Thursday, October 30, 2014

Students jump at chance for free college tuition - Dave Boucher, Tennessean

When Gov. Bill Haslam announced the creation of the Tennessee Promise scholarship program, the state anticipated 20,000 students might apply. A little more than a week before the Nov. 1 application deadline, the number of students embarking down the path toward free tuition at a Tennessee community college or college of applied technology is closer to 45,000. Essentially two-thirds of all seniors in the state have applied. That doesn't pose a monetary or logistical problem though, said Mike Krause, the man leading Haslam's push for 55 percent of adult Tennesseans to have a college degree by 2025.

Use of Synchronous Virtual Classrooms: Why, Who, and How? - Florence Martin & Michele A. Parker, JOLT

Virtual classrooms allow students and instructors to communicate synchronously using features such as audio, video, text chat, interactive whiteboard, and application sharing. The purpose of the study reported in this paper was to identify why instructors adopt synchronous virtual classrooms and how they use them after their adoption. An electronic survey was administered asking instructors from various institutions to describe their experience adopting a synchronous virtual classroom in either a blended or online course. In describing their reasons for adopting the technology, respondents most frequently cited institutional resource availability, increasing social presence, enhancing student learning, and the availability of technology. Along with audio chat, the features that most influenced the adoption of virtual classrooms and were used most frequently by respondents were the ability to archive conference sessions, see participants through webcams, and use text-based chat interfaces.

More Mooc Developers Disrupt Business Education With Paid-For Courses - Seb Murray, Business Because

Coursera became the latest learning technology company to expand further into the fee-paying market with a series of programs similar to Moocs – massive online open courses – that are disrupting the business education market. Coursera launched 18 new Specializations last week – a sequence of online courses that students study through distance learning, an addition to the first batch announced in January. Significantly, the tech company will allow students to complete a real-life project and purchase a certificate to show to prospective employers. This move into vocational learning further encroaches into the territory of business schools, which already have to compete with Moocs in business-related subjects. Coursera rival edX announced plans to launch a series of short paid-for executive courses earlier this month that have been developed by leading universities.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Online Ed Skepticism and Self-Sufficiency: Survey of Faculty Views on Technology - Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

Gallup surveyed 2,799 faculty members and 288 academic technology administrators this August and September on issues identified by Inside Higher Ed. Virtually all faculty members and technology administrators say meaningful student-teacher interaction is a hallmark of a quality online education, and that it is missing from most online courses. A majority of faculty members with online teaching experience still say those courses produce results inferior to in-person courses.

Wake Forest Ending the Traditional MBA - Kaitlin Mulhere, Inside Higher Ed

After five years of declining enrollment in its traditional M.B.A. program, Wake Forest University is shifting gears to focus on an area where it sees greater demand -- those M.B.A. seekers who want to earn a paycheck while studying. Starting next year, Wake Forest will no longer accept applications for a traditional, daytime M.B.A. program at its Winston-Salem campus. In the past five years, enrollment in the university’s traditional M.B.A. program has dropped from 123 to 98. At the same time, enrollment in the M.B.A. for working professionals program -- which offers year-round evening and weekend classes -- has grown from 242 to 304. The number of online and hybrid MBA degrees has grown in the past several years, and so has wider acceptance of such programs. Some top business schools now offer online programs in addition to their traditional programs. Many business schools have also launched or grown their programs for part-timers.

5 lessons for launching your first competency-based degree - Dian Schaffhauser, eCampus News

When Purdue University announced in 2013 that it intended to introduce a new technology school built on the “competency” model, it joined a field with few other players. Delaware County Community College, Southern New Hampshire U, Western Governors U, Excelsior College and a handful of other institutions have pursued a similar path in developing educational programs that put the emphasis on helping their graduates master specific competencies vs. counting the number of hours they sit in classrooms. The new Purdue Polytechnic Institute was intended to be a “bold experiment in educational transformation,” according to its founding dean, Gary Bertoline. But rather than attempting to launch the Institute from within the traditional confines of the existing university, the founders drew up plans starting with a blank sheet of paper.

N.J. Assembly passes 7 bills on higher education - Matt Friedman, NJ Advance Media

A bill that would allow New Jersey college students to pay the same tuition for nine straight semesters is one step closer to becoming law. The state Assembly today voted 48-21 to pass the bill, which was one of seven bills the lower house passed today that are intended to rein in college costs. “The time for change in higher education has come,” said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), a sponsor of the bills. “For the last 20 years New Jersey’s families have been at the mercy of what I would say is an oligarchy of presidents of higher education who determine their financial future.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Want an online degree? Net ruling threatens that - Vincent del Casino, AZ Central

Success of online education, including student retention and graduate rates, can't happen without a wide range of services, from online-faculty office hours to tutoring to disability services and beyond. Online-library access and journal accessibility are also central to success; it is hard to imagine any student today who does not rely on the Internet for much of his or her basic research. An open and accessible Internet is, after all, a space where students — not just as consumers of knowledge, but also as producers — will exchange content across an ever-growing set of information databases. However, just as those in higher education accelerate action to expand online education, the debate about net neutrality — the idea that broadband and Internet service providers should provide open access to all legal online content equally and without interference — has intensified.

Online classes can serve students well: Guest opinion - Kathryn Hubbell, the Oregonian

In response to Ramin Farahmandpur's Oct. 12 "In My Opinion" column, "Online courses shortchange their students," I would like to defend online learning. I have taught both online and on-campus classes at Marylhurst University for the past six years, and prior to that earned my master's in communications management from Syracuse University. The Syracuse program involved spending the first week of each term on campus, then finishing up via online learning from home. I was running my public relations firm in Montana at the time; the program meant I did not have to move in order to get the degree I wanted. The experience at Syracuse was so good that when I came to Oregon and began teaching online classes at Marylhurst, I took those lessons into my virtual classrooms.

Ed Department to Colleges: Read the Instructions - Inside Higher Ed

The U.S. Department of Education has a response to colleges and universities confused by how they are supposed to count students enrolled in distance education courses: Read the instructions. In a study released last month, higher education consultant Phil Hill and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies found many colleges and universities have under- or overreported thousands of students to the federal government, which tracks those numbers through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System program, or IPEDS. Hill and Poulin, deputy director of research and analysis for WCET, identified two main reasons behind the irregularities. In some cases, institutions were confused about whether or not to report students enrolled in continuing education, and in others, institutions used their own definitions of distance education.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Wearables Are the New Gateways to Human Knowledge - Toni Fuhrman, Campus Technology

The use of Google Glass and other wearable devices in higher education is still experimental, but the technology is opening up exciting new possibilities for teaching and learning. Ray Kurzweil, American author, scientist, inventor, futurist — and now director of engineering at Google — said, famously: "Mobile phones are misnamed. They should be called gateways to human knowledge." It turns out that gateway is widening, especially on campus, where wearable technology is becoming the latest portal into human knowledge — and the future.

Why ‘potential completers’ should matter to your institution - Ron Bethke, eCampus News

31 million students have left college without earning a degree in the last 20 years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, leaving a huge amount of almost-students degree bereft. Welcome to the term ‘potential completers’: a specific set of students characterized by a set of personal issues (financial struggles, simple boredom, family concern, lack of time) that forces them to quit a traditional degree pathway, though ideally they’d like to continue with their education. Many of these people go on to accumulate a respectable skill set after leaving college, enabling them to become experienced “potential completers” down the line, said President of Excelsior College in Albany, New York, Dr. John Ebersole, LPD. “They should be valued and honored.”

Colleges say student-faculty online engagement and assessment tools contribute to success - Rachel Weick, Grand Rapids Business Journal

West Michigan colleges and universities are finding that online advanced degree programs are especially popular among nontraditional and professional students whose schedules do not allow for consistent classroom time. The online platform for education is a tool academic institutions can use to meet the needs and expectations of their students in an increasingly data-driven world. Jill Langen, chief academic officer at Baker College Online and Center for Graduate Studies, said the college focuses on small classes of between nine and 12 students. “We really focus a lot with our faculty on a high level of student engagement. There is a lot of interaction that happens on the discussion board. We provide a lot of training and professional development for that,” said Langen. “It really only works if you have a lot of individual attention and classes are really small. It is a real core belief we have.”

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why one college president took a $90,000 annual pay cut - Lindsay Ellis, Christian Science Monitor

In cutting his salary by $90,000, Kentucky State University interim president Raymond Burse joins Stanford University president John Etchemendy, who cut his own salary by 10 percent in a very public way. Kentucky State cajoled Mr. Burse, who was president of the university from 1982 to 1989, back to Kentucky after he worked as a top General Electric executive. By cutting his salary to $259,744, he was able to use the money to boost the salaries of 24 university employees who earned $7.25 to $10.25 an hour, CBS reported. He has maintained that the move wasn't intended as a "publicity stunt."

The Real Revolution in Online Education Isn’t MOOCs - Michelle Weise, Harvard Business Review

Something is clearly wrong when only 11% of business leaders — compared to 96% of chief academic officers — believe that graduates have the requisite skills for the workforce. It’s therefore unlikely that business leaders are following closely what’s going on in higher education. Even the latest hoopla around massive open online courses (MOOCs) amounts to more of the same: academics designing courses that correspond with their own interests rather than the needs of the workforce, but now doing it online. But there is a new wave of online competency-based learning providers that has absolutely nothing to do with offering free, massive, or open courses. In fact, they’re not even building courses per se, but creating a whole new architecture of learning that has serious implications for businesses and organizations around the world. It’s called online competency-based education, and it’s going to revolutionize the workforce.

Minerva’s Virtual College Scores Backing to Grow - Bernadette Tansey, Xconomy

The Minerva Project, a San Francisco-based for-profit that aims to provide an Ivy League-caliber college degree for $10,000 a year, says it has closed on the bulk of a $70 million Series B round that will allow it to scale up its freshman class next year. Meanwhile, competitor Udacity, through some of its new online “nanodegree” programs, is focusing on the knowledge needed by its partner companies–which include Google and AT&T—in students they hire, such as wizardry in specific technical and computer programming skills. Udacity is trying to bypass the entrenched university credentialing system by developing employer-backed academic credentials. Whatever edtech models pull ahead, traditional universities would be wise to keep watching.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Should Educator Professional Development Change? - Ben Johnson, Edutopia

Teachers in the United States have long known that there is a traditional “disconnect” between what teachers were expected to do and how the teachers were expected to learn how to do it. Teachers attend professional development sessions of all kinds, but unfailingly will acknowledge that the real development of teacher skills for most teachers in the U.S. is “on the job” or “learning by doing.” Job-imbedded professional development through teacher collaboration is becoming a more significant factor in more and more school systems worldwide. This is demonstrated in the report from the National Center for Teaching Quality (NCTQ) out of North Carolina published in May, 2014. This report shines more light on not only the American professional development perspectives, but also perspectives from teachers in Shanghai, Singapore, and Canada -- nations that significantly outperform the U.S. on the Program for International Assessment (PISA).

Jobs for Humanities, Arts Grads - Kaitlin Mulhere, Inside Higher Ed

Two reports on outcomes for humanities majors could serve to reinforce two disparate beliefs about the field: one where they are seen as a viable path to a successful career, and another where they are seen as a track to a low income and few job prospects. On average, humanities majors do earn less than graduates in many other disciplines, according to the report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. But that doesn't mean they are starving artists or underemployed baristas. Another report released this week from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) out of Indiana University also showed generally positive signs for recent graduates of arts departments, who largely reported feeling prepared to continue in advanced degree programs, able to find work related to their field of study, and satisfied with their jobs. The humanities indicators report from the American Academy draws from U.S. Census data through the American Community Survey to look at the earnings of workers who studied in humanities fields.

Real-Time Classroom Feedback Enhances Flipped Learning at Temple College - Leila Meyer, Campus Technology

Terry Austin, an instructor of anatomy and physiology at Temple College in Texas teaches several online courses, as well as one face-to-face course that he describes as a hybrid between an online and traditional course. "It's not 100 percent flipped, but a significant portion of the class is flipped," he said. His students watch short lecture videos at home, and then they log on to Learning Catalytics to answer a few questions about the concept covered in the video lecture. When the students return to class the next day, they get together in small groups to discuss the same questions and submit group answers. "It makes for some really interesting discussions," said Austin.

Friday, October 24, 2014

How Southern New Hampshire U Develops 650-Plus Online Courses Per Year - David Raths, Campus Technology

Kerri Bedrosian, director of eLearning project management for SNHU's College of Online and Continuing Education characterizes SNHU's course development model as "one-to-many." "We have an internal team that designs the course, from the outcome to the critical path for summative assessment, all the formative assessment around it, choosing the learning resource, text or e-text, discussions and lectures or overviews," she said. "All that is designed in-house and built by our production team into Blackboard, our LMS. That becomes our one course model — our master course — and we then copy that out depending on how many sections are needed for that term. The instructor receives a fully completed course. It is great for us because we can ensure a lot of consistency across our sections."

Brandman U. Gets Green Light for Direct Assessment - Inside Higher Ed

Brandman University this week announced that the U.S. Department of Education had approved its application to offer federal financial aid for an emerging form of competency-based education. The university is the fourth institution to get the nod from the department for "direct assessment" degrees, which are decoupled from the credit-hour standard.