ED MAP: Insights Blog

1.18.16 Higher Ed Weekly Read: Articles Worth Reviewing
By JoAnn Rollins

Startup Stock Photos

Here are some industry articles that caught our eye recently.

Book review: The Internet is not the answer (Andrew Keen, 2015). “If I understand Keen correctly, it would seem as if he suggests that understanding not only how technological advances disrupted these industries, but also the reasons for these disruptions, may allow us to not have too many stars in our eyes considering the impact of the Internet.”

Selling the English Major. “He said the most important takeaway from the Georgetown research and similar studies was that the value of the bachelor’s degree — across major fields — yields a significant economic payoff. And while it is true that, on average, engineering majors earn more than English majors, the earnings of English majors are hardly at mere subsistence levels. People who want to study English, he said, have every reason to believe they can earn a decent wage. He also argued for the importance of looking at career diversity among English graduates.”

Competency-Based Education, Technology and the Liberal Arts. “An educational approach designed around evaluating competencies runs the risk of prioritizing what can be easily measured, rather than stressing what is actually important. Can tolerance, compassion, and open mindedness (all central to any liberal arts course of study) be measured? This is not to say that some of the ideas of competency-based education have no place in a traditional liberal arts curriculum. Even an education that stresses the development of critical thinking skills, collaboration, and the ability to marshal evidence in the support of arguments requires a strong foundation of facts and knowledge.”

The Long Game. “The long game works by looking at the resources and strengths that already exist, rather than assuming that the whole thing needs to be blown up. It settles on one or a very few goals, sets timeframes measured in years, and gradually aligns resources around those goals. It sticks to those goals and accepts mixed or incremental gains in the early going. It makes certain demands that make it harder than it sounds. It requires both humility and perseverance in its administrative leadership. It requires faculty and staff who are willing to admit that things aren’t perfect. And it requires Board and public/political patience. That last one can be the most difficult of all.”

Exploring the Impact of the Amazon Effect on Higher Education. “As a result, we need to become much more flexible and agile in defining requirements and how best to meet those requirements. Competency-based learning, micro-learning, MOOCs and any number of other emerging approaches must be considered in this “solution” context. Flexible, online learning is an important part of the solutions mix, too. We have the flexibility to do this in executive education, but we also need institutional support to make it happen.”

Personalization and Quality Assurance Will Be Central to Higher Ed’ Shifts in 2016. “Higher education is being both pulled and pushed to this future. Pulled by the promise of being able to customize individual learning experiences at a scale previously unavailable to us. Lured by the ability to know enough about student learning and engagement behavior that we can stage impactful interventions at very early stages in the process. Motivated to explore alternative pathways, across and even external to our campuses, by statistics that demonstrate the critical importance of a college degree on an individual’s earning potential and the societal benefits that accrue to an educated population. Higher education is being pushed by a society unhappy with education outcomes and legislators and regulators who want and need to ‘fix’ higher education. Increasing access is no longer enough; higher education needs to demonstrate the quality of its outcomes.”

Small Changes in Teaching: The First 5 Minutes of Class. “The same principle, I would argue, holds true in teaching a college course. The opening five minutes offer us a rich opportunity to capture the attention of students and prepare them for learning. They walk into our classes trailing all of the distractions of their complex lives — the many wonders of their smartphones, the arguments with roommates, the question of what to have for lunch. Their bodies may be stuck in a room with us for the required time period, but their minds may be somewhere else entirely. It seems clear, then, that we should start class with a deliberate effort to bring students’ focus to the subject at hand.”

Challenging the Barista Myth. “The summary does not dispute that the postcollege period has been challenging for many graduates, much more challenging than it was before the economic downturn. But the summary makes the point that throughout the downturn, those with bachelor’s degrees fared much better than those without.”

Debate Over Debt Relief Begins. “Bowers, along with department officials, consumer advocates, state officials and representatives of various types of colleges will begin the first of three rounds of negotiations over setting a new standard for when the Education Department will cancel federal student loans as a result of a college’s misconduct. As part of that process, the Education Department is also eyeing a set of additional rules aimed at cracking down on risky colleges that may end up costing the government money with debt relief claims, according to documents the department sent to negotiators that were obtained by Inside Higher Ed.”

The Moment We’ve Waited For? “Until this past year, our hand-wringing about students focused on their apathy and selfishness. We criticized Millennials for their passivity and lack of empathy. But lately they’ve been standing up, asking questions, criticizing the system and arguing not just for themselves but also on behalf of others. Isn’t this precisely the behavior we wanted?”

3 Higher Ed Lessons from Yahoo. “The lesson for higher ed is that each college and university needs to get really clear on where they are really good.  Leave aside comparatively good to start with, just start with good in relation to other parts of the school.  Find the faculty, departments, schools, units, institutes, organizations or entities that best reflect the values of the organization – and invest in those people and places. The idea that a modern university must do everything in order to cover all aspects of scholarship and instruction is outdated (if it ever were true).  The job of leadership must be to choose which areas to invest.”

Where Are All the High-School Grads Going? “Carnevale said a key obstacle to getting more high-school graduates enrolled in college is limited information; postsecondary education in the U.S. is ‘like a big computer with no operating system.’ Americans, he said, have a ‘chaotic’ understanding of the role of college in the economy. ‘Students are lost; they don’t know how to make these connections’ between the value of a college degree and their position within the economy. This is why lobbying groups and businesses have been advocating for greater correspondence between career-and-technical education and the demands of the labor market and development of more alternative credentialing programs.”

Teachers, Learning Styles, and Using Data to Drive Instruction. “So what’s going on here? Are teacher beliefs so powerful as to overcome strong findings that challenge those very beliefs? The answer is, unsurprisingly, yes. Not only do teacher beliefs in learning styles trump evidence but similar tensions between beliefs and data-driven decisions occur around direct instruction, multiple intelligences, and holding students back for a semester or year and other practices. But teachers, of course, are not the only professionals to succumb to confirmation bias.”

3 Reasons Why EdTech Should Stand With Adjuncts. “Innovation in higher education moves at the speed of trust. If we want to figure out how to leverage technology to improve student learning then we will need to earn the confidence of (all) the faculty. An authentic, sustained, and creative commitment to back fair pay for adjunct faculty would go a long way building that relationship.”

Cost Share Shift. “The good news? The share of tuition that covers educational costs at institutions didn’t go up much in 2013, the most recent year studied by the Delta Cost Project in its new report ‘Trends in College Spending: 2003-2013,’ released Tuesday. The bad news? Students and families, through tuition, have been shouldering a much larger portion of educational costs ever since the recession hit in 2008. The increase is, on average, 10 percentage points.”

Out of the Stacks. “Virtually all of the books in Georgia Tech’s collection — more than 95 percent of them — are headed to a cold storage facility, creating a shared collection with neighboring Emory University. But the more prominent changes are less visible, including a transformation of the library from a “big box filled with books” to a service organization with a large online presence. The institute’s partnership with Emory could even lay the foundation for a library consortium in the Atlanta area.”

The Growth and Effectiveness of Interactive Ebooks for Learning. “Firstly, technology must empower and strengthen the role of the teacher. For this to happen, the function of devices and the content on them must support the curriculum and offer new ways for teachers to work the minds of their students. Secondly, teachers need to be comfortable with the technology and plan their lessons accordingly, rather then shoehorning in an iPad where it’s not welcome. Thirdly, educators must have access to the very best learning resources that keep each learner’s mind engaged with the topic of study. In addition, if a school employs a BYOD policy, it’s important that applications function uniformly on every device without bugs or inconsistencies. While schools, colleges and governments have a part to play in pushing this trend along sustainably, educational publishers should focus on creating better interactive products.”

So You Want to Be a Dean? “Think in terms of systems. No matter how well you work with your faculty and staff — or how much you believe that you (or someone you trust) have things all figured out — you still have to transform practices into policies and procedures. The point is not to create a bureaucracy; though if done poorly that is exactly what will happen. Rather, policies and procedures, when well crafted, will allow you to do your job carefully and decisively. They will facilitate communication, enhance buy-in, and mitigate unforeseen issues.”

When Students Say They’re “Bored.” “As the professionals overseeing the work of education, I believe we should listen for what’s underneath when students claim ‘boredom.’ When students are experiencing boredom because they either shouldn’t be in college or are pursuing a degree that’s a bad fit, they should be nudged towards the counsel that will help them shift their path. And in the other cases, I think it’s a trap to try to combat student ‘boredom’ with ‘entertainment.’ We will never be as entertaining as things designed for that purpose. But we can be something better: engaging.”

How Can I Interest You In EDUCAUSE’s Top 10 IT Issues? “For instance, how would our discussion change about technology if the goal that we discussed is institutional sustainability / viability? Our days are dominated by the management of scarce (and often diminishing) resources. The demands on our departments, units, schools, and careers have expanded – while the people and resources to meet these demands have not kept pace. This is the story of everyone that I speak to in higher education.  Can we have a discussion of how technology can ameliorate postsecondary resource scarcity? How can we leverage technology to improve postsecondary productivity? How can we use technology to generate new revenues and/or reduce costs?”

Being lost as staff development. “his sense of being a bit out of my depth reminded me of George Siemens statement that learning is a vulnerable process. I think much of the learning experience is about negotiating that vulnerability. The problem is that by the time you get to be an educator you’ve largely forgotten what that vulnerability is like. I think it’s probably impossible to fully recapture what it is like to be an undergraduate, particularly if you’re a first generation student, and not sure if you belong here.”

The Importance of High-School Mentors. “Mentors are just one form of role models on campus that can shape student outcomes. School counselors represent another tier of non-teacher adults who can make a large difference for students: A 2013 study correlated the addition of a single guidance counselor at a given school with a 10 percentage point increase in four-year-college-going rates at the school. Still, like mentorship programs, school counseling suffers from limited funding.”

New Report Identifies Core Issues in Competency-Based Education. “A new report on competency-based education (CBE) outlines the elements impacting the fast-growing educational trend and creates a baseline framework of issues that others can use going forward.

Solving the Ed Tech Patent Problem. “There may be a way for good actors in educational technology to get the defensive protection that they need from patent ownership while still reducing the long-term risk to the people that they serve, but they will have to go further than a patent pledge. What I have in mind is a legal structure that combines characteristics of a patent pool and a land conservation easement.”

Ed-Tech Patents: Prior Art and Learning Theories. “Even more importantly, these patents now help to reinforce this idea of a “theory-free,” technological future of education. Or rather, patents become the theory. This version of the future does not guarantee that these companies have developed technologies that will help students learn. But it might mean that there will be proprietary assets to litigate over, to negotiate with, and to sell.”

The Massive Decline In Larger Education Company Market Caps. “Despite the talk of record investments in ed tech and digital content, the reality of the business of big education companies is not so robust. In fact, there is a massive decline in market caps for many of these large companies, as investors are seeing real weakness. The weakness can be felt in private equity acquisitions as well as public market valuations.”

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: The Business of Ed-Tech. “Despite its record-breaking year, ed-tech only receives a fraction of all VC funding and the ‘big deals’ in ed-tech are dwarfed by those seen in the rest of the tech sector. Uber alone has raised almost $5 billion this year, for example.”

Reflections on Lever Press. “Mark also commented on the collective strength this project shows. ‘Lever has solidified for me that one of the key roles for libraries going forward will be as publishers. Many of our college libraries have quietly launched institutional repositories, hosted student and faculty scholarship and research data, and produced OA journals. Publishing scholarly monographs, in any significant number, had seemed out of reach for many of us, but Lever now offers us a consortial, scalable, and sustainable publishing outlet for monographs.’”

Patenting Pedagogy. “News of the patent application, first reported by Slashdot, was met with confusion from ed-tech analysts over the holidays. Why, they asked, would Khan Academy, a nonprofit whose mission is to ‘provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere’ patent what effectively amounts to A/B testing in education? How would it affect other online education providers? Most importantly, could it even be patented? Intellectual property and patent law experts, pointing to supporting documents filed with the patent application, said the patent suggests Khan Academy is aware of the growing interest in online and adaptive education. Applying for a patent now, the experts said, could prevent legal issues in the future.”

The Faculty Role Online, Scrutinized. “The audit found that the department had not adequately determined whether students in direct-assessment programs might be receiving federal aid for “life experience.” It also said those degree tracks actually might be correspondence programs, particularly if colleges are not requiring regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors, some of whom might better be classified as tutors, coaches or mentors.”

Academic Freedom Has Limits. Where They Are Isn’t Always Clear. “Ultimately, there must be ample space on campus for ideas that seem bizarre and transgressive. We are all partially blinded by the consensus of our times. If a professor wants to use the rare privilege of tenure to compare a democratically elected governor to Hitler circa 1935 or somesuch, it’s best to let the court of public opinion and academic labor market take their courses. Great universities can afford to shelter a few cranks and fools in order to support genuinely original thinking. But that protection should be extended well beyond the shrinking ranks of the tenured professoriate. And it should be balanced against a college’s obligations to its students and its core values.”

JoAnn Rollins

JoAnn Rollins
Ed Map Director of Communications

There is no information for this author.

Our Mission

Ed Map products have always incorporated advisory services. This blog, drawing on leading resources and industry thought leaders, is a natural expansion of the scope and impact of those insights and advice.

ED MAP
Content Strategy and Logistics