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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Faculty Express E-Learning Concerns

Faculty Express E-Learning Concerns

Concerns over authenticity and plagiarism in online classes dominated last week a discussion between faculty representatives to the UMass Board of Trustees and the CEO of UMass Online.

While trustees met upstairs, several faculty members were giving UMass Online chief David Gray an earful over potential problems with grading in an online course.

Lynne Tirrell, a UMB philosophy professor, voiced concerns over how to certify a paper for a student she never met. Plagiarism is one of the fastest growing problems on the Internet.

Gray said e-learning is not embraced by all faculty. “I don’t think it’s for all faculty, for all students,” he said.

In dealing with plagiarism, “There is no simple or easy answer to that,” he said. But ways to authenticate student work are being developed and put into use, he said, noting that the University of Iowa developed a procter network to ascertain the identity of students and reassure faculty.

Biometric techniques are becoming cost-effective as well, Gray said, adding that within five years periodic retinal scans could be affordable.

UMass Online is also looking at coming up with plans to standardize measurement of profitability across the various campuses, four years after the distance-learning program was first created. “I feel quite confident that we’re profitable,” Gray said.

Race Report Redux

When the race report was released last month, it came under fire from both sides of the urban mission debate on campus.

The race report drew criticism from some who charged it did not accurately depict the racial climate at UMass Boston, and labeled it a whitewash. Meanwhile, some members of the Faculty Council took issue with the characterization of their position on the urban mission, which the report said was to turn the campus into a UMass Amherst look-alike.

The Faculty Council recently issued a joint response to the report. “There is, in fact, no division of the faculty into two camps-one favoring an urban mission and one favoring a Boston campus that is a facsimile of the Amherst campus,” it read, adding later, “We do not see an urban mission and a research university mission as conflicting goals but as essential complements in our university mission. The faculty are deeply committed to the heart of our urban mission, which is to provide an excellent and accessible university education to our students-in particular to people of color, first generation students, immigrants, and others of limited financial means who come to us primarily from the greater Boston and other urban areas.”

Student Veterans Thanked For Service

The Veteran’s Center, The William Joiner Center for War & Social Consequences, and Veteran’s Affairs last week hosted a welcome back luncheon to honor the 38 UMass Boston students who have returned to classes following military deployment. The lunch was held in Point Lounge on the third floor of the Campus Center. The names of each student, decorated by middle school students from Prospect Hill Academy in Somerville, provided a backdrop as Interim Chancellor Keith Motley thanked the students for their service and presented each of those in attendants with a pen engraved with the university emblem, courtesy of the Veteran’s Center.