1) MPR reporter Tim Post's story documenting the difference in costs for students who take classes online has prompted a fair amount of feedback overnight. Post reported that online classes at MnSCU schools cost an average of 19 percent more than those taught in the classroom. MnSCU schools can decide individually how much to charge per credit.
From Rochester, a person who teaches both in person and online at the community college writes:
You highlight Anoka Technical as a college without a cost differential between their in-person and their online courses but you failed to mention that this comes at a cost to Anoka online students: Anoka also has parity between in-person and online class sizes. Many of the other MNSCU schools have cost offsets built into online tuition to account for the reduction in online class sizes. Online faculty at RCTC have fought for smaller online class sizes for the sake of student learning. The reply we receive is often financial and, just as often, nonspecific.
You also mention that an online course "often requires as much interaction with students as in a classroom" as their in-person counterparts. Often? Try MORE often than not. As a MNSCU instructor who teaches both online and in-person courses and speaking as one who strives to give the same education to all of his students, I can tell you that online teaching frequently requires much more contact time per student. In-person teaching lends itself to efficiencies that are not available in an asynchronous, online learning environment.
Recent research supports my anecdotal account. It is highly unlikely that Anoka Technical online instructors are paid more per credit hour than their in-person counterparts. So, if Anoka Tech students are receiving a quality online education, which I assume they are, it is only through the dedication of seriously exploited online faculty.
Why does online cost more? Minnesota charges $1.75 "tech charge" to renew tabs online, rather than walking in and having a person -- making more than $1.75 an hour -- help me. The Twins -- and Major League Baseball -- charge me to print out tickets on my computer using my ink and my paper, so they don't have to spend money on ticket printing, envelopes, handling, and postage. Why does that cost more?
3) An air traffic controller brought his kid to work at JFK airport and let him tell a few pilots they were cleared for takeoff. Clearly, the kid wasn't making the decisions, he was just given the chance to say the same words Dad would've said. Is this a big deal? Apparently so.
Calm down, America.
Meanwhile, up at the National Guard air base in North Dakota, the "Happy Hooligans" are back. Pilots volunteering time to give sick kids a few chuckles.
4) I'm not sure how I missed this. The charming Iowa couple that played a piano duet in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic some time ago, returned for an encore on Saturday.
They're still charming.
Keep a song in your heart and keep singing.
5) Did someone say "Internet sensation"? A rock band, OK Go, wanted to make a memorable music video for its new song. It worked. Meet your latest Internet sensation. Don't turn the sound down, however, because the contraption plays part of the song.
And here's how they did it:
Facebook was born six years ago. It now has more than 400 million active users, a population that would make it the third largest country on Earth. Today's Question: How has social networking changed your life?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
I'm on Morning Edition this morning at 8:25 to talk about the appliance recycling program in Minnesota and whether it made any difference toward stimulating the economy or saving energy.
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Six years since its inception, Facebook is the dominant force in social media. And with 400 million users, it is changing the way we communicate. But controversies over privacy, challenges from Google, and some backlash from users could make its next six years more difficult.
Second hour: A migraine sufferer on the history of headache. Historian and migraine sufferer Andrew Levy explores the best (and worst) treatments for migraine through time and different cultures. He also explores the causes for a poorly respected disorder that afflicted great minds like Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, and Thomas Jefferson.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller join Midday in the studio to discuss the state budget and other issues at the Capitol.
Second hour:Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz looks at what we've learned from the economic downturn and how to prevent another crisis.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Mitt Romney talks about
his book, No Apologies.
Second hour: Teachers have moved to the center of the debate over how to improve American schools. But many teachers say their views are often ignored. That's one
result of a new survey of 40,000 U.S. teachers. What teachers have to say about fixing America's schools,
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Singer Nina Simone believed in confronting the racial divide. And she made that clear in all her performances, even if it made some in her audience uncomfortable. A new biography explores the music and the life of Nina Simone.
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Putting the PS on the now-closed Minnesota Appliance Rebate Program. I was on Morning Edition this morning to talk about it. Here's the final outline:
WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS SO POPULAR HERE?
Because, despite all of the kvetching, Minnesota's economy is better than most of the rest of the nation. People have money to spend and people like a "deal." Also, if you tell someone that they can't have something, they generally want it more. Going in, it was widely publicized that there weren't going to be many of these rebates available.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO "CASH FOR CLUNKERS" PROGRAM
The car program, of course, was much bigger and didn't involve the states. Everything happened through the car dealer and the deal was pretty much the same everywhere in the country. That's not the case here.
Minnesota, for example, decided to give a (comparatively) lot of money to few people instead of a little money to a lot of people. Every state is different. In Pennsylvania, for example, the rebates only go to people who are buying appliances that use gas, because electric companies are required to offer rebate on appliances which use electricity.
There's also the "jobs" issue. The car program caused American workers in the auto industry to go back to work. There's little net effect on factory jobs with this program because (a) it's so small and (b) most of the big manufacturers of appliances have shipped U.S. jobs to Mexico.
HOW MUCH MONEY ARE PEOPLE SAVING?
They're not saving a dime. The program is designed to get them to spend their money, it's only a question of how much they spend. And that's the question with this program -- how does it affect a particular family's finances? Are they going into debt to get a new appliance.
The rebates were supposed to be from $50 to $200 depending on the appliance you have to buy within a month, but the numbers from the state aren't adding up. According to a news release, 25, 926 people got the rebates. The state got $5 million in the deal so that works out to $192 average rebate. Aside from the fact that -- theoretically -- the average rebate should be a round number, we haven't been able to find out why the average rebate is so high unless everyone is buying washing machines.
HOW MUCH ENERGY WOULD THIS PROGRAM SAVE IN A YEAR?
An energy-efficient appliance can save you an average of $75 a year so a rebate of $200 takes a little less than two years off the total payback time in which people actually make money by having a more efficient use of energy. I calculated that the total amount of energy that utilities won't have to generate in a year around here is equivalent to about 2 1/2 hours at the big coal burning plant south of Stillwater.
However, you can't apply across the 50 states. Some states, unlike Minnesota, did not require consumers to replace appliances. So if someone is buying a big chest freezer who didn't already have a chest freezer, the program is actually increasing the amount of energy used.
WILL THESE NEW APPLIANCE SALES STIMULATE THE U.S. ECONOMY?
Perhaps, but not for the reason most people think.
The economy is an emotional thing fueled by our willingness to believe it's getting better. That raises our confidence and that makes us spend money.
The people buying new appliances were probably going to buy them anyway -- and, by the way, many utility companies were already offering rebates for this -- over the next year or two. If people can be compressed into buying within a month, then at some point a couple of months from now, an economic report will come out and it might show a big increase in consumer spending. And some analyst will say it shows people are more confident about the economy and someone at home who didn't buy a new appliance might say, "Hey, the economy's getting better, maybe I'll keep my job afterall. Honey, let's go buy a freezer."
As a result of creating the illusion of an improving economy, you actually create an improving economy. That's what's behind this program.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller appeared on MPR's Midday today to talk about the budget woes at the Capitol.
When you talk economy, of course, you're talking numbers and sometimes -- most of the time, actually -- numbers can be made to dance. I pointed out last month, for example, that the notion that Minnesota loses jobs because it's not business-friendly, doesn't stand up to the fact that the states that are described as business friendly have more rampant unemployment. (The number of industrial jobs per capita in Minnesota, for example, is among the highest in the nation)
"We don't have the jobs we had when this governor took office," Speaker Kelliher said, leaving the suggestion on the table that it's because of the governor that we don't.
If by "we don't have the jobs" the speaker meant the number of jobs, that's true, but not by much.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,742,970 people in Minnesota have jobs right now. In January 2003, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty took office, there were 2,745,618 people working, a reduction of about 2,600 jobs. Thirty-six-thousand more people were working after a year in office, and 24,124 more jobs existed after his first term.
If the governor's policies have reduced the number of jobs over the last seven years, couldn't the same conclusion on this basis be made that the governor created jobs over the first four years of his time in office? And is either really accurate?
Unemployment over the period of Pawlenty's term has risen 2.9%, almost a full percentage point below the rest of the United States. (There's obviously a case to be made that simply having a job isn't the same as having a good job, but it's also true the median family income in Minnesota is 8th best in the nation, and personal income is 10th. In this decade, adjusted for inflation, the per-capita income of Minnesota is up about $1,000.)
The big question, of course, is what exactly is the cause-and-effect here? One side could easily say "we don't have as many jobs under this governor," the other side can say "we have a better jobs picture under this governor than the rest of the country." Taken literally, both are correct. But that doesn't necessarily mean they really are.
One of America's greatest heroes stopped flying for a living today.
Chesley Sullenberger, 59, arrives in Charlotte around 2 p.m. on his last flight before retiring. True to his understated nature, there isn't going to be any great ceremony for his last flight, something that's pretty unheard of for professional pilots.
Doreen Welsh, one of the flight attendants on the Hudson River flight, is also retiring today. She got one line in US Air's press release.
In January, Sullenberger inspired Phil Hansen of St. Paul, to making art...
Sullenberger is going to make more speeches, push his book, and fulfill his new role -- along with first officer Jeff Skiles -- as the chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program, which offers free rides to kids in order to get them interested in aviation.
Update 5:14 p.m. -- A commenter below asks for more information on Ms. Welsh. Here she is telling her story.
Admittedly, it's not a good idea to bring your kid into a control tower of a busy airport and let him say a few words on the radio, but if there's a story being blown out of proportion today, this one is it.
The story, according to the major media, is that a boy "directed" air traffic control at JFK airport last month. He did nothing of the sort.
Many of the TV networks have taken the tapes of the kid, and spliced his transmissions together to create the illusion of a kid --and only a kid -- running the tower at JFK. "Pushing tin," as they say.
Here are the actual transmissions. You may note that it actually runs 10 minutes, and there are gaps of two minutes between transmissions. It was evening at JFK, and it wasn't a busy place.
You'll also note that -- presumably -- the kid's dad was giving the boy the opportunity to say a few words between his own transmissions. He didn't, as the network news reports are suggesting, let the boy give a stream of instructions.
The U.S. Justice Department reports today that the percentage of children who reported being physically bullied over the past year, had declined from nearly 22 percent in 2003 to under 15 percent in 2008.
The report's authors say anti-bullying programs are working. But how do they know for sure? Even in some of the nation's worst bullying incidents, like this one in Massachusetts, kids tend to keep their mouths shut on the subject.
But based on your high school experiences, do the percentages above seem low? That's the discussion that leads today's conversation with The Current's Mary Lucia, who also asks, "why don't you hear much about bullying in college?"