Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Economist - is college worth it?

This 2014 article from the Economist may perpetuate the idea that there are too many university graduates and that the degree they earned has not resulted in higher earning power. However, it is somewhat more nuanced than that. It does state that many university graduates do have higher earning power than those who have only a high school degree, but that the earning power depends upon the degree earned - degrees in engineering, for example, seem to produce greater earning power than degrees in the arts & humanities. One thing this article is spot on about is the rising cost of a post-secondary education and how that can limit access to education.

It troubles me that the Economist repeats the idea that online education is going to decrease the cost of higher education. That simply is not true. People who think that online education is cheaper than face-to-face education do not understand that knowledge is constantly changing requiring constant maintenance of courses - whether they be online or F2F. In addition, to do online learning properly, requires a large investment of resources to prepare the online materials. The idea that the talking head of an expert will be sufficient is ludicrous.


Editors. 2014, April 5. Is college worth it? The Economist.

Monday, 1 June 2015

sharing the moments that bring us back to teaching, part 2

This term I marked my final exams, submitted my grades and then immediately departed on my family vacation for two weeks. I was keen to leave the university behind and re-energize myself swimming, hiking and spotting wildlife. When I returned to my office, the folder in my door used for people to drop off envelopes, memos, assignments, etc contained a couple of items which I quickly scooped up and dumped on my desk for later consideration. I immediately sat down to start clearing the many emails accumulated during my vacation.

A while later I turned to the pile of envelopes and noticed a book. Had someone returned a book I had loaned? I didn't remember loaning anything out this term. But no, it was a book of post-impressionist paintings from the Musee d'Orsey in Paris. A gorgeous book!

Post-Impressionist masterpieces from the Musee d'Orsay

Where had it come from? Who had left it for me? On the inside title page was printed:

"My favourites from the best museum in Paris. Here's to being more than our biology determines, here's to being able to get in your car and drive down to Mexico at any given moment."

I was overjoyed. Someone in my History and Theory of Biology class this term had understood.....