Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Carl Wieman, the Nobel laureate at the University of British Columbia, has released new findings to show that the right approaches to teaching can have a big impact on student understanding of science. The findings, published in Science, show that exercises in which students work through problems together are far more effective than lectures.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In the latest of a slew of higher-ed publishers to join forces with lecture capture companies, the e-learning giant Pearson this week announced a partnership with Panopto, a leading player in the growing market for technology aimed at recording and storing classroom lectures. Last October, the publisher McGraw-Hill bought the lecture-capture company Tegrity; Macmillan, another major publisher, formed a partnership with Panopto a week later. Lecture capture has emerged rather quickly as widely sought technology: The consulting firm Frost & Sullivan last year reported that lecture companies did $50 million in business last year, a figure that could triple in the next five years.

Publishers seem to regard lecture capture as both a sound investment and a natural fit. "The big publishers, (McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Reed Elsevier), all realize that unless they change, they will suffer a similar fate as the music publishers," wrote Joshua Kim, an instructional technologist at Dartmouth College and tech blogger for Inside Higher Ed, last fall. "...Lecture capture platforms will be one source in which faculty (and later student!) created content can be seamlessly folded into professionally produced (publisher) content."

Pearson not only sells course materials and learning-management platforms but also co-manages online curriculums for some big-ticket institutions. "With this partnership, Pearson will work directly with administrators and faculty to integrate Panopto into their program offerings and curriculum," the company said in a press release.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Matthew Randall of York College of Pennsylvania explains the new set of challenges information technology is posing to college graduates as they enter the workplace. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in March sought applications for its "comprehensive" grant program, with the goal of making more than $20 million in awards. But FIPSE has now announced that there will be no grants awarded. "Congressional action on the FY 2011 budget substantially reduced funds available for grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, including new grants under the comprehensive program," said a notice on the agency's website.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, on Thursday defended the importance of research at the state system’s universities -- and received a unanimous vote of support from the system’s regents, according to the Texas Tribune.

“Teaching and scholarly research go hand-in-hand in a university of the first class,” Cigarroa said, in what the Tribune described as highly anticipated remarks at the regents’ meeting. Cigarroa’s speech, which is in keeping with his previous statements on the subject, comes on the heels of a forceful defense of the research mission of the flagship, UT-Austin, made by its president, William Powers Jr., on Monday.

Questions about the appropriate balance of research and education at Texas universities -- and the regents’ position on the matter (and whether they fully supported Cigarroa) -- have recently gained urgency due to a set of seven “breakthrough solutions” that have been advanced by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a think tank whose policies are aligned with those of Governor Rick Perry. Among these ideas is a call to separate universities’ research and teaching budgets in order to get more faculty members in the classroom. Many faculty members have seen the push for separation as an attempt to micromanage and reduce support for scholarship.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Days after a speech in which President Obama vowed to reform U.S. immigration policy in part by making it easier for foreign graduates of American universities to stay in this country, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office announced an expanded list of science and mathematics fields whose graduates can stay in the United States for an additional year for more training. "By expanding the list of STEM degrees to include such fields as Neuroscience, Medical Informatics, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, Mathematics and Computer Science, the Obama administration is helping to address shortages in certain high tech sectors of talented scientists and technology experts-permitting highly skilled foreign graduates who wish to work in their field of study upon graduation and extend their post-graduate training in the United States," the office said in its news release.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Jill McDonald, the head of the British division of McDonald's, gave a talk this week in which she said that many of those put off by the increasing tuition rates at universities should consider working at McDonald's instead, Financial News reported. "We need to acknowledge that the road many young people take today may not be the one we took in the past," she said. "We need to remove the snobbery." Added McDonald (who happens to have the name of her employer): "I am definitely not saying that people shouldn’t go to university if they have the opportunity to do so, but I do believe it might not be the right route for everyone."

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Junior College Athletic Association's board has voted to limit the number of non-U.S. athletes to one-fourth of scholarship players, USA Today reported. In basketball and volleyball, for instance, that would be three per team. The move follows reports of growing numbers of foreign athletes -- some of them older than most American team members, some of whom it may be questionable to call amateurs -- on some teams.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

A graduate student who planned to burn an American flag at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge was prevented from doing so by the lack of a burning permit and more than 1,000 students who gathered to protest his idea, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Authorities escorted the graduate student from the scene to avoid violence. His idea was to protest the arrest of another student who was arrested for cutting down and burning a flag.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Both The Texas Tribune and The Dallas Morning News (behind a paywall) are reporting this morning that the retirement of Mike McKinney as chancellor of the Texas A&M University System -- announced this week -- may not have been voluntary. Both articles cite the intensifying debates in Texas over carrying out the ideas of Governor Rick Perry. Texas A&M has been criticized by many for being too quick to go along with some of those ideas about measuring the output of faculty members, but the articles suggest Perry allies don't think the university has moved enough in that direction.

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