Higher Ed Lab Notebook 11/26/2012


  • PCAST to Release Report on Future of the Research Enterprise.  On Friday, November 30, the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will hold a meeting to discuss IT R&D, STEM Education, and Online Courses (see agenda (PDF)). In addition, it will release a new report entitled Transformation and Opportunity: The Future of the U.S. Research Enterprise. The report will address “specific opportunities for the Federal Government, universities, and industry to strengthen the U.S. research enterprise.”
    • Date: November 30, 2012
    • Time: 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
    •  Location: Lecture Room of the National Academy of Sciences  Building, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW ,  Washington, D.C.; Register to attend this public event here.
    • View the live webcast here.
  • From Dubai
    • Resetting the bar: comment from a World Economic Forum Council member in Dubai after following some MOOCs and listening to Daphne Koller’s impassioned presentation,

    Now I get it.  This is the death of mediocre teaching.

    • Up for discussion
      • Change
      • Institutional roles
      • The university versus education
      • The impact of technology
      • The changing nature of students
    • Global agreement vs. Disconnect:
      • Agreed: Education has a role
      • Confusion:  Relevance of institutions
    • Scary concept of the day:  “Global Governance” Former PM Gordon Brown hammered this home.  The last thing we need is a European-style bureaucracy to act as a gate-keeper for higher education.
  • Why is social innovation grafted onto the margins of institutions of higher education? (Note: Where are the liberal arts in these discussions?  See my blog post about the not-so-liberal arts)
    • Complex coupling of learning and value in many cultures – there is no American-style consensus about that this means (more about “Social Contracts and the Global Wisconsin Idea” another day — but see my discussion of The New Wisconsin Idea in Abelard to Apple).
    • Service learning
    • Humanitarian technologies
    • What is the global version of the Morill Act?
  • What is the role of access when all content is accessible?
  • Global reactions to MOOCs (discouraging variety)
    • President of a THE top ranked research university.

    That is not a role that my institution is interested in undertaking.  There is a certain class of institution that may be interested, but it is certainly not our class.

    • Another president:

    We would be just as happy with no students at all

    • Faculty member (no institutional affiliation):

    Neither I nor my colleagues have the slightest interest in this [online technology].  If it is not related to my research I am not interested

    • Faculty member (no institutional affiliation):

    There are no rewards for this

    • Expert in emerging technologies:

    This has no relevance to me or my work.” [This is related to the debate over institutional relevance]

  • Global Reactions to MOOCs (encouraging variety) from Ed Lazowska, University of Washington:

The biggest change I see is that everyone on campus is talking about education and teaching.  At a research university that is a big deal.

  • Big Idea of the Day – Privacy Risks from Learning Analytics
    • As more fine-grained data is gathered and stored in the Cloud privacy risks spike.
    • See Knewton’s Jose Ferreira’s excellent video
    • Threats
      • A: Technology
      • B: Surveillance
    • Most legislation in the US predates the internet and GMailWhat are some of the risks?  Learners can be tagged with damaging labels because of their trajectory through online courses: “slow learner” vs “smart” even though the labels have no relationships to learning outcomes.
      • Electronic Communication Act of 1986 – much lower standard for investigators than wiretaps
        • Warrant for unopened email
        • Much weaker standard (e.g., relevance) for
          • Documents stored in the cloud
          • Opened email
          • Archived email whether read or not
        • Role of FERPA
    • What are the unique risks posed by Big Data
      • Information from many sources can be combined by investigators
      • There are incentives for more data and longer retention times
      • Users are not aware of how much data is being collected
      • Information playing field is tilted toward large institutions (e.g., states, corporations)
      • Amplifies advantages and disadvantages
    • “Capricious” use of stored data
      • Insurance
      • Credit worthiness
      • Law enforcement
    • What can analytics reveal that violate reasonable privacy expectations?Without sharing, learning analytics data is not very useful, so we should assume that sharing will occur.
      • Failures
      •  Past Associations
      • Mental Instability
      • Financial History
      • Behavior of acquaintances and family members
      • Personal indiscretions
      • Social Security Number and other protected identifiers
      • Legal proceedings regardless of outcome
    • It is beyond the state of current technology to share private data from learning analytics while simultaneously
      • Limiting disclosure
      • Ensuring data utility

      Jeff Selling writes in CHE: College Presidents Tone Deaf on Value:

      Whatever tools we settle on, the efforts to measure value start at the top of the institution and the groups that represent higher education. And right now, college presidents are either tone deaf to the concerns of the public or they don’t believe in their own product.

      Diary 2012 P4


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