Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Down With Freedom!
It’s easy to find fault with this particular reform or that one, but I have to admit finding the general idea compelling. The entire premise of higher education is that students don’t know everything; if they did, they wouldn’t need higher education. Professors have assigned readings and graded performance forever, and nobody thinks it odd. So the objection that nudging is “paternalistic” strikes me as both true and irrelevant. Education is paternalistic. The relevant question is who, and how, the paternalism benefits. And why the hell they picked Orlando in June.
Every time I do orientation advising I wish our college had some generic STEM or Business or Liberal Arts or Allied Health class tracks laid out for the first year. Some of us have our own lists, but the advocates for the various options in composition, the social sciences, and the humanities resist anything college-wide that might drop enrollment in some of the niche options.
Add in the need to synch some classes with math (where placement varies wildly at the CC level) and it is a very challenging problem. It is a job for "expert systems" so it is good that some are developing computer systems to direct students on the right path for their goals. But the hidden problem is that goals change once they take a class, which is where going over 60 credits is still unavoidable. That Austin Peay project might help a lot by getting them into that "a class" earlier.
BTW, you are an inadvertent promoter of the "MOOA" idea. Someone in our admin recommended meta-majors about a month ago. We could indeed save a lot of money with an open online administration that distributes these ideas to every college! Ditto for the software. It doesn't need to be invented everywhere.
On your last question:
Did the well-known Valencia CC "learning college" drive this meeting in Orlando? Not sure what you mean by "sweltering". It looks like you had normal summer weather in Orlando with highs in the low 90s that start in May for the entire Disney summer vacation season.
On the other hand, when my son went through a CC on the way to his BA from a (non-directional) State University, the CC had semester-by-semester plans for each transferible major, identifying each of the required courses and where the open choices were that the student could fill in.
This allows a student (who wishes to pursue more than one line of development) to lay the templates side-by-side to figure out how the different "majors" fit together.
As I remember the (pick one of composition, etc.) general college courses were listed on these templates as "choose one of (list of allowed courses)" and the student was then allowed to customize the general college portion to their heart's content. YMMV