Weekly Roundup for Jan 20, 2012

This is my first attempt at something like a weekly roundup like I said I should try in To Blog Or To Share?. Hopefully I can maintain it.

  • Martin Luther King Jr on education:
    1. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life. Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking… We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.”
  • More quotes:
    • Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
    • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
    • Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
  • Apple to announce tools, platform to “digitally destroy” textbook publishing

Research in Higher Ed

SC lawmakers want to professors at universities to teach more instead of doing research. An Associated Press article “SC budget would make professors teach more classes”:

College professors should be in the classroom teaching at least nine credit hours each semester because the state is having a tough time paying for college budgets, said state Rep. Murrell Smith, a Republican from Sumter.

“I think we need to have professors in the classroom and not on sabbatical and out researching and doing things to that effect,” Smith said.

The committee adopts temporary law changes that would be part of the state’s $5.2 billion budget. The full Ways and Means Committee will vote on those next week.

This is exactly the kind of thing I try to explain to my mom. Lawmakers are responding to the desires of parents. Parents hear the stories from their kids about being taught by teaching assistants. The parents feel like to get their money’s worth their kids should be taught by the professors instead. After all, the professors are the true content experts. (No one tells stories about the good teaching assistants unless they are better than the professor at teaching the class.) I agree interacting with professors is likely the best way for students to get access to most current and useful knowledge.

The thing which seems to be neglected is doing the research makes professors the experts students should know. Take away the research and over time one really ought to go back to the teaching assistants.

Good research will also bring in money to the university. Especially in sciences and technology, this money would go into updating research labs which exposes the students to stuff which makes them marketable to employers.

Why not cut the regular courses instead?

Don’t get rid of honors courses, abolish ‘regular’ classes | ajc.com:

By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Writers Group
Published on: 07/23/07

Washington —- The honors course was once a vital part of American high schools, respected by all. That is changing fast, and many students and their parents are upset about it.

Read moreWhy not cut the regular courses instead?

Independent Verification of the Truth

Some of my latest work has been in chasing cheaters or “Vista ate my homework” claims. Some background: I work for a project that hosts online classes for 32 of the 35 universities in our system. We have about 125,000 users who have performed at least 100 actions this term. We have had about 50 million hits this semester (over in a couple weeks).

Read moreIndependent Verification of the Truth

One of FORTRAN Developers Died

I took a college course on FORTRAN in college. At the time I was a Pre-Engineering major with aspirations to transfer to a program requiring it. In my entire educational career I haven’t taken much in programming classes:

  1. QBasic
  2. Fortran
  3. Java

Actually, that is all the programming languages I’ve learned (and through lack of use forgotten). By contrast, all of the markup and scripting languages I’ve learned have been self taught on the job. I still use most of them today. Lucky me!

A principal developer of FORTRAN died today.

John W. Backus, 82, Fortran Developer, Dies – New York Times:

John W. Backus, who assembled and led the I.B.M. team that created Fortran, the first widely used programming language, which helped open the door to modern computing, died on Saturday at his home in Ashland, Ore. He was 82.