ED MAP: Insights Blog

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

Why Moodle Matters. “And yet no other academic LMS solution comes close to Moodle in terms of worldwide deployments and learners enrolled. Even if you’re a US college or university, consider several reasons why Moodle matters.

Stories Matter, So Make Yours Better. “Embrace conflicts and resolutions. Every story must have conflict. It’s not a story without it. Use conflict and resolution—overcoming some obstacle, solving a difficult problem, changing direction or discovering something unexpected—in every story. Doing so will ensure your stories have a clear point of view, which is critical in the crowded world of content.”

My Long Journey to Student-Centered Learning. “Later, I placed myself at the center of my students’ journey, a pied piper, only not the wicked kind (hopefully), leading them along the path to an enlightenment I’d already achieved. I offered prescriptive lessons by the pound, marking up drafts with editorial marks, and trusting the wisdom would be absorbed. The weakness of this approach eventually revealed itself as well. My students were and are extraordinarily good at following directions, which as I see it, is exactly the problem when it comes to their own learning. By putting me at the center, they are in an undoubtedly comfortable place, but it is a place non-conducive to growth.”

The Chromebook as Signifier. “Anyone who has ever experienced the benefits of any one-to-one technology program understands the improvements in productivity that arrive when everyone is on the same platform. If anything, the benefits to learning and teaching of one-to-one technology programs are undersold. Having everyone reliably and consistently working on the same hardware and software tools enables a shift in energy from maintenance to innovation.”

3 Legitimate reasons why faculty aren’t using OER. “Also, according to the report, while only about 33 percent of faculty claim to be aware of OER, nearly 50 percent report that they use OER. There are even some faculty who said that they were “not at all aware of OER” who report that they have used it…once the concept is explained for them. The cause for these seemingly perplexing findings is a general confusion among faculty (and institutions overall) as to what defines OER and the copyright uses attached to OER.”

Vocational Programs Cost More. “Gen eds, by contrast, are far cheaper to run. Outside of the lab sciences, they generally don’t have high requirements for capital, equipment, or consumables. They don’t have separate accreditations. The faculty/student ratios can be higher without jeopardizing, say, patient safety. (Nursing clinicals run at twenty would be unconscionable; Psych 101 sections at twenty are considered small.)”

Release of Analysis Episode for e-Literate TV Series on Personalized Learning. “In this series, we examine how that term, which is heavily marketed but poorly defined, is implemented on the ground at a variety of colleges and universities. While today’s episode is the final one released due to its analysis of what we learned in the five case studies, it was designed to be used as an introduction to the series.”

Produce Thinkers, Not Docile Workers. “Broadly, Davidson offers suggestions on how to move our courses away from what she calls ‘credential-centered learning’ toward student-centered learning. She wants us to do away with a model of education in which students are evaluated by how well they meet the professor-dictated criteria. Instead, we need to make student learning the goal of everything we do. The best way to do that, Davidson argues, is by helping students understand why they should be learning what you want them to be learning, and having them take the lead in achieving their learning goals.”

Gamifying the Educational Experience. “Games encourage a sense of flow (that is, a feeling a complete immersion in an activity) by presenting players with challenges to be met, puzzles to be cracked, and tasks to be mastered. In videogames, one does not rely on an instructor or guide book. Instead, the games encourage players to be resourceful problem solvers and risk-takers who learn to navigate a complex system by themselves and through that process acquire a sense of competence and self-confidence.”

Shoring Up Weaknesses. “For many students, especially at this level, risking failure in an ‘irrelevant’ class is risking too much. If you’re juggling complicated life circumstances, a combination of failures and withdrawals can easily jeopardize your ‘satisfactory academic progress,’ which is a requirement for financial aid. In this setting, better to show strengths than to document weaknesses. Weaknesses are assumed; there’s no need to confirm them.”

Keeping Up With Competency. “The meeting’s goal is for academics to exchange tangible information about how to design a program. Despite the 600 institutions that are working on this (that figure comes from the event’s organizers), relatively little publicly available guidance exists, said Charla Long, a consultant to Public Agenda and a former dean of professional studies at Lipscomb University, where she helped launch a competency-based program.”

Why EdTech Companies and Teacher Preparation Should Take a Lesson from Google. “Google’s bet is that if teachers know how to use its tools in an effective way, they will use those tools more often and for a wider variety of academic purposes. For example, it trains teachers in how to receive homework assignments through Google Docs, how to set up class rosters in Google Classroom, and how to help students create a portfolio in Google Sites. The training is constantly updated to reflect new features.”

iTunes U As a Niche Program LMS Replacement? “The main shortcoming of iTunes U is the lack of SIS integration. Populating rosters and dealing with add/drops is a necessity for any widely deployed learning app. Nor are there any analytics. Assignment submission and gradebook are improving, but the functionality is limited.  It is doubtful that the collaboration features will scale to larger classes. And the instructor course management tools are underdeveloped.”

A Market Enabled. “The online program management space is booming. … Best’s comments echoed Eduventures’ findings about why colleges choose to partner with OPM providers in the first place — a decision that in some cases costs institutions about half of the tuition revenue generated by the online programs. In the survey, three-quarters of respondents said their main priority was to increase enrollments. Reaching new student markets placed second, at 63 percent.”

Pointing a Finger at For-Profits. “The spike in student loan defaults over the last decade has been fueled by students attending for-profit colleges and, to a lesser degree, community colleges, according to a new analysis of millions of federal student loan records. The paper, released Thursday as part of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, argues that the student loan crisis, to the extent there is one, is concentrated only among these ‘nontraditional’ borrowers at for-profit and community colleges.”

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