So, what’s going to be EMU’s new email interface? Google? More Zimbra? Both?

Back in late February, I wrote here about how I had made the shift for my email from the Zimbra system to Google Apps for Education (GAE). Essentially, if you are familiar with gmail and Google Drive, you know how this system works: it’s the same thing, only with some unique tweaks with the education set-up that allows things like sharing documents only with people at EMU.

The system is not without problems. My previous post included a link to Google’s sketchy data mining practices and a loyal reader sent me this link to an article in Education Week, “Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages” that raises some further “creepy” practices. Still, I was looking forward to the switch because I’ve been using Google Apps in my teaching for several years now and I was looking forward to an officially EMU-sanctioned version.

Then yesterday, Geoff Larcom sent around an email to faculty and staff announcing new features and upgrades coming to the Zimbra system. These are changes that are scheduled roll out in late July, which probably actually means mid August.

So, what’s the scoop here? Are we still going with GAE and this is an error? Has there been a change of heart/of mind and we’re going back to Zimbra (which will mean I’ll have to shift back to the old system, I suppose)? I hope we’re not going to be in a situation where faculty and staff are on one email system and students are on another– that sounds like a recipe for confusion and tech support hell to me.

Anyone know?

“Presidents of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College personally support May 6 Millage”

Via the interwebs/social medias (that is, via some source I can’t really recall) comes “Presidents of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College personally support May 6 Millage.” This is from a web site set up to support the May 6 millage called morebuses.org.  Two things; first, a quote:

The presidents of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College, the three largest higher learning institutions in Washtenaw County, have personally endorsed the May 6 ballot proposal to improve public transportation in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

[...]

“The AAATA helps Eastern Michigan University’s students, faculty and staff travel to class, work, job interviews, and local businesses around our campus and throughout the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor area,” according to EMU President Susan Martin. “The proposed expansion of AAATA services will provide even more opportunities for our students and employees and will benefit the local economy and environment. The Ride has been a valuable community resource and active partner with Eastern and I am pleased to support the proposed expansion of services.”

Second, I guess I haven’t been paying attention because I was not aware that there was going to be a May 6 vote on an additional millage for the buses.  I don’t know if this is county-wide or if its limited to Ann Arbor, but I’d encourage people to get out there and support it for the same reasons Sue Martin is supporting it.

“The College Faculty Crisis”

From The New York Times from Sunday comes “The College Faculty Crisis,” which is about a reality of higher education that I think most readers of EMUTalk.org already know: there are a lot of disenfranchised and poorly paid part-timers teaching in college classrooms, and it’s been that way for quite a while. But I guess it’s news when it shows up in the paper of record, right?

This article is about a study regarding community college instructors, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to apply the results to part-timers at places like EMU, too. There are a few points this op-ed is trying to make that I’m not sure I quite agree with though. For example:

The colleges expect little of these teachers. Not surprisingly, they often act accordingly. They spend significantly less time than full-time teachers preparing for class, advising students or giving written or oral feedback. And they are far less likely to participate in instructional activities — like tutoring, academic goal setting or developing community-based projects — that can benefit students.

I’m not so sure about that. I don’t think we expect part-timers to do all of the quasi-administrative work that’s done by faculty, but I also think we’re expecting part-timers to be well-prepared teachers, too.

Dang, I say shave it….

From The Ypsilanti Courier comes “EMU student puts 14-inch beard on the line for charity.” Here’s a quote:

After growing it out for the past 20 months, Eastern Michigan Student Ryan Huntington is putting his 14-inch beard on the line for charity.

After joining the EMU Residence Life American Heart Association Heartwalk team this year, Huntington had the idea to use his beard to raise money for the American Heart Association. Huntington is letting the EMU community at large vote with their money on whether he should shave his face completely bare for the first time in six years or keep growing out the whiskers for another 12 months.

“A lot of people have done ‘Save It or Shave It’ events before. I thought it was a great idea for charity,” Huntington said. “Of all the ones I found online, I probably have the largest, most obnoxious beard to be put on the line.”

I have to say just looking at this picture makes my face itchy. Either way, I hope Ryan earns some money for a good cause.

“Eastern Michigan football coach Chris Creighton insists ‘these guys aren’t losers’”

From mLive comes “Eastern Michigan football coach Chris Creighton insists ‘these guys aren’t losers.’” Here’s a quote from the opening paragraphs:

There’s a difference between people who have been losing, and losers. After four months on the job and 14 days of spring practice, new Eastern Michigan football coach Chris Creighton, who inherited a 2-10 team, insists the Eagles are the former.

“There’s a difference between losers and winners who have been losing, and these guys aren’t losers,” Creighton said. “They’re not, and that’s an important reality.”

Seems like there should be something there about how winners never quit and losers never win or what have you. Anyway, there’s also a practice scrimmage of some sort going on today at 4 pm that’s free.  I’ll be gardening (hopefully!), but it seems like it’d be a beautiful day to watch something like that.

 

“Student government election results on hold”

From the Eastern Echo comes “Student government election results on hold.” It’s not exactly an “informative” article though because all it says is that “The Election Commission” is investigating “matters related to the election;” in other words, it doesn’t say what exactly those “matters” are. But my best guess is that there’s some concern/confusion that the write-in candidate Fatma Jaber completely crushed the official candidate (I guess Desmond Miller?), but this is just a guess.

Anyone actually know?

 

“Legendary comic artist Art Spiegelman to speak at EMU”

I’m actually going to this event tonight; as promoted in mLive (and I assume other places), “Legendary comic artist Art Spiegelman to speak at EMU.”

Art Spiegelman, one of the most celebrated and accomplished comic artists ever, will give a multimedia presentation at 7 p.m. on April 10 in Eastern Michigan University’s Pease Auditorium.

The presentation, entitled “What the %@$*! Happened to Comics” will focus on the history of comic books and their influence on society, and Spiegelman will be available to autograph books following the presentation.

A couple of interesting things to watch for with this:

  • That “%@$*!” is supposed to be “fuck,” so expect lots of naughty words and the like regarding said history.
  • Spiegelman is notorious for smoking EVERYWHERE, including during talks like this. In the photo of him at the mLive site, he’s got a butt going. I saw a similar talk he gave at EMU way back when– maybe ten years ago?– and he smoked the whole time. It’ll be interesting to see if some EMU wonk tells him to put that cigarette out in Pease.

 

“Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton will retire in September”

Pretty slow news week or so around here– though April is always a busy work season!– so not much to post. But I did see this in mLive: “Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton will retire in September.” Loyal readers might recall that way back when, Shelton was one of the finalists for EMU president a few years back. What’s he going to do when he’s done judging?

Shelton was appointed associate professor and Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the University of Michigan — Dearborn, according to a press release.

The appointment, which is pending authorization from the school’s Board of Regents, begins in the fall semester.

“March Gradness” has some interesting results

Busted brackets all around, I guess I’m technically still in the lead in the EMUTalk.org annual final four tourney, but I think if Florida wins its way into the final game, Claire is going to end up taking the title. Stay tuned.

But I wanted to share today an interesting piece from mLive that I guess appeared originally in Bridge Magazine, “March Gradness: An NCAA bracket built on grad rates, not victories, produces a different winner – and only one team actually in the Final Four.” A quote and another link:

Here’s how it works… Same schools and pairings as this year’s NCAA men’s basketball championship. But to survive and advance your school has to have the better student graduation rate for all full-time students.

There were a few “overtime” games in March Gradness – tie scores between schools with equal graduation rates. In those cases, African-American grad rates were used as a tiebreaker. Our data came from the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System. We used the published six-year graduation rate for full-time students. And special thanks to the technology company Vertex, which publishes a nifty NCAA bracket each year which we adapted to the purpose of March Gradness.

You can download a PDF of the results here.

When I first read this/looked at this, I thought they were talking about graduation rates for basketball players, which would have been interesting stats to see; rather, it’s for the university as a whole. By the way, according to the resource used for this article, EMU’s overall six year graduation rate is 37%.

“The Education Achievement Authority is working for Detroit’s kids (guest column)”

A loyal EMUTalk.org reader pointed out that on the same day that the Freep ran “Detroit’s children continue to do worse in schools under state control (guest column)” by Tom Pedroni, they also ran a pro-EAA guest column by EAA chancellor John Covington, “The Education Achievement Authority is working for Detroit’s kids (guest column).” Here’s a quote:

The Education Achievement Authority adopted a student-centered model of teaching and learning that allows teachers to personalize instruction to meet the needs of each child. Using this approach, we expect our students to make 1½ to 2 years of academic growth each year for the first several years, and reach grade level and beyond within three to five years, as measured by the state test. What’s most important about this approach is that it gives these students real hope of learning and progressing toward a successful future.

To date, EAA students have shown academic progress when compared to other students across the country and across Detroit. We assess our students’ progress four times per year using a nationally recognized test call Performance Series Assessment.

Of course, it’d be nice to read something from someone a little less biased on it all– of course the guy in charge of the EAA is going to say it’s working just fine!– but here’s at least something that represents a different point of view.