A few links about the hidden costs of being a woman academic


More MOOC-talk

[F]ar from a radical innovation, MOOCs are simply the natural extension of trends that have been at the heart of the modern university for decades….
[N]early all of America’s colleges and universities have moved away from the cultures and intellectual traditions within which they were founded.
“We are concerned that there is an experiment being done on students and we don’t know the outcome but it could jeopardize their higher education,” said Eileen Landy, the elected secretary of United University Professions, the bargaining union for faculty at 30 of the State University of New York’s 64 campuses. She said union leaders were left in the dark until the deal was announced and said there could be collective bargaining implications of the new arrangements.
  • Outsourced Lectures Raise Concerns About Academic Freedom.” Steve Kolowich. The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 28, 2013): “[W]where state legislators and college administrators see an opportunity, some professors see a threat—if not to their jobs, then to their freedom to teach a course as they believe it should be taught.”

letter, published on Thursday in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, and signed by 58 professors, asks Michael D. Smith, dean of the FAS, “to appoint a committee of arts and sciences faculty members “to draft a set of ethical and educational principles” that would govern their colleagues’ involvement in Harvard-branded MOOCs.”

  • Massive (But Not Open).” Ry Rivard. Inside Higher Ed (May 14, 2013): “The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a $7,000 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors.”
  • Not Staying the Course.” Chris Parr. Times Higher Education (May 10, 2013): “The average completion rate for massive open online courses is less than 7 percent, according to data compiled by an Open University doctoral student as part of her own MOOC studies.”
Companies, colleges, and columnists gush about the utopian possibilities of technology. But digital life has a bleaker side, too. Over the weekend, a cross-disciplinary group of scholars convened [at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Center for 21st Century Studies] to focus attention on the lesser-noticed consequences of innovation.

Still talking about MOOCs

MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used.” Steve Kolowich. The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 21, 2013): “[Mohamed A. Noor, a professor of biology at Duke University] says he believes dismantling departments and replacing them with MOOCs would be ‘reckless.’ But the Duke professor also believes that, in such a case, ‘the fault lies with the reckless administration,’ and not the professor who furnished the MOOC to the vendor that furnished the MOOC to the administration.”

ETA: “Laptop U: Has the future of college moved online?” Nathan Heller. The New Yorker (May 20, 2013):

David W. Wills, a professor of religious history at Amherst … started out being open to moocs, he said. But the more he heard the more his concerns grew, and none of edX’s representatives seemed able to address them. “One of the edX people said, ‘This is being sponsored by Harvard and M.I.T. They wouldn’t do anything to harm higher education!’ What came to my mind was some cautious financial analysts saying, about some of the financial instruments that were being rolled out in the late nineties or early two-thousands, ‘This is risky stuff, isn’t it?’ And being told, ‘Goldman Sachs is doing it; Lehman Brothers is doing it.’ ” The language he heard from edX, he said, was the rhetoric of tech innovation—seemingly to the exclusion of anything else—and he worried about academia falling under hierarchical thrall to a few star professors. “It’s like higher education has discovered the megachurch,” he told me.

[T]he political theorist Thomas L. Dumm, described the conveyance of moocs to weaker universities as “eating our seed corn.”

Duke U.’s Undergraduate Faculty Derails Plan for Online Courses for Credit.” Steve Kolowich. The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 30, 2013): “Duke signed a contract last year with 2U pledging to develop online courses, the first of which would be offered on the 2U platform in September. But a late push by skeptical faculty members, many of whom resented the Duke administration for not consulting with them before entering into a preliminary agreement with 2U, set the stage for a close vote.”

Why Some Colleges Are Saying No to MOOC Deals, at Least for Now.” Steve Kolowich. The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 29, 2013): “Th[e] known costs, combined with uncertainty about whether the MOOCs will make enough money for colleges to recover their investments, might be enough to deter some institutions, says R. Michael Tanner, a vice president and chief academic officer at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities—especially public universities that are facing budget cuts.”

Mind the money, not the Moocs.” Steve Smith. Times Higher Education (April 18, 2013):

I also think that the likely impact of Moocs is being overstated. That is not to say that they will not transform much of the way in which university education is delivered, but I do not think that Moocs themselves can replace the education offered by or the brand value associated with traditional universities. Not every university will face the same level of threat, mind you; Moocs pose a very different challenge depending on which part of the university ecosystem you inhabit. They also need to be monetised, and to find a way of linking study with assessment.

Salaries at the top

On the salaries paid to university heads:

But is the comparison with the private sector reasonable?

While vice-chancellors might increasingly need to act like CEOs, captains of industry would surely claim that their business models – and levels of risk – are nothing like the work of politically protected institutions largely reliant on public funds (regardless of whether that money flows through research and teaching grants or state-subsidised student loans).

The lack of mobility between the worlds of big business and higher education also makes the executive pay comparison unwise, argues Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University. Universities tend to hire from within their own ranks and few vice- chancellors have left the sector to assume big roles in business, he observes.

As most universities are charities, institutions might think about the third sector. Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive, was paid £109,100 in 2011-12 to run an organisation with 5,000 paid staff, 22,000 volunteers and a £385 million turnover. No vice-chancellor earned such a “low” salary that year.

The classic comparison is with the prime minister’s remuneration. However, in the Hutton Review of Fair Pay in the Public Sector, a report published in March 2011, Will Hutton, former Observer editor and former head of the Work Foundation, dismissed such “simplistic benchmarks” (David Cameron is paid £142,500 a year, although he is entitled to about £193,000). Instead, Hutton, who is now principal of Hertford College, Oxford, compared vice- chancellors’ salaries to those received by NHS chief executives, local government heads, four-star generals and permanent secretaries in the Civil Service.

Average pay for vice-chancellors was substantially higher than that for any of those public sector roles, having risen at a faster rate since 2000, the report found.

From Jack Grove, “The annual pay review: are v-cs worth every penny?” Times Higher Education (March 28, 2013).

Mucking about with MOOCs

Well, as MOOCs seem to be the topic-de-jour, the flavour-of-the-week, here are links to some recent media stories. Be there or be square.

  • Stop polarising the MOOCs debate.” Cathy N. Davidson. University World News (16/2/13):259: “I regret this flattening of online learning into a simple binary of ‘politically and financially motivated greed’ on the one hand and ‘an opportunity to find out more about learning’ on the other.”
  • Will Moocs fail to give students help they need?” Chris Parr. Times Higher Education (14/2/13): “They are not a revolution. So much of the pedagogy is this presentational, talking heads sort of thing. We’ve been telling ourselves for years we need to get away from that pedagogy, and now here it is slamming back at us again.”
  • ASECS President Julie Candler Hayes on ‘disrupting disruption.’” The Long Eighteenth (13/2/13): “The low-cost alternative may not have all the desirable qualities of the original, but if effective, it will come to dominate the market, add sustaining innovations of its own, and replace the older product.”
  • MOOCs – Mistaking brand for quality?” Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic. University World News (9/2/13):258: “[I]t is risky to assume that university brand is a surrogate for course quality.”
  • Where MOOCs Miss the Mark: The Student-Teacher Relationship.” Matt Levinson. Edutopia (8/2/13): “[F]or many learners, MOOCs lack the possibility of mentorship and close guidance that comes through the building of a meaningful relationship between student and teacher.”
  • Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman’s ‘Revolution Hits the Universities’.” Kris Olds. Inside Higher Ed (27/1/13): “We are now in a new (normalized) normal, at least in the US, where austerity is accepted and indeed viewed positively for it can be perceived as a mechanism to restructure higher education systems and institutions.”
  • Revolution Hits the Universities.” Thomas L. Friedman. The New York Times (26/1/13): “I can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world — some computing from Stanford, some entrepreneurship from Wharton, some ethics from Brandeis, some literature from Edinburgh — paying only the nominal fee for the certificates of completion. It will change teaching, learning and the pathway to employment. “There is a new world unfolding,” said Reif, “and everyone will have to adapt.'”
  • Skepticism About Tenure, MOOCs and the Presidency: A Survey of Provosts.” Scott Jaschik. Inside Higher Ed (23/1/13): “When it comes to whether MOOCs and other innovations will hurt the business models of higher education, many provosts are worried. In fact they are decidedly more worried about MOOCs than about other reforms.”
  • Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later.” Tamar Lewin. The New York Times (6/1/13): “Many educators predict that the bulk of MOOC revenues will come from licensing remedial courses and “gateway” introductory courses in subjects like economics or statistics, two categories of classes that enroll hundreds of thousands of students a year. Even though less than 10 percent of MOOC students finish the courses they sign up for on their own, many experts believe that combining MOOC materials with support from a faculty member or a teaching assistant could increase completion rates.”