As the Adjunctiverse Turns

cheeky, no respect for academia

One path forward for public higher education: ending in-state tuition discounts

Dear adjuncts and other Gastarbeiter in the groves of academe, as higher goes or not, so do we. The more we know/understand about what’s going on the better — even it’s not what we want to hear.

Bryan Alexander

American public universities traditionally offer two very different prices for students: one for those coming from other states, and a much cheaper one for those who live in-state.  Is it possible to consider another model, a scenario where campuses end in-state discounts?

Looking down at State College from the air State College from above.

Jan Murphy argues, provocatively, that Pennsylvania might be about to experiment with such an approach.  It might not be deliberate, but the outcome of intense state budget battles.  Harrisburg is behind schedule and still fighting over finances. Penn State is already under the gun, and might take an unusual step over the next few months:

“We feel the threat is truly there that unlike in previous years, we might not get funded at all,” said Zack Moore, Penn State’s vice president for government and community relations. “We set our budget in July with the assumption that we were going to get a certain…

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_Weapons of Math Destruction_, part 1

Ready for some ed reading?

Bryan Alexander

With this post we commence our reading of Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction.  (If you’d like to catch up with the reading schedule, click here.)

Here I’ll summarize this week’s chapters, then offer some discussion questions.

But first, some book club business.  It’s great to see a bunch of people have expressed a desire to read along, like this nice person on Twitter and on their blog:

If you’d like further resources about this book, EconTalk has a fine interview with O’Neil. (thanks to Bob Calder). The excellent librarian (and crime novel scholar) Barbara Fister published a fine review at Inside Higher EdChris Newfield (a Future Trends Forum guest) co-authored a review article including WMD.



Here O’Neil…

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Multiple mergers ahead for the University of Wisconsin system

Bryan Alexander

In the most spectacular recent example of the higher education crisis driving campus mergers, the University of Wisconsin system will fold a group of two-year colleges into nearby universities, according to a new plan.   Thirteen (13) campuses will merge with seven (7) four-year institutions:

In addition, extension programs will be placed under UW Madison.

This is a huge development. As Rick Seltzer puts it, “While several states, like PennsylvaniaVermont and Connecticut, have flirted with or pursued the idea of merging state institutions in recent years, systematic changes are virtually nonexistent.”

What is the motivating force for this massive move?  My loyal readers already suspect the answer:

Cathy Sandeen, Chancellor for UW Colleges and Extension, said the UW System has been working to maintain the viability of the small campuses around the state in light of declining student population.

“declining student population”.  Moreover:

[UW System President…

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An Adjunct Moment From an Anonymous Adjunct

The Adjunct Crisis

The following “adjunct moment” is the record of an adjunct dealing with the extra bullshit that adjunct professors deal with on a day to day basis in the service of the public good. It’s not me, but it could happen to any freeway-flying adjunct, anytime, anywhere.  I will point out that full-time professors do not face this bullshit, not to accuse them of anything, but to bring attention to the disparity in working conditions, which are student learning conditions. This disparity cannot be emphasized enough, in my opinion. It’s worth noting that no pedagogical changes are very likely to improve student “success” until we make radical changes in the way we hire college faculty, especially at the community college level. Community colleges are the most adjunctified corner of higher education. Until we have a new system of hiring, one that acknowledges the moral obligation of colleges to their adjunct faculty…

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From Trump to mobile to Blade Runner: several recent projects on the web from me and other folks

Bryan Alexander

This week a series of projects and pieces I’ve worked on appeared on the web.  Better yet, other people have responded with their own work.  I’d like to bring them all together for one blog post.

Some of you know that I’ve been experimenting with turning a corner of Facebook into a discussion space for exploring deep and/or challenging topics.  Recently I shared a New York Times piece about poor sales for the new Blade Runner 2049 film, and asked people to explore why.  Discussion was very interesting and illuminating.

Ann Anderson commented there, then took to her blog to share an extensive meditation on the movie, perception, the 1982 movie, gender, marketing, Wonder Woman, objectification, and more.  Do read the whole rich and thoughtful thing.  (And keep blogging, Ann!)

Elsewhere, flipped classroom guru Kelly Walsh wrote up his experience and thoughts about our Future Trends Forum experimental session…

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Workplace bullying and mobbing stories: “Do you have a few hours?”

Minding the Workplace

…in about the time it takes to read this book

Countless public speaking appearances about workplace bullying have taught me that covering the essential basics about work abuse is doable in about 15 minutes or so. For many talks, I include a “Workplace Bullying 101” intro segment that quickly describes the most common bullying behaviors and their impacts on workers and organizations, as well as prevalence rates and a few other key pieces of information. As I go through this baseline description, I often see folks nodding their heads in recognition.

However, what I can’t do in the typical short presentation is adequately convey the twisted, sick, and utterly disturbing narratives of the worst individual bullying and mobbing experiences, where the abusive behavior has been ongoing, targeted, malicious, multidirectional, and often suggesting an absence of conscience on the part of the main perpetrator(s). In past blog posts, I have invoked…

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When Silicon Valley turns on itself

Bryan Alexander

In case you haven’t seen it, this Paul Lewis article in the Guardian has attracted a lot of attention.  The theme of “‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia” concerns some Silicon Valley technologists who are now worried about negative impacts from what they’ve helped to create.  Social media platforms maintained by the tech giants (Facebook, to a lesser extent Twitter) accessed through mobile devices (Apple, Google Android) come in for criticism.

It’s a curious piece.  For people who haven’t been following this topic it is, I think, a useful primer.  “‘Our minds can be hijacked'” touches on continuous partial attention, addictive design, dopamine, advertising-based business models, etc.  There’s even the classic nod to Huxley over Orwell (wasn’t this Neil Postman’s insight?).  We can share this article with people to start discussions.  It might be good in classes.

But if we look a little…

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Reading _Weapons of Math Destruction_: the plan

Bryan Alexander

Our new book club reading is Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction. In this post I’ll lay out a reading agenda, along with ways to participate.

ONeil_Weapons of Math Destruction pb cover Brand new copy, straight from the local bookstore.

The way people read along in this book club is through the web, essentially. It’s a distributed experience.

It works like so. On this blog I post an agenda (see below), which is designed to be comfortable for busy people to follow without being so slow as to lose momentum.  People read along as they can.  Starting with the first chapter, I post notes and questions every week as we work through the book.  Every post, including this one, is tagged “mathdestruction“.  I’ll keep these posts up, along with their attached comments, so readers can refer back to them in the future.

Some folks prefer to participate by commenting on those posts, which…

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How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps

ICYMI we’re revisiting Debra Leigh Scott’s 2012 post

The Homeless Adjunct

A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, “In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, ‘History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level.”

In the last few years, conversations have been growing like gathering storm clouds about the ways in which our universities are failing. There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in…

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Glimpses of a world of stacks

Dear #adjunct tribe of the Ivory Silo™, don’t double down on information blinders by letting a single information stack become yet another walled garden. The end effect is not Paradise but Rappaccini’s Daughter.

Bryan Alexander

Incidents from the past 24 hours, as evidence for a digital future strongly shaped by powerful stacks:

A friend shares a BBC story about a new UNESCO report concerning learning.  The document sounds fascinating and important.  But there is no link to the report itself.  (This was in a Facebook group) . Recall that the BBC has long been focused on digital experiments, trying to maximize the web for itself.  This wasn’t a slip.

Yesterday afternoon three short videos appeared as promotions for the new Blade Runner movie, or at last appeared in my world. YouTube hosted the videos.  Here’s one:

I shared them on Facebook.  This should have elicited some attention.  After all, Blade Runner is one of the most famous films of all time, and the new movie has won a lot of buzz.  Hundreds of people follow me on Facebook.  Sixteen hours after sharing…

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