Sunday, March 31, 2013

Online Learning: Will Technology Transform Higher Education? - Jamie Beckett, Stanford Engineering

“MOOCs could be to higher education what Napster was to the music industry,” said Girod, referring to the music-sharing system that created a seismic shift in how music is purchased and consumed. ”Online technologies have repeatedly enabled an unbundling, which disrupted the respective industries and their traditional business models. Mitchell Stevens, an Associate Professor of Education at Stanford, said the move to online education is driven not by technology but by factors like contracting state budgets, which put pressure on many colleges to reduce costs at the same time they are facing growing scrutiny around performance. “The digital revolution is a match igniting a large terrain of dry ground,’’ he said. One implication of digital educational delivery mechanisms, he said, is that they provide college educators the ability to measure and improve performance.

The Perfect Storm in Higher Education - Digital Adventures (UK)

Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe. The excesses of both were always excused by a core national belief that no matter what happens in the world, these were the best investments you could make. Housing prices would always go up, and you will always make more money if you are college educated. Like any good bubble, this belief– while rooted in truth– gets pushed to unhealthy levels. Thiel talked about consumption masquerading as investment during the housing bubble, as people would take out speculative interest-only loans to get a bigger house with a pool and tell themselves they were being frugal and saving for retirement. Similarly, the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. “It’s what you’ve been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt,” Thiel says.

Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come - Phil Oliff,, Center for Budget, Policy and Priorities

As states prepare their budgets for the coming year, they face the challenge of reinvesting in public higher education systems after years of damaging cuts — the product of both the economic downturn and states’ reluctance to raise additional revenues. In the past five years, state cuts to higher education funding have been severe and almost universal. After adjusting for inflation:

  • States are spending $2,353 or 28 percent less per student on higher education, nationwide, in the current 2013 fiscal year than they did in 2008, when the recession hit. 
  • Every state except for North Dakota and Wyoming is spending less per student on higher education than they did prior to the recession.[1] 
  • In many states the cuts over the last five years have been remarkably deep. Eleven states have cut funding by more than one-third per student, and two states — Arizona and New Hampshire — have cut their higher education spending per student in half.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

MOOCs being readied for prime time in California - Alison Moodie, University World News

California’s public universities and colleges may soon be required to grant students credit for online courses, including massive open online courses, or MOOCs – a move that could radically alter the higher education landscape. New legislation introduced in the Senate in March would allow students unable to register for oversubscribed classes to receive credit for online classes not affiliated with their institution. “We are pleased that alternative forms of potential college credit are being given such serious consideration in California and elsewhere,” Cathy A Sandeen, American Council on Education’s (ACE) vice-president for education attainment and innovation, told University World News. “ACE has for decades conducted rigorous evaluations of military and workplace courses and experiences in order to make college credit recommendations." But online education should not usurp the role of the traditional university, she added.

Open Universities launches MOOC platform for massive online learning - intermediatescan

Australia’s leading online higher education provider, Open Universities Australia (OUA), has unveiled its own free online education venture, Open2Study. OUA describes Open2Study as “a new dimension in online learning, … is designed with the online student in mind.“ Paul Wappett, OUA chief executive says Open2Study Open2Study isn’t a me-too MOOC: … it’s objective is not merely attracting massive enrolments. It’s the next evolution in online learning, centred on student success. Open2Study provides an engaging and compelling education based on a comprehensive pedagogical model that recognises that online learners behave differently, and have different needs from on-campus learners. Course materials comprise a mixture of six to 10 minute videos, animations, simulations and quizzes, designed using high production values. Launched with 10 subjects, including Financial Planning and Introduction to Nursing there’s a pipeline of a couple of hundred and OUA expects to offer 40 to 50subjects by the end of 2013. Open2Study courses commence on 22 April.

Challenges of Online Learning: 4 Ways to Keep Your Online Student Engaged - Eric Schwartzman, Udemy blog

When I set out to take my Social Media Training Courses online, I realized early on that online courses only work if people actually consume the content. It’s one thing to sit through a live training. Sure, retention may be low, but at least you do learn something. But one of the main challenges of online learning is that unless the learner has the discipline and the motivation to focus and watch the lectures, they learn nothing at all.

Former MTV Exec Mika Salmi Thinks Live Online Education Is the Next Big Thing (Video) - Liz Gannes, All Things D

CreativeLive attracted nearly 150,000 people from 178 countries for a recent week-long Photoshop course. All together, students have consumed more than 10 million hours of free content on the CreativeLive platform. CreativeLive is now airing 15 classes per month, compared to four per month last year. Salmi explained that what distinguishes CreativeLive from competitors like is that its content is shot in front of an audience and streamed live. Users can pay $100 to watch a class again after the initial airing, but the live experience is interactive, dynamic and recalibrated based on students’ responses. “It becomes an event,” Salmi said.Watch Salmi explain the advantage of live in our not-at-all live video interview (at the url below), and how he envisions CreativeLive building an always-on network of live classes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Editorial: Academics and lawmakers collide over online learning classes - Daily Democrat

University of California faculty leaders reacted with outrage when a legislator suggested a paradigm shift in public higher education. It almost doesn't matter what the suggestion was. It was ever thus when academics at the august university feel they are being pushed around by the Sacramento electeds. They are the doctors of philosophy, and they're not going to let some baby-kisser tell them how to impart the wisdom of the ages. The fights have been going on for as long as there has been public higher education in the state of California. That means the power struggle has been going on for 145 years. This time, though, the fight goes to both the high-tech future of pedagogy and the down-and-dirty ways education is paid for. Darrell Steinberg, the president pro tem of the state Senate, was touting his bill that would allow UC and California State University students who can't get the classes they need because of budget cuts to take them instead from other colleges. Schools old and new, famous or not, with old-fashioned classrooms or in the newfangled manner of classes streaming through a computer. And here's the kick in the head: They could include online courses from the dreaded for-profit schools trimming the trees of traditional groves of academe.

How recruiters are dealing with the shift to online learning degrees - Courtney Symons, Ottawa Business Journal

Some recruitment agencies say they are seeing a large shift towards online learning and are making changes to their business model to stay on top of it. That includes David Aplin Group, which has an office in Ottawa.President Jeff Aplin says he’s beginning to see what he calls the democratization of education – flexible, affordable options for those who can’t or don’t want to go the traditional route. He says his company has implemented changes to better assess employees who used alternative education methods. They include skill tests, psychometric assessments and behavioural interviewing. Such techniques can include personality questionnaires, aptitude tests and a focus on evaluating a candidate’s behaviours in their personal and professional lives by asking open-ended questions and crafting multiple follow-up questions. This differs from a traditional interview where questions are narrow and focus primarily on work and educational experience. “We’ve really enhanced our business to respond to the change of the landscape of education and the shift to moving education online,” Mr. Aplin says.

The Importance Of The Evolution Of Education - Locus Rags, Edudemic

The creation of the internet has had an immense impact upon the way in which we seek to learn and teach and indeed revolutionized our entire perspective of education itself. It has directly led to the creation of the information age whose prevalent ideology contrasts with the popular social ideology of the industrial age, which was dominant for the majority of the past century, for being more focused on the creation, sharing and utilization of information. On the other hand, during the industrial age the focus was on the creation and utilization of goods. M-learning [mobile learning] is the future of learning as it serves the purpose of comfort, ease, mobility and efficiency and needs to be explored by both governments and private organizations hoping to develop an effective and formidable learning platform.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

College students face another round of sticker shock - John W. Schoen, NBC News

On average, states are now spending more than $2,500 less per student than they did five years ago, when the Great Recession blew a large hole in most state budgets. That 28 percent spending cut has forced an average tuition increase of $1,850 per student over the same period. It’s also forced schools to continue to look for ways to cut back, according to Phil Oliff, a CBPP policy analyst who prepared the report. “They’ve eliminated faculty positions and increased class sizes, frozen staff salaries and instituted furloughs, cut course offerings and even entire departments, closed down computer labs and cut library services, among other cost-saving actions,” Oliff said.

Give online courses the old college try - Los Angeles Times Editorial

A California bill to allow the first 50 such courses takes pains to do things the right way.Online courses could open worthwhile classes at California's public colleges to thousands more students, or they could undermine the reputation of our widely admired public higher-education system. As the state embarks on its first foray into offering such courses for credit on a large scale, it's intriguing to think about virtual classrooms and the opportunities they present. Online courses could make a fine education possible even for students who cannot travel to a campus easily or attend class at a specific time. They could allow a professor to reach many more students with each lecture.

Many MOOC professors do not support offering credit, yet see value in courses - Trisha Thadani, Boston University Daily Free Press

A majority of professors who teach massive open online courses do not believe credit should be awarded, yet believe the courses play an important role in the changing face of education and have inherent value, according to new data. Boston University Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Elizabeth Loizeaux, who is head of BU’s Council on Educational Technology and Learning Innovation, said it is not contradictory for professors to believe MOOCs are valuable and yet not worth traditional college credit.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The dirty little secret of online learning: Students are bored and dropping out - Todd Tauber, Quartz

So why are all these students falling asleep, virtually, in their digital classes? Mainly because the people putting education online are still thinking in terms of classrooms. And despite incorporating “decades of research on how students learn best”, the world has changed a lot in just the last few years. Here’s just one example of how: Before smartphones, we went online roughly five times a day, in long chunks, according to Joe Kraus, a partner at Google Ventures. Today, with smartphones, it’s 27 times, in much shorter bursts. Twentieth century instructional methods just don’t work as well for busy, distracted 21st-century learners. Another big issue, especially for non-traditional students, is that learning has to fit in between life and work

Minerva promises elite, online college - JOANNE, Linking and Thinking on Education

The Minerva Project, which promises an elite, rigorous, all-online college education, is drawing attention. Ben Nelson, who founded the Snapfish photo web site, sees Minerva as an alternative to the Ivy League. Larry Summers, a former president of Harvard, will chair the advisory board, which will include Bob Kerrey, a former senator and head of the New School in New York, and Pat Harker, president of the University of Delaware and a former dean of the Wharton School. “Minerva aspires to reinvent everything, from the business model and the curriculum to the way in which teaching is delivered,” writes The Economist. “I don’t want or need to disrupt Harvard. I care about the kid who should have got into Harvard but didn’t,” says Nelson.

Harvard Online Leaning: A Worldwide Hit - Kathleen Struck, MedPage Today

When the Harvard School of Public Health opened its virtual doors last fall to a worldwide student body online, the first course they offered was neither broad nor lofty. But 55,000 students signed up for "Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research." In other words, biostatistics and epidemiology, together in one offering (PH207x for those looking in the online course catalog). The free course taught students basic lessons in how to handle variability and associated uncertainty, explained course co-developer Marcello Pagano, PhD, professor of statistical computing at Harvard, who has taught at the school for the past 35 years. "Statistics is at the forefront and the foundation of public health in this country," said Pagano. The randomized clinical trial has been one of the major advances in medicine in the 20th century, he said, and "is just basic to everything."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Minnesota lawmakers to look at credit for online courses - Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio

If you're a Minnesota college student and you take an online course from an out-of-state entity, should you get credit for it? It's a question all the more important for policymakers to answer with the growing popularity of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. These are courses anyone can take, offered by schools like Stanford. They're often free or very inexpensive. States are debating whether college students enrolled in other schools should get credit for the classes on their transcripts. Last fall, Larry Pogemiller, director of Minnesota's Office of Higher Education, told The Daily Circuit he'd seek legislation this spring to clarify the issue.

Academic Senate condemns online education bill - MIA SHAW, Daily Californian

The Academic Senate of the University of California signed an open letter last Friday condemning a California State Senate bill requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to accept faculty-approved online college courses for credit. SB 520, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would make the 50 most oversubscribed lower-division courses in California’s higher education system available online. The open letter criticizes the bill’s inclusion of private corporate interests as well as its exaggeration of issues with undergraduate student success. According to SB 520, courses eligible for credit may be provided by private, third-party providers like edX, Coursera and Udacity, which offer massive open online courses. The Academic Senate wrote in the letter that this may allow corporate interests to replace faculty control over online curricula. “There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” the letter stated.

Online learning, to a degree - THE MICHIGAN DAILY

On Wednesday, California state senators proposed a new bill that requires the state's 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for completing massive open online courses, called MOOCs. The bill would create a system in which students can access courses virtually and receive credit at the University of California, California State University and California Community College campuses. A nine-member faculty council, composed of three faculty members selected by each system’s Academic Senate, would decide which courses can be taken for credit. They'll also decide logistics such as prerequisites, instructional support and textbook accessibility. The bill will help allow students to bypass California’s overcrowded classrooms and lower the price tag attached to a college education by giving credit for MOOCs, which are often free to take.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Colleges Assess Cost of Free Online-Only Courses - DAVID WALLIS, NY Times

Continuing education programs are also vulnerable and could lose 10 percent to 20 percent of their students to free online courses from esteemed universities, said Tony Bates, an online learning consultant and former director of distance education at the University of British Columbia. “It’s not rocket science,” he said. “Why would I even go to U.B.C. to do a continuing studies course on artificial intelligence, when I can get one from the top professor at Stanford for free?” What the free online courses take with one hand they may later give back with the other, said Cathy A. Sandeen, vice president for education attainment and innovation at the American Council on Education and former dean of U.C.L.A. Extension. “Right now, MOOCs are not organized in any sort of a program — it’s course by course,” she said, “whereas continuing education is probably some form of a credentialed or certificate program, a series of courses.” For example, Ms. Sandeen can see students sampling Berklee College of Music’s Introduction to Music Production through Coursera, getting “turned on” and then paying tuition for a more comprehensive program.

Even the professors behind massive online learning classes aren’t sure they should count for credit - Ki Mae Heussner, gigaOM

Even though many in academia have expressed skepticism, a survey from the Chronicle of Higher Education finds that the professors behind the MOOCs have many positive things to say about the new classes. But, interestingly, these most enthusiastic academics say that while they’re embracing MOOCs, they don’t necessarily believe they should be worth credit from their institutions. According to the Chronicle, while 79 percent of respondents said they believed that MOOCs are “worth the hype,” just 28 percent believed that students who succeeded in their MOOC deserve formal credit from their home institution. The survey, which attempted to reach every professor who has ever taught a MOOC, ultimately included responses from 103 professors (out of 184).

Penn State open online course 'infects' learners, causing a 'virtual pandemic' - Katrina Voss, Penn State

In a free new online course, "Epidemics: the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases," offered by the Eberly College of Science at Penn State, students and members of the public will learn about how infectious diseases spread by playing a real-time epidemic game -- a "virtual apocalypse," which instructors will run in parallel with the more traditional lessons. The course, which begins Oct. 15 and continues for eight consecutive weeks, is part of the leading massive open online course (MOOC) platform Coursera, which makes it possible for the University to provide courses on a vast scale, opening higher education to hundreds of thousands more students than was previously possible. "Our course is unique. It differs from all the other massive open online courses out there because we offer our students the opportunity to participate in a virtual pandemic," said Marcel Salathé, an assistant professor of biology and leader of a team of eight faculty members teaching the course. "I can't think of a more engaging way to learn about how epidemics unfold and how they can be controlled than to be in the middle of it, even if only virtually.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SUNY Signals Major Push Toward MOOCs and Other New Educational Models - Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Ed

The State University of New York’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday endorsed an ambitious vision for how SUNY might use prior-learning assessment, competency-based programs, and massive open online courses to help students finish their degrees in less time, for less money. The plan calls for “new and expanded online programs” that “include options for time-shortened degree completion.” In particular, the board proposed a huge expansion the prior-learning assessment programs offered by SUNY’s Empire State College. The system will also push its top faculty members to build MOOCs designed so that certain students who do well in the courses might be eligible for SUNY credit.

Who Owns a MOOC? - Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

Faculty union officials in California worry professors who agree to teach free online classes could undermine faculty intellectual property rights and collective bargaining agreements. The union for faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz said earlier this month it could seek a new round of collective bargaining after several professors agreed to teach classes on Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of popular massive open online classes, or MOOCs. The Santa Cruz Faculty Association's concern highlights an emerging tension as professors begin to teach MOOCs and, in turn, become academic stars to tens of thousands of students who sign up for the free classes. Santa Cruz is the only UC campus to have a unionized tenure-track faculty, so the exchange there is perhaps unique, but the issues there are not.

The university of the future? - Cliff Peale,

Imagine a college education, cobbled together on your laptop at home. Here, an economics course from Stanford University, taught online with 100,000 other students. There, a math class at your local state university. Take statistics from a professor at MIT and basic computing from a community college hundreds of miles away. Package them all into a degree. “What you’re seeing now with online learning is the potential to unbundle the degree,” said Burck Smith, president of StraighterLine, which offers about 60 courses online for $99 a month. “The question for colleges is, is college more than the sum of its parts?”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sequester cuts university research funds - Nick Anderson, Washington Post

The federal government, long a key sponsor of scientific research in universities, is scaling back support for academic laboratories from coast to coast to satisfy the new mandate to cut spending across the board. About $30 billion a year flows from Washington to universities for research and development in fields from agriculture to astrophysics. This funding has helped make leading U.S. research universities, including Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and the University of Maryland in College Park, the envy of the world.

The Sequester, as Seen From Inside the Military - James Fallows, the Atlantic

Most of the country seems to be edging into an "ehh, who cares? It's all politics!" attitude about permanent-emergency government funding. Here is a note from a serving officer about what "the sequester" means from inside one branch of the military.

The Path to a Debt-Free College Degree? - Sophie Quinton, National Journal

Traditional universities could soon be forced to accept credits from online courses. While elite institutions compete to see who can offer the most luxurious and comprehensive residential package, the new online innovators aim to provide a college education as cheaply as possible. That's important for aspiring college graduates at a time when college costs can saddle students with an onerous level of loan debt. Pacing students based on what they know, and using interactive online tools, can also help keep students engaged and up their chance of graduating on time. Just half of bachelor’s degree candidates graduate in four years, and less than a third of associate’s degree candidates graduate in three years, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coursera's Contractual Elitism - Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

If you wonder why your university hasn’t linked up with Coursera, the massively popular provider of free online classes, it may help to know the company is contractually obliged to turn away the vast majority of American universities. The Silicon Valley-based company said to be revolutionizing higher education says in a contract obtained by Inside Higher Ed that it will “only” offer classes from elite institutions – the members of the Association of American Universities or “top five” universities in countries outside of North America – unless Coursera’s advisory board agrees to waive the requirement.

Join UPCEA in Setting Online Education Administration Benchmarks

Dear Distance Education Leaders, UPCEA is developing key benchmarking information in the finance and administration of online education. The development of this resource will help members make informed decisions moving forward. Please take 6 to 10 minutes to complete the following survey. Results of the survey will be shared at a pre-conference at the UPCEA Annual Conference on Wednesday, April 3rd at the session entitled "Evolving Business Models for Online Learning." After the conference, the results will be posted on CORe. -Jim Fong, Director, UPCEA Center for Research and Consulting

University Leaders From Asia and the Pacific Consider Challenges of Globalization - Karin Fischer, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Rather than refusing to participate in online-education experiments, universities should consider offering MOOCs in their strongest academic areas, said Tom Apple, president of the University of Hawaii-Manoa. For his institution, that could mean courses in astronomy and ocean sciences. But Mr. Apple acknowledged that developments like MOOCs are so very new that it's not yet clear how they might be incorporated into more traditional education. For example, online courses could help provide education in certain regions, like parts of Southeast Asia, where there are limited opportunities for formal schooling.... What is clear, said Chorh Chuan Tan, president of the National University of Singapore, is that presidents and vice chancellors in the Asia-Pacific region will have to assume greater global leadership in education. Working with Yale University, for instance, NUS hopes to create the first East-meets-West liberal-arts institution. "As the center of gravity shifts to this region," Mr. Tan said, "what does that mean for our role, our responsibility in creating knowledge?"

An Online Course Requires Your Time - Scott Manning, Online Learning Tips

It seems like an obvious statement, but an online course will require your time. Yet, a common misconception among perspective students is online learning requires less time than a brick and mortar class. The reality is you will save time in some areas, but spend more time in others. Yes, there are time savers. The beauty of an online course is you can do it on your time with deadlines throughout the week. You also do not have to travel to be at a desk. However, you will spend time in other areas you did not expect. First, you will spend time writing. Instead of speaking with your fellow students, you must write. Virtually all online courses require message board interaction.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How online learning credits could change higher ed's business model - Amy Scott, Marketplace

Budget cuts have taken such a big bite out of California’s community colleges and universities that thousands of students are turned away from required classes. “No college student should be denied the right to complete their education because they could not get a seat [in] the course that they needed in order to graduate,” said Darrell Steinberg, president pro tem of the California senate. If it passes, the bill could be good news for companies like StraighterLine, based in Baltimore, Md. The company sells low-cost intro courses like the ones students are having trouble getting into. “What it also does is open a much larger marketplace,” says Burck Smith, StraighterLine’s CEO.“A larger marketplace will ultimately drive prices down, will raise quality up, and that’s a good thing.” Others looking for a bigger slice of that market are providers of those massive open courses -- companies like Udacity and Coursera. Classes on artificial intelligence and gamification have been wildly popular, but few colleges accept them for actual credit.

Mozilla Releases Long-Discussed Software to Offer ‘Badges’ for Learning - Jake New, Inside Higher Ed

A good grade in a class or a degree on a wall can’t always tell the whole story of what a student has learned. A journalism degree denotes that a student graduated from a journalism program, but not necessarily that she excels at finding sources through social media, for example. Now, after two years of development, Mozilla has released Open Badges 1.0, free software that allows for a new way to recognize learning: digital badges.

University Of Alberta Eyes Budget Cuts In Wake Of Reduced Funding - Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

A leaked internal email says the University of Alberta is eyeing deep cuts because of reductions in operating grants announced in the government's budget. The email, released Wednesday by the NDP, says university president Indira Samarasekera instructed faculty heads last weekend to draw up scenarios to spend 20 per cent less starting next year. The deans have also been directed to find a way to raise money to recoup half that amount. "Clearly this task requires a new way of thinking and planning," Fern Snart, dean of education, told in-house colleagues in the leaked email. Snart did not return a call for comment. The president's meeting with the deans came three days after Premier Alison Redford's government announced a cut of $2 billion in operating grants to 26 post-secondary institutions for 2013-14 — a 6.8 per cent cut from the previous year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Online learning: Campus 2.0 - M. Mitchell Waldrop, Nature

Massive open online courses are transforming higher education — and providing fodder for scientific research. There is reason to hope that this is a positive development, says Roy Pea, who heads a Stanford centre that studies how people use technology. MOOCs, which have incorporated decades of research on how students learn best, could free faculty members from the drudgery of repetitive introductory lectures. What's more, they can record online students' every mouse click, an ability that promises to transform education research by generating data that could improve teaching in the future. “We can have microanalytics on every paper, every test, right down to what media each student prefers,” says Pea.

Beyond the Credit Hour - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

The U.S. Department of Education has endorsed competency-based education with the release today of a letter that encourages interested colleges to seek federal approval for degree programs that do not rely on the credit hour to measure student learning. Department officials also said Monday that they will give a green light soon to Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America, which would be the first to attempt the “direct assessment” of learning – meaning no link to the credit hour – and also be eligible for participation in federal financial aid programs. Southern New Hampshire won’t be the last to give direct assessment a whirl, or at least that’s what the department is hoping. And a wide range of institutions have discussed the approach with department officials. One is Capella University. Others could include Northern Arizona University, Brandman University and Bellevue University, to name a few.

The Sequester Is Going to Devastate U.S. Science Research for Decades - PAUL ALIVISATOS, ERIC D. ISAACS, AND THOM MASON, the Atlantic

Most of the talk about sequestration has focused on its immediate impacts -- layoffs, furloughs, and cancelled White House tours in the days and weeks ahead. But one severe impact of the automatic spending cuts will only be felt years -- or even decades -- in the future, when the nation begins to feel the loss of important new scientific ideas that now will not be explored, and of brilliant young scientists who now will take their talents overseas or perhaps even abandon research entirely. Less than one percent of the federal budget goes to fund basic science research -- $30.2 billion out of the total of $3.8 trillion President Obama requested in fiscal year 2012. By slashing that fraction even further, the government will achieve short-term savings in millions this year, but the resulting gaps in the innovation pipeline could cost billions of dollars and hurt the national economy for decades to come.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Online Certificate Programs at Colleges and Universities Gain Popularity - ELIZABETH OLSON, NY Times

As employers demand skills and more skills, many people are turning to online certificate programs to acquire a specific expertise that can lead them to a job or a promotion — or, sometimes, simply to ensure that they hang on to their current position. Although less well known than “massive open online courses,” known as MOOCs, online certificates are “part of the unbundling of education that is happening now,” said Joel Shapiro, associate dean of academics at Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies.... “The student adds a skill and gets a stamp of academic approval for the effort,” said Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois, Springfield.... Many people apply their certificate course work to a master’s degree, said Jim Fong, director of the Center for Research and Consulting, part of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, a grouping of 350 colleges and universities.

Celebrity professors, online lectures and employability classes - PHILIP MAUGHAN, New Statesman

A new report from the IPPR entitled “An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead” warns that British universities are at risk if they fail to respond to competition from abroad. “Why would you go to the quite ordinary lecture by a quite ordinary lecturer when you can get Niall Ferguson online?” Sir Michael Barber, “deliverology” expert and Chief Education Advisor at Pearson, asked John Humphrys on Monday’s Today programme. Barber claims that “the Ronaldo effect” will mean the best lecturers – of course, crowd-pleasing lecturers and first class educators are not one and the same – can “command the circumstances they want and move from one university to another”. He praises the Employability Centre at Exeter University, and UCL’s plans for a “university quarter” in Stratford, aimed at cashing in on the booming local economy. In every case, two assumptions are made: the first is that help finding a job is the only reason university is worth attending. The second is that higher education should bolster a thriving economy, rather than the other way around.

Motives for Lifelong Learners to Choose Web-based Courses - Ron Mahieu, et. al.; EURODL

Due to societal changes there is a growing need for distant and adult learning. The reason to participate in education and the choices that students make may differ. In this study the factors age, gender, rate of studies and parenthood have been analysed in order to see how these relate to different motivational factors for choosing a web-based course. The data has been based on a questionnaire, covering 1270 beginner students in the spring semester of 2011 and contains their background characteristics and items focusing on their motives. These could be categorized into four different motives: (1) Format, (2) Content, (3) Economic, and (4) Curiosity. The results showed that Format was regarded as the most important factor for choosing an Internet-based course, followed by Content, Curiosity and the Economic factor. Furthermore, group differences were investigated with respect to age, gender, parenthood and rate of study. The findings show that distant education fulfils an important function for mature students, women and students with children. These groups presumably consider the flexibility that web-based courses provide advantageous. Family situations or working-life obligations may contribute to this. Changes in people’s working lives are likely to continue, which presumably increases the demand for flexible learning situations.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Professors Who Make the MOOCs - Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Ed

What is it like to teach 10,000 or more students at once, and does it really work? The largest-ever survey of professors who have taught MOOCs, or massive open online courses, shows that the process is time-consuming, but, according to the instructors, often successful. Nearly half of the professors felt their online courses were as rigorous academically as the versions they taught in the classroom.... Professors who responded to The Chronicle survey reported a variety of motivations for diving into MOOCs. The most frequently cited reason was altruism—a desire to increase access to higher education worldwide. But there were often professional motivations at play as well.

Is It Finally Time to Kill the Credit Hour? - Carol Geary Schneider, AAC&U

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has announced that it plans to reconsider the credit hour as it is currently being used in higher education and, at least potentially, propose a new alternative unit of measure to replace it. This is a welcome development and one that AAC&U has urged for some time, both through the Liberal Education and America’s Promise initiative and through our recent work on the Degree Qualifications Profile. But having worked for several years to shift the focus from credit hours to competency—that is, from simply measuring the expected amount of time students spend in class (“seat time”) and out of class on course-related work to measuring what students know and are able to do as a result of their coursework—we are keenly aware of not only the need for change but also the many difficulties that lie ahead.

Profit and the Public Good - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

A common lament about higher education is that it has become more of a private good than a public one, with students as consumers and colleges as businesses focused on hawking their product. But that model won’t cut it anymore, at least not for the nation’s largest regional accreditor, which in January redefined what an institution’s philosophical bottom line should be. “We felt it was important to make a statement -- that education is a public good,” said Sylvia Manning, president of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The revised standards are getting an early test, as a commission review team last month recommended a sanction of probation for the University of Phoenix, the nation’s biggest university. According to a corporate filing from the Apollo Group, which is Phoenix’s holding company, a sentence in the public good section is what tripped up the university in its bid for reaccreditation.

EdX Will Be Harvard Capital Campaign Priority By NIKITA KANSRA and SAMUEL Y. WEINSTOCK, Harvard Crimson

At the conference, Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 said that in addition to the original $30 million investment, the University incurs costs for each new course that it offers on the edX platform. In the long term, he said, “our intent [is] that this is a self-sustaining activity that does not depend on ongoing philanthropic support.” For now, however, the University is soliciting contributions for edX as part of the capital campaign, and Faust said that some donors are excited about helping fund the online platform. “They see it as transformational,” Faust said. “They’ve looked at what the digital revolution has done for other sectors of the economy, other industries, and they think we have a chance to have a real impact here with edX.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why TED Talks Have Become So Popular - Jeff Dunn, Edudemic

I’m a big TED talks fan. I like to stay abreast of some of the lesser-known names and discussions happening that don’t make it into my regular social media and news feeds. I love to see what the brilliant minds down the street from me (at MIT and Harvard) are working on. TED talks provide a fascinating opportunity to learn from the best. Key Takeaways

  • The 5 most popular themes of TED talks are happiness, knowledge, ethics, food, and psychology
  • The 5 least popular themes of TED talks are architecture, weather, media, war, and time. 
  • Sir Ken Robinson’s “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” is the most viewed TED talk ever with just under 15 million views. 
  • Longer is better. The most successful videos are at least 18 minutes long. Less popular videos are about 12 minutes long. 
  • More than 140 different TED talks have each seen 1 million views

The Present And Future Plans Of Khan Academy - Katie Lepi, Edudemic

In a recent visit (2/26/13) to Charlie Rose, Sal Khan shared some insight into the current state of Khan Academy. According to his interview, the site is now reaching about 6 million students. The Khan Academy team is comprised of 40 people. Khan is no longer the only person making the videos, and he says it’s about “ten times bigger” than when he last spoke to Rose roughly 18 months ago. Khan goes on to discuss the self-paced model and how it is effective for certain learners. He also talks about the problems surrounding passive lectures: “whether you have 10 students in the room, 20 students in the room, or 2,000 students in the room, if you’re having a passive lecture … it doesn’t matter.” He goes on to call the current lecture system as downright “dehumanizing” in this interview.

Why and When Peer Grading is Effective for Open and Online Learning - Debbie Morrison, Online Learning Insights

Is peer grading an effective assessment method for open and online learning? What about in MOOCs where student feedback may be the only means of determining a pass or fail in a course? This posts examine peer grading and suggests what conditions must be present in order for peer grading to be effective.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

UW-Madison agrees to offer the free online courses known as MOOCs - Dave Cieslewicz, the Isthmus

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has taken the plunge into the brave new world of massively available, free online course offerings. The largest provider of open online college courses had been courting the university to join its network of free content providers since at least last summer.According to Jeff Russell, vice provost for Life Long Learning and dean of the Division of Continuing Studies, the UW administration resisted those overtures until last month. That's when interim chancellor David Ward announced that the university would join Coursera, which will now provide hundreds of free online courses from dozens of institutions of higher learning.Coursera is currently offering 325 courses from 62 universities around the world, including such prestigious names as Brown, Princeton, Johns Hopkins and Cal Tech. The UW now joins other Big Ten schools, including Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota and Northwestern. Big Ten schools-in-waiting, Rutgers and Maryland, are also members of the Coursera family.

UChicago considers offering open online courses - Harini Jaganathan, Chicago Marroon

In light of the growing popularity of third-party online class platforms such as Coursera and edX that post lectures by faculty from elite institutions, the University of Chicago has begun to discuss the possibility of offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). In September, Provost Thomas Rosenbaum appointed two faculty committees to look into the issues associated with offering online classes. One committee is looking into courses for credit and the second is looking into courses not for credit. Committee findings are expected to be released in April, according to Deputy Provost for Research Roy Weiss, who serves on both committees and is chair of the latter.Coursera and edX host online classes on a wide range of subjects and are available for free. There are currently 62 universities partnered with Coursera, including Stanford, Caltech, and, as of this month, Northwestern. EdX, which was started by Harvard and MIT, has 12 partners in total.

4 inspiring kids imagine the future of learning - Jamia Wilson, TED

After more than 13 years of research convinced him that children have the ability to learn almost anything on their own, 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra aspires to shape the future of learning by building a School in the Cloud, helping kids “tap into their innate sense of wonder.” In the spirit of Mitra’s invitation to the world to “ask kids big questions, and find big answers,” we asked four brilliant young people to tell us: What do you think is the future of learning?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Higher-ed leaders meet to discuss future of online learning - Larry Hardesty, MIT News

Educators are only beginning to scratch the surface of the possibilities presented by online-learning technologies. As Philipp Schmidt, director of Peer 2 Peer University and a fellow at the Media Lab, put it during the first panel, the field is now at the stage where film was when the first movie cameras became available and people immediately mounted them at the backs of theaters to record stage plays. But the mere fact that the rapid proliferation of online-learning tools has forced universities to reexamine their pedagogical assumptions may be a step forward in itself. As MIT President L. Rafael Reif said after the conference, "I couldn't have imagined circumstances in which you could get all these communities together to discuss education."

What Should Online Courses Do With Angry, Suicidal, Oversharing Teenagers? - Katherine Mangu-Ward, Hit&Run Blog

If a student threatens to shoot his classmates (or himself) on the online message board for his physics class, does that count as a campus threat? That's just one of the many questions purveyors of massively open online courses, or MOOCs, are asking themselves. Universities have traditionally been asked to play many roles, and as the functions of those universities are disaggregated, the question of who picks up which pieces is a tough one. In truly massive online courses, like those offered by Coursera, Udacity, and huge public universities experimenting with online learning, teachers are not expected to read all the postings in a class message board. But students still act like students—fighting, falling in love, chattering about emotional problems, and generally acting in ways that would be considered inappropriate in other parts of grown up life.

With State Cuts, Public University Costs Skyrocket - Mark Russell, Newser

Going to a state school may be becoming less of a great way to keep college costs down: With state governments cutting funding, the amount public-college students paid in tuition (after scholarships and grants) soared 8.3% last year. That's the heftiest hike on record, reports the Wall Street Journal, and comes as the average state funding per student fell 9%. That, too, is a record, the biggest drop since the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association started keeping track in 1980.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

California's Move Toward MOOCs Sends Shock Waves, but Key Questions Remain Unanswered - Lee Gardner and Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Supporters of newly proposed legislation in California hope to reduce the number of students shut out of key courses by forging an unprecedented partnership between traditional public colleges and online-education upstarts. But on Wednesday specific details of how the deal would work were hard to pin down. Senate Bill 520, sponsored by State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who is president pro tem of the Senate, calls for establishing a statewide platform through which students who have trouble getting into certain low-level, high-demand classes could take approved online courses offered by providers outside the state's higher-education system. If the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, state colleges and universities could be compelled to accept credits earned in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, bringing the controversial courses into the mainstream faster than even their proponents had predicted.

California Unveils Bill to Provide Openly Licensed, Online College Courses for Credit - Cable Green, Creative Commons

California (CA) Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (author of the CA open textbook legislation) announced that SB 520 will be amended to provide open, online college courses for credit. In short, the bill will allow CA students, enrolled in CA public colleges and universities, to take online courses from a pool of 50 high enrollment, introductory courses, offered by 3rd parties, in which CA students cannot currently gain access from their public CA university or community college. Students must already be enrolled in the CA college or university in which they want to receive credit. The 50 courses and plans for their assessment will be reviewed and approved (or not) by a faculty committee prior to being admitted into this new online course marketplace.

A College Degree Sorts Job Applicants, but Employers Wish It Meant More - Karin Fischer, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Employers value a four-year college degree, many of them more than ever. Yet half of those surveyed recently by The Chronicle and American Public Media's Marketplace said they had trouble finding recent graduates qualified to fill positions at their company or organization. Nearly a third gave colleges just fair to poor marks for producing successful employees. And they dinged bachelor's-degree holders for lacking basic workplace proficiencies, like adaptability, communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems. "Woefully unprepared" is how David E. Boyes characterized the newly minted B.A.'s who apply to his Northern Virginia technology consulting company.

The Professors’ Big Stage - THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NY Times

Institutions of higher learning must move, as the historian Walter Russell Mead puts it, from a model of “time served” to a model of “stuff learned.” Because increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know. And therefore it will not pay for a C+ in chemistry, just because your state college considers that a passing grade and was willing to give you a diploma that says so. We’re moving to a more competency-based world where there will be less interest in how you acquired the competency — in an online course, at a four-year-college or in a company-administered class — and more demand to prove that you mastered the competency.... Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor and expert on disruptive innovation, gave a compelling talk about how much today’s traditional university has in common with General Motors of the 1960s, just before Toyota used a technology breakthrough to come from nowhere and topple G.M.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Outsourcing Public Higher Ed: California Proposal to Encourage Accepting MOOCs for Credit - Paul Fain and Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

A powerful California lawmaker wants public college students who are shut out of popular courses to attend low-cost online alternatives – including those offered by for-profit companies – and he plans to encourage the state’s public institutions to grant credit for those classes. The proposal expected today from Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat and president pro tem of the state Senate, aims to create a “statewide system of faculty-approved, online college courses,” according to a written statement from Steinberg’s office. (A spokesman for Steinberg declined to discuss the bill.) Faculty would decide which courses should make the cut for a pool of online offerings. Likely participants include Udacity and Coursera, two major massive open online course providers, sources said. Another option might be StraighterLine, a low-cost, self-paced online course company.

The Real Winners of the Coming Revolution in Higher Education - Bruce Guile and David Teece, Forbes

A revolution is coming to U.S. higher education, one that will sweep away an archaic business model, erase the value of many venerable brands, and enhance the brands of new entrants and nimble incumbents. It will be a tough time for many U.S. colleges and universities but great news for the rest of the world. Over the next decade, institutions in the U.S. and in other countries with mature higher education sectors will be struggling to justify the cost and value of a residential degree program when students get much of the same content and a good portion of the classroom experience from an online instructor in another city or across an ocean. They will be asking, what is the value added by our campus when demand can be aggregated either by bringing students to campus or, much less expensively, by reaching and teaching students online virtually anywhere in the world?

New Online Courses Present Challenges, Opportunities - ANDREW ROUSH, Alcalde

The process of integrating online learning may not be simply a choice for major universities like UT. Students are “voting with their feet” by turning away from traditional classes in favor of online, according to Steven Mintz, executive director of the UT System’s Institute for Transformational Learning. “I want UT to be the national—maybe international—leader in this space,” Mintz says. His enthusiasm for blended and online learning has helped make UT a partner in edX, a move he views as not only necessary, but good for students and the University. “We have to do it,” he says, noting that faculty have driven the selection of the first, experimental online courses. Students will get personalized tools, and professors can more closely track success, moves that Mintz maintains will empower students. High production values and better use of class time are what administrators hope will draw students and professors to blended and online classes. A historian by training, Mintz sees UT’s role in the long-term. If a move to MOOCs, for example, is a part of the course of history, then UT should lead and help shape the trend for the better.

Online learning can be a good tool - D.G. Martin, Salisbury Post

Mention online education around some of my friends, and you will get an emotional reaction. Some senior university faculty members teach classes filled with several hundred students, and they worry that famous online lecturers could take their places. Others wonder if they can transfer their talents to the online market and, if so, how much compensation they can demand for their extra efforts. Public school advocates worry that private businesses will persuade decisionmakers to replace more expensive traditional classroom-based instruction with programs delivered to students’ computers. The result, they fear, will be high profits to the providers and a loss of hands-on support from classroom teachers and fellow students. Whatever our worries about online education, our state should brace for changes. Gov. Pat McCrory’s challenging remarks about the role of universities, discussion of further drastic cuts in the higher education budget, new proposals for education vouchers, consideration of approval for off-site, profit-making charter schools and a host of other possible “improvements” let everyone know that change, big change, is coming.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Skipping Out On College And 'Hacking Your Education' - NPR

Dale Stephens left school at 12 years old to take part in "unschooling," the self-directed branch of home-schooling. He is the founder of are several famous and staggeringly successful college dropouts, including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. You may not end up with fat wallets like them, but Dale Stephens says you can find a different education path. "When you think about education as an investment, you have to think about what the return is going to be," Stephens tells NPR's Renee Montagne. Stephens points to an alternative self-education system by taking responsibility for learning on your own and using networking to your advantage. He also says school just isn't for everyone. "I left school because I didn't feel like school was an environment that left me free to learn," says Stephens, who dropped out of college. His book explores why and how to ditch the cost of tuition and find a personal educational system.

Online learning courses will extend UW-Madison to more students - David Ward, interim chancellor, State Journal

The old model of education is now supplemented by several creative alternatives in selected parts of our curriculums. The role of the classroom is being flipped on its head and reinvented through technology, online learning and more flexible approaches to education. This trend affecting higher education mirrors what we have seen in recent years with many longstanding institutions. Universities that understand how to create a variable experience for students will be best equipped to innovate and survive over the next decade and beyond. The urgency to rethink how students are educated at UW-Madison has been at the forefront of my tenure as interim chancellor. When I returned here a year and a half ago, I brought with me the experience I gained as president of the American Council on Education, where I became familiar with changing modes of higher learning, including those already well started here in Madison.

Redefining Accreditation: From Courses to Competencies - Elizabeth Rudd, Innovation Management

As demand grows for alternatives to the traditional model of earning a university degree based on coursework, a new model where universities grant degrees based on skills competencies is gaining momentum and credibility. The education industry is under increasing pressure to prove its relevancy, provide value and meet the needs of students, employers and industry. Discussion of the need for innovation in higher education is increasing. One of the challenges of degree programs is finding the balance between cost, time and quality. Traditionally earning a college degree is a combination of credits, classes and tuition. But not any more. A newer model is gaining popularity- one which doesn’t require credits, or courses- just competencies. Through a series of competency based assessments, if a student can meet the degree requirements, the university will issue a degree. Knowledge can be acquired from anywhere- no credits and no actual courses need be completed at the university issuing the degree.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going? - MICHAEL HORN AND CLAYTON CHRISTENSEN, Wired

MOOCs can be much more than marketing and edutainment. We believe they are likely to evolve into a “scale business”: one that relies on the technology and data backbone of the medium to optimize and individualize learning opportunities for millions of students. This is very different than simply putting a video of a professor lecturing online. The initial MOOCs came from a “process business model” where companies bring inputs together at one end and transform them into a higher-value output for customers at the other end — as with the retail and manufacturing industries. But over time, an approach where users exchange information from each other similar to Facebook or telecommunications (a “facilitated network model”) will come to dominate online learning. This evolution is especially likely to happen if the traditional degree becomes irrelevant and, as many predict, learning becomes a continuous, on-the-job learning process. Then the need for customization will drive us toward just-in-time mini-courses.

Digital Public Library of America Set to Open in April - DPLA

“The Digital Public Library of America will launch on April 18 after two and a half years of careful planning and preparation. The project known as DPLA is the first national effort that seeks to aggregate existing records in state and regional digital libraries so that they are searchable from a single portal. Up until now, the documents that tell the story of our nation’s history and cultural heritage have largely been siloed in state and local libraries, museums, and archives. Some institutions have the ability to digitize those valuable materials and put them online, but strained budgets mean that most do not.

Instructional design: from “packaging” to “scaffolding” - Jane Hart, Learning in the Social Workplace

A good example of the difference between instructional packaging and instructional scaffolding was provided recently by Debbie Morrison in her post A tale of two of MOOCs: divided by pedagogy. In a very useful table (reproduced below) she compares the approaches taken by the (very popular, connectivist) e-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC with the (aborted, instructivist) Fundamentals of Online Education MOOC. (The first is a great example of instructional scaffolding.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Community College Grads Out-earn Bachelor’s Degree Holders - John Marcus, Hechinger Report

Significant numbers of community-college grads are getting better jobs, and earning more at the start of their careers than people with bachelor’s degrees, a trend that surprises even the researchers who have noticed it in wage data that has started to become more available in the last year. “There is that perception that the bachelor’s degree is the default, and, quite frankly, before we started this work showing the value of a technical associate’s degree, I would have said that too,” says Mark Schneider, vice president of the American Institutes for Research, which helped collect the numbers for some of the states that report them. Nearly 30 percent of Americans with associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. In fact, new research into earnings shows that, on average, community-college graduates right out of school, as a group, make more than graduates of four-year universities.

Education Sequestration: A State-by-State Breakdown - Afi-Odelia Scruggs, Diverse Education

Automatic cuts March 1 could have a significant impact on education. Unless Congress and President Obama can reach a compromise today, most government programs will be reduced by 5 percent on Friday. With hours left before the cuts kick in – and no hint of a deal – colleges and universities are bracing for hits to research and development, student financial aid, and workforce training programs. The reduction, or sequester, is a $1.2 trillion package of cuts to discretionary and military programs. The legislation authorizing the cuts was passed two years ago, and was designed to force Congress to reduce the national debt by presenting an onerous alternative.

MOOCs: Learning How to Teach - Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

Amid the various influences that massive open online courses have had on higher education in their short life so far -- the courses may be prompting some faculty to pay more attention to their teaching styles than they ever have before. The day of discussion wandered across several key topics, including whether MOOCs can control costs and whether they fundamentally undermine traditional higher education. Panelists found few conclusive answers to key questions about the future of the residential college, which remains the popular vision of college even though it is no longer how many students receive postsecondary education.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rise of Customized Learning - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

The credit hour is still higher education’s gold standard, even after President Obama’s vague endorsement last month of competency-based education and its focus on “performance and results” rather than seat time. It’s unclear whether Obama’s call could help open the door for competency-based approaches by spurring changes to the current system of accreditation or the rules governing federal financial aid. Even so, colleges aren’t waiting on the feds. Several institutions have continued to expand competency-based offerings aimed at working adults. And while all but one are still grounded in the credit hour, these online degree programs are typically self-paced and emphasize the testing of competency, sometimes even of learning that occurs outside of the traditional classroom.

The newest revolution in higher ed - Drew Faust and L. Rafael Reif, Boston Globe

In 1837, the Massachusetts Board of Education devoted part of its first annual report to praising a recent classroom innovation called the blackboard. This “invaluable and indispensible” innovation enabled the “rapid and vivid communication of knowledge.” It created opportunities for teachers to engage learners in ways that had been unimaginable just a generation earlier. The same and more will be said of online learning tools. We are at the beginning of a technology-led revolution in pedagogy: Our innovation is not the blackboard, but instead an evolving suite of tools that allows interactive learning online. While one outcome of this revolution has rightly caught the world’s attention — the power to democratize access to education on a scale never seen in history — we are just as excited about the promise that these new tools hold for colleges and universities throughout the world.

Keeping an Eye on Online Test-Takers - ANNE EISENBERG, NY Times

Eavesdropping technologies worthy of the C.I.A. can remotely track every mouse click and keystroke of test-taking students. Squads of eagle-eyed humans at computers can monitor faraway students via webcams, screen sharing and high-speed Internet connections, checking out their photo IDs, signatures and even their typing styles to be sure the test-taker is the student who registered for the class. The developing technology for remote proctoring may end up being as good — or even better — than the live proctoring at bricks-and-mortar universities, said Douglas H. Fisher, a computer science and computer engineering professor at Vanderbilt University who was co-chairman of a recent workshop that included MOOC-related topics. “Having a camera watch you, and software keep track of your mouse clicks, that does smack of Big Brother,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem any worse than an instructor at the front constantly looking at you, and it may even be more efficient.”

Friday, March 8, 2013

Coursera credentials today, full Coursera-powered degrees tomorrow? - Ki Mae Heussner, GigaOM

Even if providers of massive open online courses don’t intend to provide degrees or degree equivalents, that doesn’t mean degrees fully powered by informal sources aren’t on the horizon. Barely a year into their existence, massive open online course (MOOC) providers, like Coursera EdX and Udacity, are starting to offer certificates that can be put toward university credit. But are full MOOC degrees on the horizon? When asked that question by New York Times education reporter Laura Pappano on stage at the SXSWedu education technology conference in Austin Wednesday, Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng gave the diplomatic reply: “Coursera isn’t a university. We don’t offer degrees of academic credit. We’re a humble hosting platform.” To which Anant Agarwal, president of the nonprofit EdX, quipped: “a very politically correct answer” (drawing a round of laughter from the audience).

Co-Learning Spaces - Pamela Fox, Pamela Fox Blog

I've been toying with an idea in my head lately, and I want to put it out there now to help me think through it and see what you all think. First, some context. Around San Francisco, we have an increasing number of "co-working spaces", and I've co-worked at a handful of them myself. A "co-working space" is where you can rent a seat, a desk, or a whole room of desks, and you can go there every day and work on whatever it is you do, around other people also doing their work thing. The space provides amenities that you typically get at an office, like Wi-Fi, a fridge and mini kitchen, mail delivery, fax/printer, conference rooms, and often also tries to provide opportunities for networking and business growth. A "co-learning space" would be oriented entirely around enabling and encouraging learning. All of its amenities, its layout, its target members, its events, its pricing, all of that would be learning oriented. When you walked into the space, you would immediately know you were surrounded by learners and be inspired to learn yourself.

Massive Open Online Learning as Seen by Jack Welch - Paul Glader, Edudemic

Jack Welch: There is a fascinating thing we are seeing. Our students, right now, want asynchronous learning. They don’t want synchronous learning. We thought it would be a good idea to have all students come in for a 3-day orientation before they start again. We got almost a 90% rejection (of that idea). They said the reason they are coming to our school is they want to learn on their own time. They have a family, jobs and lives. They don’t want to be going to meetings. Our gut feeling was to have them get together. They said, “What a lousy thing to do.” They have lives, children, obligations and bosses who want their work done. The reason they came to us is to get the skills but still be able to travel and go to meetings and things.

Budget fight could cost PSU $30 million -- or more - ERIE TIMES-NEWS

Pennsylvania State University could see more than $30 million in funding cuts from the U.S. government sequestration, but it is too early to say exactly what lies ahead, university officials said. The $85 billion in across-the-board cuts started Friday. At Penn State -- where faculty are awarded grants from organizations funded by the federal government -- researchers and administrators face uncertainty. "This was supposed to be so onerous in prospect that it would be unthinkable to allow to happen," said Hank Foley, the university's vice president for research. "Well it is here -- it is onerous -- but it seems as though it is going to happen now." Foley said conservative estimates have the university losing $30 million to $40 million in funding from federal grants.$30-million----or-more

Diversity at College Level Bolstered By Online Offerings - Matthew Lynch, Huffington Post

The flexibility and convenience of online learning is well known but what is not as readily talked about is the way distance education promotes diversity of the college population. With less red tape than the traditional college format, online students are able to earn credits while still working full time, maintaining families and dealing with illnesses. Whether students take just one course remotely, or obtain an entire degree, they are able to take on the demands of college life more readily -- leading to student population with more variety.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seamless e-learning system pushed for Nevada higher education - LYNNETTE CURTIS, Las Vegas Journal-Review

Nevada's public colleges and universities must better embrace online education, or their students will go elsewhere. That was the message an education consultant delivered Friday to the board that governs public higher education in Nevada. "If we don't succeed in this - and time is of the essence - there will be others who will usurp nearly everything," Richard N. Katz told the Board of Regents. "They will take (our) students."

How sequester will affect University of Maryland Posted - Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

It will directly affect two critical areas of the University: financial aid and funded research. Although the full impact of the cuts may not be clear for a few months, we are prepared to redeploy our limited resources to help tide over, as best we can, those who are most vulnerable to the financial consequences of sequestration. We do not yet know the full force of federal austerity on Maryland’s economy, which is heavily dependent on federal and military spending. Therefore, we do not yet know the ripple effects on the state’s budget for higher education next year. Meanwhile, we continue to work with our elected officials in Annapolis to keep the tuition increase low; to fund salary merit increases that we have not had in four years; and to support expanded enrollments in science and engineering.

A Bold Vision of Online Learning - John Danner, Huffington Post

Sugata Mitra was awarded the TEDPrize, which comes with a $1 million check and the commitment of TEDsters to help fulfill a wish of the winner. Professor Mitra is one of the pioneers in online learning, working in the slums of India. His vision forms the first step towards Online Learning 2.0. Dr. Mitra is clearly pushing for the day when learning will become 10 times easier and 10 times less expensive for students, opening up learning to billions of children that could not previously participate in the global economy. In his "Hole in the Wall" experiment, he provided very poor children in the slums of India with a computer and left them alone, to discover that a few hours later they had figured out how to get online, browse, and learn. He replicated the experiment in several forms and it is now his hypothesis that students learn just fine in a Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE), with no adults around.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Inside a MOOC: Coursera class offers peek into determination of student body - Mike Cassidy, Mercury News

With the class still in the early going I was about a week behind on my assignments, nearly flunking my first quiz and seriously contemplating dropping the class. So much for the old college try.But two things made me stick with it (at least up until now, with two more weeks to go) -- My Coursera class called "Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies" comes with a promise: If I can finish the course work and score at least 70 percent on my assignments, I'll receive a statement of accomplishment. I want that statement. But more important than that, were the classmates I've encountered. Yeah, classmates. I've got a few, like 85,000 by the instructor's count in week two of the course. Let's just say the lecture hall would have been a little crowded in pre-Internet days. No we don't gather together physically, but we are able to socialize, commiserate and help and encourage each other on a series of message boards. And it is from those message boards that I've found both my inspiration to press on and a spirit that points to the powerful potential these new courses have.

Harvard Names Online Education Leadership - Harvard Magazine

The University has populated some of the administrative and faculty committees that oversee and manage HarvardX (the University’s operating entity for its online initiative) and Harvard’s relationship with edX, the joint venture with MIT to which Harvard has committed significant resources to develop online learning technologies. The unveiling of the committees’ composition follows by about nine months the launch of edX in May 2012, and comes at a time of rapid expansion of online course development.

Colleges embrace the online lecture model - Nick Anderson, The Washington Post

Dissatisfaction with live lectures helped drive Ng and Stanford colleague Daphne Koller to put course materials online. The success of those experiments led them last year to launch the MOOC platform Coursera. Coursera and edX, another online platform led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have drawn millions of people around the world to sign up for free online classes from top-flight schools. And they have fueled debate about what matters most in instruction. Teaching reforms go well beyond MOOCs. In Maryland, educators have slashed live lecturing recently in courses such as Psychology 101 at Bowie State and Salisbury universities, Intermediate Algebra at Frostburg State, and Principles of Biology and Principles of Chemistry at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. "In the end, students are more satisfied, and faculty are more satisfied," said William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Online Education May Make Top Colleges More Elite, Speakers Say - Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Online tools that track how much students use certain course materials could give professors insight into how they should design their traditional courses, several panelists said. Professors might be surprised by what the data tell them. Eric Mazur, a professor of physics at Harvard, drew murmurs from the crowd—which mostly consisted of Harvard and MIT faculty members—when he showed research indicating that students at a lecture have brain activity roughly equivalent to when they watch television. Eric S. Rabkin, a professor of English at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, suggested that professors could direct students to learn the most basic material in a course at their own pace, via online modules. Professors could then use the time saved, he said, on the parts of the course that require more thoughtful, individual attention, such as giving feedback on long essays.

Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom - Oliver Dreon, Faculty Focus

Almost 25 years have passed since Chickering and Gamson offered seven principles for good instructional practices in undergraduate education. While the state of undergraduate education has evolved to some degree over that time, I think the seven principles still have a place in today’s collegiate classroom. Originally written to communicate best practices for face-to-face instruction, the principles translate well to the online classroom and can help to provide guidance for those of us designing courses to be taught online.

Coursera: Game changer in the MOOC phenomenon (now in Spanish too) - John Benson, VOXXI

A giant in MOOCs, Coursera, will now offer online learning courses in Spanish, Chinese, French and Italian. “Have computer, will learn,” is the simple rally cry behind massive open online course (MOOC) platform Coursera. Launched in April 2012, the globally renowned entity announced last week agreements with 29 universities from around the world to help bring their courses free via the Internet. “One of the most important parts about it is 16 of 29 universities are outside of the United States,” Coursera Business and Community Development Manager Julia Stiglitz told VOXXI. “We now have universities that are going to be teaching in five different languages on the platform.” That brings the total number of institutions on Coursera to 62 with new courses now available in Chinese, Spanish, French and Italian. The exciting news for the Latino community is the recent schools additions include the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Tecnológico de Monterrey. “It’s an opportunity for a lot more people to have access to a high quality education,” Stiglitz said. “That’s the opportunity, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter your economic situation, that you could have access to really high quality classes. That’s what we’re more excited about.”

12 things you should know about mobile online learning - CGN

Mobile learning — designing training and educational courses for use on mobile devices — is a burgeoning topic for public-sector agencies. Military, civilian and educational IT shops are increasingly developing educational applications that users can tap into via their smart phone and tablets. But there’s a lot more to it than simply porting existing materials to a smaller format. Agencies have found that mobile learning apps must be designed separately and specifically for mobile use and used to complement, rather than replace, other coursework. All of which means it’s going to be a hot topic for some time to come, as the workforce becomes more mobile. Here are a dozen terms that will come in handy in making plans for mobile learning apps.

Monday, March 4, 2013

ACE Leadership: Change From Within - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

If higher education has a group of quintessential insiders, it’s probably the American Council on Education. Yet from a perch atop the higher education lobby’s headquarters here, the membership association of 1,800 college presidents is backing high-profile “disruptions” to the industry it represents. The council says it wants more students to earn college credit for learning that occurs outside the college classroom. Some of these credit pathways are trendy and new; others have been around for decades. But interest in prior learning assessment has grown rapidly, particularly during the last six months, and ACE is riding the wave.

Online lectures debut at Princeton - DAILY PRINCETONIAN EDITORIAL BOARD

This semester, a large Princeton course will integrate online lectures for the first time. Students in COS 226: Algorithms and Data Structures will experience some of their lectures through Coursera, the platform through which the University offers several free online courses. As a part of their normal coursework, students will watch the same lectures as tens of thousands of other people across the world. The Editorial Board applauds this increased use of taped lectures and encourages the University to expand the use of Coursera and taped lectures to more courses.

Online textbooks: SUNY's new chapter - James Goodman, SUNY

When Natalie Sarrazin teaches her course about music and the child at The College at Brockport in the fall, she plans to save her students some money by using an online textbook she is now writing. Sarrazin, who is an associate professor of music, is one of the faculty members at State University of New York colleges who are participating in the Open SUNY Textbook project — an initiative to have faculty members write 15 online textbooks, which students or anyone else can use free of charge. In Sarrazin’s case, she expects her textbook to be used for her course instead of a hardcover one that sells for $220.

Online Courses Enable Penn Alumni to Continue Learning - Julie McWilliams, UPenn News

As students at the University of Pennsylvania, they exercised their love of learning, and now, as Penn alumni, thanks to online courses, they can add to their knowledge base or explore subject matter they either couldn’t or didn’t when on campus. Penn partnered with an open-learning platform last year to offer free, non-credit online courses to anyone with a computer and an interest in learning about subjects such as calculus, world music and bioethics.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Digital learning has arrived for Bay Area students, teachers - Katy Murphy, Oakland Tribune

As politicians and academics debate the future of higher education, it is already happening -- in dorm rooms, off-campus apartments and living rooms around the world. Estela Garcia, a working mother from Menlo Park, attends class at her kitchen table after she puts her daughters to bed; Tim Barham, a UC Berkeley senior, takes statistics at home after a day at work; and Oakland teenager Sergio Sandoval studies a college course while in high school. For years, online classes existed on the margins of higher education. Then Silicon Valley startups devised slick platforms delivering elite university courses, free, to students everywhere. Suddenly, online studies have become central to discussions about the future. "I think this is the single most transformational thing that could occur in higher education in decades," said Ron Galatolo, chancellor of the San Mateo County Community College District.

Adults Are Flocking to College That Paved Way for Flexibility - TAMAR LEWIN, NY Times

“We don’t care how or where the student learned, whether it was from spending three years in a monastery,” said George A. Pruitt, the college’s president, “as long as that learning is documented by some reliable assessment technique.” Learning takes place continuously throughout our lives,” he said. “If you’re a success in the insurance industry, and you’re in the million-dollar round table, what difference does it make if you learned your skills at Prudential or at Wharton?” At a time when student debt has passed $1 trillion, such institutions seem to have, at the very least, impeccable timing. Thomas Edison, New Jersey’s second-largest public college, and two like-minded institutions — Charter Oak State College in Connecticut and the private, nonprofit Excelsior College in New York — are all growing. Thomas Edison’s graduating class last fall was a third bigger than the class five years earlier. And the idea of measuring students’ competency, not classroom hours, has become the cornerstone of newer institutions like Western Governors University in Utah.

Despite International Expansion, edX Still Isn’t Sure How to Pay the Bills - Lauren Landry,

When edX was first announced, Harvard and MIT said they would each make an initial investment of $30-million. As the not-for-profit, open-source technology platform expands internationally, however, a dilemma continues to loom overhead: covering costs. “Even though we are a nonprofit, we have to become self-sustaining,” said edX President Anant Agarwal in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education. Especially in the face of rising massive open online course providers.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Class syllabus library now available online - Eric Sheffield, SMU Daily

Many students hate to hear the five words “attendance counts for your grade” on the first day of class. Others might be displeased hearing daily quizzes, required readings or no extra credit. But there’s never been any way for students to know before they get the class syllabus on the first day of class… until now. The registrar’s office has released a brand new online course Syllabus Library. By simply navigating to and entering a valid SMU ID and password, any student can gain access to a whole wide world of syllabi from each department, instructor and course section.

Doctors' continuing education goes online - Drew Joseph, San Francisco Chronicle

Physicians who need to fulfill their continuing medical education requirements can now head to their computers to take a new online course from UCSF. Last summer, UCSF announced a partnership with the online education company Coursera to offer three massive open online courses, or MOOCs, starting last month. This week, the UCSF Office of Continuing Medical Education approved one of the classes - Clinical Problem Solving - to count toward the credits that practicing physicians must accrue each year. Doctors earning continuing medical education credits from the class pay $125, while it is free for the other students. "This is in many ways an exploration to see if physicians out in practice are interested in taking classes in this format," said Dr. Catherine Lucey, the vice dean of education at the UCSF School of Medicine, who is teaching the class.

Medcom Offers Access to a Free Online CE Course via Its Website - Medcom

Medcom, a leading provider of multi-media educational materials for healthcare professionals, is offering a complimentary online continuing education course through its website. After a short registration process, individuals are able to participate in a course at no charge, as a way to explore online course offerings and emerging areas in different fields. This opportunity supports the rising popularity of MOOCs – massive open online courses – and the country’s evolving philosophy on affordable and convenient access to education. The registration process required to participate in this process asks for basic contact information and prompts users to create an online login and password. Information on system requirements is available on the Medcom website.

Friday, March 1, 2013

'Imperative for Change' - Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed

Reform-minded adjunct professors and their advocates now have a few more resources to work with, thanks to the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success. According to research by Kezar and others, increased numbers of adjuncts in higher education lead to diminished graduation and retention rates, reduced faculty-student interaction and use of high-impact teaching practices, and decreased student transfers from two- to four-year institutions. Adjuncts themselves are not to blame for these effects, the report cautions; rather, “poor working conditions and a lack of support diminish their capacity to provide a high quality learning environment and experience for students.” Beyond student learning, the report addresses serious concerns about differences in salary, benefits, shared governance and professional development opportunities and job security among adjuncts and their tenure-track counterparts.