ED MAP: Insights Blog

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

breakfast in bed

Here are some industry articles that caught our eye recently.

How to Think Like Shakespeare. “You take it for granted that Olympic athletes and professional musicians must practice relentlessly to perfect their craft. Why should you expect the craft of thought to require anything less disciplined? Fierce attention to clear and precise writing is the essential tool for you to foster independent judgment. That is rhetoric.”

Feds Target ‘Predatory’ Publishers. “The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, marks the first time the FTC has gone after what are often known as ‘predatory’ publishers. Such publishers exploit open-access publishing as a way to charge steep fees to researchers who believe their work will be printed in legitimate journals, when in fact the journals may publish anyone who pays and lack even a basic peer-review process.”

5 Reasons to Like EQUIP. “2 – Quality Assurance How often do we bake in an independent quality assurance methodology into our campus projects and initiatives?  We know that doing so is important – we believe in making decisions based on data – but it is still rare for those of us in higher ed to include truly independent assessment and evaluation processes into our own projects. As I understand the set-up of EQUIP, the QAE’s (quality assurance entities) will provide data on the effectiveness and return on investment of the programs.  We will have the opportunity to draw our conclusions based on data, as opposed to our biases and opinions about the experiment. How do you argue against data?“

Is It Possible To Embrace “Uber U”? “The real story is thus exactly how do we actually support a powerful model of teaching and learning even as we deal with the adjunctification of higher education, the disinvestment from public education, the fiscal imperatives of a profit-seeking marketplace, and the splintering and unbundling of just about every function of faculty work and institutional credentialing.”

Marketing Claims From Adaptive Learning Vendors As Barrier To Adoption. “I believe these two views are consistent – that vendor over-promising is a major barrier to further adoption of adaptive learning and that pilots don’t really rely on efficacy data. The adoption in question is when schools or departments seek to move beyond pilots and get multiple courses or even entire programs to use similar technology. That is where adaptive learning is today – lots of pilots, lots of claims that cannot be backed up, and difficulty getting more faculty and programs to evaluate given unknown results.”

Self as OER. “But what if we adopt a different perspective, a broader understanding of OERs, which includes the processes and products of open scholarship as valuable, and viable, resources too? What if we focus on these practices as much as educational content in our conversations on open educational resources?”

SLOs for a Real Education. “Yes, there are more specific, down-to-earth learning outcomes for our courses that I think should be part of the discussion, but I think very few of those should be (or even can be) standardized for all students. These “late-night college ramblings”, however, are the types of outcomes that I can support being a requirement (or at least a worthy goal) for all of our students.”

The MOOC revolution that wasn’t. “Although MOOCs were hardly new in 2012—the term had been coined four years earlier by Canadian educators to describe their experiments with “connected,” open online learning—MOOCs became wildly popular (and wildly hyped) in no small part because their appearance in the popular press coincided with several key trends in higher education, most notably the rising cost of tuition, growing levels of student loan debt, and pressure for everyone to have some post-secondary education.”

A Different Kind of Safe Space. “This is, after all, a class in writing, and words are not to be trifled with. They have consequences. You want to use a word — any word — fine by me, but be prepared to accept what happens next. No, I will not reprimand you, but neither will I rush in to save you. It is a lesson not only in the power of words, but in democracy, free speech, and responsibility. Words are dangerous, but not as dangerous as efforts to suppress them, be it by government or dean — and certainly not as insidious as self-censorship.”

After Public Colleges Suffer Many Blows, a Film Fires Back. “The trailer to a higher-education documentary opening this week lays out its premise in stark terms: Public universities, it argues, are reeling from the effects of 35 years of underfunding, combined with a coordinated campaign by reform-minded groups to treat universities as businesses and students as customers.”

LinkedIn, Twitter and Reverse Network Effects. “What is maybe an extension of the thinking around reverse network effects is that increased usage may be beneficial to the health of the overall platform, but may reduce the utility of the platform to the people using the tool.”

Lessons for Academe From the Brooklyn Institute. “he whole approach most closely resembles programs of continuing education — that style of learning that people pursue after having left formal educational institutions. Usually, continuing education means short, part-time courses in practical skills or in “appreciation” of the arts, humanities, or social sciences, provided by traditional institutions. There are no degrees or certificates. The courses are tailored to life-long learners and working adults. What makes the Brooklyn institute unique is both its methods and content. Perusing the catalog shows that courses are theoretical rather than practical.”

Safe Spaces at Commuter Colleges. “Here, the need is for enough felt daily safety that students feel capable of venturing into slightly unfamiliar ground. Students here aren’t shrinking violets, and they aren’t dorm-room socialists. They’re struggling with the demands of daily life. If we could find ways to give them time, and reasonable security, we could probably nudge more of them towards the bigger questions. How they answer those bigger questions is entirely up to them.”

Why and How One Instructor Uses Trigger Warnings. “But I’m going to continue to give my students a ‘heads-up’ where it seems appropriate, and at times those will fit the definition of ‘trigger warning.’ Just as there is a difference between anxiety (paralyzing) and discomfort (potentially useful), there is a difference between shock and surprise. I want to challenge my students in every way possible, but I also want them safe while they’re tackling those challenges.”

BC Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit. “The goal of the Accessibility Toolkit is to provide the resources needed so that each content creator, instructional designer, educational technologist, librarian, administrator, teaching assistant, etc. has the opportunity to create a truly open and accessible textbook. An open textbook that is free and accessible for all students.”

What Research Universities Can Learn From Teaching-Intensive Counterparts. “What can research-intensive institutions learn from their teaching-intensive counterparts? First, colleges that hire faculty members primarily to teach are more likely to guarantee faculty salaries. … Institutions that already guarantee faculty salaries, and so are not reliant on grant money, will not have to increase salary budgets to accommodate this shift in financial burden. Second, the practice of providing large start-up packages for researchers to equip stand-alone labs relies on relatively high funding rates, so that researchers have money once those funds are exhausted. With already low funding rates, the new normal will include smaller start-up packages, shared lab space and equipment, mechanisms for continuing support, and encouragement of collaborative projects.”

Where’d My Mountain Go? Whose Team Am I On? “My short period as a very fortunate, voluntary adjunct has made me even more aware of the challenges that face the non-voluntary adjuncts. I’ve always considered myself sympathetic to the cause of adjunct faculty, and have done my best to advocate for them in this space. But as I consider what this unmoored life would be if it were not voluntary, the difficulties that so much of our teaching faculty face become even more unacceptable, unconscionable. It’s not just the low pay, the sub-optimal teaching conditions, the lack of consideration that matters. There is a particular psychological burden to being and feeling unaffiliated that I could not appreciate until now. What is the damage being done to the instructional faculty, to their students, to the institutions themselves?”

Self-Paced E-Learning Market Evaporating, Report Finds. “Future revenue in the $33 billion e-learning market is expected to fall precipitously in the United States and internationally, but sales of other types of digital learning products are predicted to rise, according to a market research report released recently. … The report defines self-paced courseware as being accessed on a desktop or laptop and spanning the K-12, higher education, corporate training, and privately marketed software (such as that produced by language-learning company Rosetta Stone) sectors.”

Why Continuing Education Programs Are Posed to Become Hubs of Innovation. “Because of their mission and relative autonomy on university campuses, continuing education programs—in the form of extension schools and schools of continuing and professional education—are well-positioned to experiment with different student-centered learning models, create innovative programs that generate new revenue streams, and build bridges with industry partners.”

How Can Learning Analytics Improve the Student Experience? “In the last 20 years we’ve really come to understand how learning happens in a way that is different than it was conceptualized at the peak of cognitive science. The cognitive revolution thought very mechanistically about how students learn content. We now understand that learning is part of a larger environment, and individuals react and act in those different environments in very different ways. Now we have access to very rich and very intensive data about learning and have far more sophisticated techniques for investigating that data. So it provides a new opportunity for an evidence base of what constitutes learning from a theoretical perspective.”

The Future Of Educational Technology: How Edtec Is Ignoring Its Biggest Market. “Educational technology is booming. Technology is helping to redefine how we learn, obtain skills, and get credentialed. That value proposition has captured public attention and attracted record amounts of venture capital funding. But the vision for edtech is, and should be, much broader. After all, the education market serves not only to instruct but also to invent. And educational technology can transform the “other half” of this equation by streamlining the research process.”

The LMS market glacier is melting. “It’s true that Blackboard still has greater market share than any other technology player in higher education. But Instructure’s Canvas LMS won almost 80 percent of new higher education implementations this year — a shift that may reflect the growing influence of faculty, rather than institutional, priorities in LMS purchasing. Consider this: While the LMS reached a saturation point among colleges and universities around 2003, it is only in the past 3-4 years that the vast majority of courses or faculty members routinely used an LMS.”

JoAnn Rollins

JoAnn Rollins
Ed Map Director of Communications

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