Oct

23

ESC: The Changes They Are A-Comin’

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This has very little to do with ESC. Bwog just likes the picture.

This has very little to do with ESC. Bwog just likes the picture.

Reporting on all things rolling in the deep, Bwogtastic reporter Keenan Albee brings you the latest behind the SEAS action.

This week ESC was graced by the presence of SEAS Vice Dean Kachani and, not surprisingly, the meeting was chock-full of big announcements. But if a curriculum change isn’t enough to get you all hot and bothered, brace yourself—there’s a lot in store for SEAS this year.

Dean Kachani addressed four main topics: study space; online courses; grading curves, and, of course changes to professional level course requirements. Study space is likely to get scarce due to the loss of Engineering Library seats after the spring semester, but preparations are already being made to avoid Butler cabin fever. As of now, the rooms in Mudd are open to for use as academic study space, and will be available 24/7 during exam periods—just mind any food you take along. Dean Kachani also plans to address business school leaders about the Watson library debate, and is prepared to support the resolution passed by GSSC, ESC, and CCSC.

Now for the big’uns.

After an agreement between Deantini and Dean Boyce, the seating in three undergraduate libraries is slated to be increased—primarily Butler. (All-nighters will now be more spacious!) Engineers, though, are in for a real treat. The Carleton Lounge, that dingy space left of the main entry to Mudd, is in for a serious facelift. Major construction over the summer will be replacing brick walls with glass, practically opening up a view of Teacher’s College from the Lounge. Seats in Carleton will be drastically increased, equal to the current number of seats in Carleton and the Engineering Library combined. More details on this huge renovation will be trickling out over the next few months, but the space could be available for events as early as Spring 2014.

The possibility of earning credit for online courses was also raised by council members. Dean Kachani emphasized that when it comes to distance learning, Columbia knows what’s what—they’ve been in the business since 1986. A Columbia task force on MOOCs (that’s Massive Open Online Courses) has recommended creating separate networks for campus and online students. The student network would potentially be available to those studying abroad, athletes, and students with schedule conflicts. Looking forward, Kachani brought up “flipped classrooms,” where students will, in essence, complete coursework in class and watch lecture-like videos at home. For the present though, administrators believe online education is too early in its development to be credit-worthy. But perhaps in the future it may yet be possible to achieve your ultimate life goal of never having to leave your dorm EVER.

In the mish-mash of other big news, Kachani broached the topic of grading curves in mixed undergrad/grad classes. The current stance is to allow ESC to investigate departmental policies and act as a mediator to begin the process of an official grading curve policy over the coming two semesters. Green labs also popped up in the conversation—at the moment, ideas are being vetted and should have implementation plans by Spring. It appears a main goal is to increase awareness of existing green infrastructure, so cost won’t be much of an issue. After the bombshell on curriculum changes,  Kachani darted away and it was back to business as usual. Not bad for a Monday.

ESC meets every Monday at 9:30 in the Lerner Satow Room.

L’étrange via ShutterStock

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3 Comments

  1. Anonymous  

    Please Columbia Engineering don't ruin yourself with this online class crap! Engineering inherently walks dangerously close to memorizing plug-and-chug equations, but at the moment there is something creative and thoughtful and motivated here (if you are willing to look for it). But that extra factor depends on interaction and accountability and communication and an honest challenge. Please don't let that slip away with these "lecture videos" which are surely intended for disinterested, lazy, and distracted consumption!

  2. Anonymous

    A new and expanded Carleton Louge will be amazing.

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