Archive for the ‘School’ Category

The Good, the Bad, and the Obit Watch for June 25, 2014.

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Even though it has been widely reported (and I had a busy morning), I can’t let Eli Wallach pass without notice.

NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

This brought a smile to my face:

He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn and attended the University of Texas at Austin (“because the tuition was $30 a year,” he once said), where he also learned to ride horses — a skill he would put to good use in westerns.

Edited to add: According to (I know, I know) Wikipedia, he graduated in 1936 with a history degree. Assuming he started in 1932, $30 then is about $520 now. If I’m reading this chart right, a history major today would be paying $4,673 a semester if they were a Texas resident.

Not that I’m grinding an axe or anything…

Obit watch: June 5, 2014.

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Don Zimmer: NYT. ESPN.

Lady Mary Soames passed away last Saturday. Mrs. Soames was the last surviving child of Winston Churchill, and wrote extensively (and, by all the accounts I’ve seen, well) about her family.

And we are obligated to note the passing of Chester Nez, Navajo code talker.

Nez, a painter, earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University in Kansas in 2012.

Random notes: July 19, 2013.

Friday, July 19th, 2013

I was tied up yesterday and couldn’t jump on the Detroit bankruptcy story. Here’s coverage from the NYT, the Detroit Free Press, and Lawrence.

At Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, there are scores of doctors and nurses on duty around the clock at a cost of $3 million per week. But in the maternity ward, nurses sit and knit or idly watch afternoon television because there are no babies being delivered and most of the hospital is empty. It is meant to house 375 patients; it has 18.

The people who run the hospital want to close it, and are trying to wind down operations. But the unions that represent hospital workers are opposed to closing the hospital.

The hospital is losing $15 million a month, $12 million of it in payroll, with almost no money coming in. State officials said they expected to cover the losses through advances on federal financing given to hospitals with large numbers of poor and uninsured patients.

San Jose State made a deal with the online course provider Udacity to offer “low-cost, for-credit online courses” in “remedial math, college-level algebra and elementary statistics courses”. How’s that working for them? Not well. “Preliminary results from a spring pilot project found student pass rates of 20% to 44%”. SJSU and Udacity have suspended the courses while they re-evaluate. One thing that might have been a factor:

A large group were enrolled in the Oakland Military Institute, a college prep academy. Many of them didn’t have access to a computer — a fact that course mentors didn’t learn about until three weeks into the semester, Junn said.

In the Prince George’s jail, another of the busiest jails in Maryland, administrators have little information about inmates’ contact with the outside world. Unlike at most jails in the D.C. area, Prince George’s does not directly monitor or record visits with friends or family, and inmates routinely shield their calls from investigators monitoring recorded phone lines.

School’s in.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

I’ve mentioned previously my belief that higher education will fundamentally change in the next decade, especially with the growth of online courses. The biggest thing that folks have been waiting on is college credit: almost all online courses that I’ve seen so far (with the exception of university specific correspondence programs) did not offer credit for course completion.

The LAT reports that Coursera, one of the major online course providers, and the American Council on Education have reached an agreement. ACE will recommend that colleges accept four Coursera courses for college credit:

It is usually free to take a course through Coursera and other similar groups, including Udacity and edX. However, Coursera charges students $30 to $99 for a completion certificate for a class taken under surveillance monitoring that includes individualistic typing patterns to prove a student’s identity. For an additional $60 to $90, a student will be eligible for the ACE credit by taking final exams proctored through webcams.

The four courses in the Coursera/ACE agreement are:

  • a pre-calculus class offered by UC Irvine.
  • a calculus class offered by the University of Pennsylvania.
  • two classes offered by Duke in genetics and biodiversity.

ACE is also recommending that universities accept an algebra course from UC Irvine for “pre-collegiate remedial or vocational credit”.

This gives me a chance to mention something else that’s been going on. I previously noted that I was taking the Stanford University/Class2Go online course, “An Introduction to Computer Networks“. The course wrapped up at the end of November, but I’ve been waiting on various things before I posted about it.

I’m glad I took the course. I learned a great deal from it, especially about the lower levels of IP, TCP, UDP, and routing protocols. There was a lot of sweat in this course; I am willing to say that it was probably more difficult for me than any course I took at St. Edwards. Part of the difficulty may have been the self-paced nature of the course; I got a little behind at a few points and had to work hard to catch up. I think the course would also have been easier for me if I had purchased the suggested, but not required, textbook when I started the course. I didn’t do that at the time because the text was going for more than $100; I found a used copy at Half-Price about halfway through the course and paid about $25 for that.

Unfortunately, the Class2Go presentation of this course was also very buggy. You’d watch videos of lectures, interspersed with multiple-choice questions. Except sometimes the questions wouldn’t pop up. You could also watch the videos without the questions, and answer the questions in a separate window; except even then, some of the questions wouldn’t pop up until the third or fourth pass through.

The actual lecture videos, for the most part, played back okay. There were optional guest lecture videos that you could download as well. I did that, but some of the videos are huge, and don’t have smaller versions available. The Jim Kurose video is 1.7 GB and 1:16 long; by comparison, the 720p version of Top Gear’s “The Worst Cars In the History of the World” is 1.24 GB and 1:13 long. This may not be so bad if you’re on the Stanford campus and plugged into your dorm room’s Ethernet, but over a DSL connection? Not so hot.

One of the things I’ve been waiting on is the final “grade”, for want of a better word. This wasn’t a for-credit course, but you could get a “certificate of completion” from Stanford if you scored above a certain point on the two exams for the course. The two exams had a total of 960 points between them; the final decision by the instructors was that a certificate would be awarded to anyone who scored over 500 points.

So I struggled and I sweated and I waited for the light…and I scored over 500 points on both exams. I won’t say how much over 500, but it was enough, and I finally got my certificate of completion a few days ago.

Having said that, I’m not completely happy with how well I did. I’m seriously considering retaking the course when it is offered again this fall, just to see if I can do better with a textbook in hand.

Administrative note.

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Graduation is over. Back on your heads.

More seriously, the time for introspection has passed. (Also the time for action.) Expect a return to snark, guns, snark, cops, snark, pop culture, snark, art, and snark.

I still have a few things to finish up: thank you notes are being written and mailed, and I need to go through the photos and pull some out for posting.

In the meantime, frankly, things have been kind of slow. I’m not finding a lot of blog fodder; FARK has picked up most of the good stuff, including some “Art, damn it, art!” fodder.

Lawrence did send me an intriguing link yesterday about Rielle Hunter, equestrian, and how her father paid a hit man to kill one of her horses. That William Nack story rings a bell with me, like I’ve read it before, but I don’t remember where. Setting aside the John Edwards angle, it is a fascinating crime story. It reminds me of Skip Hollandsworth’s “The Killing of Alydar”, which was anthologized in one of the The Best American Crime Writing volumes, and which I also commend to your attention. (I believe the BugMeNot link on the side will let you read the full version of the story online, but BugMeNot is blocked at the office, so I can’t verify that.)

I would also like to add one final note, for the record: I will put my family, friends, and coworkers up against any other group of people for sheer concentrated awesomeness. Thanks, gang.

Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.

Monday, May 7th, 2012

  He went home three years later. He explained no more than to say, “I lived with the Crows for a while. It was sometime before I could leave. They called me Horse.”
He did not find it necessary either to apologize or to boast, because he was the equal of any man on earth.
—”A Man Called Horse”, Dorothy M. Johnson

  Instapundit and other folks have written eloquently about the “higher education bubble”. Other people I know and respect, like TJIC, have commented on ridiculous majors and the ridiculous people who pursue them.

So why did I go back to school? Why did I spend six years and dollars pursuing a degree? And why St. Ed’s? I’m not Catholic.


Academic update Spring 2012, part II: If you can make one heap of all your winnings…

Friday, May 4th, 2012

No, really, I haven’t been obsessively checking the university’s website waiting for that last grade.

Once every hour half-hour quarter-hour five minutes isn’t obsessive, is it?

The email from the professor came in at 10:29 AM yesterday, about the same time I was checking the website for the 1×101010 time.

As a reminder, the grade I was waiting on was the one for the big final paper; the “Capstone” project as they refer to it, which is supposed to be a summation of what you’ve learned up to the end of your academic career. At least in terms of ethical analysis, critical thinking, research skills, ability to write prose that makes sense, and maybe something to do with your actual major.



Academic update: Spring 2012, part I: The Final Countdown.

Friday, April 27th, 2012

I’m still waiting for the grade on my big final “Capstone” paper. And, no, I’m not hitting “refresh” every 30 seconds on the university’s website. I’ve managed to limit myself to checking every few hours.

In the meantime, though, my “Implementing Network Systems and Security” professor has graded all of my assignments; he hasn’t plugged the final grade into the university’s reporting system, but the numeric grades for all the assignments are there.



April 20th.

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I’m taking today off to celebrate my birthday, and to take care of a few minor things.

(I know we joke about the DMV, but, really, why does driver’s license renewal have to be so awful?)

One of the things I have taken care of today is school; I have finished my very last academic assignment before graduation and turned it in. I am still waiting for grades, and there are a couple of surveys I need to dispose of, but I have no more real work to do at this time. Just the long countdown to the ceremony, and a couple of events between now and then.

Anyway, folks, sorry for the slowdown. It has been less academic related, and more that there’s been a dearth of stuff I wanted to write about. As graduation gets closer, I plan to write some about that. I’ve been thinking a lot about higher education, and why I did what I did. I want to put some of those thoughts down. So expect content to pick up soon-ish.

Begun, the Photoshops have.

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

(Hattip: my brother, who both understates his Photoshop skills and needs to blog more.)

Mad? Of course I’m mad!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

But! I have tenure!

Okay, I don’t really have tenure. But don’t you think I could pass as a distinguished professor of something like apocryphal chemistry or eschaton immanentization at Hogwarts?

Academic update: Fall 2011, part 2.

Monday, December 12th, 2011

This is a little early, since the final grade hasn’t been put into the main university system yet. (Edited to add 12/13: it is there now.) But I’ve been in touch with my “20th Century: Triumph and Tragedy” professor by email, and she’s confirmed the grades posted in the university’s BlackBoard system.