Cutting funds to public higher education: now in New Hampshire

University System of New Hampshire logoI’ve been tracking a wave of American states pushing for cuts to higher education this year.  A new instance comes from New Hampshire, whose House of Representatives recently votes to cut its major public university system‘s budget back to 2005 levels.

“The budget passed by the House is a 9 percent cut to the current level of state support the [University System of New Hampshire] receives, and that is very disappointing,” UNH President Mark Huddleston said.

How much of a cut is this in dollars?

USNH had requested $205 million for the biennium, which would have allowed the system to freeze in-state tuition for the fourth consecutive year…
[Governor Maggie] Hassan proposed the system receive a total of $181 million for the biennium…
Around $28 million was cut from funds Hassan proposed be allocated to USNH.

Leaving roughly $151 million.

The motivation for these cuts is, as is often the case, competing demands from other parts of the state.  In New Hampshire it’s pressure to maintain roads wracked by harsh upper New England winters.

That state’s budget process is still ongoing, as its Senate needs to take up spending.  But we can hazard some early reflections:

  1. Higher education has a hard time lobbying for itself in a politically competitive arena.
  2. The Republican party seems to have taken cutting public higher ed to heart.  Note that the New Hampshire House has a Republican majority.  And note that, as is often the case with our recent bipartisan political commitment to reforming education, the Democratic governor proposed spending below what the university system requested.
  3. Should these cuts occur, we might anticipate a queen sacrifice move from one or more of the USNH campuses.

(via Recession Realities in Higher Education)

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Teens using tech: the latest from Pew Research

Pew Research Center logoThe always essential Pew Research Center updates us on their ongoing research into how American teens use technology.  As always, this is useful stuff, especially for anyone in education.

Let me pull out details that struck me.

Hardware: a mix of old and recent.  Note that desktops and laptops remain the most relied upon technology, followed by gaming consoles.  Smartphones follow, ahead of tablets.

Hardware teens own or rely on

Race and technology: blacks and Latinos are more likely to use mobile devices and to use the internet in general than are whites.

  • “African-American teens are the most likely of any group of teens to have a smartphone, with 85% having access to one, compared with 71% of both white and Hispanic teens.”
  • “Among African-American teens, 34% report going online “almost constantly” as do 32% of Hispanic teens, while 19% of white teens go online that often.”
  • “46% of Hispanic and 47% of African-American teens using a messaging app compared with 24% of white teens.”
  • “Hispanic teens are more likely to report using Google+ than white youth”

Blacks and Latinos are also more likely than whites to play computer games: “83% of African-American teens play games compared with 71% of white and 69% of [Latino] teens.”*

Class and technology: the wealthier the teen’s family, the more likely they are to use Snapchat and, to a less extent, Twitter.  The poorer, the more important is Facebook: Continue reading

Posted in gaming, technology | 2 Comments

I will lead a future of education and technology seminar in June

New Media Consortium Academy Workshop logoTwo months from now I’ll lead a half-day seminar on the future of technology and education.  It’s a face-to-face preconference workshop for the annual New Media Consortium conference.  Which you should definitely attend.

My seminar takes place on June 9th, the day before the NMC conference begins.  You can register just for my session, if you like, or sign up for both conference and pre-.  It takes place in Alexandra, Virginia, close to Washington, D.C.  So I extend an extra invitation to folks in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland area.  It’s a morning session, running from 9-12.

Here’s the event description:

This session explores trends for the future of technology and education. The first phase of the workshop examines published trend reports, discussing emerging developments and how experts determine them. Themes include changes to digital technology, educational and cultural heritage institutions, and socioeconomic contexts. During the second phase the audience builds their own trend analysis based on recent events, identifying forces driving possible futures for creativity and learning. Finally participants select key trends to build up into their own scenarios. The workshop will be highly interactive, participatory, and challenging. Bring your visionary skills!

It should be a wild, provocative, practical event, crammed with information and ideas.  It costs $125, and will be worth every penny.

Posted in presentations and talks, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More interest in connecting seniors to higher education

The New York Times has caught up to me.  Well, not just me, but to several of us in higher education who are exploring the idea that colleges and universities should market themselves to senior citizens.

The Times piece is actually pretty solid.  It covers a series of good points, like changing up some academic structures to better address seniors: “One idea was to offer older students college credits for work and life experience as a way to reduce the number of classes needed for a degree.”  (Note that this is already in play for adult learners, a population curiously absent from the article)

The reasons are pretty clear.  Seniors often are interested in reskilling for new careers.  The number of seniors is growing.  And retirement is sometimes not what it was supposed to be:

A survey by PNC Financial Services found that more than half of retirees 70 or younger retired before they had originally intended; 40 percent did so because of health-related issues and 26 percent because of layoffs, forced early retirement or other issues with their employers.

There’s also the alumni angle:

“If I were advising universities on ways to increase revenue, I would target boomers, seniors and retirees, particularly alumni, with information on being able to audit certain classes and then try to convert them to pay for additional courses,” said Art Koff, founder of the website

Watch this trend.


Posted in future of education | 6 Comments

Robert Putnam, _Our Kids_, chapter 2: “Families”

Robert Putnam, _Our Kids_Let’s continue our online reading of Robert Putnam’s new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.

In this post we move on to chapter two, simply titled “Families.” As with chapter one I’ll summarize its content, then offer some reflections, followed by questions.

1. Summary

This chapter shifts ground from Ohio to Oregon, using the town of Bend instead of Port Clinton to embody its exploration of family structures in an age of “deeper social fault line[s]” (47).  Again we see a culture riven by growing economic division.

Putnam continues his narrative device of short stories about exemplary characters.  He begins with an elite family and their privileged son, Andrew (50-54).  As with Port Clinton’s Boomer generation, Andrew’s parents rose rapidly in terms of economics and education, compared to their parents.  In turn Andrew and his sister enjoy lives of serious wealth.  At one point we learn that their parents decided to help Lucy’s development in a capital-intensive way:

“She really connected with horseback riding and animals.  So my dad jumped on it and built a barn out at our ranch and Lucy got a horse, and it was just a complete turnaround.” (52)

That ranch is in addition to several other homes, it seems.

In contrast we learn about Kayla and her epically sad family (or families) (54-61), who would certainly not be able to jump on a family issue by erecting buildings on one of their spreads. Continue reading

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Flickr Creative Commons site bug fixed

Good news: Flickr fixed that weird problem we spotted yesterday.  Their Creative Commons images Explore site, a gateway to the millions of photos published under a set of CC licenses, is now functioning correctly once more.

Check out those numbers, too!

Attribution License: 63,307,001 photos

Attribution-NoDerivs: 17,964,458 photos

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: 85,391,471 photos

Attribution-Noncommercial: 42,889,941 photos

Flickr Creative Commons Explore page functioning properly once more

That’s hundreds of millions of images posted against copyright, and for your use.

What can we learn from this?
First, the Flickr Creative Commons licensed image pool is a tremendous resource. Even if one 20-year-old developer didn’t know what Flickr is.  Use and add to it, friends.

Second, it took a multi-pronged, social media-based campaign to get traction.  Flickr doesn’t have a contact option, which is frustrating.  But Flickr staff eventually responded via Twitter and Flickr fora.  Note that the site bug had been at work for nearly a week before we noticed it.  My takeaway: users should work social media to keep providers on the up and up, when we rely on these providers.

(thanks to Matt Jennings for updates)

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What happened to millions of Creative Commons-licensed photos in Flickr?

UPDATED: it was a bug, and the Flickr team fixed it.  All’s well.  Read on for the story:

Something weird and potentially bad just happened to the Flickr photo-sharing site.  Specifically, their page listing photos published under Creative Commons licenses now shows far, far fewer of them.

Where once there were tens of millions, there are now 400,000 and fewer.

What happened, Flickr?  Yahoo, do you know anything?

Here’s a bit more background.

Anders Sandberg, "Disappearance"

A fine photo, Attribution-only license, found using this method.

Flickr is one of the oldest, great social photo sharing sites.  I joined it way back in 2004 (my photos), pretty soon after it launched, and found the service extremely useful.  It’s a fine place to share my images, an unusual place for getting feedback, a terrific site to discover other images, and good, even unique, at a bunch of other functions everyone should know.

One of its fine aspects is supporting search for non-copyrighted photos.  We can look just for images uploaded under the Creative Commons license suite (which everyone should know about; here’s a starter).  It’s a grand way to find materials for your next movie, PowerPoint, blog post, or whatever.  I found Anders Sandberg’s photo above that way, using this search.

Last I looked (a week ago, maybe) I recall seeing tens of millions of photos under the leading licenses.  Back in December Alan Levine spotted 58 million under the Attribution header.

Now the larger collection is of photos shared under Attribution-NoDerivs, and that numbers merely 499,963.  That’s a cut of around 98% at the worst. Continue reading

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