Monday, February 21, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 8): Demise of Research Libraries, Online Education, Sir John Soane, Cuban Bookfair

From The Chronicle of Higher Education on the demise of higher ed as we know it (Chronicle):

There are more than 150 former normal schools like Winona, educating hundreds of thousands of students nationwide. Nearly all followed an identical progression: They became teachers colleges, then dropped the "teachers," then dropped the "college." Usually, they are medium-size, relatively obscure, and located away from central metropolitan areas. That's why directions on how to get there are often embedded in their name—Northern Iowa, Eastern Michigan, University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. Most of the rest, like Winona, are stamped with the reassuring label of "State." Why did almost every institution do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way? Because we have only one way of thinking about higher-education excellence in this country. We are all entranced by visions of the academic city-state, the palace of learning on the hill. That's where the administrators and faculty who populated the former normal schools came from, and where they wanted to return. If their alma mater wouldn't have them, a copy would do. ... The day of reckoning has been delayed in higher education because many of the most obvious disrupter candidates, for-profit colleges, have spent the past decade feeding on the federal student-loan system rather than delivering high-quality courses to students at a low price. But as the raging debate over for-profits shows, the era of easy money and lax regulation is ending. If federal officials do their job right, future for-profits will have to reorient toward high-quality classes and competitive prices. It will be very hard for traditional institutions to respond.

And in a similar vein from Inside Higher Ed:

As a result, every state has its own rules and requirements for the chartering, authorization and oversight of institutions of higher education. And that oversight has been notable for its inconsistency across jurisdictions: states such as New York have long exercised very close control over every aspect of institutional operations for both public and independent colleges and universities, while other states have had a history of minimal regulation. This regulatory patchwork has always been a matter of some concern, particularly as institutions expanded through the establishment of branch campuses located in different states. But it has been the advent of the Internet, and the explosive growth of online learning in the U.S., that has dramatically brought to the fore the importance -- and arguably the perverse impact -- of 50-plus different regulatory schemes for the supervision of higher education.

If you are in London with a spare afternoon go visit Sir John Soane's house. (I've mentioned this before). The Independent offers a hint at the museum's restoration:

And so, Soane's home and museum, built between 1792 and 1824, remains his most potent memorial. Yet, for the best part of two centuries, what lay behind the entrance door at number 13 (and numbers 12 and 14 to either side) remained something of a secret, except to architects and cultured individuals. Until about ten years ago, you could walk straight through into the eerily top-lit museum and find no more than a handful of visitors there. Today, you're more likely to have to queue to get in. The museum and other rooms are laden with hundreds of works of art and historical objects, including the sarcophagus of Seti I, Roman marbles, prints by Hogarth, and paintings by Canaletto and Turner. The museum is the most famous segment of the architecture, but the seductions continue, room after room: the Picture Gallery, with walls composed of folding panels; the domed and mirrored ceiling of the primrose-yellow Breakfast Room; the library, gothic in manner and a rich red; the Monument Court and Monk's Yard, replete with architectural fragments, including chunks of medieval stonework from the Palace of Westminster. The new scheme, Opening up the Soane, will lead to the full-access restoration of Soane's private rooms, crypt and catacomb, ante-room, Tivoli Recess – currently a lavatory – and a model room; for the first time since 1837, visitors will be able to pore over Soane's 80 historical architectural models, the largest collection of its kind in Britain.

ABC News covers Cuba's bookfair and for those who think BookExpo should be opened to the public here's a snip for you (ABC):

The high walls of El Morro and La Cabana, which offer a spectacular view of Havana's bay, house a giant celebration that mingles literary chitchat with an exuberant popular fair where some 6 million visitors socialize, browse for sandwiches of sizzling pork and scramble for novels, essays and scientific tomes. With an illiteracy rate near zero, Cuba boasts that its International Book Fair — which turns 20 this year — has little in common with what it calls more elitist events in the Americas and Europe. "This fair is oriented toward the reader ... as a chance to acquire books and have a dialogue with the authors, both Cubans and foreigners," organizer Edel Morales told The Associated Press. "It is a notable difference to others in the world where people rarely attend," he said. "Here it is the people who make the fair."

I'm having trouble believing that 6 million number myself.... From the twitter this week: Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins - Exclusive: Kno Student Tablet Start-Up in Talks to Sell Off Tablet Part of Its Business BBCWW To Buy Out Rest Of Lonely Planet And in sport the London 2012 Olympics schedule is published: BBC Sport - London 2012 Olympic Games schedule released Something to look forward to.

1 comment:

Merrilee said...

Michael, thanks for the links to the two higher ed articles. I take issue with Carey's characterization of online education operations, stating that they all deliver a low quality product. Where's the proof? I was persuasively swayed by the "Disrupting College" report and if you haven't read that, give it a gander!