Monthly Archives: September 2015

Degree for sale: “Never been used”

According to a paper by Mr. Autor published Thursday in the journal Science, the true cost of a college degree is about negative $500,000. That’s right: Over the long run, college is cheaper than free. Not going to college will cost you about half a million dollars. —it seems like every mainstream report on the […] … learn more→

Learning from PowerPoint: is it time for teachers to move on?

For a brief period in the history of teaching, using PowerPoint automatically qualified you as a tech-savvy professor – an innovator who wouldn’t settle for the usual combination of staticky black-and-white overhead films and hand-scrawled chalkboard notes. Now, it’s hard to believe that PowerPoint was once considered innovative by anyone. Popular criticism includes everything from […] … learn more→

Big fish, small pond: Institutionalizing academic inequality

A little over ten years ago, two adequately eminent sociology departments swiped two of my colleagues. For years, I wondered why the then-dean didn’t try to stop those raids; I’ve finally decided that the answer lies in a tangle of college and interdepartmental politics and corporatization, as well as the fact that one of the swipes was a woman. (In the not so […] … learn more→

An innovative form of cheating emerges in MOOCs

What if Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) aren’t actually courses at all? Our research teams at Harvard and MIT have shown over and over again that MOOC students look and act nothing like conventional students of either residential universities or online programs. With a broader age distribution, a more diverse and international student body, wide […] … learn more→

Found: 9,000-year-old case of ritualistic beheading that may be oldest in Americas

From 19th-century tales about tribes hunting for “trophy heads” to Hollywood films such as Mel Gibson’s Apocolypto, the Amazon rain forest has long inspired gruesome stories about ritualistic killing. However, the portrayal of civilisations such as the Incas, Nazcas, and the Wari cultures making human sacrifices in South America may have a much longer tradition […] … learn more→

University of Tennessee: Stop using “Him” or “Her”

When writing of the madness of today’s higher education, I’ve been picking on California a bit much. This is a little misleading, because the foolishness that dominates higher education isn’t restricted to California, it’s country-wide. No state is immune from the corruption and incompetence that defines much of higher education today. So let’s look at […] … learn more→

Should students from state schools be given priority access to university?

Higher education is seen by some as a passport to social mobility, a leveller which can help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds catch up with their more fortunate peers by offering them a springboard from which to enter the world of employment. But repeated studies have told us that students from poorer families, boys and […] … learn more→

How an art history class became more engaging with Twitter

When I was a college student, art history courses revolved around a 1960s-era carousel slide projector. Its monotonous humming and clicking in the darkened lecture hall often put my classmates to sleep. For years, technology used in college art history classrooms was limited. Only in the past decade have departments transitioned from using the Kodak […] … learn more→

Researcher organise thyself

Recently I put together a promotion application. For those of you unfamiliar with the Australian system, this is similar to a tenure application in the U.S.A. You must compile everything you have done in your academic career, assess its impact and present it all as a legible ‘story’ of your contribution to your discipline and […] … learn more→

Sustainability science is a new academic discipline. But is it sustainable?

In 2007, the American Association for the Advancement of Science counted 32 sustainability science programs at colleges and universities in the United States. Today, there are 118. Universities across the country are increasingly buying into the idea of sustainability science as an academic discipline, and like many of my fellow academics, I consider it to […] … learn more→