I may choose to ignore people who comment anonymously. I choose never to be anonymous online myself. I have little tolerance for this behavior.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Heavenly Father is FOR the Internet!

If our technology does not improve the lives of others and help bring them home to [the Lord], we have missed the mark.
President Henry B. Eyring made the above comment when he dedicated a new technology building on BYU-Idaho's campus.


In the midst of all the video games and other things people do online, let's not forget the power of technology to bring people to Heavenly Father.


I'm sure it is Heavenly Father's primary purpose in giving these technological advances to us.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 7: The Perpetual Education Fund and Other Experiments

I've written about the Perpetual Education Fund or PEF before but in a different context. This week's posting has to do with it's educational merits and the philosophy behind it.

From the web site:
The Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) has been established to provide worthy young adults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the support and resources necessary to improve their lives through education and better employment to better serve their family, the Church, and their community.
Not available in the U. S. yet, the PEF continues to expand borders. It pays for "technical, vocational, or professional education  that leads to a viable job in the local area." Two years is the ideal time period. The program is funded entirely with contributions and all loans are paid back with interest ensuring the fund is self-sustaining. The program is administered through the Institute program and many volunteers are involved.


Given that the federal student aid program is broken as are most other programs I'm glad the Church is stepping up to the plate.


They are stepping up in ways you may not be aware of. Here they are:


1. The Wilkinson Loan Fund: This program has existed for years and is administered through the PEF program. You can read more about it on BYU's International Services pages. Like the PEF, it is only available to students outside the United States and Canada.


2. The Yount Program for Educational Advancement: This program is also administered through the PEF and the Church although it is funded with private money. See it's separate web site for details. It seems to emphasize life long learning and adapting to our world's changing educational needs.


From the web site:
"Today the world is competitive, more than it`s ever been. I believe men and women need to get a type of education which will enable them to meet the exigencies of life ... Men and women need to be prepared for a vastly broader scope than we have ever had before." Thomas S. Monson
The purpose of the program is four-fold:
1. Promote and support educational advancement.2. Help equalize educational opportunity.3. Promote learning by faith and by study including education as a spiritual endeavor.4. Develop educational self-reliance and its use in support of other areas of self-reliance.


Currently, the program exists in only three areas: Southern California, Four Corners Native American Area and for Hispanic members in the inner city of Salt Lake City, Utah.


It will take donations and volunteers to make all these programs a success. So, let's all commit to get involved in these and other worthy educational endeavors.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 6: Western Governors University And Others Like It

Western Governors University doesn't really have anything to do with the Church although it's headquarters are in Salt Lake City and Phoenix. These two cities have extensive Mormon populations. Mike Leavitt, a Mormon, was governor of Utah when this school got put together. I've kept my eye on it ever since. I'm now a big fan.


What I like about WGU is the driving philosophy behind it.The Church seems to embrace it as I will show in future posts.


WGU is a non-profit school set up to exploit online learning opportunities. Tuition is a flat fee for six months and the programs are self-paced. Explore it yourself to understand what it offers and how it is different.


Having worked as a professor, and having been in academia a long time, it had instant appeal to me although I realized it threatened what I had worked toward all my life. As a professor I had many responsibilities such as teaching, publishing, designing coursework, grading, advising, community service, service to my department, service to my school, administrative responsibilities, etc. WGU doesn't place all these responsibilities in one position. IT breaks them up and assigns them out. The faculty positions at WGU emphasize only one of these responsibilities. It is a much more efficient set-up than the traditional university or college. WGU is more efficient and, I believe, more effective.


If I redid my life I would go to WGU or perhaps a community college. It has long been an established fact in academia that community colleges are better alternatives than state universities and colleges. You get more bang for your buck. Some states have set up their own agreements with WGU like Indiana, Texas and now Washington.


The Church has emphasized technical and vocational opportunities close to home in its educational initiatives. In the United States, that means community colleges, vocational schools and online opportunities. Certainly WGU qualifies.


New week I'll cover the Church's educational financial program and it's other pilot programs I'll bet you don't know about.


Until next week. . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 5: BYU-Idaho vs. BYU in Provo, Utah

When I lived in Kansas I noticed a BYU-Idaho college student from our small local congregation attending church in late January. Thinking this was unusual given that she should be in school, I approached her afterwards and asked her why she was home. She gave me an interesting answer.

She told me that all the students in her program attended school for three semesters and then had a semester break. This instantly struck me as a good idea. With college costs skyrocketing and student debt piling up it makes no sense to delay schooling. You need a break from it occasionally though. Three semesters and then a semester break makes more sense to me than two semesters and one semester break. Most school schedules are an historical relic of the agricultural age and make no sense.

I keep seeing innovation come out of BYU-Idaho, but not from BYU. It isn't hard to guess why. BYU-Idaho was formally a two-year junior college named Ricks College. BYU is an established school firmly entrenched in the Harvard model.

When Kim Clark was named President of BYU-Idaho and it started to expand, change could happen. One of the obvious changes is that it eliminated competitive intercollegiate sports. Obviously, this is close to my heart because I loath competitive sports. I found BYU's devotion to it offensive, no pun intended.(I was attending BYU in 1984.)

The latest development at BYU-Idaho to impress me is the Pathway Program. It combines the goals of lifelong learning and online education. It makes sense.

BYU is stuck in the Harvard model. Perhaps there is no hope for it. However, BYU-Idaho has little entrenched faculty, bureaucracy and buildings. It seems well-positioned to take advantage of online learning opportunities.

Hats off to BYU-Idaho and Henry Eyring (the son, not the apostle). As a Vice President under Kim Clark, he and BYU-Idaho are positioned for great things.