Monday, September 30, 2013

This is hot right now

Ian Bogost exams the flipped classroom in The Atlantic

A traditional classroom has readings before class, lectures during class, and assignments after class. A flipped classroom has lectures before class, assignments during class, and assessments after class. Flipped classroom supporters like to argue that traditional classrooms only provide first exposure to materials via lecture, but that claim assumes that nothing whatsoever happens before such classes, that students enter class blind. In reality, digging deeper than hearsay is a hallmark of university education. Classes in all disciplines ask students to engage with primary and secondary materials beforehand. 
The flipped classroom abstracts these materials, overloading them into the lecture, which itself is usually shortened and condensed into modules less than 20 minutes in length. This condensed primary material then becomes fodder not for discourse or practice, but for evaluation.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Take that, Millennials

Or, in Robert Browning's words: Grow old along with me!  The best is yet to be. . . . Laura Helmuth explains how old people allowed humanity to advance.  From Slate Magazine.

Evolution and social consequences of old age: Infant survival and elders.
Old people aren’t merely less bellicose and impulsive than young people. They’re also, as a group, wiser, happier, and more socially adept. They handle negative information better, have stronger relationships, and find better solutions to interpersonal conflicts than younger people do. Laura Carstensen of Stanford is one of the leading researchers in this field, and she says the fact that the population is getting older is “going to change every aspect of life as we know it, including education, politics, culture, and the nature of relationships.” That’s because older people “have greater knowledge, better emotional stability, and they care deeply about making a meaningful contribution.” 
“If you could take everything desirable about growing older and put it in a pill, do you know who would take it?” says Olshansky, the longevity researcher. “The young.” The magic pill would confer “a profound sense of self-confidence … a sense of peace and joy that comes from decades of a loving relationship … the sheer joy in caring for grandchildren … financial security … and thoughtful reflection and intelligence.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In Sevierville

At the Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase. 

Sometimes we forget

Why we went into higher education in the first place.  Why we put up with constant accountability, bean counting, and measuring the horse instead of growing it.  It's because of students Mark Edmundsson says are living in, or who want to live in, a scholarly enclave.  Maybe you were even one of these students. From The Atlantic.

It's pretty simple, really. They are at school seeking knowledge so as to make the lives of other human beings better. They will not tell you this when you ask them about it in casual conversation. But it is true. They want to be teachers and scientists and soldiers and doctors and legal advocates for the poor. They want to contribute something to curing cancer; they want to make sure the classics of Roman literature don't die; they want to get people excited about the art of Picasso and maybe inspire people to make some (Picasso- inspired) art of their own; they want to be sure that when a foreign nation is inclined to threaten (I mean really threaten) the peace of the United States of America, that nation has to think twice and twice again. 
Do these people want some recognition? Do they want to get paid? Yes, in varying degrees they do. There are very few people who are entirely unselfish in this world, and sometimes they don't live too long. But the people I'm talking about often put others first. They have a love for humanity in them, and it is this love that chiefly motivates what they do, even if they don't tell you so every five minutes. They want to make the world better and they are honest with themselves about doing this: They know that any quest that involves status and enrichment is dangerous and that it can take them away from what really matters. They know that the human capacity for self-deception is boundless and they are always on the lookout for the moment when their pride eclipses their love for the world. 
How do you find these people, and how do you find the schools where they are plentiful-- what I've called the scholarly enclaves? That is, how do you find them if they are what you are looking for? You visit, you look, and you listen. When people start talking about leadership and incentives (and especially something called "incentivizing") and becoming an academic entrepreneur, you are probably in the wrong place. (Whenever people make fritters of English, I daresay that you're in the wrong place.) When people talk about innovation and "partnering" with big- money institutions, I would advise you to run. If you hear the word excellence more than twice in a sentence, you are hereby empowered to pop the speaker twice (but very gently) in the nose. 
The residents of scholarly enclaves are harder to spot than the denizens of the corporate university, and I can't give you a definitive field guide to finding them. But I'll say first that they don't talk about being a leader and being an entrepreneur. They talk about working in a lab or developing a questionnaire for psychological research or writing a novel, or getting people who don't belong in jail out of jail, or defending their country against its enemies. And they are not smiling all the time. They are aware of the enormous gap between what humans aspire to and what remains to be done. They tend to take joy in their work, but they never feel that they have quite gotten it right. The people in the corporate university are forever pleased with themselves. They are always succeeding, getting A's that will soon be converted into dollars. 
Where should a young person now go to college? It depends. Does she want more of the good American high school with its hustle and bustle, its strivings for excellence, its fixation on leadership, it's partnering and incentivizing and getting proactive, and succeeding, succeeding, succeeding? Or does she want something else?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TACHE Pre-conference

What STEM shortage?

Follow the money.  If STEM jobs were in high demand, salaries would be skyrocketing.  Or at least increasing.  That doesn't appear to be the case.  From Robert N. Charette, writing in IEEE Spectrum.

So is there a shortfall of STEM workers or isn’t there? 
The Georgetown study estimates that nearly two-thirds of the STEM job openings in the United States, or about 180,000 jobs per year, will require bachelor’s degrees. Now, if you apply the Commerce Department’s definition of STEM to the NSF’s annual count of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, that means about 252,000 STEM graduates emerged in 2009. So even if all the STEM openings were entry-level positions and even if only new STEM bachelor’s holders could compete for them, that still leaves 70,000 graduates unable to get a job in their chosen field. 
Of course, the pool of U.S. STEM workers is much bigger than that: It includes new STEM master’s and Ph.D. graduates (in 2009, around 80,000 and 25,000, respectively), STEM associate degree graduates (about 40 000), H-1B visa holders (more than 50,000), other immigrants and visa holders with STEM degrees, technical certificate holders, and non-STEM degree recipients looking to find STEM-related work. And then there’s the vast number of STEM degree holders who graduated in previous years or decades. 
Even in the computer and IT industry, the sector that employs the most STEM workers and is expected to grow the most over the next 5 to 10 years, not everyone who wants a job can find one. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C., found that more than a third of recent computer science graduates aren’t working in their chosen major; of that group, almost a third say the reason is that there are no jobs available. 
Spot shortages for certain STEM specialists do crop up. For instance, the recent explosion in data analytics has sparked demand for data scientists in health care and retail. But the H-1B visa and similar immigrant hiring programs are meant to address such shortages. The problem is that students who are contemplating what field to specialize in can’t assume such shortages will still exist by the time they emerge from the educational pipeline. 
What’s perhaps most perplexing about the claim of a STEM worker shortage is that many studies have directly contradicted it, including reports from Duke University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Rand Corp. A 2004 Rand study, for example, stated that there was no evidence “that such shortages have existed at least since 1990, nor that they are on the horizon.” 
That report argued that the best indicator of a shortfall would be a widespread rise in salaries throughout the STEM community. But the price of labor has not risen, as you would expect it to do if STEM workers were scarce. In computing and IT, wages have generally been stagnant for the past decade, according to the EPI and other analyses. And over the past 30 years, according to the Georgetown report, engineers’ and engineering technicians’ wages have grown the least of all STEM wages and also more slowly than those in non-STEM fields; while STEM workers as a group have seen wages rise 33 percent and non-STEM workers’ wages rose by 23 percent, engineering salaries grew by just 18 percent. The situation is even more grim for those who get a Ph.D. in science, math, or engineering. The Georgetown study states it succinctly: “At the highest levels of educational attainment, STEM wages are not competitive.”
Given all of the above, it is difficult to make a case that there has been, is, or will soon be a STEM labor shortage. “If there was really a STEM labor market crisis, you’d be seeing very different behaviors from companies,” notes Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York state. “You wouldn’t see companies cutting their retirement contributions, or hiring new workers and giving them worse benefits packages. Instead you would see signing bonuses, you’d see wage increases. You would see these companies really training their incumbent workers.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

ACHE in Kentucky

For more information and to register, click here.


Oops, wrong Simpson.  This paradox is also known as the reversal paradox.  From Esther Inglis-Arkell, writing in io-9.

Simpson's Paradox "proves" smoking is good for you
How do you prove that smoking is beneficial to your health? By employing Simpson's Paradox, of course. This paradox shows that a large grouping of data can be worth much less than the sum of its parts. 
If I were at a tobacco company, and I wanted to prove that smoking was good for you, I would only have to do two things. First, I would have to wrap my soul in a paper bag, throw it to the ground, and stomp on it. Next, I would have to look at a study done in the UK in the early 1970s. 
The study was meant to study how a number of different factors affected people's health. Among other things, it took a look at smoking, and whether it has any health affects. In particular, it looks at women and their survival rates over the next twenty years. Amazingly, forty-three percent of the nonsmokers died, whereas only thirty-eight percent of the smokers died. Clearly cigarettes saved their lives! 
Or perhaps it was Simpson's paradox. Simpsons paradox is named after Edward Simpson, but was noted by many people. Sometimes there are clear trends in individual groups of data that disappear when the groups are pooled together. In this case, when the women were broken down by decade, each single group shows smokers had a higher mortality rate than nonsmokers. However, many more of the young women smoked than the older women. Although cigarette smoking increased mortality across the board, more young smokers than significantly older nonsmokers will live for the next twenty years. Add all the groups together and, although tobacco is bad for people, it won't take forty years off their lives and so in the aggregate appears beneficial.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Today is

International Speak Like a Pirate Day.  Yes, international. Arrrggg.

Go here for more information: The Official Site for International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Free higher education in Davidson County

This is part, I'm sure, of the Governor's Drive to 55, his initiative to get 55 percent of Tennesseans college-educated by 2025.  So why not cover the whole state? It might be a fine time to work for a community college or college of applied technology in Tennessee.  From The Tennessean.

Starting next fall, new high school graduates in Davidson County can learn to weld, work on a car or manage collision repair — without paying a penny in tuition — and make impressive salaries within a year of finishing high school. 
“After an eight-week truck driving program, for example, program graduates can be earning upwards of $35,000,” said Mark Lenze, director of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology on White Bridge Road. 
Or, new high school graduates can attend neighboring Nashville State Community College for a two-year associate’s degree, tuition-free. 
Both West Nashville schools are preparing for an influx of Davidson County students next fall after this month’s launch of the nashvilleAchieves scholarship program, which will make community or technical college education available with no tuition cost to any public high school graduating senior in Davidson County. 
A public-private partnership spearheaded by Gov. Bill Haslam and Mayor Karl Dean, nashvilleAchieves is an extension of the tnAchieves program, established in 2008 by Randy Boyd, special adviser to Haslam on higher education. TnAchieves has given 34,000 high school students in 26 counties the opportunity to attend community or technical college at no cost .

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Walking in Memphis

45th Annual TACHE Conference
Memphis, Tennessee
November 13-15, 2013

 Keys to the Future:  Unlock the Potential
Conference Information Available Here.

Hilton Memphis
Hotel Rate:  $125 per single
Reservation Deadline:  Friday, October 18th

Make your reservations TODAY by clicking TACHE Reservations.
Group Name: 2013 FALL TACHE
Group Code: TA1113

Hotel Address:   939 Ridge Lake Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38120
Phone Number:   901-762-7445

Cuba Libre

Hmmm.  I'll have to try one of these some day.  Maybe some day soon. Like, tommorrowFrom Slate.

The rum and Coke is the West Indian equivalent of the gin and tonic—a highball symbolic of empire. Rum, a liquor essential to the geometry of the Atlantic slave trade, met Coke, the consummate quaff of American capitalism. (Think of Cocacolonization and Godard’s “Children of Marx and Coca-Cola.” Remember Andy Warhol’s silkscreens and his philosophy of soda-populism: “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”)  Understand that the drink became broadly popular on these shores during World War II; with domestic distilleries aiding the war effort, rum consumption increased 400 percent, and with Coca-Cola exempt from sugar rationing, well, there you had it. 
Consider, also, the story of “Rum and Coca-Cola,” a Trinidadian calypso song written about U.S. soldiers “debauching local women” and, implicitly, also about the military-industrial complex they rode in on. Morey Amsterdam ripped off the original and reworked it for the Andrews Sisters, whose version became the second-biggest record of the 1940’s (after “White Christmas”). Now that’s what I call cultural appropriation. What’s the best way to wash the taste of it from one’s mouth? I have three ideas.

Monday, September 16, 2013

ETSU’s Alliance for Continued Learning to offer fall classes

East Tennessee State University’s Alliance for Continued Learning (ACL) will offer a wide range of classes and activities during the fall session beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, and ending Wednesday, Oct. 23. Sessions begin at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday.

To give new members an opportunity to become acquainted with the group, the ACL will welcome all participants at a continental breakfast on Tuesday,Sept. 17, at 9:30 a.m., at Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St., Johnson City, followed by a performance by student band members of the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program. Most classes will be held at the Community Center.

The fall session provides a wide variety of opportunities to learn something new. ETSU’s Dr. Joseph Sobol will speak about the university’s graduate storytelling program, which he coordinates.  One day is devoted to fine arts photography, with sessions led by Jeffrey Stoner, whose goal is making photographs that capture the essence of a place, and Sam Bass, an international award-winning combat photojournalist. Two writers will discuss the topics of their upcoming books. ETSU’s Dr. Roberta Herrin is working on a biography of Sylvia Hatchell, head women’s basketball coach at UNC-Chapel Hill. She will present “Biography, Basketball and Title IX.” Judy Donley, author, artist, a pilot and also president of the Watauga Branch of American Pen Women, will share excerpts from her new book, “Married to a Spy.”

ETSU’s university counsel Ed Kelly will offer “Negotiation Skills and Mediation,” while ETSU professor of Economics Dr. Fred Mackara will untangle a complicated topic with “The Federal Debt: Then and Now.” ACL member and historian Eleanor Thomsen will discuss “Richard III, Last of the Plantagenets,” and her fellow ACL member, Martha Querry, will share “Traveling with Teenagers,” the collected wisdom of her 50-plus years as a teacher who took her students on many overseas trips.

Trenton Davis, retired chair of East Carolina University’s Department of Public Health, was one of the first Western scientists to visit Chernobyl after the nuclear accident there and will share his experiences. Connie Deegan, Nature Program Coordinator for Johnson City Parks and Recreation will address her specialty in “Snakes of Northeast Tennessee.”

Field trips are planned to ETSU’s newly reopened Reece Museum and the National Weather Service facility in Morristown.

Sponsored by the ETSU Office of Professional Development, the ACL is “member-powered, member-driven and member-governed.” Participants decide the study groups, forums, classes and other activities to be held, identify leaders for the sessions, and elect officers.

No educational prerequisites, examinations, or grades are involved in the courses. Although a $40 fee allows participants to attend any or all sessions, some trips may require additional fees.

For more information or a schedule of classes or special arrangements for those with disabilities, call the ETSU Office of Professional Development at (423) 439-8084 or visit

Underestimating adult learners

Is a common problem, according to Shirley Daniels, writing in The Evolllution.

Five Biggest Misconceptions about Adult Students
Higher education administrators seem to have a number of misconceptions about adult students in their programs. As a non-traditional adult student, I have experienced treatment based on these misconceptions by both the administration and professors, which make me think the misconceptions start at the administrative level. 
The common denominator across these misconceptions is administrators do not have enough confidence in non-traditional, adult students. They also do not give these students enough credit for how much they can bring over from successfully navigating life in both the personal and professional sectors that would translate into them working as amazing students. If they continue to fail to recognize that life is often harder than education, they will never recognize the full potential adult students bring to their institutions. It is so important to know one has students who will push the class’s boundaries as well as their own.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Regional public universities face challenges

Enrollment, funding, and competition all squeeze regional universities.  From Lynn O'Shaughnessy, writing in CBS MoneyWatch.

Expenses are outpacing revenue growth at many public universities, an unsustainable trend, concludes a new report by Moody's Investors Service that focuses on the health of the nation's public universities.  
During the 2012 fiscal year, revenue gains didn't surpass inflation at half of public universities, the credit rating agency found. Median revenue growth was 1.7 percent, while median expenses increased 3.3 percent.  
As the Moody's report makes clear, there are winners and losers among these schools. The public flagship universities are better able to leverage their brand names and economies of scale to minimize their financial risks.  
Unlike most state universities, prestigious institutions such as the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina, University of California-Berkeley and University of Virginia can attract out-of-state residents willing to pay high prices to attend the schools. The report noted that nonresidents typically pay more than twice the rate of in-state students. . . . 
By contrast, the fiscal news isn't going to get better for many public universities as they face numerous challenges, including: 
  1. Enrollment of full-time students has been essentially flat while some regional universities are experiencing declining enrollment. One reason for the weaker demand was a reduced interest in graduate-school programs. 
  2. State universities are getting pressure from the growing popularity of online educational programs that are aiming to disrupt the higher-ed world just as the Internet disrupted the world of traditional media. 
  3. Endowment returns were flat at a median 0.2 percent, well below the typical endowment withdrawal rate of five percent to support operations. 

I smell a new playlist coming on....

Friday Mixtape: The Catchiest Pop Songs about the Apocalypse
From io9.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Professional Development to offer Buffalo Mountain Writers Workshop for Mystery Writers

East Tennessee State University's Office of Professional Development will present the Buffalo Mountain Writers Workshop for Mystery Writers on Friday, Sept. 20, from 6:30-8 p.m. and on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in room 101 of Rogers-Stout Hall. The program will focus on writing mystery fiction, including pieces for magazines and journals, as well as mystery novels.

The workshop features Molly MacRae, author of the recently released national bestseller "Dyeing Wishes." She is a long-time writer of mystery fiction who has published short stories in "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine" and four mystery novels. Her fifth book, scheduled for release in early 2014, is the third in her Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series published by Penguin Books.

"Last Wool and Testament," the first book in MacRae's Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, won the 2013 Lovey Award for Best Paranormal/Sci-Fi Novel, was named the "Suspense Magazine" Best of 2012 and was Salt Lake County Library's Reader's Choice Award Nominee.

In addition to writing three books over the past two-and-a-half years, MacRae is employed full-time at the Champaign (Ill.) Public Library. She previously lived in Johnson City and Jonesborough, where she was director of the Jonesborough-Washington County History Museum and manager of The Book Place, an independent bookstore.

The registration fee for the two-day workshop is $65. For further information, call the ETSU Office of Professional Development at (800) 222-3878 or visit

I expected more Baptists from Tennessee

From BuzzFeed.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

End with a surprising fact

Some tips from Bruna Martinuzzi, writing in OPEN forum, on how to make your presentation memorable.

12 Ways To Nail Your Presentation In The Last 30 Seconds
Have you ever noticed that many speakers end their presentation the same way a car runs out of gas? As their last bit of fuel is used up, they sputter to an abrupt stop as though they just got tired of thinking. 
No matter how good your presentation is, a lackluster ending will significantly detract from your ability to influence others. The conclusion of your speech is your last chance to hammer home the importance of your message. It's a lasting impression that listeners take away of you and, by extension, your company. 
So how can you make listeners sit up and take notice as you bring your presentation to an end? One common way is to summarize your key points. Although some listeners are likely to tune out a summary because they've just heard what you said, provide a very brief recap, if it's warranted, but don't stop there. 
What will make your speech stand out is to end it with a focused statement, one that really grabs your listeners in unexpected ways: It can surprise, inspire or entertain them; it can touch them emotionally or engage them intellectually. We're talking about a punchy ending, akin to a tagline—something well-thought out and powerful that's likely to be remembered.

Monday, September 9, 2013

From today's Urban Dictionary

Bold Font Method: This is a form of studying where one skims through a text and simply memorizes/learns everything in bold or italicized.
Do you want to meet up cram for tomorrow's Ochem test?
Nah, I'm done studying.Really? You must be really organized to be able to study ahead of time.
Nah, I used the Bold Font Method...if it's bold I memorized it. >70% of every test is based off bold font in books.

VIrginia Tech

Is the closest to us on this list of best college campuses from Business Insider.

Best College Campuses
For most students, the college experience is not limited to their time in the classroom. Much of what a school has to offer can be found on its campus — from great libraries to standout career services to, simply, beautiful surroundings. 
We looked at 11 campus-related categories from The Princeton Review's 2014 college rankings to determine which colleges offer the best campus experiences. 
There was no discernible connection between the colleges that came out on top, as they represented everything from Ivy League universities to small liberal arts colleges to technical schools. Perhaps more telling of the list's diversity is that each one of our top five schools came from a different area of the country. 
Our list does include half of the Ivy League schools and three of the five Claremont Colleges, including our top ranked school — Claremont McKenna College. Although Claremont McKenna didn't rank as #1 or #2 in any category, it placed high in several, including Best Quality of Life, Best Career Services, and Great Financial Aid

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The best places for business and careers

Des Moines (yes, Des Moines) is first on Forbes list.  Nashville is fifth. Atlanta is 22nd.

#5 Nashville, Tenn.
Metro population: 1,647,200
Gross Metro Product: $83 billion
Projected annual GMP growth: 3.4%
Business costs are cheap in the Music City at 20% below the national average, according to Moody's Analytics.

God help me, I do love top ten lists

Google Reveals the 10 Worst Password Ideas

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

TACHE registration open

Register here.

Website lists ETSU among top schools for pre-med programs

A website that ranks higher education programs has included East Tennessee State University on its list of the top 20 schools in the United States for students who plan to enter medical school.

The website ranks a wide array of degree programs at institutes of higher education, and one of those categories is “Top 20 Pre-Med Schools in America.” ETSU is on that list, and others include Cornell, Georgetown and Columbia universities.

Undergraduate students who plan to take the Medical College Admissions Test and apply to medical school often choose to major in basic science programs, such as biology and chemistry. At ETSU, undergraduates who plan to pursue medical school or other health-related disciplines can benefit from the Office of Medical Professions Advisement (MPA). The Office of MPA provides academic and personal advisement and access to professional school information and related workshops, as well as other resources to assist ETSU students in becoming competitive candidates for application to professional school.

To review the list of the top 20 pre-med programs, visit