Students and Customers

This semester, I’ve been teaching a course I don’t normally teach. This has been an interesting experience. The course is wholly online, so we have “homework,” and “quizzes,” and “tests,” but these are not really different from each other. They are all open book and open Google. Except for the final exam, which has a 72-hour window, all material is given at least a week before it is due. Because of these constraints, it can be difficult to construct assessments that meaningfully gauge a student’s ability. What I have done this semester is use the standard homework problems for “homework.”

Textbook Pricing is Out of Control

It’s an older story, but here’s one on textbook prices and what we can do about it. The short version is that even your professor thinks the $300 price tag on a textbook is ridiculous and we need better solutions. Some professors are creating custom textbooks or bulk purchasing arrangements. Almost all of UMUC has gone to online learning resources that are freely available. It’s had some downsides, but the upside is there, too. When I taught public finance for the University of Baltimore, I reviewed four or five textbooks and one was head-and-shoulders above the rest. Of course, it

Being a High-School Dropout, or How I Stopped Worrying and Went to College

Everyone has been posting their first day of school pictures this week and I am reminded of a different first day of school. Twenty years ago, I took a dive into the deep end. It was August 27th, 1996. And it was the day I dropped out of high school. In May of 1996, I had completed the tenth grade. Like all normal and well-adjusted people, high school was an unnecessarily traumatic experience. And I’d had enough. So I quit. In August, I started attending Miami University. In Ohio, there was a program called “Post-Secondary Educational Option,” now called College

Tips For Managing Online Courses

I gave an interview to Shannon Lee of Learn How to Become, a website providing resources for students interested in landing the perfect career. The article, about how to succeed in online education, is based on my experiences teaching for UMUC for the last few years! Read more at Learn How to Become: Online Universities and Colleges Guidebook | LearnHowtoBecome.org While online classes can be more affordable than campus-based counterparts, their financial benefits do not end there. Online colleges mean students don’t have to move to attend the school, which eliminates moving expenses as well as new housing costs. There

An Engraved Invitation

It has suddenly become fashionable to assert that children must be taught cursive handwriting or there has been some sort of failure in their education. In fact, here’s a New York Times article on the topic, posted after I had written this. Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting? There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write. I am, here, drawing a distinction between cursive and

The Howard County Schools Are Very Sick

In a statement of blistering stupidity, Leslie Stellman claims the proposed school budget review committee violates state law. From the article, Stellman reportedly told the Board of Education, The county’s fiscal authority through an agency such as this creation would erode your immunity as a state agency. This is obviously incorrect, since the the County Council is responsible for approving the budget of the school system, per Maryland Education Article § 5-102. The Board of Education has no immunity as a state agency to begin with, as sole fiscal responsibility for the school system lies with the Howard County Council.