Morning Ed: Education {2018.07.18.W}

[Ed1] This is one of those things that sounds a lot more fair and egalitarian than it likely is. (And I say this as someone who is not a particularly good test-taker.)

[Ed3] Apparently there is a cheating problem at Caltech and the university is in denial.

[Ed4] Stephen Gutowski looks at teacher firearm training in Colorado.

[Ed5] Arvind Dilawar argues that universities are dropping the ball when it comes to protecting students from right-wing harassment campaigns.

[Ed6] Jason Delisle points to the University of Maryland’s online program and its astronomical failure and debt rates. If so, this mostly tells us that online education has a lot of work to do on getting better, cheaper, or both. (Having looked at online programs, Maryland was one of the most expensive.)

[Ed7] Yeah, you gotta be careful with this sort of thing.

[Ed8] Joanne Jacobs says that while more people are going to college, a lot of them are dropping out. That is more or less the worst-case scenario, from an investment standpoint.

[Ed9] One of the bigger knocks against school secessions (pulling out of the larger districts) is racial segregation, but apparently it may be more complicated than that. Remember that Robert Verbruggen has written quite a bit on how resegregation isn’t happening.


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12 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Education {2018.07.18.W}

  1. I think Ed8 is important context for Ed6. The UMUC administrative building sits immediately adjacent to the UMD College Park campus (my alma mater, go Terps, etc.). Maybe that and being part of the larger UMD system gives it some extra prestige that private online universities don’t have but I think the real problem is the credentialing race.

    Like a lot of online universities its home to many students who for whatever reason wouldn’t be able to complete a more traditional program. My suspicion is that the debt repayment problem is more a reflection of their circumstances/who these students are than the programs themselves. Yea from a certain angle it can look predatory and maybe the state shouldn’t be involved in enterprises with those kinds of results but these are symptoms not causes of the larger problems of the purpose of higher ed and how we finance it. We could ban all of these schools tomorrow (and maybe we should) but you’d still have a whole bunch of people trying to better their circumstances but without a clear avenue of doing so.

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    • They don’t have the institutional support of the Democratic establishment (to put it mildly). It’s, ah, much less clear that this is the case on the Right. Milo was doing exactly that, and getting a lot of money to do it, before people noticed he was an apologist for pedophiles.

      I also think observers who are remote from that world underestimate the role that such campaigns play in the stridency of the “SJW” Left. It radicalizes people.

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  2. Ed3: I see noting wrong with that kind of honor system, but you have to do it right. In the real world, you rarely have the kinds of time and resource constraints exams artificially impose[1], but real world problems are much more complex than exam questions. You want an open system like that, your exams have to evolve to meet it.

    I took an online graduate course on kinematics as I was finishing my masters, and the exam was done at home. You had to complete the exam during the exam week, and once you downloaded the exam, you had 24 hours to submit it (the download was timestamped), and it had to be in before exam week was officially over. You could use whatever resources you had available to you. It was a bear of a test. You were essentially given a description of a factory line and told to figure out what kinds of robots you’d need on the line from a list of robot specs. You had to solve the kinematic systems of each step of the line and then pick a robot that could handle the work. The prof gave a similar test every year, but would swap out values, and make minor changes to the robots such that having last years test would be of little help (having it wasn’t useless, which everyone knew, because he gave you last years test), but you couldn’t just copy it and be done. I fired up MATLAB and went to town. Took about 16 hours to finish it and I earned every point I got (and yes, I passed it quite nicely, kinematics is actually kind of fun once you get your brain chugging along those lines).

    [1] Yes, you can actually run into problems where you have limited time and resources/references to solve a problem, but those are edge cases, not run of the mill.

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    • Pretty much all the exams in physics grad school were like that.

      It was a very rude shock for me. And not only the part where I’d somehow managed to get into physics graduate school without ever really learning Laplace transforms.

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      • It was automatic controls that made the light bulb go on for me with regard to Laplace transforms (alongside Z-transforms).

        Of course, it’s been so long since I’ve had to actually do either that I’d have to crack a book.

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  3. Ed7: Yikes: “facing a felony charge for fabricating an outside job offer”

    He paid back the money and apologized. I assume that if had done this in the private sector, he wouldn’t be facing felony charges.

    OTOH, blaming his wife for being a money-hungry nag may cross the line, unless of course it’s true.

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    • Double Yikes. I confess to having just skimmed the letter in the link I provided.

      It describes nasty divorce situation in which either the woman is a truly an awful person that conspired to get her husband fired (with police records indicating that she lied), or he is a lying scumbag. (Could be both)

      And it looks like he ended up getting a job at U of Delaware after he left or was fired from CSU, which was retracted when the felony charges were made.

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  4. I can’t remember whether my school had an honor system or not but any time I ever had a take-home exam, we had a timeline and needed to hand it into a person, not just place it in a box.

    The assumption for take-home exams is that they would be open book but those made the tests longer and harder. I much prefer in class for 1.5-3 hours.

    Honor systems like this are a relic of when universities were for the creation of gentlemen and/or clergy. I’m kind of surprised CalTech goes for this. You usually see them at places like William and Mary.

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