While the Revolutionary Year of the MOOC has crashed and burned in a flaming heap of venture capital, actually existing online instruction has continued to develop in a more deliberate way at UCLA. Out of the limelight, and mostly outside the much-maligned UC-Online system, departments and individual professors have been piloting online courses in many different flavors.
On Thursday, February 27, the campus community will have a chance to take stock in these developments at the second "Online Summit" sponsored by the Academic Senate, the Library, and other campus units. With the theme Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age--Making It Happen the event is billed as a venue for constructive conversation, rather than a policy forum. The highlight of last year's Summit was the showcase of faculty work in the new YRL Digital Commons--a feature that will be repeated this year.
So whether you love or hate online education, or are confused and curious, this is a good opportunity to find out what is going on in real classrooms.
Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age: Making It Happen
Thursday, February 27, 9:15 AM to 4 PM
Young Research Library, UCLA
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Faculty decided to unionize in 2012 citing lack of pay raises and temporary pay cuts during the recent financial crisis, among other issues. Adjunct faculty, who are coordinating bargaining with tenure-system faculty, are seeking multi-year contracts as well as better pay and benefits. As evidence that the university can afford their demands, faculty cite a 25% increase in tuition since 2007, rising enrollments, and a $275 million reserve fund. Illinois faculty are also fighting a major overhaul of their pensions by the state legislature.
Faculty are frustrated that 18 months of negotiations have yielded practically no progress of the key financial issues. There is concern that the university is not bargaining in good faith.
Professors Lennard Davis and Walter Ben Michaels note that faculty are striking to preserve the campus's tradition of serving students of moderate means.
Every entering UIC student takes at least one writing course; most take two. Not surprisingly, our writing courses are overwhelmingly taught by lecturers (i.e. non-tenure track faculty), on year-to-year contracts and paid a standard salary of $30,000. Furthermore, although the administration carries on endlessly about the importance of merit, they’re unwilling to mandate a promotion track for non-tenure track faculty, the whole point of which would be to reward merit.The strike continues tomorrow. You can follow this story at the UIC United Faculty website http://uicunitedfaculty.org/ and on Twitter (@UICUF).
So what exactly does it mean to insist on the importance of the first year experience and then pay the people most responsible for that experience a wage that virtually requires them to work a second job? What does it mean to claim you want to reward the best and the hardest working when you not only won’t promote them, but you won’t even provide a position they could in theory be promoted to? You’re short-changing both the faculty and the students.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
For those who take a more clinical approach to such matters, see:
You can hear this excerpt at the link below. The entire meeting of the Committee on Educational Policy of the Regents was posted yesterday.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Below is a link to Brown's comments in which he suggested the Plan was now dated.
There was discussion of designating certain areas of UC-Merced as nature reserves, followed by discussion of a new telescope. The discussion then turned to online ed and the governor seemed to push for courses that involved no human interaction so that there could be unlimited enrollment. At a later point, Chancellor Block made a comment about the virtue of "residential" education which seemed aimed at the governor's online push. He talked about a digital divide in which better off students would have traditional in-person classes and poor students would have mainly online offerings. There was discussion of the old Master Plan. Heads of the three segments in the Plan - UC, CSU, and the community colleges - were part of the discussion. Brown indicated that the Master Plan was a political compromise of an earlier era and that it needed to be questioned as to today's needs.
The president of the UC Students Assn. spoke in support of a larger state budget allocation than the governor was proposing, an oil tax to fund education, divestment from fossil fuels, and other items.
You can hear this portion of the afternoon session at the link below:
The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the secret corruption inside PBS's news divisionOn December 18th, the Public Broadcasting Service’s flagship station WNET issued a press release announcing the launch of a new two-year news series entitled “The Pension Peril.” The series, promoting cuts to public employee pensions, is airing on hundreds of PBS outlets all over the nation. It has been presented as objective news on major PBS programs including the PBS News Hour.
However, neither the WNET press release nor the broadcasted segments explicitly disclosed who is financing the series. Pando has exclusively confirmed that “The Pension Peril” is secretly funded by former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering...
According to newly posted disclosures about its 2013 grantmaking, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation responded to PBS’s tailored proposal by donating a whopping $3.5 million to WNET, the PBS flagship station that is coordinating the “Pension Peril” series for distribution across the country. The $3.5 million, which is earmarked for “educat(ing) the public about public employees’ retirement benefits,” is one of the foundation’s largest single disclosed expenditures. WNET spokesperson Kellie Specter confirmed to Pando that the huge sum makes Arnold the “anchor/lead funder of the initiative.” A single note buried on PBS’s website – but not repeated in such explicit terms on PBS airwaves – confirms that the money is directly financing the “Pension Peril” series.
With PBS’s “Pension Peril” series echoing many of the same pension-cutting themes that the Arnold Foundation is promoting in the legislative arena, and with the series not explicitly disclosing the Arnold financing to PBS viewers, the foundation’s spokesperson says her organization is happy with the segments airing on stations throughout the country. However, she says the foundation reserves “the ability to stop funding” the series at any time “in the event of extraordinary circumstances.” ...
Full story at http://pando.com/2014/02/12/
|Well, maybe not exactly like you!|
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The plaintiffs in the case against the UCLA Grand Hotel have filed an amended brief. You can read it at the link below. There are actually two cases, one involving environmental and other matters and another regarding the tax issue. The environmental case will be heard in September. And there is legal skirmishing around the tax case.
The tax issue is basically that if the hotel is a commercial operation, it has to pay taxes just as would any other hotel. There is also an issue of whether the Regents can run a commercial enterprise and, if that's what they are doing, whether tax-exempt bonds (which are part of the "business plan") can be used. Note that the donation covers only about a third of the cost of the hotel so the business plan has to produce a lot of money. Taxes and non-exempt bonds would raise the costs. Delays would raise costs. The environmental lawsuit claims that the required environmental review was not properly done, that there were irregularities regarding the administrative and regental process, and that there were improper conditions imposed by the donors, among other allegations.
Right now, of course, the university is busy digging a deeper hole on the site of the Grand Hotel, as the photos show. It is confident that creating facts on the ground is the best way to proceed. It is sure it will prevail in the lawsuits. But let's suppose that there is, say, a 10% chance the university is wrong. Does it make sense to just bull along? The university bulled along on the Japanese Garden affair instead of trying to work with the plaintiffs in that case, and now litigation has put that matter on hold. The university didn't promptly apologize to Judge Cunningham who was stopped in Westwood by campus police and now has a $10 million complaint on its hands. So maybe bulling along is not such a good strategy. This blog has pointed out in each instance that there are advantages in talking, negotiating, compromising, all to no avail. So it is probably pointless to suggest talking-negotiating-compromising in the case of the Grand Hotel. But we do suggest it. Why chance digging a deeper legal hole?
..."A year after UT began rolling out nine Massive Online Open Courses, the results are in,” The Daily Texan wrote in a Jan. 29 editorial... Among the “results” are completion rates ranging from 1 to 13 percent, the lack of credit granting courses and the $150,000 to $300,000 production costs... (S)tudents at Cornell voiced similar concerns, arguing that “the administration has not yet outlined how MOOCs will benefit Cornell students.”
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
LAO seems to want to return to what it terms the "traditional" approach to funding, but with bells and whistles added to monitor legislative goals. The traditional approach seems to be one focused on undergraduate enrollment. But in fact the tradition - such as it is - has been to forget about tradition and cut the budget during state budget crises, in the knowledge that UC and CSU can raise tuition. Indeed, as the chart above indicates, these traditional deviations from tradition dominate tuition decisions.
The LAO is uncomfortable with the habit of the governor of just proposing dollar increases not linked to enrollment and then extracting some promises from the university to do this or that, e.g., to spend $10 million on online education.
It might be noted that since LAO chose to lump UC and CSU together, it might have discussed a sore point namely the fact that CSU, as a part of CalPERS, gets its pension costs taken care of by the state whereas the state likes to stand aloof from the UC pension and its costs.
You can read the report at http://lao.ca.gov/reports/2014/education/higher-ed-budgetary-practices/budgetary-practices-021114.pdf
In any case, there is much nostalgia for tradition, albeit with some uncertainty as to what that is. Sounds familiar!
|But not on the 405|
When: Midnight-5 am on Thursday, February 13th
Where: I-405 Southbound between US 101 and Getty Center Drive
Faithful blog readers will know that we are tracking the sad tale of LA Superior Court Judge David Cunningham III who was caught driving while black in Westwood by UCLA police and has filed a $10 million complaint against the university. The good judge is a past head of the LA Police Commission. There was no apology from Murphy Hall. There was just a vague statement that we are sad that Judge Cunningham feels bad. But everything that was done in the traffic stop was said to be on the up and up.
What would Judge Cunningham make of the following excerpt from the LA Times article on the prompt response by the chancellor to the anti-Asian flyer?
...UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has asked campus police to investigate the matter, according to a statement released Monday. Block has expressed “his disgust and frustration” over the flier and pledged that the campus will “combat racism and bigotry so that the campus can be the welcoming, respectful environment our community deserves.”...
We don't know what Judge Cunningham would say. But in defense of the university, we do have some idea about what Ralph Waldo Emerson would say. Something about consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds, perhaps?
Note: The earlier Daily Bruin coverage of the anti-Asian flyer can be found at http://dailybruin.com/2014/02/10/rally-protests-incidents-of-discrimination-on-ucla-campus/ The Bruin article notes an incident a few years ago in which an anti-Asian video was posted on YouTube by a UCLA student. At that time, the chancellor immediately responded via his own Youtube video:
Monday, February 10, 2014
You can find the latest controller's report at: http://sco.ca.gov/Files-EO/fy1314_february.pdf
...Peking University allowed Professor Xia to leave China to become a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, starting in July 2011 and then at Stanford the next year.
But in March 2012, as Professor Xia’s year at U.C.L.A. was nearing its end, Wen Jiabao, who was prime minister of China, gave a speech calling for reform of the Communist Party’s leadership and the country. Professor Xia took to social media, including his blog, to urge gatherings around China to press for change. His actions angered the Chinese authorities, who ordered him back to China in January 2013. He was told in June that there would be a vote on his employment at the university, and in October he was dismissed. Peking University has partnerships with many American universities, and as word spread that he would most likely be fired, Professor Xia became a symbol of Chinese scholars’ limited academic freedom...
Full story at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/10/us/chinese-dissident-lands-at-cato-institute-with-a-caution-to-colleges.html
Faithful blog readers will recall this item related to the most recent UC Regents meeting:
... There is also a proposal for a joint lab in China that would conduct clinical trials. Significant skepticism was expressed by regents about the risks entailed and having UCLA's name linked to an outside entity - a private firm. [Only one regent seemed to want to ask whether clinical trials in China are subject to the same kinds of controls, regulations, and human rights protections, that exist in the US. UCLA says it will apply US standards.]...
We look forward to any comments that anyone in Murphy Hall might have about Professor Xia.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
...(T)the University of California’s academic student workers union recently filed a complaint against the UC Office of the President demanding that discussions about class size be a part of their contract negotiations. The union has been bargaining with UC since last summer, and its contract expired at the end of the year...
The UC Student-Workers Union, which represents more than 12,000 teaching assistants, tutors and readers across the UC system, is seeking a regular forum to talk about class size with faculty and UC management, said Josh Brahinsky, a Ph.D. candidate in the history of consciousness at UC Santa Cruz and a member of the bargaining team. According to a 2013 UC study, the ratio of students to faculty increased more than 10 percent from the 2005-06 to the 2010-11 academic year...
The president’s office said it has received the complaint and its position statement is due in late February, but it disputed that the union’s complaint has any basis. “Wages and working conditions are the types of issues that are addressed in labor negotiations,” spokeswoman Shelly Meron said. “Class size is an academic issue, not a bargaining issue.” She pointed to the academic student employees’ last contract, which states, “No action taken by the University with respect to a management or academic right shall be subject to the grievance or arbitration procedure or collateral suit.”...
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/09/6141029/concerned-with-growing-class-sizes.html#storylink=cpy
Full story at http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/09/6141029/concerned-with-growing-class-sizes.html
Note that there is a bit of a problem in citing a clause in an expired contract as binding after the expiration. There does not seem to be any language in the now-expired contract that would continue the cited provision after expiration: http://www.uaw2865.org/about/current-uaw-contract/#article33 We will see if PERB takes the position that class size is inherently a management prerogative. [PERB = Public Employment Relations Board, the state agency that would hear such complaints.] If PERB does take that position, it would still be legal for the university on a voluntary basis to discuss the issue and even to come to some agreement about it; a PERB decision favoring the university's position would just mean that the university was not obligated to do so.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/09/6141029/concerned-with-growing-class-sizes.html#storylink=cpy
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Friday, February 7, 2014
Yours truly has not yet verified that UC employees are in fact eligible for new policies. But even if they are, the past history suggests extreme caution before subscribing.
CalPERS may be happy to take your money today. But will it love you tomorrow?
...“I want tuition to be as low as possible, and I want it to be as predictable as possible,” Napolitano said at a UC Board of Regents meeting in November.
In a recent Google Hangout with students from various UC campuses, students asked Napolitano to talk about her current work in reforming the UC’s tuition policy. They also asked Napolitano how she plans to include student ideas in the reorganization of the tuition plan. Napolitano did not specify how student input would be considered, but maintained that it was important to the eventual decision.
(UC spokesperson Debra Klein said that) “The president believes strongly that, especially at a public university, tuition must be affordable for all students and their families.” ...
Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2014/02/06/napolitano-works-on-revising-uc-tuition-policy/
The problem is simple to state. Within the state budget, the UC budget is the least protected. You can't cut debt service. K-14 schools are insulated by Prop 98. The prisons are under quasi-federal jurisdiction due to overcrowding. Various social welfare programs are either somewhat constrained by federal rules or the legislature just doesn't like to cut them. And the legislature knows that UC (and CSU) can pull the tuition lever. Legislators don't have to touch the lever and can then blame the Regents. All the budget projections you see are based on having no economic downturn into the indefinite future. But someday there will be another. And, as numerous observers have pointed out, the state's tax receipts are especially vulnerable due to heavy reliance on the progressive income tax and its dependence on the ups and downs of the incomes and capital gains of the top taxpayers.
This pie is pretty much baked.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
...Public records documenting the travel expenses of the university’s top brass, obtained and published by the Center for Investigative Reporting in August, drew national scrutiny last summer for the luxurious travel accommodations of UCLA’s leadership, sometimes in violation of University policy. The accommodations and pricy travel arrangements bloated the university’s travel budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars...
Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2014/02/04/months-after-controversy-ucla-clarifies-travel-guidelines/
The problem with the original story is that it focuses on budget dust compared to the free-spending capital budget. There we are not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are talking about hundreds of millions and a Board of Regents incapable of evaluating and monitoring the endless flow. We are talking about the myth that if it isn't state money, it doesn't cost anything. You read about it here. Sadly, you won't read about it anywhere else.
It's hard to stop the real money train:
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Yesterday we posted about the Judge Cunningham case. It is symptomatic of a larger problem in Murphy Hall. What should have occurred in that case is a prompt apology by the chancellor and appropriate internal action. If you were reading this blog at the time of the event, you would have found that suggestion. Instead, what occurred was defensive legalism which is still going on. So now we have a claim against the university for $10 million. The episode is also marked by a complete sense of divorce from all the supposed concern about "campus climate."
An extra $10 million could have nicely resolved the UCLA Japanese Garden affair - see our posts on that matter - still in litigation, by the way, because the ship just sailed on in that case, too.
And let's not get started on the colossal hotel project underway in the center of campus that could have been scaled back to something appropriate and better suited to the wishes of the donor and the needs of the campus. But instead we have more litigation there. Another battleship.
In each case, the battleship could have been turned before damage was done. But there was no order from the top to do so. Where is the captain?
UPDATE: The Daily Bruin now carries the Cunningham story in which the university responds with vague statements about being "distressed" that the judge feels bad but continues its legalistic approach - with no sign of intervention by the captain.
“We are distressed when anyone feels disrespected by our officers or anyone who represents UCLA,” university officials said in a statement Monday. “As in this case, feedback to UCLA Police provides them the opportunity to review their actions, tailor future trainings and improve performance to reflect the department’s commitment to excellence.”
$10 million in "feedback"?
And, yes, UC is part of the database at http://transparentcalifornia.com/. The only good thing to say is that the database search engine doesn't work well.
Monday, February 3, 2014
We suggested some quick abject apologies from the chancellor at the time before the lawyers got hold of this matter. Like many of our suggestions, however, it was... well, you know, not given much weight.
An African-American family law judge filed a $10 million claim against UCLA campus police, alleging he was roughed up and handcuffed after being stopped for a seat belt violation, his attorney announced today. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cunningham filed the claim Jan. 16, according to his lawyer, Carl Douglas. A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. UCLA police spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein did not immediately reply to a call seeking comment...
Full story at http://centurycity.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/judge-files-10-mil-claim-against-ucla-police-for-seat-belt-incident
UPDATE: The LA Times picks up the story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-black-judge-10-million-claim-ucla-police-racial-profiling-20140203,0,6455922.story
It should be an interesting ride from here. Better buckle up:
Some loyal blog readers may recall our earlier posts (back in September) on attempts to reform a reported frat house climate of the Harvard Business School. We carried this quote from the NY Times:
(M)any Wall Street-hardened women confided that Harvard was worse than any trading floor, with first-year students divided into sections that took all their classes together and often developed the overheated dynamics of reality shows. Some male students, many with finance backgrounds, commandeered classroom discussions and hazed female students and younger faculty members, and openly ruminated on whom they would “kill, sleep with or marry” (in cruder terms). Alcohol-soaked social events could be worse...
That report was followed by another a couple of days later, also linked to a NY Times report:
...In recent years, second-year students have organized a midwinter ski trip that costs over $1,000, while others, including members of “Section X,” a secret society of ultrawealthy students, spend far more on weekend party trips to places like Iceland and Moscow... “Class was the bigger divide than gender when I was at H.B.S.,” said (a student), who graduated in 2010.
Now there is more follow up making the rounds on various websites:
Among other things, he pledged to more than double the percentage of women who are protagonists in Harvard case studies over the next five years to 20%. Currently, about 9% of Harvard case studies—which account for 80% of the cases studied at business schools around the world—have women as protagonists. He said he would meet with HBS faculty on Wednesday (Jan. 29) to discuss the objective. Many of the women in the audience, including more than 100 Harvard alumnae who were being honored by the HBS Association of Northern California for their impact on business and community, let out a audible sigh at the 20% goal, thinking it was not ambitious enough. But they were unaware that the dean’s objective would amount to a more than doubling of the current cases in which women are portrayed as central leaders in business problems...
At the event, Nohria said that a record 41% of this year’s entering class of MBAs were women, up from 35% ten years ago and only 25% in the Class of 1985. “A lot of people wondered if we had to put a thumb on the scale,” he said, to reach the record female enrollment number. “Everyone of those women deserve to be at Harvard Business School.” ...
(T)his year Harvard Business School expects to pay out $32 million in scholarship assistance to its roughly 1,800 MBA students. That’s up from $28 million in 2010...
Other related stories: