Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tugged in Two Directions - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

A surge in new competency-based degree programs has created challenges for the accreditors tasked with approving them. They must seek to ensure academic quality without quashing promising ideas, while also dealing with sluggish and sometimes confusing guidance from the federal government. That was the message from top officials of three regional accrediting agencies, who spoke to a group the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) brought together here. Competency-based education needs quality control to really take off, said Barbara Gellman-Danley, who became president of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools two months ago. That’s because the entrance of “bad actors” -- low-quality programs that look like diploma mills -- could trigger a backlash.

6 eLearning trends for the future - Meris Stansbury, eCampus News

Online and blended learning, or eLearning, is becoming par-for-the-course in everything from company professional development to campuses across the country. According to SHIFT’s disruptive eLearning blog, there are six eLearning trends that are critical for implementation now to stay relevant in the future. “Technology is changing, and will continue to change, the way we communicate with learners, the way we design courses, how we learn and teach,” said SHIFT. Therefore, eLearning has to adapt and find new ways to meet changing times, the blog continues. Simply incorporating different tools to current eLearning strategy isn’t enough, as faculty, IT and curriculum designers must understand and embrace the meaning and the implications of these changes in the eLearning development process. According to SHIFT, to get from “here” to “there” faculty have to first understand where the “there” actually is. This list represents the “newest and most important “rules” for eLearning today:”

Brush Up On Your EdTech Vocabulary With This Cheat Sheet - Jeff Dunn, Edudemic

Do you know what a flipped classroom requires? How about a 1:1 classroom? If you’re a regular reader of Edudemic, then you probably are more than informed about what these terms mean and how they’re implemented in modern classrooms. That’s probably because we started Edudemic many moons ago on the same day Apple launched the iPad. Since then, a lot has changed in the world of education technology. For one, the edtech vocabulary has expanded quite a bit. As a modern educator, you’ll need to know what a lot of key phrases mean and how they could affect your day-to-day activities. This visual guide from Boundless is just for you, then. The guide is designed to help you understand “the latest trends in educational technology” but really – let’s be honest – it’s a great way to finally figure out what a lot of terms mean before your next staff meeting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NYU Targets Fortune 500 Company Employees in New Emerging Technology Course - Michael Hart, Campus Technology

Beginning in January, New York University will offer a year-long graduate-level program targeting the employees of major technology-driven companies who need to stay up to speed on the emerging issues that affect them. The online courses will focus on upgrading employee skills in the areas of cybersecurity, mobility and big data analysis. Taught in three trimesters over a year, upon completion the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering will grant graduates a certificate and nine credits that can be applied to a qualified master's degree program.

Online learning enhances success - JACQUES ROUSSEAU, Mail and Guardian

Fears of the ‘digital divide’ are unfounded: a blended mode has proven itself to students. The online mode is arguably a far more natural environment for a student in the 21st century than sharing a room with 400 other students. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds sometimes perform better through online learning, because they can study when they want to and how they want to. This revelation has led to a suite of online courses, launched last month by the commerce faculty at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Called Across Africa, this is an initiative that will allow students from across Africa to earn UCT qualifications by the blended-learning mode – a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. Across Africa is a partnership with GetSmarter, an online education company that works with both universities and industry. The company has developed an immersive and pedagogically rich virtual learning environment that, when paired with UCT’s content and quality assurance, ensures the highest-quality online education.

A Big Course from a Small Association - MARK ATHITAKIS, Associations Now

One executive at a state association has taken the lead on educating healthcare workers on a pressing national issue via a MOOC. How do you get more attention for your association? Maybe it’s a membership drive. Maybe it’s a meeting or an ad campaign. For Jan Grimes, it’s meant building a lot of partnerships and putting together a must-attend online course. The MOOC that Grimes has put together covers hospital readmissions—an urgent topic now that the Affordable Care Act penalizes hospitals that readmit patients within 30 days of a discharge. “In my world, we depend on referrals from hospitals at the discharge process,” Grimes says. “I saw that as an incentive [for hospitals] to learn more about the homecare world and how better collaboration with us there and a better understanding of us can help keep patients out of the hospital and further the hospital association’s goals.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

ACE Plan for Unbundling First Year of Baccalaureate - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

The American Council on Education has announced the creation of a pool of about 100 online courses that will lead to credit recommendations. The courses will be low-cost or free. The council plans to partner with about 50 institutions that will agree to issue credit for the course recommendations. The idea is for students to be able to enroll in those colleges with up to two years of transfer credits from the pool of courses under their belts. “This really will support the degree-completion programs at institutions,” said Cathy Sandeen, ACE’s vice president for education attainment and innovation. The courses could come from any college, as long as they are low-cost and meet the council’s criteria. That might include offerings from adult-focused institutions, like Excelsior College. But ACE also is opening up the pool to non-accredited, non-institutional providers. Among that group, the council has had preliminary conversations with StraighterLine and the Saylor Academy, Sandeen said. MOOC providers might be part of the mix. But she said they would likely be of the on-demand variety, rather than MOOCs that are on a set schedule. She cited a few Coursera offerings from the University of California at Irvine as possibilities.

Purdue creates competency degree program - Haley Dover, Journal Courier

Purdue University on Thursday introduced a competency degree program, putting students in control of their education. The College of Technology program allows students to progress at their own rate as they demonstrate mastery of specific skills, rather than performance measured only at fixed calendar intervals of classroom time. Instead of letter grades serving as a general indicator of classroom accomplishment, competencies will indicate to employers what graduates can do.

5 Ways Technology Is Disrupting Education - JESS BOLLUYT, Tech Cheat Sheet

In today’s classrooms, stacks of heavy paper textbooks, battered notebooks, and worn-down pencils are giving way to e-readers, tablets, laptops, and a multitude of digital tools, apps, and software that are completely changing the way that students learn. These new tools don’t just change the delivery of the same material, though. Instead, they’re kicking off an array of changes to how students engage with what they’re learning, how they collaborate, how they receive feedback from teachers, and even how they learn to think and interact with the huge amount of information available to them. Here are five big ideas about how technology is disrupting education, and some of the resources pushing them ahead.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Part-time professors face challenges as they fill important roles on local campuses - Ashley Jost, Columbia Tribune

According to the American Association of University Professors, more than 50 percent of all faculty members hold part-time appointments. The median pay for a three-credit-hour course is $2,700, according to the association. Gary Massey, dean of adult higher education at Columbia College, said for a school that spans 34 campuses — physical and online — adjuncts are essential. He said the college has about 1,800 part-time faculty members altogether. There are 53 adjuncts and 69 full-time professors working on the Columbia campus. “We have a rigorous hiring process that shows how we treat adjuncts like they’re full-time faculty,” Massey said. “We expect nothing less from them even though they’re temporary or part-time.”

Questions arise around Iowa higher education funding changes - Vanessa Miller, the Gazette

The Iowa Regents board on June 4 — following a presentation and discussion that lasted just over an hour — approved the new funding model, which ties 60 percent of state appropriations to in-state enrollment, 15 percent to progress and attainment, 10 percent to access, 5 percent to sponsored research and 5 percent to graduate and professional student enrollment. The remaining 5 percent is left for the regents to decide. The approved model did include one amendment, as Downer predicted. Instead of tying 5 percent to job placement and continuing education, as originally proposed, it associates that portion with graduate and professional enrollment. If enrollment figures remain unchanged, UI could lose $12.9 million a year, and ISU eventually would become the top-funded university in the state. UNI would see the biggest boost — nearly $24 million — to its overall allocation.

Are College Students Really Obsessed With Technology? - Katie Lepi, Edudemic

Not too long ago, I read a post written by a teacher that said “Our students get younger every year”. While this is obviously not true unless you’re measuring their age in relation to yourself, as you move further and further away from being a student, your students may be harder to ‘get’. Every year, the re:fuel agency College Explorer does a huge study among all types of students in the 18-24 and 25-34 year old age groups. The key findings have been summed up in the handy infographic linked below that they’ve made to accompany the study. Keep reading and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what college students are looking like these days – in so many different aspects!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

MOOCs: learning about online learning, one click at a time - Gregor Kennedy, the Conversation

One reason institutions like Stanford University and Edinburgh University embraced MOOCs was that they provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about online learning. These institutions recognised that MOOCs were a vehicle for educational research, particularly through the use of learning analytics. Learning analytics use the digital data trails that students leave in online learning environments to develop an understanding of students’ learning processes. Every video watched, quiz answered and comment posted can be tracked, mined and analysed to better understand how students are learning online. Researchers are able to capitalise on the big data sets generated by tens of thousands of MOOC students to uncover productive and unproductive patterns of learning behaviour.

Purdue President Daniels awards prize for competency-based degree to Purdue Polytechnic Institute - Purdue University

Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (Sept. 4) announced that he has awarded a $500,000 prize to the College of Technology, newly redesigned as Purdue Polytechnic Institute, for a proposal to create a transdisciplinary bachelor’s degree program based on learned and demonstrated competencies. The Purdue Polytechnic Institute is a key element of the university’s Purdue Moves initiatives unveiled by Daniels in early fall 2013. Gary Bertoline, dean of the College of Technology, said the Purdue Polytechnic Institute will serve as a “transformational engine” in the College of Technology by integrating methods of learning that are driven by students’ passions and interests and, importantly, by the needs of the marketplace.

Textbook giants are now teaching classes - Gabriel Kahn, Slate

This summer, Chad Mason signed up for online general psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This spring, Jonathan Serrano took intro to psychology online at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey. Though the two undergraduates were separated by more than 600 miles, enrolled in different institutions, and paying different tuitions, they were taking what amounts to the same course. That’s because the course wasn’t produced by either school. Instead, it was a sophisticated package devised by publishing giant Pearson PLC and delivered through a powerful online platform called MyPsychLab.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Financial aid now available in UW flex option degree program - Dan Simmons, Wisconsin State Journal

After initially being denied, the University of Wisconsin has gotten approval for federal financial aid to some students in its new “show what you know” flexible option degree program. Students have been enrolled in a small number of programs since January but couldn’t access financial aid available to peers in traditional campus programs. The situation changed last week when the U.S. Department of Education sent word that students earning associates degrees through UW Colleges in the flexible degree program are eligible for aid. It’s the first such approval given to a public college system for what it terms are competency-based degrees, according to the university. Students in other UW degree programs through flexible option still can’t access aid, which in the interim is being provided by UW.

MIT's Unique Experiment in Blended Learning Leads to the Birth of 50 Startups in 5 Days - Lauren Landry, BostInno

Fifty startups were launched at MIT in five days, courtesy of a unique experiment "that could reshape existing educational paradigms." Nearly 55,000 individuals are enrolled in the MITx on edX massive open online course, "Entrepreneurship 101: Who is Your Customer?" Of the thousands, the school welcomed 47 to campus on August 18 to participate in a five-day bootcamp-turned-blended-learning-experiment. The MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp was an experiment by MIT to help students studying online via edX further their education. The event allowed the highly selective group to learn from faculty, as well as from like-minded people worldwide, who were all enrolled in the same course, yet likely would have never met face-to-face otherwise.

$1.2 trillion in student debt is outstanding and many college graduates working in jobs that don’t require their degree - My Budget 360

There are no signs or hints that the student debt bubble is likely to slow down in formation. To the contrary total student debt has been on a mission upwards in the last decade or so. When you saddle a nation of young people with mountains of debt don’t be surprised when first time home buying reverses or discretionary spending slows down. That seems to be another problem for another day in debt world. Student loan debt used to be a smaller part of non-housing related debt. Today it is now the largest consumer debt being held outside of mortgages.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A New Twist in Online Learning at Stanford - JOHN B. TAYLOR, Wall Street Journal

Econ 1v was offered to Stanford undergraduates, including matriculated students and incoming freshmen, and visiting students from other universities who were willing to pay Stanford's tuition. For Stanford students the credit would count for their degree. For non-Stanford students the credit could be used at their colleges. The course was also offered online free to anyone. The video lectures and the platform for the open online and the for-credit track were identical, but students in the for-credit course had additional interactive sessions and more comprehensive assessments with grades at the end. We gave the open online students the option of taking only key parts of the course—such as the supply and demand model or basic monetary and fiscal policy. People in the open online course could earn a Statement of Accomplishment issued by Stanford.

Playing In The Classroom With The Ivanhoe Game - Stephanie Kingsley, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Built as a WordPress Theme, Ivanhoe is simple to install and easy to learn and use. Rather than have students in your course on Gothic fiction write a paper after reading Dracula, why not have them assume their theoretical stances in the forms of roles and experiment with them — and thus better develop them — by playing an Ivanhoe Game on the novel first? Give your game a title and description/prompt, and you’re ready to go! Even create rules for your game if you like — although none are required! Ivanhoe can be played in any discipline, with a variety of media, and with players of all ages and educational backgrounds. Players develop roles related to any topic and then make comments from their assumed roles.

MIT brings top entrepreneurship students together in person - Chi-Chi Zhang, MIT NEWS OFFICE

MIT has just concluded an experiment in blended learning that could reshape existing educational paradigms. A unique program held on campus Aug. 18-22 brought together students from around the world who had taken an online course in entrepreneurship and then immersed themselves at MIT — to learn how to create a startup. The Institute brought 47 out of 54,856 students enrolled in the MITx on edX course 15.390x Entrepreneurship 101: Who is Your Customer? to campus for the inaugural MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. The bootcamp was an experiment by MIT to help edX students further their online education, to learn not only from MIT professors but also from like-minded people from around the world.