» Reviews News, Opinion, Analysis and More For the Adjunct Faculty Nation Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:23:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Print vs. Digital Books? The Majority of Americans Still Favor Print Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:12:53 +0000 by Andrew Perrin

A growing share of Americans are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats.

Americans today have an enormous variety of content available to them at any time of day, and this material is available in a number of formats and through a range of digitally connected devices. Yet even as the number of ways people spend their time has expanded, a Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. Fully 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14%).

bookBut while print remains at the center of the book-reading landscape as a whole, there has been a distinct shift in the e-book landscape over the last five years. Americans increasingly turn to multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet computers – rather than dedicated e-readers – when they engage with e-book content. The share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time, while the share reading on e-book reading devices has not changed. And smartphones are playing an especially prominent role in the e-reading habits of certain demographic groups, such as non-whites and those who have not attended college.

These are among the main findings of a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,520 American adults conducted March 7-April 4, 2016.

The share of Americans who have read a book in the last year is largely unchanged since 2012; more Americans read print books than either read e-books or listen to audio books

Following a slight overall decline in book readership between 2011 and 2012, the share of American adults who read books in any format has remained largely unchanged over the last four years. Some 73% of Americans report that they have read at least one book in the last year. That is nearly identical to the 74% who reported doing so in a survey conducted in 2012, although lower than the 79% who reported doing so in 2011.

Americans read an average (mean) of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read 4 books in the last 12 months. Each of these figures is largely unchanged since 2011, when Pew Research Center first began conducting surveys of Americans’ book reading habits.

Readers today can access books in several common digital formats, but print books remain substantially more popular than either e-books or audio books. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) have read a print book in the last year, which is identical to the share of Americans who reported doing so in 2012 (although down slightly from the 71% who reported reading a print book in 2011).

By contrast, 28% of Americans have read an e-book – and 14% have listened to an audio book – in the last year. In addition to being less popular than print books overall, the share of Americans who read e-books or listen to audio books has remained fairly stable in recent years.

E-book readership increased by 11-percentage points between 2011 and 2014 (from 17% to 28%) but has seen no change in the last two years. Similarly, the share of American adults who listen to audio books has changed only marginally since Pew Research Center first asked about this topic in 2011 – at that point, 11% of Americans had listened to an audio book in the last year, compared with 14% now.

Nearly four-in-ten Americans read print books exclusively; just 6% are digital-only book readers

In total, 34% of Americans have either read an e-book or listened to an audio book in the last year, but relatively few Americans read books in these digital formats to the exclusion of print books.

More than one-quarter (28%) of Americans read books in both print and digital formats (which includes e-books and audio books). Some 38% read print books but did not read books in any digital formats, while just 6% read digital books but not print books.

Relatively few Americans are “digital-only” book readers regardless of their demographic characteristics. However, some demographic groups are slightly more likely than others to do all of their reading in digital format. For instance, 7% of college graduates are digital-only book readers (compared with just 3% of those who have not graduated from high school), as are 8% of those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (compared with 3% of Americans with incomes of $30,000 or less). Interestingly, young adults are no more likely than older adults to be “digital-only” book readers: 6% of 18- to 29-year-olds read books in digital formats only, compared with 7% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5% of those 50 and older.

College graduates are roughly four times as likely to read e-books ­ and about twice as likely to read print books and audio books – compared with those who have not graduated high school

As was the case in previous Pew Research Center surveys on book reading, certain groups of Americans read at relatively high rates and in a wide variety of formats. These include:

College graduates – Compared with those who have not attended college, college graduates are more likely to read books in general, more likely to read print books, and more likely to consume digital-book content. The typical (median) college graduate has read seven books in the last year.

Young adults – 80% of 18- to 29-year-olds have read a book in the last year, compared with 67% of those 65 and older. These young adults are more likely than their elders to read books in various digital formats, but are also more likely to read print books as well: 72% have read a print book in the last year, compared with 61% of seniors.1

Women – Women are more likely than men to read books in general and also more likely to read print books. However, men and women are equally likely to read digital-format books such as e-books and audio books.

The share of Americans who read books on tablets or cellphones has increased substantially since 2011, while the share using dedicated e-readers has remained stable

Tablet computer and smartphone ownership have each increased dramatically in recent years, and a growing share of Americans are using these multipurpose mobile devices – rather than dedicated e-readers – to read books. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Americans who read books on tablet computers has increased nearly fourfold (from 4% to 15%), while the share who read books on smartphones has more than doubled (from 5% to 13%). The share of Americans who read books on desktop or laptop computers has also increased, although by a more modest amount: 11% of Americans now do this, up from 7% in 2011.

By contrast, 8% of Americans now report that they read books using dedicated e-reader devices – nearly identical to the 7% who reported doing so in 2011.

About one-in-five Americans under the age of 50 have used a cellphone to read e-books; blacks and Americans who have not attended college are especially likely to turn to cellphone – rather than other digital devices – when reading e-books

Previous Pew Research Center studies have documented how several groups – such as blacks and Latinos, and those who have not attended college – tend to rely heavily on smartphones for online access. And in the context of book reading, members of these groups are especially likely to turn to smartphones – rather than tablets or other types of digital devices – when they engage with e-book content.

For instance, 16% of blacks report that they use their cellphones to read books. That is nearly double the share of blacks who read books on traditional computers (9%) and four times the share who read books using dedicated e-readers (4%). Hispanics are less likely than blacks as a whole to read books on cellphones (11% do so), but Hispanics are also substantially more likely to read books on cellphones than on e-readers or traditional computers. By contrast, whites tend to turn to a range of digital devices when reading e-books: 13% read e-books on cellphones, but 18% read e-books on tablet computers, 10% use e-book readers and 11% engage with e-book content on desktop or laptop computers.

Cellphones also play a relatively prominent role in the reading habits of Americans who have not attended college. College graduates are far more likely than those with high school diplomas or less to read books on tablets (25% vs. 7%), e-book readers (15% vs. 3%) or traditional computers (15% vs. 6%). But these differences are much less pronounced when it comes to reading books on cellphones. Some 17% of college graduates read books this way, compared with 11% of those with high school diplomas or less – just a 6-percentage point difference.

Along with these groups, Americans under the age of 50 are especially likely to consume e-book content on cell phones: one-in-five (19%) do so, compared with 9% of 50- to 64-year-olds and just 4% of those 65 and older.

The share of Americans who read in order to research a specific topic of interest has increased in recent years

In addition to asking whether – and on what devices – Americans read books specifically, the survey also included a broader set of questions asking about reasons that people might read written content of any kind (including books, but also magazines, newspapers or online content).

Among all American adults:

  • 84% ever read to research specific topics of interest (29% do so nearly every day).
  • 82% read to keep up with current events (47% nearly every day).
  • 80% read for pleasure (35% nearly every day).
  • 57% read for work or school (31% do so nearly every day).

A similar share of Americans report that they read for pleasure, for work or school, or to keep up with current events compared to the most recent time these questions were asked in 2011. However, the share of Americans who read in order to research specific topics of interest has increased by 10-percentage points over that time frame, from 74% to 84%.

Older and younger adults are equally likely to read for pleasure or to keep up with current events; younger adults are more likely to read for work or school, or to research a topic of interest

In some cases, the factors associated with high rates of book readership are the same ones associated with reading for specific purposes. For instance, college graduates are more likely than those who have only attended high school to read books in general – and they are also more likely to read for all four of the specific motivations examined in this survey.

At the same time, there is not always such a direct relationship between book reading and overall reading for specific purposes. As noted earlier in this report, young adults are more likely to read books than older adults. And when asked about specific reasons why they might read a range of content, these young adults are much more likely than older adults to say that they read for work or school, or to research a specific topic of interest. However, Americans of all ages are equally likely to indicate that they read (whether in book form or otherwise) for pleasure or to keep up with current events.

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Adjunct Writes Guidebook on Thriving in the Online Classroom Tue, 13 Sep 2016 19:25:54 +0000 by Cindy O’Dell

Taking a completely online class can be a case of sink or swim, says Jeffrey M. Welch, an adjunct professor in the School of Education.

After more than nine years of teaching at Brandman in both blended and online classes, as well as seeing how online learning is moving into K-12 classrooms (Welch teaches history full time at Emilie J. Ross Middle School in Hughson, California, in the Central Valley), he decided it was time to share what he’s learned by writing a book.

outside-the-wallsOutside the Walls: A Practical Guidebook to Thriving in the Online Classroom is based on his experiences and the experiences of his students, but he’s tried to make it general enough to apply to any type of online learning. It’s available on

“I tried to write it so it wouldn’t be outdated by next week,” said Welch, explaining his focus on learning styles rather specific software. He does provide specific tips throughout the book on everything from time management to effective online presentations to crafting constructive arguments.

“Most of what I say was true five years ago and is still true today,” he said. He called writing the book a great experience and one he would recommend for anyone. “It took me longer than I thought it would but writing about the larger experience really helped me focus on my teaching.”

Welch earned his single-subject teaching credential at Brandman in the ‘90s, which brought him to Dr. Carla Piper‘s attention.

“Jeff was actually in my Educational Applications course in Modesto … He was such an outstanding student, I told him I’d love to have him teach for us,” said Piper. Welch decided he needed a little more teaching experience before taking her up on that proposal but returned to Brandman as an adjunct in 2007 to teach the applications course.

Over the years, the course has moved from blended to completely online. When that happened, Welch began to notice trends among students who struggled. Among them:

  • Not knowing how to use the internet effectively for research.
  • Not knowing how to add an email attachment
  • Difficulty managing time.
  • Thinking online would be “easier.”
  • Difficulty writing clear and specific answers.

“There’s a big group of students who are ready to go (fully online). But there’s also always a group that seems confused,” said Welch. That prompted the book.

It starts with students understanding of their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. It’s not that people can’t succeed online, it’s that it’s not always the best fit, said Welch.

Reading – either difficulty with the volume of reading required or difficulty understanding what’s being emphasized because there are no visual or auditory cues – is often at the root of the problems.  “Some students just need to see the professor face to face.”

Awareness about learning styles, which he details in the book, are useful at all levels of education, he said. Gaining that awareness can be particularly challenging for first-generation college students. Welch understands because he was one, too.

“I think I just got lucky. But some have a real struggle with understanding how the process works,” said Welch. “It’s people who naively think you don’t have to show up or that it’s no big deal who will have trouble.”


Welch also includes what the online environment looks like from the faculty perspective. Among his pet peeves are “zombie” students who never fully engage and those who seem to have the same excuses over and over for not being able to finish work on time.

“Education in general and college, in particular, are about what you bring to them,” he writes in his conclusion. “Engaging with human knowledge and your classroom community are the point.

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Great Apps to Create Meaningful Connections Inside (and Outside) the Classroom Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:41:46 +0000 by Shawn Orr

I love technology! I guess if I’m being completely honest, what I really love is the engagement, excitement, and interactivity that technology brings to my college classroom. I’m not talking about the bells and whistles (although that’s fun, too), but the true engagement that happens when I use technology that really resonates with my digitally native students, that connects them to each other, and (most importantly) helps them master course content. So, whether you are new to using technology in the classroom or a seasoned technology pro, here are five of my favorite applications (apps) to engage students and help them create meaningful connections.

  1. Plickers
    If you’ve ever had a student tell you they don’t have an electronic device so they can’t participate in polling questions, this is the app for you! This free app allows instructors to print paper “clickers” in order to conduct polling, collect formative and summative assessment data, and keep their students engaged and on track in class. Download the Plickers app on your device, and then go to to create quizzes. You can also link each piece of paper to individual students, so taking attendance and grading in-class quizzes is a breeze!
  2. Kahoot
    This is my favorite technology for gaming in the classroom. Instructors create quizzes (or discussion questions and surveys) Students go to on their device browser and enter the quiz code, then play against each other. They earn points based on the speed and accuracy of their answers, plus a leader board enhances engagement and keeps the competitive spirit alive. One of my favorite things about Kahoot is that students see only four colored squares that correspond to the question on their device screens. This keeps students from getting lost in their devices and helps them focus on the content and each other.
  3. Aurasma
    This augmented reality app has changed my syllabus. Instructors go to Aurasma Studio where they upload and link audio and video files with pictures. They then put those pictures on their syllabi (or other document) next to the corresponding content. Students download the free Aurasma app on their mobile device and “follow” their instructor. Whenever a student needs more help on a concept listed on the syllabus, they simply hold their phone over the picture and up pops a video of their instructor talking them through the concept. Talk about providing real-time information—whenever and wherever the student needs it!
  4. MindTap
    This great mobile app allows students to study anytime and anywhere for any class that is using MindTap. Students download the free app, choose the class they want to work on, and can then review pre-built and custom-created flashcards, create and take chapter quizzes (think gaming), set reminders for important project due dates (with alarms), and receive up-to-the-minute notes and messages that instructors can post in their MindTap course. I love this app because it reaches students where they are…on their cell phones!
  5. Eyejot
    The Eyejot app allows instructors to send video email messages to their students. (The app is free on the computer, but there is a small fee to download it to a mobile device.) When I contact a student via Eyejot, the connection is so much more personal, and they don’t even need a webcam to reply back to me. Plus, I think it’s a lot harder to delete my face than one of my email messages.
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How Bloom’s Toxonomy Can Make You a Better Teacher Tue, 19 Jan 2016 19:29:16 +0000 Used with permission from A Handbook for Adjunct/Part-Time Faculty and Teacher’s of Adults, 7th ed.

by Dr. Donald Grieve, Ed.D.


Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

If there is a single paradigm that has stood the test of time in education it is Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Bloom et al., 1956). Published more than half a century ago, this taxonomy describes the learning process as three factors or domains. They are the cognitive domain, affective domain, and psychomotor domain.

Essentially, cognitive learning is learning that emphasizes knowledge and information and incorporates analysis of that knowledge. Affective learning centers on values and value systems, receiving stimuli, ideas and to some degree, organization. Psychomotor learning addresses hand/eye coordination, normally referred to as physical coordination.

The importance of these three domains is not so much the overall consideration of the categories as it is the breakdown provided by Bloom. For example, Bloom’s cognitive domain is broken into several categories: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The affective domain is broken into receiving, responding, valuing, organizing and characterization of value complex. A psychomotor domain essentially is that which provides for the development of physical skills.

The cognitive domain is usually emphasized in the classroom learning situation. However, when writing course objectives it is often expected that all three domains will be represented. This means that you should have objectives in the cognitive domain written not only at the knowledge level but also the evaluation, analysis, and synthesis levels. In the affective domain, you would have objectives covering responding, valuing and value complex. Many institutions require course objectives and activities in all three of the domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It should be noted from examination of the descriptions rendered here that these domains effectively cover all areas of the learning process.


Students are motivated for many reasons: individual improvement, intellectual curiosity, needed employment competencies, career change or advancement, employment requirement, or the completion of degree or certificate requirements. Although these motivational reasons are broad and varied, faculty must possess the skills to motivate students with a variety of activities including occasional risk-taking.

The following anecdote exemplifies such risk taking. After many years of teaching, I remember being faced with a class that would not respond or participate. Admittedly it was a Friday night class; however, you might expect that in such a class, highly motivated students would be enrolled. They were, however, very tired students and many of them were enrolled merely to pick up additional credits. After teaching the class about three weeks and experiencing very little student response, on the spur of the moment during the third evening, I simply stated, “We must start communicating.

I would like each of you at this time to turn to a person near you, introduce yourself and tell them that you are going to help them get through the course, no matter how difficult it is, that you will be there to help them whenever they become confused, and that the two of you (by helping each other) can be successful in this course.” This seemingly simple technique worked wonders. The students became acquainted with someone they hadn’t previously known, and in many cases, found someone who really could help them get through the course. For the remainder of the course, when it appeared that the class was experiencing difficulty, I simply needed to say “let’s take a few minutes and get together with our partner.”

When chalkboard work was given, two students would voluntarily go to the board together. Thus a previously unused “risk” activity proved successful—and was my first experience with collaborative learning and the partner system. This is an example of trying a basic technique of motivation. In this case it worked. It may not work every time, but it was not a technique that I had in my repertoire prior to that time. So, when motivating adult students, remember that you must occasionally try techniques not necessarily found in the literature; however, there are proven techniques that should be in the professional portfolio of all teachers, such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It is virtually impossible to incorporate all theories of motivation for your students. It is appropriate, therefore, that we find refuge in a time-honored theory of learning called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s hierarchy states that the basic needs of human beings fall into five categories:

PHYSIOLOGICAL—feeling good physically with appropriate food and shelter.

• SAFETY—the feeling of security in one’s environment.

• LOVE AND BELONGING OR THE SOCIAL NEED—fulfilling the basic family and social role.

• ESTEEM—the status and respect of a positive self-image.

• SELF-ACTUALIZATION—growth of the individual.

Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging. The fact that Maslow’s needs are in hierarchy form is a major problem for teachers of adults. For example, attempting to address the needs of esteem and self-actualization in the classroom, when physiological, safety, and love and belonging needs have not been met, is a difficult task. In fact, the lack of fulfillment of the basic needs may interfere with the learning process. This interference may manifest itself in anti-social behavior.

The challenge becomes, how does one in a short period of time, teaching on a part-time basis to mostly part-time students, overcome these barriers? The fact is that one may not overcome all of these barriers. If instructors attempt to take the time to analyze each of the unmet needs of each of their students, they will have little time to work toward the goals and objectives of the course.

There is, however, an important factor to support the instructor. It is that the need to achieve appears to be a basic need in human beings. The need to succeed, an intrinsic motivator that usually overcomes most of the other distractions to learning, is the factor upon which successful teachers capitalize.

There is little that faculty can do to help students to meet the physiological, safety, and love and belonging needs. The need for esteem and self-actualization, which are essentially achievement, are areas in which teaching strategies can be implemented.

Esteem. Esteem is the status and respect with which human beings are regarded by their peers and activities faculty members incorporate that assist students in achieving status and self-respect will support fulfillment of the esteem need. This is accomplished by providing an environment in which students can experience success in their learning endeavors. Many learning theorists claim that success in itself is the solution to motivation and learning.

One of the great fallacies of teaching is often stated by students who have succeeded in classes where other students have dropped out. That observation is: “That prof. was tough, but he/she was really good.” Being tough has no relationship to being good. Often, some faculty believe rigidity is a substitute for good teaching. There is no evidence to suggest that “tough teachers” are better teachers. It is especially discouraging to marginal students who work hard, but find the chances for success negated by the instructor’s desire to be tough.

Building esteem through success is accomplished in many ways. The following are some classroom instruction suggestions to assist students in achieving success:

Make certain that students are aware of course requirements. Students should be provided with course objectives in written form that tell them what they are expected to accomplish.

Inform students precisely what is expected of them. This means not only the work or the skills necessary for them to complete the course content, but also the time commitment.

Give students nonverbal encouragement whenever possible. There are many ways this can be accomplished. Eye contact with students can very often elicit a positive response. Gestures are important. A smile, a nod of the head, just looking at students with the feeling that you find the classroom a pleasant environment is in itself effective nonverbal encouragement.

Give positive reinforcement at every opportunity. Simple techniques such as quizzes for which grades are not taken, quizzes designed so most or all students will succeed, as well as short tests as a supplement to grading are effective positive reinforcement strategies. Comments written on hand-in papers, tests, and projects are effective ways to provide positive feedback. Of course, the ideal form of positive reinforcement is provided through individual conferences and informal conversations with students at chance meetings.

Provide a structured situation in which the students feel comfortable. The laissez-faire classroom is generally a lazy classroom. Most educators agree that a structured setting with students participating in activities is much better than an unstructured approach.

Provide opportunity for student discussion of outside experiences. Some students in your class, who may not be particularly adept in the course content, may have significant contributions and accomplishments to share. One of the greatest builders of esteem is to allow students to share their success experiences with others.

Self-Actualization. Self-actualization, the highest of Maslow’s hierarchy, is the realization of individual growth. Such growth is realized through achievement and success. Course planning for enhancement of student self-actualization is the ultimate in successful teaching. The suggestions listed here can assist in the student growth process.

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For Faculty: A Closer Look at the Yik Yak App Wed, 02 Dec 2015 19:01:58 +0000

Yik Yak is a social-media app that in just two years has become an everyday part of the American college experience. If you’ve heard of it, chances are you think it’s awful. It has a terrible reputation as adangerous source of vitriol, threats and ethnic slurs — a reputation only strengthened by recent events.

After protests by black students led to the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri, menacing posts appeared on Yik Yak, which lets people make anonymous, ephemeral notes visible to others within a narrow geographical radius. One of them said, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”

Last week, police officers in Columbia, Missouri, arrested a man the state university described as “the suspect who posted threats to campus on Yik Yak and other social media.” Later, a student at Northwest Missouri State University was arrested on charges of threatening black students on Yik Yak. (Although Yik Yak posts are anonymous, the company logs users and will share that information with law-enforcement under certain conditions, including imminent threats.)

The stories are typical of those shaping Yik Yak’s media image. Critics, after all, portray it as a clearinghouse of digital hostility. Last month, a coalition of feminist groups asked the Department of Education to force universities to do more to police Yik Yak. They decried it as a tool for “cyber-harassment, intimidation, and threats.” Why would college students embrace such a terrible tool?

I had read about Yik Yak, always negatively, but had never actually experienced it until I was at Princeton last spring, reporting a column on student angst. Students there cited Yik Yak as a way to gauge campus culture, so I signed up and took a look.

What I discovered astonished me.

The Yik Yak I saw came closer to the company’s public-relations aspirations (“home to the casual, relatable, heartfelt, and silly things that connect people with their community”) than to the hate-drenched graffiti its critics had led me to expect. Though largely banal, my samples at Princeton, and later at UCLA and Santa Monica College, revealed Yik Yak posts to be mostly good-natured, often stupid, but rarely evil. At SMC, students typically complain about the parking shortage; at UCLA, they gripe about food; at Princeton they desperately crave sleep. Everywhere they talk about sex.

Most striking is how the anonymity of Yik Yak creates a place of support and solidarity amid academic and social struggles. Shielded by anonymity, students give voice not just to the angry id that attracts condemnation and media notice but to the pain and insecurities they often won’t admit to their friends. This expression can take jocular form, as in the most popular post I saw at Princeton:


Where all the kids are smarter than you except the ones assigned to your group project

It can also be considerably darker. “I have everything someone could ever want. And yet I’m still suicidal and always unhappy,” a UCLA student posted. “I feel the same way,” responded another, who added: “:( and then I feel [terrible] for being unhappy because other people have less and are happy so I feel like I shouldn’t complain. I realize that’s not how it works but still :(”. “Me too :(” another chimed in. Publicly confessing such thoughts might get you denounced as a “special snowflake.” In the anonymity of Yik Yak, you can find people who feel your pain and you can at least know you aren’t alone. Maybe that’s why one Princetonian posted, “I yak 10X more when I’m depressed.”

Along with commiseration and encouragement, the solidarity can include practical advice. “I don’t know if I want to be here but I’ll feel like such a failure if I leave. especially since no one from my high school ever gets accepted at schools like this,” wrote a Princeton student. “I relate to that so much,” responded another. “For me it has helped to reach out for academic help whenever possible — profs and preceptors can be surprisingly nice and office hours have helped me so much.” A couple of self-identified grad students offered encouragement, including reassurance that “most of us love to help you out when we can.”

To students feeling insecure and worthless, Yik Yak carries the message that they matter. Even anonymous strangers care about their well-being. “If people don’t appreciate/value me when I’m alive why should I care that they would care if I died?” wrote a Princeton student. Someone responded, “Hey, my best friend killed himself last year and he kept saying that no one appreciated or valued him but it just wasn’t true. If you really feel that way please go to CPS [the school’s counseling center]. There’s always someone in your life who you mean more to than you’ll ever know.”

So, yes, Yik Yak does attract nasty posts, including the threats in Missouri. But on a routine basis, the app grownups love to demonize is much friendlier than the Twitter and Facebook feeds I read daily. For reasons built into its structure, Yik Yak offers fewer rewards for mean, grouchy, tribal, and polarizing posts and more for those that are supportive, funny, inquisitive, and community-building. Far from encouraging a free-for-all, the terms of service prohibit threats and abuse, as well as “racially or ethnically offensive language.” More immediately, Yik Yak lets users vote comments up or down, giving them longer or shorter lives.

By wielding their voting power, Yik Yak users develop unwritten rules that tend to keep things friendly and fun, observes Briallyn Smith, a graduate student in rehabilitation science at Western University in London, Ontario, who writes frequently on the intersection of technology and college life. “I’ve been amazed by how quickly Yaks that don’t fit the community’s standards will be removed from view — not by any external moderation, but by the user base,” she writes, noting that “generally you’ll only see negative messages for the first minute after they are posted, after which they are completely down-voted into oblivion.”

This dynamic isn’t an accident. It’s essential to the business. Unlike a website such as Reddit or an Internet-based service such as Twitter, Yik Yak doesn’t draw from the whole world. It can’t survive by attracting a tiny fringe from a huge universe or by aggregating lots of separate tribes. It has to draw most of the potential audience within each local radius, typically a college campus. And everyone sees everything — no talking only to those who agree. It’s like a small town, but one that people can abandon simply by not logging on. Leaving Yik Yak, unlike other social media, is painless; it won’t hurt you professionally or cut you off from family photos.

If a local Yik Yak provides a place people want to hang out, it will flourish. If it alienates too many users, it will just blow away. The service has spread so fast not because students love to dole out abuse but because they yearn to connect.

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A Round-up of the Best Books on College Teaching Wed, 30 Sep 2015 18:40:58 +0000 by Linda B. Nilson

We can’t keep up with our own discipline’s research, so how are we supposed to stay abreast of the college teaching literature? Let me make it a little easier for you. Here are six recently published books that capture what I think are the latest and most important developments and trends in college teaching and learning. If you’re new to teaching, start with the how-to basics in my book Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors 3rd ed. (Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Susan A. Ambrose et al., How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (Jossey-Bass, 2010). We just can’t find out too much about how the mind learns. The authors derive research from anthropology, sociology, organizational behavior, and cognitive, developmental, educational, and social psychology to distill seven learning principles: the effects on learning of students’ prior knowledge, their organization of the material, their motivation, and their level of development and class climate, as well as the importance of practice and feedback, the prerequisites of mastery, and the role of self-regulation in self-directed learning. The book provides teaching recommendations for each principle.

José Antonio Bowen, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2012). While I really dislike the primary title—it misrepresents the book’s material and purpose—Bowen’s best-seller gives directions, reasons, creative ideas, software, and resources for flipping your classroom. Games merit his special attention because students find them so engaging. Although the evidence that technology actually increases learning is thin, the value of active learning is indisputable.

James R. Davis and Bridget D. Arend,Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning: A Resource for More Purposeful, Effective, and Enjoyable College Teaching (Stylus, 2013). This book offers a fresh, overarching organization of how we should be teaching, depending upon our student learning outcomes. The authors relate seven categories of outcomes (e.g., building skills, developing thinking and reasoning processes, practicing professional judgment) to different ways of learning (e.g., behavioral, learning through inquiry, learning through virtual realities) and to different teaching methods (e.g., tasks & procedures and practice exercises, question-driven inquiries and discussions, role plays, simulations, games, and dramatic scenarios). Their recommendations make solid sense.


Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek, The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain (Stylus, 2013). If I may quote from my review printed on the back cover: “This is a path-breaking book. . . . More sophisticated and empirically-grounded that any study skills manual, [it] addresses all the major research findings on how the human brain learns. It does so using language and examples that students—in fact, anyone with a mind—can understand and immediately apply to enhance their attention, depth of processing, retention, retrieval, and far-transfer abilities. It deserves to be required reading for all college students—really, anyone interested in learning.” And this includes faculty! Consider assigning this book to your students as well.

Arthur Levine and Diane R. Dean, Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student (Jossey-Bass, 2012). The authors assemble compelling survey evidence for the generalizations they make about Millennial students. You can gain a nuanced understanding of how the generation’s unique experiences and demographics have shaped their values, aspirations, politics, social lives, family lives, and attitudes about education.

John D. Shank, Interactive Open Educational Resources: A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What’s Out There to Transform College Teaching (Jossey-Bass, 2014). This is a valuable reference book on free, high-quality, digital resources for teaching and learning at the post-secondary level. These resources, some of which are interactive, span simulations, games, multimedia tutorials, demonstrations, virtual labs and experiences, animations, videos, and audio recordings. Useful in traditional, flipped, online, or hybrid courses, they can serve as engaging homework assignments, in-class activities, supplementary lessons, or lecture enhancements.

Since all these books come from two major publishers, Jossey-Bass and Stylus, your campus library either has them in their collection or can get them for you quickly through interlibrary loan. However many years you have taught, you will surely learn new tools-of-the-trade. And if you are feeling burned out, you’re likely to find a fresh approach, perspective, or resource that will refuel your passion for teaching.

Linda B. Nilson is founding director of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation at Clemson University and author of Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills (Stylus, 2013), Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors, 3rd ed. (Jossey-Bass, 2010), andThe Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course (Jossey-Bass, 2007). She also co-edited Enhancing Learning with Laptops in the Classroom (Jossey-Bass, 2005) and volumes 25 through 28 of To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development, the major publication of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education. More info on her LinkedIn profile.

This was originally posted to

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Are You Ready for These New Education Technology Fads and Trends? Mon, 31 Aug 2015 21:44:30 +0000 by Frank Catalano

At one point in early May, three different edtech conferences overlapped in the San Francisco Bay Area in the same week: NewSchools Venture Fund’s invitation-only NewSchools Summit, the Software and Information Industry Association’s annual Education Industry Summit, and the U.S. Office of Education Technology’s Future Ready Summit.

Coming on the heels of other high-elevation edtech events with record crowds (Austin’s festival-like SXSWedu in March, and Scottsdale’s Burning-Man-for-investors ASU+GSV Summit in April), it’s no wonder attendees are all left gasping as the seasonal climb nears its end. It makes no difference if one is in industry, policy, funding or teaching, or focuses on K-12 schools, higher education, or lifelong learning. By the time summer arrives, everyone is dazed and confused, and only part of it is altitude sickness.

The result? If you’re an old hand, new to the industry, or just want to understand what all the self-described cool kids are abbreviating (education does so love its jargon), here is your highly opinionated cheat sheet to ten trends, fads, and inexplicable WTFs of edtech, 2015 edition.


BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement: Encouraging students to bring their own laptops, tablets, and even smartphones to school to help get to 1:1 computing (that is, every student has a device) faster than relying solely on school-issued devices. A strong trend, more so at the high school level where many students are more likely to already own a mobile device. Big drivers are the move to digital materials and strained school budgets; challenges are network security and equity for students who don’t have devices or broadband access at home.

Open Educational Resources (OER): Creating digital instructional materials that teachers are free to use, change, and share. A moderate trend, propelled by foundation and government money and pockets of highly motivated educators who develop the resources on their own time, or on school time as part of an institutional effort. Appeal is, well, the free part (except labor); a challenge is maintaining OER over time and getting the resources to combine neatly with other digital content a school may already have purchased.

Freemium: Products or services that have a useful version that is free forever, with an upsell for more scale (say, from individual classroom to school district level) or for more features. A strong trend that has its roots in the long-time concept of consumer or business freeware or shareware, brought to education by savvy startups either wholly aimed at schools (Schoology) or that crossed over from consumer (Evernote). Once considered a fad, freemium moved to trend after some school districts stopped resisting the idea that teachers could identify, try, and recommend good products – and bought.

Student data privacy: Protecting digital student data through security, policy, and practice as consumer apps enter the classroom and pieces of the data persist across 12, or even 20, years of formal education. A moderate trend if you go with the training-wheels (but important starting point)Student Privacy Pledge signed by 140 companies. But much stronger when you add in proposed federal legislation and overdue updates to laws like FERPA (look it up, as your teacher may have once scolded).

Edtech investment bubble: Too much investor money chasing too many similar or bad ideas (for reference, see “dot-com era” and a cute mascot). It’s a strong trend. While the total amount of venture investment in edtech pales by comparison to, say, a single Uber, stupid money appears to be tripping over smart to get in on action and into a market they don’t fully understand. The debate isn’t about whether there is a bubble; it’s whether the bubble is limited to certain segments or is over-inflating all of education technology equally. Unless you’re asking an investor benefiting from inflated values – then it’s all about the kids. Greater fools may abound.


Going 100 percent digital: Replacing everything a student touches, from instructional materials to tests, with digital equivalents. Works great in a world of unlimited bandwidth, perfectly reliable devices, and totally flexible and intuitive software. Oh, and lots of money. This has been attempted in a few perfect-world school districts in the U.S., or where mandated (and funded) by top-down education ministries in other countries. But in much of the messy, unequal, real world, it’s still easier and more common for teachers to do a pop quiz on paper or to ensure educational equity by simply sending home a paperback copy of Shakespeare.

Coding classes and camps: From CoderDojo and to many more, one hour, one weekend, or after-school efforts to get kids to learn computer programming languages to develop logical thinking and STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) skills. We’re in the middle of an if-thenbubble. But the ultimate result will likely be non-binary and more trend than fad, as groups like hope: More recognition of computer science, which is far broader and deeper than coding, as a legitimate part of the K-12 curriculum.


Open Badges: Portable digital graphics with embedded data that represent a skill or achievement and can be easily and securely shared by the earner, then confirmed by an institution or employer, as micro-credentials. Launched by the Mozilla Foundation, Open Badges have failed to take off in K-12 schools as much more than digital gold stars for motivation – there’s far more (albeit still nascent) traction in higher education and professional certification where “chunking” and “stacking” individual accomplishments into, say, a degree or resume is better understood. Open Badges in schools may be facing a classic chicken-or-egg problem. Or districts too chicken to try something this new.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses): Free classes held online at huge scale that are open to anyone. After a burst of success with computer science topics, companies trying to monetize MOOCs have conveniently begun dropping words from the acronym, mostly “massive” (limiting enrollment to a specific institution or company) and “open” (by charging to take part). While MOOCs haven’t been the harbinger of traditional higher education’s doom that some had gleefully predicted, they have succeeded in attracting students of every age to learn more about parts of classes that interest them, and shone a light on the potential of the remaining two words: “online courses.”

With careful study, this cheat sheet of education technology developments and their near-term outlook should make that next education meetup, pitchfest, or conference far more understandable, if not tolerable. Because there will be a test. In education, there always is.

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Book Review: ‘Building a Better Teacher,’ on Secrets of Good Teaching by Elizabeth Green Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:37:59 +0000 By Michael S. Roth


How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)

By Elizabeth Green

Norton. 372 pp. $27.95


America has some of the best schools on the planet and one of the worst systems of education in the developed world. We have produced educational philosophies that have inspired teachers and students on every continent, but we have failed badly in implementing strategies that would either cultivate talents or address deficiencies.

This is not for lack of trying. Over a long period of time, federal and state governments have spent billions of dollars creating fancy programs dedicated to reorganizing where and how kids learn. In recent years we have built a testing industry based on the theory that if you can evaluate something, you can improve it. After all that effort, we have the tests, but where are the viable strategies for improving teaching and learning?

In “Building a Better Teacher,” Elizabeth Green examines the forces for and obstacles against change in our schools. But she doesn’t engage directly in the political debates that swirl around tenure, unions, cheating, over-testing and growing inequality. Instead, she identifies and dispels three deep sources of confusion: one myth and two inadequate arguments.

Green finds the “Myth of the Natural-Born Teacher” to be pervasive and pernicious. It attributes great teaching to personality traits that can’t be learned: “You either have it or you don’t.” This keeps us from developing a professional culture to improve teaching. Instead, we seek to hire people who have “it,” without defining what “it” is.

Two arguments that feed off this myth are labeled by Green accountability and autonomy. According to the first, we must measure a teacher’s results by testing his or her students (again and again). Data from the tests will be used to hold the teacher accountable (read: punishments and rewards) without a clue about how to improve performance. According to the autonomy argument, nobody can understand what goes on in a classroom better than teachers themselves. Instruction is so personal that we must respect the professional autonomy of teachers and let them do what feels right to them (whatever that is).

The myth and the arguments keep us from accomplishing what the philosopher John Dewey called for decades ago: develop “an analysis of what the gifted teacher does intuitively,” so we can create a culture in which effective teaching and deep learning take place.

Green describes with verve some of the key efforts to show that great teaching is a professional achievement rather than a natural ability. In the 1980s Lee Shulman recognized that teachers, like physicians, must learn how to combine their specific subject expertise with an ability to make that knowledge relevant to others. More recently, Magdalene Lampert has shown how sharing best classroom practices can promote teaching as a “complex craft” mastered over time. Green paints a picture of dedicated professionals striving to create a culture that can refine, share, improve upon and disseminate effective pedagogy. She points out that teachers need to know how to turn “a student’s slippery intuition into solid understanding” — and that this kind of knowledge can itself be taught.

Creating the infrastructure to develop this knowledge is a massive undertaking, given the scale of our heterogeneous systems. There are more than 3.7 million teachers in this country, and looming retirements mean that we can expect to hire around 3 million new teachers by 2020.

But the most interesting parts of “Building a Better Teacher” don’t have to do with numbers, systems or politics. Green is at her best when she describes how dedicated teachers work in the classroom. It isn’t nearly enough, she explains, for instructors to show their pupils how to get the right answers. Teachers have to divine why youngsters landed on the wrong answers and then steer them away from error so that in the future they can find their own way.

And that’s the key to great teaching at any level: cultivating in students the enhanced capacity to think for themselves in productive ways when they are no longer in the classroom or doing homework. This is so much more than following a rule or showing discipline (though both are often necessary). Green’s pages on teachers who help their students to think mathematically are particularly effective. But how to share teaching strategies that work?

Green compares the Japanese use of discussion sessions, jugyokenkyu, with the American reluctance to talk about teaching techniques at all. In Japan, regular observation and discussions turn the discovery of effective strategies in individual classrooms into a comprehension of craft that can be shared by a community of professionals.

A community of professionals is not the same thing as a union defending basic working conditions; nor is it a high-flying cadre of charismatic instructors whose students score well on exams. It’s the human core of effective instruction. All the testing in the world is just an “exoskeleton” and won’t provide this foundation.

Many obstacles inhibit the development of a culture for learning the craft of teaching. But Green emphasizes the ingredients for positive change that are currently in place. In addition to advances in teacher training, there are energetic entrepreneurs creating schools with ambitious, measurable goals: “The Common Core offered coherence, the research on teaching and teacher education offered a starting point for a curriculum, and the entrepreneurs added passion and a laboratory for experimentation.”

Now that we know how great a difference skilled teachers can make, we should leave behind the myth of the natural teacher, and our obsessions with accountability or autonomy. “The only logical conclusion,” Green writes, is “that American education ought to build a coherent infrastructure — clear goals, accurate tests, trained instructors — to teach teaching.”

Despite her lack of attention to the wider culture and context, Green’s account of passionate educators dedicated to their “complex craft” should be part of every new teacher’s education. It is vital for the United States to build better teachers to inspire the lifelong learning that not only our students but also their instructors so desperately need.



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Book Review: The Good Girls Revolt—How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace Mon, 05 Nov 2012 17:15:41 +0000 by Anne Fischer

The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich
ISBN: 978-1610391733
288 pages

On March 18, 1970, over one hundred activists occupied the offices of the Ladies’ Home Journal. Under the banner of the magazine’s slogan “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman,” the activists presented a list of demands, including the hiring of nonwhite women at all levels of the masthead, free on-site childcare, and salary raises. The beleaguered editor-in-chief sat cornered in his office for the duration of the eleven-hour sit-in, until Shulamith Firestone, one of the movement’s leaders, leapt onto his desk in a fit of rage, ripped a copy of the magazine apart, and lunged at the man. Firestone was hastily detained by the other feminists, and soon after, the editor opened negotiations.

Just two days before the Ladies’ Home Journal occupation, forty-six women from Newsweek announced to a packed press conference that they were filing an unprecedented class-action lawsuit against their employer for gender discrimination. “Compared to the guerilla action [of the Journal sit-in], we were models of propriety,” writes Lynn Povich in her account of the lawsuit, The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. These “middle-class ladies” wouldn’t dare leap on any desks, but they had calculated the timing of the press conference to maximize their publicity, and Newsweek‘s pain: that very day, Newsweek ran a cover story on the feminist movement, “Women in Revolt.” Two class-actions and several years later, Povich, who started her career as a Newsweek secretary, was eventually named the first female senior editor. The Newsweekdiscrimination lawsuit set off a host of others at media outlets across the country, including The New York Times and Time, Inc.

The women who sued Newsweek sparkled with prestige, what their first lawyer, civil rights luminary Eleanor Holmes Norton, called “pristine female brilliance.” They were Radcliffe graduates; Fulbright, Marshall, and Phi Beta Kappa scholars; and their credentials often came with a Rolodex full of professional connections, too: “father’s friends” play a big role throughout the book, and, as Povich discloses, her own father was a prominent columnist for The Washington Post.

Despite these advantages, the women were bound to secretarial research jobs, particularly tedious in a pre-Internet newsroom, forced to watch their male counterparts from Harvard land writing assignments and move up the masthead, not to mention the pay scale. These injuries were compounded by a hostile atmosphere of routine sexual intimidation. Though Povich too often delivers her stories of harassment in shorthand, with winking references to Mad Men, they are truly frightening: in one instance, after a researcher refused an editor’s increasingly aggressive advances, he marched up and down the Newsweek halls screaming her name, using words even PublicAffairs deemed unprintable.

The Newsweek women wanted an end to the abuses and degradation, but unlike the Journal occupiers, they didn’t want to topple the prevailing power structure; on the contrary, they wanted their own piece of it. “It was thrilling to feel the pulse of the news and to have that special pipeline to the truth that civilians couldn’t possibly have,” gushes Povich, in one of her many love letters to Newsweek and the media establishment at large. Another researcher adored being a “handmaiden to the writer gods.” It is staggering, then, that these passionate champions of the system would dare challenge it — but when their confrontation with the magazine is presented as a “homegrown revolution” (“plotted over home-baked crab cakes and claret lemonade”), Povich’s claims become especially problematic.

Povich frames the lawsuit as a triumphant moment in feminist history, yet she and the other women are also quick to distance themselves from the “lunatic fringe” of the women’s liberation movement, or “women’s lib,” as Povich breezily calls it. A former colleague reflects, “I love and respect all those rude and noisy women whose protests — even the silly protests — achieved so much for women’s freedom and choice.” For Povich, the lawsuit was a “radicalizing act,” but she betrays a deep ambivalence toward her radical contemporaries who sought to overthrow the system, rather than work it.

The Good Girls Revolt is emblematic of a narrow and much-maligned vision of the women’s movement in the 1970s, one that is white, professional, and in Povich’s own word, deployed with an unapologetic self-awareness, “elitist.” Though Povich proudly declares that Norton, the women’s first lawyer, was “a serious black woman with an imposing afro,” only one of the six black women approached signed on to the initial lawsuit. “There was a feeling… that we were an afterthought,” said one researcher. If we, like Povich, agree that “feminism isn’t finished,” then what is the value of her history, skewed as it is by her exclusive brand of advocacy? The Good Girls Revolt deserves close scrutiny because it is a history written for emerging women in the media, the spiritual home of the feminist backlash — in 1990, a year before Povich left the magazine, Newsweek declared feminism “the great experiment that failed” — and its misdirecting cousins, “having it all” and the “end of men.” The Good Girls Revolt is meant for the women who will write the evolving narrative of feminism.

Learning our history, Povich rightly, if blandly, argues, is empowering. To prove her point, she introduces three young Newsweek and The Daily Beast writers, perfect new-generation analogies for Povich and her colleagues. Forty years after the lawsuit, these “bright young things” still suffered discrimination at the magazine (now edited by Tina Brown). They had shared a similar distaste for “angry, man-hating, granola-crunching” feminists, until they unearthed the history of the lawsuit and the young women had a “feminist awakening,” stunned to find themselves in a longer struggle for women’s rights.

Povich is happy to take credit for their conversion, but the historical lesson she offers throughout The Good Girls Revolt — a repeat of the myopic “women’s lib” she espoused forty years ago — will not be enough to provoke a new and lasting “feminist awakening” among good girls and women alike. There is surely no revolution in the pages of The Good Girls Revolt, but clear-eyed and critical readers will find a rough draft of history that demands to be rewritten.

This review first appeared on and is used here with permission.


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#Teaching: Survey Finds Profs Use of Social Media Increasing Mon, 29 Oct 2012 10:00:59 +0000 College faculty have evolved their use of social media for professional, personal and instructional use, with a decrease in concerns around the value and amount of time spent using social media, according to a new report from the Babson Survey Research Group. The annual survey of nearly 4,000 teaching faculty from all disciplines in higher education, representing U.S. higher education professors, examined both the personal and professional impacts of social media.

Key findings of the survey include:

•  64.4 percent of faculty use social media for their personal lives, 33.8 percent use it for teaching

•  41 percent for those under age 35 compared to 30 percent for those over age 55 reported using social media in their teaching

•  Faculty in the Humanities and Arts, Professions and Applied Sciences, and the Social Sciences use social media at higher rates than those in Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science

•  Blogs and wikis are preferred for teaching, while Facebook or LinkedIn are used more for social and professional connections

•  88 percent of faculty, regardless of discipline, reported using online video in the classroom

“Faculty are clearly becoming more comfortable leveraging social media in their personal, professional and instructional lives,” said Jeff Seaman, Ph.D., co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “Social media is no longer seen as time-consuming to learn and use, which shows that faculty are more proficient and better acquainted with the social media tools available to them.”

While there continue to be barriers to widespread adoption of social media for teaching, the study showed that these concerns are decreasing. Compared to 2011’s social media survey, every adoption barrier measured has decreased in concern, with a dramatic drop in the perception among faculty that social media “takes too much time to learn or use.” Other barriers cited include privacy, the integrity of student submissions and the need or desire to separate course and personal accounts.

“Pearson is committed to deeply understanding innovative teaching practices, especially the effective use of technologies for teaching and learning. This is the third year we have collaborated with the Babson Survey Research Group. Our goal is to help broaden the understanding of how the use of social media in teaching and learning can benefit both faculty and students,” said Hester Tinti-Kane, VP of Marketing, Social Media Strategy and Research, Pearson.

The complete report and infographic for the 2012 study, “How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media,” are available as a free download. The report is also available in multiple eBook formats.

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