TEACHING & LEARNING
Many academics bemoan the often thankless task of reviewing other scholars’ research manuscripts before they are published in journals. So what if peer review became an automated process completed by software? It might be a step too far for some, but a new report argues that it is one of the areas that the research community should be thinking about. Writing in “What Might Peer Review Look Like in 2030?” Chadwick DeVoss, founder and president of StatReviewer, an automated platform that offers journals and authors support with statistics, says that technology could enhance and speed up peer review. He says some early artificial intelligence technologies are already being used to address certain issues in academic publishing: for example, identifying new potential peer reviewers from web sources, detecting plagiarism and flagging occasions when data have been made up, when researchers have used the wrong statistical tests and when they have failed to report key information. Automation could help peer review in other areas, too. Systems to verify an author’s identity, to predict a paper’s impact factor and to suggest keywords are also being developed.
As we were planning to open our doors and offer our first classes in 2009, we decided affordability and access would be a priority at Texas A&M University-San Antonio (TAMU-SA). As we have grown, this commitment to providing the highest-quality education at the lowest cost possible has not been lost. Today, our students pay the lowest tuition of any of the 15 four-year higher education institutions in San Antonio at around $4,000 per semester for in-state students taking 15 credit hours.
But tuition represents only one aspect of overall college costs. The costs of textbooks have risen–and continue to rise–exponentially over the past two decades, placing a heavy burden on students—a burden that often makes attaining a college education unattainable. We saw these costs putting unreasonable pressure on students early in our history at the College of Business causing students to not take classes, suffer academically when they did not purchase books, or drop out of school.
There is a significant shift occurring in online learning—one that puts students and pedagogy into the driver’s seat, and colleges and universities seeking new ways to increase enrollment and revenue. One barrier for colleges to capture this revenue has been the business model of the companies whose business it is to help them create and deploy online programs—they take approximately 50 percent of the program’s revenue as payment for their services (they typically handle marketing, recruiting, enrollment management, curriculum development, course design, support and technology hosting). These online program management providers (OPMs) have the benefit of reducing up-front investment, but the cost is prohibitive for many, effectively slowing down the movement to online learning. However, a new fee-for-service unbundled model has emerged to fill this void. As online degrees become more ubiquitous (Eduventures estimates that there are approximately 24 million students enrolled in higher education, 2.85 million of which are enrolled exclusively in online programs; enrollments in online graduate programs are expected to surpass 30 percent of all graduate students), simply offering online programs is no longer a differentiator. And, while colleges and universities are looking for opportunities to offer more unique and engaging learning experiences, the baseline requirements remain the same—increased enrollment, revenue, student retention, and student satisfaction.
Open Education Resources (OER) Commons is a platform that provides open access to a wide variety of open educational resources that are either in the public domain or are licensed under Creative Commons. These resources include things such as :’ full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.’
Shopping for and choosing clothes is challenging enough that an entire industry of stylists, magazine editors and fashion bloggers has been created to help. But imagine if your parameters included more than finding a sweater to complement your eye color, or a backpack to match your sneakers. Imagine if you were unable to use your arms to do anything (let alone get dressed), or used a wheelchair and needed to have easy access to a catheter, or had a spine with a significant convex curve that made pressing up against any flat surface painful, or had muscles that spasm.
Those conditions are reality for four people who became the “clients” of 15 students at Parsons School of Design at the New School this year. The students, who came from different majors, were divided into four teams and spent their spring semester creating clothing to fit their clients’ unique requirements as part of a class run by Open Style Lab, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to design functional and fashionable clothing for people with disabilities. The students presented their final projects on Friday.