Thursday, July 29, 2010

Digital Natives in a New Era: Apartheid or Democracy?

By Laura Czerniewicz, keynote speaker at the recently concluded 5th Int'l Conference on E-Learning:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No more final exams at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences

OnlineDegrees report:

For the past 70 years Harvard professors have had to get permission if they wanted to “opt out” of assigning a final exam for their course. But starting this fall, professors will need to get approval from the entire faculty if they want to test their students at the end of the semester.

According to the summer edition of Harvard Magazine, the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) voted on this new policy a few months ago. In the article, Diana L. Eck, Wertham, a professor of law and psychiatry in society, claimed that students become “affronted” when they are assigned final exams.

Approximately 23 percent of Harvard’s undergraduate-level courses, and 14 of the 500 graduate-level courses, had a traditional three-hour exam this past spring.

Jay M. Harris, Harvard’s Dean of Undergraduate Education, stated that science courses will still have end-of-the-year-exams, but he predicted that the new policy will soon be applied to other courses as well. He also admitted that since there will be fewer final exams during the month of May, they may also shorten the academic school year by “a few days.”

Experts worry that class attendance will dwindle as students will start to slack off at the end of the semester, while others believe this is simply because professors want a longer summer vacation. Here is an excerpt from the National Review article “Harvard Wimps Out on Testing,” which was written by two Harvard graduates:

“What’s really happening, we sense, is that Harvard is yielding to education’s most primitive temptation: lowering standards and waiving measurements for the sake of convenience…Just imagine: Students will be delighted to forgo finals, and instructors will be thrilled not to have to create or grade them. Everybody finishes the semester earlier. (The last few weeks of class don’t really count when that material won’t be tested!) Yet Harvard’s leaders may eventually have to acknowledge that, with fewer test results, they will know less and less about what students are or are not learning within their hallowed gates.”

Historically, Harvard has always been the “trendsetter” for higher education in America, and experts ponder whether other universities and colleges will adopt this new policy in the future.

Student Council Presentations

Dear Student Council Members,

Congrats again for being part of the SC! (That itself proves you rock!) Had fun with the planning and blain-storming?!

As promised, the slides for Synergy-related themes (which was really Stephen Covey's 6th Habit) are here; the ones for Creativity are below. Do also check out some other stuff.

View more presentations from Alwyn Lau.

Hi, Dr Nelson here. Here is the Prezi on Leadership. Just click play and give it a few seconds to load.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Is Facebook like a country?

The Economist recently ranked Facebook third in size to the population of other countries and asked the question, "What other country-like features does Facebook have?" 

According to the article, Facebook faces challenges similar to that of sovereign states:  like the challenges of governing, protecting privacy, creating currency, guiding economic development, providing services, and pleasing users/citizens.

To bring the comparison up close...  New in office, the prime minister of Britain, David Cameron, turned to Facebook's founder for advice on ways social networks can help governments. No doubt Cameron and Zuckerberg have a few things in common as leaders. Specifically, as The Economist noted, they both know now how it feels to be responsible for and accountable to many millions of people -- people who expect things from them, even though in most cases they will never shake their hands.

Zuckerberg aims to have eventually a billion users on Facebook. Can we imagine the economic impact of this social networking revolution, when Facebook is the size of China and India? How about the educational possibilities?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Growth and Change through College Years (Rita Landino)

Intellectual and social stimulation from the college setting can mix with the normal developmental patterns of becoming an adult in American society to produce profound changes in young people. Most parents expect their young adult children to change when they go to college, yet some parents are not prepared for the magnitude of those changes. To tell the truth, young adults themselves are not always ready for the changes that college can produce in them either.

These changes can be better understood when seen through a framework or theory of psychosocial development. One such theory was developed by Arthur Chickering in 1969 and described in his bookEducation and Identity. Although Chickering’s theory was based upon the experiences of college students in the 1960s, this theory has stood the test of time. As a matter of fact, it was adapted and expanded to include women and African-Americans by Marilu McEwen and colleagues in 1996.
The Seven Tasks of College Student Development

The first task or vector of college student development is developing competence. Although intellectual competence is of primary importance in college, this vector includes physical and interpersonal competence as well. The student who attends college seeking only credentials for entry into the work world is sometimes surprised to find that his or her intellectual interests and valued friendships change as a result of his or her personal development through the college years.

The second vector, managing emotions, is one of the most difficult to master. Moving from adolescence to adulthood means learning how to manage emotions like anger and sexual desire. The young person who attempts to control these emotions by “stuffing” them finds they can emerge with more force at a later time.

Becoming autonomous is the third vector. Being able to take care of oneself, both emotionally and practically, is critically important to growing up and becoming independent from one’s family of origin.

Chickering’s fourth vector, establishing identity, is central to his framework. The age-old question — who am I? — is asked and answered many times during a lifetime. Yet, that question has exquisite urgency and poignancy during the college years. This vector is especially problematic for women and ethnic minorities who may feel invisible in our society or have multiple roles to play in different situations, according to McEwen and colleagues.

The fifth vector is freeing interpersonal relationships. This process involves three steps. First, one moves from valuing relationships based on need (dependence) to valuing individual differences in people. Next, the person learns how to negotiate those differences in relationships.Finally, the young person begins to understand the need for interdependence and seeks mutual benefit from relationships.

Both students and parents alike believe that one of the most critical change areas for a college student is found in the sixth vector — clarifying purposes. The young person identifies her or his career and life goals and, hopefully, makes appropriate choices to achieve those goals.

The last vector is developing integrity or wholeness. This level of maturity does not come easily. Once achieved, however, the young adult is able to live with those uncertainties that exist in the adult world. In addition, he or she adapts society’s rules so they become personally meaningful.

Most often, the young adult develops along each of these seven vectors simultaneously. For some individuals, certain tasks within the developmental framework assume higher priority and must be addressed in advance of other tasks. For example, a woman may need to free herself from dependent relationships before she can clarify her purpose, set personal and career goals, and establish her own identity.

More recently, McEwen and colleagues have suggested two additional vectors not part of Chickering’s original theory. These vectors are interacting with the dominant culture; and developing spirituality.

Both of these tasks have become more significant in a young person’s development as our market-based culture threatens to turn us into mere consumers (“we are what we buy”). At the same time — and possibly in response to being defined by what we consume — we need to experience ourselves as spiritual beings, in touch with our spiritual centers and possessing inner peace.

Personal growth and interpersonal skills development are as much a part of the college experience as intellectual advancement and the mastery of work-related skills. By applying this framework to the student’s chosen pathway through the college years, both the student and his or her parents may be able to make more sense of this turbulent time in life and recognize it to be part of a process that will result in a consolidated sense of self with which to face the post-college period.

Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs