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Todd Suomela

the mass defunding of higher education that's yet to come - the ANOVA - 0 views

  • I am increasingly convinced that a mass defunding of public higher education is coming to an unprecedented degree and at an unprecedented scale. People enjoy telling me that this has already occurred, as if I am not sufficiently informed about higher education to know that state support of our public universities has declined precipitously. But things can always get worse, much worse. And given the endless controversies on college campuses of conservative speakers getting shut out and conservative students feeling silenced, and given how little the average academic seems to care about appealing to the conservative half of this country, the PR work is being done for the enemies of public education by those within the institutions themselves. And the GOP has already shown a great knack for using claims of bias against academia, particularly given the American yen for austerity.
  • But his critics can’t see something that, for all of his myopia, he always has: that our political divide is increasingly bound up in a set of class associations and signals that have little to do with conspicuous consumption and everything to do with a style of self-performance that few people ever talk about but everyone understands. It is the ability to give such a performance convincingly that, in part, people buy with their tuition dollars.

    That this condition makes egalitarian politics a part of elite class formation has gone little discussed in my political home, the radical left. I have been excited to see a recent groundswell of young left-aligned people, and many of them are bright and committed. But almost none of them seem aware of the fact that their ironic Twitter accounts and cultural references and received opinions on all manner of political issues are as sure a sign of their class identity as a pair of wingtips and a blazer once was. And until and unless they understand how powerfully alienated the great mass of this country is from their social culture, we cannot hope to build a mass left-wing movement and with it do good things like defend public education. I agree: it’s the economy, stupid, and we must appeal to them by making the case that things like universal free college are good. But if recent political history tells us anything it’s that no economic policy, no matter how sensible, can win if its proponents refuse to grapple with the politics of resentment. The left, broadly, has not done a good job of that. The professoriate? My god.

Todd Suomela

The Necessity of Looking Stupid | Just Visiting - 0 views

  • I’ve found students to be very insightful when it comes to understanding and assessing their own learning and very forgiving of my “mistakes.” Just about 100% of what I now do in the classroom has been “authorized” by student feedback, not given through end-of-semester evaluations, but collaborative discussion.

    Ask students if something worked, and they will tell you.

    The best part of moving the professorial pedestal out of the room is that all of us get to be a little less fearful, and little more brave.

Todd Suomela

MOOCs Find Their Audience: Professional Learners and Universities | EdSurge News - 0 views

  • In my last year’s analysis of the MOOC space, I concluded that there’s been a decisive shift by MOOC providers to focus on “professional” learners who are taking these courses for career-related outcomes.

    At the recently concluded EMOOCs conference, the then CEO of Coursera, Rick Levin, shared his thoughts on this shift. He thinks that MOOCs may not have disrupted the education market, but they are disrupting the labor market. The real audience is not the traditional university student but what he calls the “lifelong career learner,” someone who might be well beyond their college years and takes these online courses with the goal of achieving professional and career growth.

  • One of the lessons I learned from running Class Central is that to make money, you need to make others money. By targeting professional learners, MOOC providers are trying to exactly do that.

    To better serve this audience, every MOOC provider has launched products that range from tens of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. As a professional learner, I feel a certain amount of comfort knowing that high-quality educational material exists for skills that I would want to learn in the future. But if you are true lifelong learner—the ones that helped start all the hype in the first place—the MOOC experience has largely been reduced to basically a YouTube playlist with a cumbersome user interface.

    Unless, of course, you are willing to pay.

Todd Suomela

vSTEM.org - 0 views

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    "The simulations on this site are meant to give students the ability to experiment on traditionally static textbook problems and examples. We believe experimenting with a flexible, dynamic system can give students deeper insights into core engineering concepts than that gained from solving for single snapshots of a system. Tweak variables; solve for unknowns; experiment; see what happens and figure out why. This site is also used to augment hands-on experiments, by tracking student training on lab equipment and comparing lab with simulated data.

    "
jatolbert

Scholarly, digital, open: an impossible triangle? | Goodfellow | Research in Learning T... - 1 views

  • Scholarship is discussed below from both institutional and individual perspectives. The view I am starting from is that ‘scholarship’ refers to a set of epistemological and ethical practices that underpin the social construction of an enduring record of objectively validated knowledge. By this definition teaching and learning is not scholarship, although it may draw on scholarship and be done by scholars.
    • jatolbert
       
      Hugely disagree. The first part may be reasonable enough, although I disagree with the notion of "objectively validated knowledge" as a necessary component of scholarship (how is it "objective"? how can it be "validated"?). But to claim that teaching is separate from scholarship is problematic.
  • Research in this area always runs the risk of collapsing into reflexivity, as digital scholars turn the lens of enquiry onto themselves, but grounded and critical research into situated practice in areas of research, teaching and public engagement where both scholarship in all its forms and digitality in all its manifestations are prominent is possible and should be pursued.
    • jatolbert
       
      Is reflexivity a bad thing? In the social sciences it's a sine qua non.
  • There is an inherent tension between practices that aim to open up the social construction of knowledge to universal participation, and those which aim to deepen the understanding of specialist communities and establish a stable and enduring record. Nevertheless, it is the role of many scholars to be involved in both. To bring scholarship, teaching and public engagement closer together must surely be the aim, but first we need to understand the ways in which practice makes them different.
    • jatolbert
       
      I mostly agree with this bit, although I prefer the proper reading of Boyer's model, i.e., that research, teaching, and "public engagement" (which falls into Boyer's category of Application) are -all- forms of scholarship.
Todd Suomela

The Internet as existential threat « Raph's Website - 1 views

  • Our medical systems have terrible Internet security… MRI machines you can connect to with USB that still have “admin:password” to gain root access. That’s horrifying, sure, but that’s not an attack at scale. More frightening: we’re busily uploading all our medical records to the cloud. Take down that cloud, and no patients can be treated, because nobody will know what they have, what meds they are on. Software swallows your insulin pumps and your pacemakers. To kill people, all you need is to hack that database, or simply erase it or block access to it. After all, we don’t tend to realize that in an Internet of Things, humans are just Things too.

    As this software monster has encroached on stuff like election systems, the common reaction has been to go back to paper. So let’s consider a less obvious example. We should be going back to paper for our libraries too! We’ve outsourced so much of our knowledge to digital that the amount of knowledge available in analog has dropped notably. There are less librarians in the fewer libraries with smaller collections than there used to be. If the net goes down, how much reference material is simply not accessible that was thirty years ago? Google Search is “critical cultural infrastructure.” How much redundancy do we actually have? Could a disconnected town actually educate its children?

    How critical is Google as a whole? If Google went down for a month, I am pretty sure we would see worldwide economic collapse. How much of the world economy passes through Google hosting? How much of it is in GMail? How much is dependent on Google Search, Google Images, Google Docs? The answer is a LOT. And because financial systems are now also JIT, ten thousand corporate blips where real estate agencies and local car washes and a huge pile of software companies and a gaggle of universities and so on are suddenly 100% unable to function digitally (no payroll! no insurance verification!) would absolutely have ripple effects into their suppliers and their customers, and thence to the worldwide economic market. Because interconnection without redundancy increases odds of cascades.

  • But just as critically, governments and state actors seem to be the source of so many of the problems precisely because the Internet is now too many forms of critical infrastructure, and therefore too juicy a target. If software eats everything, then the ability to kill software is the ability to kill anything. Net connectivity becomes the single point of failure for every system connected to it.

    Even if the Net itself is designed to route around damage, that doesn’t help if it is the single vector of attack that can take down any given target. It’s too juicy a target for the military, too juicy a target for terror, too juicy a target for criminal ransom.

    The old adage goes “when they came for this, I said nothing. When they came for that…” — we all know it. Consider that the more we hand gleefully over to the cloud because we want convenience, big data, personalization, and on, we’re creating a single thing that can be taken from us in an instant. We’ve decided to subscribe to everything, instead of owning it. When they came for your MP3s, your DVDs, fine,. not “critical infrastructure.” When they came for your resumes, OK, getting closer.

  • As we rush towards putting more and more things “in the cloud,” as we rush towards an Internet of Things with no governance beyond profit motive and anarchy, what we’re effectively doing is creating a massive single point of failure for every system we put in it.
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