ED MAP: Insights Blog

8.1.16 Higher Ed Weekly Read: Articles Worth Reviewing
By Mark Christensen

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Here are some industry articles that caught our eye recently.

Feds Soften Distance Ed Rule. “In what observers called a ‘significant’ departure from previous drafts, however, the proposed rule does not require states to conduct an ‘active review’ of out-of-state colleges — a provision that was in previous drafts that many distance education groups criticized for placing an undue burden on states but consumer protection groups argued was important to prevent fraudulent colleges from taking advantage of students.”

Is Transferring to Two-Year Colleges a Good Option for Struggling Four-Year Students? “Using 2005-06 to 2007-08 student cohorts, the descriptive statistic shows that a higher proportion of 4-2 transfer students receive postsecondary credentials (bachelor’s degree, associate degree, and certificates) than struggling students that never transfer.”

The Future of Continuing Education. “Adult professionals seeking to maintain currency in a particular field, as well as those seeking either a new position or a promotion, will need to seriously engage in lifelong learning as a way to assure continued competency and competitiveness. One of the challenges for continuing higher education of the future will not be whether there is demand, but rather its ability to meet complex needs which are coming quickly and demanding relevant updates.”

Open Education Resources: Will They Transform Curriculum Planning? “Linda Williams, a professor of business management and administration at Tidewater Community College (TCC) in Chesapeake, Va., said removing textbook costs as a barrier to student access and success is probably the single largest driver of OER adoption at community colleges.”

Four Ways to Keep Students’ Attention. “John Medina, author of Brain Rules, reminds us of the stakes: the greater the attention that is paid, the more we learn. The neural mechanisms that influence attention are complex; Medina states that our attention is influenced by a combination of memory, interest and awareness. Our prior experiences (and how we remember them) affect attention. Whether or not we define something as aligned with one of our interests will also impact if the brain latches on to the new information.”

Where Open Textbooks Are Used. “While awareness of open course materials has increased in the two years since the Babson Group last surveyed faculty members about course materials, a majority of instructors are still unaware of OER. In this year’s edition, nearly half of respondents (41.9 percent) said they are aware of OER and how they can use the resources in their courses, up from about one-third (35.1 percent) two years ago. Even the faculty members who said they are aware of OER said they sometimes struggle to find the open resources they are looking to include in their courses. Of the faculty members who had an opinion about the ease of finding OER, about 60 percent of respondents described searching for OER as difficult or very difficult, compared to about 23 percent who said the same about searching for traditional textbooks.”

Prior Knowledge as an Unexpected Obstacles to Learning. “Pervasive agreement that new knowledge builds upon prior knowledge, however, rests on the unstated assumption that one’s prior knowledge is accurate and complete. Yet evidence abounds that this assumption is wildly optimistic if not frequently flawed. … Even with all the necessary prerequisites met, students commonly begin courses with inadequate prior knowledge or, more problematically, with prior knowledge that is confused and that includes misunderstandings, flawed thinking, and misplaced assumptions.”

New OER Survey: The disconnect between faculty caring and assigning. “For those promoting the usage of OER, this distinction about “all other things being equal” is critical. OER adoption must first and foremost be easy for faculty, saving time where possible, with a full set of resources available. It is only when faculty feel that these needs are met that their natural desire to save money for students will drive OER adoption decisions.”

David Lewis’s Library Reimagined. “To me, one of the biggest challenges for academic librarians is how to stop thinking exclusively in local terms – how can we serve the our narrowly-defined community right now – to developing a broader vision of what we do collectively and over time to preserve, provide access to, and help generate knowledge for the greater good. So many of the decisions we make every day are short-term and short-sighted. So many of the market-based replacements for what libraries used to do are in many ways not in the public interest.”

ISO: A Better Way to Evaluate Student Participation. “Aside from its utility in grading, the participation log is a valuable assignment in and of itself. It’s a fully metacognitive exercise — more so than just having students record how many times they commented in class. The log asks students to think about how they’ve conducted themselves in class and to reflect on their behavior. They have to consider what makes a meaningful contribution. Remember, learning depends on a student’s active engagement in the classroom. By requiring students to spend time reflecting on their contributions to various class activities, the participation log has the added benefit of emphasizing the significance of those contributions.”

Open Educational Resources Paying Off for Some Colleges. “A review of empirical literature on OER found that students and instructors’ experience with OER has been mostly positive. ‘While causality was not claimed by any researcher, the use of OER was sometimes correlated with higher test scores, lower failure, or withdrawal rates,’ wrote one researcher with the Open Education Group. ‘In only one efficacy study did more students do worse than did better, and even in that study the majority of students achieved the same results as their peers using traditional textbooks.’”

Reprise: How Much Do Community College Students Actually Pay For Textbooks? “But the more relevant question is what students actually spend on textbooks, or required course materials. Especially if you are making policy decisions intended to help students overcome affordability barriers. The best primary public source for how much students spend on textbooks comes from the National Association of College Stores, although there are other studies from Student Monitor that provide similar results. There are far more options today for getting textbooks than there used to be, and one choice – choosing not to acquire the course materials – is rapidly growing. According to Student Monitor, approximately 30 percent of students each year choose to not acquire every required college textbook.”

Is It a Push or a Pull? “Perhaps it is focusing on what credits are left to earn, not the credits that have already been accumulated, that is most useful in promoting degree completion. Perhaps it is the pull exerted by a shorter period of time to graduation, rather than the push exerted by more cumulated credits, that most increases the likelihood of degree receipt.”

MarketsandMarkets: Getting the LMS market wrong. “Furthermore, the MarketsandMarkets report lists Blackboard and D2L as market leaders yet ignores Instructure and its Canvas LMS. To ignore Canvas is to misunderstand the dynamics of the academic LMS market. Within their highest revenue core market, Canvas is dominating the new implementations (when an institution switches LMS solutions). Based on our latest research from our LMS market analysis, for the half year January – June 2016 Canvas has 77% of all new implementations of primary LMS solutions in US and Canadian higher education.”

Mark Christensen

Mark Christensen
Senior Director of Marketing

Mark Christensen has worked in K–12 and higher education in various roles throughout his career from teacher to administrator to ed-tech marketing communications. He currently works with Ed Map, helping institutions navigate today’s dynamic and changing content landscape. He holds his MBA in Marketing from Rivier University and his Ed.D. in Curriculum & Technology from Plymouth State University/Argosy.

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