Adventures in Aggregated Blogging

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Let’s begin with Carl Straumsheim at Inside Higher Education: The Full Report on Udacity Experiment“San Jose State University on Wednesday quietly released the full research report on the for-credit online courses it offered this spring through the online education company Udacity. The report, marked by delays and procedural setbacks, suggests it may be difficult for the university to deliver online education in this format to the students who need it most.The report's release lands on the opposite end of the spectrum from the hype generated in January, when university officials, flanked by the Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun and California Governor Jerry Brown, unveiled the project during a 45-minute press conference. The pilot project, featuring two math courses and one statistics course, aimed to bring high-quality education to students for a fraction of the cost of the university's normal tuition. Wednesday's report went live on the university’s website sometime before noon Pacific time, appearing with little fanfare on the research page of the principal investigator for the project, Elaine D. Collins. Collins serves as associate dean in the College of Science.The report provides a long-awaited look into how the pilot project has fared. The initials results from the spring pilot led the university to put its partnership with Udacity on “pause” for the fall semester. Last month, the university released results from the summer pilot, showing increased retention and student pass rates. However, those reports barely scratched the surface of the data the university collected during the project .  .  .  .Research has shown that at-risk students tend to struggle in online classes, said the education consultants Michael Feldstein and Phil Hill. That disadvantaged students enrolled in SJSU Plus courses posted similarly poor pass rates suggests the spring pilot was rushed, they said.‘We have to be careful that our sense of altruism doesn’t overcome our sense of common sense,’ Hill said. ‘If we know that at-risk students don’t tend to do well in online courses, you can’t just wish away that problem.’"After weeks of delays, San Jose State U. releases research report on online courses Take away points: 
  • A highly touted large scale experiment to determine whether MOOCs are the answer to cost and accessibility problems in public higher education has produced negative results.
  • Those students most in need of reduced costs and increased access obtained the least benefit from the experiment.
  • The negative results have been released in stages, appearing with “little fanfare.”
And now Stacey Patton at The Chronicle of Higher Education:Influx of Foreign Students Drives Modest Increase in Graduate-School Enrollments“Enrollments in graduate programs at American colleges and universities have increased modestly, driven largely by a rise in international students, according to a report being released on Thursday by the Council of Graduate Schools .  .  .  .The number of international students in American graduate programs went up by 8 percent from the fall of 2011 to the fall of 2012, up slightly from the 7.8-percent increase in the previous year. By contrast, first-time graduate enrollment increased by only 0.6 percent for U.S. citizens and permanent residents over the same period .  .  .  .First-time enrollments of U.S. citizens and permanent residents was flat or down from the previous year in a number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. And total enrollment, counting both new and returning students, in graduate programs fell by more than 2 percent, to nearly 1.74 million students, in the fall of 2012, following a decline of 0.8 percent the year before .  .  .  .It is good news that international-student enrollments are trending upward, said Debra W. Stewart, the council's president. But an increase of less than 1 percent in domestic students is worrisome, she added, given that the American economy will have an increasing need for highly skilled workers. The U.S. Department of Labor has forecast a 22-percent rise in jobs requiring at least a master's degree from 2010 to 2020, and a 20-percent rise for jobs requiring doctorates.‘We have strong increases for international students, which is good because if we didn't have strong enrollment from abroad, some graduate programs would be faltering,’ Ms. Stewart said. ‘But there are some particular concerns about where declines continue to persist for U.S. students. We are seeing a widening gap between U.S. and international first-time enrollments in engineering, math, and computer science.’In the fall of 2012, more than half—54.7 percent—of all graduate students who are categorized as temporary U.S. residents were enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, compared with 17.3 percent of U.S. citizens and permanent residents .  .  .  .”   Take away points:
  • Thirteen years and three generations of millennial college students (classes of 2004, 2008, & 2012) into the new millenium, and American-born enrollments in STEM graduate programs are “flat or down.”
  • While 57.4% of international graduate student enrollments are in STEM fields, only 17.3% of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are.
  • The increased use of digital tools in education over these years does not appear to be increasing technological acumen or interest.
  • Could this be an effect of digital devices being toys more than tools in too many instances?
About the Author
Jack Solomon is Professor Emeritus of English at California State University, Northridge, where he taught literature, critical theory and history, and popular cultural semiotics, and directed the Office of Academic Assessment and Program Review. He is often interviewed by the California media for analysis of current events and trends. He is co-author, with the late Sonia Maasik, of Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers, and California Dreams and Realities: Readings for Critical Thinkers and Writers, and is also the author of The Signs of Our Time, an introductory text to popular cultural semiotics, and Discourse and Reference in the Nuclear Age, a critique of poststructural semiotics that proposes an alternative semiotic paradigm.