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The University of Michigan's (U-M) Office of Academic Innovation has launched a new portal, Michigan Online, to bring all of the university's digital learning opportunities together in one place.
The new site serves as gateway to more than 120 programs, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), certificates, teach-outs, specializations, Xseries courses, micromasters and more. Between them, programs now offered through Michigan online have nearly 7 million enrollments and are accessible in more than 190 countries. Users can search by subject, course length and type.
"When the first MOOCs were launched, no one knew how they would evolve. And then the amazing U-M faculty embraced the opportunity to experiment with online courses that were aimed at learners from across the lifespan and across the globe. And those experiments continue to be successful," said James Hilton, U-M vice provost for academic innovation, in a prepared statement. "The launch of Michigan Online will make it easier for people on and off campus to navigate the rich and growing content that is Michigan."
What is blockchain and how will it transform education and research? Let’s ask that question a different way: What is education and how will it change as a result of blockchain and other technologies?
Education is the collective pursuit of truth and the transfer of knowledge across generations. It’s based on trust in the authority of our institutions, in the veracity of the teachings and research they represent. And it’s a global community characterized by consensus, transparency and permanence.
Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology, represents most of those things. It promotes consensus because it’s a record-keeping platform. It’s transparent because participants in the chain can download and validate individual ledgers. And it’s permanent because those ledgers can’t be altered. Like education, blockchain is intended to transfer not just content, but also the value inherent in that content.
When technology is offered to schools free of charge, it always comes with the promise of improving teaching and learning. It also often comes with a catch.
Thirty years ago, Channel One offered schools nationwide $30,000 worth of audiovisual equipment at no cost in exchange for requiring students to view a daily current events program during class. Commercials, shown alongside educational programming, entered one of the last ad-free spaces in children’s lives. Research showed that students did not significantly benefit from the news programming, and were more likely to remember the content of commercials than the news.
Today, the tradeoffs that school leaders and teachers face about technology — whether free or for a fee — are more complex and troubling. It’s not just a question of exposure to advertising and commercial branding, but of the ethics of public education in an increasingly digital world.
In the land of parenting there are two camps: those who think educational videos can be good for their kids and those who think they’re a mind-numbing wasteland.
I tended to side with the latter when my daughter was in her preschool years because I was convinced that books and active play were superior. But we’ve all been exhausted at 6 a.m. and streamed videos from YouTube. Let’s just assume that my daughter watched more videos in her early childhood than I care to admit. Over time, I convinced myself that the videos I chose were better than most of the crap out there.
This story also appeared in U.S. News & World Report
A team of four education researchers, led by Susan B. Neuman at New York University, conducted an in-depth study published in April 2018 of 100 of the most popular videos that claim to be “educational” and stream over Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and Google Play. They include “Sesame Street,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Martha Speaks” and “Dora the Explorer,” all highly regarded programs that frequently turn up on recommended lists. The researchers found that the majority of the videos taught specific vocabulary — more educational content than critics might assume. They also found that 4-year-olds were actually paying attention and learning new words.
“There are people who say this is wasted time and are very worried about their children watching these media,” Neuman said. “In our view, it’s a shame because children are learning from it. They think that these are passive. They’re not.”
Personalized learning has long been a “holy grail” in education. Ideally, we would love to be able to work with each student to achieve a more personalized level of learning that taps into individual interests, skills and desires.
But doing so can take far more time than we have. Our education system was not designed to accommodate this, and moving this mountain seems far too daunting a task.
Or is it?
Digital credentials are at the forefront of broader technological innovation in the academic sector and signal the possibility of broader cooperation between higher education and the labor market—but, as Louis Soares points out, the revolution towards a true learning economy is far from finished. For evidence of this expansion, the American Council on Education (ACE) has partnered with Credly to allow participants in ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service to award badges recognizing professional and academic achievements. In this interview, Soares lays the groundwork for continued growth in digital credentialing, and discusses the role of the ACE in exploring, adopting and acculturating technological change in higher education.
The Center for Distance Education at Athabasca University, in Alberta, Canada, has offered degree programs and conducted influential research on digital learning for more than four decades. Two of its faculty members serve as editors of the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, a leading journal for its discipline. No other institution in Canada offers a more robust training ground for experts and practitioners of digital learning.
Soon, those efforts will have a new home at Athabasca, as the provost’s office has decided to transition all of the center's current faculty members and staff to the institution's humanities and social sciences departments effective July 1. The center’s academic programs and ongoing research efforts will be unaffected by the move, which will bring the center's existing team into the fold of the broader university but limit its budget flexibility.
The university is portraying the move as an effort to refocus on improving digital learning on Athabasca's campus. Marti Cleveland-Innes, a professor who has served as chair of the center for five years, believes the changes could limit her team’s ability to produce meaningful work that reaches beyond the university.
Traditional colleges don’t open, or close, very often. But in the world of experimental higher education, new entities can pop up quickly, and can shut down with little fanfare.
That seems to be the story of MissionU, which was billed as a one-year alternative to a traditional college when it opened just last year. It was even featured on The Today Show and on CNN as a promising alternative to the four-year higher-ed model at a time of rising student debt. But this week the experimental institution announced that it would cease its one-year program and only continue serving existing students until later this year.
MissionU students did not have to pay upfront for the program, but instead agreed to hand over up to 15 percent of their incomes for three years once they land a job that pays $50,000 or more. But MissionU has confirmed to EdSurge that due to the closure, none of the students who have gone through some or all of the educational program will have to pay back anything. In other words, the students are being relieved from the income-share agreement they made with the company.
Austin Community College recently received favorable attention from The Chronicle of Higher Education, for the school’s ACCelerator Program, which has taken space from a shopping mall and turned it into a student-friendly center for tutoring, advising, and individualized instruction in a number of subjects, using software and close monitoring by faculty members.
Please have a look at this CHE video, produced by Julia Schmalz. It only takes a few minutes and is the best way to get an inside look at how the program works. The show is informative and entertaining. The effort by ACC has been enormously popular with students, many of whom had never attended college on a traditional campus.
Online learning can provide a practical, workable option for diverse populations of learners, including students with various kinds of disabilities.
Attending an online college offers flexibility, convenience and privacy. Various assistive devices and applications can help students consume information in formats that align with their needs. Before pursuing a degree online, though, be sure to consider the pros and cons.
A decade ago, English teacher David Narter had a revelation. One of his students had asked for extra guidance on her writing. She and Narter, a teacher at the Leyden High Schools, outside Chicago, sat down to review an essay of hers that he’d marked up. Narter started by simply reading his comments aloud. To his surprise, that process made a big difference.
In an article for the English Journal, Narter recounts how the student found his feedback more encouraging when he expressed it orally. As his student explained to him, “When I see the writing all over the paper, it just sounds like you’re saying, ‘You’re a bad writer.’ But now I feel like I can actually write this.”
Feedback is a funny beast. We all need pointers on our performance, but giving and receiving feedback can be fraught with misunderstanding. Take red pens. Social psychologists and sociologists have found that, as opposed to blue ink, grading in crimson can lead to more aggressive critique. The recipients of these mark-ups, meanwhile, may see their teacher as less approachable.