Monday, May 20, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N21) Online College?, Society Publishing, Georgia Tech Online, Copyright Revision + More

Nathan Heller in The New Yorker: Is College moving Online?
When people refer to “higher education” in this country, they are talking about two systems. One is √©lite. It’s made up of selective schools that people can apply to—schools like Harvard, and also like U.C. Santa Cruz, Northeastern, Penn State, and Kenyon. All these institutions turn most applicants away, and all pursue a common, if vague, notion of what universities are meant to strive for. When colleges appear in movies, they are verdant, tree-draped quadrangles set amid Georgian or Gothic (or Georgian-Gothic) buildings. When brochures from these schools arrive in the mail, they often look the same. Chances are, you’ll find a Byronic young man reading “Cartesian Meditations” on a bench beneath an elm tree, or perhaps his romantic cousin, the New England boy of fall, a tousle-haired chap with a knapsack slung back on one shoulder. He is walking with a lovely, earnest young woman who apparently likes scarves, and probably Shelley. They are smiling. Everyone is smiling. The professors, who are wearing friendly, Rick Moranis-style glasses, smile, though they’re hard at work at a large table with an eager student, sharing a splayed book and gesturing as if weighing two big, wholesome orbs of fruit. Universities are special places, we believe: gardens where chosen people escape their normal lives to cultivate the Life of the Mind.

But that is not the kind of higher education most Americans know. The vast majority of people who get education beyond high school do so at community colleges and other regional and nonselective schools. Most who apply are accepted. The teachers there, not all of whom have doctorates or get research support, may seem restless and harried. Students may, too. Some attend school part time, juggling their academic work with family or full-time jobs, and so the dropout rate, and time-to-degree, runs higher than at élite institutions. Many campuses are funded on fumes, or are on thin ice with accreditation boards; there are few quadrangles involved. The coursework often prepares students for specific professions or required skills. If you want to be trained as a medical assistant, there is a track for that. If you want to learn to operate an infrared spectrometer, there is a course to show you how. This is the populist arm of higher education. It accounts for about eighty per cent of colleges in the United States.
In Scholarly Kitchen Joe Esposito identifies the Inexorable Path of the Professional Society Publisher:
What makes this path inexorable has to do with the structure of the marketplace today. For almost all journals publishers, libraries constitute their single largest source of revenue. Therefore, a publisher must get access to the library budget to thrive or even survive. But increasingly the largest commercial publishers have set up as gatekeepers to those library budgets, a situation that has intensified as more and more purchasing power has moved to the library consortia. When a society publisher decides to move up to stage 6 — that is, by making an arrangement with a large commercial publisher — it can be seen as selling out, but a strategic assessment of the marketplace may see that as buying in.
Georgia Tech announce massive Online/distance learning project (Inside HigherEd)
The Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a $7,000 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors.

Georgia Tech will work with AT&T and Udacity, the 15-month-old Silicon Valley-based company, to offer a new online master’s degree in computer science to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its current degree. The deal, announced Tuesday, is portrayed as a revolutionary attempt by a respected university, an education technology startup and a major corporate employer to drive down costs and expand higher education capacity.

Georgia Tech expects to hire only eight or so new instructors even as it takes its master's program from 300 students to as many as 10,000 within three years, said Zvi Galil, the dean of computing at Georgia Tech.

The university will rely instead on Udacity staffers, known as “mentors,” to field most questions from students who enroll in the new program. But company and university officials said the new degrees would be entirely comparable to the existing master’s degree in computer science from Georgia Tech, which costs about $40,000 a year for non-Georgia residents.
Some bullet points and not particularly cohesive from the Goldman Sachs business book of the year award (FT):
Victoria Barnsley, chief executive of HarperCollins UK, probably speaks for many publishing executives when she highlights “single platform domination” as “the risk”. “I don’t think it was good for the record industry nor will it be good for publishing,” she says. The conundrum for publishers is what to do about it.
The House Judiciary Committee began hearings on changing copyright law. Don't hold your breath (CJR):
This contentiousness stems from the fact that copyright law, itself, is something other, or more than, dull. As it stands now, it’s intricate, confusing, and — most of the experts who testified yesterday more or less agreed — due for an update. But not quite everyone. “I think the notion in many circles that copyright law has become totally dysfunctional and counter productive is not the way the situation is,” said Jon Baumgarten, who once served as the general counsel to the copyright office.

This is what passed for consensus in this debate. The CPP’s final report, for instance, noted that “various members of the group maintain reservations and even objections to some proposals described as recommendations in this Report.” And so, they wrote, “we do not intend affirmative statements or the use of phrases, such as ‘we recommend’ or ‘we believe,’ to suggest that the group as a whole was uniformly in support of each particular view stated.”
From twitter this week:

Fresh questions for Amazon over pittance it pays in tax Guardian

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