Sunday, April 21, 2013

Not a Slow News Week

There’s nothing quite like taking the kids to the hotel breakfast only to see on the tv that the major city just north of you has gone on lockdown.  

We were in Plymouth to see the Rock and Plimouth Plantation. (That’s how they spell it.) The rock is smaller than one might expect, although it has an impressive structure around it.  The plantation has both a Native American settlement and a Puritan village.  The visit went well; it turned out that The Girl knew more about the Native American settlement than any of us, and that she was remarkably accurate.  She had a harder time with the hotel breakfast. She saw a pitcher labeled “2% milk,” and declared strongly, “Two percent milk?  What’s the rest of it?  I’m not drinking THAT!”  Which is a perfectly plausible reading of “2% milk,” if you think about it.

The rest of the day, naturally, was devoted to listening to radio news on the way back, and following the chase on tv once we got home.  I’ll be eternally grateful that they caught the guy before TG’s bedtime, so we could assure her that the cops caught the bad guy.  Eight year old minds can play tricks with incomplete scenarios, so it was nice to have an ending.

In the meantime, Southern New Hampshire’s College for America was officially approved by the U.S. Department of Education for financial aid eligibility for students in its competency-based degree program.  That hasn’t been a huge issue for the initial cohort of students, since they’re recruited through (and paid for by) their employers.  But if the model is going to grow, it needs to be able to recruit students who don’t have employer tuition support.  

On Twitter, Paul LeBlanc referred to cracking the credit hour as the “Higgs boson of higher education,” which is about right.  As regular readers know, the credit hour has been a minor obsession of mine for some time.  As long as we denote our product in units of time, then we can never increase our productivity by definition, since that would involve dividing time by time.  Breaking the mathematical identity requires changing the numerator.  SNHU/CfA has done that, and has received the blessing of the Feds to administer financial aid for students anyway.  

I had the chance to visit SNHU recently, and I have to admit I was impressed.  They’re asking the right questions, and they know what they’re doing.  It did my heart good to see a non-profit being as entrepreneurial and innovative as that.  Innovation doesn’t have to be confined to either for-profits on the bottom or elites on the top.  Keep an eye on this one.

Meanwhile, the AACC conference is going on in San Francisco.  I had hoped to make it, but it just wasn’t in the cards this year.  Wise and worldly readers who are there, I’m relying on you...