Thursday, August 29, 2013

Friday Fragments

This one is for the techies.  We use Moodle for our online courses, and our local server space is fairly limited.  Our online services people have developed several brief videos to help students who are new to online learning pick up some how-to’s.  

We’re trying to figure out if there’s a way to post those videos to YouTube (or something similar) in a way that only the students enrolled in relevant courses would have access to them.  I’m envisioning a link on our password-protected site that would take students to a special section of YouTube where they could see the videos.  

Has anyone found a reasonably elegant way to target videos at a certain group of students, without having to use local servers?


The Onion has stepped in it a few times recently, but these two pieces are genius.  They’re a welcome reminder that sometimes humor can tell truths that straight journalism just can’t.


If you’re on Twitter and you aren’t yet following Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd), you’re doing it wrong.  Her observations on the racial implications of Miley Cyrus’ VMA act went viral, and rightly so, but she made a wonderful observation yesterday that’s much more directly about higher education.

From the outside, it’s easy to wonder why students who don’t have much money often choose very expensive for-profits over much less expensive community colleges.  Cottom pointed out, correctly and succinctly, that there’s a difference between total cost and upfront, out-of-pocket cost.  The for-profits understand that at a level that community colleges generally don’t.  A student who won’t blink at tens of thousands of dollars in student loans will balk at a forty dollar application fee.  The loans don’t seem real, but the fee does.  It’s the same principle behind “no payments for ninety days!”

She’s right, obviously, and there’s much to learn from the observation.  

Time horizons can shrink pretty badly when you’re strapped.  If the very short term is prohibitive, the long term is irrelevant.   Little things like bus passes and emergency loans can make tremendous differences at the right moments.  

I know it’s out of fashion to suggest that we have anything to learn from the for-profits, but in this case, we do.  We can use those powers for good.


The Boy is doing Fall baseball this year, to have something athletic to do until basketball season starts.  (Having tried it for a few years, we’re just not soccer people.)  The Girl’s gymnastics start up again next week.  Music lessons continue, and Lego League is just around the corner.

There’s the start of school, and there’s the start of after-school.  After-school is harder.  Summer, we hardly knew ye...