The Financial Outlook in Higher Education

On the heels of Michigan’s two largest universities announcing tuition hikes I felt it pertinent to remind us “7 in 10 Undergraduates Get Financial Aid” (Chronicle of Higher Education). Put into another statistic, that’s 71% (according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics). At Michigan State we have roughly 38,000 undergraduates (MSU Facts), meaning that nearly 26,500 of those students are using some sort of financial aid.

The picture is a bit different for graduate students, quoting from Beckie Supiano’s CoHE piece,

“The share of graduate students receiving any aid dropped from 73 percent in 2007-8 to 70 percent in 2011-12. And the makeup of the aid those students received also changed. The share of graduate students receiving grants dropped from 41 percent in 2007-8 to 36 precent in 2011-12, while the share receiving loans grew from 42 percent in 2007-8 to 45 percent in 2011-12. The average amount that graduate students borrowed from all sources also increased, from $18,400 in 2007-8 to $21,400 in 2011-12.”

In short, funding is down, while borrowing is up. Thus more and more working-age adults are entering the job market only to start working off mountains of student loan debt, not to mention the credit card debt that often comes for undergrads and grad students alike. Of more concern, perhaps, is how these numbers cut across hugely important factors like race, socioeconomic and immigration statuses, age, abilities, sex and gender, and place (like specific states, or urban, suburban, and rural locales). These considerations are key to figuring out where we go from here.

Apple’s Failure at Diversity

Selena Larsen, writing for ReadWrite, takes Apple to task for the lack of diversity in choosing speakers for their annual Worldwide Developers Conference, often the site of many hardware and software launches. Larsen identifies this failure as a larger issue, “It’s indicative of a much broader diversity problem within the technology industry—especially in roles that are highly technical, where—to put it plainly—women and minorities are vastly outnumbered by white males.”

It’s not a surprise that so many young girls express interest and talent in math and the sciences, but so few are pushed into these fields. Larsen takes issue with Apple specifically because “Apple clearly has both the resources and the cachet to attract them (women, and racial and ethnic minorities) as employees and speakers.” Read more here.

A Look at Google’s Activity Streams

File this under Did You Know – Google Drive is arguably one of the most often used collaborative writing and filesharing tools across fields, disciplines, and industries. In January, Google introduced activity streams, making it easier to for you to track changes among multiple users. And for you track changes lovers, a la Microsoft Word, this feature has also been added. Check out this helpful video from The Chromebook Guys to get more acquainted with activity streams.

Fiction Writing on Twitter

Have you heard of the storyella? What about twiterature? Been following #TwitterFiction? Or how about WRAC’s very own #endthisstory? Claire Armitstead, writing for The Guardian, asks “Has Twitter given birth to a new literary genre?” She notes that the key to successful Twitter fiction is connectivity; writers reaching to the past, to other users, then spreading their story out over a day, a week. My take on Armitstead’s question is not about a new genre, rather how does Twitter alter – remix, if you will – storytelling in general?

What’s Next for Movie Theaters?

movie_audienceIn this article from The Next Web, Paul Sawers takes a look at “The Future of Cinemas” from a global perspective, investigating the question of just how much an impact streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon are having on their brick and mortar counterpart, the movie theater. He compares the introduction of VHS and DVDs to the introduction of streaming services, which have actually served to uphold the theater as a popular and preferred movie-watching method.

I appreciate Sawers global look at movie going, noting that in most countries theater ticket sales are on the rise, including here in the U.S. He writes that perhaps the biggest threat to the silver screen is the advancement of home entertainment technology combined with more affordable price tags. Add this to the fact that most home entertainment companies are finding ways to integrate streaming services into their systems (Boku, Apple TV, etc, “smart TVs”).

Sawer then goes on to ponder the “connected cinema,” which seems to be the final refuge in our networked lives. But for how much longer? On the flipside of this debate consider theater chain Cinemark, which has created an app that rewards customers with concession goodies when they turn their phones to “CineMode” (dims screen, turns on vibrate). It seems inevitable that our mobile, connected lives will enter the theater in more obvious and deliberate ways in the future, but how much will this impact the cinematic experience? The way Hollywood features are made, distributed, and/or marketed?

New York City Phone Lines, 1887

newyorkcity_wire_webWe herald the invention of the telephone as a significant moment in human history, but consider the infrastructure that needed to come along with this. Gizmodo featured a group of photos from the Library of Congress showing the mass of telephone wires around New York City before folks figured out that burying them was probably a better idea. Have a look!

Before the Facebook Like, There Was the RadioVota

The “radiovota,” a device created in the 1930s by Dr. Neil Monroe Hopkins, was the original like button. The radiovota sent yes or no feedback to radio stations. The downside, and why it didn’t become wildly popular, is that it took 7 hours for feedback to be sent to the station. That’s, like, time to tell your Facebook friends about your breakfast, complain about work, post about your lunch, the lull after lunch, and your terrible commute home. Click over to Paleofuture for more on the radiovota.