Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Newtonian advantages

Faculty Home Work
Remote work is proving difficult for many professors, given the circumstances and despite some early predictions to the contrary. What institutions are doing and can start doing to ease the pressure.
     When institutions started sending students and professors home due to COVID-19, more than a few academics opined on social media that this would be a boon for research productivity: the idea, presumably, was that isolation breeds creativity. A significant share of these posts mentioned Isaac Newton, who discovered calculus while “social distancing” during the Great Plague of London, starting in 1665. 
     Newton -- then still a student at the University of Cambridge and not yet a sir -- also watched apples fall from “that tree” on the grounds of his family estate during the plague, as a recent Washington Postessay explains. The period has since been called Newton’s annus mirabilis, or “year of wonders,” even if nearby London itself was draped in death.  
   The retorts came almost as quickly as these views were voiced. No, this spring will not be a time for groundbreaking insights and increased productivity, and institutions should not expect either, academics argued. Many also pointed out that Newton was not a professor during his isolation, let alone one thrusting all his courses online for the first time. Nor was he a parent, simultaneously acting as daycare provider or teacher to children displaced by widespread pre- and K-12 school closures.... continued
Orange County has 30 new cases of coronavirus; total number up to 125 -- Orange County has 125 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Monday, March 23, up from the 95 reported on Sunday, marking the biggest one-day jump in the numbers thus far. The number of cases nearly doubled over the weekend in Orange County. And, about 600 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Southern California, with that number expected to grow quickly as more testing is done. Jeong Park in the Orange County Register -- 3/24/20

California now says it needs 50,000 more hospital beds to meet coronavirus surge -- New modeling shows California needs 50,000 additional hospital beds to meet the incoming surge of coronavirus patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday. It’s a dramatic jump from the 20,000 extra beds Newsom said the state needed just two days ago, and reflects what the governor describes as dynamic modeling that’s constantly changing as new numbers about coronavirus infections pour in.  Sophia Bollag in the Sacramento Bee$ Taryn Luna in the Los Angeles Times$  Thomas Fuller, Tim Arango and Jo Becker in the New York Times$ -- 3/24/20

Coronavirus: Social distancing measures could last two or three months, Newsom warns -- Tough social distancing measures to stamp out the coronavirus’ spread may need to last two or three months in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested on Monday, in a drastic contrast with President Trump, who just minutes earlier had predicted the U.S. economy could reopen for business in weeks, not months. Casey Tolan, Fiona Kelliher, Paul Rogers and Kerry Crowley in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/24/20

Trump says he may soon push businesses to reopen, defying the advice of coronavirus experts -- President Trump, under growing pressure to rescue an economy in free fall, said Monday that he may soon loosen federal guidelines for social distancing and encourage shuttered businesses to reopen — defying public health experts, who have warned that doing so risks accelerating the spread of the novel coronavirus or even allowing it to rebound. Philip Rucker, Jeff Stein, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker in the Washington Post$ -- 3/24/20

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8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary