TEACHING & LEARNING
Universities are recognizing that learning doesn't always have to be packaged into multi-year chunks. It can also be broken up into less than 30-hour pieces, priced and awarded accordingly.
Enter micro-credentials: short, low-cost online courses that result in digital badges when learners complete one of them and certificates when they complete a series. Colleges are taking advantage of a business opportunity and an education need as they experiment with new learning concepts that help today's workforce.
To understand just how far Vista High School will go to keep kids interested in school, consider the case of 17-year-old Hernan Hernandez and his skateboard. Hernan, an avid skateboarder, was bored in gym class. So were his classmates. So, late this spring, Hernan approached Principal Anthony Barela with a potential solution: What about offering them a skateboarding course instead? “I’m pretty sure if you told them they could skate and get an A, they would do that,” Hernan told Barela, a former football coach who is maniacal about keeping Vista High School students in school. Barela agreed: He’ll work with Hernan to design a skateboarding course, part of the school’s dramatic transformation toward meeting the needs and interests of the roughly 2,600 students, most of whom are Hispanic and working class, who attend this open-air suburban high school. Next year, Vista will enter an uncharted era: Every freshman will embark on a new curriculum designed to help them find and pursue their interests.
The summer before freshman year of college means a lot of things — excitement, nervousness and, of course, registering for your first year of classes. Most schools require at least a couple of core class requirements such as writing and math, plus there’s also all of the major-specific courses necessary to earn a degree. That being said, every college has at least one or two outlandish, sorta-crazy-sounding classes that every student should add to their schedule (if you can!).
Makerspaces are quickly becoming a staple of the K–12 school environment, but with universities’ access to resources and innovative research, higher education institutions are also in a great position to drive the maker movement.
Experts at higher ed organizations, like EDUCAUSE, have touted makerspaces as a way for college students to get out of their comfort zones and play with technology to understand, in practice, theories they learn in the classroom. Makerspaces, with their emphasis on creativity and imaginative problem-solving, also tie in nicely with the growing push to instill entrepreneurial thinking — a goal valued by employers and institutions alike.
Over the next few years, I expect that makerspaces will continue to bring about innovative technology use in higher education, thanks to their unique ability to develop analytical skills and higher-order thinking.
Gen Z, the digital generation, non-traditional students, and potentially many more descriptions have been used to label the current postsecondary body of students, but what may not be so evident is exactly how much their preferences, lifestyles and experiences have radically changed from even a decade ago. And it’s these large changes that are critical for colleges and universities not just to take notice of now, but also to anticipate what students and their needs may look like in 2027.
In Oct 2011, a few Stanford professors offered three online courses which were completely free. The strong public interest in these courses caught everyone by surprise. More than 100,000 people signed up—for each course. This led to a feeling of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) across higher education and Silicon Valley, both of whom invested huge amounts of capital and resources to launch free online courses without any concrete plans to recoup the costs (or get return on their investment). Within two years, more than a 1,000 instructors from more than 150 universities had launched online courses.
“Read, post, respond” was a perfectly reasonable format for online and blended education for a while. The novelty of around-the-clock access to discussions, the ability to easily print out and read articles or to click through PowerPoints was enough. Students who ventured into online were still beholden to ponderous technology. Dialling up, starting downloads, then going to get a coffee, all standard practice.
Dev Bootcamp, a pioneer in the coding school industry that was among the first to offer short-term, intensive programs to help learners acquire web development and programming skills, announced it will be shutting its doors on December 8. In an email, the company stated that “we’ve determined that we simply cannot reach a sustainable business model without compromising our mission of delivering a high-quality coding education that remains accessible to a diverse population of students.”