I’m continuing to participate (if you use participate with the loosest possible definition) in Bryan Alexander’s reading group, and this time around we’re reading a near future science fiction novel, Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge, to take a look at how education might look in the future. We’re two thirds of the way through the book, and can read the first week discussion and second week discussion if you’d like. Here are some of my thoughts so far.
Thoughts about things found online or from other sources.
So, this wasn’t the post I had intended to write today. But it’s what has come front and center, so I guess it’s the one that will get written. Today the folks at Instructure (makers of the Canvas learning platform) released an Alexa Skill for Canvas that allows faculty, students, or parents to query Alexa for Canvas based information/activities. In the parlance of today’s politicians, I am troubled by this.
Today I was reading the summary of a recent Ithaka S+R library survey about “strategy and leadership issues from the perspective of academic library deans and directors.” What really struck me was the similarity between those issues and ones I know I and my CIO colleagues face in higher education IT. In most cases, it’s just a question of language choices or content focus that define these problems and library instead of IT challenges.
We’ve been working recently to bring our web site into compliance with ADA requirements, and one of our big issues is 300+ hours of video without closed captioning or transcripts. While we’re putting process and policy in place to ensure new videos have this, we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to deal with transcribing all the old material. Enter IBM’s Watson.
I’m pretty sure Bryan Alexander’s Paying the Price reading group has finished, but I wanted to share one last idea inspired by the last bit of Sara Goldrick-Rab’s book. In Chapter 10, Dr. Goldrick-Rab lays out a number of ways we could help make the financial aid system work better (or, arguably at all) for students, including the idea that states and and public colleges (although there’s an argument to be made for all colleges to participate) layout the real cost of attendance for students over their four years to help them better plan. I think that’s a great idea, but I feel like maybe it doesn’t go far enough. Or more accurately, I think there’s a companion to this that could help students even more.
At ELI last month I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Satya Nitta speak twice on IBM’s Watson AI system (I also got some conference crud that turned into Bronchitis, so I’m really late posting this). My first opportunity was in a session sponsored by the EDUCAUSE Leading Academic Transformation group that was a more informal Q&A session (which, full disclosure, I helped facilitate), and the second was his morning keynote. What struck me was how different these two engagements were and how much different the take-away likely was depending on which session you attended. So this isn’t really a tale of two AIs but rather a different telling of one AI.
There, I said it. I suppose I could have gone with the more clickbaity title, “What role do private colleges have in fixing the cost of higher education? The answer will shock you!” But I didn’t. You’re welcome. This is a continuation of thoughts that have come up while reading Sara Goldrick-Rab’s Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream as part of Bryan Alexander’s online reading group. This is, in theory, on chapters four and five, although I just finished chapter six, so it’s possible some of that chapter will creep in here. Why do I think there is no meaningful role for private colleges? The answer, not surprisingly, is multifaceted.
This year at the ELI conference in Houston, TX I’m going to be participating in the Leadership Institute. Much to my chagrin, we have homework. Thinking some about my colleagues who have begun advocating for teaching in the open, I thought I’d try a little learning in the open. Fair warning though, this is also a little Tom Sawyer. I’m going to be asking for your help at the end.
This month I’m once again participating in Bryan Alexander’s online reading group. This month we’re reading Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream by Sara Goldrick-Rab. We’re through the first few chapters, and a phrase in chapter three caught my eye.
If you’re falling off a cliff you may as well try and fly. You’ve got nothing to lose. A few of you might know this from Babylon 5, a sci-fi series that aired in the late 90’s. If you don’t, that’s OK. Not everyone can have geek cred as strong as mine. Also, you don’t really need the show’s context to understand the meaning behind the quote.