Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Class Work for March 10th

In Mark Pesce's video that we watched on Monday, he talked about the RateMyProfessors web site and the way that it allowed students to share their classroom experiences with other students and helped to create a better educational experience.

He also talked about the growth of online education.

We're going to explore these ideas today and then plan to talk about them in class on Friday.


So, one thing you can do is to choose a college you'd like to attend or you can choose to look at a course here at Clatsop that you haven't taken yet, but would like to.

I'll list some of the 4-year schools in the Pacific Northwest below:

Class schedule for Oregon State University for 2011

Class schedule for University of Oregon for 2011

Class schedule for Portland State University for 2011

Class schedule for Western Oregon University for 2011

Class schedule for Oregon Institute of Technology for 2011

Class schedule for University of Washington for 2011

Class schedule for Washington State University for 2011 (various campuses)

If you don't see a school you're interested in listed, it usually isn't too hard to search out their course listings.

So, find a class you'd like to take and find the name of a professor who teaches that class.

Then, go to RateMyProfessors.com and look up the ratings for the professor you chose. Do you still want to take the class? Why or why not?

On-line Education

Mark Pesce also talked about the growth of online education. Specifically, he mentioned StraighterLine.com

Here is a link to the StraighterLine website.

StraighterLine is not listed at RateMy Professors, but I did find some forum discussions here about the classes offered by StraighterLine.

I also found a few opinion pieces about StrighterLine -

From an English professor at the State University of NewYork - Buffalo

From eCampus News

From techdirt

Here are links for some other web-based educational companies.

Capella University

Some reviews of the educational experience at Capella

Kaplan University - connected with the Kaplan Tutoring company and owned by the Washington Post.

University of Phoenix

Gatlin Education Services

Look at some of the course offerings, pricing and how each different company organizes their system.

Some of these online educational services have been criticized for the level of student loan default that occurs at their schools. An article from azcentral.com (a joint effort between the Phoenix NBC station, the Arizona Republic newspaper and La Voz spanish language newspaper) talks about the University of Phoenix paying recruiters to enroll new students. The idea here is that the recruiters were signing up students who weren't prepared for classes and so the students ended up dropping out and then defaulting on their loans:

Recruiting allegations

For-profit schools have been dogged for years by complaints that they use aggressive recruiting and misleading information to entice students to enroll. Some schools have paid recruiters according to the number of people they sign up. That has led to claims that students are being admitted who are more likely to drop out, never get degrees and default on their loans.

In February, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said it found violations of incentive compensation rules at 32 schools, mostly for-profits, from 1998 to 2009. That included a 2009 case in South Carolina where the school paid bonuses of $52,500 to 17 employees.

Arizona has had its share of allegations of recruiting violations.

In 2004, a federal review of the University of Phoenix depicted a school hungry to enroll new students. The review said the school threatened and intimidated its recruiters in meetings and e-mails, pressuring them to enroll unqualified students. The university strongly disputed the findings. The school's parent company, Apollo Group Inc., later settled the matter for $9.8 million without admitting wrongdoing.

In December, the University of Phoenix settled a whistleblower lawsuit in federal court for $78.5 million over recruiter-pay practices. Two former enrollment counselors sued in 2004, alleging the school defrauded the government of billions of dollars in financial aid and violated federal law by paying recruiters based on enrollment. The company said the pay practices were legal because enrollment was not the sole determinant. The university did not admit any wrongdoing.

Barron's (the financial weekly published by Dow Jones Inc.) also reported on a Department of Education investigation of Kaplan University:

THE WASHINGTON POST COVERS government agencies as closely as any daily newspaper. Yet an investor would have had to scroll through the Washington Post Co.'s (WPO) 10-K filing last week to see news of a Department of Education inquiry into its important education unit.

The Post's education business, anchored by the Kaplan for-profit college and test-prep businesses, contributed 58% of 2009's revenue and all of its $195 million of operating income.

Within that operation, all the growth is from the "higher education" segment, where revenue grew 33% in 2009 and operating income grew almost 60%, to $275 million. Higher education enrollment last year grew 32%, online enrollment 47%.

Outcomes at Kaplan higher-ed, however, don't compare impressively with other for-profit education enterprises. The online Kaplan University segment (about half of the higher-ed unit's revenues) gets 87.5% of its receipts from some $780 million worth of government student aid. That's close to the federal program's 90% limit, and higher than many other for-profits.

Student-loan default rates are one inverse measure of the benefit received by students. Kaplan higher-ed's numbers have been getting worse. In the first two years after graduation, defaults at four of the school's 33 reporting units were above 25%, which is the level at which they are at risk of Department of Education sanctions. At the online Kaplan University, defaults rose from 6% for 2005 grads to 13% for 2007 grads, with preliminary numbers for 2008 worse, around 16%.

Most intriguing in the 10-K is the passing (and first) mention that the Education Department has been conducting a "Program Review" of Kaplan University's main offices in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., since September. The Post business desk seemed not to notice any of this, but Post investors might want to.

I think the point here is not that online education is bad, but that students should be aware of what they're getting into before paying (or borrowing) their money.

Government Spending

Here is a link to the website Maek Pesce was describing in the video. Check out some places where the money is being spent. You can check for the zip code 97103 (or others) and where the money is being spent locally. If the information helpful?

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