Social Media in Higher Education – Sociable Professors

Dear Commons Community,

A new survey commissioned by Pearson Education indicates that  more than 80 percent of college faculty are using social media, with more than half using these tools as part of their teaching.  The survey “Social Media in Higher Education.” was conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in collaboration with New Marketing Labs and Pearson.

Findings  (from Pearson URL:

  • Nearly 1,000 faculty from across the nation participated in the survey.
  • Most faculty respondents (59%) have more than one social network account; nearly 25 percent have accounts on four or more social networks.
  • More than 30 percent use social networks to communicate with students; nearly 1/3 use social networks to communicate with peers.
  • A majority (52%) report using video, podcasts, blogs and wikis as part of their classes.
  • Watching a video or listening to a podcast is the most common activity for both faculty personal use (72%) and for use within a class (46%).
  • Social media use is higher among faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences than those in Mathematics, Science, Business and Economics.
  • Faculty teaching online courses are more likely to have social network accounts and to use them to communicate with fellow educators and with students.
  • Older faculty (those teaching more than 20 years) make substantial use of social networks; in fact, older faculty’s use of social media is only slightly lower than that of their younger peers.

A Powerpoint  presentation of the results of the survey is available at::

I have not been able to find a written report at least one that is available to the public.  I sent an email to Jeff Seaman, who conducted the survey to see if such  a report is available.


President Obama, Corporate America, and Franklin Roosevelt!

Dear Commons Community,

Nobel Laureate and  NY Times columnist, Paul Krugman, has a powerful piece today  on corporate America.  Dr. Krugman describes a situation where corporate movers and shakers are moving almost en masse in their opposition to President Obama.  While the Tea Party may be making all of the news, corporate lions are making their contributions to Republicans in hopes of a defeat in the mid-term elections of Democratic candidates.  Dr. Krugman likens Obama’s position to Franklin Roosevelt and offers the following advice:

“So where does that leave the president and his party? Mr. Obama wanted to transcend partisanship. Instead, however, he finds himself very much in the position Franklin Roosevelt described in a famous 1936 speech, struggling with “the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.”

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Roosevelt turned corporate opposition into a badge of honor: “I welcome their hatred,” he declared. It’s time for President Obama to find his inner F.D.R., and do the same. “

The full column  is available at:


Kidney Stone and Race to the Top!

Dear Commons Colleagues,

I have been quiet on this blog during the past few days mainly because I have been trying to pass a kidney stone.  While there is some relief in knowing one’s ailment, it does not ease the pain and nausea as the kidney stone makes its way through your urinary system.   I have been to the hospital once already and have a standing invitation to return if need be.

Regardless, this has been a busy few days for education news especially as states gear up to reapply for Race to the Top Funds.   There is an excellent article, The Teachers’ Union Last Stand, by Steve Brill in today’s NY Times Magazine that analyzes the politics and machinations of those in the federal government who have been pushing this program.  In New York, the media war over charter schools has heated up considerably.  Mr. Brill makes the point that President Obama may be the right person who can persuade the NEA and AFT leadership to modify their positions on a number of issues related to teacher evaluations, tenure, and seniority.

The full article is available at:


Percentages of Males Enrolling in Higher Education is Declining!

Dear Commons Community,

There was an excellent guest editorial in yesterday’s New York Daily News that presented the issue of enrollment of males in our nation’s colleges and universities.    The editorial was written by Lorenzo Esters and Richard Whitmire.   Esters is vice president for Access and the Advancement of Public Black Universities at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Whitmire, immediate past president of the National Education Writers Association, is the author of “Why Boys Fail.”  Among the points made are that male enrollments in higher education are increasing but they are doing so at a slower rate than female enrollments. “For every male college student today, there are nearly 1.39 females. Between 1993 and 2007, the percentage of males enrolled in higher education dropped from 45% to 43% – and over the next 11 years, the percentage of males is expected to drop an additional 2 percentage points.”   College enrollment figures are substantively lower for black males and poor white males.  The article goes on to discuss that the gap actually begins as early as ninth grade and only worsens in high school and college.


The full piece can be found at:

Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – May 17, 1954

Dear Commons Community,

We should take a moment to remember that today, May 17th is the 56th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision that declared segregated public schools “unconstitutional”.  In perhaps the most controversial and most important decision of the 20th century, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decreed  that in the field of public education, “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”   As many of us know, this decision changed the face of education throughout the country but especially in the South.   For anyone wanting to read one of the more informative books on this decision, Richard Kluger’s Simple Justice is highly recommended.  A website dedicated to the Brown Decision with lots of resources is available at:


Perverse Logic of Meritocracy – Who Runs our Complex Systems!

Dear Commons Community,

Ross Douthat has a rather provocative column today in the NY Times entitled, The Great Consolidation.  It comments on how many of the major failings we have experienced (economy, environment, national security) has resulted in greater concentrations of power in the government and other large organizations.  His conclusion is:  “This is the perverse logic of meritocracy. Once a system grows sufficiently complex, it doesn’t matter how badly our best and brightest foul things up. Every crisis increases their authority, because they seem to be the only ones who understand the system well enough to fix it”.


A NY Times article on the above is available at:

Not Everyone Needs a College Degree!

Dear Commons Community,

An article in the NY Times that was forwarded by my colleague, Greg Johnson, at Hunter College, raises the question of whether there are too many people pursuing a college degree as the main vehicle for job/career success.   The article refers to the low graduation rates of many college students particularly if measured against a six-year completion rate for earning a bachelor’s degree.   This latter issue is controversial because many students especially those in commuter institutions take longer than six years to complete a degree as studied and documented by our colleagues, Paul Attewell and David Lavin, in Passing the Torch.   Regardless the NY Times article (see below for the URL), presents a case that many students rather than pursuing a college education would be better off with intensive vocational training as an extension of high school or through a corporate entity.   The article cites examples of jobs that are predicted to have large growth in the coming decades such as in health care assistance that do not require a college education.


The NY Times article can be found at:

Cloud Computing Coming to Microsoft Office!

Dear Commons Community,

I have made several posts on this blog regarding cloud computing.  Companies such as Google and IBM are investing significant resources on the concept that more and more of the application software that currently resides on our personal desktop and laptop computers will be replaced by software that resides on large, high-end computers networked for all the world (in the clouds) to use.  Applications such as Google Apps is an example of how cloud computing is beginning to move in the mainstream.  Microsoft yesterday announced that it would be offering a free, web-based version of Office (Ms-Word, Excel, Powerpoint) to users as well as provide storage capabilities.  Users of this new version of Office will be able to share and work on the same documents and presentations over the Internet rather than e-mailing files back and forth to each other. Microsoft will also create a way for people to flip from the PC to online versions of Office to give users the best of both worlds.   I see this as a major step forward for cloud computing.


A NY Times article on the above is available at:

Furloughs Coming to CUNY??

Furloughs Coming to CUNY!

Dear Commons Community,

In recent days, the PSC and CUNY administrators have been warning that Governor Patterson has proposed one-day a week furloughs for all faculty and staff.  According to the NY Times, it appears that a furlough has been approved by the NYS Legislature that  would require all faculty and staff to take one day a week off without pay.  The PSC is challenging this as a breach of the collective bargaining agreement and is seeking a court injunction.   This is not the first time that this has happened at CUNY.  Those of us who were here during the fiscal crisis in the 1970s, remember when all CUNY personnel were furloughed for two weeks.  The two weeks lost pay was returned about ten years later.  Below is an email from Manfred Philipp, CUNY’s University Faculty Senate representative on the CUNY Board of Trustees.


Manfred Philipp’s email

Dear Colleagues,

According to the NY Times, the legislature approved the furlough bill

by party lines, most Democrats in favor, most Republicans opposed.


Some believe that the legislation, which provides for a 1 day furlough

in the week from May 17 through May 23, will be repeated each week.

How the furlough will be implemented in CUNY is unclear, and it is

unclear if the court challenges will succeed in preventing the

implementation of the furlough.

Here is PSC President Barbara Bowen’s statement on the legislation,

issued yesterday:

To repeat, VC Allan Dobrin’s statement is on the CUNY web site at

Here is the posted furlough bill, which exempts managerial employees

from the furlough.

(see )

Teacher Evaluations Tied to Testing!

Dear Commons Community,

The NY Times is reporting that the NY State Education Department and New York’s teachers’ unions have reached a deal to overhaul teacher evaluations and tie them to student test scores. This would be a major shift in the position of teachers unions that have steadfastly resisted any attempt to tie evaluations to student performance especially as measured by standardized tests. The agreement represents some compromise and does not entirely base evaluations on one test but on multiple tests. A major rationale for the agreement is to allow New York State to qualify for federal education funds that require among other things, tying teacher evaluations to student outcomes. The article accurately concludes that this agreement requires the approval of the NYS Legislature.

The full article is available at: NY Times