Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Public Forum - Tuesday June 5th

Defending Mass Transit in Pittsburgh

and the Struggle Against Cuts in Human Services

Thomas Merton Center
5129 Penn Avenue
Tuesday 6/5 – 7:30 to 9:00 pm

What’s happening?   Will you be affected?
How does it fit into the big picture?

Brief presentations by:
Jim Bonner – furloughed PAT Bus driver
Alicia Williamson
 – Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Jon Clark – Teacher and Activist 

Join the discussion and share your thoughts and ideas in a robust discussion on these important issues.

Tuesday, June 5 – 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
In preparation for the March & Rally to Defend Public Transit 
Downtown, Stanwix @ First Ave., Friday 6/8 (3pm)

Info:                   Follow: @isopittsburgh

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Meaning of Marxism Study Group

Marxism involves an  approach to reality that was developed to help the working-class majority bring about fundamental change from CAPITALSM (an economic dictatorship operating to maximize the profits of the wealthy) to SOCIALISM (economic democracy where "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all"). If understood and used with intelligence and passion, it can be a powerful tool for changing the world!

We will be exploring the basics with a fine introductory text by Paul D'Amto - The Meaning of Marxism.

WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US IN THIS EXPLORATION in a four session study group.

Where: Thomas Merton Center, 5129 Penn Avenue
When: Tuesdays, May 29th, June 12th, 19th, and 26th
Time: 7 - 8pm


follow: @isopittsburgh

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SOCIALISM 2012. Educate. Agitate. Occupy

Educate. Agitate. Occupy
June 28-July 1 | Chicago
“A global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” That's how the African American revolutionary Malcolm X characterized the international scene in 1965. But the description seems even more apt today.

After years of devastation in the clutches of the Great Recession, masses of people are discovering their own power to change the world. The Arab Spring has given birth to a global movement of Occupiers that has revived the politics of class struggle and revolution for the 21st century. Instead of the cutbacks, unemployment and repression that our rulers offer us, solidarity in struggle shows that “another world is possible.”

Each year, the Socialism conference brings together hundreds of activists from around the country to learn our history of class struggle and debate strategies for building a better world. Don't miss this chance to meet others like you--committed fighters against a system of greed, racism, war and oppression.

Join us for more than 100 presentations: Where Is the Egyptian Revolution Going? | The Future of the Occupy Movement | Marxism and Imperialism | The Overpopulation Myth | The Communist Manifesto | The New War On Women | What is the Real Marxist Tradition? | and many more

Featured speakers include: Ali Abunimah, Justin Akers Chacón, Ian Angus, Anthony Arnove, Abbie Bakan, Tithi Battacharya, Megan Behrent, Martha Biondi, Rachel Cohen, Dana Cloud, Nicole Colson, Kevin Coval, Paul D’Amato, Neil Davidson, Sam Farber, Anand Gopal, Dan Georgakas, Glenn Greenwald, Arun Gupta, Ragina Johnson, Sam Jordan, Bill Keach, Sarah Knopp, Deepa Kumar, Alan Maass, Marlene Martin, Scott McLemee, David McNally, China Miéville, Leia Petty, Khury Peterson-Smith, Charlie Post, Michael Ratner, John Riddell, Boots Riley, Jen Roesch, Eric Ruder, Elizabeth Schulte, Michael Schwartz, Liliana Segura, Lance Selfa, Ahmed Shawki, Wally Shawn, Beryl Satter, Sharon Smith, Marvin Surkin, Lee Sustar, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Elizabeth Terzakis, Hadas Thier, Lee Wengraf, Sherry Wolf, Richard Wolff, Leela Yelletsey, Annie Zirin, Dave Zirin...and many more

Download a flyer for Socialism 2012

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Register today

Socialism 2012 sponsored by: Center for Economic Research and Social Change (publisher of International Socialist Review and Haymarket Books). Cosponsored by: The International Socialist Organization (publisher of Socialist Worker and Obrero Socialista).

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How the Internet is Changing the Course of Higher Education

by Guest Blogger Linda Zabriski

There is little doubt that the internet space is changing course of higher education. Not only can students and teachers communicate with each other in new ways, but courses and even degrees can be completed entirely online. These benefits do not come without some challenges, however. One of the main questions that people in the world of education and academia are currently asking is this: What effect will the growing trend of online education have on education and on society at large? In most cases, the discussion revolves around three basic issues: education availability, education quality, and general economics.

When it comes to matters of availability, the benefit of online education is clear. The online space is a very easy way to bring university education to any and all corners of the world. Wherever there is an internet connection, there can be a classroom. Some programs are simply lectures that can be downloaded, but others involve wholly electronic textbooks, quizzes, tests, virtual classrooms, and discussion platforms. Students who might not otherwise be able to travel to a campus for daily lectures can nevertheless harness the benefits of a college education from their computer.

There are also significant cost considerations when it comes to online learning. Universities typically save a lot of money by moving classes to the internet. In most cases, teachers can save time with automated assignment submission and grading tools. This enables them to teach more classes, or spend more time coaching students on specific issues. Schools also do not need to provide physical classroom and office space. As a result, institutions are often able to offer courses to a wider range of students at a minimized variable cost. Together, the low cost and high scalability result in the ability to educate more people.

Some academics question whether the shift to online education is actually good for higher education. One of the main criticisms is that the growing ubiquity of online schooling may lead to an erosion in value. For example, a Harvard Ph.D. is a very prestigious degree in today’s market. If Harvard started offering the same degree online to anyone willing to complete the requirements, its perceived market value would drop dramatically due to increased supply alone. The same extrapolation holds true for all college degrees more generally: the more there are, the less value each holds individually.

The “real” value of a degree could also drop for a number of other reasons unrelated to saturation. First, cheating is often easier through online study, as much of the coursework and testing can be done without any kind of identity verification. Second, the go-at-your-own-pace model that online courses tend to follow cannot be compared to the rigorous study and assignment schedules that students at traditional universities follow. Third, while some aspects of education are better online, others are simply impossible through an online platform. For example, in a biochemistry course, online students may be able to read textbooks, watch videos, and take tests, but they have no access to a laboratory, which is essential to truly learning about reactions and chemical characteristics. Some of these issues may be ameliorated by continuing technological development, but others will never be fully addressed. Particularly in the sciences, more traditional methods of education are unlikely to ever disappear completely.

Online education’s changes to higher learning are likely to trickle through to society in general, raising a separate set of questions. One frequently raised concern is the possibility that, by making education more available and more affordable, society will have too many people with degrees. From a general economic standpoint, however, increasing the number of people with degrees is almost always a good thing -- so long as those degrees reflect an actual increase in education, and so long as their attainment does not burden the market with massive amounts of student loan debt. If educational institutions do what they can to maintain a certain standard of quality online, internet-based education can certainly help to deliver a better, brighter future for everyone.