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Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Attention All Crypt-Dwellers!

The Berkeley Faculty Association has released a report on the preliminary UCOF recommendations and Dean Edley's apparently undead proposal for a Cyber-campus. Please take the time to read it. It offers a very important take on where UCOF may be leading the University and just as importantly indicates that, in the face of insufficiently quiescent working-groups, UCOP has decided to circumvent its own Commission and make "reform" proposals over the summer. UCOP, of course, is assuring everyone that any proposal will pass through the Senate but given the manner in which Divisional Senates are being asked to respond to the first round of UCOF proposals (as many of you may have seen senate committees have been given pre-fab response sheets), these assurances are not particularly re-assuring.

Please use this post as a space to report on the review process on your campuses as well as to respond to the BFA report.

8 comments:

David Theo Goldberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Theo Goldberg said...

It has been little noted that none of the top administrators at UCOP, as well as Chris Edley, are from fields that have any relation to undergraduate education (law, medicine). It seems they little comprehend what sustained quality undergraduate education entails.

Toby Higbie said...

There is a link on the UCB FA site to Edley's notes for his talk:

http://ucbfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/C.-Edley-talk-Tech-Evolution-to-Save-the-Elite-Public-Univ.pdf

The first line is: "What I’m going to talk about isn’t policy – it’s a fantasy."

Toby Higbie said...

I've just read Christopher Edley's notes for his talk on the UC "Cyber Campus." My first thoughts are that this is surprisingly vague--just a "blue skies" brainstorming session. There is a lot of unfortunate language in there, like calling current students our "white mice" for the online experiment, the stated goal of "global domination" of the education market, etc. But this is not so much a plan as a vision.

I am one of those who think distance learning technologies can work for UC level teaching and learning, but I am also deeply skeptical that the plan for a "Cyber Campus" is the way to deploy these new technologies. The chief problems are that distance learning is likely to be more expensive than imagined, the courses likely will draw off already enrolled students rather than extend it to new "markets," and it will expand the use of non-tenure track instructors.

In addition, developing a UC Associates degree (as Edley advocates) seems like invading the turf of community colleges (explicitly abandoning the Master Plan?). If UC thinks the CCs are not doing a good enough job, then we should build alliances with them to improve their offerings, not raid their best students for our own tuition generating ventures. We might do this with online technologies, but why do we want an AA degree other than to steal market share from other sectors?

Should UC launch a pilot program to develop a few online classes? Sure, especially if there are departments and faculty who want to do this and have the expertise. I assume in the first round we're talking about very large lecture courses in which faculty have very little close interaction with students. In certain cases I think highly interactive web content would be more engaging for students than sitting in a lecture hall. We might replace the lecture but keep the discussion sections--but "hybrid" approaches don't seem to be part of the plan because they would require some face-to-face teaching and therefore will not help up our profits as much as fully automated instruction.

Finally, I would also call colleagues attention to the recently failed effort of the University of Illinois to develop a "Global Campus," which spent $7 million before it was disbanded . The UC "Cyber Campus" is going down the same road, in my humble opinion.

Unknown said...

http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2010/may/17/data-app-university-salaries-student-tuition/


University pay in Texas!

Anonymous said...

Among the many disturbing aspects of Edley's proposal is the view of graduate students as cheap academic labor, rather than colleagues-in-training. Of course, graduate students already provide disposable labor, teaching sections and even their own classes. But this proposal would formalize their status as such and lead to an expansion of graduate programs that is not justified by the current academic job market, especially in the humanities and social sciences.

Catherine Liu said...

Edley has positioned his proposal as "radical" and game changing -- anticipating faculty objections as "conservative" and "bureaucratic." There are many reasons to refuse his distortions, the first of which is that his "blue sky" planning is based on the idea that on-line education will be profitable and thereby subsidize bricks and mortar areas of the university. I for one, would like to see less blue sky and more numbers regarding potential students (he implies that the market is limitless) and expense/income ratios.

Toby Higbie said...

It turns out there is a more detailed plan/planning:

http://groups.ischool.berkeley.edu/onlineeducation/

I have not yet found any economic analysis, however.

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