Thursday, April 24, 2014

Proactive on Prior Learning - Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

Florida’s public institutions are anxiously watching this spring’s legislative session, which rounded the halfway point last week. Regardless of what dies on the floor or is signed into law, the universities are still waiting for clarification on the fallout of last year’s session, including the proposed mandate to offer credit for MOOCs. Some universities aren’t waiting around. Florida International University is in the early stages of creating a pilot for prior learning assessment, which could be used to determine if students have learned enough from an outside course -- whether of the high school, online or massive open online variety -- to qualify for credit. The experiment will begin in in the university's introduction to psychology course, and if the intended spring 2015 pilot is a success, the model may expand to other disciplines, said Kristin Nichols-Lopez, associate chair of the department. The university’s plan -- which faculty will vote on during an April 24 meeting -- involves creating a challenge exam that tests students on a series of core psychology concepts to be determined by the department.

Desperately Seeking Linux Programmers - Jack M. Germain, LinuxInsider

Few people know just how pervasive Linux has become, and that is causing a big problem for companies that increasingly rely on it. "There is a shortage of software developers in the U.S. The employment rate for these jobs is down to 2.3 percent in the last quarter. The opportunity for jobs is now there for people who come in to get this training," said Dice President Shravan Goli. The Linux operating system and Linux servers are so widely used today that not enough Linux-trained coders and system techs exist. Software developers and enterprise IT departments have jobs but no takers. To fill this shortage, the Linux Foundation has partnered with edX to offer a free online course to help computer engineers learn Linux.

Don’t give up on online education - Bill Lowry, Michael Wysession and Scott Krummenacher, WU Student Life

Recently, the faculty of Arts & Sciences voted to terminate the Semester Online program for undergraduates. We are the three Washington University professors who actually taught courses in this program. We write not to restart the debate over this program but rather to continue the discussion of online teaching in general. Hopefully, such discussion will continue. Indeed, some of the critics of the Semester Online program stated at the last ArtSci faculty meeting that their criticisms were not directed at online education per se but rather at the current arrangement with Semester Online. Given that, we thought it would be useful to offer the lessons we learned from teaching in this program.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UW-Madison expanding online course offerings for summer term - Karen Herzog, the Journal Sentinel

The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced this week it has expanded summer online course offerings so students who return to their hometowns for jobs or who have internships elsewhere can stay on track to complete a degree without disrupting other summer activities. "The students asked for flexibility and we responded," said Jeffrey Russell, vice provost of lifelong learning and dean of continuing studies. "One benefit of studying during the summer is students then can move toward their graduation goal faster and ultimately join the workforce sooner. Making that transition from student to salary-earning professional is an important goal." UW-Madison is offering 100 online courses this summer, up from 64 last summer and 49 the summer before.

LaunchCode may expand beyond St. Louis - David Nicklaus, Post-Dispatch

LaunchCode, which began last year as an effort to increase the amount of computer programming talent in St. Louis, is looking at expanding to other cities. LaunchCode founder Jim McKelvey said this morning that he already has office space in Miami and will move there temporarily in June to work on a Miami version of the training and job-placement program. Baltimore, Philadelphia and Denver also are likely destinations for LaunchCode, he said. McKelvey, speaking at an Innovation St. Louis forum at the Missouri Botanical Garden, said officials of EdX, an education joint venture between Harvard and MIT, encouraged him to expand LaunchCode. In St. Louis, LaunchCode is using a free EdX computer science class to train programmers. The class is offered online, but LaunchCode is offering hands-on sessions to augment the coursework.

Universities See Regional Broadband as Critical to Success - John Pulley, Campus Technology

Scattered throughout the country are technological oases where data-thirsty Internet users can access blindingly fast, affordable broadband service. These super-connected communities are engines of innovation and economic progress. They are, of course, our nation's universities. Forward-looking institutions are investing in broadband infrastructure both for themselves and for the regions they serve. Beyond the brick-walled perimeters and filigreed iron gates of campuses, the Internet service available to neighborhoods that ring our universities tends to be comparatively slow and considerably more costly. "Students expect and need broadband, especially WiFi, in class, in their residence and in outside areas. In other words, everywhere," said Joanna Young, chief information officer at the University of New Hampshire. "Universities have a vested interest in broadband for themselves and their communities, as well as the regions they serve."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UC Berkeley School of Law to offer its first interactive online course - BECCA BENHAM, Daily Cal

Starting this summer, the UC Berkeley School of Law will be offering its first interactive online course specifically aimed at an international audience of both current law students and practicing attorneys. Championed as an “anti-massive open online course,” campus law lecturer Bill Fernholz’s “Fundamentals of U.S. Law” class is designed to create a tight-knit community despite the students’ diverse geographical locations. This online opportunity allows both international law students and lawyers with international caseloads to master U.S. law from their homes.

Facial Biometrics Replacing Passwords in Online Learning - FindBiometrics

Biometrics have a very special place in multilingual deployment scenarios. The human body speaks its own universal language of identity. We have seen this particularly benefit the healthcare industry through field deployments that leverage fingerprint biometrics to better keep track of health records regardless of language or literacy barriers. Now, we are beginning to see this philosophy applied to the space of online learning. Biometric ID and motion analysis specialist KeyLemon SA announced yesterday that it has partnered with Swissteach AG in order to bring facial recognition sign-on to the Global Teach online learning management system. Currently a supplemental level of logical access security, the resultant demo solution uses 20 points of facial data to guard sensitive information.

Utah State University lowers tuition for online classes - Morgan Jacobsen, Deseret News

Utah State University recently announced its plan to lower tuition for in-state students taking online courses starting in summer semester this year. The university's tuition plateau level was also lowered from 13 credits to 12 credits. That means students can take up to 18 credit hours per semester, but they only pay for 12. Previously, USU students were charged as much as 60 percent more per credit for online classes than traditional on-campus classes. Online credits weren't included in the tuition plateau for traditional courses.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What Recruiters Need to Know About EdTech--and the Expanding Talent Pool - ADAM VACCARO, INC

Fresh takes on education aren't just about disrupting an ancient industry or helping people grow their skill set. Most of the focus on innovations in education--MOOCs, for starters, but also less formal online learning communities like Codecademy or Lynda--tend to focus on two things: the looming disruption of traditional education and the opportunity for just about anybody to sharpen their skills. A sometimes overlooked element of the industry, however, is the access it affords employers and recruiters to the skills of the broader talent pool. That's the driving force behind recruiting Aquent's MOOC program, Aquent Gymnasium. The recruiting company launched the program in 2012 with a business model that puts companies at the center of the movement.

Online students can't help being sociable - Sean Coughlan, BBC

It was a revolution moving higher education from bricks to clicks… and now it's started to go back to bricks again. Online university providers, which offered people the chance to study from home, are turning full circle by creating a network of learning centres where students can meet and study together. Instead of demolishing the dusty old classrooms of academia, the online university revolution is responsible for opening some new ones. Coursera, a major California-based provider of online courses, is creating an international network of "learning hubs", where students can follow these virtual courses in real-life, bricks and mortar settings. And there are thousands of meet-ups in cafes and libraries where students get together to talk about their online courses.

Truths about what today’s young workers want - Ashridge Business School (UK)

Millennials are focused on achieving through personal networks and technology, having a good work-life balance and getting high levels of support from their managers. They don’t want to be tied to an organization, a timetable or a hierarchy, and they’d rather avoid the stress they see their senior leaders shouldering. They may lack some of their predecessors’ relationship, communication and analysis skills, but they’re confident in their abilities to run business in a new way. The Millennial Compass also reveals how common these trends are – or aren’t – around the world. Does a 25-year-old working for a company in Beijing feel the same way about work as his or her counterpart in London, Sao Paulo or Atlanta? A total of 1,293 Millennial employees from Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the USA responded to the survey. The study found that what’s important to them in their working lives varies somewhat by country, but several key findings emerged.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Right Model for Live Online Classes - James W. Pennebaker and Sam Gosling, Inside Higher Ed

In 2012, we started teaching our Introductory Psychology course as a live online course. It was like a MOOC but was broadcast to 1,000 students who saw it in real time. One challenge of building a SMOC (a synchronous massive online class) was how to define the nature of the relationship we would have with students. The choice was to teach the class as a regular stand-up lecture or to try something more akin to a TV show.

Shrinking as a Strategy - Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

After surveying the fate of small private liberal arts colleges, Saint Michael's College in Vermont is now planning ahead for enrollment declines, inexpensive online classes for credit and debt-averse students and families. College officials say they now have a way to keep the college sustainable by making it smaller. Even though enrollment is steady and there’s been a budget surplus each of the past six years, Saint Michael’s is planning to enroll 10 to 15 percent fewer students over the next three to four years and, in turn, employ about 10 percent fewer faculty and staff members. Saint Michael’s is also adding a summer online program for students from elsewhere that will start to rely on content from online courses to help lower costs. The summer program could eventually help students graduate in three years. “It’s pretty clear that you have to get some productivity out of small liberal arts colleges or else they are simply going to price themselves out of existence,” Neuhauser said.

Many Students Could Save $50,000 on College—But Aren’t - Brad Tuttle, Time

Completing the degree in three years can save money, but few students are taking advantage of the option. Colleges say that students should be extremely cautious in their pursuit of an accelerated degree. By speeding along through college, students increase the chances that they could pick the wrong major because they’re so hell-bent on graduating. They could also be shortchanged, the argument goes, on developing all-important life skills students are supposed to hone in college, such as critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. Certainly, another factor holding back the three-year degree from becoming a larger trend is some level of disinterest among students. Not all that many students are eager to kill themselves by overloading on courses each semester. They may rather prefer to squeeze every moment of fun they can out of college—to, in fact, “screw around and have a great time” with their friends, as Wesleyan’s Roth put it. Making oneself miserable by rushing through college makes particularly little sense when you’ll graduate into a fairly lackluster jobs market.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An E-Portfolio With No Limits - David Raths, Campus Technology

Students at the University of Mary Washington build their academic identities on their own personal Web domain. As many universities look to certifications, badges and e-portfolios as vehicles to allow students to demonstrate their achievements and skills, another movement has begun to surface on campus: a personal web domain for each student. At the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), this academic year has seen the evolution of a blogging platform used by faculty and staff into a Web-hosting space where students can use an array of tools to build their own academic identities, with no limits. And the idea is catching on: Since UMW started its project, Davidson College (NC) has received a Mellon Grant to work on digital curriculum, including individual student domains, and Emory University (GA) is piloting the student domain concept in a writing program.

Employers like MOOCs — if they know what one is - Jake New, Editor, eCampus News

Employers are fans of massive open online courses (MOOCs), according to a new study by researchers at Duke University and RTI International. But many first had to have the concept explained to them. “We were interested in exploring how employers viewed MOOCs in terms of whether they would make a difference in hiring decisions or how they might be used for recruiting talent,” said Laura Horn, the RTI’s site principal investigator. The study, funded by the Gates Foundation, was based on a survey of more than 100 human resource professionals from North Carolina employers. About 70 percent of the respondents had never heard of a MOOC before. Once they had a working definition, however, the majority of participants said they were receptive to using MOOCs in hiring decisions. They especially liked the idea of using MOOCs for professional development training.

Can Online Teaching Improve Face to Face Instruction? - Michael L. Rodgers and Mary Harriet Talbut, Tomorrow's Professor

In general, online courses require greater planning, more extensive resources, more formalized communication, and more detailed organization than do face to face courses. But, the work that goes into creating an online course, and the insights forthcoming from comparison of online and face to face versions of the course, can make the face to face course better in many ways.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Obama Counsels Students on Options to a 4-Year Degree - Chris Good, ABC

It would be a cultural shift, but the Obama administration is hoping to change the perception of two- and four-year universities and what is needed for success. Through two new skills-training programs, utilizing grant money announced in 2010, the administration is encouraging a competition to foster courses developed by industry at the community college level and an apprentice job scholarship program. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a community college in Pittsburgh this week to announce $500 million in grant funding for community college job-training programs and $100 million in funding for apprenticeship grants.

Whoa. Education Is A 7 Trillion Dollar Industry - Katie Lepi, Edudemic

Education is a huge industry. It touches nearly everyone out there, so it should be. But often times when we think of ‘big industries’ we think of things like banking, cars, or consumer electronics. Well did you know exactly how big of an industry education is? And just how rapidly and how much the industry is changing because of new technologies? The handy infographic linked below, from Knewton and Column Five Media takes a look at some of these questions and more. Learn how digital education is poised to transform the way teachers teach and how students learn.

College-Readiness Not Keeping Up In California - Associated Press

Fewer than 4 in 10 California high school students are completing the requirements to be eligible for the state’s public universities, fueling worries of a shortage of college-educated workers when the value of a bachelor’s degree has never been higher. To meet entrance requirements, high school students must complete 15 classes with a grade of C or better, including foreign language, lab science, intermediate algebra, and visual or performing arts. At the current rate, educators and policy experts say, far too few students are finishing high school with the minimum coursework needed even to apply to a University of California or California State University campus. Once students who drop out or do not finish high school in four years are removed from the equation, the proportion of public high school graduates who met the UC and CSU entrance criteria in 2012 drops to 30 percent statewide, 20 percent for Latinos and 18 percent for African-Americans, Rogers said.