In the pipeline

Adjuncts want, most immediately, more pay – a livable wage. They want space on campus in which to work. They want benefits, of health insurance especially, and a budget for essential work-related expenses (such as computers and support for their maintenance and repair). They want job security: renewable contracts guaranteeing long-term or consistently longer-term employment; advance notice for teaching appointments. They wish, most broadly, for equality: a role in faculty governance; a stake in the curricular or operational decisions of…

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Normality’s shadow

Research has shown that those students (all of us, really) remember a new word or fact best when they learn it and then relearn it when they are just on the cusp of forgetting it. Area9’s instructional software uses algorithms to predict each user’s unique memory-decay curve so that it can remind a student of something learned last week at the moment it is about to slip out of his or her brain forever. Seth Fletcher, ‘How Big Data is…

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Business as usual

In an evolving market, the development of sustainable business models is always a challenge but I believe that if we build something great, a whole range of business opportunities could come our way. Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn, Feb 2013 Over the past year, MOOCs have opened the doors of access to quality education, and have captured the attention of educational leaders and students worldwide. Today, we’re excited to announce the next step in our mission to foster student learning without…

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Under pressure

It’s week one again, and I’m up late reading students’ introductory posts at the start of a mostly online course.  They don’t know each other, and in sharing photographs and writing publically about why they’re taking the course, they’re showing quite a bit of trust in strangers that they haven’t met in person, including me. This care that they show each other is really why I still choose to work online, after a year immersed in the blither of techno-futurism,…

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With friends like these

Here’s a little grenade-with-the-pin-out that was rolled towards Australia’s university lecturers today by the Minister for Communications, Broadband, and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy.  Under the alarmist heading that Australian Universities Must Adapt, Senator Conroy popped this question: “What is a lecture worth if the best lecturer in the world at MIT is online for free for all to access?” Really—that’s it? After all we’ve heard about MOOCs revolutionising higher education, it comes down to this crude bit of cost-benefit…

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Broken?

I’m not really one for live blogging, but I’m up late following the UK Guardian’s weekly online live chat, just concluded, on the subject of academic casualisation—not least for the pleasure of seeing Jonathan Rees in action. We’re all still falling short of figuring out exactly how edtech, university marketing and casualisation add up to the state that we’re in, but he’s on the case. I wanted to find the conversation more encouraging, but it’s hard to ask a group…

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Piecework

I forget why exactly, but I’m on a daily email list for the US fast food industry. I’ve learned all sorts of colourful facts about change management practices and customer loyalty schemes, and it’s getting harder to avoid the conclusion that higher education institutions and quick service restaurants are marching to a similar drum. Mad Greens*, for example, is currently pitching for the same trifecta of improved service quality, compliance and productivity that informs most of the divisional workplans I’ve…

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Just not that into you

New Faculty Majority Board Member Jack Longmate, writing in the NFM blog this week, thinks that there are fresh signs of “potential for traction in public policy thinking” in relation to the conditions faced by academics working off the career track in America’s higher education system. His optimism has been sparked by Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, who’s been speaking out against “casino capitalism”.  Reich was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, and he writes on the…

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The hardest part

OK, so here’s a quick follow-up on yesterday’s post about Blackboard’s complex rebranding of itself as an open source visionary. Phil Hill thinks this isn’t the key point, and I feel that he’s right. As I mentioned yesterday, Ray Henderson has issued a significant challenge to higher education, in the form of an offer “to solve the hardest problems in education, comprehensively.” Educators are really familiar with being the experience of being told that we have a problem that someone…

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Hope’s temper

Hope must be tempered by the complex reality of the times and viewed as a project and condition for providing a sense of collective agency, opposition, political imagination, and engaged participation. … Hope expands the space of the possible and becomes a way of recognizing and naming the incomplete nature of the present. (Henry Giroux, 2004) The Adjunct Project is one of the most important outcomes of the recent US summit on precarity in higher education. Behind it is an impressively…

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