Re: Cali Higher Ed

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I'm hurt. But I'll get over it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:38 AM
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Also the post-office.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:39 AM
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I love it when people say I'm exactly right, but why do people only say it when I announce that the world is ruled by scumbags and we are all going to hell in a hand-basket?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:49 AM
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3. Because that's the one thing everybody can agree on.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:51 AM
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Also Medicaid, at least in Arkansas so far, and likely other states as well in the near future.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:52 AM
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It is the standard Republican tactic

Well, thank goodness the Democrats have a super-majority and the governorship.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:54 AM
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Depressingly, 6 is a good point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:58 AM
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I like his free online textbooks for introductory courses law.

He really seems to be dealing with the problem with the difficulty in graduating in 4 years because of course over subscription. It is shameful that colleges effectively block students from graduating in four years because of the difficulty getting into required courses.

Online courses suck but the use of such courses in the context of attending some other courses in person has the possibility of working out better.

My bet is that the free online courses will be more successful than the paid on line courses.


Posted by: Lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:15 AM
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The thing is, these colleges already have articulation agreements to recognize plenty of courses - some online - from other schools. There's already a mechanism to accomplish this. But it doesn't cover non-accredited schools, generally.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:24 AM
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8 gets it right, but a few more points. Others know a lot more about what's going on here than I do, but:

The guy who introduced this bill, Darrell Steinberg, is about as "good" a politician as you can reasonably hope for in the United States. The left wing of the Democratic Party. Just to put the politics in context. He also had an open-source textbook bill (which I support!) so he's not exactly a tool of Pearson or the private education industry.

The actual bill is a choice: either the college has to approve an online course students can take to fulfill a requirement, or the college has to accept/provide for (not sure of the details) a course taken on another campus.

The driving force behind the demand is students who can't graduate in 4 years. They can't graduate because required courses are not offered or oversubscribed. Something like 15% of students in the Cal State system graduate in 4 years (this could be wrong) and community colleges are oversubscribed. It's an outrage to make students wait so long to graduate and the solution can't just be to hope and pray for more money for new faculty. Note also that this is a long term problem that's been around since at least the early 1990s, but has only gotten worse (and is all the more egregious in an economy with no jobs at the end of the rainbow). That is the problem the bill is trying to fix.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:28 AM
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Also the post-office.

So true. I've long been a fan of the post office, but it seems like their performance has gotten noticeably worse over the past couple fo years.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:36 AM
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They can't graduate because required courses are not offered or oversubscribed.

The mad hustle to get required courses at California Community Colleges is indeed insane. Furious refreshing of the course registration website when your (tiered) registration time comes, desperate, tearful appeals to instructors to sign add/drop cards, eight hour waits for drop-in appointments at the academic advising office.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:37 AM
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It's interesting that we just assume that under laws like this there will be no way to distinguish a course in which people are expected to learn something, from a course in which people don't need to learn anything, from a course in which it is impossible to learn anything.

Maybe the real problem is a perverting of "accreditation" standards, akin to the rating agencies giving the OK to subprime lending.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:40 AM
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10: there is, of course, a time-tested way of increasing access to intro courses that doesn't involve transferring money to for-profit corporations. Otherwise, I agree with everything you've said.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:41 AM
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That said, this bill is only in part about doing what you've said, Halford. It's also very much the thin edge of a wedge that Jerry Brown is hoping to drive into the state's system of higher education. He wants (has always wanted) to gut the UC system, and this is just the first of what will be many bills like this, making it easier for online courses to count for credit throughout the various tiers of the state system.

Whether California needs a massively expensive, (sort of) state-funded system of research universities is, of course, open to debate. I mean that, by the way. Regardless, Jerry Brown has made it clear that he believes the answer is no, and this bill is part of a much larger project to radically downsize the UC.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:45 AM
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13.1: at the non-selective schools I attended, at least, it was already not at all trivial to distinguish those.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:48 AM
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It's interesting that we just assume that under laws like this there will be no way to distinguish a course in which people are expected to learn something, from a course in which people don't need to learn anything, from a course in which it is impossible to learn anything.

I wonder which one I'm teaching.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:49 AM
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10 It's an outrage to make students wait so long to graduate and the solution can't just be to hope and pray for more money for new faculty.

Wait, what? We're talking about legislators proposing a solution here. These are the people who are capable of providing more money, in principle. Why is that off the table?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:53 AM
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10: but there is already a mechanism to accept transfer credits, and lots of nonprofit schools currently offer online courses. The solution can't be to hope and pray for new faculty, but these are actual legislators. The solution can be to fund the damn system.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:53 AM
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Dang.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:54 AM
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Apropos of little, I can no longer describe how infuriating I find discussions that ignore that there are online classes (like the two I'm teaching) that are functional, extremely well-received, capped at 40, and where people learn things in favor of assuming that the options are either Harvard, or funneling money to cronies at for-profits, and since not everyone can afford Harvard....

But there's not much defense of California to be had here. Sure, they're trying to get the CSUs to reduce time to degree. They could try hiring some more faculty to stay in line with their expansion. I hear that if you have more people teaching classes, you get more classes taught.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:56 AM
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18 -- where are you going to get the money from? Seriously, show your work, it could be useful to everyone involved. AFAICT most well intentioned people who have looked at the situation have pretty much no idea, but this is an area where I'd actually 100% honestly love to be proven wrong.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:59 AM
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If only there were some mechanism by which governments could acquire money!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:01 AM
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22: higher taxes. Or from the prisons. Surely you've seen the graph showing state funding for prisons going up in amounts directly proportional to the cuts in higher education.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:02 AM
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21.1 is a great point, to which I'd say, as I've said elsewhere, I'm not opposed in principle to online education. I hope, for the sake of access and innovation, that it lives up to its promise. In the meantime, I want to see data, ideally accompanied by stories from people I trust working in online classrooms, demonstrating that it works. And until I see that data, I'm going to remain skeptical, assuming that internet triumphalism is almost always a stalking horse for private corporations looking to get paid (in this case, the Rupert Murdochs who see higher ed as multi-billion dollar business opportunity).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:06 AM
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The prisons have been cut massively in recent years and are horrifically overcrowded, not to mention the lawsuits requiring additional facilities and medical care.

In addition to our particular state constitutional problems with obtaining higher taxes, we've already done this, just recently. "Repeal Prop 13" is not exactly a realistic plan, except maybe in a 20-year view, and it's certainly not something the Legislature can do on its own.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:09 AM
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Assuming we accept 26.2 as a foregone conclusion, we won't have a UC or much of anything else left from the Master Plan. Again, that's a perfectly valid choice for voters to make, but it would be nice if they made that choice knowingly, rather than being promised that the internet would magic their problems away.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:11 AM
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Arent the prisons are overcrowded with people locked up for nonviolent offenses, and 3rd strikers? Legislators to the rescue.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:13 AM
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Arent the prisons are overcrowded with people locked up for nonviolent offenses...?

Damn those IP lawyers...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:15 AM
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I was going to say that Halford's comments seem to indicate the state should just dismantle its university system if that's what it really wants to do, but clearly VW is going to say what I want to say in a clearer and more well-informed way, so just imagine me saying "yeah, what he said" after all his comments.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:16 AM
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Actually, many of the non-violent people have been let out or transferred recently (because the overcrowding has gotten so horrendous), and the third strike law is a pretty insignificant slice of the problem. The single best thing we could do for prison costs would be to break the prison guards union and stop paying the guards excessive wages, but we'd still have massive liability to the guards for past costs.

I mean, sure, let's have fewer prisons, higher taxes, free perfectly well funded courses for everyone. But assuming we can't realistically achieve that world right now, you have to make do with the choices you actually have.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:19 AM
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Transferred to...for-profit prisons?


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:21 AM
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30 -- Imagine if there was some way, even if a non-optimal way, to continue providing a pretty good, cheap education to millions of non-wealthy Californians, even given the real world funding constraints. Saying your choices are "perfect education or dismantle public colleges completely" is pretty ridiculous and would do a tremendous disservice to people actually living in the state. I actually have no idea whatsoever whether online education will work or not, but it's ridiculous for people actually working to fix real problems in the real world and not [completely unnecessary personal attack deleted] to say that the only choices should be dismantle everything everywhere or provide some platonic ideal of perfect university education.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:23 AM
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21.1: Any advice for dealing with the problem of low student engagement and high drop rates in online courses? I'm teaching an online bioethics and a hybrid ethics right now, and I find the engagement issue incredibly frustrating.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:24 AM
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Transferred to...for-profit prisons?

Where instead of making license plates they do the grading for MOOCS.

It's all part of one vast plan.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:26 AM
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33: online courses already transfer! This mechanism exists! Schools just aren't mandated to accept transfer credit from non-accredited for-profit schools.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:26 AM
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[completely unnecessary personal attack deleted]

Cute.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:33 AM
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30 -- Imagine if there was some way, even if a non-optimal way, to continue providing a pretty good, cheap education to millions of non-wealthy Californians, even given the real world funding constraints.

Interestingly, this isn't that.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:36 AM
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re:15:"He wants (has always wanted) to gut the UC system, and this is just the first of what will be many bills like this, making it easier for online courses to count for credit throughout the various tiers of the state system."
Von Wafer:
I was actually not remotely aware of this. Do you have any good sources/backgrounds that explain or report this out? I would be *very* interested and grateful.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:37 AM
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You know what, 30 is still pissing me off. The idea that your only option, given tough budget constraints, is to say "well, they didn't want higher taxes, so fuck everyone who wants an education" rather than "let's try and desperately figure out some way to educate people who need an education" is really just elitist bullshit. Obviously it would be nice if we could fund everything for everyone, but the idea that "the state should just dismantle the university system if that's what it really wants to do" is just so ridiculous. First of all, "the state" doesn't want to do anything, there are just real-world budget constraints that people have to live with. Second, the point is to try and figure out some way of dealing with those constraints without dismantling public education.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:38 AM
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Poor for-profit colleges offering shitty online classes. People can be so mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:42 AM
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34: Arranged marriages?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:42 AM
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30 was kind of hyperbolic, but turning over public education to non-accredited, for-profit entities is beginning to dismantle it. I just don't see this as a serious response to real budget constraints.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:43 AM
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One potential idea is to give people course credit if they sign a waiver saying they intend to learn the material at some point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:44 AM
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try and figure out some way of dealing with those constraints without dismantling public education.

I think the point is that some believe that forcing accredited public schools to accept credits from unaccredited for-profit schools is a step towards dismantling public education.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:44 AM
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Although maybe you'd also want them to buy a happy meal to show commitment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:44 AM
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Pwned by 43.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:45 AM
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But yes, clearly I am an elitist, and will go self-flagellate now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:47 AM
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Oh have you been to the self-flagellation chapel? One of Charles Bullfinch's lesser works, but it's just got wonderful energy. I understand Charles Peirce washed his mouth out with lard there once.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:51 AM
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I think this is the key paragraph from the NYT article, although it's not one that people have focused on.

Last year, in an effort to bring down textbook costs, Mr. Steinberg won passage of a law requiring free online textbooks for the 50 most popular introductory college courses, and in the process created a faculty panel -- three members each from the University of California, California State University and the community college system -- to choose materials.
The new legislation would use that panel to determine which 50 introductory courses were most oversubscribed and which online versions of those courses should be eligible for credit. Those decisions would be based on factors like whether the courses included proctored tests, used open-source texts -- those available free online -- and had been recommended by the American Council on Education. A student could get credit from a third-party course only if the course was full at the student's home institution, and if that institution did not offer it online.

I don't think the actual bill has been introduced yet, so we'll have to wait for the details. But this bill would provide credit only for (a) a single online class that's been specifically vetted approved by a faculty panel and only if (b) the home institution doesn't offer an online version of the course and only for (c) a limited set of oversubscribed introductory courses. So the point is to provide for an easy mechanism in which students can get credit for oversubscribed courses by taking a faculty-approved online course. I'm not an educator and don't know if that's a great idea but this hardly seems like dismantling public education. If anything, it seems most likely to create a bunch of online courses created by the public universities.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:53 AM
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40: ...there are just real-world budget constraints that people have to live with. Second, the point is to try and figure out some way of dealing with those constraints...

Seems like I'm hearing that, well, like everywhere lately.
Cameron vs Wolf in Britain, Hamilton vs the rest of the blogosphere, Obama doing lunch with everybody.

Ok, now let me see if I have the liberal social-democratic plan:

1) Because of budget constraints, Democrats must muddle through, prerserve what can be preserved, slash and and burn a little less and smartly, but still cut services and privatize etc until...

2) The commons shrinking pisses the proles off, and desperate and miserable, they get selfish and vote in Republicans

3) who slash and burn and cut taxes and spend on corruption until it all collapses, like a GFC and GR, so Democrats inherit a broken economy and bankrupt gov't

back to 1)

rinse and repeat. Accelerate. This will end how?

When do Democrats get to be the crazy fucks?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:54 AM
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21.1: Do you have the capability for online office hours? I've done voice and video chat hours a couple of times this semester, and it's worked very well. But the attrition rate is a hard problem to solve. Most people suck at motivating themselves without a schedule, and when courses are advertised as "works easily for you and is flexible with your schedule" it doesn't encourage people taking it seriously. Keeping the class sizes small helps, as does having weekly assignments.

40: Look, the for-profit colleges under consideration are both non-accredited and mostly scamming the feds and students out of tuition money. Why should the CSU be forced to accept those, instead of transfer credits from accredited schools (some of which have online programs available in mountainous states very near to CA taught by stellar faculty for comparable cost?)

It's not the online that it's the issue. The for-profit is a secondary issue. It's that they're not accreditated -- and that dismantles the brand. We joke here with our Governor's underfunded initiative to have 2/3rds of the state have higher ed degrees by 2020 that we should just stamp them out on construction paper to shut him up and then get back to educating people. You're actually doing this in California. Not good.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:55 AM
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Second, the point is to try and figure out some way of dealing with those constraints without dismantling public education.

This is an opportunistic boon to for-profit colleges. It doesn't solve squat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:56 AM
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50 to 52 and 53. You would have a faculty panel selecting (and thus "accrediting") a specific online course, which would only be an option if the home institution did not offer the course online. And the panel would (presumably) be weighing quality, access and cost.

This isn't a proposal under which any student can get credit for any private, nonaccredited online course simply by paying money to the private provider.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:59 AM
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And, there is no requirement whatsoever that the faculty panel pick an online course from a non-accredited private institution. Maybe they will choose the course developed in the nearby mountain state!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:01 PM
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(a) a single online class that's been specifically vetted approved by a faculty panel and only if (b) the home institution doesn't offer an online version of the course and only for (c) a limited set of oversubscribed introductory courses.

This already exists. I don't know how many times I should repeat myself. You can already transfer credit for approved, online classes. That is not the point of this legislation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:01 PM
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Well then, the legislation as described should have no effect whatsoever, if what it's providing already exists.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:03 PM
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As a conservative, I assume that any new legislation that supposedly does something good is actually just designed to open a loophole for something else.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:05 PM
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57: Doesn't that make you suspect that it's not just doing that?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:06 PM
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39: the minutes from the past several Regents meetings are instructive in this regard, as are Brown's comments regarding the UC from the last time he served as governor. Honestly, I don't feel especially comfortable linking to any of that stuff, but it's all readily available. I'm sorry to be such a weenie.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:06 PM
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56 -- Are you speaking of the UC/CSU system, and are you speaking of 'approval' that comes not from the department of the student's home institution, but some special statewide faculty panel?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:07 PM
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For what it's worth, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the devil is in the details here. The faculty panel won't have power over the UCs, for example, or, I don't think, the CSUs. It's designed specifically (though this is left unstated) to shape policy within the community college system, which has less autonomy, and, again, to begin a much bigger project of reshaping public higher education in the state more broadly.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:11 PM
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Sort of pwned by Carp, I guess.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:11 PM
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63 -- Not really.

62 -- I can imagne that if the panel things seems to work out at the CC level, it'll get moved to introductory classes at the CSU level quickly enough.

From a total outsider, this looks like a fairly serious re-allocation of power within the U system, but it's really not obvious (despite 58 being a sound instinct) that it's about either the destruction of (failing?) public higher education, or privatization. It does, though, look like institutions would have to stop using introductory level courses to filter out people who don't really belong in a particular program. Which would be a loss: my son's State U program prides itself on sending kids home who can't keep up with the demanding workload, and the consequent reputation its grads get. I'm sure there are plenty of analogues in the CSU world.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:18 PM
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That 16% 4 year graduation rate is shameful. Making students to take on another year of debt because the schools can't get them the classes they need is insane.

I get the feeling that introductory classes are not a priority for schools. They don't seem to be fun to teach and they don't track the teacher's real interests. I doubt any additional money for the schools would be focused on this issue.

Once the bottleneck is cleared up a little bit then the numbers doing the online course would likely drop. The freshman taking the online course this year will be the sophomore who won't have to sign up for the course next year.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:19 PM
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63: I don't think either Brown or Steinberg are actively focused on funneling money to the private sector. But I do think that's what's going to happen (probably regardless of what happens with this bill), and I also think both the rhetoric and reality of that make this bill more politically expedient.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:23 PM
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(And I spend a lot of time trying to get my son to avoid the stupid way I approached higher education -- as a burdensome set of boxes to be checked, rather than a series of networking opportunities to be exploited.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:24 PM
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And there's no doubt that Brown wants to see the UC's power and autonomy radically diminished. Again, that might well be a good thing for the state or something that the voters want. The UC has been a whipping boy for so long now that people, even UC graduates, are used to hating us: from the right, because we're a bastion of radical whateverness; from the left, because we're anti-democratic and antithetical to the bullshit populist bromides* that help some people get elected in some parts of this state.

* As distinct from actual populism, which doesn't seem to be on the legislature's agenda any time soon.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:26 PM
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67: the thing is, I understand that many students, even sophisticated and talented students, see higher education almost exclusively as a mechanism for networking or a means of acquiring a credential. And that's fine, as far as it goes. But it's my job to try to meet those students where they are and bring them somewhere intellectually edifying. Which is to say, I actually believe in the power of the liberal arts and think they're a project worth fighting for. I know you're not saying the opposite, at least not precisely, but that does seem to be the tenor of a great many discussions about higher ed these days.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:30 PM
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Sorry, that was a pretty big conversation shift. Maybe that was a story for another day.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:31 PM
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70: So big a shift that you killed the thread!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:47 PM
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71: I blame the Pope!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:48 PM
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69 -- Well, yeah. Also, I view learning to think, and learning the material, as necessary but not sufficient to succeed at the networking aspect. Boxchecking requires some of the latter, and very little of the former.

My own experience wasn't as edifying as it might have been. Not as bad as the New Jersey system -- 'we learned more from a three minute record than we ever did in school' -- but, well, at today's prices you'd hope a semester would be better than a 3 LP set.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:54 PM
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21.1: Do you have the capability for online office hours? I've done voice and video chat hours a couple of times this semester, and it's worked very well.

I tried this my first semester and got massive, massive pushback from the students, as in lots of people going to the dean to complain. This would force a lot of people to buy cameras and microphones, when a lot of them don't own their own computers. They are using libary computers, or friends' computers, or coming to campus and using the campus computers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 12:57 PM
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Do the liberal arts really have the over-subscription problem? My guess is that over subscription drives people out of STEM fields because of their stacked graduation requirements.

I did a lot better in school once I realized the importance of the box checking function of schools. Actually taking classes to try to learn things is tricky. I have done it, but only when I felt comfortable with it hurting me in my other classes.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:00 PM
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The thing to remember abotu online education is that it is mostly marketed to people who are:

* not self-motivated
* not technologically savvy.
* don't have good reading/writing skills.

You might think that this is a silly group of people to recruit for online courses, but these are a big chunk the people who are having trouble completing college. Online education is touted as the solution to college access. The fact that it comletely unsuited for 90% of that demographic is never mentioned by its proponents.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:00 PM
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76: Also often have limited tech access, at least here. Lee had a significant number of students trying to take online classes on their phones because that was the only internet access they had.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:05 PM
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75: oversubscription (at least as community colleges in CA) is mostly an issue for required general education courses. These include courses across the spectrum, but certainly do not solely include math and science courses (which are all lower division at CCs, pretty much by definition). The problem with stacked graduation requirements for non-humanities majors who transfer is that most of the required courses aren't offered at community colleges, so graduating in four years including a transfer at two years is often (generally?) impossible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:07 PM
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I agree with 76. Online classes are problematic.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:08 PM
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61: All colleges and universities have articulation agreements for other schools, listing what course transfers for what course. Usually there's a catch-all "If not listed here, likely to count as History 1XX under the following circumstances, with approval from registrar." Something like 70% of all students transfer at least once, or get a diploma from a different institution than they started. Colleges work really hard to count credit from other institutions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:08 PM
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Even sadder is the increase in online education for K-12 in California. I don't have hard numbers at hand, but the use of online courses to replace traditional public K-12 has increased sharply over the past several years.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:10 PM
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80: not that I agree with Halford, but it is weird and different at (california, at least) community colleges, where they generally expect students to fulfill a very specific and regimented set of general education courses in order to be able to transfer to one of the four-year public universities in-state (and have your CC transcript satisfy that school's gen. ed requirements). I already had college credits when I went to CC but it was really hard to get them to take any of them as satisfying requirements (I eventually got them to accept introductory chinese as fulfilling the language requirement, but nothing else counted for anything.

Also, as mentioned above, it can take many, many hours of waiting (or signing up several months in advance) to see an adviser to even talk about transfer credits.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:13 PM
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Here is the transfer requirements doohickey in question.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:15 PM
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I think the issue is that the CC has course agreements with the relevant four year schools for what courses will transfer, so negotiating with the CC doesn't buy you anything, as they have a previously negotiated, relatively fixed deal with the Us. And it is much harder to transfer without the certification (if you do transfer without the certification, you're subject to all the general ed and breadth requirements of the school you're transferring to, which may or may not overlap with the IGETC requirements; this makes it yet-more impossible to graduate in four (or even five) years).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:18 PM
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I agree that the details will be key here, and that what Halford draws attention to in 50 is very important. It does seem like the guy responsible is on the side of the angels. But OTOH, yes, this is clearly *also* attacking the autonomy of the system.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 1:53 PM
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Bear in mind, Halford, that you have Yglesias on your side.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:05 PM
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Here's the main bill. (There's apparently a secondary one, which I haven't read).

This bill, as I read it, does the following. It authorizes the Community Colleges, CSU system, and UC system, working together, to either "identify" or "develop" a specific series of online classes which fill the role of providing the IGETC (community college general education) requirements discussed above by Tweety. It would then make credits obtained from taking these specifically-designed and developed online general education courses transferable, in the UC and the CSU systems.

So, the bill takes one aspect of the community college system (that is now significantly overcrowded), namely the general education requirements, and moves it online, at least for some students, so that they can meet the general education requirements in a shorter period of time. It makes those online credits transferable and accessible to everyone in the system, in a way that they are not currently. The online classes must at a minimum be approved by the faculty of the Community Colleges/CSU/UCs, and the bill appears to contemplate that the online courses will be "developed" by faculty members at the public colleges and universities.

So, that's what the bill does, I think. It may be the thin wedge of a future mass privatization of higher education, but it's absolutely not, by its own terms, a mechanism for allowing students to enroll for credit in unapproved or unaccredited private online courses. It looks much more like the creation of a statewide, public set of online courses designed to relieve overcrowding for the community college general education requirements.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:21 PM
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The text of the bill does seem much less objectionable than the impression of what it does that I had acquired from reading random things on the internets.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:29 PM
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it's absolutely not, by its own terms, a mechanism for allowing students to enroll for credit in unapproved or unaccredited private online courses

Has someone said that it is? (Serious question. I've been in and out of the thread. I have no interest in yet another pointless fight.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:29 PM
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Incidentally I would have been really irritated if the answer to "how can I get the courses to satisfy the IGETC?" was "you can just take some online bullshit!" The problem with community colleges in California is that they don't have enough money to perform adequately. (Eight hour waits -- if they call your name when you're in the bathroom, you lose your spot, sorry -- for academic advising!) Solutions to that which don't involve "more money" seem, at best, like a distraction, well-meant though they may be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:34 PM
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89 -- the OP said that California "is now mandating that colleges accept credit for courses taken from for-profit colleges," plus Cala's 52 and Heebie's 53.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:34 PM
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Also, "one aspect of the community college system" doesn't really cover it; it used to be the case that community colleges would offer all sorts of other non-IGETC courses, some of which (architecture, vocational-ish things, community interest things) were not even offered as majors at four-year-schools. As of several years ago now, they've had to cut essentially all of that stuff so they can devote more of their ever-dwindling resources to IGETC and related curriculum. So actually what it's doing is taking the last remaining thing community colleges do and outsourcing it; the next step will 100% for sure be calls to cut their funding further. So again, might be well-meant, but.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:37 PM
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91: Well, and the NYTimes article reads as if this would require the schools to accept credits from courses offered by unaccredited companies like Straighterline. Which isn't at all clear from the statute itself.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:38 PM
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90 -- sure, but maybe "you can take some online bullshit," even if a lame answer, is a better answer than "wait a year." Also, hopefully, the online bullshit isn't bullshit, but obviously I have no idea and there the devil really is in the details. At least the bill requires the system to identify the students most likely to succeed in online classes and to target the classes at them, but who knows how that works in practice.

And the "sufficient money" option just isn't realistically on the table, and hasn't been for some time, since at least the 1990s; IIRC, weren't you taking community college classes during the years when the state was [relatively] flush, and they were dramatically underfunded even then?

92 is indeed pretty scary, and let's hope this isn't the first step towards totally defunding the CCs, but I just looked up the course offerings at LACC and it looks like there are still plenty of things like architecture, vocational type stuff, etc., on offer, so it's not like this is all the CCs are doing right now.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:47 PM
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sure, but maybe "you can take some online bullshit," even if a lame answer, is a better answer than "wait a year."

I don't accept this premise, particularly, no. That answer in practice would have meant "no, you can't go to CC now"; the level of hoop-jumping required to get through a CC is already insane. Adding that on top of it? Fuck no. I'd still be a well-paid programmer right now if I had to deal with that bullshit.

And the "sufficient money" option just isn't realistically on the table, and hasn't been for some time, since at least the 1990s

Then the game (where the game is defined as the master plan) is up, and, okay, but saying "we can fix it with technology" is only giving cover -- again, possibly totally unintentionally, and certainly plausibly with the very best of attentions -- to people who are trying to destroy the system (whether those people include Jerry Brown or not). The whole strategy in California has been to cut money from one tier or the other and argue that the other tiers will pick up the slack; remember when Arnie cut the shit out of CSU budgets and insisted that more students would and could be served by going to CCs and transferring? Now the solution is to take a bunch of online classes in lieu of actually attending CC, and then transfer?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 2:57 PM
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This is union-busting, and the union is the graduate student union (UAW locals 2835 and 4123). They're the people who do the bulk of intro teaching, and it was massive cuts to graduate student funding which lead to the shortages in intro level classes at the UCs. Liberals should be ashamed for supporting this.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:14 PM
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95.2 gets it right. I thought I said something like this upthread, but maybe not. I can't keep track of all of my online personalities today.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:27 PM
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There's also a huge problem with doing this on the state-wide level. Flagship state universities, like the UCs, need to have higher standards for what counts as an intro level course. State-level meddling into these issues is a big problem, both for schools (who are trying to maintain the meaning of their degrees) and for students (who are then guaranteed to fail later courses).

Not to mention the general trend towards decreased state funding combined with increased state control is terrible. If states want to spend less money on their universities, the least they can do is not micromanage them.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:27 PM
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Grad students don't do any of the teaching at CCs, as far as I know, which again as far as I know are the only places where IGETC requirements are relevant.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:27 PM
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I'm confused, the NYTimes article definitely says that this bill concerns required classes at the UCs and CSUs.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:33 PM
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98 -- in addition to 99, the IGETC system already exists. All this does is move some of the teaching of at least some of the IGETC classes online.

And I do take the point in 95.2 seriously, but. Is this really a situation where kids are forced into online education classes instead of attending the CCs, as opposed to being put in the kind of classes that Cala is talking about upthread. For one thing, I can't imagine the UCs and the CSUs approving a bunch of online classes in which students necessarily learn absolutely nothing, given that they'll be at least in some ways required to accept the transfer credits from such classes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:36 PM
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100: it seems like maybe the NYT is being unclear; the UCs and CSUs will have to accept these credits as part of the IGETC transfer package, but they won't necessarily have to accept the credits from somebody who starts at those schools as a freshman, or who takes those classes other than as part of the completion of IGETC requirements, per my understanding gleaned from Halford's summary, so who knows actually. But it makes a lot of sense to me that it specifically has to do with IGETC, since I think that's the only place where you find system-wide requirements.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:40 PM
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The article seems very poorly written then, because there seems to be a big difference between saying that people take too long to graduate from schools rather than saying it's too hard to get into them in the first place.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:42 PM
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The academic senates of the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges shall jointly develop and identify online courses that shall be made available to students of each of the three segments for enrollment by the fall of 2014.

This, from the bill, sounds distinctly like UC students will be taking online classes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:44 PM
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The University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges shall do both of the following: (1) Develop a process for determining and identifying which students are most likely to succeed in the online courses developed pursuant to subdivision (a) and target enrollment efforts toward those students. (2) Inform students of the technical requirements a student must satisfy in order to successfully participate in and complete the
online courses developed pursuant to subdivision (a).

This, also from the bill, looks like a decent way to approach the technical issues mentioned above.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:48 PM
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Cameron vs Wolf

You're using Adolf Hitler's nickname for our Jewish future prime minister whose dad was a political refugee from the Nazis?

Never change, bobbycakes.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:50 PM
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106: Felix Salmon ...today

Never mind Sachs vs Krugman: by far the most interesting and important fiscal-policy debate right now is Cameron vs Wolf.

Meanwhile, Martin Wolf, who for many years has been the most respected and important economic commentator in Europe, has in recent weeks become much more accessible. Check out his column on bankers' bonuses, for instance: it's a smart and rollicking read, arguing persuasively that the UK government is being idiotic in its opposition to European bonus caps.

Wolf's immediate response to Cameron was solid, but his second go-round is just devastating

Ignorant malicious fuck


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:54 PM
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104: if that's what the "three segments" mean, yeah. I would assume that the UCs and CSUs would be heavily involved in selecting IGETC courses since IGETC is basically an agreement between them and the CCs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 3:56 PM
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104: UC students will have access to online classes, yes, though its unclear, given the UC's autonomy -- we're run by our regents, not by the legislature -- how this will be implemented. Honestly, the whole thing is going to be a huge clusterfuck, which I suspect is part of the point (there will need to be more legislation and back-room deals struck between the governor and the regents in order to make this work, and thus more and more online courses will, as though by magic, count for UC credit). Again, whether this is a good or a bad thing should be a matter of public debate, argued in front of an informed electorate. Sadly, my pony died a couple of years ago, so I'll probably have to miss this grand festival of ideas and democracy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:02 PM
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I would not be surprised if the private education orgs got their quotes into the NYT article as a way to sort of lobby for the door to be left open for them and as a way to signal to investors that they're still in a business that's hot. I would also not be surprised if the NYT overstated that potential outcome because private online courses are hot and stories about them get pageviews while the slow struggles of higher education to adapt to changing conditions are not hot unless they're about failure.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:03 PM
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I can't imagine the UCs and the CSUs approving a bunch of online classes in which students necessarily learn absolutely nothing

You might be surprised by the kinds of things that UC administrators and faculty have okayed lately -- all in the name of demonstrating to the governor that we're team players!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:05 PM
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I'm a little confused about whether IGETC is something which *can only* be satisfied at CC, or which in practice is something you'd only want to satisfy at a CC. Surely a UC Calculus class would qualify for the quantitative requirement of IGETC, right? It still seems to me that this law is going to force Berkeley to outsource intro science classes to MOOCs.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:06 PM
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Hoooly crap one of the big not-for-profit MOOCracies is all the rage around here right now. I went to meet with a new assistant professor last week and he was in the middle of filming a (seemingly quite elaborate; location filming, professionalish videography) introductory class for them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:08 PM
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It still seems to me that this law is going to force Berkeley to outsource intro science classes to MOOCs.

Only if the oversight committee signs on to such a practice.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:08 PM
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The faculty, because of the principle of shared governance, controls the curriculum in the UC. The administration ostensibly doesn't have a say in such matters (but, by using its budget authority as a lever/cudgel, of course it does).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:09 PM
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115 or something like it is why IGETC is actually an agreement on the part of the UCs to accept a given package of courses as satisfying breadth requirements rather than a system-wide set of breadth requirements; if you are enrolled at a UC you can't satisfy that school's breadth requirements by satisfying the IGETC requirements. You have to abide by the school's individual requirements. In practice this often means that transfer students have taken a much more limited set of courses and contributes (along with many other factors) to their being underprepared when they get to whichever UC.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:12 PM
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seemingly quite elaborate; location filming, professionalish videography

But low cost, right?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:25 PM
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Free, allegedly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:28 PM
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It still seems to me that this law is going to force Berkeley to outsource intro science classes to MOOCs.

I would have thought intro science classes are completely safe, because they usually involve labs and you can't outsource a lab to a MOOC.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:28 PM
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Honestly, the whole thing is going to be a huge clusterfuck

Why? Or, why necessarily? That's not a rhetorical/assholish question, I'm genuinely curious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 4:58 PM
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18

Wait, what? We're talking about legislators proposing a solution here. These are the people who are capable of providing more money, in principle. Why is that off the table?

Isn't a big part of the problem that schools refuse to properly allocate the resources they have? There is no reason for required introductory courses to be oversubscribed, the school should assign as many teachers as needed.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 5:55 PM
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Read the thread and then troll, James.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 5:57 PM
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85

... But OTOH, yes, this is clearly *also* attacking the autonomy of the system.

In response to problems the system has refused to deal with.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:01 PM
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122

Read the thread and then troll, James.

I did read the thread. Why are certain courses bottlenecks? Why can't the capacity of these courses be increased?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:03 PM
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120: first, because it's one more moving part in a Rube Goldberg contraption; second, because each campus will have its own rules, making the system impossibly baroque for the students who most need it to be simple; third, because the administration has entirely different goals than the faculty, and that never ends well; fourth, because the students have no voice in Sacramento, so when things go awry, as they surely will, they'll be s.o.l.; fifth, because online education, in many of its guises, is worse for the students who most need it to work for them than brick-and-mortar education is; sixth, because this will further embolden private corporations that have been circling higher ed like vultures (actually, no, not like vultures; vultures have the good grace to wait for dinner to die before they begin eating); seventh, because this is another case where the public is being sold internet triumphalism as a panacea for a problem that really only has one solution: more revenue.

I can keep going if you want, as there are a bunch of additional problems, but it's probably better if I don't get into the ways that privatizing public education is a slippery slope, because someone from UCSF or the UC Davis Medical Center will drop in and decide that they're going to secede from the system. Oh, wait, that's already happening. I've said too much!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:08 PM
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the school should assign as many teachers as needed

Christ, even James gets it in one.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:09 PM
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Because the community colleges which offer those courses are already devoting a vast preponderance of their resources towards offering more sections of the relevant courses, to the great detriment of the many other educational needs those institutions are intended to fill.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:09 PM
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Oh, I see: James thinks the problem is waste and inefficiency. Figures.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:11 PM
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127 to 124.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:11 PM
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128: yes, all those tenured professors at community colleges teaching their undersubscribed, esoteric vanity courses rather than getting down in the trenches.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:12 PM
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Not to mention their expensive, state-supported research into ever-more-esoteric topics!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:16 PM
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Hey I know why don't we fund all the intro classes as Kickstarter projects?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:35 PM
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127

Because the community colleges which offer those courses are already devoting a vast preponderance of their resources towards offering more sections of the relevant courses, to the great detriment of the many other educational needs those institutions are intended to fill.

You have some reference for this? Is every class full?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:35 PM
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132: how much did you get in for VM?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:40 PM
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Ah never mind, found the right thread


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:43 PM
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first, because it's one more moving part in a Rube Goldberg contraption; second, because each campus will have its own rules, making the system impossibly baroque for the students who most need it to be simple; third, because the administration has entirely different goals than the faculty, and that never ends well; fourth, because the students have no voice in Sacramento, so when things go awry, as they surely will, they'll be s.o.l.; fifth, because online education, in many of its guises, is worse for the students who most need it to work for them than brick-and-mortar education is; sixth, because this will further embolden private corporations that have been circling higher ed like vultures (actually, no, not like vultures; vultures have the good grace to wait for dinner to die before they begin eating); seventh, because this is another case where the public is being sold internet triumphalism as a panacea for a problem that really only has one solution: more revenue.

Hmmm. 1-4 basically apply to literally every issue at the UC ever. Baroque Rube Goldberg contraption? 1987's UCLA Freshman wants his problem back, to bizarrely misuse an annoying cliche.

6 and 7 are surely big problems but I guess I'm just skeptical that trying things like online education, if done reasonably well, is worse than just standing around and shouting "more public money," when there is no realistic possibility of getting that money, until the system collapses. Or, put differently, I don't see how rejecting proposals like this gets you closer to getting the money we all agree we need.

So, 5 is the big one for me. If online education is really dramatically terrible, and worse even than the current mess, then it shouldn't be done. But how much worse are the online classes than the brick and mortar ones? Are they sufficiently worse for even underserved students than ever-higher tuition or not having access to required courses? Can the system figure out some reasonable way to manage them?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 6:52 PM
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133: There is some space in between every other class being full, and there being a significant amount of underutilized capacity. For example, the schools might offer only one session at a time in a given important upper-level course, with significantly smaller enrollments each semester. Obviously you can do some things to shift resources, like reducing the frequency of the upper-level courses so that more students take the course each session that it is offered, but that introduces a new set of scheduling problems.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 7:30 PM
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I don't actually know enough about California schools in particular to have an opinion, other than that when a lower-quality lower-cost option becomes available, it probably makes sense for some people to switch. Who and how many I don't know.

What I do know is that the online courses are not going to be much worse an educational experience than the courses students can't get into right now because they're already full.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 7:32 PM
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137

... a given important upper-level course, ...

If these courses aren't required for graduation they aren't as important as the courses which are required, particularly the ones which are prerequisites for other required courses.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:04 PM
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Typically one is required to take a certain number of upper-level classes though often not a particular one. So in some sense they're not "required" but people couldn't graduate if they weren't taught.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:06 PM
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Community colleges offer no upper-level courses, incidentally.

Also, as far as I can remember all my classes were full. No seminars, here. Twenty or more students per class.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:08 PM
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136: Re 5), the answer is possibly 'yes.' What happens in my experience is that the university heavily markets online classes as perfect for the working guy/busy mom, on your own schedule/in your PJs/etc, and most people are very bad judges about how they do in such an environment.

Add to that a handful of faculty whose idea of an online class is "post a reading list and whine about academic freedom when we devise standards to make them log in once a week", and you can end up with a very bad situation where the student has almost no chance of passing, but is paying tuition money for the privilege. Our tuition is pretty low, but I've seen a number of students taking my class face-to-face because they tried online classes and discovered that it didn't work for them -- but only after they'd earned an F.

Now, there are ways to improve this -- my college is working on online best practices and standards for all online classes, and this is being done by faculty who are good at it -- but it doesn't work well for a lot of people. In the end, it's just a delivery system that requires a very highly motivated student, and that's not going to be a good model for everyone, especially people who are not used to working through large amounts of college-level information themselves, which -- surprise -- includes a lot of the CC/open enrollment population.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:10 PM
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140

Typically one is required to take a certain number of upper-level classes though often not a particular one. So in some sense they're not "required" but people couldn't graduate if they weren't taught.

Sure but if they aren't all completely full you can eliminate some of them without preventing anyone from graduating.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:30 PM
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141: Is nothing a prereq for anything else? Because if the bottlenecks are prereqs for something else, then just substitute in whatever the correct names are for those kinds of courses and then my argument will make sense.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:32 PM
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The goal of the UC system was to provide education to anyone that wanted it, assuming they wanted it enough and were smart enough to slot in at an appropriate school for them.

This is obviously an attack on that notion, which will raise the cost of school. Those costs have been rising at above the inflation rate for years already - in some cases, insanely so (look at law school).

I don't have kids, but if I did, I would hope for hyperinflation.


Posted by: Grumbles | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:34 PM
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141

Also, as far as I can remember all my classes were full. No seminars, here. Twenty or more students per class.

Full as in no space for a single additional student?

And of course there is a selection bias here, more students take the popular courses than the unpopular courses, resulting in a biased estimate to how full the average course is.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:34 PM
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144 was to 141.1.

141.2: Were there bottlenecks/intro courses with significantly higher maximum enrollments? Or were those also just in the somewhat-above-20-students range?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:37 PM
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This thread was a lot more interesting than it seemed like it was going to be.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:51 PM
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145.2 seems to me to get it totally wrong. The point of this kind of thing -- if it can possibly work -- is to keep tuition affordable and access available to anyone who wants.

142 goes to "can it possibly work." And there, I just don't know, but it doesn't seem theoretically impossible.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 8:55 PM
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Has this study from the Community College Research Center been linked here yet?

Low-cost online courses could allow a more-diverse group of students to try college, but a new study suggests that such courses could also widen achievement gaps among students in different demographic groups.
The study, which is described in a working paper titled "Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas," was conducted by Columbia University's Community College Research Center.
The researchers examined 500,000 courses taken by more than 40,000 community- and technical-college student in Washington State. They found that students in demographic groups whose members typically struggle in traditional classrooms are finding their troubles exacerbated in online courses.
The study found that all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree. However, some groups--including black students, male students, younger students, and students with lower grade-point averages--are particularly susceptible to this pattern.

(From this article summarizing the study.)

I continue to think online courses are a good idea in isolated incidences and in theory. The actually-existing online courses that I have any experience with (dealing with either the professors or the students) have been a disaster.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:09 PM
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online education, if done reasonably well, is worse than just standing around and shouting "more public money," when there is no realistic possibility of getting that money,

Wait, who's paying for the online education if there's no more money?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:46 PM
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The students, of course, with their juicy federal loans.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:47 PM
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151 -- well, per the bill, which contains funding provisions, the State. But (presumably) paying much less money than it would take to provide sufficient funding for students to graduate in four years otherwise.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:50 PM
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But that's what they're using to pay for non-online courses. It seems like if this spurs the California systems to make their own online courses, then that would mean there actually is more money to spend on public education, just not for expansion as-is. I'm not convinced that good online equivalents exist for many of these courses - I do think it might be possible to develop them - but I'm also not convinced it will actually cost less to produce them. Especially in the near-term.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 9:57 PM
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150: I linked that at my blog earlier today.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:03 PM
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You have a blog?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:05 PM
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154: having tried to put together a so-called blended class (and having sort of succeeded), my experience suggests that it takes an absolute ton of work: both for prep and to run things. And unless one assumes that one's lectures will never evolve -- which maybe is true for some people in the sciences? but I don't think so, right? -- even prep isn't a one-time investment of time and energy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:10 PM
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156: not really? I mean, it's at my author's website. I don't post there very much, but I do occasionally.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:11 PM
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154: the cost of spurring a few California colleges to create online classes, grade them, etc would be the same as hiring faculty sufficient to meet the demand for brick and mortar classes sufficient to provide the gen ed classes to graduate people in four years? I mean, maybe, I haven't priced it out, but that doesn't seem super likely.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:33 PM
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I should say to graduate people across the state within four years. Maybe I'm missing something about how the costs work, but of course you're right that if its not much cheaper, it makes little sense.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:35 PM
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I mean, it's at my author's website. I don't post there very much, but I do occasionally.

Yes, I know.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:36 PM
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I don't see how you create and run new online courses at a largish scale without hiring more people - not just faculty, either, but film production, IT, and more. Some of those professions actually think it's normal to pay people to work, too. But sure, maybe you can do it with fewer people than you'd need in classrooms. So far the massive enrollment courses tend to not give credit, and the online-but-like-regular-courses seem to have closer to ordinary class sizes.

Or you contract out with course producers, but I think it's unlikely it will be set up so that students will just pay for that individually - maybe they will if it's a few exceptions, but it's hard to see that scale. More likely you get something like a subscription set up for approved courses, where students pay the school who pays the course producers and that kind of set up opens you up for ever higher subscription fees.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:49 PM
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I need to accept that I'm not on Pacific time anymore and sleep.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 10:51 PM
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159: It's only helpful if people pass the classes (and indeed, pass classes which rely on these classes as prerequisites). It seems to me that the most likely scenario is that online classes delay graduation more because of more people failing.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:05 PM
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... It seems to me that the most likely scenario is that online classes delay graduation more because of more people failing.

Failing to graduate because you fail courses is one thing. Failing to graduate because the jerks who run the system have made it impossible to take the required courses is another thing entirely.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-13 11:53 PM
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If the online courses are harder for many students to pass -- e.g., students who have poor connectivity, or those who get a teacher who turns out to be bad at the new skills of online teaching -- we can pretend it's all the students' fault, while comparing them to better-supported peers. That will be an excellent cooling-out system.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:05 AM
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166

Like the people whining about online courses care about the students. They are worried about their jobs. If they cared about their students they would have made sure that the required introductory courses were available.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 5:48 AM
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You seem to be suffering from some fundamental confusion about how much control individual faculty (the people here complaining about online courses) have over either funding levels generally or which courses are offered specifically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 5:51 AM
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At community colleges, even! Watching him try to slot his "tenured faculty are entitled and unwilling to meet student needs" BS into the CC context is kind of painfully fascinating.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 5:57 AM
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168

You seem to be suffering from some fundamental confusion about how much control individual faculty (the people here complaining about online courses) have over either funding levels generally or which courses are offered specifically.

Well I expect individual faculty have some leeway in how many kids they accept into a crowded class. And they certainly have control over what they whine about. Maybe they didn't have the power to change the wrongheaded policies that lead to students being unable to get into required courses but they could certainly have complained about them.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:17 AM
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Again, you're not generally this much of an idiot. Individual faculty members might be able to exercise all the leeway possible to let a few more kids into a fully subscribed class. If that kind of couple of percent here and there were enough to solve the problem, there wouldn't be a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:20 AM
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169

At community colleges, even! Watching him try to slot his "tenured faculty are entitled and unwilling to meet student needs" BS into the CC context is kind of painfully fascinating.

Interesting how you guys attribute all educational problems to lack of funding by Republicans (even here when as pointed out by McManus in 6 California is totally controlled by Democrats). Boneheaded administrative policies can't possibly be a factor.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:20 AM
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but they could certainly have complained about them.

Why do you imagine they haven't? If everything I complained about in my life, even to the appropriate authorities, had been rectified in consequence, the world would be a quite different place.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:21 AM
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At my CC capacity was driven by room occupancy capacity. If teachers could accept more people than the class was listed for (they generally could) they always would, up to the limit, and would establish a wait list for kids who couldn't get in, should somebody else drop. These are all contingent faculty, of course, so they have zero leverage over anything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:22 AM
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171

Again, you're not generally this much of an idiot. Individual faculty members might be able to exercise all the leeway possible to let a few more kids into a fully subscribed class. ...

How many do so and how many refuse to take one kid more than they are required to take?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:23 AM
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Again, you're not generally this much of an idiot.

Alternatively, he is an "idiot" in a particular manner that just happens to mesh with a particular ideology all the damn time.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:24 AM
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173

Why do you imagine they haven't? ...

They may have complained but not as loudly as about online courses.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:25 AM
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172: California's funding woes stem from a Republican-passed law requiring a two-thirds majority for tax increases, which has meant the rump minority of Republicans in the Assembly has been able to keep things broken for decades. I believe we are now all of two months into a tenuous supermajority for Democrats. Surely you knew that and are just being a pissant?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:25 AM
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176

Alternatively, he is an "idiot" in a particular manner that just happens to mesh with a particular ideology all the damn time.

Which ideology is that?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:26 AM
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178

172: California's funding woes stem from a Republican-passed law requiring a two-thirds majority for tax increases, which has meant the rump minority of Republicans in the Assembly has been able to keep things broken for decades. I believe we are now all of two months into a tenuous supermajority for Democrats. Surely you knew that and are just being a pissant?

This online thing is a proposal before the current legislature right?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:28 AM
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Yes, James, which is why it's particularly frustrating that this is happening now, when the chance of more revenue seems as high as it's been in years. I think maybe now you're caught up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:31 AM
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Heh, yes, what could I possibly be talking about? Mysteries abound!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:31 AM
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Boneheaded administrative policies can't possibly be a factor.

Administrators /= faculty.

I apologize in advance for being snippy, but as someone who is currently teaching both traditional courses and a course in a new online program, I have to say: those of you who think that online education is a magic money/time/faculty & staff effort saver really, really, really don't know what you're talking about.

A half-assed version like some of the mooc grifters have been pushing ("the students can grade each other!") might bring these magic effort reductions, but if you want to do a remotely competent job of it, it takes work.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:37 AM
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171: Often not. Here we set caps by the number of seats in the classroom. If I have an intro class capped at 48, it's not because I decided that 48 was a great number, but because that's all that can fit in the room. Our enrollment is 24,000. Four years ago it was 18,000. What, exactly, am I supposed to do, given that there's been not an equivalent increase in facilities or available instructors?

Online education is not overall a time-saver for me. I don't have to lecture, because I've uploaded my lectures. But the time that used to go to lecture now goes to answering student questions and e-mails, arranging video conferences, fighting with the technology, and so forth. It's not the same thing as a MOOC.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:03 AM
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182

Heh, yes, what could I possibly be talking about? Mysteries abound!

It's a mystery to me. As far as I can tell my views aren't shared by any large group of people. This is as a whole, of course on any particular issue there are likely to be people on my side.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:06 AM
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181

Yes, James, which is why it's particularly frustrating that this is happening now, when the chance of more revenue seems as high as it's been in years. I think maybe now you're caught up.

So maybe all the problems aren't actually the fault of the Republican minority. Perhaps that has just been a convenient excuse for the Democrats.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:10 AM
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What, exactly, am I supposed to do, given that there's been not an equivalent increase in facilities or available instructors?

Maybe you can fit more people in the room by using smaller chairs. Are they as tightly crowded as they would be on an airplane (in economy, of course)? If not, why not?

</Shearer>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:32 AM
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183, 184 -- I can see of course how for any individual faculty member there wouldn't be any less work teaching an online class than an in person class. But at a systemwide level it's got to be a money saver, allowing for more students taught per faculty member providing the course, once it scales to a reasonable level, no? Or not? If not, what's the point, other than time-shifting for students?

That is to say, the premise of the CA bill is that for some courses at least there is a significant economy of scale from online teaching of some courses that can be achieved without (much?) loss in quality. That people would question the "quality" portion seems intuitive to me, but I'm surprised that the "economy of scale" component is also being challenged. It's not cheaper to offer one California-wide online lecture class than to have separate faculty members teach the class at hundreds of community colleges throughout the state?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:34 AM
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181: because things haven't completely turned around within two months, you mean? That's a good call. Good political instinct.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:43 AM
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I'm surprised that the "economy of scale" component is also being challenged.

In my experience these economies of scale that online classes supposedly bring are greatly over rated and exist mainly in the minds of people who have never taught.

An online class that really leveraged the "economies of scale" thing would, in terms of quality, be at best equal to the very lowest common denominator worst of the large lecture courses that everyone complains about. IMO.

If you're OK with crappy quality then fine. If you want something better, then someone has to do the work.

How many faculty do you suppose it would take to grade/answer emails/hold virtual office hours to clear up confusion and answer questions in this hypothetical California wide online lecture class?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:48 AM
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188: The potential savings is that there's no need to put up more campus buildings, no need to expand parking. There's also a lot of demand for it. Here, at least, we've decided that online classes shouldn't be significantly larger than the comparable face-to-face classroom, for straightforward pedagogical reasons, because yes, if you put all of California into an online lecture class, you can expect attrition rates comparable to the MOOCs. So it would be a timesaver for me if I did a shitty job, I guess, but that's also true of face-to-face classes.

It's unclear what the cost savings will be -- done well, there's a hell of a lot of IT infrastructure -- but I presume it's significant.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:52 AM
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188 -- If the limiting factor at the CCs is classroom space -- they can't add another section of Intro Calc because there's no place to put it -- then doing it online solves that problem.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:55 AM
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no need to expand parking

Oh god parking at my CC was so brutal. People would wait in the aisles of the lot endlessly in case something opened up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:58 AM
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That is to say, the premise of the CA bill is that for some courses at least there is a significant economy of scale from online teaching of some courses that can be achieved without (much?) loss in quality. That people would question the "quality" portion seems intuitive to me, but I'm surprised that the "economy of scale" component is also being challenged.

How do you challenge the "economy of scale" component without questioning the "quality" portion? No one is arguing that MOOCs don't exist.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:22 AM
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I have precisely zero control over how many students are allowed in my classes. The fire marshall won't permit me to enroll more students than the number posted over the exits. And the registrar determines the room in which I teach my classes. In other words, although I pretty consistently want to teach as many students as possible, because that's good for my department (and probably for me), but there are hard caps imposed by the physical plant of the university.

That said, I really don't think James understands the difference between community colleges, CSUs, and UCs. Which, to be fair, most people don't. That said, there's no point being fair to a deeply racist and misogynistic twerp, a dedicated (and very boring) troll who's every bit this stupid each time it suits his purposes (which are god only knows what).

Also, I have tenure; I'll whine about whatever I want and cry academic freedom if anyone tries to get me to stop. That's one of the perks of my job.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:23 AM
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Add to all of that, I'm genuinely not sure why people are arguing with Halford about the details here. He's made his position pretty clear: the details don't much matter to him; the ground on which he's fighting is (perceived) political reality, which trumps details.

He's said in so many word that the funding is never coming back, so public higher education needs to try something, anything really (including, in this case, continuing a process of privatization) to keep the doors open. He's said that even though the (very scanty) social science literature demonstrates that online education, at least in its current guise, likely won't work for the targeted students, it's better to try this latest gambit than try nothing at all. And what he's saying isn't at all crazy.

I mean, as much as I want to respond that his argument sounds to me like surrender gussied up as tactical retreat, I find myself realizing that Jerry Brown, Mark Yudof, and every other administrator I know are all saying the same thing as Halford: the funding is never coming back; we have to try something.

Personally, as I've said above, I think a better thing to try would be to make a principled stand before the voters, but nobody with any power agrees with me. Or, more accurately, I think they see my "principled stand" as "a politically ill considered decision to tilt at windmills." And I think the fact that its Darrell Steinberg leading the charge in this case -- doing Jerry Brown's bidding, sure, but whatever -- is a huge part of why Halford and people like him are along for the ride. Again, this isn't a crazy position; it's a mainstream Democratic position.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:42 AM
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I believe we are now all of two months into a tenuous supermajority for Democrats.

As you no doubt know, Jerry Brown has promised not to raise taxes other than through referendum. As I said above, this is mainstream Democratic policy, which is why, I suspect, Halford views the lack of funding as a done deal.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:49 AM
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MOOCs can probably be made to work OK for some subjects given the right technology. My experience is with comp sci courses on Udacity, which has a robot grader (either the code gives the right results or it doesn't - easy-peasy). There's a set of badly designed forums for discussing homework and the like, but I've found them clunky and lousy in terms of signal to noise ratio.

A good MOOC would IMO have a regular schedule of homework and exams to keep people focused, and would assign people to work groups to help each other out (a flat structure for 100,000 students is dumb and all but guarantees crappy SNR). Even better would be some face to face interaction mechanism for students within work groups, like Skype chats. Getting the UI design for the website right is also a big deal. Small shittinesses can mean a lot on the margins.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:51 AM
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195 is unusually badly written, even by my lofty standards for mangled prose. Apologies. I spent a big chunk of last night whining about how Republicans are mean writing (because I'm at a UC, where I'm given the time to do that sort of thing, which, as I noted above, might not be the best investment of the state's money).


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:02 AM
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If you're OK with crappy quality then fine. If you want something better, then someone has to do the work.

I know a lot of journalists - especially copy editors - who said this. Turns out that in journalism at least, a lot of people are okay with crappy quality.

Are academics being urged to "do more with less" nowadays? That's a sure sign that your profession is doomed.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:06 AM
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are all saying the same thing as Halford: the funding is never coming back

It is up to you, to each of us to decide what is necessary.. If what is necessary is impossible under the existing structure, you change the structure. Revolution.

Triage and damage control for the less fortunate, the oppressed, the abjected, the collateral damage...

1) when others are doing very well indeed
2) when it used to be better, and could be better
3) when triage and damage control can make the cruelty and indifference less visible

...just comforts the comfortable and afflicts the afflicted.

You start the Revolution by calling for it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:09 AM
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196-97: I actually think there's some room for more revenue, and that it's worth it and politically possible to push the Legislature on that front, particularly in some targeted or hidden taxes (eg, we should take every last dime from the Bakersfield shale oil development).

But even on the most optimistic scrnario it won be enough. What makes me think that there won't be enough money for Higher Ed in particular is that we had similar problems with college course overcrowding at the height of the 1990s boom, when the state really was flush (remember, the state relies mostly on pretty high income taxes, so revenue is very cyclical but boom times are very good). So I just don't see a realistic here to there, where "there" is hiring tons more professors to teach required intro level courses.

With all that said, let's be clear, the public higher education system in California is amazing, both in terms of quality and in terms of providing access, and that's continued to be true despite very tough budget conditions. So I also am not a big fan of total gloom and doom or suggesting that we need to dismantle the system completely, etc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:10 AM
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"change the structure" sounds too much like reform. I don't have the Plan.

Burn shit down and take their stuff


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:12 AM
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because things haven't completely turned around within two months, you mean? That's a good call.

You liberals are always blaming somebody else - like it's Bush's fault that the economy is so bad after four years of Obama.

We're just lucky that the Republicans have kept us from being as irresponsible as those European socialists. If not for the Republicans holding the line, our economy would be just as screwed as Greece's.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:16 AM
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Oh c'mon.

Start connecting.

Mortgage-foreclosure-rental property

Privatization of Medicaid

etc

Obama Turning Our Financial Info to Spy Agencies

We face a determined systematic attack on the commons and the creation of a soft totalitarianism, and putting fingers in the dyke here and there will just sustain delusions of freedom.

The oligarchs want to make us serfs before the deluge. Make no mistake.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:19 AM
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204 was supposed to end with an html symbol that indicated that I was ending my-facebook-news-feed mode, similar to essear's note at the end of 187.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:20 AM
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202: What gets me about this argument isn't that I can refute it in detail, but that the UC/CSU/CC system (and the same, mutatis mutandis, about all sorts of other social services) has actually existed in a past world where CA (not the state government, but the state itself) wasn't dramatically richer than it is now (with 'now' intended to include an expected future recovery from the current recession-sort-of-thing we're currently in). If it was possible to create and run for decades, what specifically other than political decision making makes it impossible to maintain it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:23 AM
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As a simple matter of economics, the United States is on a path to cripple its economic advantages relative to the rest of the developed world. You can't produce qualified scientists and engineers by online education. I doubt you can produce qualified marketers and financiers that way. A shift to online education will permanently lower the growth rate of the US economy.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:24 AM
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Not if we keep on importing trained technical people from the rest of the world and underpaying them by making their immigration statuses dependent on catering to the needs of their particular employers. That scam can go on forever, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:26 AM
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202: I think all of the doom and gloom is a function of:

A) Perception -- The spiral ever downward makes people feel queasy and think that things are going to end, inevitably, in total ruin. Even if this isn't entirely accurate, it's how people feel. When I arrived at my job, my department had 42 full-time faculty members. It now has 31. Yesterday we learned that our most eminent colleague is very likely taking a job at UVA, which isn't a better school and has its own problems with administrators. Still, he's tired of the day-to-day indignities visited upon him within the UC system -- for instance, they took our phones three years ago and have lately begun rationing our copier use -- and he wants a change. That's completely understandable and will start happening more frequently.

B) Reality -- Again, there were 42 people here when I arrived. Now there are 31. My informed guess is that we're heading for 25 or 26 in a few years. When I arrived here, we had a real chance to be a top ten department. In five years times, we'll be lucky if we're still in the top fifty. We won't have a scholar of the ancient world or of modern France. Some of these wounds are self-inflicted -- our hiring priorities have been based on a myth of perpetual plenty, rather than planning for the lean years -- but not all of them. And this kind of winnowing of faculty numbers is happening throughout the UC.

At the same time, the administration is changing the pension plan (a real draw for me, when they recruited me), have already changed the health benefits (another real draw, but no longer), and internal funding pools are drying up (these pools matter a great deal for humanists and social scientists, who typically don't have access to external money -- though external money is also becoming harder to get, which makes the scientists justifiably cranky), etc.

It's important to remember that other places are still much worse off -- this is part of your point, I think -- but we really have experienced a slide in recent years. For example, the UC's faculty has taught 9% more student credit hours over the past five years, and the projection is that we'll teach 10% more SCH over the next five. We're doing more with less! Which means that quality, both in the classroom and in the laboratory (or the archives) is being compromised. My colleagues know all of this, even if they don't know the numbers. And they don't like it. Really, it sucks to be part of an institution in decline -- welcome to America!

Add to all of that, we're constantly being told that it will never get any better, because the money is gone forever. And we're (the faculty, I mean) smart enough to know that online education is, for the kind of thirst for dollars we're talking about, little more than a mirage. It's just the latest scam to make people feel better while they're working conditions get worse.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:30 AM
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207: higher ed is much more expensive than it used to be. MUCH more expensive. And people, including Democrats, are no longer committed to paying for public goods. The California Master Plan was, in its way, an educational outgrowth of the New Deal. We're dismantling the New Deal now, in a state of non-stop triage. Again, I'd love to blame Halford, but what he's saying is what Jerry Brown is saying, what Barack Obama is saying. This is mainstream Democratic party dogma now.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:34 AM
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207 -- there are a lot of reasons, of course, but probably the biggest one is that the state's population has approximately doubled since 1970, with that population much poorer (in relative terms via a vis the US as a whole), and much more poorly educated in the K-12 system (again, in relative terms), combined with less federal money, combined with substantial additional commitments of the state in other areas, including especially state funding of local governments, combined with very hefty general cost of education increases/Baumol problems. So you have more students, who need more education, which costs more, without a sufficient revenue base to provide that education at the same level. While we could and should tax more to pay for this, the state's top income tax is already basically the highest in the nation, and (I believe by haven't double checked) substantially higher than it was in the 1970s. So whatever you think of it it's a real problem, and not one that has an obvious or easy political fix.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:39 AM
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</facebook-news-feed>
I didn't want your unclosed tag to corrupt the rest of the thread.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:41 AM
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211, 212: This is all probably right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:44 AM
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212 skips over the fact the richest Californians are now MUCH richer than than their counterparts were in the 1970s. Which is to say, even to hint that the top tax rate is anything like too high, or even that it's slightly burdensome (as compared to taxes in the glorious 1970s) for the top earners in the state, is arrant nonsense. Of course that also leaves aside the devastating impact of Prop 13. Not to mention, the supermajority requirement for budgeting in the state house makes things rather tricky.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:46 AM
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Again, people don't want to pay for public goods, or at least Democrats have accepted that people don't want to pay for public goods, so that's that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:48 AM
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212 The explosive growth of the state's prison system and the resources it consumes are probably also worth a mention.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:49 AM
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Oh, I agree completely with 215. The only way forward is to tax the wealthiest .01% until they bleed (also, tax oil and carbon). That's it -- there's no other choice. But note that California has gone farther down that road than most w/the recent millionaires tax and it has still only been enough to avert total meltdown and disaster.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 9:58 AM
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The various private institutions around here are definitely excited about the potential for snagging some disgruntled, eminent faculty from the UCs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 10:49 AM
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After having spent a day and a half grading, for a class that's a fairly tricky combination of heuristic and quantitative skills, more thoughts on 192 & 193:

1. What doesn't scale at all is answering confused questions -- the kind that are too confused for the student to Google for the answer. This includes grading carefully enough that I can tell not only where a student went wrong but guess why, or suggest something that might have avoided the error. But grading this way is necessary to scaffold students through trying novel solutions, and we need people to be able to do that. _The Diamond Age_ got a chunk of this right, I think, that an education based on even multiple choice, even very detailed, adaptive multiple choice, isn't as good as one with actual people on both ends.

2. Insofar as online ed is cheaper for the school because it shoves infrastructure costs onto the student, it's what kids these days call a dick move, unless it's literally free, and then 1. is a bigger problem.

3. Even for the school, IT costs are going to be serious. I could support more students as a techie, but I was also paid a lot more as a techie. I know Google kind of pretends it's all free, but it isn't.

Also, these lectures are going to date pretty fast, and the more catchy and engaging they are by current youth standards the likelier that is. (There will be a few works of genius that are both of their day and for the ages, but those are always rare.) Sad to say, we're going to lose some watchers as soon as the clothes and hair and video quality are out of date. Then, what ho, we need to record all over again and re-tune the assignments, grading, etc.

______

What I imagine as a good use of the tools and problems we have is one of the oldest models, in which the testing and accrediting is done by the faculty, but all the teaching is contracted by the students. I actually like this division when working as a reader/instructor/TA. I don't like wearing the education hat and the enforcement hat at once.

I have NO IDEA how we'd get there from here, though a wierd combo of starving the formal university down to R1 grants and endowed chairs, but supporting a true 40 hour week and/or basic income (from pollution rents!) might do it.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 10:49 AM
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So it's kind of embarrassing that I don't know this, because I really meant to know more about, and even possibly get kind of involved in, local & state politics, but: has the new Democratic supermajority made any plans to push through constitutional revisions to make supermajorities less necessary in the future? They must know this can't last, and that this is possibly their only change to break the gridlock of the last decades.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 11:34 AM
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221 -- Under the California Constitution, the Legislature can't meaningfully do so, without consent of the people through popular vote. Because the 2/3 for raising taxes rule is in the constitution and was put in the constitution by initiative, it can only be amended by initiative. The people who predict these things think that such an initiative is very unlikely to pass.

It's not all terrible: the rule requiring a 2/3 majority to approve a budget was recently scrapped, by initiative vote. So, things are better than they were. But the Legislature itself, even with its 2/3 majority, can't undo the most significant supermajority requirements.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 11:46 AM
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212 vs 207, etc: I'm going to close this thread now, because it's depressing the fuck out of me, and I've barely managed to get out of bed and make breakfast, and don't want to lose an entirely day to moping the way I did before, but I should want to say:

While what Halford's saying in 212 may all be true, in some sense, in another, absolute sense, California surely has more *stuff* than it did 40 years ago or even 20. More square feet of housing, of office space, more water and sewer and other infrastructure, just more capacity to produce useful things. The GDP stats can't all be *completely* bullshit here. The resources are there.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 11:51 AM
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Right, you need a 2/3 vote to propose a Revision, and then it has to pass, I know. But when you say "very unlikely to pass"--does no one think it's worth trying to fight that fight?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 11:54 AM
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The bit of it that I really do sort of buy is that providing higher education seems to have actually become more expensive in real terms over time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 11:59 AM
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223 -- sure, in an absolute sense. In a "can we realistically access those resources for increasingly-expensive public resources like hiring a lot of new university faculty while also meeting the state's other massive spending commitments" the resources really aren't there, absent the socialist revolution or at least a commitment to tax the rich vastly more than we are now. And California is already taxing the rich in a way-high-outlier-for-the-United-States manner, which may be the most depressing thing of all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:01 PM
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224 -- there have been various attempts to amend or repeal Prop 13 by initiative, most of which have failed so far (also it's an amendment, not a revision, but), as well as to find loopholes around it, and other strategies. There are plenty of people trying to "fight that fight" (including, in a small and mostly quixotic way, me) but the consensus from basically everyone is that there is little to no chance that a campaign to repeal the 2/3 requirement for new taxes could succeed at the ballot box, at least in the near term. Maybe the consensus is wrong! But the history's not good and I personally doubt it.

And even if you could raise taxes substantially, I don't think people really get just how substantial the raise would have to be in order to meet the State's various commitments in an appropriately humane manner.

Ironically, the best source of resources right now would probably be the federal government, which, unlike the State, can print money and borrow for free. But that ship has long since sailed [due in part to arguments like those made by Becks in a 4-year-old thread that I have still not forgiven or forgotten].


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:11 PM
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I really wish I had a good way to reconcile concern for the efficiency of government (based on my experience with CA state government, I think we could do a hell of a lot more with the resources we now have) with the need to keep that concern from being code for "let's slash services and soak public employees" as it normally is.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:23 PM
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227.last: I think I know the one--the self-reliant ants of the beltway snffing at the plight of the profligate Claifornia grasshoppers. "You don't see us looking for federal handouts!" (I'm trying to recall if I took a position, and if I did whether it was anywhere close to being one with any intellectual integrity.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:29 PM
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Ah, here it is.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:32 PM
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That may have been shortly after one of those threads devoted to the people in California gloating about how great the weather is and making fun of any counterarguments.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:46 PM
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Not only was I on the right side, but I was a dick about it without having read the thread!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:51 PM
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219 The various private institutions around here are definitely excited about the potential for snagging some disgruntled, eminent faculty from the UCs.

Maybe the UC's could think more about snagging mildly disgruntled, not-at-all eminent faculty from around here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 12:56 PM
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233: can you teach the American Revolution?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 2:35 PM
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It's the latest dance craze.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 2:37 PM
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This thread seems done, but since I never check unfogged at work, I'm only catching up now.

I'm surprised that the "economy of scale" component is also being challenged.

In the long run it could work. I'm challenging it in the short run. If they were funding something that was openly experimenting with creating in-house online courses with an intent to scale them in the future I wouldn't be questioning this policy so much. But this doesn't look like that.

Private vendors don't seem to have done much lately to make journal publishing less expensive and I don't see that happening with course production the way things stand. That's not to say that they couldn't.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 2:44 PM
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Private vendors don't seem to have done much lately to make journal publishing less expensive and I don't see that happening with course production the way things stand.

I think journals show both the promise and pitfalls of this stuff (and Tim Burke had a good point awhile back pointing out that in many ways, MOOCs are more like publication than traditional teaching). On the one hand, PLoS and other open access journals have been able to get production-costs-per-article quite low ($1350 for PLoS One, $900 for other OA journals). On the other hand, Elsevier's revenue/(total articles published) gives a comparable cost-per-article of $10k.

Which gets to the point: what matters is structure. If this ends up being a gift to the Pearsons and Elseviers of the world, we're fucked. And now for real I'm getting off Unfogged for the day.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 3:05 PM
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Oh, oops, except that I meant to link to this, in my sentence about publishing costs.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 3:06 PM
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187

Maybe you can fit more people in the room by using smaller chairs. Are they as tightly crowded as they would be on an airplane (in economy, of course)? If not, why not?

Actually I was going suggest standing in the back.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:15 PM
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195

Also, I have tenure; I'll whine about whatever I want and cry academic freedom if anyone tries to get me to stop. That's one of the perks of my job.

Perhaps this explains why the UC system is so beloved.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:17 PM
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Most classrooms have desks going all the way back to the wall.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:24 PM
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And speaking of people whose careers are fucked, how 'bout them lawyers?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:33 PM
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I can't walk around the classroom in my current state, when students are in their desks. And the desks are often these shitty little things, with a writing surface literally about 8 1/2 x 11". They can't balance a book and a notebook on them.

(Um, we have no problems with space or parking whatsoever, so I don't exactly know what my point is. One of the benefits of being located in SadTown USA is that there is plenty of green space on campus.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:38 PM
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(Not pretty green space with trees or anything. Drought-looking sad green-yellow-brown space. But space nonetheless.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 6:38 PM
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If this ends up being a gift to the Pearsons and Elseviers of the world, we're fucked.

I think I'm actually about to submit an article to an Elsevier journal despite signing the pledge not to, because:
* this journal is open access and has no publication fees;
* I know the editors, one of whom sent us a kind and funny email asking us to submit our paper and explicitly distancing the journal from the rest of Elsevier;
* my collaborators want to submit there.

I still feel kind of squeamish about it but, since the content will be freely available to everyone and we're not giving them any money directly, I have a hard time convincing myself I should push back against my collaborators.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:52 PM
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I have a hard time convincing myself I should push back against my collaborators.

This is the very nature of all collaborators, mai oui, Monsieur P├ętain?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:56 PM
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I brought up the pledge to my advisor and he kind of looked at me funny; it turns out that the major conference in our field (that he founded) is sponsored by them, and all the major journals are owned by them. Okay, uh, sorry 'bout that, principles. I will check in with you after grad school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:56 PM
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I'd want to double-check first that Elsevier doesn't have the right to just decide in the future to make it not open access anymore. If they can't do that, then I guess I don't see the harm in breaking the boycott.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 7:56 PM
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247: On the other hand, at least if a faculty member is a co-author, Har/vard owns your copyright and retains rights to distribute the paper through DASH for free to the public.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:05 PM
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Assuming your advisor didn't explicitly waive the Har/vard agreement that automatically applies to all faculty members who don't take any action.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:07 PM
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243: Not too much longer!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:11 PM
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And now I see none of my papers are actually there yet. I should probably do something about that sometime soon.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:11 PM
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I may have lost track of how circumspect we're supposed to be and whether Googleproofing is enough. Redact the uni/vers/ity name in the last couple comments I posted if necessary.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:12 PM
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251: I know! What kind of arrangement did you work out for the last month or so of school?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:13 PM
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253: I'm pretty sure nobody will be able to figure out I'm going to We/ntworth In/stitu/te of T/echno/logy from your comments, so no worries.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:23 PM
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* this journal is open access and has no publication fees;

So it's a loss leader.

Also, UPETGI seems right in 248. Sellout.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:30 PM
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(The "sellout" comment was to essear, not UPETGI.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:31 PM
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(And totally serious!)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:31 PM
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254: Our last day of class is the 22nd of next month, so my arrangement is more of a contingency plan (notes online, guest lecturers) in case the kid shows up early. I've also moved a lot of the major assignments to the beginning of the month, so the bulk of the grading that requires comments and feedback is scheduled for when I should still have the kid on the inside.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:33 PM
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Oh, that works out pretty well. We go until early May, so I'm handing off some classes, and others have had extended class times and are wrapping up early.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:40 PM
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I feel like I'm going to be pregnant forever, so perhaps the plans aren't necessary.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-14-13 8:44 PM
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207

202: What gets me about this argument isn't that I can refute it in detail, but that the UC/CSU/CC system (and the same, mutatis mutandis, about all sorts of other social services) has actually existed in a past world where CA (not the state government, but the state itself) wasn't dramatically richer than it is now (with 'now' intended to include an expected future recovery from the current recession-sort-of-thing we're currently in). If it was possible to create and run for decades, what specifically other than political decision making makes it impossible to maintain it?

I expect a full explanation is complicated but part of the story is that there has been an amazing amount of administrative bloat in the UC system in recent years. See here or here .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-13 6:13 AM
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there has been an amazing amount of administrative bloat...everywhere.

Is it really worse in the UC system (I can believe that it might be)?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-15-13 6:21 AM
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263

Is it really worse in the UC system (I can believe that it might be)?

It appears to be a lot worse than it used to be in the UC system (see graphs in previous links) which contributes to increased costs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-15-13 6:38 AM
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262

Those graphs are appalling.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-15-13 1:52 PM
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About administrative bloat: I wonder about this. I mean, it's a really comforting explanation, so I'm attracted to it, but on the other hand--I mean, would our own ttaM count as a "senior professional" on such a graph, if it were made of his own institution? And what he's doing is clearly about enabling the core research mission of the university. I'd like to think his sort of position is the exception, and that 250% growth in senior management is really all about Senior Vice Presidents of Doing Fuck-All, whom we could happily line up against the wall when the revolution comes, but I dunno.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-15-13 3:13 PM
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a "senior professional"

I don't know about at his institution, but here he certainly would be. Still, most of the bloat here, on this campus, is a result of bureaucratic bullshit (our campus did a huge study of this recently) and a MASSIVE increase in the number of services offered to students.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-15-13 3:54 PM
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267

... and a MASSIVE increase in the number of services offered to students.

How many of these new services are worth what they cost and how many are just empire building?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-16-13 6:53 AM
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