Assorted Links

  1. The credit hour causes many of higher education’s problems-A report at Inside Higher Education that examines the concept of the credit hour (going back to Andrew Carnegie as a tool to evaluate teacher loads and compensation), and covers a new report that says that the credit hour is disingenuous to student learning, has a disconnect between in-class time and the amount of time spent outside the classroom (which, according to the article, limits innovation in online courses).
  2. Fantasy football costs employers-An article in the Denver Post notes the economic costs to people playing fantasy football at work. Nonetheless, it does not account for the business that fantasy football has become (thus stimulating the economy), or that 22.3 million Americans for one hour a week is dwarfed by other distractions plugged in Americans have at work (some of which are more or less approved of by companies, such as the minutes wasted every time there is a “ding” from an open email client). It is a fun note for the start of the football season, but I guess the point I am getting to is that in the grand scheme of dollars “wasted” by modern distractions, fantasy football isn’t really that substantial.
  3. The Plagiarism Perplex-A blog post at Inside Higher Ed about plagiarism and group work and the blurry lines. The author strikes on one of the big issues (at least to me) in that there is a disconnect between what you learn in school and the grade you earn. The emphasis, more so now than ever it seems, is on the grade rather than the learning. It is a disservice to the students, to the educators, and eventually to society to take this stance, though.
  4. How we Teach Students To Cheat-A blog post in the New York times that discusses the issues with cheating and suggests that we are in a society that encourages getting what we want or think that we need is more important than honesty and integrity. There is also a comment about the divide between being successful and appearing successful, with the latter taking precedence. I generally agree, though it is a bit moralizing. The author also side steps the purpose of education, which I think is the larger issue.
  5. Warrior Remains, 2,000 Years Old, Found in Denmark-I don’t particularly like the title from the piece in the New York Times, but it reports on ancient finds in Denmark from around the time of Augustus that some suggest could have been a battle with Romans. If so, it is an excellent discovery for debating how far north the Romans actually went. More likely, though, it is evidence of warfare between Germanic tribes displaced as a result of Roman expansion.
  6. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

Assorted Links

Some articles I have been reading. This is an extended edition largely because I spent the last week hiking in the White Mountains and only just got back to the internet.

1. Will Civil War Hit Afghanistan When The U.S. Leaves? – An article in the New Yorker about the fate of Afghanistan. The Afghan interviewed is largely critical of the United States for the failure to create lasting institutions, including and especially a strong national army. It hits on most of the main issues, including ethnic, historical, and religious tensions in the region. The article hedges towards the same view as the Afghan interviewed in accusing the US policy in Afghanistan of being too superficial and transient.

2. In Defense of Cursive – A note about the decline of penmanship. Of course, it focuses mostly on the Declaration of Independence, rather than offering any actual suggestions. I like the idea (although my cursive is rather weak), but a rather superficial plea to keep cursive alive in this age where getting people to write anything by hand is a chore in and of itself is naive (at best).

3. Jackie and the Girls – An article in The Atlantic about John F. Kennedy and the contradiction that is the idolization of him. It approaches Kennedy through Jackie and some of the mistresses, and how Kennedy still managed to play the role of a doting husband and father. It is a fascinating piece, although it is also a little disappointing in that it begins with an account of Jackie Kennedy, claiming that she was a capable woman who “was never playing a short game,” but ends up talking about some other issues and only obliquely returns to this original premise. Fair warning, it does contain quite lurid details.

4. These 600-Year Old World Heritage Sites Might be Rubble by August – An extremist group (Ansar Dine) has seized Timbuktu, banned tourism because it fosters debauchery, and has begun destroying ancient shrines there.

5.Timbuktu tomb attack is an attack is an attack on our humanity – A CNN op-ed about the attacks made on world culture by extremist groups.

6. The Real Reason the U.S. Should Consider Cutting Military Aid to Egypt – An op-ed talking about why the US should (but won’t) cut military aid to Egypt.

7. The Truth About Harvard – A fascinating discussion of the core of the Liberal Arts at Harvard, and by extension, the rest of the academic world. The author argues that most history/English/philosophy professors lack confidence that their work or classes have any relevance to the real world, while those fields that provide practical application have no such issues. The author also suggests that this lack of confidence leads to an increased weakness toward grade inflation. In one of the anecdotes presented, the professor told the class that they would receive two grades: a private grade that is indicative of actual performance, and public “ironic” grade given to the registrar. I will probably have some further comments on this piece later.

8. The Grounded Campus – A suggestion on the Chronicle of Higher Education that suggests that traditional campuses can keep their place in education by focusing on the physical ground upon which they sit.

9. Confessions from the Professorial Side of the Desk – Some thoughts and advice from a professor about student enthusiasm.

10. Knights: The Agincourt Gambit – An excellent comic that combines Chess and History.