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Subject:

Free online university gets high first marks/Concern grows over possible cell phone-cancer link/Free online tools simplify research/'Out of Step'/For-profit colleges face mounting scrutiny

From:

Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>

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Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 23 Dec 2009 12:44:51 -0600

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009 

Free online university gets high first marks 


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 

 

Free online university gets high first marks 



Well receieved among students in its first year, University of the People
adds well-known educators to its faculty lineup 



By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor 

 

Primary Topic Channel:  Distance learning
<http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=994>  , Instruction
<http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=1013>  

 University of the People, one of the newest members of the free online
education arena, is adding academic heft with credentialed faculty and
advisors, and nine out of 10 students who took classes in its first term
said they would recommend the university to family and friends.

Launched in September with $1 million in startup money from founder and
president Shai Reshef, University of the People's inaugural class included
179 students who took web-based college courses free of charge, only paying
between $10 and $100 to process exams taken at the end of the semester.

The charge depends on the student's country of residence. Admissions, study
materials, and online interaction with faculty members that include retired
and working professors, experts from various fields, and graduate students
are available at no cost.

A university poll released last month showed that 90 percent of respondents
from the first class said they would "definitely or likely recommend the
school to their peers and family."

The online school also unveiled demographic information for the first time.
The 120 new students joining University of the People for its second
term--which began Nov. 19--are between 18 and 63 years old and hail from 47
countries.

Eighty-two students in the newest class are taking business administration
courses, and 38 are enrolled in computer science classes.

University officials plan to expand their course offerings in the coming
years. University of the People's third term starts in mid-January, Reshef
said. University officials decided to split the school year into five terms
instead of three because the institution's pedagogy called for shorter, more
focused lessons and reviews.

Officials were somewhat surprised by students' overwhelming approval, Reshef
said, because faculty members are searching for the best ways to manage
classes that include students proficient in English and others who speak
English as a second language.

"We expected some bumps in the road, and we're still expecting them," Reshef
said. "There will always be surprises. And not everything was smooth and
perfect, but our students are happy with the opportunity we provide them, so
they're patient with us."

Reshef said University of the People professors documented stark contrasts
in class participation. Whereas American students would ask series of
questions during online lectures, students from Asian countries rarely
followed up with queries.

"In some cultures, asking questions is very positive," he said. "In some
cultures, it's an admittance of not knowing the material ... so it is all
about perception."

Reshef announced this month that David Harris Cohen, former vice president
and dean of Columbia University, and Alexander Tuzhilin, a New York
University professor of information systems, were named as the university's
provost and computer science chair, respectively.

Reshef said last summer that the university might one day pursue
accreditation so students' course credits are transferable to other
institutions, and in an interview with eCampus News, he added that bringing
Tuzhilin and Harris Cohen aboard would boost the school's credibility.  

"I would guess that it wouldn't hurt for accreditation someday," Reshef
said. "Eventually, you would have to show you have credible people in charge
of [the university]. … And we want the best academic people to join us in
our endeavors."

Harris Cohen, who will now oversee academics for University of the People,
served as Columbia's dean of the faculty for arts and sciences from 1995 to
2003. He was also a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience in
psychiatry.

Tuzhilin has held various positions with The Wharton School of the
University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Ecole Nationale
Superieure des Telecommunications in Paris.

His work has been published in 90 academic journals, and he has headed NYU's
computer science department for more than 20 years.

Adding academic heavyweights to the university's leadership is the latest in
a series of announcements that could give the school more widespread
credibility.

Yale Law School's Information Society Project (ISP) announced Sept. 22 that
it would partner with University of the People in a project that seeks to
learn how the web-based program might boost its validity among powerful
world leaders.

The project, Reshef said, would benefit web-based schools worldwide that
have struggled to gain acceptance from local and national education
officials and legislators.

Yale's ISP, founded a decade ago, brings together policy makers, scholars,
activists, and students to focus on five main areas of research: protecting
and expanding access to knowledge via the internet; finding solutions for
social, legal, and ethical problems that crop up in the information age;
granting teachers better access to online course materials; encouraging
intellectual property reform globally; and creating policies that will
protect civil rights in a web-based environment.

Link:

University of the People <http://www.uopeople.org/> 

 

 

 

eSchoolNews
7920 Norfolk Ave, Suite 900, Bethesda Maryland, 20814
Tel. (866) 394-0115, Fax. (301) 913-0119
Web: http://www.eschoolnews.com, Email: [log in to unmask]

Source:  http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=62349
<http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=62349&page=2> &page=2

 

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 

Concern grows over possible cell phone-cancer link


Wed, Dec 23, 2009 

 

Concern grows over possible cell phone-cancer link 


Despite a lack of consensus among scientists, some communities consider
warning labels on new phones 


From staff and wire reports 

 

Primary Topic Channel:  Health  <http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=169>
& Safety , Handheld <http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=200>
technologies 

 Cell phones have become ubiquitous among adults, and many students and even
schools now use them, too. But there is growing concern that extensive use
of the devices might cause cancer, especially for children--even though
there is no consensus among scientists that this is true and industry
leaders dispute the notion.

Earlier this year, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, newly empowered to investigate
health matters as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and
Pensions Committee, promised to probe deeply into any potential links
between cell-phone use and cancer. Now, a Maine legislator wants to make
that state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can
cause brain cancer, despite the lack of hard evidence to support such a
claim.

Cell phones already carry such warnings in some countries, though no U.S.
states require them, according to the National Conference of State
Legislators. A similar effort is afoot in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin
Newsom wants his city to be the nation's first to require the warnings.

Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said numerous studies point to the
cancer risk, and she has persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal
to come up for discussion during the 2010 session that begins in January, a
session usually reserved for emergency and governors' bills.

Boland herself uses a cell phone, but with a speaker to keep the phone away
from her head. She also leaves the phone off unless she's expecting a call.
At issue is radiation emitted by all cell phones.

Under Boland's bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and
their packaging, warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with
electromagnetic radiation. The warnings would recommend that users,
especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their
head and body.

The Federal Communications Commission, which maintains that all cell phones
sold in the U.S. are safe, has set a standard for the "specific absorption
rate" of radiofrequency energy, but it doesn't require handset makers to
divulge radiation levels.

The San Francisco proposal would require the display of the absorption rate
level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price. Boland's
bill is not specific about absorption rate levels, but it would require a
permanent, non-removable advisory of risk in black type, except for the word
"warning," which would be large and in red letters. It also would include a
color graphic of a child's brain next to the warning.

While there is little agreement about the health hazards, Boland said
Maine's roughly 950,000 cell phone users among its 1.3 million residents "do
not know what the risks are."

All told, more than 270 million people subscribed to cellular telephone
service last year in the United States, an increase from 110 million in
2000, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association. The industry group
contends the devices are safe.

"With respect to the matter of health effects associated with wireless base
stations and the use of wireless devices, CTIA and the wireless industry
have always been guided by science, and the views of impartial health
organizations. The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly
indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk," said
CTIA's John Walls.

James Keller of Lewiston, Maine, whose cell phone serves as his only phone,
seemed skeptical about warning labels. He said many things might cause
cancer but lack scientific evidence to support that belief. Besides, he
said, people can't live without cell phones.

"It seems a little silly to me, but it's not going to hurt anyone to have a
warning on there. If they're really concerned about it, go ahead and put a
warning on it," he said. "It wouldn't deter me from buying a phone."

While there have been no long-term studies on cell phone use and cancer,
some scientists suggest erring on the side of caution.

Last year, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director emeritus of the University of
Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, sent a memo to about 3,000 faculty and staff
members warning of risks based on early, unpublished data. He said that
children should use the phones only for emergencies because their brains
were still developing, and that adults should keep the phone away from the
head and use a speaker phone or a wireless headset.

Herberman, who says scientific conclusions often take too long, is one of
numerous doctors and researchers who have endorsed an August report by
retired electronics engineer L. Lloyd Morgan. The report highlights a study
that found significantly increased risk of brain tumors from 10 or more
years of cell phone or cordless phone use.

Also, the BioInitiative Working Group, an international group of scientists,
notes that many countries have issued warnings and that the European
Parliament has passed a resolution calling for governmental action to
address concerns over health risks from mobile phone use.

But the National Cancer Institute said studies thus far have turned up mixed
and inconsistent results, noting that cell phones did not come into
widespread use in the United States until the 1990s.

"Although research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular
telephone use and cancer, scientists still caution that further surveillance
is needed before conclusions can be drawn," according to the Cancer
Institute's web site.

Motorola Inc., one of the nation's major wireless phone makers, says on its
web site that all of its products comply with international safety
guidelines for radiofrequency energy exposure.

Harkin, who took over chairmanship of the Senate health committee after the
death of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, said he was concerned no one has
been able to prove cell phones do not cause cancer. He called a hearing of
the Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human
Services, and Education to look into the questions on Sept. 14.

"I will pursue this beyond this panel, with [the National Institutes of
Health]," Harkin said after the hearing.

Linda Erdreich of science and engineering firm Exponent in New York said 50
years worth of evidence had failed to show that cellular phones can cause
cancer, telling the committee: "It is hard to prove a negative."

Links:

National Cancer Institute: Cellular Telephone Use and Cancer
<http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cellphones>  Risk (fact
sheet)

CTIA-The Wireless Association <http://www.ctia.org> 

University of Pittsburgh Cancer <http://www.upci.upmc.edu>  Institute

 

 

 

eSchoolNews
7920 Norfolk Ave, Suite 900, Bethesda Maryland, 20814
Tel. (866) 394-0115, Fax. (301) 913-0119
Web: http://www.eschoolnews.com, Email: [log in to unmask]

Source:  http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=62350

 

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 

Free online tools simplify research


Tue, Dec 01, 2009 

 

Free online tools simplify research 



Programs are designed to capture web pages and create citations
automatically, saving valuable time for students and faculty 



By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor 

 

Primary Topic Channel:  Technologies
<http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=185>  , Emerging
<http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=1020>  technologies 

http://www.eschoolnews.com/media/images/laptopuser567.jpgZotero automates
bibliographies for college students completing research assignments. 

Mohan Singh once had the painstaking job of compiling bibliographic
information for a college professor, so finding a web-based program that
collected and inserted research citations with the click of a mouse was a
time-saving godsend for the University of Maryland graduate student.

Singh discovered Zotero, a tool created by George Mason University's Center
for History and New Media that allows researchers and students to drag and
drop web page references into a massive, searchable database.

Zotero, an open-source program first launched in 2006, automatically creates
in-paper citations, footnotes, and a bibliography at the end of a research
paper--a mistake-prone process that usually adds hours to a college project.

"There are so many errors that come up in creating [research references]
that people don't think about," Singh said.

Reference management software has been available for more than 20 years, but
those programs often were pricey and required IT know-how, whereas tools
such as Zotero and iCyte--a program that lets users save and share online
research material in the virtual "cloud"--are free and made for a broader
web-using audience.

Zotero, available in more than 30 languages, adapts to almost any kind of
citation required by a professor, offering thousands of styles for students
to choose from, said Dan Cohen, director of George Mason's Center for
History and New Media and co-author of Digital History: A Guide to
Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.

Zotero has been downloaded more than 2 million times after starting three
years ago with 10,000 users, Cohen said.

Zotero detects when a user is perusing a digital library such as Google
Scholar or PubMed, and with one mouse click, the student or faculty member
can save all reference information for that publication or article.

If the writer uses a part of that text in a research paper, for example,
Zotero instantly formats a citation as a footnote, endnote, or bibliography
item.

Simplifying the tedious citation process, Cohen said, is often popular with
students and college faculty, but Zotero's private groups feature also helps
students improve their research through collaboration.

"Everything is automated," Cohen said, "and students are taking advantage of
it. … We're proud of [Zotero's] global impact."

First-generation computer reference tools included BibTex, a program created
in 1985 used mostly by researchers with some knowledge of writing code.

Singh, who created research references for an economics professor, said he
was familiar with BibTex and other early reference programs, but he recently
did a web search for simpler online reference generators.

iCyte, a reference tool that requires customers to use Internet Explorer or
Firefox 3, allows users to save web pages as they appear, even if the web
site or specific page of origin is altered or deleted. iCyte saves the web
link and the image of the page itself.

The program preserves just part of a page--a few paragraphs of text, for
example--if only a section of the page is highlighted and saved. The saved
information can be tagged with descriptions or phrases written by the user.
Zotero has the same function, and users can search the program's database
for descriptions and metatag keywords they've attached to research
documents.

Singh said being able to save dozens of hours--or perhaps days--on long-term
school projects was such a relief that he introduced Zotero to his
classmates in the University of Maryland's Hearing and Speech Sciences
graduate program.

"It seemed like a good thing to do for fellow students," said Singh, 35, a
Catonsville, Md., resident. "I definitely thought [Zotero] had gotten to a
level where non-nerdy people would appreciate it and really want to use it
for research purposes."

Links:

Zotero <http://www.zotero.org/> 

iCyte <http://www.icyte.com/users/activity_public> 

 

 

 

eSchoolNews
7920 Norfolk Ave, Suite 900, Bethesda Maryland, 20814
Tel. (866) 394-0115, Fax. (301) 913-0119
Web: http://www.eschoolnews.com, Email: [log in to unmask]

Source:  http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/?i=62008

 

 

“For some students, the classroom may be the only place to reach them,” said
Vincent Tinto, a professor and chair of the Higher Education Program at
Syracuse University. “Success, however defined, must arise from success in
one classroom at a time. For many underserved students, they concentrate on
finishing one course, then another, then another.”


 


A metacognitive, reflective moment:  


 


'Out of Step' 


November 2, 2006 

A symposium on student success kicked off Wednesday with a sobering message
from the keynote speaker: “It’s clear that students in our universities are
making progress, but only modest progress, ” said Derek C. Bok, interim
president at Harvard University and the author of six books on higher
education.

“Our current practices are out of step with our values as faculty members,”
Bok said. “We want to provide the best undergraduate educational experience
possible and that is not what is happening.” 

Bok concluded his message with a note of optimism, however, arguing that
institutions can improve undergraduate education by reforming curricula in
Ph.D. programs to offer substantially more training in teaching skills,
engaging in a continuous process of self-scrutiny and improvement, and
intensifying assessment efforts, in which colleges identify their priorities
and solicit faculty input for the development of testing systems appropriate
to individual institutional missions.

“My impression is that we are not making a systematic effort to improve,”
Bok said. “We have to earn the right to generate reforms ourselves.”

Bok’s speech set the tone for the first day of The
<http://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/symp_agenda_FINAL_10_06.pdf>  National
Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success, sponsored by the National
Postsecondary <http://nces.ed.gov/npec/>  Education Cooperative, a
partnership of institutions, associations and government agencies. The
symposium was first conceived three years ago, said Edward O. Blews Jr.,
chair of the executive committee for the cooperative, and it attracted more
than 400 participants, including politicians, administrators, professors and
graduate students 

The symposium is occurring amid an atmosphere of increased outside scrutiny
and demands for accountability, the event coming just over a month after the
Secretary <http://insidehighered.com/news/focus/commission>  of Education’s
Commission on the Future of Higher Education released a report that, among
other things, calls for colleges to develop
<http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/09/26/spellings>  measures to
provide a better picture of student learning. 

Top scholars in higher education administration shared their inquiries into
the topic of student success in five papers commissioned for the symposium
and presented during a panel discussion Wednesday. Researchers said that
their reports should be viewed as a starting point for the dialogue
surrounding the symposium.

Among the common themes found in the five reports:

*	Specific on-campus factors important for college success include
high expectations; coherence of curriculum; integration of experiences,
knowledge and skills; opportunities for active learning; assessment and
frequent feedback; collaborative learning opportunities; time on task;
respect for diversity; frequent contact with faculty; emphasis on the
first-year student experience and the development of connections between
classroom work and outside learning opportunities. 
*	Coordination of policies across departments on an institutional
level, and across the college and K-12 divide on a societal level, will help
facilitate student success. 
*	Classroom and teaching faculty play the most direct role in
influencing student success. 
*	Governmental institutions and colleges should engage in continuous
information gathering, and policymakers and institutions should support
research and theory development targeted at student success. 

The researchers argued for a need to go beyond graduation and retention
rates in measuring student success, and to focus more broadly on a more
varied set of characteristics. For instance, George D. Kuh, director of the
Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, which administers the
National Survey of Student Engagement, identified an array of indicators of
student success including academic achievement, engagement in educationally
purposeful activities, student satisfaction, acquisition of desired
knowledge, skills and outcomes, persistence, attainment of educational
objectives and post-college performance. “Students who connect with someone
or something are more likely to persist,” Kuh said, arguing that
institutions should encourage students to live on campus and make the
classroom a social network.

The focus on making the classroom a center for these efforts received a lot
of attention from researchers concerned about reaching commuting and working
students. “For some students, the classroom may be the only place to reach
them,” said Vincent Tinto, a professor and chair of the Higher Education
Program at Syracuse University. “Success, however defined, must arise from
success in one classroom at a time. For many underserved students, they
concentrate on finishing one course, then another, then another.” 

But Laura I. Rendón, a professor and chair of the Department of Educational
Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University, challenged the panel
of researchers. “It’s one thing to say we need to change what’s going on in
the classroom and another thing to look at what we’re doing in the
classroom, particularly for underserved students,” Rendón said in an
interview following the panel discussion.

“Why isn’t the research talking about breaking down the assumptions about
these students -- that some faculty come in assuming essentially that these
students can’t learn?” Rendon asked the panel. “How do we break down these
power structures in the classroom?”

“Amen” was all that the panel had to say in response – signaling more work
to be done. 

“Will all due respect to my colleagues, one might argue that we already have
sufficient research on student success,” Tinto said. “What is missing in our
view is the ability to transform the knowledge that we have into practical
knowledge.”

The symposium continues through tomorrow in Washington. 

—  <mailto:[log in to unmask]> Elizabeth Redden 

 

Go
<http://www.insidehighered.com/layout/set/print/news/2006/11/02/success#Comm
ents>  to comments (1) » 


 


Comments on 'Out of Step' 


*	"Out of Step: article in Nov. 2 Inside Higher Ed 
*	Posted by Frank L Christ on November 2, 2006 at 2:46pm EST 

·         As a pioneer in learning assistance centers and a strong advocate
of the role that learning and study competencies play in student success, I
am dismayed that no mention was made of learning assistance and in
particular of learning centers in the discussion. I am very concerned that
most college and university administrators know very little about such
centers and their value in assisting students to succeed. BTW, the
competencies (time management, task organization, reading, writing,
notemaking) that learning skills specialists attempt to pass on to college
and university students are very similar to those needed by corporate
managers. This can be readily seen when one looks at the number of
competency workshops that business and industry schedules for their
employees. 



Why then the lack of attention to the role that learning assistance centers
and their staff play in student success and retention?



If university officials feel a need to find out more about learning support
centers in higher education, they might very well access and peruse the
resources in the web portal LSCHE (http://www.pvc.maricopa.edu/~lsche),
especially the resource on articles. Collegially Yours.......Frank L Christ


Related Stories


*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/21/math> Boosting Math
Standards
December 21, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/18/hlc> Scrutiny for an
Accreditor
December 18, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/15/hbcu> HBCU Chiefs
Address Grad Rates
December 15, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/11/assess> The
Assessment Gap
December 11, 2009 
*	 <http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/08/phoenix> A
For-Profit Accountability System?
December 8, 2009 

© Copyright 2009 Inside Higher Ed 

 

Source:  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/11/02/success

 


 

Mon, Dec 21, 2009 

 

For-profit colleges face mounting scrutiny 



Schools accused of questionable recruiter-pay practices while government
report shows high loan default rates among students 



By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor 

 

Primary Topic Channel:   <http://www.ecampusnews.com/search/?tid=151>
Litigation ,  <http://www.ecampusnews.com/search/?tid=1002> Admissions &
Enrollment

Officials at for-profit colleges and universities are facing a chorus of
public criticism after accusations of shady student recruiter practices and
a U.S. Department of Education (ED) report that showed twice as many
students at for-profit schools have defaulted on their college loans
compared to students attending nonprofit and public colleges.

The growing criticism comes as new research suggests for-profit colleges are
gaining market share among online learners as the recession drives more
people back to school.

Students who took out loans to pay for education at commercial institutions
such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry University had a 21-percent
default rate within three years, according to the Dec. 14 ED report, which
used data from students who began loan repayment in fiscal year 2007.
For-profit schools' default rate in fiscal 2006 was 18 percent.

Overall, American college students defaulted at a 12-percent rate, up from 9
percent the year before.

The rising default rates could affect commercial universities' government
funding. Starting in 2012, schools that have a 30-percent loan default rate
won't be eligible for federal student aid programs.

For-profits hovering close to or beyond that 30-percent default mark include
seven Kaplan University schools and 22 Everest College campuses, according
to the government analysis.

Among the nation's largest institutions, the government data indicate a
three-year default rate of 15.9 percent at University of Phoenix and 17.1
percent at DeVry University.

About 5 percent of colleges and universities evaluated in the ED report had
loan default rates of 30 percent or more. Eight out of 10 of those schools
were commercial colleges.

The data do not include private student loans, just government-backed loans.

Harris Miller, president and CEO of the Career College Association, an
organization that represents for-profit colleges, said the jump in default
rates is symptomatic of a severe economic recession.

For-profit schools, he added, often accept more low-income students than
public and nonprofit universities.

"If you accept low-income students, you're going to have high default
rates," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "It has nothing
to do with whether you're for-profit or not."

For-profit recruitment practices draw fire

A day after ED released its report, Apollo Group Inc.—the University of
Phoenix's parent company—agreed to a $78.5 million settlement after a
six-year court battle that started when former university employees filed a
lawsuit claiming recruiters were paid based on the number of students they
enrolled, a practice that violates federal law.

Apollo Group denied the former plaintiffs' allegations, dismissing them as
disgruntled former employees and claiming the school's recruiting practices
were within federal guidelines.

	

"This agreement not only brings closure to a long-running dispute and
enables the company to avoid the uncertainty and further expense associated
with protracted litigation, it opens the door for a more constructive
partnership with our lead regulator, the U.S. Department of Education,"
Charles B. Edelstein, Apollo's co-CEO, said in a statement.

The hefty settlement did little to quell public criticism.

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., urged lawmakers to launch hearings to
investigate common practices in publicly-traded colleges and universities. A
Congressional investigation, Cummings said, would "shine a light on the
for-profit education industry and provide the American people with a clear
picture of the true costs of education."

"The pattern of behavior reported is disheartening at best, and infuriating
at worst," Cummings said in a statement posted on his web site. "At a time
when our economy has afforded no luxuries to America's working classes, to
find that for-profit institutions allegedly drew students in with
disingenuous claims and sometimes outright fabrication, subjected them to
onerous loans, and left them often unusable 'credits' is inexcusable."

A former University of Phoenix instructor based in Michigan said he
witnessed a gradual erosion of acceptance standards from 2000-06, when he
taught online finance courses for undergraduate and graduate students.

The former teacher spoke to eCampus News on the condition of anonymity so he
could detail his experience at the university without being identified by
Phoenix officials.

During his first three years teaching Phoenix online courses, the former
instructor said his classes consisted of about 10 students, most of whom
were adult learners looking to earn a degree and supplement their resumes.

By 2004, the instructor said, the university's change in admission
requirements made his class sizes balloon to 20 students. And many students
were recent high school graduates who needed remedial courses or adults
whose first language was not English.

The instructor said lesson plans had to be halted or delayed while he
explained basic concepts and requirements to a handful of unprepared
students.

"The quality of students declined precipitously when that happened ... and
the educational experience really suffered," he said. "I had to deal with an
unbelievably bad situation."

"I had to spend a highly disproportionate amount of time with those students
compared with other students," he added. "And that was detrimental for the
really good students in my classes."

During his last year teaching Phoenix finance classes, the former instructor
assigned students a project that involved analyzing a company's financial
disclosure documents and—using graphs and charts—explaining if they would
invest in the company.

He said two students who struggled throughout the semester simply printed
out companies' disclosure papers and turned them in as their final project.

 "The papers were 20 pages of plagiarized text that weren't even relevant or
germane to the project," the one-time instructor said. "They just wanted to
reach the page requirement."

The former instructor, who now works as a hiring manager, said if he
reviewed a job applicant's resume that showed he or she had graduated from
the University of Phoenix in the past five years, the applicant would
instantly be crossed off his list of potential hires.  

"I would not even consider them," he said. "The [University of Phoenix]
program has been so watered down, it's not even close to what it used to
be."

SEC probes Apollo’s accounting practices 

In late October, Apollo said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
had launched an

"informal inquiry" into its revenue accounting practices, its second SEC
probe this year.

SEC inquiries often end without finding harm done by the company. Still, the
probe comes at a time when ED is keeping an eye on the sector at large. In a
Congressional hearing earlier in October, Mary Mitchelson, an inspector
general of the Education Department, described investigations of different
schools' attendance-tracking and financial aid practices. She said the
government would continue to pursue cases of "diploma mills" and eligibility
exams.

In February, a separate division of the SEC said it was looking into
Apollo's revenue recognition practices. Nearly all of Apollo’s revenue comes
from student tuition. Federal student loans from the government make up
nearly 90 percent of the University of Phoenix's tuition income.

The "revenue recognition" issue revolves around how Apollo determines when a
student drops out of a class, the refund that student gets, and how much
income Apollo can leave on its balance sheet, and for how long.

Apollo says it stops recognizing revenue when a refund is processed for a
student that has dropped a class, according to attendance records—a
"seemingly straightforward" method, said Morgan Stanley analyst Suzanne
Stein.

The worst-case scenario would be an accounting restatement and fraud charges
as a result of the inquiry, Stein said. She added that was unlikely, and
also that there was "no reason" to think the inquiry would be expanded to
the rest of the industry.

For-profit colleges defend practices, deflect criticism

Decision makers at well-known commercial college chains have countered
mounting public skepticism by announcing new measures designed to trim the
growing number of students defaulting on their loans after three years.

San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education, parent company for University of the
Rockies and Ashford University, released a statement Dec. 8 that detailed
plans to help students manage loan payments once they've left school or
graduated.

The Bridgepoint plan includes "hiring additional internal administrative and
experienced management personnel to assist students who have left the
institution and are in repayment, as well as contracting with an external
default management firm to implement a comprehensive student-default
management plan."

"By the time the three-year rates apply in 2012, we expect that the
investments we have made and the organizational changes we have instituted
will allow us to maintain" default rates under 30 percent, and therefore
within federal funding guidelines, according to the company's statement.

Bridgepoint's Ashford University experienced a three-year rate jump from 6.1
percent to 17.4 percent.

For-profit school officials said the industry is unfairly criticized while
public colleges avoid media scrutiny and condemnation from local and
national lawmakers.

Arthur Keiser, chancellor of Keiser University, a family-owned chain of 13
campuses across Florida, said many four-year schools pay recruiters when
they enroll international students—a practice not often brought to public
attention. 

"It's a worry that the press is taking one lawsuit and making it a big
issue," said Keiser, the university's chancellor for 30 years. "There isn't
a university in this country that doesn't have multiple lawsuits going at
the same time. It's pretty easy to sue anybody."

He added: "Incentive-based compensation has been used everywhere. And people
just don't understand the circumstances."

The rash of negative publicity hasn't damaged commercial colleges
financially. Millions of Americans have returned to school during the
economic downturn that began in fall 2008, and many of them have turned to
for-profit campuses.

The majority of the nation's largest for-profits saw a 20-percent enrollment
increase in 2009, according to industry analyses. DeVry University, which
has 65,000 students on 90 campuses across North America, saw a revenue
increase of more than 30 percent this year. The Illinois-based company said
Dec. 8 that undergraduate enrollments rose 22.7 percent to 64,003, up from a
16.9-percent jump in 2008.

According to new data from research and consulting firm Eduventures Inc.,
for-profit colleges' share of the online-learning market rose from 39
percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2009, as the poor economy drove people—many
of whom have families or other responsibilities—back to school.

Apollo Group's stock shares rose by about 10 percent in the hours after the
company's legal settlement was announced. That increase came on the heels of
a 45-percent third quarter jump in profits. 

For-profit institutions, Keiser said, are too often "bunched into one big
group" with career training schools whose students have some of the highest
default rates in the country, distorting the image of reputable commercial
campuses that abide by federal rules.

"We're dumped into the same group with a cosmetology and truck driving
school in inner-city L.A.," he said. "With the economy getting bad, we don't
think we're going to have a loan default problem? ... That's just not
realistic."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Links:

 <http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/datacenter/> Federal Student Aid Data
Center

 <http://www.phoenix.edu/> University of Phoenix


Also of Interest

 
<http://www.eCampusNews.com/news/top-news/?i=62336;_hbguid=2de1f22c-2a73-41d
1-8648-d4b2cabe5d80> 'Augmented reality' quickly becoming real

 
<http://www.eCampusNews.com/news/top-news/?i=62335;_hbguid=2495ecae-7f5c-4aa
9-9133-ad7857e14600> Opinion: How competition fails our students

 
<http://www.eCampusNews.com/news/top-news/?i=62303;_hbguid=bb9c1f5f-1d5d-44b
7-b62f-2963ba3e3419> Facebook faces flak over privacy changes

 
<http://www.eCampusNews.com/news/top-news/?i=62301;_hbguid=f7877016-3ec6-461
6-bf0c-292f004d7fc5> How to protect your privacy on Facebook

Source:  http://www.ecampusnews.com/

 

 

 

 

Dan Kern

AD21, Reading

East Central College

1964 Prairie Dell Road

Union, MO  63084-4344

Phone:  (636) 583-5195

Extension:  2426

Fax:  (636) 584-0513

Email:  [log in to unmask]

 

http://www.studentveterans.org/

 

Veterans Day 2009: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/

 

www.vietnamwomensmemorial.org

 

Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is
it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks
the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a
position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it
because one's conscience tells one that it is right. (Martin Luther King,
Jr.) 

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner. Put

yourself in his place so that you may understand what he learns and

the way he understands it. (Kierkegaard)

 

To freely bloom - that is my definition of success. -Gerry Spence, lawyer
(b. 1929)    [Benjamin would be proud, I think.]

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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