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Ed Webb

The academy's neoliberal response to COVID-19: Why faculty should be wary and... - 1 views

  • In the neoliberal economy, workers are seen as commodities and are expected to be trained and “work-ready” before they are hired. The cost and responsibility for job-training fall predominantly on individual workers rather than on employers. This is evident in the expectation that work experience should be a condition of hiring. This is true of the academic hiring process, which no longer involves hiring those who show promise in their field and can be apprenticed on the tenure track, but rather those with the means, privilege, and grit to assemble a tenurable CV on their own dime and arrive to the tenure track work-ready.
  • The assumption that faculty are pre-trained, or able to train themselves without additional time and support, underpins university directives that faculty move classes online without investing in training to support faculty in this shift. For context, at the University of Waterloo, the normal supports for developing an online course include one to two course releases, 12-18 months of preparation time, and the help of three staff members—one of whom is an online learning consultant, and each of whom supports only about two other courses. Instead, at universities across Canada, the move online under COVID-19 is not called “online teaching” but “remote teaching”, which universities seem to think absolves them of the responsibility to give faculty sufficient technological training, pedagogical consultation, and preparation time.
  • faculty are encouraged to strip away the transformative pedagogical work that has long been part of their profession and to merely administer a course or deliver course material
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  • remote teaching directives are rooted in the assumption that faculty are equally positioned to carry them out
  • The dual delivery model—in which some students in a course come to class and others work remotely using pre-recorded or other asynchronous course material—is already part of a number of university plans for the fall, even though it requires vastly more work than either in-person or remote courses alone. The failure to accommodate faculty who are not well positioned to transform their courses from in-person to remote teaching—or some combination of the two— will actively exacerbate existing inequalities, marking a step backward for equity.
  • Neoliberal democracy is characterized by competitive individualism and centres on the individual advocacy of ostensibly equal citizens through their vote with no common social or political goals. By extension, group identity and collective advocacy are delegitimized as undemocratic attempts to gain more of a say than those involved would otherwise have as individuals.
  • Portraying people as atomized individuals allows social problems to be framed as individual failures
  • faculty are increasingly encouraged to see themselves as competitors who must maintain a constant level of productivity and act as entrepreneurs to sell ideas to potential investors in the form of external funding agencies or private commercial interests. Rather than freedom of enquiry, faculty research is increasingly monitored through performance metrics. Academic governance is being replaced by corporate governance models while faculty and faculty associations are no longer being respected for the integral role they play in the governance process, but are instead considered to be a stakeholder akin to alumni associations or capital investors.
  • treats structural and pedagogical barriers as minor individual technical or administrative problems that the instructor can overcome simply by watching more Zoom webinars and practising better self-care.
  • In neoliberal thought, education is merely pursued by individuals who want to invest in skills and credentials that will increase their value in the labour market.
  • A guiding principle of neoliberal thought is that citizens should interact as formal equals, without regard for the substantive inequalities between us. This formal equality makes it difficult to articulate needs that arise from historical injustices, for instance, as marginalized groups are seen merely as stakeholders with views equally valuable to those of other stakeholders. In the neoliberal university, this notion of formal equality can be seen, among other things, in the use of standards and assessments, such as teaching evaluations, that have been shown to be biased against instructors from marginalized groups, and in the disproportionate amount of care and service work that falls to these faculty members.
  • Instead of discussing better Zoom learning techniques, we should collectively ask what teaching in the COVID-19 era would look like if universities valued education and research as essential public goods.
  • while there are still some advocates for the democratic potential of online teaching, there are strong criticisms that pedagogies rooted in well-established understandings of education as a collective, immersive, and empowering experience, through which students learn how to deliberate, collaborate, and interrogate established norms, cannot simply be transferred online
  • Humans learn through narrative, context, empathy, debate, and shared experiences. We are able to open ourselves up enough to ask difficult questions and allow ourselves to be challenged only when we are able to see the humanity in others and when our own humanity is recognized by others. This kind of active learning (as opposed to the passive reception of information) requires the trust, collectivity, and understanding of divergent experiences built through regular synchronous meetings in a shared physical space. This is hindered when classroom interaction is mediated through disembodied video images and temporally delayed chat functions.
  • When teaching is reduced to content delivery, faculty become interchangeable, which raises additional questions about academic freedom. Suggestions have already been made that the workload problem brought on by remote teaching would be mitigated if faculty simply taught existing online courses designed by others. It does not take complex modelling to imagine a new normal in which an undergraduate degree consists solely of downloading and memorizing cookie-cutter course material uploaded by people with no expertise in the area who are administering ten other courses simultaneously. 
  • when teaching is reduced to content delivery, intellectual property takes on additional importance. It is illegal to record and distribute lectures or other course material without the instructor’s permission, but universities seem reluctant to confirm that they will not have the right to use the content faculty post online. For instance, if a contract faculty member spends countless hours designing a remote course for the summer semester and then is laid off in the fall, can the university still use their recorded lectures and other material in the fall? Can the university use this recorded lecture material to continue teaching these courses if faculty are on strike (as happened in the UK in 2018)? What precedents are being set? 
  • Students’ exposure to a range of rigorous thought is also endangered, since it is much easier for students to record and distribute course content when faculty post it online. Some websites are already using the move to remote teaching as an opportunity to urge students to call out and shame faculty they deem to be “liberal” or “left” by reposting their course material. To avoid this, faculty are likely to self-censor, choosing material they feel is safer. Course material will become more generic, which will diminish the quality of students’ education.
  • In neoliberal thought, the public sphere is severely diminished, and the role of the university in the public sphere—and as a public sphere unto itself—is treated as unnecessary. The principle that enquiry and debate are public goods in and of themselves, regardless of their outcome or impact, is devalued, as is the notion that a society’s self-knowledge and self-criticism are crucial to democracy, societal improvement, and the pursuit of the good life. Expert opinion is devalued, and research is desirable only when it translates into gains for the private sector, essentially treating universities as vehicles to channel public funding into private research and development. 
  • The free and broad pursuit—and critique—of knowledge is arguably even more important in times of crisis and rapid social change.
  • Policies that advance neoliberal ideals have long been justified—and opposition to them discredited—using Margaret Thatcher’s famous line that “there is no alternative.” This notion is reproduced in universities framing their responses to COVID-19 as a fait accompli—the inevitable result of unfortunate circumstances. Yet the neoliberal assumptions that underpin these responses illustrate that choices are being made and force us to ask whether the emergency we face necessitates this exact response.
  • The notion that faculty can simply move their courses online—or teach them simultaneously online and in person—is rooted in the assumption that educating involves merely delivering information to students, which can be done just as easily online as it can be in person. There are many well-developed online courses, yet all but the most ardent enthusiasts concede that the format works better for some subjects and some students
  • Emergencies matter. Far from occasions that justify suspending our principles, the way that we handle the extra-ordinary, the unexpected, sends a message about what we truly value. While COVID-19 may seem exceptional, university responses to this crisis are hardly a departure from the neoliberal norm, and university administrations are already making plans to extend online teaching after it dissipates. We must be careful not to send the message that the neoliberal university and the worldview that underpins it are acceptable.
Shane Freeman

WWI Poetry Analysis and Creation - Thematic History - 8 views

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    This activity is targeted to the critical analysis and construction of understanding of war poetry.  The tasks involve developing an understanding of the effects that warfare has on the individual soldier as a snapshot of the battle experience that most men experienced during the brutal trench war conflicts of the first world war.
Martin Burrett

JumpRope - 8 views

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    This site is an online grade book and course designer with advance analysis tools to keep your students moving forwards. http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/Planning+%26+Assessment
Martin Burrett

A+ Click Math Skill Tests and Problems for Grade K-1 K-12 - 16 views

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    This great maths site has an amazing collection of maths self-marking problem solving questions. Search by age level or topic. This covers both Primary and Secondary levels. Topics include numbers, geometry, algebra, data analysis, probability and more. http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/Maths
Ed Webb

The threat to our universities | Books | The Guardian - 0 views

  • It is worth emphasising, in the face of routine dismissals by snobbish commentators, that many of these courses may be intellectually fruitful as well as practical: media studies are often singled out as being the most egregiously valueless, yet there can be few forces in modern societies so obviously in need of more systematic and disinterested understanding than the media themselves
  • Nearly two-thirds of the roughly 130 university-level institutions in Britain today did not exist as universities as recently as 20 years ago.
  • Mass education, vocational training and big science are among the dominant realities, and are here to stay.
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  • it is noticeable, and surely regrettable, how little the public debate about universities in contemporary Britain makes any kind of appeal to this widespread appreciation on the part of ordinary intelligent citizens that there should be places where these kinds of inquiries are being pursued at their highest level. Part of the problem may be that while universities are spectacularly good at producing new forms of understanding, they are not always very good at explaining what they are doing when they do this.
  • talking to audiences outside universities (some of whom may be graduates), I am struck by the level of curiosity about, and enthusiasm for, ideas and the quest for greater understanding, whether in history and literature, or physics and biology, or any number of other fields. Some members of these audiences may not have had the chance to study these things themselves, but they very much want their children to have the opportunity to do so; others may have enjoyed only limited and perhaps not altogether happy experience of higher education in their own lives, but have now in their adulthood discovered a keen amateur reading interest in these subjects; others still may have retired from occupations that largely frustrated their intellectual or aesthetic inclinations and are now hungry for stimulation.
  • the American social critic Thorstein Veblen published a book entitled The Higher Learning in America: A Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities by Businessmen, in which he declared: "Ideally, and in the popular apprehension, the university is, as it has always been, a corporation for the cultivation and care of the community's highest aspirations and ideals." Given that Veblen's larger purpose, as indicated by his book's subtitle, involved a vigorous critique of current tendencies in American higher education, the confidence and downrightness of this declaration are striking. And I particularly like his passing insistence that this elevated conception of the university and the "popular apprehension" of it coincide, about which he was surely right.
  • If we are only trustees for our generation of the peculiar cultural achievement that is the university, then those of us whose lives have been shaped by the immeasurable privilege of teaching and working in a university are not entitled to give up on the attempt to make the case for its best purposes and to make that case tell in the public domain, however discouraging the immediate circumstances. After all, no previous generation entirely surrendered this ideal of the university to those fantasists who think they represent the real world. Asking ourselves "What are universities for?" may help remind us, amid distracting circumstances, that we – all of us, inside universities or out – are indeed merely custodians for the present generation of a complex intellectual inheritance which we did not create, and which is not ours to destroy.
  • University economics departments are failing. While science and engineering have developed reliable and informed understanding of the world, so they can advise politicians and others wisely, economics in academia has singularly failed to move beyond flat-Earth insistence that ancient dogma is correct, in the face of resounding evidence that it is not.
  • I studied at a U.K. university for 4 years and much later taught at one for 12 years. My last role was as head of the R&D group of a large company in India. My corporate role confirmed for me the belief that it is quite wrong for companies to expect universities to train the graduates they will hire. Universities are for educating minds (usually young and impressionable, but not necessarily) in ways that companies are totally incapable of. On the other hand, companies are or should be excellent at training people for the specific skills that they require: if they are not, there are plenty of other agencies that will provide such training. I remember many inclusive discussions with some of my university colleagues when they insisted we should provide the kind of targeted education that companies expected, which did not include anything fundamental or theoretical. In contrast, the companies I know of are looking for educated minds capable of adapting to the present and the relatively uncertain future business environment. They have much more to gain from a person whose education includes basic subjects that may not be of practical use today, than in someone trained in, say, word and spreadsheet processing who is unable to work effectively when the nature of business changes. The ideal employee would be one best equipped to participate in making those changes, not one who needs to be trained again in new skills.
  • Individual lecturers may be great but the system is against the few whose primary interest is education and students.
Dean Mantz

Twitter StreamGraphs - 3 views

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    Very cool visualization tool for compiling Twitter topics.
David Wetzel

Stimulating Critical Thinking through a Technological Lens - 13 views

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    Stimulating critical thinking using technology has the potential to create more in depth understanding of science and math content by students when engaged in learning activities which integrate in-class and on-line technology resources. Technology tools support stimulation of both inquiry-based and critical thinking skills by engaging students in exploring, thinking, reading, writing, researching, inventing, problem-solving, and experiencing the world outside their classroom. This is accomplished through learning content through the lens of video to multimedia to the internet (Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement, NCREL, 2005).
Ed Webb

What's Wrong With the American University System - Culture - The Atlantic - 6 views

  • it's awfully difficult to say, "Here's knowledge we don't need!" It sounds like book burning, doesn't it? What we'd say is that on the scale of priorities, we find undergraduate teaching to be more important than all the research being done.
  • Those people were teachers, in the true sense of the word. They were just as knowledgeable about their fields as anyone, but they had playful, imaginative minds. They could go on TV—Carl Sagan could talk about science, John Kenneth Galbraith could talk about economics. They weren't dumbing down their subjects. In fact, they were actually using their brains. The more you rely on lingo—"regressive discourses," "performativity"—the less you have to really think. You can just throw terms around and say, "Look, Ma, I'm a theorist!"
  • We believe the current criteria for admissions—particularly the SAT—are just so out of whack. It's like No Child Left Behind. It really is. It's one of the biggest crimes that's ever been perpetrated. I mean, you took the SAT! It's multiple choice, a minute and quarter per question. What does it really test? It tests how good you are at taking tests! At a big university like Berkeley, where there are going to be 30,000 applications, here's what they do. On top of each folder, without even reading through it, they write your SAT score. That's the first winnowing. So the 1600s get looked at first, and then down from there.
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  • One of the things that I find scariest at the moment is that so many bright people have no conception at all of life for any people but those in the upper middle class and above. They live a sheltered suburban life, go to college with other sheltered suburban kids, and assume that everyone's life has been like theirs. Some years ago a relative of mine graduated from Cambridge. I asked what his classmates would be doing after graduation and he said "management consulting." These were very bright people with zero experience in the business world who had spent the last three years barely able to manage their binge drinking, let alone manage any business. I'd trust the high school grad who rose through the ranks way more than these bright young things.
  • www.highereducationquestionmark.com
Adrienne Michetti

Force field analysis - 5 views

  • Force field analysis is a management technique developed by Kurt Lewin, a pioneer in the field of social sciences, for diagnosing situations. It will be useful when looking at the variables involved in planning and implementing a change program and will undoubtedly be of use in team building projects,when attempting to overcome resistance to change.
  • driving
  • restraining
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  • initiate a change and keep it goin
  • acting to restrain or decrease the driving force
  • Equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces
  • present level of productivity
  • This equilibrium, or present level of productivity, can be raised or lowered by changes in the relationship between the driving and the restraining forces.
  • Managers are often in a position in which they must consider not only output but also intervening variables and not only short-term but also long-term goals. It can be seen that force field analysis provides framework that is useful in diagnosing these interrelationships.
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    Force field analysis is a management technique developed by Kurt Lewin, a pioneer in the field of social sciences, for diagnosing situations. It will be useful when looking at the variables involved in planning and implementing a change program and will undoubtedly be of use in team building projects,when attempting to overcome resistance to change.
TCY Online

SNAP 2009 Analysis- SNAP 2009 Answer Key & Cut-offs - 11 views

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    SNAP 2009 Analysis and Cut-offs with Solution Key: 1. General English: Answer Key, 2. Quantitative, DI & DS: Answer Key, 3. General Awareness- GK, Current Affairs, Business Scenario: Answer Key, 4. Analytical & LR: Answer Key
David Hilton

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students - 5 views

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    Useful guide for history educators.
Fred Delventhal

Obsurvey - 0 views

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    Create you own surveys, collect answers and analyze
Fred Delventhal

Speech Wars - Inaugural Addresses, History of Politics - 0 views

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    See how often US presidents have said certain words in their inaugural addresses. Click on the examples on the right, or type in your own word above. Hover over points in the graph and milestones to see names and dates
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