Monday, February 7, 2011

Funding: Part 1

Last week, I got some interesting news. Apparently Asians are not an underrepresented minority at my university. Hmmm. Also, we outnumber other minority populations such as Blacks/African-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos at the university because they are considered underrepresented. This brings into the question of what actually qualifies as an Asian that is underrepresented versus an Asian that is not underrepresented. As a Filipina, I was sure that I would be somewhat in the minority in research. But maybe that is based on more observation that statistics.

Now, what if someone that is Nepalese, Tibetan, Cambodian, or Burmese tries to apply for funding under a Diversity category. Certainly the categorization of "Asian" would still exclude them if the same representation statistics were applied. But, just how many of each of these ethnicities are actually represented among the U.S. university population. I would think that the number of other Asian populations, such as those from India, Japan, South Korea, and China (those countries that are likely greater represented), would probably skew the actual amount of ethnically diverse Asians that are in universities. So what about the rest of the minority within the minority? Should there be a breakdown of ethnic populations to ensure better representation and better chances at opportunities for diversity funding? Or would this just be another complicated addition as a result of political correctness? Does it really matter? Could one make a case for just how underrepresented their particular ethnicity is within the university? Should one?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Virtual Classroom

An amazing thing happened today. Despite a crippling snowstorm that shut down the university, students were able to participate in classes from home with their instructors, who were also snowed in and homebound. Back in the day, this would have been impossible. Students would be cheering and running around in the snow drifts, sledding, making snowmen and snow angels. Professors would be wondering how to make up the class days. But thanks to modern technology, the learning environment has extended beyond the traditional classroom.

I was in class today with someone in Kentucky, a few people in Missouri, and I was in Texas. Imagine the possibilities of having class with people all over the world. I'm sure people have imagined this. There are virtual classrooms that connect learners locally, nationally, and globally. I wonder what that will do to the actual institution of a university. Sure, researchers will still need to have labs and equipment. But will the students still need to file into that immense classroom and listen to their lectures at specified times? Will students need a physical library to sift through information, papers, and reference materials? I am able to access my university's library from my computer. While it isn't always the perfect solution (I still have to pay to have older, non-digital papers scanned and emailed to me), it literally puts thousands of journals at my fingertips.

Perhaps the future of learning is in the virtual classroom. There will be no more hallowed halls. No more lecterns. No more boundaries. No more limitations on who can listen, who can speak, and who can learn.

Organization.... key. Unfortunately, I think that my mind is trying to move a mile a minute these days. I settle on one concept or thought, and then another creeps in to take its place and wipe any prior ideas out of my mind. Now, that isn't fair. On the upside, I've come up with some good ideas this way, as long as I have the time to write it down before it gets replaced by another thing. Sometimes, multi-tasking is a godsend. Other times, it's a nightmare.

So back to this organization thing. I've gotten this program called Evernote. It's actually been great for taking notes during my distance classes. Also, if I'm in the middle of nowhere, I can still access the program and jot down some ideas and thoughts using the mobile app version. I can take pictures, do voice recordings, screen capture. It's pretty nifty. And I can tag notes so that, for example, I can look up notes based on my classes, or dissertation ideas, or conversations with my advisor. It's free for a limited amount of data. But I figure, I haven't used up my quota in the past couple of weeks of intensive note taking, so I probably won't need to expand.

On the non-school related side, I've used it for other memorable items, like wines I like or recipes. So all in all, a worthy investment for the student. And I really didn't have to invest much at all in it. Just a bit of time to download.