Horns Up, Horns Down for Jan. 22


Horns Down: Administration can't take fall for TSM

On Tuesday, The Daily Texan reported that several prominent administrators have denied making the final decision to bring Texas Student Media’s, known as TSM, properties under the domain of the Moody College of Communication. The administrators — including the vice president for student affairs, the dean of the College of Communication and even President William Powers Jr. — seem to have played a large role in the acquisition, so it’s surprising that they are all passing the buck. In an editorial last Thursday, we expressed concern over unanswered questions surrounding the move  — namely, that TSM’s new home could potentially threaten the Texan’s editorial independence. And, while we continue to trust that both Powers and Roderick Hart, the College of Communication dean, have nothing but good intentions, we are worried that the confusion over who pulled the trigger could be a sign of what’s to come. We hope a future dialogue between the Moody College of Communication and TSM can be open and free, and we are disappointed by the lack of transparency that has dominated the acquisition.


Horns Up: New MetroRapid route to speed up travel

As this paper reported Tuesday, Capital Metro is launching a new service of rapid-transit buses called MetroRapid on Sunday, starting with Rapid 801, which will service the UT area. As befits their name, the new buses are expected to speed up travel along at least some corridors by such methods as limiting stops and prioritizing bus traffic at intersections over regular car traffic. The new convenience, however, comes at a cost, both literally and figuratively. On the literal front, bus fare will increase to $1.50, from the regular $1.00 of the non-express buses. This might not impose a figurative cost on the bus-riding community, however. As Jace Deloney, Urban Transportation Committee member and founder of citizens transit group Austinites for Urban Rail Action, told us, Cap Metro might seen an overall increase in ridership. What will drag the new service down on the figurative front is the fact that at least one of the routes, Rapid 803, which will begin operation this summer, will be formed by absorbing the Pickle Research Campus shuttle route, which currently operates nonstop between campus and the research facility. Still, even with the fare hike, we are enthusiastic about this new option for students and hope that it begins to chip away at the infuriating traffic problems that bedevil Austinites each and every day. 


Horns Down: Students fail to finish online courses

The results of UT’s experiment with Massive Open Online Courses are in, and, unfortunately, the numbers are underwhelming. According to a Texas Tribune report Tuesday, completion rates for the courses — which are free, online classes that UT professors create, supervise and teach — ranged from 1-13 percent. Though the courses boast high enrollment and allow participants to learn at a self-taught pace, they do little to encourage the thousands of enrolled students to stick it out until the end of the semester, raising questions about the expensive course’s value to students. Critics contend that the low completion rates don’t tell the whole story of the system’s value, but, since the courses fail to offer actual college credit, there is little incentive to finish. This online experiment has been far from the smashing success that UT was hoping for and is even further away from being the future of learning on campus like supporters have argued that it would be. These courses have taken unnecessary time and money from other tried-and-true methods of teaching on campus, and students should be more than a little bit concerned at this less-than-great measures of the online system’s present success.