Best of 2014 Back to School Commentary

chartSource: The Chronicle of Higher Education

I’m a big believer that everyone in higher education—undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty—should be reading up on the field regularly. Inside Higher Ed is a fantastic resource and free; The Chronicle of Higher Education has some free content, but can be accessed in its entirety on campus. Both cover the US and Canada while University Affairs is predominantly Canadian (and less comprehensive). But many many other sites frequently cover education and research. Here’s some of the best of recent online writing about things we should all know.

1) “Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop.” (Vox)
There are all kinds of ways to productively use a laptop in the classroom. However, you should know, “even if students aren’t distracted, the act of taking notes on a computer actually seems to interfere with their ability to remember information.” If you still want to use a laptop, or are a faculty member considering instituting a laptop policy, you might read “Best Practices for Laptops in the Classroom.” If you’re feeling contrary, check out “In Defense of Laptops in the College Classroom” by Slate’s education writer, Rebecca Schuman.

2) “10 Things Every College Professor Hates.” (Business Insider)
My favorite: “Don’t ask the professor if you ‘missed anything important’ during an absence. No, you didn’t miss anything important. We spent the whole hour watching cats play the theremin on YouTube!” (There’s a link.) Also, definitely do start packing up if the professor is going over the class time.

3) “Salem College Professor Banned Students from Emailing.” (Slate)
I’m absolutely not arguing for banning email, but I am advocating students talk to professors in person in order to enrich their understanding and experience. According to the article, “Students, in turn, gave the course better evaluations than previous cohorts, and rated Duvall’s concern for their progress and efforts to make herself accessible as ‘excellent.’ Only one student out of 48 had something to say about the email policy—a quibble about not being able to ask simple yes-no questions—but even that student endorsed Duvall’s preference for in-person meetings.”

3) “3-2-1 Backup Before It’s Too Late.” (Inside Higher Ed)
“The question isn’t if your hard drive will fail; it’s when will your hard drive fail. The stats on hard drive survival reveal a harsh truth: 1-in-20 drives die within the first year; 1-in-5 die within four years; half of all hard drives die within 6 years.”

4) “Almanac of Higher Education 2014.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Everything you should know about the financial value of your degree. Yes, the stats are American, but so is the majority of music and television consumed in Canada. If you still have doubts, read “Is A Degree Still Worth It? Researchers Say Yes and the Payoff is Getting Better.”

5) “Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees With Liberal Arts Degrees.” (FastCompany)
Still having trouble convincing your parents that a liberal arts degree is marketable? According to FastCompany, “Employees trained in the liberal arts bring an alternative point of view in day-to-day decision-making in the tech workplace, but Vince Broady, CEO of content marketing platform Thismoment, argues that they also think differently about bigger questions, such as the impact a company should have on an industry.” Also, see the chart above.

Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below! –JLH


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