Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Christmas, 2009!

Click on image to enlarge card.
photo collage by John Freed

A Lunar Christmas Gift Link

from John Freed courtesy of Jeanette Winterson and the BBC

in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary
of the first U. S. moon landing and an
exemplar of a noted novelist's integrating art, culture and science

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Poem Be

I'm one of the ones who constantly hear the music in poetry and smile at the words.

What follows is a nice explanation of the "thing in itself" that good poetry is by Billy Collins and the violations that most bad teachers and students of poetry so often inflict upon it. With an appreciative acknowledgment to Jeanette Winterson. Her fruitful website is located here: http://www.jeanettewinterson.com/.


by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a colour slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
And feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

As Archibald MacLeish so adroitly put it, "A poem should not mean / but be."

Exactly the same thing should be said about music.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer Gifts from the Internet for My Media Courses

Chapman University College

(July 2009)

Examples of "iTunes University" and Free [Gift] Economies of New Media

1. Summer Mix gifted by partnership of iTunes and Stanford:


2. Stanford on iTunes:


3.Media Convergence documentary for Harry and the Potters:


4. Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine, state of New Media's Gift Economy: (free audio version of the book “Free.”


5.The State of Media Education in Canada:


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dr. Freed Comments on Edutopia Question

What is so patronizing about this week's Edutopia question [“Does teaching low-performing and high-performing students together benefit the whole class?”] is that it contains a caste-ing notion of "low-performing" and "high-performing" students as if they were genetically determined.

Learners are simply "learners" with the success of their performance often having more to do with the quality and imagination inherent in teacher assigned tasks and their readiness for them and interest in them than with individuals' supposed aptitude.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would have surely washed out of their doctoral programs, for example, while most Ph.D.'s don't even realize that anything exists outside of tiny measurable boxes.

I teach adult-learners who wish to complete their undergraduate and / or graduate educations. Nearly all of them were labeled at one time or another "low-performing" students. And I'm sure that tattoo across their foreheads was an impediment to their return to higher education. Their current learning profiles, however, equate to the honor students I have previously taught at traditional universities.

As Shakespeare wrote, both the "readiness" and the "ripeness" are more necessary for actualization than the "groupness." Ok, ok, he never used the word “groupness,” but you get my drift.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Observe and Listen to James's Faith

Observation / Listening Exercise:

An effective observation/listening assignment is to have my class transcribe all of James's statement in this video and comment on the quality of his faith in God as well as the following questions:

Is he a nobody and therefore not credible or someone that we all could learn from relative to dealing with adversity? Is James a manifestation of Richard Wright's “Man Who Lived Underground” --“I am the statement”?

The YouTube link to James is the following URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRvdsTVgQ6M.
Video used with permission by its creator, my wife, Stacy Alexander Freed.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Farewell Gifts to my Chapman Classes

Learn a Language for Free: Another Gift from the Internet

“I personally use both of these resources to learn Spanish. It is my parting gift to my Chapman classes at Walnut Creek and on-line this year.”

endorsement by John Freed. Ph.D.

1. BBC Languages / Spanish – “Mi Vida Loca”:


2. LiveMocha / Language plus Social Interaction:


Friday, May 15, 2009

A Gift from the Internet

The most delightful free service that I have come across on the internet is Pandora Radio.

You can exactly match your background music to your mood.


A Gift from New Media for Educators

As part of a recent fund raising pitch by San Francisco’s premier public radio station KQED, the announcers directed their listeners to this site on the radio’s web-page which I had previously not known about.

I found this a particularly effective way to raise contributions since it demonstrated how much KQED was itself “giving back” to the community.

It is a perfect example of new media’s “Gift Economy” at work. From KQED - San Francisco click on KQED Education

Note that contributions to public radio and television are actually referred to as gifts and are both voluntary and tax deductible.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Very Important Alert for Higher Educators

The following is a "reprint" of a commentary piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

What Colleges Should Learn from Newspapers’ Decline


Newspapers are dying. Are universities next? The parallels between them are closer than they appear. Both industries are in the business of creating and communicating information. Paradoxically, both are threatened by the way technology has made that easier than ever before.

The signs of sickness appeared earlier in the newspaper business, which is now in rapid decline. The Tribune Company, owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, is bankrupt, as is the owner of the The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are gone, and there's a good chance that the San Francisco Chronicle won't last the year. Even the mighty New York Times is in danger — its debt has been downgraded to junk status and the owners have sold off their stake in the lavish Renzo Piano-designed headquarters that the paper built for itself just a few years ago.

All of this is happening despite the fact that the Internet has radically expanded the audience for news. Millions of people read The New York Times online, dwarfing its print circulation of slightly over one million. The problem is that the Times is not, and never has been, in the business of selling news. It's in the print advertising business. For decades, newspapers enjoyed a geographically defined monopoly over the lucrative ad market, the profits from which were used to support money-losing enterprises like investigative reporting and foreign bureaus. Now that money is gone, lost to cheaper online competitors like Craigslist. Proud institutions that served their communities for decades are vanishing, one by one.

Much of what's happening was predicted in the mid-1990s, when the World Wide Web burst onto the public consciousness. But people were also saying a lot of retrospectively ludicrous Internet-related things — e.g., that the business cycle had been abolished, and that vast profits could be made selling pet food online. Newspapers emerged from the dot-com bubble relatively unscathed and probably felt pretty good about their future. Now it turns out that the Internet bomb was real — it just had a 15-year fuse.

Universities were also subject to a lot of fevered speculation back then. In 1997 the legendary management consultant Peter Drucker said, "Thirty years from now, the big university campuses will be relics. ... Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable." Twelve years later, universities are bursting with customers, bigger, and (until recently) richer than ever before.

But universities have their own weak point, their own vulnerable cash cow: lower-division undergraduate education. The math is pretty simple: Multiply an institution's average net tuition (plus any state subsidies) by the number of students (say, 200) in a freshman lecture course. Subtract whatever the beleaguered adjunct lecturer teaching the course is being paid. I don't care what kind of confiscatory indirect-cost multiplier you care to add to that equation, the institution is making a lot of money — which is then used to pay for faculty scholarship, graduate education, administrative salaries, the football coach, and other expensive things that cost more than they bring in.

As of today, there's no Craigslist busily destroying the financial foundations of the modern university. Teaching is a lot more complicated than advertising, and universities have the advantage of sitting behind government-backed barriers to competition, in the form of accreditation. Anyone can use the Internet to sell classified ads or publish opinion columns or analyze the local news. Not anyone can sell credit-bearing courses or widely recognized degrees.

But the number of organizations that can — and are doing it online — is getting bigger every year. According to the Sloan Consortium, nearly 20 percent of college students — some 3.9 million people — took an online course in 2007, and their numbers are growing by hundreds of thousands each year. The University of Phoenix enrolls over 200,000 students per year. In one case, the dying newspaper industry itself is grabbing for a share of the higher-education market. The for-profit Kaplan University is owned by the Washington Post Company.

And it would be a grave mistake to assume that the regulatory walls of accreditation will protect traditional universities forever. Elite institutions like Stanford University and Yale University (which are, luckily for them, in the eternally lucrative sorting and prestige business) are giving away extremely good lectures on the Internet, free. Web sites like Academic Earth are organizing those and thousands more like them into "playlists," which is really just iPodspeak for "curricula." Every year the high schools graduate another three million students who have never known a world that worked any other way.

Some people will argue that the best traditional college courses are superior to any online offering, and they're often right. There is no substitute for a live teacher and student, meeting minds. But remember, that's far from the experience of the lower-division undergraduate sitting in the back row of a lecture hall. All she's getting is a live version of what iTunes University offers free, minus the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward at a time and place of her choosing.

She's also increasingly paying through the nose for the privilege. Few things are more certain in this uncertain world than tuition increasing faster than inflation, personal income, or any other measure one could name. People will pay more for better service, but only so much more. And with the economy in a free fall, more families have less money to pay. The number of low-cost online institutions and no-cost alternatives on the other side of the accreditation wall is growing. The longer the relentless drumbeat of higher tuition goes on, the greater their appeal.

Institutions that specialize in their mission and customer base are still well positioned in this new environment, much as The Chronicle is doing a lot better than the Rocky Mountain News (RIP). Tony liberal-arts colleges and other selective private institutions will do fine, as will public universities that garner a lot of external research support and offer the classic residential experience to the children of the upper middle class.

Less-selective private colleges and regional public universities, by contrast — the higher-education equivalents of the city newspaper — are in real danger. Some are more forward-looking than others. Lamar University, a public institution in Beaumont, Tex., recently began offering graduate courses in education administration — another traditional cash cow — through a for-profit online provider, with the two organizations splitting the profits. It's an innovative move and probably a sign of things to come.

But the public university still looks like something of a middleman here — and in the long run, the Internet doesn't treat middlemen kindly. To survive and prosper, universities need to integrate technology and teaching in a way that improves the learning experience while simultaneously passing the savings on to students in the form of lower prices.

Newspapers had a decade to transform themselves before being overtaken by the digital future. They had a lot of advantages: brand names, highly skilled staff members, money in the bank. They were the best in the world at what they did — and yet, it wasn't enough. The difficulties of change and the temptations to hang on and hope for the best were too strong.

That's a problem for more than just newspaper shareholders. A strong society needs investigative journalism and foreign bureaus. It needs knowledgeable local reporters who can ferret out corruption and hold public officials to account, just like it needs faculty scholarship and graduate programs and even an administrator or two. Undergraduate education could be the string that, if pulled, unravels the carefully woven financial system on which the modern university depends.

Perhaps the higher-education fuse is 25 years long, perhaps 40. But it ends someday, in our lifetimes. There's still time for higher-education institutions to use technology to their advantage, to move to a more-sustainable cost structure, and to win customers with a combination of superior service and reasonable price.
If they don't, then someday, sooner than we think, we're going to be reading about the demise of once-great universities — not in the newspaper, but in whatever comes next.

Kevin Carey is policy director of Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington.

Section: Commentary
Volume 55, Issue 30, Page A21

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My article about the Polish Director Krzysztof Kieslowski (click on images for larger size)

This article was published in OneWorld Magazine in New York.

My article about the Chinese Director Yimou Zhang (click on images for larger size)

This article was published in OneWorld Magazine in New York.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Great Lecture and Series from Yale University et. al.

Here is a video lecture on Machiavelli's "The Prince" by Dr. Steven Smith at Yale University.

I recommend that you explore all the other lectures from Ivy League level schools that the Academic Earth website contains.