Argus, carbon footprint, South Africa, willingness to pay, WTP

More "green" tourism research

If you are interested in Economics and Tourism, the International Association of Tourism Economics conference is the place to be. This year the meeting is in Ljubjana, Slovenia and you can have a look at the conference programme here.

I have a paper there with Melville Saayman on the cyclists participating in the Argus cycle tour, their views on the green initiatives at the race and their willingness to pay to mitigate their carbon footprint. Check it out.

AER, Economics, education

Academic Economics: winner-take-all or winner’s curse?

For those of you who may have missed these posts, last week saw two interesting studies of the academic economics field.

The first looked at agglomeration and peer effects in research, using data from French Economics departments. I have also thrown around some ideas about economic geography and research, but these guys have done the econometrics and have some interesting findings:

Department characteristics have an explanatory power that can be as high as that of individual characteristics. The departments that generate most externalities are those where academics are homogeneous in terms of publication performance and have diverse research fields, and, to a lesser extent, large departments, with more women, older academics, star academics and foreign co-authors. Department specialisation in a field also favours publication in that field. 

Marginal Revolution blog linked to an article with the title: An empirical guide to hiring assistant Professors in Economics. The research looked at the research productivity of PhD’s from the top programmes and predictors of the number of AER-equivalent publications at year six after graduation (when they will be applying for tenure). The finding is that the student’s rank in the class and the departmental rank are important predictors of future research productivity. The bit that was tweeted around is this: “even at Harvard the median graduate has only 0.04 AER-equivalent papers at year six”.

blog, econoblogosphere

The joys of the econoblogosphere

With Johan Fourie celebrating his 100th blog post today, he reminded me of the joys of the econoblogosphere. Allow me to refer to his blog like Tyler Cowan would: it is self-recommending. Congratulations to Johan on this blogiversary.

Though we are still very few in South Africa, I want to recommend a number of my colleagues for readers to have a look at:

We all try to pitch in on the School’s blog. My latest is on the environment and carbon taxes.

blended learning, e-book, flipped classroom, MOOC

Lecturing in the digital age

Since I have returned to the office there is unfortunately less time to write blog posts than I had in May. However, I have been to some interesting meetings that inspire posts.

The past week two have been about lecturing in the digital age. If you are following this sort of thing you’ll know that the internet is awash with posts on how Massive Online Open Courses is to bring about a revolution in higher education. In South Africa I have not met lots of people how worry about MOOCs, but everywhere there are academics moving towards the flipped classroom and more online learning. Administrators see distance learning (online) as a grow point.

In a meeting with a major publishing outfit, it was clear that not everyone is on the same page of the e-book. They want to “rethink textbook content delivery for the digital age”. Many of my colleagues think about an e-textbook as the paper of the prescribed book, behind the gorilla glass of your tablet. It can be much more than that. It can be multimedia and interactive – even with specific feedback. This raises a bunch of questions. If you have multimedia and interactivity in the “book”, what would be the point of those e-study guides that we hear we have to develop? Maybe you are already linking to videos or using the learning management system for electronic assessment – where would that fit into the story? If everything is going to be electronic, should it be in a “book”, in different parts accessed through the LMS or packaged as a whole course at Udemy, iTunesU, or Coursera, or EdX? There is an interesting post on MOOCs as three kinds of LMS here. I suspect we will see lots of trail and error before we narrow this down to a few systems or products that work.

The publishers had an interesting answer to all this. They want to leverage all the book content that they have and add new digital content to create an ecosystem that we as academics (or our students) can subscribe to and then moderate and curate. They want to deliver this in a widget-based approach that can plug into your e-study guide or LMS or MOOC. You have to decide, do you want a core and then have all other resources available for students to explore (browser style)? Or do you want a core along with a defined path very specific advanced or remedial resources (app style)?

As cool as all this sounds I am worried that not enough lecturers are currently using a blended learning approach (a textbook, with a study guide, additional videos, or lecture capturing, along with pod casts, and on line tools, with some electronic assessment, in addition to lectures and class discussions) to know how to curate resources for the digital age. The technology mat be running far ahead of the pedagogy.