Friday, August 29, 2014

This is not something to cheer about 08/29/2014 #higheredchat

“Anthem Bows Out”

“After years of enrollment losses, Anthem Education, a for-profit chain of colleges and career institutes, filed for bankruptcy Monday. The company has abruptly shut down a number of its campuses, leaving state agencies struggling to funnel displaced students into other institutions. Nine more campuses may close today, Anthem officials said.”

“Anthem had 41 campuses prior to declaring bankruptcy, according to its bankruptcy petition. Before it filed for bankruptcy the company sold 14 campuses to International Education Corporation, said an official involved in the acquisition. Anthem is in the process of selling an additional 14 campuses to IEC, but requires federal approval to do so. Unless the U.S. Department of Education approves the transaction by today, nine of those 14 campuses will close, Anthem officials said.”

For profit education is an integral part of the makeup of higher education, like it or not. We should not be cheering when hundreds of people lose their jobs, and when thousands of students lose their school.

I am still longing for the day when all sectors of education are working together for the mutual benefit of the students.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Disruptive technology in today’s classroom 08/26/2014

Have you ever been lecturing, and you all of sudden realize that most of your class is on some kind of electronic device and not listening? It could be the most interesting lecture in the world: however, they have been sucked into cyberspace like junkies awaiting a fix.

Technology does not automatically make a better learning experience, even if the student is typing their notes (there are enough studies proving this).  Sometimes a pen a paper can be a much more powerful learning tool.

Anyway, I found this article interesting enough to share because it tells us about the creative solution educators have to come up with in today’s world to get students to put down their electronics.

“Today's Lesson: Life in the Classroom Before Cellphones”

“Although I had taught for more than 20 years, I didn’t realize that I had forgotten what it was like to teach in a classroom without cellphones until I came up with a plan to relive those halcyon days. It was near the end of the semester, and I offered one point of extra credit per class period for my psychology students who turned off their cellphones before class and put them on the front desk.”

“I was sure that no students would part with their phones for such a meager offering. Wrong: Virtually all my students did. They even said they loved the idea, so the next semester I offered all my classes the same deal for the entire semester, and participation continued unabated. In fact, much to my surprise, after the first few days, when I walked into my classes all the cellphones were already on the table in the front of the room.”

“That first day I tried it, I felt like I had traveled back to a time when students’ attention was focused in the classroom rather than on the phones under their desks. I began to notice the increased number of students paying attention to the lectures and taking notes, and looking around at other students who were participating in class discussions.”

“I slipped back into expecting these long-lost behaviors as the new given, and today I see no reason to ever go back to wrestling with cellphone issues. I am quite content to award extra credit for the attention of the class and for students’ attention to their work all semester long. Twenty-one percent of my students received one letter grade higher for the course from extra credit; 79 percent did not. Any concerns about too much extra credit are easily handled by adjusting the total number of points for the course.”

“But I wanted to make sure the students really were benefiting. So immediately after they completed the final exam, I offered as many as five points of extra credit for completing a questionnaire and writing an essay on their phone-deprived experience. Of 90 students, 82 participated.”

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Origin and meaning of the word Thug

  1. (Thug) historical A member of a religious organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travelers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.
  2. A violent person, especially a criminal.

            [ mid 19th century: extension of sense 2]



Why has the word Thug become associated with men of color? May I remind you that the majority of men of color in the United States (yes majority) are hard working men, often just trying to make it in life, and the word Thug is not an appropriate description. It seems like every time a man color does something the media outlets deem ‘inappropriate”, the word Thug is sure to follow.


It almost seems like the word Thug is being used to replace another former popular word…

I actually have more respect for those whose racist views are over than those who use “coded” language and who dissemble when questioned.


What is also sad is that many people do not realize they are doing it because media outlets perpetuate the image of “the Thug”.


I will use a situation in American football as an example:


As Richard Sherman puts it “he was not committing any crime, he was showing passion on the football field”.  Evidently, he went on rant after the super bowl, and last I checked, all football players tend to be boastful.


“"The reason it bothers me is because it seems like it's an accepted way of calling somebody the N-word now," he said. "It's like everybody else said the N-word and then they say 'thug' and that's fine. It kind of takes me aback and it's kind of disappointing because they know.”

“"What's the definition of a thug? Really? Can a guy on a football field just talking to people [be a thug?] ... There was a hockey game where they didn't even play hockey! (Laughter from the media) They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and said, 'Ah, man, I'm the thug? What's going on here?'" (More laughter from the media). So I'm really disappointed in being called a thug," he said.”


“Deadspin notes that the word "thug" was uttered 625 times on American television the day following the Seahawks' win. That's more than any other single day in the last three years.”


FYI, I do not know much about football, and I did not know who Richard Sherman was until this story came out. What I do know is that he graduated from Stanford with a high GPA and is evidently good at what he does.


There really are Thugs out there, there really are people who commit some violent crimes out there, there really are some people out there who are deserving of our ire. However, we need to skip the racial bull$#@! and be aware of what we are saying, doing, and perpetuating.


Being a person of color does not equal being a Thug; by the true definition, Thugs can be found across all color lines.


Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Follow up from yesterday’s blog post

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about how the police could learn a lot from the various situations developing throughout the country, and of some of the things they do wrong instead of apologizing.


I am inclined to write a follow up because yesterday, the police in Ferguson did exactly what I said they often do, which is to blame the victim. Worse still is that the comments being written by the general populace have now taken racial overtones simply because the victim allegedly was involved in a crime before getting shot; a crime that was completely non related to why he was shot. I hearing the word “thug” thrown out a lot, and things like “well that is one less of them you need to worry about”, and “just get rid of the whole race and things will be better”.


America, do you not see what is happening again? Are you simply going to fall into the trap of the ‘racial divide’ and not acknowledge the simple truth? Do you realize this is what happens to rape victims as well? They are victimized all over again and reputations are tarnished instead of the truth coming out.


Remember something before you judge: none of us is perfect, not even close.
Right is right and wrong is wrong, and according to the law, innocent until proven guilty.
Do not let them confuse and obfuscate nobody deserves to be shot down in cold blood by the police: nobody.


Innocent until proven guilty,


Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is this a teachable moment for the police?

The Michael Brown shooting and the situation in Ferguson, MO are currently in the headlines. The only problem is that this is nothing new; situations like this have been going on for decades across the country and across color lines; but obviously disproportionally within African-American communities. It is easier to pick on people who do not have as much of a voice or seem not to have one.

A lot encounters with the police start off peaceful (even though no citizen likes to deal with the police), but the point at which thing go wrong seems glaringly obvious: the police never apologize sincerely, ever.

A simple mistake followed by a sincere apology and action can go a long way, but the culture of law enforcement seems to be to ‘never admit you are wrong’, and if possible ‘blame the victim’ in order to confuse, obfuscate, and get away with it. How many incidents have we seen on video where the police are shouting “stop resisting and stop trying to take my gun”, even though the person has already been tazed and handcuffed?
‘Protect and serve’, is supposed to be the job of the police and at this point, it seems obvious to me that they have completely discarded the ‘servant’ part, and as a result, we are not being protected. When was the last time you saw police officers ‘walking the beat’ in the neighborhood? When was the last time you did not feel scared or nervous when the police passed you by (even if you were doing nothing)?

My own personal encounters with the police are memorable in the sense that the majority of them have happened when I was walking home minding my own business, or driving from point A to point B.

As an educator, I understand how you learn from your students as much as they learn from you. I understand that the community needs to be involved in order to teach successfully. These are basic principles of any kind of ‘servant’ job.
Police, you are servants of the community, your job is to make us feel safe, and right now you are failing miserably! Why are we not looking at this aspect of public service equally? Why are we spending so much time, energy, and political will bashing teachers when there are other public servants out there doing a far worse job? Innocents are being hurt, and there is never an excuse for that! Innocent until proven guilty, believe it or take off that uniform!

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sharing an article on UC System’s Online Education

“It Takes Time”

“The University of California System, after five years and millions of dollars spent, is asking for more time and money to get its systemwide online education initiative off the ground.”

“The 10-campus university system began to seriously consider a centralized approach to online education in 2009, as California faced a multibillion-dollar deficit that led to budget cuts, layoffs and tuition hikes across the state. Online for-credit courses, administrators believed -- and to some extent still believe -- could alleviate some the system’s access issues and create a new source of tuition revenue.”

“But five years later, California’s economy has rebounded, and the exigency to go online and do so quickly has diminished. As a result, UC has changed its course, choosing to focus on high-demand online and hybrid courses developed at one or more campuses to benefit students across the system.”

“The shift was perhaps best summarized by Janet Napolitano, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security who became president of the university system last September. During a talk organized by the Public Policy Institute of California this March, Napolitano played down the importance of online learning.”

Feel free to chime in.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sharing an article August 11 2014

“The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher”

“A week before the first paper was due, a young woman in my class raised her hand and asked where the rubric was.”

“Shamefaced and stuttering, I had to admit that I had no idea what a rubric was. She helpfully explained that this was a set of guidelines explaining what I expected them to write, how I expected them to write it, and how each aspect of the paper would be evaluated. A set of boxes that students could check off to guarantee that they had met my expectations. For all intents and purposes, in other words, an outline for the paper.”

“Oh, I replied. No, I continued, there would be no rubric. And as I saw the crestfallen faces in front of me I realized what these students expected me to be: a helicopter teacher.”

“We have all seen (and made fun of) helicopter parents. They hover. They are endlessly accommodating. They put up with rude, spoiled behavior from their children without offering much by way of discipline or punishment.”

“Over the last generation or so, teaching has come to resemble parenting in several ways, swayed by the currents of hyper-parenting that come from the larger culture and responding to the dictates that come down to us from higher up our institutional food chains.”

Read the whole thing here:

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Taking ownership is overrated…let us just blame the teacher instead

In this day and age of “rate my professor”, YouTube rants, and anonymous emails, it become much easier for whisper campaigns to be hatched against teachers. Never mind that the teacher is following and enforcing rules about attendance, quality of work, APA, plagiarism, and just plain simple professionalism; there seems to be a new crop of students who just want the credit without actually doing the work.

“Professor I need an A in this class!”. Well my question for you is: what as a student are you going to do to prepare yourself to make sure you get that A? It is not my job to give you that A, it is my job to give you the resources to earn that A.

Flash forward; warning given, grades done, slackers fail, and then of course slackers cry and complain to higher ups. Now here is where te higher-ups often seem to fail: you must back up your teachers against unsubstantiated rumor and complaints, especially when they are enforcing your own rules. Higher ups need to be thinking about the long term good of the institution, not the popularity contest. Unfortunately, many places give lip service to their instructors, especially if they are adjuncts.

Before I continue, I need to add that this goes beyond just me ranting; this is an amalgamation of many teachers’ stories.

Do not allow these misguided students to send anonymous complainers; they need to cowboy up and confront. The law allows us to confront our accusers, so why should teachers have to defend themselves against a shadow.  Make sure the teachers know that you truly have their back, do not continually undermine them with back alley deals with bad students.

I could go one but I think my point is has been made; the purpose of school is to learn, and learning has rules. Do not be a coward; if you have an issue have a conversation, rather than a confrontation, because you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam