Sep 28 2011

STEM BreakThru: If Engineers Were to Rethink Higher Ed’s Future

Category: Practice BreakThru,STEM BreakThruadmin @ 1:40 pm

Great post published on The Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday by Jeffrey Selingo. For the original article, vist The Chronical of Higher Education by clicking here.

If Engineers Were to Rethink Higher Ed’s Future

September 27, 2011, 10:27 pm

By Jeffrey Selingo

Walk into a college president’s office these days and you’ll probably find a degree hanging on the wall from one of three academic disciplines: education, social sciences, or the humanities and fine arts. Some 70 percent of college leaders completed their studies in one of those fields, according to the American Council on Education.

You’re unlikely to discover many engineering degrees. Just 2 percent of college presidents are engineers.

Yet, when we think of solving complex problems, we normally turn to engineers to help us figure out solutions. And higher education right now is facing some tough issues: rising costs; low completion rates; and delivery systems, curricula, and teaching methods that show their age.

So what if engineers tackled those problems using their reasoning skills and tested various solutions through simulations? Perhaps then we will truly design a university of the future.

That’s the basic idea behind Georgia Tech’s new Center for 21st Century Universities. The center is officially described as a “living laboratory for fundamental change in higher education,” but its director, Rich DeMillo, describes it in terms we can all understand: higher-education’s version of the Silicon Valley “garage.” DeMillo knows that concept well, having come from Hewlett-Packard, where he was chief technology officer (he’s also a former Georgia Tech dean).

Applying the garage mentality to innovation in higher ed is an intriguing concept, and as DeMillo described it to me over breakfast on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus Wednesday, I realized how few college leaders adopt its principles. Take, for example, a university’s strategic plan. Such documents come and go with presidents, and the proposals in every new one are rarely tested in small ways before leaders try to scale them across the campus. After all, presidents have little time to make a mark before moving on to their next job.

In a garage, “the rules are different,” DeMillo explains to me. “Universities are set up to hit near-term goals. Few are thinking about what the university should look like years down the road.”

DeMillo already has a number of projects in the pipeline, including a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and a TechBurst competition where students create short, sharable videos on particular concepts, and the university as a whole is thinking of others. One favorite of Georgia Tech’s president, Bud Peterson, is X-College, which would allow students to essentially design their own degree programs focused on “grand challenges” facing society. It would also allow faculty members to experiment with learning techniques and the semester calendar itself. In keeping with the test-and-learn philosophy, Peterson wants it to start small, perhaps with 50 honors students next fall.

Georgia Tech’s center offers a unique opportunity to experiment in an industry not known for taking risks. At a kickoff event for the center on Wednesday, I moderated a wide-ranging discussion with some leading thinkers on the future of higher ed, and among my questions was this: If you had a chance to run this center, what one project would you put on its agenda?

Among the ideas I found most interesting:

Public research on the common questions. One way for public universities to reassert their relevancy is to focus on public research on big common questions facing society.

Create incubators. It’s difficult for policy makers and campus leaders to get their heads around abstract concepts of the future. Bring ideas to life in small ways, and show how they can work.

Improve social engagement. So-called softer skills are more important than ever as technology limits face-to-face interaction. Figure out ways to embed leadership, social, and global skills in everyday curriculum.

Interactive learning. Remove teachers from being the center of all knowledge. Learning no longer happens with the teacher in front of a roomful of students taking notes. Find richer, more active ways of learning.

Stop teaching subjects. Teach students how to diagnose problems starting in kindergarten and then give them the knowledge to get better at it. Helping students solve problems teaches them how to think.

Revamp the college admissions process and office. Jonathan Cole, a former provost of Columbia University, said the smartest people on campus should work in admissions, and that includes faculty members. “They need to get involved in who is living in this house,” he said. Right now, admissions is too tied to test scores, and “we’re getting boring, one-dimensional students,” he said.

So if you had a chance to run this center, what ideas would you put on its agenda?

For the original article, vist The Chronicle of Higher Education by clicking here.

Jeffrey Selingois editorial director of The Chronicle of Higher Education. On Next, he shares insights on news and trends in higher education.

Follow Jeffrey on Twitter (@jselingo)

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Sep 27 2011

Accessibility BreakThru: Pulitzer Prize Winning Author discusses his Dyslexia in new book

Category: Accessibility BreakThruadmin @ 1:55 am

Great interview by Audie Cornish and the team at NPR with Pulitzer Prize winning Author, Phil Shultz discussing Shultz’s new book My Dyslexia.


———————–

How did someone who didn’t learn to read until he was 11 years old come to be a professional poet? The man who poses this question is also the one who can answer it. Host Audie Cornish talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Phil Shultz about his new memoir, My Dyslexia.

Click the audio player above to listen to the NPR interview with Phillip Shultz

Philip Schultz is the author of seven collections of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Failure. He is the founder and director of the Writers Studio and lives in East Hampton, New York.

“Most people spend their lives developing defenses against their feelings. The Writers Studio has developed a technique to address that. Everyone can learn to write competently and originally about their experiences.” Philip Schultz

For the complete audio interview and a transcript of the discussion, visit NPR online by clicking here.


 

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Sep 21 2011

BreakThru News: BreakThru Team to Present at Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

Category: BreakThru News,BreakThru Pressadmin @ 5:59 pm

The BreakThru team will be presenting a workshop at the upcoming Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation’s 6th Annual Fall Symposium and Research Conference. The conference’s theme is “Building Relationships and Empowering our Future Leaders for Success in STEM Education and Careers.”

The conference will be held October 14 – 15, 2011 and is hosted by Savannah State University in Savannah, GA.

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Sep 21 2011

Virtual Learning & Mentoring BreakThru: Online-Mentor Program Raises Retention of At-Risk Science Students

Category: Mentor BreakThru,Virtual Learning BreakThruadmin @ 3:28 pm

Click here for a great article that recently appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education on how virtual mentoring is benefiting at risk students in the areas of STEM education.

“These are young people, they’re very vulnerable,” she says. “There can’t be barriers. And the mentor is there to help them figure out how to tear those down.” -Mary F. Fernández, AT&T Labs Research Executive and chair of the Board of Directors at MentorNet

Wendy Neuberger (left), a MentorNet volunteer, and Gloria Musau, a Kenyan student she advised online, met for the first time at a conference.

For complete article, visit The Chonronical of Higher Education at the following link: http://ow.ly/6AyG0

 

 

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Sep 05 2011

SPED BreakThru: With Dyslexia Words Failed Me & Then Saved Me | NY TIMES

Category: Accessibility BreakThru,SPED BreakThruadmin @ 3:11 pm

Great opinion piece by Philip Schultz published in yesterday’s NY TIMES detailing the author’s journey with dyslexia. Click here to read the piece. Schlutz is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the author of the forthcoming memoir “My Dyslexia.”

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Sep 01 2011

Virtual Learning BreakThru: Virtual Valencia — The Second Life Classroom

Category: Practice BreakThru,Technology BreakThruadmin @ 12:16 am

Valencia Community College has crafted a virtual university in Second Life that mirrors its brick and mortar campus. The virtual campus offers students a unique and immersive educational experience. Watch the video above to learn how students are taking field trips to 1800′s France or The Louvre without ever leaving Central Florida.

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