Friday, October 12, 2007

Patrick proposes bill to fund state and community colleges

This is an exciting bit of news for state and community colleges in Massachusetts. The article is from The Boston Globe’s website, but I found the link to it on EdNews.org, a leading website for news across the educational spectrum.

Governor Deval Patrick proposed a 10-year, $2 billion higher education bill to the legislature Wednesday. Whether it passes remains to be seen, but the bill would allocate funds to Massachusetts’s state and community college campuses for new academic buildings or renovations. Patrick hopes this bill will help bring the state education system up to the standards of the rest of the country and world.

The article mentioned a few of the projects included in the bill, such as a new academic building at UMass-Boston ($100 million), a new science lab at UMass-Amherst ($100 million) and a center for design innovation at Mass College of Art ($25 million).

I hope this bill will pass but I’m not so sure it will, as Governor Patrick has proposed a few highly expensive bills lately, like the five-year $10 billion plan he revealed in August for transportation repairs and the recent plan to build three casinos in Massachusetts, which will undoubtedly cost a lot. This bill is referred to as a “bond bill” in the article because it says the plan will rely on borrowed money, but I’m not exactly sure who or what they plan to borrow from.

Though the price tag is quite high, this is a great bill for improving Massachusetts’s state colleges and I’m glad to see the governor spending some money on education, because it’s definitely one of the more important issues in Massachusetts. Spending money on state and community colleges is good because a lot of students on the lower-income side can’t afford private colleges, but should still have the opportunity to get great educations at state and community colleges.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Presidential plagiarism

I read a story about the president of Southern Illinois University on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog today. Basically, a faculty committee was assembled to decided whether the president’s dissertation, from when he was a student in 1984, was plagiarized. The committee agreed that the president, Glenn Poshard, used words that were not his own without citing them, but said he made “mistakes and errors” instead of actually calling it plagiarism and taking disciplinary action.

To me, it seems like Southern Illinois is just trying to save face. Though what constitutes plagiarism was ill-defined in the student handbook at the time, Poshard did cite some works while not citing other, so this shows that he knew what he was doing, which is also shown in this quote from the article:

"Mr. Poshard argues that he was a ‘novice’ in his field and therefore ‘did not want to assert his own voice.’ In addition, the president of the university says he received no training on the meaning of plagiarism."

I think Poshard should step down because he obviously plagiarized part of a huge project to receive his degree. Presidents of universities should be the pinnacle of academic standards, and not taking action when the college’s president is found to have plagiarized sends an awful message to the students. Even if the dissertation was turned in 23 years ago, it really shouldn’t matter. He plagiarized and should be punished for it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Collegian editor will stay at post

J. David McSwane, the editor in chief of the Rocky Mountain Collegian who approved the controversial editorial I wrote about Sept. 27 will be keeping his job, The New York Times reported Monday.

After McSwane and his staff ran the four letter editorial, “Taser this. F--- Bush,” in extra large font, some were immediately calling for him to resign, while the newspaper also lost a substantial amount of money in advertising. McSwane said he wouldn’t resign and is proud to head a paper that respects First Amendment rights.

I’m glad to hear that McSwane isn’t going to be fired. Like I noted before, I think what he and his staff did was an immature way to get their point across, but that they should still have the right to publishing an editorial such as the one they did.

I liked this quote from Collegian writer, Aaron Hedge, who was assigned to cover the controversy, summing up how the staff felt during the last two weeks:

“The staff was unsure whether or not they would keep their leader, so when we had support we were on top of the world, and when we were chastised we felt like we were walking through a vat of peanut butter. There was no calm medium.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education news blog

I’m particularly fond of the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog, where I get many of the ideas for my blog posts. I wouldn’t call this a “traditional blog,” as it includes posts from more than one writer every day.

The bloggers post about five to 10 stories a day about news in higher education from around the country and sometimes from around the world. The site is updated with new posts throughout the day, featuring a wide range of topics. For instance, today there is a post about Latin American students flocking to Australia for a college education, and also a post about how the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted to approve a new contract agreement with the state.


Some of the posts are written from a strictly news point of view like this one on consumer groups trying to get colleges to curb credit-card marketing. Some also have a bit of opinion or humor injected into them, like this post on a group of students who hung up posters saying they hate Muslims in an attempt, they claim, to expose “Islamophobic racism.”

The full text of each days posts is listed on the homepage, but you can click on the link for a specific posts and there is space to comment on the article. The blog archive, dating back to February 2006, is listed on the side of the page and makes it easy to find posts from other dates.

The blog is just one aspect of the entire Chronicle of Higher Education website, which also lists the entire contents of the current issue and news according to category, such as athletics or money management. Overall I think this news blog is great because it encompasses news from around the country and sometimes the globe, and the posts are by many different writers, so you can get the perspective of not just one writer, but many all in one day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The future of testing in higher education?

A new testing center at Penn State has been built to help prevent cheating and aid professors in test design, I read on the Boston Globe's website today. After swiping their campus ID, students' photos pop up onto the attendant's screen, along with information on what kind of materials the student can use for the test, such as scrap paper or a book.

There are 160 cubicles for testing, all equipped with a computer that only lets the student access the test and nothing more. Along with helping to prevent cheating, professors can use items that might not be possible with a paper exam, such as graphics, animation and sound files. The center, which is set to open in the spring, will also help professors because they can use time outside of class to administer the exam.

I think this is a cool idea overall. As cheaters get more sophisticated, using technological advances such as text messaging and other ways to cheat on tests, developments to help prevent cheating must get more sophisticated as well. I feel like this kind of testing could be the wave of the future and more universities will begin to institute methods such as the ones being used at Penn State. Testing solely with computers is also a great way to save some trees, and I know that writing essays on a computer is way less time-consuming and much neater than writing them with a pen and paper when tested in class.

The only drawback I see to this is for those who are more comfortable with paper tests to ones on a computer screen, but I feel as this catches on over the years, future college students will be more comfortable using technology and feel less bothered by testing on a computer. My generation is kind of in between on this issue. In elementary and middle school computers where not very advanced and we didn’t have much exposure to them, but caught on to the new advancements of technology quickly in the last five to 10 years. I feel that we will be able to adjust accordingly should this kind of testing become the new wave of the future.