Adjuncts Unite!

Today is the day for lots of adjunct news. Here is another article discussing efforts to form an advocacy group for adjuncts.

An Activist Adjunct Shoulders the Weight of a New Advocacy Group

By Audrey Williams June, Akron, Ohio

There was a time when Maria C. Maisto didn’t know much about the struggles of adjunct professors. She didn’t know that teaching six courses could still pay less than $20,000. She didn’t know that adjuncts are likely to be on the outskirts of faculty governance. She didn’t know that adjuncts can’t count on unemployment checks to fill in the gap when they’re not able to teach. But four years after teaching her first English-composition class at the University of Akron, Ms. Maisto knows all of that. In fact, now she thinks about the plight of adjuncts all the time.

Full article is available at

Understanding Adjunct Trends

The Professional Adjunct: An Emerging Trend in Online Instruction

Laurie A. Bedford, Ph.D., Capella University,

“Expanding enrollment in online programs has concurrently created a demand for qualified faculty to assume the increasing workload.   As full-time faculty have been unable to fill the gap due to workload or resistance, organizations are more frequently turning to adjuncts to meet the needs of their online learners.   As a result, there has been increasing dialogue regarding the nature of the adjunct-university relationship as well as the quality, rigor, and consistency of courses being facilitated by part-time faculty.    Complicating this dialogue are a small but growing number of individuals who do not hold full-time jobs but rely on multiple adjunct positions to fulfill their professional needs.  This qualitative study investigates the motivations and demographics of this emerging phenomenon.”

Full article is available at

What will be the impact of K-12 online education at the College level?

The article below highlights some of the changes happening at the secondary (high school) level with regards to the growth in online learning. I suspect that as high schools improve the quality and level of student preparedness for online courses, we will see that translate into students better prepared for college level online learning. Of course, this preparedness should start well before high school…

September 27, 2009

The Next Admissions Challenge: Evaluating Online Education

By Eric Hoover


Colleges pay admissions officials to predict the future, and that future is likely to include a revolution in the way many high-school students learn. As attendees of the National Association for College Admission Counseling heard here last week, online education is spreading rapidly among secondary schools, a trend that raises many questions for admissions officials.

On Friday, Brian Lekander, program manager for Star Schools, a distance-education initiative in the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, described the rise of virtual learning in elementary and secondary schools. Thirty-two states have virtual-school programs, and 70 percent of all school districts offer online and distance-learning programs, according to the Education Department. In 2008, two million secondary students were enrolled in online-learning programs or in “blended” programs, which include face-to-face and online instruction. In 2000, that enrollment was only 50,000 students.

Full article is available at

Are Hybrid courses the answer to the classroom versus distance learning debate?

A short but worthwhile article discussing some research on hybrid courses. Our own institutional data (@ Cuyahoga Community College) also shows a lot of promise relating to student success in hybrid courses.

Sustainable Hybrids

Author: Steve Kolowich

Inside Higher Ed Article

September 22, 2009

The question of whether distance education is as effective as classroom education is hotly debated in academe and largely unanswered by existing studies. However, new research from South Texas College suggests that hybrid courses — those that are offered online but also involve substantial face time — can produce better outcomes than those that are delivered exclusively on the Web or in the classroom.

Researchers at the community college, led by Brenda S. Cole, analyzed the spring 2009 grades of every student enrolled there. The scholars’ basis for assessing outcomes was straightforward: “A,” “B,” or “C” grades qualified as successful outcomes; “D” and “F” grades counted as unsuccessful.

The data showed that, over all, 82 percent of students of hybrid courses were successful, compared to 72 percent of classroom courses and 60 percent of distance courses.

These findings require some qualification, Cole said. When broken down by individual instructor, the data show no difference in the outcomes across the different delivery methods — meaning that the overall figures do not account for the grading habits of particular instructors, which could be a confounding variable. (At the same time, the sample size for the instructor subgroup was too small to render statistically significant findings — South Texas has offered hybrid courses only since 2006, and relatively few professors teach in all three modalities.)

Still, hybrid courses showed outcomes superior to distance and traditional courses when researchers controlled for other factors. Students who took all three types of courses generally performed best in the hybrid ones. And hybrid classes bested the other delivery methods in courses affiliated with the college’s business and technology, health, and liberal arts and social sciences programs. Only in the math and science and bachelor’s degree programs did traditional students do the best — and hybrid-course students outperformed distance-education students in every instance.

Do online students really cheat more than classroom students? Perhaps not.

This study is quite small, so results are not necessarily generalizable, but the results are worthy of discussion and certainly raise some questions that challenge the general assumptions in this area.

Point, Click, and Cheat: Frequency and Type of Academic Dishonesty in the Virtual Classroom

Donna Stuber-McEwen
Friends University 

Phillip Wiseley
Friends University

Susan Hoggatt
Friends University


Students who feel disconnected from others may be prone to engage in deceptive behaviors such as academic dishonesty. George and Carlson (1999) contend that as the distance between a student and a physical classroom setting increases, so too would the frequency of online cheating. The distance that exists between faculty and students through the virtual classroom may contribute to the belief that students enrolled in online classes are more likely to cheat than students enrolled in traditional classroom settings. The prevalence of academic misconduct among students enrolled in online classes was explored. Students (N = 225) were given the Student Academic Dishonesty Survey to determine the frequency and type of academic dishonest behaviors. Results indicated that students enrolled in online classes were less likely to cheat than those enrolled in traditional, on ground courses. Aiding and abetting was self-reported as the most frequently used method among students in both online and traditional classroom settings. Results suggest that the amount of academic misconduct among online students may not be as prevalent as believed.

Read full article at

How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education


September 1, 2009

How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education

Is a college education really like a string quartet? Back in 1966, that was the assertion of economists William Bowen, later president of Princeton, and William Baumol. In a seminal study, Bowen and Baumol used the analogy to show why universities can’t easily improve efficiency.

If you want to perform a proper string quartet, they noted, you can’t cut out the cellist nor can you squeeze in more performances by playing the music faster. But that was then — before MP3s and iPods proved just how freely music could flow. Before Google scanned and digitized 7 million books and Wikipedia users created the world’s largest encyclopedia. Before YouTube Edu and iTunes U made video and audio lectures by the best professors in the country available for free, and before college students built Facebook into the world’s largest social network, changing the way we all share information. Suddenly, it is possible to imagine a new model of education using online resources to serve more students, more cheaply than ever before.

“The Internet disrupts any industry whose core product can be reduced to ones and zeros,” says Jose Ferreira, founder and CEO of education startup Knewton. Education, he says, “is the biggest virgin forest out there.” Ferreira is among a loose-knit band of education 2.0 architects sharpening their saws for that forest. Their first foray was at MIT in 2001, when the school agreed to put coursework online for free. Today, you can find the full syllabi, lecture notes, class exercises, tests, and some video and audio for every course MIT offers, from physics to art history. This trove has been accessed by 56 million current and prospective students, alumni, professors, and armchair enthusiasts around the world. “The advent of the Web brings the ability to disseminate high-quality materials at almost no cost, leveling the playing field,” says Cathy Casserly, a senior partner at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, who in her former role at the Hewlett Foundation provided seed funding for MIT’s project. “We’re changing the culture of how we think about knowledge and how it should be shared and who are the owners of knowledge.”

Read full article at

An emerging market: textbook rentals

August 14, 2009

Textbook Publisher to Rent to College Students

In the rapidly evolving college textbook market, one of the nation’s largest textbook publishers, Cengage Learning, announced Thursday that it would start renting books to students this year, at 40 percent to 70 percent of the sale price.

Students who choose Cengage’s rental option will get immediate access to the first chapter of the book electronically, in e-book format, and will have a choice of shipping options for the printed book. When the rental term — 60, 90 or 130 days — is over, students can either return the textbook or buy it.

With the growing competition from online used-book sales, digital texts and new Internet textbook-rental businesses like Chegg and BookRenter, other publishers and college bookstores are also edging toward rentals.

Follett Higher Education Group, which manages more than 850 college bookstores, is starting a pilot rental program this fall at about a dozen stores, including those at the State University at Buffalo, Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, and California State University at Sacramento. The stores will offer about 20 percent of their titles for rent, charging 42.5 percent of the purchase price.

With college textbooks often costing more than $100 apiece, students spend an average of $700 to $1,100 a year, representing one of their biggest expenses after tuition and room and board. Many students try to save by buying used books or ordering books from overseas, where they can often cost half the domestic price. Many students also resell textbooks at the end of the academic year, feeding the used-book market.

Besides giving students a new option, rentals give both publishers and textbook authors a way to continue earning money from their books after the first sale, something they do not get from the sale of used textbooks.

Read full article at 

Raising success rates with online courses

New Carnegie Mellon U. Project Will Build Online Community-College Courses

Carnegie Mellon University is expanding its open online-learning efforts with a new project focused on community colleges. 

The Community College Open Learning Initiative is the second wave of an educational experiment that gained attention recently from the Obama administration. Carnegie Mellon’s work has given about 300 classrooms around the world access to software-enhanced, college-level online-course material in subjects like biology and statistics. These digital environments track students’ progress, give them feedback, and tip off professors about where students are struggling so the instructors can make better use of class time.

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Cuyahoga Community College