TEACHING & LEARNING
Indranil Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, recalled the first time he offered a free Coursera online class on Cloud Computing Concepts in the spring of 2015. In the first class, Gupta said, Coursera registered a total of 179,000 enrollees from 198 countries. “That shows you how much interest there is,” he said. “It seems like every single country has some students who are interested.” Gupta’s assessment matches numerous reports that interest in cloud computing among students had skyrocketed, and courses in computer science departments throughout the nation were increasingly becoming commonplace. However, a recent report by Clutch, a Washington, D.C. based B2B and research firm, found that there were still concerns among universities and professors regarding the cost of teaching cloud computing. Riley Planko, a content developer at Clutch who authored the report, noted that while individual courses and certification programs were increasingly available, undergraduate and Master’s programs were still developing.
Consuming information online is as simple as a click, scroll, or swipe these days. All searches are not created equal — and rarely do we think about fact checking what we find on the internet.
“…The internet is actually changing the way we read, the way we reason, and even the way we think, and all for the worse,” says Tom Nichols in his recently published book, The Death of Expertise.
In higher education, I think it is imperative that we teach our learners and peers about what it means to participate and interact in digital spaces and places. How can our institutions help students, staff, and faculty “be” online and consider how both information and digital environments impact knowledge sharing and learning.
Not every student walking away with a liberal arts degree from the University of Utah -- or any other institution, for that matter -- feels confident picking a profession or finding a job in an often tepid market. So the university has introduced an option growing in popularity -- a certificate program, what it has labeled as “degree-plus.” Though certificates often are geared toward older adults returning to academe and seeking to diversify their skill sets, the University of Utah has concentrated on recent liberal arts graduates, largely in the humanities and social sciences.
The pitch: through just seven or eight weeks of what university officials call inexpensive classes, those with a liberal arts background can learn technical skills that will make them more attractive to prospective employers, and possibly introduce them to a new field. “Use your psychology degree to move into a career in recruiting and talent acquisition,” a website advertising the program reads. “Take your history degree into the creative fields of web design or digital marketing. Or discover that the interests that led you to a degree in English may also be a great match for a career in operations or project management.” The research that campus leaders are basing the program on, conducted by Burning Glass Technologies, indicates a skills gap between liberal arts students and those with more in-demand backgrounds -- namely in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics realm, said Andrea Miller, the associate director for professional education at the university.