WHAT WE'RE READING
With stagnant or declining enrollment, as well as dwindling state budgets for higher ed affecting most public institutions, administrators have increasingly found themselves between a rock and a hard place. How can they maintain their bottom lines, while simultaneously looking for ways to enroll more students, or even retain some of their high-risk enrollees?
One method — or innovation — has been the adoption of artificial intelligence in outreach efforts to scale them at lower costs. Alana Dunagan, higher education researcher at the Clayton Christensen Institute, explains that AI technology is a sustained innovation within the industry:
"AI is a potentially disruptive technology in a lot of different fields. The way I see it used in higher ed is mostly as a sustaining innovation, but that doesn't mean it can't have really break through consequences and impacts on how schools are able to serve students," said Dunagan.
"One of the powerful things about AI ... is that it allows schools to look at where students are at and what they need in a way more efficient and effective way than a staff member could and at scale," she added. "You've always had people in offices following up with students [...] but they don't have the bandwidth to do it so comprehensively; this is a sustaining innovation to these efforts."
In the early 1990s, at the dawn of the Internet era, an explosion in academic productivity seemed to be around the corner. But the corner never appeared. Instead, teaching techniques at colleges and universities, which pride themselves on spewing out creative ideas that disrupt the rest of society, have continued to evolve at a glacial pace.
Sure, PowerPoint presentations have displaced chalkboards; enrollments in massive open online courses often exceed 100,000 (though the number of engaged students tends to be much smaller); and “flipped classrooms” replace homework with watching taped lectures, while class time is spent discussing homework exercises. But, given education’s centrality to raising productivity, shouldn’t efforts to reinvigorate today’s sclerotic Western economies focus on how to reinvent higher education?
Most of the 2 million students participating in dual enrollment programs attend classes at their high schools or on higher ed campuses. Colleges in at least 35 states, however, offer students another option—online classes, according to research by the Education Commission of the States.
Access is a main aim. Distance learning provides opportunities to students in areas with a lack of local colleges or high school teachers qualified to instruct college classes, notes a 2015 report by ACT, a testing company that also promotes college and career readiness. But it’s not as easy as simply moving content online.
Remote learning must be tailored to high school students’ needs. “For most of these students, it’s their first time in college classes and their first experience with distance [education], which can be overwhelming,” says Adam Lowe, executive director for the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.
If anybody stays on top of the massive open online course segment, it's Class Central, a search engine that taps into every MOOC platform. Recently, it issued its annual review of MOOC stats and trends, and the information exposes how this form of online learning is evolving from a technology expected to disrupt higher education to one that generates revenue with tiered services targeted to lifelong learners.
Eight hundred-plus universities are part of the MOOC movement, wooing some 78 million students to their online classes, according to Class Central CEO Dhawal Shah. However, there were fewer first-time MOOC students taking free classes in 2017 than in 2016 — 20 million vs. 23 million. One reason, suggested Sha, is that there's a rise in the number of paying users. For example, leading MOOC platform Coursera, with 30 million users, saw a 70 percent increase in paying customers in 2017, while Udacity had 50,000 students paying to enroll in its nanodegree programs.
For some education experts, “personalized” learning isn’t only about figuring out how to customize the content of a lesson for each student, but also about how a student is taught. Many students are zoning out even when the instructional content is more or less right. They’re just not in the mood to focus and study.
One researcher in this field is Sidney D’Mello, a computer scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is studying how students’ minds often wander when they’re learning through software.
Mind wandering is an odd thing to study. It’s an internal state in our brains and we may not always be aware of exactly where our thoughts are roaming. D’Mello’s approach was to install inexpensive eye trackers on the computers in an Indiana high school classroom. Then, as students were learning biology through a software program, he intermittently interrupted them through a computer prompt, inquiring whether they were zoning out. Think of it as an annoying survey that kept popping up on the students’ computer screens.
Steve “Woz" Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, has joined a growing pool of business leaders looking to take matters to upgrade higher education to meet the needs of today’s tech industries into his own hands.
As businesses — including those outside of Silicon Valley — require employees with specialized computer, engineering and tech skills, alternative education programs are popping up to provide training for 21st century jobs some say traditional colleges, mired in 19th century teaching styles, aren’t prepared to meet.
The Like button must die.
More than any other feature, the thumbs-up on Facebook — along with its cousins, the Instagram and Twitter hearts — encapsulate everything that’s wrong with social media. It's time to start visualizing a world where it doesn't exist.
The Like has become the currency of carelessness — a way to show we approve without being deeply invested. In many cases, it covers for a lack of attention. It helps fake news propagate, discourages meaningful conversations, encourages shallowness, and exacerbates the most psychologically damaging effects of social media.
If social media addiction is the disease of our age, it's difficult to think of a feature that feeds that addiction more than the thumbs up. Pressing it repeatedly, like a rat in an experiment, we feed our innate need to be noticed.
Researchers, filmmakers, teachers, policymakers and technologists gathered in Washington, D.C. this morning to continue the growing national conversation on the problems and solutions to technology addiction and the consequences it has on young minds.
Common Sense Media recently partnered with the Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit which supports the development of ethical technological tools, to lay out a fierce call for regulation and awareness about the health issues surrounding tech addiction.
As the world moves quickly toward an Internet of Things economy, colleges have an opportunity to not only foster both the development of IoT innovations and business models, but also to train future leaders in IoT.
Students have grown up with smartphones in their hands, and they come to campus with as many as seven technical devices, noted Anthony Rowe, associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Carnegie Mellon University. These students turn to technology not only to solve current problems, but with a “How can I use my device to make life better?” approach.
Changing employment opportunities and work requirements mean that lifelong learning has evolved into a fact of life for working adults across North America and beyond. Programming has adapted to this demographic’s need for just-in-time learning, and now credentialing is following suit. In this interview, Kathleen Radionoff and Mark Leuba discuss the future of microcredentials, and pinpoint how postsecondary institutions and corporations can leverage badging to suit the needs of non-traditional learners.
There are higher expectations on employees in today’s labor market than ever before. Employers expect their employees to engage in continuous, lifelong learning simply to remain on top of the constant changes happening in their industries. Additionally, employees in today’s labor market need more than technical skills—they need to be able to communicate, lead, support and engage in new ways, and these soft skills are considered as important as technical capacity. In this interview, PK Agarwal discusses how the changing IT space is increasing the demand for soft skills in Silicon Valley and reflects on the role colleges and universities play in developing the much-desired T-shaped Professional.
year ago, a group of prominent economists led by Raj Chetty of Stanford University came out with a splashy piece of research measuring exactly how much each college in the nation helps working-class kids rise up the economic ladder. (Splashy for nerdy education circles, at least. See here and here.) It was a giant data project, tracking how much students earned after they left college through millions of anonymous income tax filings. Predictably, the economists found that some low-income students joined the top 1 percent after attending an elite college but very few poor kids get that opportunity. Meanwhile, many more low-income students attended lower-tier colleges and didn’t enter the middle class afterward. You’ve probably heard the stories about the millions of dropouts who are saddled with debt.
At any given moment in the day, I am attached to my cellphone, my iPad or my computer. As a writer, I was an early convert to the computer. I began writing on a TRS-80 from Radio Shack in 1983 on wonderful writing software called WordPerfect, which has mysteriously disappeared. I had two TRS-80s, because one of them was always in repair. I love the computer for many reasons. I no longer had to white out my errors; I no longer had to retype an entire article because of errors. My handwriting is almost completely illegible. The computer is a godsend for a writer and editor.
I have seen teachers who use technology to inspire inquiry, research, creativity and excitement. I understand what a powerful tool it is.
But it is also fraught with risk, and the tech industry has not done enough to mitigate the risks.
If you buy it, you better use it. That especially holds true for K-12 school officials who altogether spend more than $8.3 billion on education software each year, according to estimates from the Software and Information Industry Association.
Yet it can be tedious to manually keep track of how students interact with different pieces of software—or whether these tools are even being used. For many districts, it takes time and a bit of Excel wizardry to download data from each software provider, then combine and distill the information into a single dashboard.
“We had to go into different websites, find different usage reports, talk to vendors,” says Matthew Raimondi, an assessment and accountability coordinator at U-46, a school district in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. “You run around to a bunch of different places to get information about whether students are actually making progress through the tools.”