Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 2: Various field notes from all over...

Today's Chronicle of HED on Report on Administrator hiring nationally: what do we have to learn, unlearn, relearn in all this? 

"the report says, the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1. Full-time faculty members also lost ground to part-time instructors (who now compose half of the instructional staff at most types of colleges), particularly at public master’s and bachelor’s institutions. And the kicker: You can’t blame faculty salaries for the rise in tuition. Faculty salaries were "essentially flat" from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And "we didn't see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty," said Donna M. Desrochers, an author of the report. The rise in tuition was probably driven more by the cost of benefits, the addition of nonfaculty positions, and, of course, declines in state support."

Yesterday's Inside Higher Ed on Rutgers, Adjuncts, and unionization: 

"Full-time, non-tenure-track professors at Rutgers University are celebrating after winning key bargaining goals in their new contract. Career titles outlining paths for promotion have been established for teaching, professional practice and librarian faculty members, similar to those already in place for clinical and research non-tenure-track faculty members. Explicitly non-renewable contracts have been abolished, as has the title of “assistant instructor.” For non-grant-funded faculty members, appointments will be for one to five years, and advance notice of non-reappointment is now required." 


Nina contributes her Field Notes for Week 1 & 2! 

Some folks are meeting in the Virtual World Second Life: a description of their discussion of Weeks 1 & 2 HERE. Additional pics HERE


In our second community meeting, Wednesday of MOOC Week 1, we decided to constitute ourselves as HigherEd Collective, many of us registered in one of two UMD courses, grads and undergrads, but with an invitation to others to join us as they can! So far one UMD educator has participated, and we are interested in welcoming folks in the region taking the MOOC, asking them to join us. 

Tuesday of week 1 we met at UMD Woods Hall 0104 from 4 until 6:30 PM. Wednesday of week 1 we met at UMD Symonds Hall 0215 from 1 until 3:30. We also met from 4 until
5:30 at the Common at UMUC to hatch plots! 

Week 2 community meetings will be Tuesday 4-6:30, possibly at WDS 0104, but the place may change: and we will let you know here! Wednesday's community meeting for Week 2 will take place from 2:30 - 3:30, place to be announced here! And may extend beyond that time, for those interested. 

This site will let you know when and where we meet each week of the MOOC, all are invited to gather with us to consider the History and Future of Higher Education and to participate in creating a Movement to shape what is happening now! 

I think we could call this Cathy Davidson's Field Notes for MOOC Week 1: come in with ideas to share and interconnect here! Bring your own Field Notes!

MOOCs, Blogs, Reading Groups, and, Alas, Those Videos: #FutureEd Movement in Double-Time

I've learned more in the last week than in years of doing research on educational innovation--and I gather thousands of other people are learning and sharing ideas too.  It's certainly not my amateurish overview videos that are the "cause" (although people are kinder about them that I am) but the structure of those videos, the Coursera platform, and then all the work the HASTAC team has been doing to create a constellation of networks beyond the MOOC that is galvanizing conversations all over the world.  On Twitter and on and on the Coursera Forums people are reporting back with ideas and excitement, with reports on what they are trying out  in local communities or across extensive networks (such as among student deans or international schools).  About 16,000 are now signed up, and, amazingly, over 7100 people were active on the MOOC last week.   I've read about all the drop out rate and so forth and did not expect anything like those numbers.  That many people around the world are using the occasion of the MOOC to ignite their own conversations, spark innovation, and engage with education deeply.   That was one of my motivations in making the MOOC on "The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education."
The other motivation:  I have been cynical about the MOOC as a format and I really dislike rejecting things before I've really explored them and tried them.  I'm still skeptical about the video format, still nervous--and angry--about gullible legislators thinking they will lower the cost of higher education by paying Coursera and other providers instead of teachers.   So I won't let my MOOC be used anywhere that seems as if it will take someone's jobs.  As far as I can tell, the demographic of participants is largely beyond college age and includes many working teachers, high school and college, plus just so many engaged, serious people outside the education field.  In other words, this particular MOOC is supplementing people's working lives, not replacing a human teacher with a video series and online forum.   Thanks to the seriousness of the participants, this MOOC  experience is turning out to be far richer than I dreamt possible.
Here's an example.   Alan Levine, who keeps the Cogdogblog, has written a superb blog talking back to my first week of video:    He and other programmers and educational technology innovators (Alan is Director of the New Media Consortium) have written a number of comments that are worth reading.   And, as I've done now on about twenty blogs, I responded.   I do not know Alan except by reputation and from Twitter and it is possible we exchanged email previously.    We may have met at MozFest or another event but I don't believe so (apologies, Alan, if that is incorrect).
My response is below.  I am reprinting my response here as an example of how these conversations lead to connection.   Alan teased me about it but I believe it.  It's not about the MOOC--it is about how the platform of the MOOC can be part of a larger movement to rethinking higher education.
Adapted from my FEbruary 2 Comment to Alan's Cogdogblog post of January 29:
Hi Alan and Friends, these are great comments and I will link this blog to the Coursera class for a more detailed, accurate, insider view. I think there would be many ways to quibble with the importance of April 22, 1993 but the release of the Mosaic 1.0 browser changed the rapidity of the expansion of the World Wide Web.  And I would quibble back that scientists were certainly involved and, without Al Gore's 1992- work with the FCC, there is no way that the Mosaic 1.0 graphical browser would have been released.  I know and have interviewed several people who were there and would love ot interview others.  I happened to be president of a professioal organization at the time and advocated making our organization the first non-computer science organization to switch to digital--email and internet--from the get-go.  We built an intellectual program around that too, pretty close to April of 1993, in fact. 
Historian Robert Darnton came up with the four Information Ages (although he's added the Codex as a fifth) and I could make cases for others--several people have--but the point, as with any 30,000 feet historiography, is to get people thinking in the long view of our own historical moment.   Because I want change to the educational status quo, I find it helpful to think in terms of how educational institutions have changed in the past in order to make a story of how change happens, in order to help it to happen.  That's the "movement" part.
Unfortunately, the format of the weeks continues to be mostly lectures and reviews.   I went with that because there is a subset of MOOC participants who really loves it.  I don't deviate from the lecture format in any thing like the way Al Filreis does at Penn and many others--or that my own online open learning network HASTAC does in its various Forums and projects and has since 2002.  The movement part comes by building on the MOOC.  Sometimes it's a project. 
Each week we have a collaborative project. Last week it was class constitution/manifesto/code of conduct for a virtual community; on Monday, we'll put it up on RapGenius and on Bob Stein's beta SocialBook to encourage two different kinds of annotation and collaborative reading. The coming week is an international timeline, wiki-based, of educational innovation.  There is no such resource now.   And the final project will be working in teams, starting with three teams in my face-to-face class, to "Design Higher Education from Scratch."   We'll put up napkin sketches by each of the teams for comments and additions and, we hope, more collaborators to join but we hope others will too will come up with their own ideas.  We're looking for a gigantic thought experiment that will be more revolutionary than, say, six weeks of video delivered massively.
But the real "movement" part is because about 50 or 60 classes, working groups, reading groups, discussion groups, planning groups, etc, including a consortium of people at 40 European universities, a virtual group of some 50 deans of students, and campus-based groups in Thailand, India, China, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and other places are using the videos as a jumping off place for their own initiatives.  We're encouraging them to publicize what they are doing.  Check out this infographic of some of those other sites.
And here's the link to the list of all the projects we're doing coming out of the MOOC, including porting Coursera content to other open, free networks:
I also want to comment on the quizzes.  I am a consistent critic of multiple-choice standardized summative testing, in my research and writing and in the MOOC.   But that's the format thousands want.  So at the very least I try to turn every test into a summary and therefore a study guide--there is no (intentionally) false information on any quiz.   You can say which applies or does not apply but all the information should be valid and useful (since research shows people tend to remember false information on quizzes as true:  a great example of bad learning model begetting bad learning). 
I am no more fond of lectures now than I ever was.  My own classes are student-created, project-based, peer-graded even.   Here, the massive part was of interest because of all the voices it would inspire.   The movement is because people ARE using the structure of the MOOC (even the simple part of meeting once a week for six weeks to talk educational change--whether they are participating in the MOOC or not).   So far corporate, for-profits have been seen as the only source of educational innovation.  Not true.  I want this to be students and faculty and interested, passionate, concerned others thinking about what comes next.  
I'll probably reblog this comment on HASTAC and send people to your superb blog.  I definitely think of correction as a form of attention.  And I'm happy I listened to you as attentively as you did to me.  With admiration and thanks, Cathy Davidson aka CatintheStack


Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 1: Meta-MOOC just opened on Monday!!

The first message from the Meta-MOOC -- the anchor to our course, to be taken by all involved, and to serve as our common experience in our Experiments in Feminist Learning!

Welcome to The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education! We know you will learn a lot and, even more importantly, we know you have much to teach the rest of us. We’ve designed this course with many features to encourage participation and collaboration, and there are some fifteen Community TAs (mostly graduate students from Duke, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina) who will be guiding the forums, posing questions, and keeping office hours too.

All the materials for Week 1 of #FutureEd are now available. If you go to the mainsyllabus/schedule you find links to everything you need for this first week.

We suggest the following routine:
1. watch the videos
2. take the quizzes if you are interested in obtaining a Certificate of Accomplishment;
3. participate in the forums and the discussion groups;
4. participate in the peer assessment exercises if you are interested in obtaining a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction; and
5. read and watch the assigned and supplemental materials and videos.

We don’t see this just as a MOOC but as a movement--a movement on behalf of new ways of learning and of transforming education worldwide. This Coursera MOOC is part of the FutureEd Initiative being sponsored by the virtual learning network HASTAC. FutureEd includes many online resources you can learn from and contribute to.

Thank you for signing up for the History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education. We’re learning the future together . . . starting now!

Best wishes,

Cathy N. Davidson
Co-Director, PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge, John Hope Franklin Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English, Duke University

AND the #FutureEd Team: Barry, Elizabeth, Kaysi, Malina and Rebecca

For information about Duke's online education initiatives, see
For regular information about the university, follow Duke on Twitter @DukeU.
For more information about the virtual learning network HASTAC, see

WEEK ONE! gathering our community and class!

We take multimodal field notes: sensory impressions: sights, sounds, textures, smells, taste: fears and creativity, unlearning and letting go: 

Also for week one! Forum: A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age 
 Putting together a Community Manifesto: From How a Class becomes a Community  

ISIS Schedule (Davidson's own course) with Google Hangout dates and other events to synchronize.