The “Not-So-Lite” SUMMER READING LIST for Academics!
Teri Shaffer Yamada
Jeffrey J. Selingo, Editor at Large at the Chronicle of Higher Education, has extensive experience with the politics of higher education. In College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students (2013), he historically constructs with thoughtful veracity an understanding of our current disruptive-technology moment in higher education while anticipating future trends. He suggests as many as three-quarters of current higher ed institutions may not survive the shake-up over the next decade because they are financially unsound. His overview of the “lost decade in higher education” (1999-2009) and the fraud or willful ignorance in student loan and tuition discount practices entrenched in the higher education sector produces faculty outrage. This business practice of obfuscating tuition costs for profit in the education sector has certainly fostered the legislative shift to cheaper education experiments with MOOCs in California’s public ed sector (the least culpable) and elsewhere across the country, along with the growing public perception that a degree may not be worth the cost. Highly recommended for faculty.
Musician and computer scientist Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future? (2013) creatively explores the intersection of technology, economics and culture and “also looks at the way the creative class —especially musicians, journalists and photographers — has borne the brunt of disruptive technology.” See Scott Timberg ‘s review. And for another opinion on the cultural impact of technology see Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism (2013). Both authors remind us how in our world of disruptive technology moderation is important as a response to the current wholesale embrace of analytics, framed as the solution to (all) problems in education. This drive for a quick-fix solution to student access, bottleneck courses, or the four-year graduation rate, through the use of technology and analytics, has unintended consequences. (1) We need the education media to embrace this discussion in a more complex, nuanced manner.
Shahnaz Habib’s review of Robert Darnton’s The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future is a thoughtful discussion of the debate on physical and digital books, typically framed in an “either-or” proposition. To many of us, the either-or discussion is absurd. We use an e-reader for light reading or news and “codex” for the purpose of research and publications. Anecdotally, I recently discovered a student in class who had used her smart phone to scan chapters from our 654-page text and was attempting to use that digital copy for an open source quiz. It was not working well for her. She is smiling about my OMG reaction as I contemplate copyright issues among other things.
For those contemplating how to reach our new N0 CHILD LEFT BEHIND freshmen population, see Elizabeth F. Barkley’s Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). This handbook contains many creative ideas for engaging students in active learning practices with or without the application of blended learning pedagogy. The first few chapters explain why we often don’t see engagement and motivation in independent learning among our freshman students; and how we can foster a meaningful educational experience, for both instructor and pupil, as we switch from passive to active learning strategies. In many public university systems like my own, there has been no significant funding to support faculty development in new teaching pedagogies over the past decade (if ever). Dedicated faculty, noticing the sad disengagement from learning among our freshmen cohorts, have struggled to retrain themselves in an organizational vacuum or in an institution with an administrative ideology that incorrectly demeans faculty as obstructionist and unwilling to change. Student Engagement Techniques is an inspirational example of faculty concern and creativity in new pedagogical practices nationally. (2)
As a reward for all this heavy reading, please consider Indian writer Farahad Zama’s novel The Marriage Bureau for Rich People (Penguin, 2009).
(1) This the issue of bottlenecks and barriers to 4-year graduation see Michel Feldstein’s blogpost “The Scope of the Bottleneck Course Problem” on e-Literate.
(2) For insight into how devastating ‘teaching to the test’ has been for K-12, and what the new push for analytics (if done thoughtlessly) would mean for higher ed, watch Ellie Rubenstein’s impassioned video resignation (Illinois, Lincoln Elementary School). Highland Park News (updated May, 28, 2013).
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE Your RECOMMENDATIONS!