Friday, October 29, 2010

Big gen ed shake-up coming

We heard about the big changes that LERT is planning for gen ed at our last department meeting.

Is everyone ready for a turf-war?

And I thought there weren't any good campus issues to blog about lately!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Censorship on campus

Welcome back everyone! It has been a nice, productive summer for me. Unfortunately, I haven't been posting on the blog. I have even been thinking of turning it off.

However, today I was glad that I haven't. Our lovely IT department has implemented a "virus prevention tool" that blocks access to all sorts of perfectly legitimate websites.

I was trying to follow a link to a blog on It was blocked because of a "suspicious embedded link." I am not quite sure what that means except that I couldn't visit a completely innocuous site.

Apparently, I am then supposed to send an email to IT and tell them what my legitimate, academic reason was for visiting the site. Then, sometime in the future, they will unblock that blog for me.

I was just reading some web-commentary in passing, but this has happened to me several times. It looks more like a problem. Are viruses an excuse for broad-based exclusion of blogs?

The web is a dangerous place, but I am not sure the drastic measures which make following blog links impractical does our community any good!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Why do students study less?

Here is a great article from the Boston Globe about how little students study. The average has dropped from 24 hours a week in 1961 to 14 now.

Whether the numbers are right, we all know how little our students study. The bigger question raised by the article is about the nature of college. Having only 3 hours of class a week was premised on the notion that students would do much of the work needed on their own outside the classroom. Now that they are not doing that, should college become more like high school?

The Atlantic offers some theories. The first on their list is professor apathy. We don't want to challenge students and they don't want to be challenged.

Obviously, I haven't been posting much of late, but it still seems like a good place to post interesting links. . .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MU Dean's Search Turmoil

This is an interesting story that I have been following:  Marquette offered and then rescinded an offer of deanship, seemingly because she is gay.

It seems shameful to me and a sign of the turmoil within Catholic higher education.  It is, however, nice to be following a scandal on someone else's campus!

Monday, April 05, 2010

UW system's new growth agenda hits the press

You can read about it in the Journal-Sentinel; the latest plan promises increase in graduates by 30%.   

Do you think it stands any chance of getting real support in Madison?  I doubt it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Should we ban laptops?

The reaction against laptops in the classroom has hit the Washington Post.  It lists professors banning laptops at George Washington U, American, William and Mary, and Virginia.

I tend to agree--too often it is clear that students are simply surfing the web or doing something else.  The bigger question is whether typing is as good for memory as writing.

I find writing notes is the best way to remember what I have read or heard.  I don't think typing does as well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do You Think They'll Mention She's a Professor?

The feeding frenzy over the biologist at University of Alabama -- Huntsville has been as exaggerated as we could have expected.

She even made the front page of the New York Times today.  

It is a horribly tragic event, but much of the focus is driven by the fact that she was a professor.  It is not an uncommon occurrence when something like this happens.  Should we be flattered that her profession matters so much in a case like this?

Maybe the Northwestern can refer to us all as Amy Bishops instead of Jeffrey Dahmers!

Monday, February 08, 2010

LERT evaluation process flawed?

A commenter wrote this:

How about the necessity of defining what we try to do in each class as part of the ongoing LERT reform? Since we are restricted to only three choices, I was very disappointed to have to say that I DON'T teach writing in my class, and that I DON'T teach critical analysis of concepts, etc., etc. The process seems ridiculously reductionist.

These are good questions--we looked at the descriptions as a department last month.  People were disturbed by the language that told us all that we do not teach writing in our classes.  It looked like the English department convinced LERT that only they could teach writing!

New Social Order on Campus?

The New York Times Style section has a story about the changing nature of gender relations on campus.  In it, the author describes how partying has changed because of the decreasing percentage of men on campus.

The NY Times seems to run these kinds of breathless stories about shocking changes on a fairly regular basis. The author (Seems like a man, but I can't be sure since the name is Alex) seems to be imagining how great it must be to hook up without dating.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Welcome back -- with another report of poor student preparation

Welcome back everyone.  I have been slow at posting as of late.  I haven't found a good campus issue to sink my teeth into.

Instead, I have a complaint out of Canada about decline grammar skills among freshman.  This is not a surprising phenomenon, but it is always fun to see it in the news.

Perhaps this semester, we will see the beginnings of the move toward unionization.  That should be a nice way to get the blog moving again.  Anything else?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

National Textbook Rental Coming?

Barnes and Noble getting into the textbook rental business.  Read the story here.

The rental fee will be 42.5% of the new cost.  This seems worse than the used book market, but if there is a new edition, I suppose it might work.

How is our own local rental business doing?  Is it still here?