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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

supercrisp Re:Trophies and gold stars are not what is wrong w (81 comments)

YES! I am a university professor, and I can tell you that books are written saying this same thing. They go back to the early 1900s. The basic argument, from the academic side in the early days (like 1930s), runs like this: "University is for theory and cultural polish, community college is theory/polish for poorer or less-prepared people. Sure, industry wants us to do their training for them in junior colleges, but they should do it themselves. Besides, professors aren't good at professional training because we'll always be trailing the innovations of industry." To a degree that's a true statement. Sure, you can pull in engineers to do some teaching. But you won't get cutting-edge engineers at the junior college, and not many engineers (or other professionals) will give up the salary to be a professional. I, personally, differ in that I believe the "soft skills" and the theory and even education in the humanities all make better engineers. But I know that is not a widely-shared opinion on /.

about a week ago
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Ancient Skulls Show Civilization Rose As Testosterone Fell

supercrisp Re:Men are obsolete (387 comments)

I study feminism. I don't know where you are getting your historical information, but it's inaccurate. Yes, there were the nuts and extremists, like Valerie Solanas. There were and are women who hypothesize that patriarchal behaviors--which are distinct from or are a subset of male behaviors--are bad for humanity. And there are many, many other lines of thought from utopian free-love to men-are-bad. And stuff off in other directions. After a lot of study, I personally decided that the majority of feminist thought was positive for humanity, including men like myself. You can dismiss that as thought-crime, or you can do more reading. That's a bit of work, and it IS comfortable, isn't it, to have a scapegoat or a villain on which to hang all your troubles?

about three weeks ago
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Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

supercrisp The real deal (325 comments)

The MLA and others have reasons to not be forthright about the real issue: universities don't hire tenure-track professions nearly as often as they used to. Nowadays, over 70% of your humanities courses are taught by people off the tenure track, most of whom aren't even working full-time. The issue isn't "overproduction" of PhDs in the humanities as so many like to say. It's that universities don't want to pay for faculty. I know many may say "Good, those are useless elitest shits anyway." OK. Maybe we are. BUT consider what happens if getting the doctorate is as hard as it is now with as little payoff. Who can do that? Middle-class kids, or people who won't be taking on any risk to make this gamble? What then happens if we make it even harder to get the professorship by admitting fewer people into PhD programs. I'll tell you, from my experience, that having gone to good schools as a kid, having the right class markers, all that, those still make getting the PhD easier. As a first-generation college student, I struggled and struggled to get my doctorate and eventual professorship. If you reduce the number of people like me--ones who started out poor or middle-class or hispanic or black--you're only going to make it harder for the "token" students who do get admitted to hang in there with Biff and Buffy. Note also, I'm not talking about the Ivy leagues. I was a midwestern state school for my doctorate, and my classmates included the daughter of a VP of one of the big three automakers, the child of a megachurch preacher, a couple of heirs, and several people who were "comfortable" or who had family business they could fall back on. This was out of a group of 18. As far as I know, there were only three of us who were actually from backgrounds that meant our failure would have serious consequences. Anyway, I'm going on and on. The term for this is casualization of academic labor. Because we like big words. But what it means is that some of the things that seem like they'd punish the elites would only lead to more elitism.

about 3 months ago
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Toyota Describes Combustion Engine That Generates Electricity Directly

supercrisp Re:10 kw (234 comments)

And it won't be cheap for long in the US. The natty gas industry is lobbying for it to become a "foreign policy tool." They want to ship it across the sea, somehow making it cheaper on the European market than Russian gas. I wonder who'll end up subsidizing that? The struggling US economy, or the almost bankrupt European economies, or Germany?

about 4 months ago
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Grading Software Fooled By Nonsense Essay Generator

supercrisp Re:Quid pro quo (187 comments)

I want to add a data points (anecdote). I'm an English professor. For several years, I've noticed that students will keep repeating the same easily-corrected mistakes in paper after paper. I offer corrections, advice, and instruction in class. I began to suspect that students were not reading the comments. I gradually came to believe that the phones out in class were not being used for note-taking. This semester I have taught a content-heavy lecture course. Since it's new, and I'm up for tenure, and student feedback is extremely important at my institution, I decided to kiss some ass by recording lectures during which I gave test review--especially since about 50% of students show up for class. I then posted those recordings on Blackboard for my students. Despite this, the test scores stayed around 60%. Now, this is asking questions like "Which of the following was the first Gothic cathedral?" (We talked about that cathedral for a week) or "Which emperor started the construction of Constantinople's first city walls?" (Dur, Constantine?) And students were getting these wrong. So I looked at the statistics for the audio files I'd posted. Out of four audio files, one for each test, one had been listened to. Bog standard MP3, low nitrate. No technical problem. And students WERE logging in to check grades. Nope. They clearly just gave not shit one about studying. (NB: I don't entirely suck as a teacher; my students typically compliment me for making material interesting, etc, on evals.) I read a lot about how helicopter breeders and spoon-feeding teachers are destroying the minds of youth. About how phones, etc, are destroying the minds of youth. Well. I don't know. But something is. TL;DR? Short version: Fuck this. When I get tenure, I'm going to spend all day in my office reading comic books.

about 4 months ago
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Apple Fixes Major SSL Bug In OS X, iOS

supercrisp Re:Snow Leopard (96 comments)

I upgraded to Mavericks from Snow Leopard because a lot of my mainline apps were only getting Mavericks-compatible updates. The best thing I can say about Mavericks is that it doesn't suck as much as I expected. I'm not noticing a slowdown, but I moved to an SSD for the OS drive at the same time, and I'm on an '09 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM, so those things may be concealing an OS-related slowdown. At any rate, I'd say that you shouldn't make the move to Mavericks if you don't have to, especially if you have an older machine. It's mostly just a bunch of stupid eye-candy. Yes, I know: App Nap!* Memory efficiency! Battery efficiency! But my battery use was already fine, RAM is often dirt cheap, and App Nap's main function on my machine is to pop up the rainbow pinwheel when I'm in a hurry.

about 4 months ago
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Bring On the Monsters: Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf To Be Published

supercrisp Try his Gawain (94 comments)

Tolkien's edition of Gawain and the Green Knight is really good. A layperson can easily learn how to pronounce the Middle English of the text, which being a bit "Northern" is somewhat "older" and different than that of Chaucer. There's also a useful glossary. It's really a great book. If you like Tolkien, and you haven't read it, you should probably take a look at it. On the other hand, the claims above about Tolkien being the person who brought the Medieval into the Modern must come from a very narrow perspective. The Medieval was always there. Think of the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, or of Walter Scott. And Tolkien was far from the only fantasist whose work drew heavily on the Medieval. In fact, and I know this is heretical, but there are works out there that are in many ways better than his. But his world is amazing, his scholarship quite useful, and, in my opinion, he was on the right side of the issue with C.S. Lewis. (As a final note, he made an interesting contribution to an interesting little mystery, the "Nodens" ring and inscription. Also fun to check out.) A final, final note: Seamus Heany's version of Beowulf is a pretty good read too.

about 5 months ago
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Publishers Withdraw More Than 120 Fake Papers

supercrisp Re:The key here is "Conference Proceedings" (62 comments)

Some institutions intentionally don't look too closely. The university at which I work, a state university in the southeastern US, will take a person with a degree from the University of Phoenix or even with an honorary degree. Doesn't matter, just as long as you have the right political connections. The Tennessee Board of Regents actually passed a resolution or made a statement, I forget the correct terms, that a degree is a degree. This is when a basketball coach was found to have a diploma mill degree. And then there are all the faculty who are found to have completely lied about their degrees.... So, no, I think sometimes this sort of publication credential gaming is just one part of a larger and very corrupt system. (And this may draw fire: I think this has gotten worse and worse as university administrations have become heavier and heaver and costlier and costlier AND as those posts have come to be filled, at least at mid-level schools by people with no real academic credentials, among which I'd include business and education degrees.)

about 6 months ago
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Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough

supercrisp Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (160 comments)

With respect to your low uid# and the awesome bit of Schiller in your sig, I have to point that the age of the vellum does little to prove that the text originates earlier than some assumptions. Vellum was used over and over. So, unless we have some clear evidence that it has not been reused, the manuscript text may well be written on vellum significantly older than itself.

about 6 months ago
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Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough

supercrisp Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (160 comments)

I wish the author of that article provided links to the information about letter forms. I'd like to read about that. The age of the vellum doesn't help much, as vellum was often re-used. Of course, there may be evidence that this text was the first use of the vellum, though the article does mention finding previous text with a blacklight. Maybe I should be glad there aren't links to this other research. I might lose half my morning.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: E-ink Reader For Academic Papers?

supercrisp Re:The answer is obvious (134 comments)

Do a slower and more thorough Google search. You might find out why I advised "root it and install a more capable e-reader app," you might want to Google that too. Forgive my impatience if you have a model of Kindle that isn't based on Android.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: E-ink Reader For Academic Papers?

supercrisp The answer is obvious (134 comments)

The obvious part: Root it and install a more capable e-reader app. My recommendation: I prefer Moon+ Reader Pro, which will not only give you a highlighted and annotated file you can use elsewhere, it can also, with one click, generate a document with annotations and highlights only that you can e-mail to yourself. I should not that this is something even Acrobat Pro can't do, and also note that Moon+ is more feature complete and easy to use than is Adobe's offering for Android. NB: I don't have any stake in Moon+, nor give a crap what money they make. I'm sharing because I spent too much time wading thru all the e-reader apps to find this one.

about 6 months ago
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Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

supercrisp Re:Use Class Rank (264 comments)

In my experience (just over 20 years teaching English courses), students in the first two years of college are horrible now compared to 10-15 years ago. At upper levels, students are indeed working much harder. But part of the harder work is a lot of flailing around because most bright students have never had to study, organize, research, or any of the basic scholarly skills. School has just been so easy. ---- I'm reluctant to address grade inflation on slashdot because so much of the discussion on teaching here is from only the student perspective, and typically from disaffected students who see education as some sort of market exchange. It's got a much older set of models, and that complicates the hell out of things. For reasons good and bad, faculty tend hang onto some Medieval ideas like mentoring, patronage, whipping people into shape, and separating wheat from chaff. As I said, good and bad reasons. ---- But major influences on grades just don't come up in these discussions, so I'll offer two: retention and rehiring. Administrators and evaluating bodies continually yell "retention." What can you do if all your students suck because they're getting shit for a high school education? Dumb down the classes and pass them. Or don't, and your department suffers. Or you do. That brings me to rehiring. Many classes, right on up to the senior level are now taught by "contingent" faculty--the majority of faculty now are contingent. Nontenured. Rehired year by year. If you're contingent, you'd better listen when someone howls retention. And you'd better make damn sure that little Pauly Privileged doesn't go running to your chair bawling because he got a C for his paper copied from Wikipedia. Better give that brat a B so that you can keep paying your student loans. Presto! Grade inflation. ---- There are other reasons. And I know everyone here is super brilliant and earned those A grades.

about 6 months ago
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Edward Snowden Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

supercrisp Re:As an environmentalist and (former) Obama fan. (343 comments)

Well. Maybe the KKK is greatly reduced, but the "Southern Strategy" is alive and well, as is racism, as both a factor in campaigns and elections, as well as in districting for elections, zoning, and education funding. Hell, what about Birmingham being back in the Supreme Court of the Voting Rights Act?

about 7 months ago
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Surrey Hit With Catnado

supercrisp Re:Hello I'm british (95 comments)

A pair of F2s passed on either side of my house once. One was about 100 yards away, the other was less than 20. I wasn't shitting myself, but I was juggling a beer, a cigarette, and a rather small pipe as I peeped up thru a basement window. If I'd had glue to sniff, that'd have been in the rotation too. F2 is plenty big enough, thank you! Each of the two utterly destroyed houses along the two east-west streets they were traveling.

about 7 months ago
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How To Make 96,000lbs of WWII Machinery Into High-Tech Research Platform

supercrisp Re:I'll bet... (150 comments)

Clearly the parent hasn't read much history. Military over-expenditures and boondoggles go way, way back. Hell, I was just reading about similar problems in the 14th century.

about 7 months ago
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53% More Book Banning Incidents In US Schools This Year

supercrisp Re:The 21st Century is (360 comments)

I'm sure what you describe happens. I'm also sure--because I've been in the classroom as student or teacher--that a lot of young white men get butthurt when the concept of white, male privilege is broached in the least way. Some guys at that point will immediately holler that they're being oppressed. As a teacher, I will be the first to admit that K-12 and college are filled with horrible, ignorant, non-thinking, reactionary teachers of all political stripes. But we've done that to ourselves. In all the states I've taught in (at the college level), K-12 teachers start out and often continue to earn at the same level as a non-experienced starting line worker in a non-union auto-plant, about $32-34k a year. You're not going to get intelligent people with that sort of cash. And then there are the "education" programs out there that teach tons of nonsense (which is only superseded by the sort of nonsense peddled by the home-schooling industry). Anyway: sure, some teachers suck and are bullies when it comes to race. But in my experience it's far more often that complaining student is a whiner. (I don't use this blunt tone in class. I prefer to slowly encourage the precious little snowflakes to think, rather than to alienate them by speaking to them like the adults they think they are.)

about 8 months ago
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Safeway Suspends Worker For Sci-Fi Parody of His Firing

supercrisp Re:Wrong question (191 comments)

A lot of people don't seem to understand how tax brackets work, nor do they read closely. Mr. Anonymous Coward is a good example. Let's take a look: "I don't have a problem with someone's five-million-and-oneth dollar being taxed at 90%." If the 90% tax bracket kicks in at five million dollars, the first dollar earned after five million would be taxed at 90%. You'd only get a dime on it, and Uncle Sam would get 90 cents. Everything earned by that would be taxed at the lower rates of the lower brackets. The first 50k would still be taxed at less than 15%. That's not "in poverty."

about 8 months ago
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Is a Super-Sized iPad the Future of Education?

supercrisp Re:I fear a monoculture (234 comments)

As a professor, I'd welcome a monoculture. I'd love for all my students to have the same machine with the same OS and the same apps. Otherwise, every class with a computer component becomes a class in teaching half the students how to change systems settings or whatever on different machines. The average student doesn't have any great computer competence, despite the "digital natives" hype. They can get on Facebook or use Google, but inserting a header in a document or hooking up to an external monitor is beyond them. I can really understand why other educators would want a "monoculture." (However, I think the emphasis on computers in education is misplaced and overhyped. My students, at the college level, would benefit much more from learning touch typing and a few basics than from whatever malarky they're being taught now.)

about 8 months ago
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Datawind Not Blowing Smoke: $38 Tablet Coming To the US

supercrisp Re:classroom tools (210 comments)

Meh. I spend 40 hours a week after work teaching underprivileged children yoga. I volunteer to be a practice dummy at the police firing range. I've donated all my major organs to the Red Crescent, and I've sent my bones off to fertilize the roses at the local battered women's shelter. I developed a forty-two bazillion line software project intended to help developing nations coffee farmers integrate the principles of feng shui into outhouse production, and I have given up my own sex organs to be used by sex surrogates for elderly veterans. And I've accomplished all of this while taking care of my own family and my own job, up hill both ways, ten miles, in the snow, every day!

about 8 months ago

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