Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

This was interesting.  I was exploring courses at local community colleges, and I found that Ohlone College’s CNET courses that train students in material relating to Microsoft technologies are completely outsourced to Microsoft’s IT Academy.  The students log into an online course and learn the material through Microsoft, and interact with virtual simulated environment to practice what they learn. After the student completes the course, they get a grade on their transcript at Ohlone College, set by Microsoft indirectly.

Now on one side I encourage creative ways to save costs and offer more courses, but on the other side, the education has striking lack of integrity and screams of fraudulence, not to mention lowered quality standards by courses offered by the institution.  There should be courses developed by professors, not Microsoft setting the curriculum.  It seems that either the student, public, or both are getting taken for a ride on this one.  The funds from tuition and subsidized funding from the state won’t go on to develop more computer courses, as Microsoft is developing them.

There should be a clear separation between what is community and training courses that will never count as university credit, and courses that would transfer as credit, for true academic work and courses should be created by real qualified professors.  Otherwise the credit coming into a 4-year UC or CSU is suspect.

CA Community College Disadvantage

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Education

Though you can take the first two years at a CA community college and save over $35,000 in the process on tuition alone, there area  a few disadvantages.  I identified three potential problems: (1) Actual requirements for general education may vary, (2) Quality of Instruction Varies, and (3) the options for funding are less flexible and limited.

General Education Requirements

I did some research and compared De Anza requirements and SFSU requirements regarding GE (General Education).  The requirements for De Anza are actually more restrictive and do not match up exactly, especially between quarter and semester units. The GE is divided into two segments for the first two years: Segment I and Segment II.

The Segment I or Basic Subjects has the the following components: Written Communication, Critical Thinking, and Oral Communication, and Quantative Reasoning.  As many majors require a second level of English, many students take as their Critical Thinking requirement, which includes some sort of literary analysis, like close reading of poems and such.  This area is pretty straightforward and consistent between institutions.

The Segment II includes four categories: HCA (Humanities and Creative Arts), BBS (Behavorial and Social Sciences), PBS (Physical and Biological Sciences), and LLD (Life Long Development).  De Anza’s IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) doesn’t even document LLD, and they are quite strict on taking courses from different categories, where SFSU only cares that the courses have different prefixes, regardless if they are the same category.  Thus you can take two history courses, like ICS 32 Chicano History and HIST 1A U.S. History Survey course, where both count at SFSU, but at De Anza, only one would count.

The bottom line is that if you strictly follow IGETC as present by a CCC (CA Community College), you might be taking either unnecessary courses or miss not meeting the requirement.  You’ll have to consult with the institutions you are interested in for the exact requirements.  At De Anza or other community college, the advisers will only be trained to plug-in courses for their CCC‘s IGETC requirements, thus causing mismatches and unnecessary restrictions on course selection.

On a final note, if the CCC has a quarter system, you need to take a 5 quarter unit course to have it count a for a 3 semester unit courses.  A 4 quarter unit course will only count for 2.7 semester units, which require you to take an extra course some categories.

Quality of Education

The requirements to teach at a community college are less strict than a CSU or an UC.  This is not necessarily a bad thing or good thing.  There are some incredible teachers, and some really horrific teachers.  It really depends on your particular CCC.

If the institution has inadequate instruction, or no available course, for a competitive subject that is apart of a sequence like Calculus or Physics, education can be delayed for a year until the course roles around again.  Students can take the course at other community colleges, but they may use a different text book or have alternative topics in each course within a sequence.

I saw this actually happen at De Anza lost an instructor and could not open up enough sections.  One student complained about not getting enough material to survive the next course in the sequence.

Financial Aid Restrictions

This can be a show stopper for many.  The four year institutions have greater ability to grant financial aid.  If you are made an incredibly low salary, like over $3000 per year, you are not qualified for Federal Financial Aid at a CCC, but for a CSU, you can sign some document stating that you will not earn future income, and receive financial aid.  Furthermore, you can get loans from the college to help pay of tuition, where the CCC will defer this to third parties.

The other thing about community college, is that there are many scholarships, but these are typically are small and have a lot of  competition.  At the full CSU, they have less competition and larger awards for scholarships.  There are simply more resources available at the 4-year institution compared to a 2-year institution.

The other major disadvantage of a community college happens if you were taking courses at the community college, like wine tasting, before embarking on an academic journey.  All those non-academic courses count against you toward a maximum unit.

If you wanted to transfer with an Associates degree, and you petition to get the Associate degrees before completing all the GE requirements, you can be disqualified from receiving financial aid, as the community college marks you as completing your goal.  You’ll have to re-apply to the community college to receive your goal.  Some community college may be flexible in this area, but some like Foothill College are very non-supportive, unfriendly, and restrictive in this area.

Further Information

I just read that CSUSB (CSU San Bernardino) was awarded $200,000 to develop a Persian (فارسی) program.

Already, CSUSB has a solid program with Arabic (العربية) for the summer that teachers beginning levels: Arab 101, Arab 102, Arab 103.  Essentially you get three quarters of Arabic instruction in 8 weeks.  Thus, education spanning a year of instruction  is compressed into one summer.

In other news, CSU Fullerton is closing its Persian program due to drastic budget cuts in the state of California.

In anyone wants to learn a strategic language, I recommend getting into a program fast before they are squelched by budget cuts.  Many colleges throughout California are dropping classes, and the federal government lacking funds, will undoubtedly be challenged to fund assist language programs in the future.


The education here at the university (City University of Hong Kong) is rather incredible when compared to California’s public education at least in the domain of Information Systems.

At CityU of Hong Kong, there are many courses on the business side of Information systems, including courses like Knowledge Management for Global Business, Business Process Management, System Design (which uses UML for models), and other courses that connect information technologies and solutions to finance and marketing domains.

In California, the courses in the CSU system for technology are antiquated, using concepts that are applicable to mid-80s to mid-90s thinking, but do not work well for complex global environment with new markets (globality, emerging markets), new methods and processes (agile methods, interaction design, domain driven design), emerging technologies (emergence of theoretical Web 3.0 with HTML5, war of mobile platforms), and shifting trends in politics and economics after near collapse of global markets on account of prevalent fraudulent practices.

Though I am critical at what I say is a failure of public education, I am nevertheless extremely grateful for the experienced I forged in my undergraduate experience. If it wasn’t for public education, I could not have gone to places like Korea and now Hong Kong, and later France, and I would not have the deep perspective from diverse Asian markets and cultures, combined with diverse Western markets and cultures.  Actually, if it wasn’t for public education, I could never afford or otherwise have the opportunity to learn.  For this I am always grateful to California and her public education, and to America that provides the opportunity through federal grants.