David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Bracketology -- Student Experience Region

March 20, 2013:  Bracketology -- Day Two (Student Experience Region)

Continuing with my NCAA-inspired bracket for the College Challenge Tournament (64 challenges to higher education--see the entire bracket here), today we break down the Student Experience Region.

Powerhouse #1 seed Remediation battles #16 seed Technology, the darling of administrators everywhere for improving the student learning environment.  However, from a student's experience, the interest in classroom technology is minimal compared to the other members of its league, Social Media and Cheating (see more on them below).  As a result, Remediation scores twice as many points as Technology, although many students are not able to calculate the exact score when told that Technology had 44 points.

The always popular 8 vs. 9 match-up features Hazing vs. Free online courses, more commonly known as MOOC's these days (Massive Open Online Course).  It's not nearly as close a contest as one might think.  How could it be when institutions as revered as MIT and Harvard embrace the free online course but discourage hazing?

Parking, a surprisingly low #12 seed in the region, goes up agains #5 Social Media. It will be a close battle as evidenced by the relationship between texting and driving for the average student driver.  The truth of the matter is that Social Media will assert its dominance in this contest, whether it's because of the use of FB pages for classes, Tweeting during classtime, or even posting to Pinterest pictures of the great parking space one got in front of the Geology building.

#4 seed, Math Requirements, comes into the tourney a little dazed and directionless, the subject of countless curricular conversations within schools and between schools.  Despite its lack of direction, its pure oppressive power will weigh down the least directionless competitor in the field, #13 seed Helicopter Parents.  As I write this, I have no doubt a Helicopter Mom is swooping down to try and get little Johnny (26 years old, probably) back into the math class he stopped attending for 6 straight weeks.

On the other side of the region, #15 housing, still smarting whenever anyone refers to it by its antiquated mascot "Dorms" instead of "Residence Halls," is no match for the ubiquitous Cheating, the #2 seed.  Even Harvard has been deflowered by a recent cheating scandal (if you missed the brilliant Daily Show's take on this, see it here).  Is there really any doubt?

Student Communication Skills, a #10 seed, long lamented by potential employers as incredibly lacking in college graduates, goes up against Grade Inflation, the #7 seed.  This is akin to a challenge between West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet.  We don't get the dreck listed first if we don't have the second.  Grade Inflation in a rout, points elevated by officials afraid to appear too mean to call fouls (they usually work Duke basketball games).

The old gentlemen of the tournament, Lecture Mode, come in as an #11 seed, its seeding falling more and more each year as active learning proponents pooh-pooh the sage on the stage.  Lecture will upset, and it is truly an upset, Partying, the #6 seed, as it will prevail behind the well-organized support of men and women in their 50s and older, while partying will be distracted by the first time Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" is played over the loudspeaker.

Finally, #3 seed, Critical Thinking, coming from the same conference that produced Communication Skills and Math Skills, will stumble in its game agains #14 ADA Requirements.  In fact, the game may come to a standstill when the first ADA request is submitted to the officials and the Critical Thinking Coaching Staff during the under-16 minute t.v. timeout in the first half ("can anyone explain what this phrase 'reasonable non-electronic testing environment' means?").

Remediation blows out Free Online Courses when retention rates fail to climb out of the single digits, creating a 6 overtime classic with Math Requirements who beat Social Media when they tweet their game plan to everyone in the arena.  The 6 overtime game ends when Remediation finally wears down the college Math folks, beaten at its game of pound, pound, pound.

Cheating vs. Grade Inflation is the most puzzling match of the tourney.  Imagine pitting the films Philadelphia and Joe Versus the Volcano against each other.  Both have Tom Hanks, but how can they co-exist in a world with Tom Hanks?  They seem at complete odds.  Ultimately, cheating, easier to blame on students, wins out.

Lecture Mode vs. ADA Requirements is a snoozer.  No one is in the stands and ADA Requirements wins on a technicality. It becomes the tag line for its season.

Cheating destroys ADA Requirements, setting up the huge regional final with Remediation.  The battle is epic, but Remediation stays strong and wins.  Will anything be able to bring Remediation down?  Stay tuned.

Next time -- the Faculty Experience Regional.