t have the resources to provide teachers and parents the training and support they need.  By providing free online courses on how to teach, we hope to improve this.”

A revenue plan was not immediately clear. The company has been committed to offering its courses for free but is charging some users who want bona fide certificates of completion. A company spokeswoman said in an e-mail that Coursera will be working with school districts to see how the courses could be used for required professional development training and she said teachers are also encouraged to talk to their administrators to seek approval.

Gordon Brown, the United Nations special envoy for global education said in the company statement that Coursera’s plan is “an important and crucial innovation” to meet the “global challenge of training and supporting over 2 million more teachers” by the end of 2015.

Coursera's partners in the venture are University of Washington's college of education; University of Virginia's school of education; Johns Hopkins University's school of education; Match Education’s Sposato Graduate School of Education; Peabody College of education and human development, Vanderbilt University; Relay Graduate School of Education; University of California at Irvine Extension; the American Museum of Natural History; The Commonwealth Education Trust; Exploratorium; The Museum of Modern Art; and New Teacher Center.

May 1, 2013

Cherian George, an associate professor of journalism at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, has lost his appeal of the decision to deny him tenure, Yahoo! Singapore reported. George, who researches press freedoms and state power in Singapore, was denied tenure for a second time in February despite rave reviews from international colleagues and current and former students.  Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, a journalism professor at Cardiff University and an external reviewer of George’s tenure application, told Inside Higher Ed that George’s teaching and research records are “stellar… so much so that he could easily get a full professorship elsewhere in my estimation.” Theodore L. Glasser, a professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University and George’s dissertation adviser, wrote in a letter that George’s “studies of journalism in Singapore set an agenda – for himself and for others – for research that extends far beyond Singapore.”

“Finally, I want to be unambiguously clear about what I think is at stake here," Glasser's letter concludes. "Cherian George’s career is on the line, and that’s obviously very important to him and to his friends and colleagues. But just as important is NTU’s reputation as a university of international standing. Many of us view this case as a measure of not only NTU’s commitment to academic freedom but its commitment to apply its promotion and tenure standards fairly and equitably.” Although George was promoted to associate professor in 2009, the promotion was de-coupled from the awarding of tenure.

George did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. A spokesman for NTU declined to comment on George's case, "as it is NTU's policy to keep all employment matters confidential."

April 30, 2013

Many colleges and universities are setting new limits on adjunct hours, seeking to keep the part-time faculty members from being covered by the new federal health-care law. On Monday, the adjunct union at Kalamazoo Valley Community College challenged such a limit, filing a grievance with Michigan officials saying that the new policy violated the union's contract, MLive reported. The union called the limit a "unilateral change" in its contract, and said that the college had an obligation to negotiate over that type of change. A college vice president declined to comment on the complaint, saying that administrators had not yet had time to review it.

 

April 30, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Heath Brown of Seton Hall University explores how some minority-serving organizations work to encourage voting. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 30, 2013

George Wasson on Monday resigned as president of the Meramec campus of the St. Louis Community College, effective immediately, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The college has been under intense criticism for its handling of an assault on a female student. The alleged attacker -- who has since been arrested -- was originally released with just a verbal warning, infuriating not only the victim and her family, but many others on the campus.

 

April 30, 2013

Boston University -- still recovering from the death of one of its students in the bombings at the Boston Marathon -- is facing another tragedy. A senior at the university was killed in a fire off campus early Sunday. Nine other residents of the building (including two other Boston University students) were injured.

April 30, 2013

President Obama used a speech Monday at the 150th anniversary meeting of the National Academy of Sciences to pledge that he would continue to push for research funding. "[A]s long as I’m president, we’re going to continue to be committed to investing in the promising ideas that are generated from you and your institutions, because they lead to innovative products, they help boost our economy, but also because that’s who we are.  I’m committed to it because that’s what makes us special and ultimately what makes life worth living," he said.

Further, at a time that Republicans in Congress are questioning the validity of peer review decisions, Obama expressed strong support for peer review. "[W]e’ve got to protect our rigorous peer review system and ensure that we only fund proposals that promise the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars.  And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process.  That’s what’s going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come," the president said.

While a number of presidents have addressed the annual gathering of the academy, President Obama is the first to speak more than once at these meetings. He previously addressed the scientists in 2009.

 

April 30, 2013

The Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation has donated $15 million to the City University of New York's New Community College, which will be renamed in honor of the Guttmans. The new college is based on a number of curricular innovations designed to promote high completion and transfer rates. The foundation also gave CUNY another $10 million for other community college efforts.

There is some dispute over the largest gift to a community college, but by some measures CUNY's newest community college may now have a claim, and it certainly has one of the largest of such donations.

April 30, 2013

Dominican University of California announced last week that it had for many years misreported admissions data to the Education Department as well as to U.S. News & World Report and other groups that rank colleges. At Dominican, the problem was in calculating the number of applications. Contrary to established procedures, Dominican counted incomplete applications in determining the total number of applications. As a result, the college's admission rate appeared more competitive than it really is. For the class that entered in the fall of 2011, Dominican had reported a 53.7 percent admission rate. The real rate was 72.6 percent.

 

April 29, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service last week released a report documenting its findings from a series of audits it conducted stemming from a broad, six-year review of tax compliance at hundreds of colleges. The report contained relatively few surprises, given that the revenue service had previewed its conclusions in previous analyses at earlier stages of its comprehensive review. The major findings of the Colleges and Universities Compliance Project Final Report focused, among other things, on colleges' improperly unrelated business income losses from activities that did not qualify because the agency determined that they had not been conducted with the purpose of making a profit.

 

Pages

Back to Top