Online irony: Virtual learning promotes in-person encounters

first_imgIn online learning, there is a sense that everything should be online.We have held a series of town halls across campus to discuss edX/HarvardX. While highly regarded, a number of attendees always came up to me at the end to say, “Why wasn’t this done online? Why didn’t you flip this talk?”The point of the town halls are to convey information, but more important, to have a lively debate among the faculty and other stakeholders. In person. In real time.Could you do that on a discussion forum, sure—but you don’t have to do it that way. We, of course, post all of the materials after the fact and are thinking about doing virtual sessions as well (to reach more faculty at a time of their own choosing.) But I know the campus-based events will continue. Faculty, by their nature, gather, discuss, and debate everything.Inside the virtual classrooms at edX and elsewhere, online is also only part of the story. There has long been the critique that MOOCs provide a lesser experience, removing the classic vibrant campus and replacing it with a 2D, lifeless screen. The extended argument goes something like this: for those who can “get in” and afford the real college experience, that’s grand. For everyone else, here’s a knock-off, lesser version. Hey, it’s free. What do you expect?That’s turning out to be another myth. Read Full Storylast_img read more

After Brexit, a changed future

first_imgFollowing the initial shock from the referendum on Thursday in which Great Britain voted to leave the European Union, Harvard analysts worked to grasp the unfolding impact of the momentous decision on the United Kingdom, Europe, and the world, and they looked toward a changed future.“Britain was always a reluctant member of the EU, but it will continue to prosper,” predicted Peter Hall, Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies, by phone from London, where he has been throughout the referendum campaign. “As for the future of the European Union, nobody knows. European themselves don’t know.”The departure sanctioned by British voters — 52 percent opting to leave and 48 percent to remain — will mean the EU has 27 member states, which will continue to operate as a single market with free movement of people, capital, and goods. But Britain’s exit will shift the balance of power among those nations, and is likely to spawn withdrawal movements in some other EU countries.After Germany, Britain has the union’s second-largest economy, and although the financial impact on the EU remains to be seen, the political implications seem clearer. The Brexit vote took place against a backdrop of economic and migration crises that continue to rattle the continent and to fuel skepticism about EU policies.“The vote is damaging to the EU,” said Hall. “It will intensify the need that European leaders must already feel to find a new purpose, a new mission.”The Brexit vote reflects a divorce between the union and sizable segments of the European electorate, said Maya Jasanoff, Coolidge Professor of History and Harvard College Professor.“What the vote also shows is the gap between the central role that the EU plays in integrating European economies and other aspects of their political and civic lives and the popular understanding and commitment to the European project,” she said. “European leaders have failed to communicate the rationale for political integration to the electorate of the member states. The case of political integration has not been effectively made.”The vote also revealed a polarized Britain, with deep divisions rooted in values and economic status, a phenomenon that bears some resemblance to the political climate in the United States, said Hall.“London supported to ‘remain’ while many parts of the countryside voted to ‘leave,’ ” said Hall. “Large segments of the population feel left out of the prosperity associated with globalization and the EU, while others, especially in London, benefit from integration into an open global economy and are outward-looking.”Other divisions were on display across the United Kingdom. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly in favor of remaining in the European Union, but were outvoted by England, where most of the electorate lives. In the wake of the Brexit vote, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that a second Scottish independence vote is likely.If Northern Ireland, whose economy has blossomed in part because of its open borders with Ireland, a devoted EU member, were also to seek independence, the United Kingdom could become a shell of itself, Hall said.In such a scenario, “Cameron will be considered the worst prime minister in the history of the United Kingdom,” he said.For now, European leaders face the task of dealing with the mounting pressure to solve the refugee crisis that was a driving force behind the emotional Brexit campaign.“Euro-skeptical parties on the radical right and left of the political spectrum have been encouraged by the British vote to demand similar referenda in their own countries,” Hall said. “But mainstream political leaders are anxious to prevent this. They can only do so if they retain power, and that will be their first priority.  They can only do so if they can revive economic growth in Europe and limit the backlash against immigration. That will be very difficult to do.”last_img read more

Czech court ruling on electoral law to help small parties

first_imgPRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic’s highest court has canceled several provisions of the country’s electoral law as discriminatory small parties. The Constitutional Court dismissed those rules that it said gave big parties disproportionately high numbers of seats in Parliament after elections. The court ruled Wednesday it’s not in line with the proportional representation electoral system used at the election for the lower house of Parliament. It has also canceled parts of the law that requires coalitions to win more votes than parties to gain seats. Both chambers of Parliament need to agree on necessary changes to amend the electoral law in line with the court’s verdict ahead of general elections scheduled for October.last_img read more

Historic Perú cocaine seizure even larger than initial estimate

first_img Perú seized 7.6 tons of cocaine last week – more than two tons more than initial reports. “This is the largest drug seizure ever in Perú. It’s historic,” Interior Minister Daniel Urresti said. The final tally, pricing the haul at more than US$300 million, places the seizure well above the already record-breaking six tons originally reported. The cocaine was found stashed in a shipment of coal in the city of Trujillo and was expected to be trafficked to Spain and Belgium. Officials said the cocaine belonged to a Mexican cartel in the Andean nation and didn’t name the organization publically. Vicente Romero, the head of the Anti-Narcotics Division of Perú’s National Police, said the bust culminated a six-week operation that included the help of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The seizure represents a major step in Perú’s counter-narcotics fight, as the country supplanted Colombia as the world’s leading cocaine-producing nation. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2012 Crop Monitoring Report, Perú is home to 13 regions encompassing 60,400 hectares that grow coca, which is the main ingredient used to produce cocaine. Authorities seized 2,200 metric tons of precursor chemicals bound for coca-growing regions, Romero said. The confiscated chemicals, combined with the coca crops that were destroyed, prevented at least 190 metric tons of cocaine from being produced, according to the National Commission for a Drug-Free Life (DEVIDA). Ninety-three percent of the country’s coca crops are used for the drug trade, with the remaining plants used for traditional consumption and industrial use, according to DEVIDA. So far this year, the Peruvian government was more than half way to reaching its goal of eradicating 30,000 hectares of illegal coca crops in 2014, according to DEVIDA. Major narco-trafficker arrest in Colombia Meanwhile, Colombian authorities arrested alleged international narco-trafficker Óscar Antonio Berrocal, a Costa Rican charged with trafficking cocaine shipments to the United States while working for Mexico’s ruthless Sinaloa Cartel. “In Colombia, there is a valid order for his arrest and extradition [to the U.S.],” Colombian migration officials said in a prepared statement. Berrocal – who goes by the aliases “Charlie,” “the Chef,” “Finquero” and “Rolex” – was taken into custody in Bogotá on Aug. 28. Colombia is one of the world’s largest producers of cocaine, manufacturing about 290 tons of it annually, according to the UNODC. The arrest of Berrocal, 52, continued Colombia’s string of recent successes. Berrocal was apprehended three days after security agents seized 40 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a shipment of coal on a Liberian-flagged ship in the port municipality of Ciénaga, the Colombian Navy said. Colombia’s Coast Guard Station Santa Marta and the Magdalena’s Technical Investigation Corps Prosecutors Office executed the interdiction. The ship, the “Ping May,” had arrived from England and was bound for the Netherlands when agents found 40 packages of cocaine. “The operation was developed by strengthening units and port controls by the Navy, which in this specific case allowed to conduct research in coordination with the CTI, establishing the cargo ship was contaminated,” the Colombian Navy said in a prepared statement.center_img By Dialogo September 02, 2014last_img read more

Women lawyers do more pro bono work than men

first_imgWomen lawyers do more pro bono work than men Southeast Florida attorneys also do more than those in other parts of the state Mark D. Killian Managing Editor Sixty percent of all Florida lawyers report they perform pro bono work, with more women attorneys providing pro bono than male lawyers.The Bar’s latest Membership Opinion Survey also found that lawyers in private practice report performing pro bono at a higher rate (71 percent) than their government lawyer colleagues (15 percent) and those in other legal positions (38 percent).A higher percentage of women lawyers (61 percent) perform pro bono than their male colleagues (57 percent). The survey also found that older lawyers tend to do more pro bono than younger lawyers. Forty-five percent of lawyers 35 and under perform pro bono, compared to 63 percent of those 36 to 50; 65 percent of lawyers 51 to 65; and 69 percent of lawyers over 65 years of age.region, 68 percent of respondents in the southeast part of the state say they perform pro bono, while 60 percent of those in the central/southwest part of the state say they provide pro bono services, as do 51 percent of those in the northern part of the state. Forty-six percent of out-of-state respondents say they provide pro bono work.Half of all respondents cited personal satisfaction as their primary reason for conducting pro bono work, while another 43 percent said they have a professional responsibility to do so.Thirty-seven percent of respondents who said they don’t perform pro bono work cited time constraints for not providing free legal work for the poor. Other responses included their government job does not allow for pro bono work (20 percent); not interested (13 percent); family commitments (12 percent); lack of support from firm or legal office (12 percent); not finding appropriate matters to work on (12 percent); their government/public interest job provides sufficient public service opportunities (12 percent); and providing pro bono would negatively affect compensation (6 percent). Of the 18 percent of respondents who listed “other” when asked why they don’t provide pro bono, the most frequently listed responses were “inexperienced/don’t feel competent,” “do other volunteer/charitable work,” and “don’t believe in it.”Only 8 percent of respondents said their firms have a written pro bono office policy.Fifty-six percent of those polled said the Florida Supreme Court’s aspirational goal of 20 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per year should remain the same, while 13 percent said it should be decreased to 10 hours, and 4 percent said it should be decreased to 15 hours per year. Five percent of respondents said it should be increased to 30 hours, and 4 percent would like to see it increased to 40 hours. Of the 18 percent who listed “other,” the vast majority of those responses were “eliminate/delete/no longer require the 20 hours.”Just over two-fifths (41 percent) of all respondents believe that the aspirational goal of a $350 donation to a legal aid organization – as an alternative to the 20 hours of pro bono work per lawyers – should remain the same. Twenty-four percent believe it should be decreased, while 11 percent said it should be increased. Another 25 percent provided responses under the “other” category, the vast majority of which listed “eliminate/delete/no longer require the $350” contribution.The Membership Opinion Survey was mailed to 2,771 randomly selected Bar members in August. the September 27 deadline, 26 percent of the surveys had been returned. Mike Garcia, director of the Bar’s Research, Planning and Evaluation Department, said the results of the survey are statistically valid and the margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence. Women lawyers do more pro bono work than mencenter_img January 15, 2006 Regular Newslast_img read more