ED MAP: Insights Blog

11.30.15 Higher Ed Weekly Read: Articles Worth Reviewing
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Here are some industry articles that caught our eye recently.

Beyond Textbooks and OER: reflecting on #OpenEd15. “The real problem with textbooks, though, is that focusing on them is focusing on content. When learning, and open education, should focus more on process (a conversation on this from a year ago across my blog, Jim Groom’s, Mike Caulfield’s and David Wiley’s). However, the conversation has evolved. People at OpenEd15 talked to us about open textbook adoption that doesn’t only focus on content, but also the process of creation and sharing. Questions of flexibility are being raised readily, even if solutions are not always apparent to everyone.”

‘The Song Machine’ and The Higher Ed Machine. “We are quickly coming to an age of specialization in higher education. Course development is being separated from teaching. Priority is being placed on the creation of digital course materials and adaptive learning platforms that can go to internet scale. The age when professors create and teach their own classes, and do so in a small enough environment that they can get to know their students as individuals, is now either the victim of public disinvestment and calls for greater efficiency and accountability – or is only available to the most privileged in a dwindling set of small residential institutions.”

Boosting Nontraditional Learners. “ACE believes it is important that colleges and universities consider and accept such alternative credit courses. Nontraditional students find them useful as low-cost points of re-entry into the higher education system and helpful as they strive to complete a degree program. Institutions have indicated that these types of courses serve as gateways or filters for student success, since nontraditional students who successfully complete such alternative credit courses tend to persist and graduate at higher rates than nontraditional students who have not taken such courses. These courses are thus important for the nation’s postsecondary attainment agenda on several levels.”

MOOCs Rise from the Ashes. “The MOOC, in other words, has not disappeared. It has begun to adapt to the world it operates in, starting with a big utopian idea and gradually finding new uses and new users. This is the way it is with digital media, indeed of all media.  The new medium starts out as an alleged replacement for an established medium and then gradually finds its own way as it discovers its underlying nature and marries those capabilities to genuine interest and demand in the marketplace.”

The Cost of “Doing More With Less.” “When we’re told to do more with less, we end up building a costly apparatus for generating income while cutting things that actually support the organization’s mission. That distorts everything. As it has in higher education.”

‘MOOCs, High Technology and Higher Learning.’ “So this form of “democratization” rhetoric did undermine the MOOC movement in some sense, but not in terms of die-hard adult education folks who knew MOOCs would neither replace the need for brick-and-mortar universities nor supplant face-to-face classrooms; for them, MOOCs were another vehicle for advancing and extending learning. These were educators and scholars committed to the most creative forms of online learning, stressing social and connectivist learning. From this perspective, the MOOC movement has been hugely successful and continues to grow.”

Measuring Competency. “Either way, competency-based education programs face plenty of pressure to show evidence of student learning. … And, as Soldner said, competency-based programs may have to clear a higher bar to gain acceptance. So the good news for College for America is that its preliminary student outcomes appear similar to (and even a little better than) those of more traditional associate degree tracks.”

EdX Stays Committed to Universities, Offering Credits for MOOCs. “Changes are afoot, and edX aims to shift that ROI equation going forward. Its strategy: double down on creating higher quality, personalized and virtually proctored learning experiences that can be offered for credit to learners on a path towards a degree.”

Boosting Nontraditional Learners. “The project is meant to give nontraditional or underserved learners introductory knowledge upon which they can build as they pursue a formal degree or credential. It also aims to encourage greater acceptance of alternative credit recommendations among higher education institutions.”

Discount Much? “Oftentimes colleges participate in discounting because the market demands it: students and their parents react better to a college with a large sticker price that offers them a large scholarship than they do to a college that is simply cheaper and offers no or little scholarship funds.”

The Missing Low-Income Students. “The trends are particularly troubling, the analysis said, because they come at a time when high school graduation rates are going up, meaning that the country has the potential to see a higher share of its population earn a college credential. … But one possible theory offered by the analysis to explain the drop is that the perceived cost of college may be the issue at play here. … Other possible explanations, according to the study, include a possibility that more of these graduates are entering the workforce without a degree, that these graduates may not see the economic value of higher education or that the data reflect the shift in enrollment patterns seen at the end of an economic downturn.”

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