Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A History of Masks for Halloween
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Today is

National Candy Corn Day. Who knew?  Well, Time magazine, for one...

History of Candy Corn on National Candy Corn Day
The National Confectioners Association celebrates National Candy Corn Day on October 30, a time to honor the annual production of 9 billion pieces of candy that most people probably only eat once a year (unless you’re a diehard fan who buys 10-pound red-white-and-green ones for Christmas or red-white-and-pink ones for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day).

God help me, I do love top ten lists

Hidden Haunts: 10 Scariest Movies You May Have Never Seen

Don't leave your heart in San Francisco's

Community Colleges.  They're among the worst in the nation, according to Haley Sweetland Edwards and The Washington Monthly.

Using federal data sets tracking the percentage of students who graduate or transfer within three years and the total degrees awarded per 100 students—the same metrics used by the well-respected Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence—the Washington Monthly ranked 1,011 community colleges in the country and found that nearly all the schools in the Bay Area are bottom-feeders. 
San Francisco City College ranked 842. In the East Bay, Laney College slid in at 882. The College of Alameda was an abysmal 971 and nearby Berkeley City College was, astoundingly, even worse, at 982—just twenty-nine spots away from last place. 
In the region just south of San Francisco—the cities that Facebookers and Googlers pass every day on their morning commutes from the city—the picture was equally grim. San Bruno’s Skyline College scored a relatively sparkling 772, but neighboring College of San Mateo, where a director of information technology was recently charged for selling the school’s computer equipment and embezzling the cash, ranked 845. Cañada College ranked a pitiful 979. 
North of the city, the College of Marin, where the community college foundation board dissolved last fall and are now involved in a lawsuit over “spending improprieties,” ranked 839. That picture was confirmed when we added to those rankings a second metric: how the schools performed on the most recently available Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), a respected measure of how well institutions follow research-based best practices for learning—the number of books and papers students are assigned, for instance, or the amount of interaction with faculty. Almost all the Bay Area schools were again clustered at the bottom of the list. San Francisco City College, with below-average CCSSE scores in all five categories, clocked in at forty-second worst nationwide. And the College of Alameda—just a quick ferry ride from those humming streets of SoMa—has some of the very worst combined CCSSE and graduation statistics in America. 
So the question here is clear: How is it that a region of the world that prides itself on its booming growth and vibrant market—on “growing the jobs and companies of the future”—presides over a system of higher education that is so broken for so many?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nominate an adult learner

ACE Now Accepting Nominations for the 2013 Adult Learner of the Year Award 

Is there a student on your campus who has overcome great odds to reach his or her higher education goals? Help honor that achievement by nominating him or her to become ACE's 2013 Adult Learner of the Year. ACE will recognize the winner at its 96th Annual Meeting, Seizing Opportunity, to be held in San Diego, CA, March 8-11, 2014. Nominations are due by December 6, 2013.

ACE's Adult Learner of the Year Award recognizes a person who has benefited academically and professionally from making use of ACE's credit recommendations for workforce or military training. Award winners demonstrate:

  • Continued success in academic, professional, personal and community endeavors 
  • Extraordinary achievement in his or her community or workplace while successfully balancing the demands of family, career and education
  • Inspiration to others to set high lifelong learning goals
This year's Adult Learner of the Year will receive a $500 scholarship from ACE to continue his or her education.

Last year was the first year that there were two award winners: Bette Feldeisen, a plumbing supervisor and honors graduate, and Joshua John Young, a police officer and Army veteran. Learn more about the award and previous winners on the ACE website

Monday, October 28, 2013

Call for proposals (and other things)

Renewing College Opportunity and Upward Mobility: Innovations Promoting Access and Attainment for Adult Learners
2014 Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education Conference
March 14-16, 2014
Kennesaw State University 
Take advantage of the Early Bird Discount to register your institution or individually. Enjoy the benefits from the networking and learning at the ANTSHE Conference at a lower rate. Register before November 1st!!!

We are actively seeking conference program proposals for both presentations and poster sessions for the ANTSHE Conference.
For program proposals click here. 
For poster sessions, click here.
For vendors, contact Dr. R. Lee Viar IV at This is based solely on availability and space. You are encouraged to submit your Proposals as soon as possible. Presenters will have their work published in ANTSHE's peer reviewed journal in both electronic and hard copies.

To register or for more information visit the conference website at ANTSHE Conference.

Visit ANTSHE for more information about the organization.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Identity issues

Harvard has a long and distinguished continuing education tradition.  And it treats and serves those nontraditional students well.  But even at Harvard, the continuing education mission is questioned by those who don't know any better. By Harvard alum Theodore R. Johnson, writing in The Atlantic.

About two years ago, my classmates and I gathered in Harvard Yard to receive our graduate degrees alongside more than 7,000 of the university's newest alumni. As the procession made its way to our designated seating area, an onlooker eyed our banner with a puzzled look and asked the guy in front of me, “What in the world is the Extension School?” 
My classmate’s reply: “It’s the back door into Harvard.” Ouch. 
I often felt the same way – that I’d snuck into one of the world’s premier institutions for higher learning. There is little chance that my slightly-above-average undergraduate GPA and an extra-curricular résumé that only consisted of a part-time job at a music store would’ve secured a spot for me in one of Harvard’s ultra-competitive graduate schools. Yet, with no admission letter in hand and exactly zero hours spent preparing for graduate admissions tests, I became a Harvard student. 
And I was not alone. The Extension School – Harvard’s degree-granting continuing education school – has a student population of more than 13,000. In fact, almost all of the Ivy League schools offer courses to “nontraditional students,” which the National Center for Education Statistics considers to be those who are older than typical college graduates, work full-time, or are financially independent and may have family dependents.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Have one of these working for you?

It wouldn't surprise me.  We used to say they would bitch if you hung them with a new rope.  By  Katy Waldman, writing in Slate Magazine.

Haters really are going to hate. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology corroborates the hip-hop and Internet truism that you just can’t win with some people. (No word yet on whether playas gonna play or ballers gonna ball, but we’ll probably find out soon. Researchers gonna research.)   
In their paper “Attitudes Without Objects,” psychologists Justin Hepler and Dolores Albarracin show that those who already hold a lot of negative views are more likely to react negatively to new stimuli. The pair asked a group of 200 men and women to evaluate how they felt about various subjects, such as camping, health care, architecture, taxidermy, crossword puzzles, and Japan. They took note of the respondents who rated many of these unconnected prompts harshly (the haters). Then, a month later, they asked everyone to weigh in again to control for the possibility that the grumps were just in a bad mood the first time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How do "flipped" students perform?

They seem to do better.  At least for pharmacy students, who tend to be high-performing students in the first place. From Robinson Meyer, writing in The Atlantic.

The Post-Lecture Classroom: How Will Students Fare?
If college professors spent less time lecturing, would their students do better?
A three-year study examining student performance in a “flipped classroom” — a class in which students watch short lecture videos at home and work on activities during class time — has found statistically significant gains in student performance in “flipped” settings and significant student preference for “flipped” methods.
The study, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, is one of the first to examine a “flipped” classroom in the current state of its technology. Russell Mumper, a Vice Dean at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, conducted the study, and two separate articles based on its findings are now in press in the journals Academic Medicine and The American Journal of Pharmaceutical EducationThe education technology company Echo360, whose technology was used in the classes examined, funded the study with a $10,000 grant.
The study examined three years of a foundational pharmaceutics course, required for all doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) students attending UNC. In 2011, Mumper taught the course in a standard, PowerPoint-aided lecture format. In 2012 and 2013, he taught it using “flipped” methods. Student performance on an identical final exam improved by 2.5 percent between 2011 and 2012—results now in press at Academic Medicine—and by an additional 2.6 percent in 2013. Overall, student performance on an identical final exam improved between 2011 and 2013 by 5.1 percent.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Are you a bad boss?

Here's one sign.  I once knew a dean like this.  He had to approve everything that flowed from his college. Drove people crazy. From The Open Forum.

Syndrome: The Bottleneck 
Warning Signs: Everything, from the decision to expand your e-commerce site to a decision to order a box of paper clips, must be approved by you. As a result, only about one-tenth of what needs to get done in your company actually gets done. (The rest waits … and waits … and waits for your okay.) You work 20 hours a day and still can’t catch up. Employees are even more frustrated than you are, since they’re essentially paralyzed waiting for your answer.   
Solution: Like a mother whose “baby” is heading off to kindergarten, you’ve got to let go. Start by identifying key bottlenecks and determining which decisions you absolutely need to handle and which can be made by others. For example, maybe you need to authorize all purchases over $500 but managers can authorize anything under that amount. Maybe you want to keep handling a few sensitive, key accounts yourself, but sales reps can take care of the others and keep you posted with weekly reports. Delegating will free your time, energize your team and get your business moving again.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

This was big news around here

But you may have missed it.  I smell a season pass in my future. This update from The Johnson City Press.

Major expansion project planned for Dollywood
If her hair and bra caught fire, it’d be a four-day fire. That’s the latest ride-related quip from superstar and theme-park impresario Dolly Parton. 
Parton made the joke Wednesday as she announced a $300 expansion and improvement plan for Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country — including a 300-room resort, set to open in 2015 on a 100-acre plot just north of the water park. 
That’s more than has been invested in Dollywood since the park opened nearly 30 years ago. Parton announced plans to open Dollywood in 1985 and the park opened for its first season in 1986. 
On Wednesday she said in the years since more than $250 million has been invested in Dollywood and Splash Country. 
Opening the “world class” resort on site 30 years after that initial announcement will be her dream come true, Parton said, and she promised the decor would have “more taste than I do.” 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The digital divide

Is not only between rich and poor.  Rural students are also handicapped.  Just try doing your job without internet access. By Sara Grossman, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

For Internet Access, Rural Students Have to Hit the Road
In an era when education increasingly takes place online, broadband Internet access is a basic necessity for students, says Tom M. Koutsky, chief policy counsel at Connected Nation, a nonprofit that works to expand such access in the United States. Students today are minimally expected to perform research and submit assignments online, and they need reliable, fast Internet access to do so, he says. 
Over all, according to the FCC, 6 percent of Americans do not have broadband available in their area. Of even greater concern, Mr. Koutsky says, is that 30 percent of Americans who do have access to high-speed Internet have not signed up, often because it is prohibitively expensive for them. 
Colleges in areas without high-speed home Internet service rack up costs of their own, often going to unusual lengths to help students and local residents get online. Many offer extended library and computer-lab hours as well as training sessions and online support for those who might not be as technologically savvy. Turtle Mountain Community College, a tribal institution serving the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in rural North Dakota, even provides courses for members of its impoverished community on how to use the Internet.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On winning awards

I've won a few awards lately, basically for hanging around in continuing education long enough.  Can't say that it affected my productivity.  Of course, it could hardly go down!  Evidently, winners of the Field Medal coast after the award. From Slate Magazine.

Prizes and rewards are designed to produce more effort, to give people something to strive towards. But what happens once they actually get it? According to a new study by Harvard's George Borjas and Notre Dame's Kirk Doran of recipients of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize in mathematics, winning big actually kills productivity. 
Mathematicians who win it publish far less in the years afterwards than similarly brilliant "contenders"—highly cited mathematicians who won other prestigious awards before the age of 40 (the cutoff for the Fields), but not the prize itself. The prize is awarded every four years to two, three, or four mathematicians. It goes to show that major awards and recognition can have unintended consequences.   
This is explained, in part, by the classic economic "wealth effect." The impact of the Fields medal is significant. It's more prestigious than any other prize, and though the financial reward is a meager $15,000, the career and research opportunities available to a winner expand massively. Because they've achieved so much "wealth" in terms of prestige, job security, and opportunity, winners are more likely to choose leisure activities over work, just as someone who suddenly comes into significant monetary rewards might. Not only do they produce fewer papers, but the ones they do write are relatively less important. And winners take fewer mentees, as well.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Columbus Day

Why do we celebrate it, exactly?

How We Discovered That Christopher Columbus Didn't Get to America First
So we commemorated the day in the middle of October, more or less happily, as the official discovery of the Western Hemisphere. Despite atrocities committed by the Spanish in the Americas, not to mention, well, everyone else of European descent, it was, after all, the first time any European had reached the New World. And then things got complicated. 
By the 500th anniversary celebration, in 1992, when I was in middle school, teachers were adding supplementary—or corrective—lectures to outdated textbooks. When I was first officially introduced to the New World discovery, in 5th grade, the teacher explained that, well, no, this Columbus story was actually all wrong. An archeological discovery and extensive scholarship had by then confirmed that Columbus was not the first person from Europe to reach the New World. Not at all. The Vikings had reached Canada 500 years prior to his arrival.

God help me, I do so love top ten lists

Draft Picks: 10 Drinking-Buddy Movies

I generated this

We will motivate multidimensional inquiry within a balanced literacy program.  Hmmm.  Sounds reasonable, I suppose. From

Educational Jargon Generator
This fine academic tool was designed to assist in the writing of reports, grant applications, and other documents related to public schools. I believe that it will be particularly useful for people involved in writing reports for Accreditation. Amaze your colleagues with finely crafted phrases of educational nonsense! The javascript code is adapted from's Web Economy BS Generator. I would be remiss if I did not thank my district's Professional Development staff for introducing me to many of these gems. I have added prepositional phrases to this generator. My inspiration comes from the College Board's new AP Chemisty framework that includes this gem - "The student can connect phenomena and models across spatial and temporal scales."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Infographicing while on Fall Break this week

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs: A Serious & Stinky Bug Problem - Ehrlich Pest Control

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs: A Serious & Stinky Bug Problem – An infographic by the team at Ehrlich Pest Control

Monday, October 7, 2013

Infographicing while on Fall Break this week

The for-profit problem

This seems to go under the radar of most folks, particulary politicians.  All colleges are not the same.  And all college debt is not the same.  It seems like ancient history now, but there was a time I never thought about student debt.  Now, we must account for it in all we do. From Jordan Weissmann, writing in The Atlantic.

While we tend to talk about higher education as an undifferentiated mass of institutions relentlessly hiking their tuition at the expense of students and the federal government, it's actually a vastly fragmented industry, split between the public and private, for-profit and non-profit, 2-year and 4-year, as well as various levels of prestige and price. And knowing which schools have contributed most to the debt problem might give us a clue about how to fix it, while telling us which institutions have the most to lose in any effort at reform. 
So with that in mind, here are three key points:
  • Public colleges, because they educate so many students, generate the most debt overall.
  • Private nonprofit schools, generate an outsized amount of student debt, but a relatively small portion of troubled borrowers. 
  • The for-profits have contributed in an especially malign way to the debt problem, both generating a disproportionate amount of loans, and an even more disproportionate amount of student loan defaults. [emphasis mine]

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The way higher eduction used to be

Rick Perlstein laments on the current path of higher education.  I seem to be trending a bit nostalgic lately. Must be my liberal arts education. From The Nation.

The history of American higher education over the twentieth century is an extraordinary one, the story of the creation of a powerhouse set of institutions that are the envy of the civilized world. Once they were the province, both among the student and faculty bodies, of children of privilege, generally WASPS. Then state land-grant universities and urban city college systems (where, in the state of California and New York City, tuition was free) expanded opportunities for entry into the middle class to new ethnic groups, farm kids, strivers of every description. The GI Bill expanded those same opportunities yet further through the glorious infusion of federal cash, and the Cold War imperatives that midwifed the National Defense Education Act expanded the administrative capacity of university after university such that when the frolicksome baby boomers began flooded their gates there was plenty of room to accommodate them. The trajectory, in other words, once went in only one direction: expanded opportunity. 
Qualitatively, too, the expansion of college education became a genuine ornament of mass democracy. It made America more decent, more lovely, more cultured, more critical, even—ask anyone who went to college in the 1960s or ’70s—more fun. It made America richer too, both spiritually and materially; though in an important sense the first condition fed the second, as the liberation of intellectual imaginations midwifed a thousand productive careers in every field, careers that were productive precisely because they were inspired by a “liberal arts” attitude, not merely pinched Babbit-like commercial aspirations. Some of these folks, gifted with a college education, chose a professional life that continued within those colleges. It was one of the ways a capitalist society healthily reproduced itself: by making life in our capitalist society more worth living, more savory, more decent (and again: more fun); and, too, by producing the professionals and managers it took to keep that society running. 
Now all we seem to care about is reproducing the managerial class.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ETSU to hold ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ Workshop

East Tennessee State University’s Office of Professional Development will hold a “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Workshop over the course of three sessions this fall.

The workshop will be taught by Dr. Deborah Harley, a veteran instructor of this and various other leadership-based courses. Harley is an assistant professor in the Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Based on the work of Dr. Stephen Covey, the “7 Habits” Workshop is centered on the concept that no organization can truly succeed until individuals within it succeed. Participants can expect to be a part of a learning experience that will strengthen interpersonal relationships; increase focus on organizational priorities; improve effective listening and the identification of student/customer needs; create stronger teams and increase collaboration; and improve individual work/life balance and energy management.

This internationally recognized personal leadership curriculum offers the foundations of the “7 Habits” and how to apply them to both work and personal initiatives, in addition to ways to develop a game plan for individual change that really works.

The “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Workshop will be held in room 411 of Warf-Pickle Hall in three sessions. These sessions will take place from 12:30-4:30 p.m. on Fridays, Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.

The cost of the program is $800, which includes all workshop costs, materials and refreshments during each session. ETSU employees may use their employee audit opportunity to pay for the course.

For further information, call the ETSU Office of Professional Development at (800) 222-3878 or visit

Social notworking

Or maybe it is working.  This is the first I've heard that Freshman Composition paper are getting better.  Maybe it's time to go back to teaching English....From Freakonomics.

In the Globe and Mail, Clive Thomas argues that all the time kids spend on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs may be making them better writers and thinkers.  Thomas cites the work of Andrea Lunsford, an English professor at Stanford, who recently compared freshman composition papers from 1917, 1930, 1986, and 2006 and found that, while the average rate of errors hasn’t changed much since 1917, students today write longer, more intellectually complex papers: 
In 1917, a freshman paper was on average only 162 words long and the majority were simple “personal narratives.” By 1986, the length of papers more than doubled, averaging 422 words. By 2006, they were more than six times longer, clocking in at 1,038 words – and they were substantially more complex, with the majority consisting of a “researched argument or report,” with the student taking a point of view and marshalling evidence to support it. 
“Student writers today are tackling the kinds of issues that require inquiry and investigation as well as reflection,” Prof. Lunsford concluded. 
Lunsford believes the shift is partially driven by all the “life writing” (long emails, posts on TV discussion boards, blog posts, etc.) students now do outside the classroom.  “They’re writing more than any generation before,” she says.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Must mean I'm creative

Very creative. Unless I'm just confusing correlation with causation. From Tom Jacobs, writing in Pacific Standard.

Can a Messy Desk Make You More Creative?
In recent years, researchers have identified many ways to spark creativity, from studying abroad to dimming the lights. A newly published study reveals yet another method, one many of us have already implemented without realizing its benefits. 
It finds that people come up with more creative ideas if they’re sitting in a messy room. 
“Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” a team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota’s Kathleen Vohs writes in the journal Psychological Science. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”