MOOCs and the honor code

In an interview for its June issue, Virginia Business interviewed University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Bacon’s Rebellion reports. University professors are teaching six MOOCs this y ear. On the positive side, Sullivan said, the experience is changing how the professors are teaching their classes on the Grounds and promoting the UVa brand around the world. But there’s one knotty issue the university hasn’t worked out yet: We have a special issue with the MOOCs, and that’s the honor system. It is known that, in the online environment, cheating is rampant. It’s been difficult to develop ways that you actually know who’s taking an exam. That’s a legitimate quandary. As far as I’m concerned, the honor code is sacred. Inviolable. It’s a bastion against moral decay and it cannot be compromised. The University of Virginia has systems in place on the Grounds to indoctrinate students and enforce the code. That system cannot possibly be replicated for 20,000 people taking a course around the world.

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Opinion: How University of Virginia cheats great students

Last spring, Washington area students took more than 750 unnecessary Advanced Placement exams, the Washington Post reports. At least 2,250 hours of effort and $67,000 in test fees were wasted because department heads in many of our finest colleges and universities haven’t a clue about what is happening in high schools like ours. The students who took the unnecessary AP exams were enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, a system of college-level courses and tests similar to AP, although better at teaching writing. In a sensible world, good scores on IB exams would be enough to earn college credit, as good scores on AP exams do. But most colleges and universities don’t give credit for successful completion of some IB courses and tests. The Washington area students who took a one-year IB course and did well on the IB final exam also had to take the one-year AP course exam in that subject, even though they did not take the AP course. Otherwise, they would not get college credit…

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University of Virginia warned after failed ouster of president

The University of Virginia was put on warning Dec. 11 by an accrediting panel that found indications the school broke governance rules in a failed attempt to oust the prestigious public school’s president this summer, reports the Associated Press.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges will send a special committee to the campus to further study whether U.Va. was out of compliance with two of the association’s rules, commission president Belle Wheelan said. The warning status, announced at the association’s annual meeting, will last 12 months, after which the panel will decide if further action is needed.

Wheelan said her group believes the school broke a rule that a minority of board members can’t be in charge and another rule that institutions should have a policy that identifies the faculty’s role in governance. Her group began looking at the actions of the school’s governing board after the intense media coverage of the attempted ouster of President Teresa Sullivan.…Read More

New players, new approaches to ranking colleges

Alumni Factor is among subscription-based college ranking services.

U.S. News & World Report still might be the 800-pound gorilla of college rankings. But an electronic transcript service could give the venerable publication a run for its money.

With a formula that rarely changes, the latest edition of the U.S. News college rankings— published Sept. 12 —looks pretty much the same as a decade ago, with very few exceptions.

More interesting are a pair of newer players to the rankings game. Both have shortcomings, but both produce a top-colleges list that looks somewhat different from the magazine’s (where Princeton and Harvard share the top spot, just like last year). And neither relies on information provided by the colleges themselves; that’s a key difference, as more and more schools have been caught fudging the numbers they give to U.S. News.…Read More

Top higher-education technology news: September 2012

Here are some of the top higher-education technology stories in the September 2012 edition of eCampus News.

Several leading universities have joined the open course movement in what is quickly becoming a campus revolution; for-profit colleges, which include some of the country’s largest online schools, face even more scrutiny; and a popular online video forecasts the end of higher education as we know it: These are among the top stories in the September edition of eCampus News.

Our September edition is now available in digital format on our website. You can browse the full publication here, or click on any of the headlines below to read these highlights:

Top schools join the free online course movement…Read More

Experts: UVa.’s Coursera partnership far from an embrace of online learning

More than 680,000 students have taken a Coursera class.

The University of Virginia will make four of its courses available for free online in 2013 after the campus’s governing board last month cited a lack of web-based courses in its controversial ouster of President Teresa Sullivan.

But advocates for online education said the university’s partnership with for-profit internet learning site Coursersa—which announced partnerships with 12 universities July 17—should be seen as a tepid embrace of nontraditional courses, not as a momentous shift toward a new learning model.

UVa. will post courses in physics, history, and philosophy to Coursera, part of the massive open online course (MOOC) movement that includes other free educational websites like edX, Udacity, and the Khan Academy.…Read More

Big rewards, less job security for college leaders

More college presidents are coming from outside academia.

Helicopter parents, impatient trustees, overworked professors, entitled athletics boosters and deeply partisan lawmakers with little cash to spare. It’s enough to make people wonder why anyone would want the job of college president.

Sure, the pay is pretty good, and the perks sizable, from free housing and a company car to travel budgets. But when it comes to running the 21st century American university, the men and women in the president’s office are increasingly on high alert that their stays at the top could prove short.

Look no further than the University of Virginia, where the sudden ouster and subsequent rehiring of President Teresa Sullivan has made national headlines. Or to state flagship universities in Illinois, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin, where presidents resigned or were forced out in the past year after relatively brief stints in charge.…Read More

College boards turn to business-style approaches

Sullivan said: "Corporate-style, top-down leadership does not work in a great university."

A popular University of Virginia president is forced to resign because board members thought she wasn’t working quickly enough to address diminished funding and other challenges. Purdue University hires as its new president a governor who lacks academic experience but is adept at raising money and cutting education spending.

And the president of the University of Texas enlists a committee of high-profile corporate executives to examine the school’s budget and operations.

The governing boards of colleges and universities are increasingly demanding that their presidents perform more like corporate chief executives, much to the chagrin of academics who say treating colleges as businesses doesn’t fit the mission of higher education.…Read More

The real U-Va. story: The 99 percent win

In the end, it wasn’t really so much about the ousted and then reinstated University of Virginia president, Teresa Sullivan, or about the governing board leader, Helen Dragas, who had led a secret campaign against her and then, drowning in a tsunami of opposition, agreed to bring her back, The Washington Post reports.

No, the U-Va. story of the last few weeks is really about the school community — the 99 percent who had been left out of the decision to fire her — successfully rising up to demand their leader back. University of Virginia faculty, students, alumni, administrators and others refused to go along with the secret decision by the board, and with a voice loud and persistent enough, won the day.

The Board of Visitors voted unanimously on Tuesday to reinstate Sullivan as president, and both Dragas and Sullivan promised to work together to take the university forward. A showdown that many had foreseen did not happen; negotiations before the session had been successful in coming to an agreement to bring back the president.…Read More