Saturday, September 23, 2017

eLearning Helps Classes Stay on Track During Hurricane Season - Cait Etherington, eLearning Inside

Just as some schools located in northern regions of the nation have started to replace snow days with virtual school days, in the South, a growing number of public schools, colleges and universities are relying on eLearning to keep classes on schedule even during weather crises. This year, as the region is devastated by a series of hurricanes, eLearning is already proving critical.  The Kingwood area north of Houston was slammed by Harvey, but it was the runoff from the storm that caused the most damage. In fact, the Lone Star College system has closed its Kingwood campus and doesn’t expect it to be back up and running for two months. Despite this, Lone Star College remains in full operation.  The Lone Star College system’s chancellor, Steve Head, told Inside Higher Education that more than 35,000 of the system’s nearly 90,000 students are already enrolled in online courses: “We’re very technologically advanced here.

A majority of working adults say college adequately prepared them for the workforce - Autumn A. Arnett, Education Dive

A new survey from the Flatiron School found 68% of working adults would return to school — either to college for an additional degree or to a credentialing "accelerated learning program" — if it guaranteed a high-paying job. The survey also found over 60% of adults are satisfied with the way college prepared them to enter the workforce. "Personal issues" and cost were the top reasons adults who didn't attend or finish college were halted, and cost is the number one thing keeping people from returning to school.

How to Fulfill the Promise of Online Education - JANE S. SHAW, the Spectator

Many colleges and universities have hired private companies to build and operate their online education programs. Firms such as Academic Programs, 2U, Coursera, the College Network, and Pearson work quietly behind the scenes to convert traditional courses to online formats, recruit students, follow up with students, and even supply courses. They are known as online program managers (OPMs). The Century Foundation, an explicitly progressive organization, recently expressed concern about these relationships. Its report, authored by Margaret Mattes, was based on reviews of 117 contracts between nonprofit schools (mostly public universities) and private OPMs. She concluded the companies provide “services so intertwined with the actual teaching and learning” that they may undermine the independence of the universities.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Federal Audit Challenges Faculty Role at WGU - Paul Fain,. Inside HIgher Ed

Education Department’s inspector general labels Western Governors as a correspondence-course provider, seeks reimbursement of $713 million in aid and may broadly threaten competency-based education. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General has released the results of a much anticipated high-stakes audit of Western Governors University, with negative findings that could threaten the large online university and, more broadly, the growing field of competency-based education. Citing concerns about an inadequate faculty role -- which the competency-based university contests -- the inspector general called for the department to make WGU pay back at least $713 million in federal financial aid.

Students have new ways of measuring degrees of success - Jeffrey J. Selingo, Washington Post

Fewer students are going to college this fall, as enrollment in higher education has fallen for five straight years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks enrollment. Some 2.4 million fewer students are enrolled than at the recent peak in 2011.  Several factors are to blame for declining enrollments.... But a third factor that is rarely discussed is also at play: the rise of alternative types of higher-education credentials in an age when we always need to be learning.... The demand for alternative types of credentials suggests another reason: Colleges might not be offering what students want and what today’s workforce needs as entire occupations expand and contract at an alarming pace.

Rethinking Education for 21st Century Careers - Lauren Cuzzaniti,  Coursera Blog

College can be an incredibly valuable experience. At its best, college is a place that teaches you to work well with others, challenges you to think critically, and gives you the skills you need to embark on a career. Unfortunately, not all college graduates have that experience. And while it’s universally recognized that college is no longer the ticket to a secure future it once was — the proportion of college graduates has tripled since 1970 (11% to 33.4%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau)–what is troubling is that not only are students not getting the job outcomes, but they also are not getting the skills they should from higher education.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Standard Operating Procedure? - Mark Lieberman, Inside Higher Ed

A regional accreditor recently denied an Arizona community college’s bid to increase its online degree offerings.  In particular, the reviewers found a lack of required training for online instruction and a general lack of consistency. Meanwhile, success rates in Scottsdale Community College’s face-to-face courses stood at 75.2 percent, compared to 65.4 percent in online courses last fall. This issue prompted several questions: How much standardization of course design, navigation, underlying technology and academic support (among other features) should an institution mandate -- and be required to mandate -- for its online courses? How should colleges and universities balance the potentially conflicting goals of ensuring that its distance education courses are student centered and of maintaining faculty control over course content?

Digital English Market in China Surges to $1.4 Billion by 2022 - Markets Insider

The growth rate for Digital English Language Learning in China is a healthy 8.5% and revenues will spike to $1.4 billion by 2022, according to the new report by Metaari called "The 2017-2022 China Digital English Language Learning Market." There are six major catalysts driving the current Digital English Language Learning market in China: a booming online English tutoring industry, a dramatic increase in private investments made to digital English companies, emphasis on digital English in the schools, the growing use of English in the higher education segment, strong consumer demand for mobile Digital English Language Learning apps, and a high demand for English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

This Is How Entrepreneurs, Students And Teachers Can Benefit From LinkedIn Learning - Robyn Shulman, Forbes

LinkedIn Learning provides a personalized learning experience via high-quality, personally curated and easily digestible content. The platform has more than 10,000 courses across business, creative and tech categories and offers this content in English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese. Higher education students will also find various resources on LinkedIn. Beside LinkedIn Learning, students can stop by LinkedIn for Students for a plethora of resources including LinkedIn “how-to” videos, tip sheets, career guides, and handbooks. For those on their career paths for the jobs of tomorrow, LinkedIn also provides the opportunity for students to become campus editors for their institutions. Students who like to write, curate content, and represent their universities can find applications open now for the 2017-2018 school year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Seven Steps toward IT Accessibility Compliance - Sheryl Burgstahler and Christian Vinten-Johansen, EDUCAUSE Review

Colleges and universities are subject to various laws and regulations regarding the accessibility of the IT resources they provide. Accessibility leadership can and should come from different levels of an organization. Full accessibility compliance can seem intimidating, but it's important to begin the work, develop priorities, and sustain the effort.

US Dept of Ed approves sale of Kaplan to Purdue - Autumn A. Arnett, Education Dive

The U.S. Department of Education has approved the sale of Kaplan University to Purdue University — a controversial transaction which came with a $1 price tag and allows the Kaplan company to still maintain administrative control, while potentially reaping profits. The department also gave its blessing on the sale of for-profit Art Institutes, which Buzzfeed calls "much murkier" because the buyer, the Dream Center, is "a tiny, inexperienced nonprofit." These approvals are a good sign for the rest of the industry, as more for-profit institutions consider converting to non-profits as a way to revive the struggling institutions.

Georgia Tech presents model for designing online degrees - Shalina Chatlani, Education Dive

In a guest post for Evolllution, Shabana Figueroa and Yakut Gazi of Georgia Institute of Technology's Professional Education (GTPE) division detail how the institution worked to develop an efficient design approach for its second entirely-online master's degree program, which would also improve student user experience studied from the launch of the first online degree.  Among these strategies, the authors write that for site development GTPE created a group cross-functional group of independent instructional design and studio teams, the director of learning met one-on-one with faculty members to figure out course content and teaching styles and attended some in-person class sessions for inspiration, and the faculty worked in two-to-four hour design sessions so that content was 95% complete before production commenced.  Some challenges the authors list include needing to become comfortable with the edX hosting platform, developing logistics and technology to handle proctored exams, meeting the needs of students through flexibility, and designing various versions of the same courses for different cohorts. And with the guidance of faculty, the team was able to begin the project in Dec. 2016 and finish in mid-August of 2017 — which is on track for one year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How online graduate programs offer degrees at significant savings - PBS

As technology evolves and more online graduate programs become available at a much lower cost, should we reconsider traditional higher education in a classroom setting? Hari Sreenivasan reports on how some students earning master’s degrees at Georgia Tech are paying little or nothing for online courses from a top program.

Cooperating to Serve Students Across Institutional Boundaries: Leveraging Online Ed in New Ways - David Stone, Evolllution

The Pennsylvania State University created an online course cooperative in 2003 to facilitate online course sharing across the campuses and colleges that comprise Penn State. This initiative has grown into a Digital Learning Initiative that aligns with the University’s access and affordability priority. This effort is a partnership between the Commonwealth Campuses, Undergraduate Education, and World Campus to provide students with access to high demand courses, reduce bottlenecks for program progression, and widely provide access to online course content to faculty for use in both residential and online courses. Many of the Penn State colleges have developed courses as part of programs developed for delivery via the World Campus. The online cooperative, now named the Digital Learning Cooperative, is designed for the planned sharing of these courses across locations. Courses that will be shared are offered on the Digital Learning Cooperative (DLC) for other locations to reserve seats for their location. Each location has the option to reserve or offer courses to other campuses.

Report: Faculty want more OER-here’s why - LAURA ASCIONE, eCampus News

The study, Launching OER Degree Pathways: An Early Snapshot of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative and Emerging Lessons, was released by Achieving the Dream (ATD) and conducted by SRI International and the rpk GROUP. The report indicates that faculty at colleges participating in ATD’s OER Degree Initiative are changing their teaching and that students are at least as or more engaged using OER courses than students in non-OER classrooms. Eighty-four percent of faculty members surveyed said students in the new OER courses had the same or a higher level of engagement with the learning materials as compared to courses they have taught using traditional course materials. Meanwhile, faculty with experience in using open resources who received assistance from technology specialists and librarians in developing their courses were most likely to report changes in their teaching, the report says.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Under the Hood: Learning Design Behind Georgia Tech’s Degrees at Scale - Shabana Figueroa and Yakut Gazi, Evolllution

In our at-scale courses and programs, the role of faculty is different than in our residential programs. In residential programs, faculty own and produce the content as the subject matter experts, deliver the content, engage students in learning, and assess student learning and progress. In a degree program with thousands of students, sometimes 400 to 500 students in a single course, we follow a model that unbundles the traditional faculty role.  Faculty are still content owners and creators as well as the face of the course, but delivery of course content and activities is heavily assisted by the instructional team of teaching assistants and instructional designers. Teaching assistants also facilitate learning, actively participating in course discussion forums, conducting real-time recitation sessions, as well as answering student questions. In addition, the student services team answers students’ program-related questions, providing relief to the instructor and program advisors by responding to tier I-type questions.

College deans predict higher-ed is in for remarkable changes in 10 years - LAURA ASCIONE, eCampus News

Nearly all deans (91 percent) believe there will be an increase in online education programs at their institution in the next decade. Deans were divided on whether faculty members get enough support in teaching courses online–43 percent said faculty are getting shortchanged in how much help they get in rethinking their courses and teaching with technology, while 40 percent said they believe they are getting enough support and 14 percent are neutral. One-third of deans agree online courses are comparable to face-to-face courses, and roughly the same proportion said they disagree.

How adults can compete for 'new-collar' jobs - Kevin Johnson, the Hill

It wasn’t so long ago that people with a high-school diploma, a good work ethic, and a strong body could build solid, middle-class careers in blue-collar jobs like manufacturing and construction. That’s no longer possible. As traditional blue-collar jobs dwindle, another promising category of jobs is growing: jobs that require a baseline of technical skills but not necessarily a four-year degree. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty calls them “new-collar” jobs and cites examples like cloud computing analyst and services delivery specialists. If those titles sound unfamiliar, that’s the point. These roles didn’t exist a short while ago, and workers suited to new-collar jobs will need to retrain to meet employers’ needs.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Freshman Orientations Now Include Online Learning - Cait Etherington, eLearning Inside

Most colleges and universities now have some sort of online orientation. In some cases, it’s a simple required module solely designed to ensure all new students know how to log into the universities learning platform prior to the start of classes. In some cases, the activity is designed to direct students to use a specific part of the university’s online learning platform. In other cases, the university is asking students to complete essential modules (e.g., on sexual assault) to be in compliance with efforts to address chronic on campus problems. Rutgers University in New Jersey requires freshmen to complete three online courses. If they don’t complete the courses, they can’t register for the Spring semester.

Digital literacy a key factor for employers, report finds - Shalina Chatlani, Education Dive

Higher ed institutions ought to be prioritizing digital literacy skills revolving around digital savvy, creativity, and complex thinking, as employers increasingly value these qualities in college graduates. The World Economic Forum predicts 35% of the top ten skills employers say they want will change by 2020, and will increasing include to include these competencies, according to a new report from the New Media Consortium.  The report shares digital literacy frameworks from other nations and U.S. schools they consider worth emulating, such as The University of Pennsylvania, which offers students workshops on how to produce and share digital content legally, writes Campus Technology. Most of these frameworks revolve around how to use technology to develop communication, critical thinking, technical, citizenship, and cultural and political awareness.

4 Steps for Students to Get Organized for Online Courses - Joe Chapman, US News

Even as thousands of students head back to college campuses nationwide, enrollment in online courses continues to grow. For students starting online courses, it's important to set yourself up for success – particularly if you work full or part time and juggle other family and personal responsibilities. Get a head start by thinking through your personal and online course schedules, organizing your materials and identifying a solid support structure. Here are a few tips to help online students get organized before beginning classes.