Month: February 2013

Online Courses and the Achievement Gap

With the Chancellor’s recent “call to action,” much discussion is taking place at the Alamo Colleges about the need to compete for students in the online environment. While faculty are not necessarily opposed to the push for more classes online, we are very concerned about how hard and how far this push will go. Our concern centers around student success in our online courses.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed highlights this research study: Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed article:

The study found that all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree. However, some groups—including black students, male students, younger students, and students with lower grade-point averages—are particularly susceptible to this pattern.

Shanna Smith Jaggars, who is assistant director of the Community College Research Center and one of the paper’s authors, said the widening gap is troubling, as it could imply that online learning is weakening—not strengthening—education equality.

“We found that the gap is stronger in the underrepresented and underprepared students,” Ms. Jaggars said. “They’re falling farther behind than if they were taking face-to-face courses.”

Troubling to say the least.

Deadbeat Chancellor

bruceChancellor Bruce Leslie has been experiencing some difficulty with his signature. From The Ranger:

In exchange for a three-hour class that paid $4,100, journalism Adjunct Jerry Townsend, who serves as chair of Adjunct Faculty Council, agreed to accept a stipend of $2,500 to support his council organizing activities.

Prof. Townsend’s stipend was denied by Chancellor Leslie in December, after his work with the Adjunct Faculty Council was completed. Townsend then asked the SAC AAUP to get involved and so we notified the AC Board of Trustees via email last Sunday night. Then this happened:

Townsend, who had planned to address a complaint about the decision to the Alamo Colleges board of trustees at Tuesday’s regular board meeting, said Zeigler called him Tuesday morning to tell him Leslie changed his mind Monday night.

Is this really the kind of relationship the Chancellor wishes to continue with the faculty of the Alamo Colleges? Denying pay for work completed and then changing his mind once the Board is notified of his actions?

The Program Coordinators mentioned in The Ranger article are now being paid for their work this semester (the Chancellor found his pen), but more than a few have noticed that the agreed upon stipend amount is NOT what the Chancellor has approved. In some cases the stipend amount has been cut in half from what it was last semester. The work is the same, but for less pay.

MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses. Chancellor Leslie and several Board members are currently entranced with the prospect of our students enrolling in a MOOC and learning from a Harvard or MIT professor.

But what about the success rates of students in MOOCs? Drop out rates? The certification process? Pedagogical implications? Is this really the best way to serve our community of students? The answers to those questions are messy and require discussion. And research. Here are a few links:

Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility

Jump Off the Coursera Bandwagon

Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-course in Dispute Over Teaching

Good MOOCs, Bad MOOCs

MOOCs’ Missing Pieces

Why the Rush Towards MOOCs?

Rather than investing in MOOC’s and crowd-learning, colleges should devote their efforts in developing technological tools that can support faculty and existing students. Systems like MOOC’s would facilitate a rush to quantity rather than quality, while offering few practical solutions to the broader issues facing colleges.

Property Acquisition Tabled

The following minute order was tabled at last night’s Board meeting. What property, where and for what purpose?

Discussion and Possible Action on the Purchase of Realty

Presented to the ALAMO COLLEGES BOARD OF TRUSTEES on February 19, 2013.

MINUTE ORDER

“The Board of Trustees hereby authorizes the Chancellor or his designee to execute, deliver and close the real estate purchase agreement for the property discussed during Executive Session according to its terms.”

PURPOSE

To authorize the Chancellor or his designee to execute, deliver and close the the real estate purchase agreement for the property discussed during Executive Session pursuant to the terms and conditions under which it has been offered to the District as disclosed during such Executive Session.

BACKGROUND

The property, consisting of a parcel the purchase of which the District has been negotiating for some time, has been offered for substantially less than its appraised value.

Chicken Picatta and the 6th College

Chancellor Bruce Leslie was dining and speaking at the Dominion Club luncheon yesterday with the Leon Springs Business Association. The topic? The “planned North Central College Boerne.”

Meanwhile…our 5th college is still unaccredited, enrollment is dropping, and colleges are straining with the lack of full-time staff and faculty.

Why would we even consider adding a 6th college?

North Central College Boerne?

North Central College Boerne?

Board Committees Meet Tonight

Items of interest include:

Discussion and Possible Action on Summer Four Day Work Week at Alamo Colleges: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33392921

Discussion and Possible Action to approve Board Resolution Opposing Legislation Allowing Weapons on Campus: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33388092 and https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33385368

and last but not least, an update on our Key Performance Indicators: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33390392

For more info, see Board Book.