Online: Trending Now

Online: Trending Now #103 - Holistic Faculty Support

One of the important Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership is “faculty support.” Every hallmark is important, but this one, I believe, is even more so than others.  The faculty members are the lynch pin of learning. They create the opportunities and bonds that link students, content and engagement. They represent our institutions and programs to the public. Their support is essential to success in online and distance learning.
 
The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that are more than one and a half million college faculty members of all ranks and appointments as of 2013. However over the past 43 years the percentage of the professoriate that is full time has plummeted from 77% to just over 50%. The number of part-time faculty members has risen from just over 100,000 to more than 750,000 representing very nearly half of all faculty.
 
In part, this shift means that faculty members are more busy than ever before; the part-timers because they are paid so little often hold multiple positions at different universities, teaching six or more courses a semester – a dozen or more a year! They have little time to keep abreast of their field, let alone to learn pedagogy, technology and effective practices in teaching online. The full time faculty members are carrying the disproportionate load of faculty committee work, advising, and supporting student activities that had been spread among a relatively larger base years ago. Most of these faculty members shoulder the three-part mission of teaching, researching/publishing, and service. Of course, these encompass the criteria for tenure and promotion; if faculty members are going to preserve their jobs and advance their careers, these are paramount. Once again, this faculty group is far too busy to spare much time for enhancing the quality of their online classes. 
 
It is not uncommon to meet faculty resistance in adding or expanding distance programs. Several concerns are commonly voiced around quality, support and compensation. Yet, these concerns are motivated by over-commitment, mounting pressures and lack of time among the faculty. Faculty support such as help in designing classes, implementation of such rubrics as Quality Matters, use of outcomes surveys and student impressions such as the Community of Inquiry questionnaire, can all help. But, at the core, faculty concerns are mostly about the time and the conflict with their other commitments.
 
The first concern – about time – can best be addressed by providing faculty members what they need, when they need it, and in the most efficient format possible. At the University of Illinois Springfield, we have approached this by providing regular and repeated workshops that are supplemented by an easily searchable bog of text and demonstration videos as well as resource sites on popular topics.  This approach respects the faculty members’ busy schedule with easily accessible answers to questions 24 x 7. 
 
The second concern – about conflicting priorities – can be addressed by providing services to faculty members to assist them in meeting their research and service obligations.  So, our Center for Online Learning, Research and Service integrates research opportunities into our activities.  The center that supports course development also sponsors up to half a dozen Online Research Faculty Fellows.  These are competitive appointments which provide the recipients with support and opportunities to conduct independent and sponsored research that can be beneficial in the tenure and promotion process.
 
There are many ways beyond those described above that our online / distance education units can support faculty.  Going beyond instructional design and LMS support to provide encouragement and assistance to faculty members in meeting their broad obligations is an effective way to raise the quality of online courses and support for new online initiatives.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best, 

Ray Schroeder 
Director 
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Online: Trending Now #102 - Ransomware Epidemic

Several months ago, I wrote about ransomware. I am revisiting the topic because ransomware has grown by an astounding 6,000% over the past last year as reported in a finding by a new IBM Security study. What is even worse is that ransomware was found in nearly 40% of all spam messages. And, the worst news of all is that 70% of business victims paid the ransom!

The IBM study also reports that more than half of businesses paying ransoms were required to pay more than $10,000 to get their data back; 20% paid more than $40,000.

Further, the study reports that consumers would pay a ransom to get photos and other personal data back. Most individual ransomware victims pay more than $300. This is a truly serious epidemic that makes all of us personally and all of our universities vulnerable to online robbery.

Clearly, the best policy is to minimize the chance of being robbed in the first place.

That means that everyone in your organization must practice safe surfing. Tech Republic has 10 tips for avoiding online robbery – ranging from the obvious of keeping software up to date and assuring that no one opens links or attachments from sources they do not know, to conducting penetrating testing to identify vulnerabilities.

If you are the victim of an attack, you should have sorted out in advance if, or in what circumstances, you would consider paying a ransom. Having done all you can to effectively back up your system, software and data, you should be able to quickly assess if you can get back up and running by reinstalling everything that has been corrupted (encrypted) or deleted.

If you consider paying the ransom may be the best way out of the situation, consider this:

Neil Jenkins, of the Homeland Security Department's Enterprise Performance Management Office (EPMO), said that, "From the US government perspective, we definitely discourage the payment of ransom…. From a national perspective... paying ransom encourages the business model," he said. "The reason this has become such a popular thing to do is they're actually making money off of this." He acknowledged that different entities have different levels of risk tolerance. Stanford, for instance, is primarily a health care organization in terms of revenue, so it can't afford to lose access to its assets for very long. Even so, Jenkins argued, "Paying a ransom is not a guarantee you're going to get access back to the system... that they're not going to demand more money on top of that. We know of cases where folks have paid the ransom and then been targeted again."

It is far easier, less expensive and more efficient to practice good habits before you are attacked. Don’t put this off until tomorrow. Set up a task force from among your tech team to review your policies and put secure backups in place. You won’t be sorry.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best, 

Ray Schroeder 
Director 
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 

Online: Trending Now #101 - Planning for Reduced Budgets

This is one column that I hope you do not have to use! But, with state budgets and priorities for higher education on the decline coast-to-coast, many of us are cast in the mode of seeking efficiencies to fend off reductions in staffing and services.

Two years ago, state funding of universities in Illinois was cut by more than 70%! This year we have recovered up to nearly half of state appropriations that were the norm in 2015 and before – still a huge hit of many, many millions. When you are faced with cuts of this magnitude, it is best to take a methodical, strategic approach to leading your professional, continuing and online programs. 

First, take stock of what you are doing. You should do this as a team, though final decisions are yours.

  • What do you do as a unit? Where are the staff time; our commodities, contractual and equipment expenditures allocated?

  • Quantify the outcomes that are produced with those resources?

  • Is the money well spent; what’s the return on the investment?

  • Is the unit productive and efficiently innovative, serving as a model for others, impacting the entire university?

  • Who are the most productive team members; who are not; why; and what changes might make a positive difference overall?

  • Are you capitalizing on affordable opportunities or are you missing the boats that other institutions are sailing to success? (e.g. connecting with businesses and communities of interest with non-credit or stackable credit certificates)

Dip into the well of data analytics to see where your successful students come from; what characteristics they possess; which career fields are growing; and how well are you making the match. Who holds the keys to big data at your university? Have you asked them to come up with some heat maps or decision trees that will guide decision making; your recruitment, your marketing, optimize retention? I have found that spending some time with the experts in Institutional Research is almost always productive. 

To most effectively plan and prepare for reduced recurring resources, you need to be outward looking, reading the tea leaves of trends and investing in resources where they will provide the best growth and impact for the institution. The trends are clear. Students and employers are seeking professionally-oriented programs that provide soft skills as well as mastery of the tools to contribute to a 21st century enterprise. These tools are increasingly digital and “smart” in the sense that they use machine learning and artificial intelligence. In providing learning experiences, consider how you are addressing the technological changes in whatever field we are addressing. Teach not for today, but rather for tomorrow; lead students by employing tools that allow them to become comfortable with the technologies and build expectations on what is soon to come in their field. 

A key trend that may not be as comfortable for us to accommodate is the growing trend away from the baccalaureate and toward stackable certifications. Driven in part by the rapid changes in technology, students and employers alike are seeking something shorter than the trusty old four year degree to get started in a career. A good solution may be a stackable one. Finding ways to break the program into bite-sized pieces that can be taken online or self-paced may work with your projected group. In selecting a target audience for a new program, it is often better to choose to direct your initiative toward a regional group who already is familiar with the reputation of your institution. Begin with those close to campus and expand to reach out of state and international students over time. 

These are just a few suggestions as you prepare for a more efficient operation. Remember that we provide a free Second Opinion private conference call to give you advice and recommendations more specific to your university and circumstances. Feel free to contact UPCEA to schedule a Second Opinion.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,

Ray Schroeder 
Director 
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership 



Online: Trending Now #100 - What Have We Learned So Far?

For the past couple of years, I have been sharing my thoughts on our field through this forum. It has been great to get some of my frustrations, fears and hopes out there – as many have said, writing is catharsis.  I hope that reading about these topics are also valuable to you!
 
So, now that we have reached the “century” mark, what have we learned over the months and few years. 
 
We are in the midst of a major re-structuring of higher education. Nationally, enrollments have dropped the past ten semesters in row. Funding overall for state universities has declined – precipitously in the case of a number of states including Illinois, Wisconsin, Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and many more.  The electorate and legislatures seemed to have changed their view on a social compact to support learning beyond high school.  It is no longer the priority it once was. There is a rise in the number of non-degree certifications and programs such as Sebastian Thrun’s Nanodegree program and edX’s micromasters programs
 
At the same time that for-profit universities have taken a big in enrollments, there has been a rise in massive online classes with some 2,500 available to students today (many of which are self-paced). Tens of millions have enrolled in the massive classes, and increasingly we are seeing more and more massive classes gathered into certificate programs and even degrees – note the recently announced Georgia Tech Analytics massive online masters offered for less than $10,000 and the University of Illinois iMBA program for less than $22,000.
 
Technologies are enabling new pedagogical approaches in our field.  The advent of augmented and virtual reality is bringing the world into the classroom whether that classroom is on a campus or online. Adaptive online learning programs are being called mastery learning to highlight the ability to ensure that the learner masters the topic.
 
Artificial intelligence is changing our field dramatically. The advent of teaching assistant “Jill Watson” at Georgia Tech last spring - and the pending emergence of the smart student digital assistant promise to make some of the biggest changes in our field.  Jill and her cohort of AI teaching assistants are infinitely patient and highly accurate; much more so than our mere mortals.  And, the vision of the smart student assistant – evolved “Alexas” (as in the Echo) or Google home assistants – will be able to peruse libraries and articles to bring up perfectly formatted bibliographies (perhaps even annotated) for student research assignments.  And, they will surely be able to write and synthesize papers better than many of our unassisted students today. 
 
Collectively, we are sailing through a storm of change.  We will survive, even thrive, if we keep our compasses locked onto student-centeredness; intellectual achievement; relevance to the evolving society and workplace; and personal integrity. I am looking forward to the next 100!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through 
Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Online: Trending Now #99 - Real Intelligence on Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence is poised to trigger a sea change in our society rivaling the impact of the automobile and the airplane combined!  The ripples will spread rapidly across the continents and come crashing down on entire industries and the workforce as a whole.  Those who have not already begun preparing curricula and dissemination plans are behind in the game – the virtual train is leaving the station now!
 
Yes, much of the change will come due to the maturing of artificial intelligence. Three Harvard professors put this into perspective in the Harvard Business Review. They suggest that machine intelligence is applied mostly in the area of prediction. That is, predictions of all kinds, such as the essence of driving a car or truck is prediction, and the core of a professional assistant’s job is often prediction. “All human activities can be described by five high-level components: data, prediction, judgement, action and outcomes.”  

Digitally, we codify data; the AI program predicts from those data; the professional’s role is one of judgement; action is carried out by the pro-consumer; and outcomes are what we see in society. 
 
Predictions are that we could lose 47% of all of our current jobs within the next 25 years. And, these jobs are not just at the bottom of the salary scale, but they cut across our entire economy.  We are talking about millions of truck drivers; top level assistants in every field; the customer service and help desks; teaching assistants (as we have already noted in “Jill Watson” at Georgia Tech); and a myriad of other such jobs. These jobs are up and down the wage scale. 

Some experts argue that it is not just lower-paying jobs that will be stressed by AI and other agents of automation. At an MIT conference a few months back, one researcher, Mary “Missy” Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, noted that some plum positions are also on the endangered species list. Take commercial pilots, for example. These pilots, she explained, “touch the stick for three to seven minutes per flight and that’s on a tough day.” The rest of the time that flight is literally on autopilot. It doesn’t take a genius to see which way that wind is blowing. - Barb Darrow, Fortune

 
Not all of the jobs will be lost in total numbers; some new jobs will be created.  Our experience in the industrial revolution is that ultimately more jobs were created as the agricultural jobs were eliminated. 
 

“This time the transition is likely to be faster, as technologies diffuse more quickly than they did 200 years ago. Income inequality is already growing, because high-skill workers benefit disproportionately when technology complements their jobs.  This poses two challenges for employers and policymakers: how to help existing workers acquire new skills; and how to prepare future generations for a workplace stuffed full of AI.”  No one can really tell if technology will once more end up creating more jobs than it destroys, or if this time will be different and AI will end up replacing many jobs, including high skill ones, while creating few new ones. But regardless, we cannot ignore the machinery question. Even if AI doesn’t lead to mass unemployment, technological advances are already disrupting labor markets and contributing to social unrest.  - Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Wall Street Journal?

 
One thing is clear. That is, that people will need training and re-training; continuing education; and professional education delivered to them online to keep up with the changing economy and workplace formed by AI. We need to predict (using AI?) just where that training and education will be needed. And, we need to scramble to keep ahead of the non-university, non-college providers if we, ourselves, are to escape becoming obsolete.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through 
Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 
Online: Trending Now #98 - Higher Education is Shifting Toward Us

As we sail into this new year, 2017, it is becoming even more apparent that the nature of higher education in America is shifting dramatically. While change is almost always difficult and many times painful, the good news is that the trends are headed our way in three important aspects:
 
  1. Increasingly, higher education is delivered online in whole or in part
  2. The higher education product is segmenting into a continuing stream of bite (byte) sized pieces as in stackable classes and certificates
  3. The trend is clearly toward the professional side of the house
 
Enrollments in colleges and universities in the US this fall were down for the tenth straight semester! That’s five full years of declining enrollments at a compounded rate of one to two percent per year
 
Even though for-profit colleges and universities experienced dramatic declines last year, online enrollment overall continues to trend upward in the latest available data.
 

About 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one distance learning course in fall 2014 – up 3.9 percent? from the previous fall, according to "Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States," an annual report by the Babson Survey Research Group. Last year, that figure rose by 3.7 percent, which marked the slowest rate in more than a decade.

 
The enrollment declines for the most part, have not been in STEM programs. These fields, along with business-related fields, have shown strong growth. For the first time, the Clearinghouse report also included a breakdown of enrollments by undergraduate field at two- and four-year schools. The most popular undergraduate majors were business-related, with 1.64 million students. 

“Overall, 40 percent of bachelor's degrees earned by men and 29 percent earned by women are now in STEM fields. At the doctoral level, more than half of the degrees earned by men (58 percent) and one-third earned by women (33 percent) are in STEM fields. While the share of STEM degrees as a percentage of all degrees earned has decreased in some categories in the last 10 years, that was primarily the result of a decrease in the number of social science and psychology degrees.” - US News
 
Led by Coursera’s Specialization certificates, edX’s Micro Masters certificates, and a host of other MOOC- scale certificates such as nanodegrees from Udacity and similar offerings from other providers, higher education is now offering professional certificates and stackable class MOOC delivered degrees
 
The winds are favorable this year for online, continuing and professional education. It is time to take advantage of these favorable trends to advance our colleges and universities as we strengthen our leadership role within our institutions.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 
Online: Trending Now #97 - The Student's Personal Digital Assistant (and more)

This “Trending Now” began as a brief reflection on the power and mounting ramifications of digital assistants for students. But, it grew into something more as you will see.
 
We all have used the mostly-manual approach of conducting searches on Google, Bing, and a plethora of other navigation/search tools. That is the natural outgrowth of text indexes and encyclopedias. Many of us have also used voice-activated Siri searches on Apple devices or “OK Google searches” on Droids. And, that still seems rather pedestrian – simply using technology for speed and depth in searches that we stipulate. 
 
Now comes machine learning and natural language interfacing coupled with truly powerful supercomputers such as IBM’s Watson. And, the result last spring semester was “Jill Watson.” You recall her: the Georgia Tech graduate assistant who deftly responded to student questions in the discussion board. We reflected on “her” ground-breaking implementation in an earlier “Online: Trending Now.”
 
These concepts are growing rapidly with “chatbots” or “robots” responding to student questions in labs or classrooms on-ground or online. They are used in MOOCs to enhance student engagement at scale. In some cases students seem more open to talking with chatboxes than with humans – preferring, I suppose, to reveal their “ignorance” to a machine. There are some concerns that as these technologies proliferate, the digital assistants may not keep secrets! They may share your questions and the results you choose to pursue with others.  And, that may become problematic.
 
But, I wonder what do you get when you combine these concepts: digitally assisted searching and problem solving with digitally delivered assistance in a class. You naturally are led to the use of a personal digital assistant owned and operated by the student to answer questions posed in classes.  The student has merely to take a step back and let the artificially intelligent assistant directly answer for him/her. Then, is it that the assistant is the student? Or the proxy for the student? Surely, it can quickly become more than an assistant; learning (whether through machine learning or artificial intelligence if you prefer) the course material.   
 
Stanford student Josh Browder claims to have created the “world’s fastest robot lawyer.” He has created an app that draws on Watson power to gather facts about a parking ticket, then writes a letter of appeal to dismiss. Browder claims that as a result nearly 200,000 tickets have been dismissed.
 
Browder shows that the computer can tap an enormous information base with a flawless and seemingly infinite memory, synthesize information, and follow a flexible algorithm to articulate answers. So, it would seem that the computer can become the student. We may want to ponder, in these days of transition to a cyber-world of how we can best adapt our learning to be valuable to students who will become professionals with highly intelligent personal digital assistants. Or should we just grant our degrees and certificates to the computer programs themselves?

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through 
Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


 
Online: Trending Now #96 - Looking into the Federal Crystal Ball for 2017

The winds of change are at hurricane strength now in Washington, D.C. We have much to look for in the coming year from Congress and the Department of Education. Many questions and few certain answers are evident right now. So, let’s sort out the context of what is to come.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) will remain at the helm of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and will orchestrate the Higher Education Act re-authorization in the Senate. Alexander has been a Tennessee senator since 2003, and is a very active member of the Senate. Alexander served as President of the University of Tennessee from 1988-1991, and then as U.S. Secretary of Education from 1991-1993. He is a strong advocate of cutting red tape for universities, and is well-known for suggesting that the FAFSA be reduced to the size of a post card.

Representative Virginia Foxx (R- North Carolina) represents the 5th congressional district in the northwestern portion of the state. She was first elected to the House in 2004, and is expected to take the leadership of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce in the coming year. An instructor of English at Appalachian State University in the early 1980s, she subsequently became President of Mayland Community College from 1987-1994, and then served in the North Carolina Senate from 1994 to 2004. Foxx is a critic of many policies put in place by the Obama administration, notably gainful employment, state authorization and the credit hour rule. We can expect action in these areas will be near the top of the education agenda of the committee.
 
The U.S. Secretary of Education nominee is Republican Betsy DeVos, the billionaire donor and conservative activist. She seems most focused on K-12 education as chair of the American Federation for Children, a charter school advocacy group, and board member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education which promoted school choice and Common Core standards.  President-elect Trump is quoted as saying:
 
"Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate," Trump said in a statement Wednesday. "Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families."

It seems that, at least initially, the department and the secretary will be focused K-12 issues. Thus, at least initially, the agenda for higher education issues is likely to be set by the Senate and House committees.


President-elect Trump has also been quoted as highly critical of large endowments at universities, suggesting that the funds should be made available for student assistance. Further, he suggests that those universities retaining large endowments may risk losing tax-exempt status in his administration. A recent list of the top 100 university endowments includes both public and private universities.

While we may soon know all of the key leaders, questions remain as to possible changes in the Higher Education Act re-authorization, among other higher education policy issues. It is uncertain as to how the policies of accreditors may shift over the coming few years. Federal loan programs may return to federal underwriting status to be offered by banks as was the case several years ago. Stay tuned!
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #95 - Teaching without Teachers

The professoriate has taken many blows in the past few decades.  More than half of all college faculty members are adjuncts now – and the number is growing! The salaries provided to adjuncts are disturbingly low, and an increasing number seem to be forced into working at multiple universities in order to keep their part-time status such that their employers are not required to provide benefits. 
 
It would seem that this is, in part, a product of the increasing competition and declining state government support for higher education (both direct funding to state universities and in the form of scholarships to students from the state who attend either private or public universities). 
 
In gleaning articles to share in our Professional, Continuing and Online Education daily blog, I came across a couple of articles recently that piqued my interest. Both promoted the possibility of teaching university classes without teachers.  They take very different approaches to the same end, finding a way to eliminate the cost of professors at universities. 
 
The first case is a “university” with the intriguing name of “42” (sci-fi fans will immediately recognize that this is the answer to the ultimate question of “life, the universe and everything”), founded by French billionaire Xavier Niel. This institution is based on peer review and mentoring:

Recent graduates are now working at companies including IBM, Amazon, and Tesla, as well as starting their own firms…. Mr Niel and his co-founders come from the world of technology and start-ups, and they are trying to do to education what Facebook did to communication and Airbnb to accommodation. They aim to do this by combining an extreme form of "peer-to-peer learning" with project-based learning. Both are popular methods among education researchers, but they usually involve the supervision of a teacher. Students at 42 are given a choice of projects that they might be set in a job as a software engineer - perhaps to design a website or a computer game. They complete a project using resources freely available on the internet and by seeking help from their fellow students, who work alongside them in a large open-plan room full of computers. Another student will then be randomly assigned to mark their work. Like in the computer games the students are asked to design, they go up a level by competing a project. They graduate when they reach level 21, which usually takes three to five years. And at the end there is a certificate but no formal degree.   

In the second case, the reference to teaching without teachers comes from the upcoming 22nd global, cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training scheduled for Berlin at the beginning of December. This conference begins with a plenary debate to stimulate the attendees for the following sessions. This year, the debate thesis is: “This house believes AI could, should and will replace teachers.” A provocative thesis, indeed. This is prompted in part by the very successful deployment by Georgia Tech last spring of “Jill Watson” – the AI teaching Assistant (for more, see: http://www.upcea.edu/content.asp?contentid=492#84).   

The background for the opening debate suggests that AI is already present in education, and the discussion will be about the “nuances”:

This is not only a debate about the capabilities of technology, but also about its ethical implications. Granted, it’s impressive that people are now walking around with little AIs in their pockets. However, there are few who would disagree that the degree of “intelligence” manufactured so far falls abysmally short of replicating that of any human. Before we start wondering whether super-intelligent AIs are going to destroy the world, we should first work out whether they will ever exist. In this particular case, it’s as much a question of philosophy as of technological practicality.  

Neither the “42” nor the cross-sector conference approach is likely to take over higher education entirely in the next few years.  But, these two examples give us ample food for thought on how our programs might best be delivered in the coming years.  

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


 
Online: Trending Now #94 - The Job to Be Done Theory of Clay Christensen

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen shook up industry, enterprise and higher education with his theory of disruption.  In brief, he demonstrated a series of repeating trends in which technological innovation disrupted entire industries, beginning with a less-expensive, and often considered inferior product that in time took over the entire field. This accurately predicted the still-expanding success of online learning. 
 
Those principles of disruption still apply, but Christensen has just released a new theory articulated most fully in his new book:  Competing against Luck: the Story of Innovation and Customer Choice. It is in this book that he harkens back to a study that he and his colleagues did for McDonalds, examining the sales of their milkshakes. Christen tells the story in a folksy way that stirs in my mind the yarns spun by Abe Lincoln – it is captured on YouTube, well worth the four minutes of viewing. The payoff is that competition, in this case, was not the products of other fast food restaurants as they had posited when they began the study, but rather an assortment of other familiar foods.  The message is that we need to understand what “job” the consumer hires a milkshake to do.  Christensen explains it further in a Harvard Business School interview.  
 
This begs the question, what is it that students hire universities to do? Are we hired to enlighten their lives? To enrich their cultural appreciation? To make them critical and creative thinkers? I suppose that in an indirect way, we are hired to do all of those things. But, in a much more direct way we are hired to help them get a job or advance in their current career. In the current economy and society, such as it is, millions of people turn to us for this job in their lives – to get them employed or advanced. 
 
So, what does this theory of the “job to be done” mean to those of us in higher education. I believe it means that our milkshake is not competing with other public and private universities in our region or even nationally. Rather, we are competing with coding camps, micro masters degrees, and nanodegrees. 
 
Combining Christensen’s theories, these alternative credentialing approaches that are more direct and shorter are our competitors for the for-credit degrees and certificates we offer. And, at the same time, they are disrupting our field of higher education. Alternative credentialing, badging, stackable certificates are disrupting the baccalaureate and masters degrees that have reigned for centuries. These new credentials are going onto the blockchain (as we discussed in Online Trending Now #83) to be instantly available to employers and others on an international scale. 
 
It is worth considering if what we are doing is truly the job that students are asking us to do in a way that competes effectively with the emerging new models of shorter, faster, more targeted credentialing. Perhaps carefully evaluating our offerings will lead us to find new ways to better meet the needs – the jobs – that students are asking of us.   

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 


Online: Trending Now #93 - Adapting to the Future

For as long as humanity has advanced, we have coped with change.  In the fragments left of an early book penned by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus in 500 B.C., comes the proclamation that “the only thing that is constant is change.”   We must adapt to the flow of change that is as constant as a river.  It is in that context that we look at the new meaning for “adaptive” in learning. 
 
Adaptive learning as we discuss it today has been around in developmental forms since the advent of CAI (computer-assisted instruction) in the 1950’s.  It is the use of computers to parse out learning materials to students; quiz the learners on the retention, understanding, and application of the material; analyze the learning outcomes; and adapt plans to optimize subsequent lessons to meet the student’s preferences and learning styles. 
 
This results in individualized learning.  It may also be differentiated and personalized learning.  A good discussion of the differences among individualized, differentiated and personalized can be found here.
 
The adaptive learning approach necessarily breaks the ranks of a uniform march through the semester for students.  Some students surge ahead and cover materials in the second week that others will not see for several weeks as those students catch up on concepts and principles that scaffold the learning for the rest of the class.  The semester is much more like a marathon than a march.  Some finish early, others need more time; but, if successful, all cross the finish line. 
 
In accomplishing the learning outcomes for a class or a program, adaptive learning done well, does more than merely meet the designated goals.  It also provides opportunities for the kind of personalized learning that spontaneous instructors afford; realizing personal interests of students and adapting on-the-fly the principles being taught to the specific interests of the student. 
 
At this point in the development of adaptive learning, the tools are enabling electronic replacement of textbooks.  But, for the most part, they are not able to replace the entire educational experience:
 

 …a critical part of education is building student agency—helping students own their learning, make decisions, become lifelong learners and develop their metacognitive skills. A critical part of education is also developing students’ ability to interact and work with others—from the teachers who guide them and spark their interests and passions to their peers with whom they work, learn and teach. Learning is ultimately a social experience, as it builds people into more mature social actors able to participate in civic society and lead productive lives.  But adaptive learning is a powerful force to make those pursuits more effective and efficient. 

 
As Heraclitus informed his contemporaries millennia ago, change is not easy, but it is constantly propelling us forward.  Thus, we must adapt.  So, too today, we must adapt to move forward with our field.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #92 - Stackable, Digitally-Distributed Credentials

We are stuck back in the eighteenth century as regards the way in which we create, leverage, and distribute credentials for higher education.  These are still most often distributed on paper; sometimes stamped with official seals; sent by post rather than electronically; based on seemingly arbitrary and ambiguous standards; impossible to compare in a meaningful way; and not smoothly scaffolding from one level of credential to the next.
 
It’s no wonder that employers are dissatisfied with the process.  For those of us who regularly read through transcripts in the hiring process, the flaws are all to glaring.  For example, one might see a “Rhetoric 201” class on a transcript.  Is the grade a measure of the student’s knowledge of Aristotle’s Rhetoric (think “ethos, logos, pathos”) or is it really an English composition class?  It could be either, depending upon the institution.  And, that’s true of far too many courses in transcripts and certifications.  They are incompletely and inconsistently described. 
 
It is true that some universities have begun to address some of the shortcomings, but only in an independent way – not creating any kind of universal conformity to standards:

For example, institutions like Elon University and Stanford University are considered by many to be pioneers in the field, having developed “extended” transcripts that include more than grades. Other colleges are getting into the game, often putting their own spin on transcripts.  Likewise, many colleges have created electronic portfolios to help students better explain their experience in college. 

 
And, the problem extends beyond transcripts.  Certificates and other credentials might carry a more cogent and consistent content description.  And, too often they are not stackable.  That is, that one cannot scaffold or incrementally build on one credential to the next, and then to the following credential in assembling some sort of greater certification (perhaps even a college degree).  Would that not make sense – to offer incremental credentials with each meaningful level of knowledge, skill or ability so that employers and others could clearly understand the level that has been mastered?
 
And, why don’t we make all levels of credentials from continuing education credit hours to full college transcripts available electronically in a secure, distributed fashion such as we do badges?  This way credentials would always be instantly available – perhaps online in Facebook and LinkedIn as well as other such sites.  As discussed in an earlier “Trending Now” column, blockchain networking architecture (which originated with Bitcoin) provides a secure mode of making verified certificates electronically available.
 
And, finally, the time may have come to separate the teaching from the credentialing function.  We should put the student at the center, allowing the individual to manage their own credentials and create unique stacks that are meaningful to both the individual and to employers in their specific field.
 
Trending now is the newly-released Roosevelt Institute report on Transforming Chaos into Clarity: The Promises and Challenges of Digital Credentialing. It is a snapshot of the path to a future where credentialing is secure; flexible; individually-controlled; and responsive to the needs of both the individual and industry.  There are steps to be found in this report that we all can take in each of our institutions to advance the goals of making credentialing more efficient and meaningful.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


 

Online: Trending Now #90 - VR Adds a New Dimension to Education

This may be the year that virtual reality (VR) moves into mainstream learning – both in the classroom and at a distance. Last year’s release of Google Cardboard launched affordable access to three-dimensions in education. With millions of cardboard – and inexpensive plastic – viewers in the hands of students using free smartphone apps, the technology is spreading rapidly around the world. 
 
We are on the verge of a big move from the computer screen to the headset. The large electronics developers are investing heavily in hardware (and software) for a move from two three dimensions. The lineup of manufacturers making large commitments is impressive. Google, of course, developed the cardboard and now they are rapidly creating an environment for marketing 3-D for Android. It is a service called Dreamscape and it will support VR running on smartphones. At the same time, Google is building its own headset to compete with the many others that are emerging. 
 
Sony is in the game big time with PlayStation. The release of their new headset, PlayStation VR, is scheduled for October. Of course, the Facebook-owned Occulus Rift has been setting the quality standard in this field for quite some time. Samsung Gear VR is already on the market. What is particularly exciting is the prediction that educational software may lead the way for many of these products. 
 
In addition to Google, Sony, Facebook, and Samsung is the much-anticipated full roll-out of Microsoft’s Hololens! Microsoft’s developer package runs $3,000 is available to anyone in North America prepared to pay the price (limit of five per person).  Retail models are expected to be rather pricey – in the $750-$1,000 range – but will likely come down with time and competition.
 
The momentum will surely pick up as software becomes available and as Dreamscape creates an environment in which users can run their headsets through the two billion Droid phones already in consumer hands worldwide.
 
We have seen the screen evolve from venerable desktop to the laptop to the tablet and phablet; from relatively low resolution to ultra-high resolution touch screens. The next step appears to be to lightweight headsets with mixed reality capability. They will enable viewing the real world in front of you while superimposing high resolution 3-D images, movies, and even live interactives through holoportation.
 
Where will we begin to integrate these technologies into our classes?  How will we leverage the third dimension?  And, where will we use real time holoportation to inject instructors into the students’ environment or students into campus-based laboratories?  


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #89 - Epidemic of Ransomware: Franchising Crime

This week I am detouring from our normal path of covering trends in online and blended learning to address one of the most disturbing aspects of the ‘net. It is the highly-organized and rapidly-growing exploitation of unsuspecting users through “ransomware.” 
 
There is much continuing concern over the hacking of corporate – and, more recently, even political party computers. National and international espionage for profit; military intelligence espionage; violation of political privacy; and identity theft have become so prevalent that it barely cracks into the news cycle. But, this multi-billion dollar continues to thrive and rapidly grow. Though ransomware is not new, it has recently surged in the field.
 
So, just what is ransomware? From the Microsoft Security Portal:

There are different types of ransomware. However, all of them will prevent you from using your PC normally, and they will all ask you to do something before you can use your PC.

They can target any PC users, whether it’s a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network, or servers used by a government agency or healthcare provider.

Ransomware can:

  • Prevent you from accessing Windows.
  • Encrypt files so you can't use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).


Ransomware will demand that you pay money (a “ransom”) to get access to your PC or files. We have also seen them make you complete surveys. There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you will give access to your PC or files again. 

 
Particularly disturbing is that some ransomware – the Cerber strain among them – is run as a franchise! Incredible as it may seem, people who are willing to become criminals can simply sign up for Cerber and run it as a service, receiving about half of the ransom paid by each of the victims. No experience required!
 
One of the current ransomware strains, called Fantom, disguises itself as a “critical Windows Update.” Instead of installing a Microsoft update, it encodes all of your files and demands a ransom
 
Ransomware is not a problem unique to PCs, Macs are also subject to this malware
 
So, what can you do to minimize your risk? Always run anti-virus and anti-malware software. Regularly scan your computer for viruses. Backup all of your files to external or cloud storage. Dropbox and Box are inexpensive and popular options. There are many more out there; some that will automatically update for you. Consider carefully the computer you choose to use. The computer I chose to use for most all of my work at home, including email; basic word and excel files; authoring articles, book chapters  and a number of blogs, is a very modest, aged Dell Latitude D520. I just ordered a reserve computer, identical to my own, with Windows 7 for $50 from a reconditioned computer site. That way, I am not out a fortune if my computer is “hit” – I will merely fire up the $50 relic and download the backed-up files. 
 
It is sad and scary that we all face these kinds of problems today. But, we must prepare. Every day there are faculty members, staff members and students whose lives are disrupted by this criminal practice. Let’s all try to avoid becoming victims by using software protection and backing up our files!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership



Online: Trending Now #88 - Game-Based Learning and Gamification

Engagement is at the core of successful learning. To the extent that we can engage learners in the topic, we are more likely to succeed in motivating learners to personalize their learning and achieve deeper understanding. One has only to look around at almost any public space where there are people with smart phones to see the deep engagement that games can achieve. The recent stories of Pokémon Go participants walking into light poles and straying into unsafe places while pursuing online games. 
 
We are now on the threshold of using the engagement of games to broadly enhance online learning. According to a recent report, analysts forecast the global higher education game-based learning market to grow at a remarkable CAGR of 13.95% during the period 2016-2020. 
 
We are reminded that there are levels of implementation of gaming strategies. 

Anne McClanan, Professor of Art History at Portland State University describes gamification as a teaching strategy that implements social interaction, competition, and a sense of accomplishment and engagement, into the structure of a class. In this way, content goals and objectives become end targets for students to focus on, as with a video game—without ever incorporating video games into the class format. 

Game-based learning, on the other hand, actually immerses students into games in which content is experienced in contextual simulations. For example, at Arizona State University, environmental science students have the opportunity to try their hand at game-based learning via a course that presents a series of simulated real-life environmental dilemmas.
 

Standing in the way of implementation of game-based learning and gamification strategies has been the cost in terms of times and money in developing high-quality experiences that achieve well-defined learning outcomes. Much of the gaming so far has come from the very large publishers and corporations with the resources to integrate the games into textbooks for popular course titles. However, a growing list of companies are now engaged in developing tools and prototypes for colleges and faculty members who want to “grow their own.” 
 
According to Andy Phelps, director of the Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC), “We have made huge strides compared to where we were just a few short years ago. This notion of using digital media as an interactive game form is new, collectively speaking. It is going to evolve at light speed, and it is going to do that well beyond the next few years. I think we are always going to see new platforms, new technologies. It is not going to slow down anytime soon.”
 
Fortunately, this is one innovation in technology/pedagogy that does not require a wholesale implementation to get started. It is not all or nothing. One effective strategy is to develop a module or a single course delivered though a game. As with instruction design principles, one can then assess, review, revise and take the next step – get on the train before it leaves the station!


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


 


Online: Trending Now #87 - Pokémon Go and the Future of Online Learning

There were some 15 million downloads of Pokémon Go in the first week of its release.  It’s just a game; you collect animated characters displayed via augmented reality on your mobile device and hold fights in virtual gyms (often churches).  The juvenile appeal of the game seems to resonate with those who are much older than the six and eight year olds who have collected the “real” cards over the years.  But, the impact of this game goes deep:  “On a more serious note, people are attesting that the app is helping them with depression, social anxieties and other legitimate mental illnesses by encouraging them to go outside, take walks and interact with others.”
 
The deep impact of Pokémon Go is powerful.  Yet, it is just a game.  Imagine the power of using these same augmented reality tools to teach!  Imagine students collecting experiences and knowledge in the context of workplaces; different cities and cultures; laboratories and elaborate simulations. 
 
The acceptance and wide experience that has been built over the past month with Pokémon Go is not lost of gaming alone.  It creates a rich experienced population with a positive orientation to the use of augmented reality.  There are tens, if not hundreds, of millions of experienced users who are now primed to accept learning in this format. 
 
For those of us in education, this frees us from the classroom, from the LMS, from power points, from the myriad of “work arounds” that we have created over the decades to substitute for deep engagement and interaction. 
 
We are entering the era of online learning in which we have the tools to deeply engage our students.  We can now open our doors to the world.  And, in an environment of cultivating competencies we are poised to create a movement within learning that is “eyes on” if not “hands on.” 
 
Instructional designers, educational technologists and creative faculty members, put on a pot of coffee and begin creating the classes of the future that leverage these techniques to engage and interact with students.  Learners, hold onto your phone, your tablet; activate the GPS; open the camera – we are about to merge our continuing and professional education curriculum with the world in the palm of your hands!


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #86 - "Deep Learning" and "Machine Learning"

When I first heard of “deep learning” I thought, of course, of the quality of learning of our students in classes.  But, the term as it is used most often now has to do with advanced artificial intelligence and computer programs.  It certainly is an important step forward in creating programs that can approach reasoning by recognizing patterns and projecting their outcomes while responding better to natural language inputs:

…it can identify objects and faces in photos, recognize spoken words, translate from one language to another, and even beat the top humans at the ancient game of Go. But it’s far from magic…. it’s really just simple math executed on an enormous scale.

In particular, deep learning is a class of algorithmic methods for ‘tuning’ neural networks based on data. What does that mean? Well, a neural network is a computer program, loosely inspired by the structure of the brain, which consists of a large number of very simple interconnected elements. Each element takes numeric inputs, and computes a simple function (for example, a sum) over the inputs. 

Where is deep learning leading us in education?   It seems that by developing programs that can better understand what we input (deciphering the meaning of our inquiries); that can better recognize and project complex patterns (such as nuances of student learning); and that can draw upon vast databases of information, deep learning can help us better customize and adapt learning to meet student needs.  The infinitely patient computer can “observe” and “assess” the work of students, drawing conclusions about student mastery of material and modes of delivery that seem to be best for each student. 
 
We are entering an era where our new teaching assistants will become computers.  These computers (more specifically, their programs) will help students to master the material presented in the class.  They will assess student success and interpret the assessments for us as instructors.  As such, the programs will help us to better refine our teaching methods and modes of delivery so that more students can successfully learn faster and more completely. 
 
Will these programs replace teachers?  I suspect not for college-level material for a long, long time.  Instead, the deep machine learning will assist us to in supporting students in their learning and mastery of the subject.  “Current machine learning methods require substantial human involvement to formulate a machine learning problem and substantial skill and time to iteratively reformulate the problem until it is solvable by a machine. Most important, the process is narrowly circumscribed, providing the machine with a very limited degree of autonomy; unlike people, AI does not beget autonomy.”
 
The advent of deep learning in higher education is inevitable and advancing rapidly.  We should be alert to the opportunities that we will see in the coming months to engage this powerful technology in supporting our teaching.  

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #85 - Online Transfers

The cost of higher education continues to rise, year after year.  The causes, as we all know, are many: greater expectations of students for campus amenities, increased security costs both online and on campus, increased personnel costs, increased utility costs, increased costs of maintaining aging buildings, and the decreasing support from many states. 
 
This leaves students and families seeking the most economical path to a credible degree.  For many, low-cost general education courses offered by community colleges can save thousands of dollars compared to analogous university classes offered at three to five times the tuition rate.  Programs such as the “Tennessee Promise” offer tuition free opportunities for students enrolled at community and technical colleges. 
 
The low-or-no-cost classes are taken in the evenings or online while the student continues employment to generate income.  Students then seek to complete their degrees online at a university while saving commuting or on campus housing costs.  This community college to online university model often saves the student one-third to one-half the costs that would otherwise be incurred if s/he pursued the entire baccalaureate program on campus at the university.  And, the successful student following this model receives the very same degree often taught by the same faculty members from the same institution. 
 
The model is not new, but until recently we have not had data to track how many students pursued this path. Only recently has the National Student Clearinghouse begun reporting data on transfer students. As more and more data are collected and shared, the picture will become more clear as to the numbers of transfer students who seek to complete degrees online. 
 
U.S. News has gleaned data from their own ranking surveys to determine the universities that accept the greatest number of transfer students. Led by the University of Central Florida which has a large and successful online program, several of the top ten universities enrolling the most transfer students identified by U.S. News offer online programs. 
 
A phenomenon we have observed, and encouraged, at the University of Illinois Springfield is that fewer students are seeking formal two-plus-two transfer programs, where they do not begin upper division classes until after receiving an associate’s degree. More students are seeking to begin upper division studies online while they complete their final lower division general education classes. This requires some extra work by the university in assuring the students receive all of the federal financial aid to which they are entitled even while enrolled at two institutions. But by creating a seamless transition from community college to university, much in the same way that high school students are beginning to take general education courses online while completing high school, we can best meet the needs of the students. 
 
As financial pressures continue, we are likely to see growing numbers of students seeking to transfer credits into an online degree completion program while maximizing the number of classes they take at modest community college tuition rates. Those of us who successfully create programs that facilitate and encourage transfer models for a growing group of students are likely to reap the rewards of expanding enrollments in these otherwise difficult times.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #84 - The Expert in Your Class


We read that AI will soon replace mobile learning as the “hot” topic in online. And, we are beginning to see where this leading with “Jill” the Georgia Tech artificial intelligent assistant in Professor Ashok Goel’s Knowledge Based Artificial Intelligence class. As you recall, in that class Professor Goel added Jill Watson as the ninth TA. Jill answered students’ questions on her own in most cases and did so with authority and accuracy with a goal of being able to answer nearly half of all questions raised. “She” passed the Turing test – the class never suspected she was not human by her responses.
 
Now we see that Psychology students at Colorado State University will be getting feedback on their open-answer essay questions in human development and family studies classes via artificial intelligence

 
The Cognii-powered programs at CSU will use natural language processing to offer instant feedback to students’ open-answer essays, according to Dee Kanejiya, CEO and founder of Cognii. Kanejiya said the technology will function in a similar way to voice-command programs like Siri on Apple’s iPhone, but will flip the script on who is steering the conversation.

 

“When you interact with Siri on the iPhone, you ask the question … and it comes back with an answer,” he said. “Here, Cognii asks the question to the student, the student has to answer the question, and then Cognii gathers to what extent they are accurate and how they can improve their answer.”
 
According to the software developers, Cognii, they are integrating such programs into several online programs, most notably Southern New Hampshire State University.  The result is an improvement in faculty member productivity resulting from carrying some of the burden of formative assessments and student support. 
 
Engaging students with human-language interfaces brings a new meaning to engagement and active learning.  The student is engaged with a computer who responds as if it were a person – sometimes even with humor and always with an attention to the details that can be mind-numbingly repetitious to humans.  Cognii reports: “As education moves online, students are taking more online courses at their institutions or on MOOC platforms. While it is relatively easy to put learning content online (video lectures, e-book, presentation slides, etc.) and offer multiple-choice based assessment, it has been difficult to provide meaningful engagement and feedback, which is the primary reason for significant drop-out rate (up to 90%) in MOOCs.” 
 
A brave new world is emerging in which faculty create the content, then model the student engagement and responses that are ultimately carried out by artificially intelligent programs writing and responding with pseudonyms intended to further the human-like relationship that is comfortable for students.
 
Are our students prepared for this?  Are we?  

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #83 - Blockchain and Higher Education

Perhaps you have heard of blockchain; if not, you will surely hear about it in the coming months. Blockchain is a distributed database architecture that manages dynamically changing records and protects them from unwanted manipulation and corruption. Developed in 2008, it became (and still is) the central technology for bitcoin. It has the potential to become the cornerstone of innovations and collaborations in higher education. To see how this may become important to our future, it is important to understand the just the basic structure of a blockchain:

A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it among a distributed network of computers. It uses cryptography to allow each participant on the network to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the need for a central authority.

Once a block of data is recorded on the blockchain ledger, it’s extremely difficult to change or remove. When someone wants to add to it, participants in the network — all of which have copies of the existing blockchain — run algorithms to evaluate and verify the proposed transaction. If a majority of nodes agree that the transaction looks valid — that is, identifying information matches the blockchain’s history — then the new transaction will be approved and a new block added to the chain.

Now, consider stackable credentials where those credentials come from a variety of sources in a number of forms. Students may take a variety of for-credit courses as well as MOOCs in the same or a related field. Using blockchain, these credentials can be linked together across institutions, modes of delivery and types of learning. They could include demonstrations of competencies via examinations as well as less-formal learning activities certified by badges. Sense could be made of a whole milieu of learning pointing to a sum of learning that has taken place.

Perhaps most importantly a form of transcripting of learning across institutions and formats could be made by a group of participating institutions who would reach consensus on approved learning experiences.

As one might imagine, MIT has jumped into the blockchain environment for credentialing learning. Last year, the MIT Media Lab began developing blockchain software for issuing certificates to members of their community.  

An interesting visualization of how this may play out in higher education is found in Jane McGonigal’s SXSW presentation “Learning Is Earning” – a visualization of how blockchain might organize learning opportunities in the coming decade. Check out the video and narrative. In the world of the future, this scenario envisions a digital platform called “the Ledger” – an app that tracks learning and education finances in 2026. Imagine how your program and your university might best prepare for such a future!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #82 - AI to Overtake Mobile

We began talking about “m-learning” – mobile learning – literally decades ago. Palm pilots, clamshells, and tablets all have had their day. And, we have utilized each of these in a parade of technologies over time in different ways, becoming more sophisticated and proficient along the way. Now, we are confronted with a vast array of smartphones and wearables that provide all kinds of formats and connectivity options. 
 
But, “whither next” is the question that begs an answer in these rapidly-changing times. What is the next trend, path of advancement that will take the trending lead? The answer comes from the leaders of the hardware/software fields is artificial intelligence. We are sensing the shift from platform to delivery mode; from device to application. We are seeing this shift come first in adaptive learning and other truly “smart” applications that learn the user’s needs and preferences, and further anticipates those needs/desires to be one step ahead of the user herself. 
 
The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, says the importance of devices will fade away as artificial intelligent apps drive delivery of services in the future. "Over time, the computer itself, whatever its form factor, will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from mobile-first to an AI-first world," says Pichai. He goes on to explain, "The average parent has different needs than the average college student. Similarly, a user wants different help when in the car versus the living room. Smart assistance should understand all these things and be helpful at the right time, in the right way."
 
And, Bill Gates agrees. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has already invested more than $120 million in “personalized learning” initiatives. And, Gates sees much of the “personalized learning” driven by artificial intelligence. He says, “Take writing — some people scoff at it, but there's early work to give people feedback about their writing that in the years ahead I think does have a lot of promise. It is very intensive to take a piece of writing and give somebody feedback to help them be a better writer….So AI tutors, that's one of the verticals that will be played with, is this whole dialogue richness. Then you can have vertical tutors where, if you're confused about a concept, it's another level of interactivity. Today's interactivity is ok, I answered a few questions wrong, so then it repeats the lecture. [With an AI tutor,] I can engage in a dialogue…. For a lot of subjects, as they get older, people are not willing to take that learning risk where they are confused. The idea that you could talk to a [virtual] advisor that would understand different misconceptions and arbitrary linguistics around it, that'll certainly come in the next decade. And they'll be a very nice supplement.”
 
So, in a variety of ways, we will see a growing role for AI in learning. We all should be thinking-forward in this regard. How can/will artificial intelligence enhance the learning experience and learning outcomes of the near future?

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #81 - Stackable Credentials

The spiraling cost of higher education coupled with the growing need for employees to advance credentials to quality for promotion and career advancement has led us to come up with ways to provide accessible and affordable advanced credentials. One logical, effective strategy is to scaffold learning with credentials granted at each important incremental node in development. For decades, students have completed the associate’s degree prior to advancing to completion of a baccalaureate. The AA / AS may lead to the BA / BS and that in turn to a MA / MS. Building upon the learning with each credential, the student makes progress while reaping recognition of learning/skill levels along the way.
 
This incremental approach is particularly well-suited to professional studies in which students are part-time students advancing their credentials in order to best qualify for middle-level jobs. Affordable, just-in-time stackable learning modules and classes can enable students to progress through their learning in step with their increasing and changing work responsibilities. 
 
The stackable approach has also found an important niche in the advent of MOOC delivered degrees. The challenge has been how to assure an open-enrollment sequence or degree draws students who have the qualifications and abilities to successfully complete an accredited program.  It is not fair or appropriate to admit unqualified students into programs that cost money and time. On the other hand, it is a goal to provide an open access to such programs for those who may succeed.  The University of Illinois is opening its accredited master’s degrees in Computer Science and Business Administration in MOOC delivery mode to students who successfully complete the first few classes in the programs.  MIT is developing its own stackable master’s in supply chain management in a similar format.
 
An emerging model in the stackable program includes competency-based learning because such credentials rely heavily on demonstrable skills and competencies.  It is important to assure that the credentials that are offered are acceptable and valued by employers.  Other aspects of stackable programs suggested by Iris Palmer, Senior Policy Analyst for Education at the New America Foundation include: letting student attendance patterns inform the design of the credentials, focusing on momentum points and emphasizing active advising practices for students seeking such credentials. 

We are especially well-positioned as leaders in continuing and professional education to capitalize on this emerging model.  Perhaps we can build upon long-standing credentials to provide a scaffolding to the next level of credential, or offer an assortment of credentials that draw upon modules or courses that currently feed only one credential path.  In any case, the movement toward stackable credentials opens opportunities for expansion of our programs that serve the working student.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership



Online: Trending Now #80 -  Here, There, and Everywhere

Technologies continue to advance the quality and fidelity of our exchanges, demonstrations, and interactions online. As I have discussed in this column in previous editions, the advent of virtual reality enables us to share 3-D images and even motion video online. For as little as $5 with Google cardboard, this technology enables us to see and interact with seemingly unlimited objects and organisms for laboratories and virtual field trips. The applications cut across disciplines, from architecture to engineering to biology, the ability to see and manipulate three dimensional objects is of great value. Virtual reality continues to advance through higher resolution and smoother animation algorithms. 

Augmented reality takes the virtual abilities one step further to allow one to seemingly project 3-D images into real spaces. One can use augmented reality to provide 3-D interactive images and videos that can be placed in context – over a book or in a geographic setting, and more such as these examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkWuVVVUD4Q and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXLyBQTS5-w
 
Now, Microsoft has announced the advent of “holoportation” – the use of moving holograms in an augmented reality mode. The potential is astounding. One is able to project oneself real-time in three dimensions to a distant location. In doing so, one can interact with others and with the environment at a distance. It is much easier to understand through a video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d59O6cfaM0 .  
 
Using the hololens – which has been available to developers for the past year and will be formally released later this year – you can transport yourself across space and time. The educational implications are mind-boggling. Imagine being able to transport a faculty member to a different part of the world. Or, imaging being able to holoport the instructor inside the human body to point out various views of organs. For example, a cardiology instructor could even enter the interior of a malfunctioning human heart valve to point out structural nuances to medical students. 
 
Faculty members using the hololens could holoport themselves real-time to students who were having difficulty with assignments. And students could holoport into study groups. Online learning would no longer be confined by distance or time. Students and faculty members can literally be here, there, and everywhere and still interact as if they were standing next to one another.
 
These changes are not merely on the distant horizon. They exist today in the lab. They may well be available for testing in the coming year. Meantime, the cost of the technologies are expected to come down and the quality improve. 
 
An exciting future awaits us around the corner online!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 


Online: Trending Now #79 -  PLE, PLN and Heutagogy

Learning has become a lifelong activity more than ever before. The nature of our cyber-society is such that change is always in the air and the need to learn for a new job is right around the corner. Back in the day, the world of Archie Bunker (for those who remember) was one in which a newspaper a day would provide all the new learning needed. 
 
The average number of different jobs held by those at the tail end of the boomer generation (born 1957 to 1964) has now risen to 11.8 between the ages of 18 and 48. The trajectory continues to increase with each generation. With new jobs – even promotions and advancement - comes the need for self-determined lifelong continuing and professional education. 
 
Increasingly, technology is employed to provide the environment and network needed for self-determined learning to meet employment and avocation needs. Enter, the PLE, Personal Learning Environment, and the PLN, Personal Learning Network to create the context for that learning. 
 
We all are familiar with the adult, self-directed learner. These learners are highly motivated by career or other prompts to move forward with their education. Our universities, departments, faculty members and advisers provide the support, resources and framework for this kind learning that is often characterized by the term andragogy. But, self-determined learning goes a step further with the individual driving the bus (teaching, curriculum design, etc.) as well as riding on it. Increasingly, we call the study of practices and activities in this emerging approach heutagogy.  My colleague, Dr. Vickie Cook, brought the heutagogy movement to my attention. It seems to be the 21st century extension of the pedagogy and andragogy many of us studied some years ago in college. 
 
As we see this movement unfolding in this decade, we see the rise of Personal Learning Environments that provide the framework of support for such learning. These environments create the virtual equivalent of a school for learners – and they take a wide variety of forms.  It is fascinating to see just how far-reaching these environments can be.
 
A key component of the Personal Learning Environment is the Personal Learning Network of people and modes of social connection (LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and more) through which this personal network is assembled. 
 
All of this comes together in an ever-expanding movement of self-determined learning.  It is incumbent on those in our field to identify our role in this movement. How can we most effectively provide valuable services and supports for those who seek to determine their own learning paths?  And, how will this movement affect what we already do?  Where do we fit in for the growing legion self-determined learners?

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
 

Online: Trending Now #78 -  Where We Teach and Learn

So many major changes are confronting those of us who teach in higher education today.  Funding issues have affected (and afflicted) many of us.  The UC Berkeley campus is report to be $150,000,000 in the red this year.  The deficit is attributed to a steady decline in state funding and a tuition freeze over the past few years. The states of Illinois and Pennsylvania have been operating without a state budget and without higher ed funding for the past nine months.  This has had a devastating impact on universities and students alike.  Universities in many other institutions are suffering just eth same.
 
But, as dramatic as the funding deficits have been, they are not the only or the most pervasive of the change in higher education.  That, I contend, would be the shift in where we teach and learn.  Looking back a mere 20 or 25 years ago, nearly all of our education activities took place in a classroom.  Students traveled to a campus or, perhaps a remote video satellite classroom, pulled up a chair and prepared to receive lectures (sometimes with a bit of discussion thrown in).  Most all of the communication was one-way, from the mouth of the professor to the ear of the student to the hand guiding a pen on paper taking notes.
 
In a relatively brief quarter of a century, much of our teaching and learning has moved off campus, into the ether (or cloud), and the labyrinth of electronic passageways that comprise online learning.  Classes that are not totally online are often blended between online and on-campus work. 
 
That begs the question of just where the online learning (or even online teaching) is taking place.  Increasingly, it is not on campus, at home, or in the dorms.  More often, it is in between.  It is mobile.  It is funneled through smart phones, tablets, and notebook computers.  Those phones and other small devices may accompany us to work, to the park, on a getaway.  They may give us learning and teach opportunities in short bursts of time – ten minutes here before I have to run an errand; five minutes there in between phone calls and taxi rides (or they may be in the taxi rides themselves).  The teaching and learning times have become deeply embedded in moments of opportunity in our busy lives.  As Campus Technology cryptically notes to faculty, “you can’t put the mobile genie back in the bottle!”
 
Mobile learning is on a meteoric rise internationally from a nearly $8 billion industry in 2015 to an expected $38 billion industry in 2020
 
In general, mobile screens mean there is less “real estate” for the message and the responses. Mobile screens are smaller than most desktops. That means we need to revisit the graphic design of our classes. It also seems that there may be more distractions – auditory and visual. On a bus, on a beach, in a library, or just walking in between appointments; the learning opportunities are not confined. Designs for such mobile learning should take these environmental factors into account. And we should not forget to keep our eyes on the target – student learning outcomes are the bullseye of our work. The technologies are there to facilitate the learning, to make it possible to provide successful learning opportunities to those on the move.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership



 


Online: Trending Now #77 -  Horizon Report for Higher Ed 2016

Each year I eagerly await the release of the annual Horizon Report that has been delivered by The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE for the past 13 years. It is like Christmas in February! I can’t wait to open the report to see what the experts predict is on the horizon for higher education. A couple of years ago, the report underwent a revision in format to include, not just technologies, but half a dozen trends, challenges and developments. In each of these areas, the report looks at near-term, mid-term and long-term implementations. This year, the report comes with a warning as well. That is, there is a fundamental rethinking of how colleges and universities work to best serve society.
 
Not surprisingly, one of the key trends highlighted is the move toward measuring learning and developing analytics to understand these trends. Also on a short-term basis is the increasing use of blended learning designs such as flipped classrooms as well as blending the formal with the informal learning. In the next year, these two trends are likely to continue and to grow.
 
Mid-term, the experts see a shifting to deeper learning approaches. By this they refer to what we have called active and applied learning where we find innovative ways to encourage learners to do more than understand. We challenge our learners to apply and engage in using what they learn. Also on the mid-term, the report suggests that learning spaces are being revised to include “maker” possibilities and to become actively connected online.
 
Longer term, the report suggests that we in higher ed will be advancing cultures of innovation. And, the report notes that we are rethinking how our institutions work. There are challenges in the advent of alternative modes of education. Increasingly, we are seeing competition emerging from for-profit shorter-term certifications. Coding camps, nano-degrees, and a myriad of badges and certificates present challenges for which there are no obvious solutions other than “if you can’t beat them; join them.” 
 
We are pressed to offer more personalized learning opportunities. The demand is increasing for individualized instruction and assessment. Balancing costs with the clear benefits is still a challenge.
 
Perhaps most exciting in the report are the discussions of the emerging technologies in higher education. Virtual reality, augmented reality, makerspaces, robotics and affective computing all present huge promises in the future. These are sure to capture our attention and creativity as they move into the mainstream of the 2020’s. I can’t wait!
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 

Online: Trending Now #76 -  Is the Traditional Baccalaureate Endangered?

The National Student Clearinghouse reports that college enrollments have continued their decline. For the fourth year in a row, there are fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs. Though not unprecedented, previous such downturns have come at times of war and other such world-shaking events.  What does this mean? 
 
This time the downturn comes at a time when we are seeing an unprecedented proliferation of alternative, unaccredited, learning opportunities.  For example, coding academies are becoming very popular and are gaining rapid acceptance among some employers. Course Report tracks the developments in this field. They showed more than a 100% increase in graduates of academies last year. Their annual survey shows 66% of coding academy graduates are employed as developers; more than 1/3 are women; and 38% of graduates of the academies report salary increases of an average of $18,000/year. The average cost of a coding academy certificate is less than $12,000.    
 
MOOCs continue to proliferate, attracting more and more students and offering an ever wider range of certifications. Charting the growth of MOOC offerings is akin to charting the acceleration of a Ferrari - from zero to off-the-charts in just over three years. Course Central, which aggregates data about MOOC offerings reports trends last year included the rise of self-paced MOOCs. Twenty percent of MOOCs they track, more than 800, are self-paced. This marks a huge shift in delivery options with on-demand providing convenient access to just-in-time learning.  While many MOOCs are no longer free, they still undercut our tuition by a long shot – the average certificate from Coursera or edX is less than $60. 
 
Perhaps these models of accessible, affordable, alternative programs are contributing to the drop in higher education. We are seeing a revolution unfold in higher education that is re-writing the way we fund and deliver higher education. The massive student debt is a driving force – pushing past $1,345,000,000,000 now and sure to surpass one and a half trillion dollars by the end of the year. The interest payment on that debt is holding the entire economy of the U.S. hostage. And, at the time of this writing, there still is no budget for higher education in Illinois or Pennsylvania. More than a dozen states have cut funding severely, some imposing rescissions, this late in the fiscal year. The public appetite for funding our current model of higher education seems to be waning.
 
In every state there is an initiative to raise the percentage of residents who hold degrees. Most of these initiatives are floundering. When the reports are issued for enrollments this fall, we can hope to see a turnaround in the number of those registered at colleges and universities, but I am not optimistic. Instead, we are likely to see those missing from higher ed in coding academies, MOOCs and other affordable, accessible, alternative programs that offer just-in-time results in salaries, promotions and hires. Not all traditional programs – perhaps not even most traditional programs – are in danger. But, all are noticing that  change is underway.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #75 - Trimming the Cost of College

Colleges and universities, both public and private, are under pressure to bring down the cost of a college education.  Many in the public fail to recognize that the actual cost of higher education has not increased nearly as much as there has been a shift in who pays the cost.   Starting in 2008, there has been a significant shift from the states in the form of reduced subsidies and scholarships to the students and their families who pay the necessarily higher tuition and fees. 
 
Yet, one cost continues to rise every year; the cost of textbooks.  The College Board estimates the annual cost of text books and required supplies has risen to more than $1,250 a year. The cost of the average text book has risen nearly 40% since 2007. And, there is no end in sight.  In part, that is because there is reduced competition in the marketplace; nearly 80% of the textbook market is controlled by just five publishers.
 
While colleges and universities have little control over the rising cost of utilities, required building maintenance, and many of the other expenses we incur each year, we do have a measure of control over the cost of the books that we require to be purchased by students enrolled in our classes.  We now have access to an ever-growing pool of open educational resources, and we have the opportunity to write our own textbooks. 
 
A Textbook Liberation Fund has been established to provide financial assistance to faculty members pursuing, or interested in pursuing, a course materials cost reduction project. There are also the well-established open source initiatives such as the Rice University sponsored Open Stax project.  And, open text publishers such as Flat World Knowledge provide many quality books for about $25, well below the cost of texts from the top five text book for-profit publishers. 
 
Imagine, if we could trim $5,000 from the cost of a four year baccalaureate degree by providing free or nearly-free texts, what a difference that would make in student indebtedness for our institutions.  It would make our profiles look much better compared to our peers.  It could even result in larger enrollments at our institutions at a time when overall college enrollments are declining.
 
To accomplish this would take a campus-wide commitment to finding – or creating – free or open source materials for all of our classes.  In most cases this can be done without sacrificing quality.  Faculty members may need some direction and assistance in finding open source materials relevant to their classes.  But, the cost of that time and effort is small compared to the overall savings to be realized by thousands of students in the coming years.
 
I have used free and open online materials for all of the classes I have taught over the past decade.  I believe that my class materials are more timely and relevant than they ever were in the past when I taught using books that, in most cases, had been written at least a couple of years before they were available to my students.  I encourage you to take up the challenge to find or create quality open materials for the classes that are taught in your department, college and university.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 


Online: Trending Now #74 - Succession Planning - Planning for Success

Our field is constantly in flux: technologies, markets and methodologies are changing almost daily. Our leadership is in flux as well; those who led the early development of online models in the 1990’s are nearing retirement at many universities. New opportunities are opening up around the country for experienced leaders to advance in salary and position – it is out with the old guard and in with the new. That is not a bad thing - we need renewal, new approaches, new ideas – but, each major leadership transition brings with it the possibility of disaster. We need to plan and prepare for changes that may come with little notice. The ancient Chinese proverb is no more apt than in the area of succession planning and preparation: Those who do not worry about the future will soon have worries about the present.
 
There is no shortage of experienced corporate CIO/Chief Learning Officer holders who may seek the right, relatively-stable, post at a university. But, universities are complex political and social institutions. It can be very difficult for those from the corporate sector, or even from another university, to adapt to the culture and connections that are essential for success.
 
“Ideally, careful succession planning grooms people internally (Bower, 2008; Boyle, 2009; Byrnes & Crockett, 2009; Reingold, 2009). Insiders know the culture, the people, and the nuances of both.” In my own circumstance at the University of Illinois Springfield, I have been fortunate to ease the transition through my moving to half time associate vice chancellor while we brought in the very experienced and accomplished Dr. Vickie Cook as director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service who had previously held a faculty position at UIS. Her leadership skills are outstanding, but she has still benefited from my contacts and insights into campus-specific relationships. Meantime, we both continue to support leadership development among our outstanding staff members, so they all are skilled leaders in their own right.
 
So, how do we best prepare for expected and even unforeseen leadership changes? The best practice is to develop team leadership skills among current staff members. We need to cultivate internal leaders who can step into the top role and lead effectively. That means we need to delegate as a matter of daily practice and to consciously hand off opportunities to staff members to serve in incrementally more important roles. 
 
David Seidl, Senior Director for Campus Technology Services at the University of Notre Dame encourages the development of team leads:
 

So what is a team lead? Typically, a team lead is an employee who provides grassroots leadership within the team without having a traditional management role. In some cases, team leads are senior team members who are the team’s default representatives and serve as the bridge to other parts of the organization. In other cases, they’re the people who are solving relationship problems, leading projects from within the project team, or working as the almost magical trust brokers behind the scenes of your critical successes.   

 
The Center for Association for Association Leadership has a good list of steps that encourage effective succession planning. It is never too early to begin preparing for successful succession planning! As the proverb says, if we do not worry about succession now, we will have pressing worries in the future – perhaps with little notice and when we are least prepared.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 


Online: Trending Now #73 - Making Room for MOOCs in the Future of Higher Ed

What an interesting evolution MOOCs have made over the past half dozen years. It will be even more interesting to see how MOOCs settle into the higher education landscape in the coming year. 
 
Half a dozen years ago the term massive open online class was coined and MOOCs entered the lexicon of higher education. In the beginning these were truly open, constructivist classes that provided much freedom to learners who built personal learning networks out of the many connections and contacts they cultivated in the MOOCs. In the summer of 2011, we at the University of Illinois Springfield launched one of the last of these original MOOCs – eduMOOC – a meta-MOOC if you will that looked at the future of online learning. At the time, this was the largest MOOC launched with 2,700 participants from 70 countries. But, soon it was followed by Sebastian Thrun’s xMOOC on artificial intelligence that garnered more than 160,000 enrollments from 90 countries. And, the era of very large MOOCs was launched.
 
The “x” version of MOOCs were not entirely open – that is the rights are retained by the university or, in some cases, the distributor. And, the course materials are not forever open as one might do in a Creative Commons way. Instead, MOOCs have evolved into proprietary classes offered for specified periods of time (measure in weeks) and copyright protections held by the providers. Current findings show that these MOOCs are accessed most often by relatively affluent learners – many of whom hold baccalaureate degrees. Here’s a good snapshot as we start this new year provided by the founder of Class Central, Dhawal Shah.
 
Clearly MOOCs continue on the upswing. There is sustaining interest and investment by many in the delivery of massive online classes. So, where are we going from here? What trends are going to grow (sizzle) and which ones will fizzle? Here are a few fearless predictions: 
 
Fizzle – undergraduate general education MOOCs. We see that barely one percent of the 34,000 taking the Arizona State Global Freshman Academy classes scored well enough to be eligible for credit. This is a phenomenon we have seen time and again in online classes in general – many unsupervised lower division students find it difficult to muster the discipline to succeed online. Lower division studies through MOOCs will continue to struggle. It seems that adaptive learning strategies may be better suited to this learner segment. At the same time, though, we may see successes in short courses for AP and CLEP test preparation through MOOCs.
 
Sizzle – What is hot now is the offering of graduate and professional degrees in MOOC format. This seems to be working well at Georgia Tech as they scale their graduate Computer Science MOOC program. And the University of Illinois iMBA program is just launching with high hopes. We have seen successes in many of the Coursera Specializations and the edX XSeries programs. Udacity’s Nanodegree programs have had some early successes with more than 1,000 graduates. These targeted professional studies sequences seem destined to continue to thrive.
 
As we look at the year ahead, we can expect more graduate degrees and professional certificate programs offered via massive modes. We all should consider how these will impact our own institutional offerings.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Online: Trending Now #72 - 2016 - Through the Glass, Darkly 

Happy New Year!  Just how happy it will be for universities remains an open question.  In this edition of the briefing, I will take a look at some of the trends and events that we can expect in the coming 12 months. 
 
From the broadest perspective, higher education will continue to be under fire for high prices, poor outcomes, and the disconnect with employer needs.  This, of course, is an election year.  That will elevate the discussion of these topics from the state to the national stage.  Nearly every presidential candidate has come out with a platform plank to address the costs of higher education.  These range from greater subsidies to fewer regulations.  Some are encouraging for-profits to fill the need at a lower price-point.  Among all of the campaigning, I expect little immediate change. 
 
The $1,300,000,000,000 student debt will continue to climb past the $1.5 trillion mark.  Secretary Arne Duncan has officially stepped down from his position. Policy changes at the US Department of Education are likely to come slowly during this lame duck period. Senate Education Committee Chair Lamar Alexander will push for some modest changes while we await the results of the fall election. 
 
MOOCs will continue to evolve and expand this year. Clearly this movement has not yet peaked. The launch of the iMBA program at the University of Illinois this month will add fuel to the movement toward entire degrees delivered online. Georgia Tech’s Masters in Computer Science will likely grow. The Arizona State Global Freshman Academy is off to a slow start with fewer than one percent of students in the program qualifying for credit. That may dampen MOOCs at the undergrad level. But, much as we saw in the early days of “traditional” online learning, the masters programs are likely to lead the way. We will see more initiatives such as the iMBA that will attract the more mature baccalaureate degree holders who have already proven themselves capable of college work.
 
Competency Based Education (CBE) is likely to be trapped in the lame duck environment in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Education is unlikely to gain much traction in moving this forward, given the morass of regulations and regional accreditor policies that confront all but the few universities which were given experimental permission to lead more than a year ago. So, we are likely to see only small progress in this area until after the elections and a new administration is seated.
 
Perhaps most sadly, we can expect a significant increase in failures among colleges and universities. Moody’s predicts a tripling of the rate of closures of universities in the next two years. Those of us in the state of Illinois, have a ringside seat. The Illinois state government has failed to appropriate any funding for higher education this year – not a dollar has been received in general state funding by the eleven state universities and 48 community colleges in the state. The student monetary assistance program remains unfunded. There is no assurance yet that there will be any state funding in Illinois for higher education this year, prompting Southern Illinois University system president Randy Dunn to announce that the Carbondale campus may face layoffs and even shutdown later this year if funding is not forthcoming. 
 
As we look through the glass, darkly, it appears that there are some challenges ahead for higher education. Federal policy changes may be delayed this year. But, there is a certainty that changes must be made for us to be more responsive to students and employers in the coming years. And, that is where the online, professional, and continuing education programs of UPCEA member institutions will step up to lead the transformation of higher education in 2016 and the years to follow.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 
Online: Trending Now #71 - Soft Skills and Hard Expectations
So often we focus on teaching the subject and not the student.  As we all know, there is more to an education than merely knowing the discipline.  Particularly in baccalaureate programs, there are expectations that students will acquire skills that will facilitate their success in the work world.
 
A mammoth study of 25,000,000 job postings by Burning Glass Technologies has netted some interesting results in this area. They call it “the human factor; the hard time employers have finding soft skills.” Burning glass also refers to some of these as baseline skills, noting that even in the most technical career areas, skills such as writing, communication and organizational skills are in high demand as they are in most all fields.  “These skills are in demand across nearly every occupation—and in nearly every occupation they’re being requested far more than you’d expect based on standard job profiles. Even fields like IT and Engineering want people who can write.”
 
There are fascinating charts included in the report. Several of the charts are reprinted in this shorter article by the Committee for Economic Development.    
 
Research published earlier this year by David J. Deming of Harvard and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that jobs demanding social skills are higher-paying and highly valued. 
In this paper, I show that high-paying, difficult-to-automate jobs increasingly require social skills. Nearly all job growth since 1980 has been in occupations that are relatively social skill-intensive. Jobs that require high levels of analytical and mathematical reasoning but low levels of social interaction have fared especially poorly. Why are social skills so important in the modern labor market? The reason is that computers are still very poor at simulating human interaction. Reading the minds of others and reacting is an unconscious process, and skill in social settings has evolved in humans over thousands of years. Human interaction in the workplace involves team production, with workers playing off of each other’s strengths and adapting flexibly to changing circumstances. Such non routine interaction is at the heart of the human advantage over machines. The growing importance of social skills can potentially explain a number of other trends in educational outcomes and the labor market, such as the narrowing - and in some cases reversal - of gender gaps in completed education and earnings.
I encourage us all to look at the lists of skills most often posted in the Burning Glass Technologies study for each of our disciplines. Perhaps we can include these in our “learning outcomes” for our workshops and curricula. Building individual exemplars into e-portfolios may well help our students to get into job interviews. They will result in better-rounded students who possess the skills to succeed.
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


 
Online: Trending Now #70 - From Hallowed Halls to Virtual Malls
I was taken by surprise with Udemy’s recent “Black Friday” advertisement offering huge cuts in the cost of selected online courses. With 17,000 courses in their catalog, Udemy is the largest provider of its sort online. They offered deep discounting for online classes – just as one would for iPads, smart watches, woolen socks or other commercial products.

It is an important commentary of where we are in education today. Classes and related learning opportunities are commodities. No longer are certificates and degrees chosen through institutional reputation, historical value and even family tradition. Rather these choices are made on price points, five-star reviews, and return on investment data.

It seems that education – higher education – has moved from the hallowed halls of learning to the “online specials of the week” and the “holiday discount table.” Vendor reputation (read that university pedigree) is becoming much more fleeting. New institutions can break into the marketplace with top reviews from ratings sites, and in doing so, they can knock some of the long-established institutions down a few notches.

In this commodity market competition, the winners are the facile, student-centered, and cost-effective rather than the slow-moving, tradition-steeped, slow-to-adopt innovation, teaching-centered institutions. And, that is not all bad. But, it is also not without pain and some risk.

Those of us at colleges and colleges and universities that date back one hundred, two hundred, or more years need to take notice. Our reputation – our good name branding through the centuries – is no longer enough to carry us forward. We must prove ourselves every semester with every cohort of students. We must compete with the upstarts and startups on results.

Our learning outcomes, our student engagement, and our placement rates will determine our success in the future rather than the size of our aged lecture halls, the publications of our faculty, and the success of our sports teams.

I shouldn’t have been surprised with the Udemy’s “Black Friday” marketing. We have arrived at the vast virtual mall of higher education where marketing mirrors student needs and priorities. The retail consumer model has taken over our field – those who thrive will be those who recognize and respond to customer (student) values and priorities.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Online: Trending Now #69 - Searching Inside the Mobile App World
We all are aware that mobile computing and mobile learning have surged in the past couple of years. Sales of desktops, laptops and even tablets have lagged as smart phones soar in sales (and size). Learning management systems have adapted to mobile use by students and faculty members alike. The University of Alberta has even launched Dino 101 in a format described as MOOC on an app.

All of this movement to mobile apps is very exciting and liberating. It means that students are no longer tethered to larger devices. It means that learning can take place on the move and in-between locations and other activities. It also means that affordable access is available to literally billions of students around the world who do not have computers or laptops or even tablets. But, these billions of prospective students have 3G or 4G or WiFi access for their smart phones. They navigate more through their apps than through the Web. There are more than 1.6 million apps available through the Google Play store and more than 1.5 million apps available through the Apple App Store

Yet, something is lost in this transition to mobile apps. It’s not just the real estate of a larger screen. It’s not just having to hop from app to app and to continuously update the apps on your devices. No, it is something more essential than that, something that we have taken for granted for the past twenty years.

As apps have proliferated, we have left something behind. The comprehensive search engine! How do we search and find content hidden inside of apps?

We have created a disconnected virtual world of apps:

The growth of mobile and its app-centric world has been the opposite of the web…. The situation is worse when it comes to search. Again, until somewhat recently, if you searched for content using Google, its mobile search results would tend to push you to mobile web pages. Often, that’s a perfectly fine experience. But sometimes, it might be nicer to go into an app. Worse, there’s a small but growing number of app-only publishers and services. They have no web sites and thus nothing for Google or other search engines to point you at from mobile search results.
At this point, we cannot – in an efficient way – search all of those million plus apps for content and information. And, that is the potential of a new project by Google – a “moonshot” as Google X projects are commonly called. The goal of this moonshot is to have app builders index the content of their apps so that they can be searched by using “deep linking” algorithms. This is especially important in emerging markets:
Google hopes that showing app-only content in search results and letting users view the info in their mobile browser without downloading the app will help its search engine remain users' main gateway to online content in the era of smartphones. Google recently announced that more than half of its search queries come from mobile. But that stat crashes into another one: That people spend most of their time on smartphones within specific apps — so much that app usage now represents 86% of time spent on mobile, according to analytic company Flurry.
Years ago, this might have seemed to be a minor detail. Now, it looms large as we look to the future of searching for the tidal wave of expanding information and content online. This is critically important to the future of learning online and on-app.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Online: Trending Now #68 - Testing Security and Authentication
I was reminded by a recent note in UPCEA's professional network, CORe, in a discussion from Kristen Brown at the University of Louisville that concerns continue among mainstream faculty members and administrators over the security of online classes. This was fueled recently by the Atlantic article Cheating in Online Classes is Now Big Business. There are many issues related to integrity – not only in online classes, but in universities as a whole.

More and more online paper-writing services and databases of pre-written papers are blatantly advertising online. For $25 to $250 a student can obtain term papers to submit under their own name. I suppose this is just one more example of entrepreneurial capitalism, but it is one that breaches the integrity of higher education. Of course, the proprietors of these firms do not discriminate between online and on-campus clients – all students with valid credit cards are welcome. And, this is not new; such services were “rumored” to have been provided among fraternities and sororities, dating back for a century.

Test-taking cheating is a focus today, but that too is not limited to online students. Smart phones, Apple/Droid smart watches, and a host of other electronic devices are employed in less-than-honorable academic applications every day. Soon, smart shirts and shoes will join the list of wearables that may be employed for cheating. As mentioned in a recent briefing, many universities collect phones and watches from students entering mid-term and final exam rooms.

So, while online is not alone in grappling with students who do not have a sense of honor and integrity in taking exams, it is online that most often takes the fall for such behavior.

Responses have been strong. Regulators are calling for biometric or equally strong authentication of students in online programs. And, we are seeing the advent of webcam recording, facial recognition, fingerprint and iris scan technologies built into online proctoring systems. These provide a much higher standard of validation that is practiced in the large lecture halls at our physical campuses.

Yet, these responses, while most effective, have in turn elicited some student complaints of invasion of privacy. The objection of some students is based on their being recorded during exams, and the collection of facial images and other identifying biometric characteristics that might be compromised at a later time. While I personally do not have much sympathy for those concerns, I do believe that much of this effort is not necessary.

We are trying to enforce rules based on teaching and learning practices that have been shown to be far less effective and relevant. This kind of monitoring is most often premised on the “remembering” of facts (at the bottom of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy as described in this illustration from Old Dominion University) . The kinds of cheating we are trying to defeat in these cases are recognized as lower ordered learning. Instead, we should be designing our classes and assessments to higher order demonstrations such as creating solutions to unique problems. Rather than testing rote memory of facts that in this 21st century can most easily be accessed by simple online searching, we should focus on examinations that call upon the students to draw upon their knowledge of the subject to come up with a unique, creative solution to a problem. And, employers remind us regularly that they value employees who can most effectively work in small groups to come up with solutions. Perhaps we should design our learning and our exams based on small groups solving problems. Peer assessment within the small groups may be effective in encouraging all to participate. In sum, online learning is creating solutions to authentication that often go well beyond those on campus. But, even beyond those solutions, we should take a careful look at what, why and how we are testing, and update our approaches to learning in the 21 st century.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 
Online: Trending Now #67 - Leadership in Online Learning
Much of my attention and activity is centered on the mission of the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership. In preparation for a series of presentations and workshops, I have most recently reflected deeply on where we are and where we are going in leading the transition to online delivery of higher education.

We have an outstanding set of guiding principles that have been articulated so very well by Jay Halfond and his committee of seven national leaders in online learning who created the UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership. The principles that are enumerated and detailed there have been highlighted at each of our regional meetings: Internal Advocacy, Entrepreneurial Initiative, Faculty Support, Student Support, Digital Technology, External Advocacy, and Professionalism.

These serve to focus us on the key elements of building and sustaining leadership for the online initiative. As implied by the range of activities, this is not a simple task. Moving online learning delivery to the center of the academic mission at an institution involves a wide range of abilities that span the operational to the strategic.

At most institutions, this requires a leaders with passion, energy and tenacity to vision, motivate, and attend to the evolving details of technologies, regulations, and markets, as well as student and faculty needs. All of these tasks are essential, but note that they all are premised on finding and supporting the right people.

Though it is now some fifteen years old, I am reminded of the work of Jim Collins reported in his best-selling book From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t (http://www.jimcollins.com/) . In this book, Collins describes research he conducted on companies that made dramatic turnarounds to lead in their fields. He profiles the levels and qualities of strategic leadership. But, what sticks with me, even these fifteen years later, is his passionate belief – based on thorough research – that an essential common element among those who succeed in leadership is that they put the “who” first and the “what” second.

The unwavering commitment to hiring the very best people – no matter their degrees, no matter their pedigree – is the key to success. In online learning, I am convinced, the same is true. Those who surround themselves with the very best, the brightest, the most committed will thrive. In building a team for online learning, for innovation, for leadership, it is always “first the who” then the “what.” Build a team, then define the task. Build a team of the best people and you will be able to tackle budgets, stimulate innovation, create success, and lead your institution to excellence.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
 
Online: Trending Now #66 - The NEW Freshman Year at College
Remember your freshman year in college? Selecting (or being assigned) a roommate whom you met on “move-in” day for the first time. The first college classes, intro-this and intro-that, filled with over-achieving, ambitious 18-year-olds like you. The anxiety, the awe, the pressure, a whole new world of alternatives and options in a whole new environment.

Well, the economics of higher education have changed all of that for many students. The “post-traditional” student, or better-identified as the “new contemporary learner” is one who may have already collected 30 or even 60 credit hours in concurrent enrollments while in high school. Or, for those who missed that option, the new freshman year may well be online.

If you applied for admission to the University of Florida this year, expecting the traditional on-campus experience, you may have been among the 3,118 students admitted instead to the online program:
The 3,118 applicants accepted this way to the university — above and beyond the approximately 12,000 students offered traditional freshman slots — did not apply to the online program. Nor were they told that there was a chance that they would be accepted with the online caveat. They wound up as part of an admissions experiment. 
Online learning may not be the first choice of all entering students, but many are, in fact, choosing an online start to the freshman year. We have recently seen the launch of the edX Global Freshman Academy. This model, delivered by Arizona State University, offers 30 credit hours via MOOC. Admission is open. One pays $45 up front and a total of $200 a credit hour if you choose to receive official ASU credit after one successfully completes the class. The credits apply at ASU and may be transferred to other universities.
“We’re going to have 12 new courses, of which students will take eight,” Mr. Crow said. “They have to be constructed at a fantastic level of digital immersion, not just talking heads. This is a general education freshman year, not a series of disconnected courses, so they have to be thought through together.” 
The edX/ASU partnership is not the only entry in this field. Start-up Modern States and the Texas State University System are collaborating to endorse an array of MOOCs that will prepare students for Advanced Placement or CLEP credit:
The program, available to students in fall 2016, will offer more than 30 top quality online college courses at no cost, along with free online texts and materials. These courses are under development through edX, the joint venture of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is the nation’s leading developer of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Students wishing to participate in the TSUS-Modern States program will be able to select freshman-level courses from the Modern States catalog that apply toward degrees at TSUS’s eight component institutions. After completing these courses, students will be prepared to take Advanced Placement (AP) or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered independently by the College Board, and may receive course credit from TSUS institutions when they enter with an AP test score of three or better, or a passing score on a CLEP test. 
More models are certain to roll out, postponing the freshman anxiety and awe to the sophomore level! And, I suspect an increasing number of students will choose to remain online, saving money and gaining flexibility, throughout the baccalaureate degree.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership


Online: Trending Now #65 - Textbooks - The Controllable Cost
We all field criticism for college costs that have spiraled out of control – in large part for reasons that are beyond our control. We are operating with higher daily expenses for personnel, technology, and campus amenities that are provided to today’s students; at the same time state and federal support continues to shrink. And, yet, there is one significant cost to students that can amount to as much as 25% or more of the degree that is under our control. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, textbook prices have risen three times the rate of inflation since 1977. The College Board reports that an American post-secondary student spends an average of $1,200 a semester on textbooks. Individual textbooks, particularly in the sciences, have now been known to top $400!  Students, particularly in our online classes, are often requesting ISBN numbers prior to the start of the term so that they may avail themselves of lower prices at alternative online bookstores.

These are costs that we can control! That’s some ten thousand dollars in a four year degree – many thousands of dollars even in a shorter graduate program – that can be spared our students. As deans, directors and faculty members, we can choose open textbooks, create our own list of free/open readings, and develop high quality open textbooks in collaboration with our colleagues. These are dollars that, overwhelmingly, do not accrue to our bottom line; they are funds that go to publishers. Those academics who have authored textbooks can tell you that precious little of the cover price is returned to them in royalties.

UMUC is among the first large universities to commit to eliminating textbooks this fall. There will be more in the coming few years. In the meantime, the pioneering universities in this area can offer their students a well-deserved break in costs while chalking up a competitive advantage in attracting students. How can we get started on saving students thousands of dollars while we put together texts that are custom-made for our classes? One good place to look is Open Stax which claims it will save students $25 million this year with its open books.  We might even look at utilizing popular game-based learning opportunities such as the University of Hull is doing with Minecraft.

Other ready-made open texts are available in nearly all disciplines. Here are some great starting points for searching for these resources:
Why not check open educational resources out and find ways you can get a competitive edge by offering your degrees and certificates at a lower overall cost?

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
Online: Trending Now #64 - The Alternative Future
Continuing and online education has long been the “alternative” for those who did not fit the model of traditional. The alternative is quickly becoming mainstream with the total number of students enrolled in college degree programs dropping another two percent this spring while total student debt is poised to tip past $1,300,000,000! Check out the Financial Aid Debt Clock! This financial doomsday clock keeps on ticking as it digs an ever deeper hole for the American economy, lost growth, and stunted hopes for college graduates. And the number of student loans in default continues to grow.

Recognizing the financial crisis in higher education – for both institutions and students – an assortment of entrepreneurs, institutions, and savvy leaders are charting alternative courses for education to meet the needs of the economy, employers and students. This is what we in continuing education have been doing for the past century! But the pace is quickening and the range of alternatives are poised to become the collective new normal.

Coursera has pivoted its path to focus on career-oriented specializations and on-the-job training. Leading the MOOC providers in this effort is the growing success of the “nanodegrees” offered by Udacity. Udacity directly engages employers in defining the curriculum and content of their certificates so that they can assure that the certificates will be seriously considered by employers. And, the “x-series” certificates from edX are growing in popularity and acceptance. 

It is in this context that seven major universities (the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Washington, the University of California’s Davis, Irvine and Los Angeles campuses, and the University of Wisconsin Extension) are crafting their own model of alternative credentials for students. The University Learning Store is an important breakthrough to which we all should pay attention. These alternative, non-credit but credentialed, programs and courses may meet the concerns of many students and employers. They can be just-in-time, on-demand, and custom designed to meet the needs of employers. And, most importantly, they can be far more affordable and less time-consuming than traditional degree programs.

The future of higher education is likely to be far different than the past. Important trends are influencing education at all levels. Affordability, relevancy, and employability are at the top of the list of priorities for education. And continuing professional education is front and center. Are we prepared to lead all of higher education into the future?


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
Online: Trending Now #63 - Wearables, Ubiquity, Pedagogy, and Assessment
Following on the success of activity and lifestyle trackers, the Apple Watch is advancing wearable computing. Newer wearables debut each weekSmart shirts are emerging and will likely be big this holiday season.  Momentum is building in deploying the Internet of Things (IoT). Taken together, these rapidly advancing technologies are creating a truly ubiquitous environment of connectivity and communication.

In this environment, we are teaching and testing students for life and careers in the mid-21st century. That means preparing for an environment with even greater connectivity, more robust connections, and additional resources instantly accessible and displayed as needed. Software will more readily anticipate our needs – not just personal needs, but professional needs. Through flash assessments of situations and projections of possible scenarios, software will stand ready to offer solutions and anticipate complications. This will be performed through inconspicuous sensors and display modules.

Yet, many of our methods and approaches are rooted in assumptions deeply embedded in the 20th century of the relatively isolated and unconnected professional. Many of us honor a tradition of proctored testing of students without access to the technologies that have long since become as much fixtures of our everyday life as eyeglasses and contact lenses. But, beginning years ago, we had students surrender slide rules and calculators at the door. Then, we collected cell phones. Now, we collect watches. Will we take (smart) shirts off their backs next year? The point is that the Internet is everywhere – even our refrigerators, microwaves, and furnaces are robustly connected. Our students should expect we will prepare them to use these tools in the coming formats rather than denying that these changes have taken place!

We need to take an honest look at our courses, learning outcomes, and testing modes. Are we taking into account the current practices enabled by ubiquitous access to the ‘net? Do we take into account the rate of advancement of technology-enhanced tools and expanded accessibility? Instead of taking technology from our students in final exams, shouldn’t we be teaching with the technology to empower the students to take full advantage of technology that will be readily available in their careers? We must resist the temptation to teach for the past and instead teach for the future. Anything less is a disservice to our students.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Online: Trending Now #62 - The Reluctant Online Faculty Member
As professor emeritus, I recall vividly the early 1970’s when I began teaching as a faculty member at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. In those days, the faculty member was the “king/queen” of the campus – revered by students and administrators alike. Higher education was focused on teaching and research. However, over the past decade the emphasis has shifted a bit. Subtle though it may seem, the center of higher education is shifting to learning and away from teaching. The enterprise is now about the student, not the faculty member. Students have become savvy consumers, demanding services and attention that they previously ceded to the faculty domain. The transition is not an easy one for the ego of faculty who are accustomed to being at the center.

In many respects the shift is represented best in the transition to online learning, bringing the learning to the student rather than requiring that the student come to the faculty member at the time and place of the professor’s choice. The performance of the lecture has also fallen aside to be replaced by more effective modes of communication that enable students to access learning at times, places and in repeatable formats of their choice.

These changes threaten the stability of the status quo; the repetitive routine of teaching the same course, the same way is broken. And, so it is that some faculty members recoil at the prospect of ceding their position of prominence as they are to re-focus on the needs and preferences of students. But, of course, they can protest by saying that they fear and resent the changes. So, instead, they say such things as:
  • It takes too much time to teach online
  • I will never get to know my students
  • The technology will get in the way 
     
There is outstanding research that rebuts each of these contentions. I like to point to such research as Lee Freeman’s study of time devoted to online teaching which shows that while the first and second offerings of a class online may take more time, there are time savings to be had after that. In the second case, I often call upon colleagues at the same college who can recount dozens of examples of how they have developed deep and lasting relationships with their online students. And, in the third case there are scores of examples of ways in which technology enhances our teaching, assessment and attainment of learning objectives. Each argument that is raised has a rational and researched response. But, that does not get to the core of the problem. Reluctant faculty members are not so much protesting the details of the changes, rather they are grappling with self-esteem and practical concerns about their careers.

The essence of meeting the challenge of the reluctant online faculty member is in reassuring the faculty member of her/his value and taking the time to allay their fears. In most cases this is not best done in a large faculty workshop, but rather one-on-one in meeting with, listening to, and sympathetically responding to a person who is fearful of the changes that confront us.

I invested more than 40 years of my career as a professor, teaching thousands of students; publishing articles and book chapters; serving in leading governance roles; leading a faculty union local and more. I understand the existential threat faced by my colleagues in the changes that are upon us in higher education. We may best meet their protests with the understanding and promise of abiding support (morale, technical, pedagogical) that they deserve.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
 
Online: Trending Now #61 - Younger Students Online
Ah, youth! There are positives and challenges when younger learners participate in online college programs. Younger college learners can be energetic, enthusiastic, and inquisitive; but they can also be less disciplined, more distracted, and not as consistent as their older counterparts. Many faculty members who teach both 20-year-olds and 35-year-olds online note that there is a difference between these learners.

The newly-released annual study of online college students by Learning House and Aslanian Research, Online college students 2015: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences, reports a significant increase in the number of younger online students over last year. In fact, the study reports that now more than 1/3 of all online students are under the age of 25. That is up from just 25% last year. And, most of these students report that they never plan to take classes on campus.

How might this shift translate into completion? A US News report gathers input from researchers in the field: 

There has been little national research comparing completion rates for online and on-campus college and graduate programs, says Peter Shea, associate provost for online learning and an education professor at University of Albany—SUNY. Much of the research focuses on community colleges, and even there, the research is divided.

Shea's research has found that community college students across the country tend to have a higher chance of finishing their online courses. But a paper by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College that looked at two state systems found otherwise. The data that does exist on a wider scope suggests that completion rates for online students may be lower, but not much lower, says Russell Poulin, deputy director of research and analysis for WCET, an organization that advocates for effective technology use in higher education.

US News reporter Devon Haynie points out, “When asked about their online learning concerns, the highest percentage of students reported their ability to self-motivate during their online program (27 percent)….” Given this mix of research findings, we may be well-served to look closely at tracking performance data, dashboards, and early warning systems to trigger interventions such as tutoring, peer advising, and more frequent exchanges with the growing number of younger students online. These tools and approaches can help us to support the new learner base.

As the mix of online students enrolled in our programs continues to evolve, we must be responsive to their needs and their expectations if we are to best serve the students, maintain enrollments, and support strong completion rates.


Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
 
Online: Trending Now #60 - On-Ramp to Competency Based Education
“Timing is everything” – that is true, well mostly, in online learning. One of the emerging trends in the field is Competency Based Education (CBE). Many are scrambling to get aboard the CBE train. Pioneering programs in the space have already launched, but new programs are on hold while regulations are reviewed.

Competency is not a new concept in higher education. Many programs, particularly those in the medical field, have stressed achieving competencies (which in other fields might be called learning outcomes) for decades. Nurses, physicians, and other health professionals must achieve competencies in specific tasks, techniques and methods to advance in their education. And, we all are happy that they do so!


But, controversy and a swirl of regulation surrounds one aspect of competency-based education: the direct assessment of competencies. That is, rules remain incomplete regarding the awarding of credit for achieving a level of experience, skill, or expertise in performing some task or activity outside the university.  Regulation abounds, some of it so conflicted that the largest regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, has frozen its approval of new CBE programs 
The commission said it made that decision in response to enhanced expectations the department issued in December about the approval of competency-based degree tracks...The accreditor said on its website that it would await clearer guidance from Washington.
  
So, how then does an institution begin to approach competency based education as assessed in a prior learning context? It seems that many institutions have been doing this all along for the past 45 years. Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) programs have been around for decades. These programs allow universities to provide credit for demonstrated competency or mastery through internships, non-credit courses, work experiences, licensure, accreditation, or other such activities and credentialing. For decades at many universities (mine included) up to 12 credit hours can be earned by students providing a documentation portfolio and rationale of how the work completed outside the university meets the learning outcomes of classes offered by the university. Universities can incorporate some of the more promising aspects of CBE into their existing CPL or PLA programs. 

As the regulation dust settles and formal processes are put in stone, we can start students on the prior learning path for a semester's worth of credit via PLA or CPL. This can be a most useful recruitment tool, enabling a fast-start for mid-career students.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

Correction, August 11, 2015: Some sentences in this article regarding competency based education and direct assessment of competencies have been adjusted for clarity. 
Online: Trending Now #59 - The Lecture is Dead! Long Live the Alternatives
“My view is they’re gone; they’re never coming back” – so says University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Warren Bebbington. Last year, Adelaide University began eliminating lectures, replacing them with small-group discovery/discussion work. And, if we are intent on learner-centered education, flipped classrooms and authentic learning experiences, I must agree that lectures, the backbone of courses for the past hundreds of years, are gone.

Lectures had been seen as the ultimate in efficiency – simultaneously force-feeding information into the ears of hundreds of students at a time as they were jammed into lecture halls with rows of fixed seating. Yet, in truth, the uncomfortable seats most often had too-small arms to support notebooks for the most inefficient mode of information transfer – from the mouth of the often mumbling professor, to the impaired ears of the students; set in a sea of noise from a hundred others scribbling, coughing, sneezing and shuffling impatiently; to the imperfect handwriting of a hundred ink-starved pens and broken-point pencils. This, for the past century and more, was the model of high-quality teaching (and learning). Forgetting the hearing-impaired, forgetting the sight impaired who could not read the black or white board, the lectures droned on. Perhaps the professorial recitations were occasionally punctuated by questions – the answers to which came only from the front rows by those who would respond with raised hands in fewer than three seconds.

As Daniel de Vise writes in the Washington Post, “Colleges Looking beyond the Lecture”:

Since the 1990s, research on pedagogy has shifted from what instructors teach to what students learn. And studies have shown students in traditional lecture courses learn comparatively little. “You have a professor reading a book to you. It should be insulting,” said Harvard physicist Eric Mazur. “But this model is so ingrained.” Mazur has developed an interactive teaching technique called peer instruction, in which the lecture is broken into chunks. Between topics, Mazur poses questions and students work together to answer them.
Mazur’s method of peer instruction is not the only sound alternative to lecturing. There are many ways to share information and to cultivate deep reflection, creative problem solving, and critical thinking on the topic at hand. We are not bound by norms or by precedent. We have many tools, many technologies, and many more methodologies at our disposal. We are on the cusp of some very exciting augmented reality tools that will be released even in the months ahead this year. The apps available today are astounding. But they will seem pale next to the stunning tools we will see emerging in the coming years, and they are nails in the coffin of the lecture of the past. We all will be challenged to engage in active learning in the future. Our methods of collaborating; actively searching and researching; engaging professionals in our learning; and finding innovation and opportunity in the process will fuel the learning that awaits us.

The lecture is dead; long live the alternatives ahead!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
 
Online: Trending Now #58 - Evolving, Expanding MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses emerged in higher education nearly a decade ago. They were much smaller and much more open that the xMOOCs of today.  Encouraging self-directed and highly-connected learning, the early MOOCs were developed mostly by pioneers at smaller universities, setting the stage for Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig to launch the next generation of MOOCs with a bang in the Fall 2011 version of the Stanford course on Artificial Intelligence that garnered more than 160,000 enrollments.

Many predicted that MOOCs would be a quick flash in the pan; a tiny footnote in the modern history of higher education. Where is the business model? What about those dismal completion rates? How is this sustainable? And, like so many other technologies and innovations, the skeptics failed to consider the evolution of the concept, the demand for the product and the disruptive qualities of an idea that undercuts the accepted way of doing business.

Today, more than 2,500 MOOCs have been launched or scheduled; more than 15,000,000 students have been served. And, businesses are beginning to adopt the mode of delivery as a most efficient model of meeting their workforce development needs (as per edX Vice President Lee Rubenstein at the recent UPCEA Online Leadership Roundtable).

It was Georgia Tech that broke the degree-granting barrier through conceiving a MOOC-delivered version of their on-campus Masters in Computer Science in collaboration with Thrun’s Udacity and AT&T. This breakthrough was a huge advance, enabling selected students to take advantage of the economies of scale to access a highly prestigious degree at deeply discounted tuition.

The University of Illinois followed on the model in a partnership with Coursera to announce the iMBA earlier this year. With first classes to be offered in the Spring 2016 term, the prestigious Illinois MBA will be offered at less than half-price (about $20,000) to selected students. Coursera President Daphne Koller extolls this model which provides access for everyone and for those who choose and qualify for credit, a deeply discounted tuition for this degree. 

And, it is not confined to graduate studies. Arizona State University has collaborated with edX to offer the Global Freshman Academy with general education courses to get students started on the pathway to a college degree. 

We can expect to see further expansions of for-credit MOOC models. Udacity is again pushing the envelope with “nanodegrees” designed in collaboration with corporate partners and carrying promises of first-in-line for entry-level jobs at those employers. 

It has been just four years since Thrun’s ground-breaking first xMOOC. It begs important questions for all of us: What can we expect in the next four years? How are we preparing for the accelerating growth of MOOCs in higher education? Will we lead, or will we be left behind?

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 
Online: Trending Now #57 - Accessibility
This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the act establishing the American commitment to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The 25-year-old act makes clear that online learning / distance education is covered by the act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. I think that we all agree that this is a good thing. Especially in higher education, accessibility is high on our priority list and at the core of what many of us in online learning advocate.

There was a period of time during which we put a focus on accommodating the needs of individual learners as our field developed the tools and methods to make learning universally accessible. In some cases, law suits were filed to bring about accessibility. Even this year, Harvard and MIT were subject to a lawsuit to enable online captioning. And, edX recently came to terms with the Justice Department to assure that its offerings were universally accessible

Now, we are moving from accommodating needs of individuals to more broadly implement accessibility through universal design (UD). An article in Inside Higher Ed recently described the advantages of universal design over individual fixes in each class. “Sidewalks with curb cuts, ramps to buildings, and doors that automatically open when a person moves near them are examples of universally designed products in the physical environment. They benefit a variety of people.”  

Universal design is based on three essential principles:
  1. Provide multiple means of representation
  2. Provide multiple means of action and expression
  3. Provide multiple means of engagement
Much more on UD implementation is available at the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.

The movement to UD incorporates accessibility into our instructional design practices. It simply becomes part of the process of developing materials and classes for online delivery. Just as we assure that learning outcomes, active engagement and authentic assessments are incorporated into our classes, so too do we incorporate universal design principles to assure accessibility of all materials.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through 
Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership

 

Online: Trending Now #56 - The Affordability Factor
 
The Wall Street Journal recently carried an article congratulating the graduates of 2015; it was rather cynically titled: Congratulations, Class of 2015. You’re the Most Indebted Ever (For Now).  The article carries the depressing message that average student debt has risen yet another ten percent over the past year, and the Times charts the steady cadence of increases over the past decade from $20,000 in 2005 to more than $35,000 this year. Add to that the average debt incurred by parents supporting their children’s college expenses of nearly $31,000. Total student debt, as is famously projected in this animated graphic of the student loan debt clock, is ever increasing.  At one and one quarter trillion dollars, the impact of this debt on the overall American economy is enormous. It is an anchor that keeps the economy from surging out of the long-standing malaise. If Americans were not paying deeply and dearly to service this massive debt, we might be enjoying unequalled growth and prosperity.

This has spawned a number of calls for radical changes in the college marketplace. President Obama has praised the Tennessee tuition-free community college initiative and has encouraged a national program to that end. Udacity has come up with “nano-degrees”, which are not degrees at all, but rather vocational education that is priced by the month, not by the unit of credit. It promises front-of-the-line status to applicants who complete the program and apply for entry-level jobs at AT&T and other national employers. Coursera has launched certificates and sequences; edX has similar programs. Georgia Tech is offering their MS in Computer Science at a 75% tuition cost discount via MOOC-inspired delivery and the University of Illinois is to begin offering an iMBA at a 50% discount in a similar mode. And there are many more programs offering sub-$10,000 baccalaureates and other low-cost alternatives.

All of these are evidence that there is market demand for quality professional education at a reasonable cost. That is at the center of our wheelhouse at UPCEA. Where will this lead? What is our role in this movement? How can we assure that our own institutions are not left in the dust of high-cost programs that are priced out of the market by these upstart initiatives?

These are among the topics that will come up for discussion at the UPCEA Online Leadership Roundtable on June 17-18 in Boston. Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through 
Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership
 
Online: Trending Now #55 - Who is Your University CDO?

To the extent that universities follow industries, we see the continued movement toward digital products; digital means of management; and digital ways of doing things.  McKinsey & Company conducted a large survey of corporations in 2013 to find that 30% of them had embraced a new title in the C-suite of office – the CDO (Chief Digital Officer)
 
In universities we commonly have Directors of IT; Chief Technology Officers; and Chief Information Officers.  So, why would we have CDOs?  Campus Technology magazine did an in-depth story on the topic, interviewing a number of higher ed IT leaders, including some with digital in their title, to see if the trend is catching on among universities. 
 
Perhaps the verdict is still out on whether the title will catch on, but the topic does prompt us to reflect on the digital move and how we are managing the transition from a field that just a decade or two ago was firmly entrenched in face-to-face and paper culture. 
 
Recall the paper campus-wide memorandum?  When was the last time you received one of those?  It is an endangered species.  And, what about the meeting to set up meeting schedules?  There are far fewer of those with shared calendars and email.  We are seeing far more multi-site web and video conferencing.  And, many campuses have not added a parking lot in a long time because more and more classes are held online as distance and blended programs proliferate. 
 
The integration of digital technologies across the campus is much more than just the IT infrastructure.  It is more than the online program; more than tablets, phablets, and smartphones connected to the net; more than the flipped and blended classes; more than distant students and distant faculty; and more than the advent of IoT, the Internet of Things.  Digital technologies have entered just about all phases of higher education.  And with this integration has come business at the speed of an electron.  Also has come the vulnerability of security breaches and pathway breakdowns; bandwidth challenges and accessibility needs. 
 
It is in this context that every campus needs a person, or perhaps a committee, that is concerned with the smooth and secure deployment of all things digital across the university.  This is more of a strategic position with a forward-looking orientation.  It may or may not carry the formal Chief Digital Officer title, but it certainly must carry the vision of the future in maximizing the potential for all things digital on campus.  Perhaps with or without the title, you serve in that role.  If so, you carry a heavy and important mantle for your university.  The present and the future is digital.  To the extent to which we effectively and insightfully plan and vision for our digital future will, in large part, determine how well we will thrive in the coming few years.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through 
 Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy
 
 

Online: Trending Now #54 The Arizona State/edX Global Freshman Academy
 Just a week ago, Arizona State University and edX announced the Global Freshman Academy The project begins with set of eight courses that may be expanded to a dozen to be delivered in MOOC format that are designed to meet the general education requirements of the freshman year at ASU.  Students will not have to pay for the courses unless they pass.  And if they choose to pay, the tuition will be $200 per credit hour. 
 
In the news release, ASU President, Michael Crow, is quoted as saying “We’re committed to academic inclusion and student success, regardless of a student’s family circumstances…. We will not be successful unless we reach talent from all backgrounds around the world, and the worldwide reach of the revolutionary edX platform allows us to open this program to anyone with the drive to obtain their degree.” 
 
The $200 per credit hour tuition is far from free, and in fact, it is higher than many community colleges charge for courses – even online courses – around the United States.  But, the community college tuition is paid up front, and in many cases, is not fully refundable after the midpoint of the term.  Further, the ASU credit is offered by one of the most innovative universities in the country which enjoys wide transferability of credit.  This Arizona State University/edX initiative is one that deserves recognition for the bold step that it is to provide affordable access to quality online introductory college courses.
 
That leads me to an ASU announcement that you may have missed regarding another innovative initiative.  Last year, the university announced the Starbucks College Achievement plan in which half time Starbucks employees received partial tuition scholarships for the first two years of study and full tuition for the final two years.  Just a few weeks ago, the university and Starbucks announced “now all eligible part-time or full-time partners can apply for and complete all four years of a bachelor’s degree through ASU’s top-ranked online degree program…. By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we will provide them a critical tool for lifelong opportunity. We're stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success."

It is easy to be cynical about these ventures, but I am not.  These innovative and daring initiatives, at a time in which the state of Arizona, among so many other states, is dramatically cutting back on support of state universities, are laudable and enviable.  If all of our universities were to exhibit the initiative and innovation of Arizona State University and its leaders, we might just be able to solve some of the large issues facing higher education today.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy
 

Online: Trending Now #53 The Non-Profit (For-Profit) University - April 6, 2015

Federally-guaranteed student loans now total more than one and a quarter trillion dollars.  Check out the student loan debt clock for the latest tally:
http://www.finaid.org/loans/studentloandebtclock.phtml

As it turns out students seeking federal aid are not evenly distributed among universities.  For-profit online universities have come under close scrutiny by regulators in recent years because “86% of for-profit college income comes from Federal taxpayers. Moreover, 96% of for-profit students receive federal financial aid.”   This far exceeds the number for non-profit public and private universities.  In fact, according to the Department of Education, Students at for-profit colleges represent only about 13 percent of the total higher education population, but about 31 percent of all student loans and nearly half of all loan defaults. In the most recent data, about 22 percent of student borrowers at for-profit colleges defaulted on their loans within three years, compared to 13 percent of borrowers at public colleges.” This has motivated the department to propose additional rules to help assure that students are not disadvantaged by predatory practices.

 
The pressure of the federal government has led some for-profit universities to seek non-profit status.  And, this has raised new concerns.  The New York Times recently revealed some of the more egregious cases: 
 
"Consider Keiser University in Florida. In 2011, the Keiser family, the school’s founder and owner, sold it to a tiny nonprofit called Everglades College, which it had created.
As president of Everglades, Arthur Keiser earned a salary of nearly $856,000, more than his counterpart at Harvard, according to the college’s 2012 tax return, the most recent publicly available. He is receiving payments and interest on more than $321 million he lent the tax-exempt nonprofit so that it could buy his university.
"
 
The New York Times report goes on to cite a number of other for-profit universities that are following the same path.  Because of the indiscretions of for-profits in the past enrollments in for-profits have stalled and declined.  Securing a non-for-profit status has significant marketing value for some for-profit universities. 
 
We all know that there are some upstanding, high-quality for-profit institutions.  These universities offer quality instruction; do not push students into loans that they will never be able to repay; and do not direct students into fields in which they have little chance to build successful careers.  But, the question remains, does a change in profit status alone mean that the university changes its practices?  By shifting profits directly into the pockets of administrators rather than distributed to stockholders make a difference in high-pressure recruiting of under-qualified students; over-promoting student loans; and, ultimately, ruining the finances and career futures of so many students? 

Let’s go beyond caveat emptor to encourage public policies that discourage the predatory practices that are a blight on our field.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy


 

Online: Trending Now #52 Virtually There - Telepresence in Mixed Blended Classes - March 23, 2015
 

It seems that many of us face challenges at our universities to get full recognition for distant online students.  The old “out of sight; out of mind” adage seems applicable for online students at the campus.  We see it in many ways; some subtle, others overt.  Student services, learning center support, student newspaper coverage, and even admissions offices can seem to forget about those students at a distance.  Even though nearly one-third of the students at my university are online, the good folks who run our Facebook page recently ran a “take a selfie with your prof” contest.  That’s hard to do when you are 1,000 miles away from campus.  We did a quick work around with Lync conferencing images, but it serves as an example of the out of sight principle.  Even though one-third of the tuition and fee revenues from distant students and they fill one third of the “seats” in classes, because they are not visible, they are forgotten.
 
To test out this principle and the effect that it has on both on-campus and online students, Michigan State University has been experimenting with placing telepresence robots in face-to-face classes to let online students more effectively participate.    
 
John Bell, associate professor of counseling, educational psychology and special education at MSU, says “Our big concern is that if you aren’t physically present, you become a second-class citizen.”  Bell directs the CEPSE/COE Design Studio which last year experimented with placing robots in a doctoral on-campus class.  The robots were of two types, one type could not move around the room and had to be carried by the on-campus students; the other was self-powered and could move by remote control (but, they often bumped into obstacles).  In either case, the online students felt that were more completely accepted in the class, and on-campus students also felt that they came to look at the distant students in a more “equal” way. 
 
This experiment opens questions for further research.  How do students and faculty members make the transition to including, respecting and valuing distant students?  Is this merely a transitional period as we all adjust to virtual environments and online education?  What are the interactions between the online students and the on-campus students missing as a result of the distance?
 
I think that we have overcome many of the classroom challenges of engaging students online.  But, I fear that there remains a significant gap in the way in which we deliver important services to our distant students.  Even though they pay the same (or perhaps more) in tuition and fees, perhaps the services and other affordances that are taken for granted by on-campus students still remain incomplete or not as inclusive for online students because they are out of sight and out of mind.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

  

Online: Trending Now #51 Higher Education, McDonald’s and Costs - March 9, 2015
 
The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE jointly issue a highly regarded report each new year – the Horizon Report for Higher Education. The report looks at key trends expected over the next half dozen years in adoption and advancement of technologies in education.  Historically, it has proven to be a good map of the future path in our field.  I highly recommend you look at the 2015 report. 
 
This year, the report contained references to “wicked challenges” ahead.  In looking at rewarding quality teaching the report cites a study showing that a stunning 76.4% of those teaching in post-secondary education are contingent or adjunct faculty members!  Just imagine the changes we have seen in higher education in the past few years.  The original study by AAU reports that as recently as 2009, that figure was 50%. 
 
A discussion of these numbers prompted a colleague of mine at the University of Illinois Springfield, Michele Gribbins, to look up a report from McDonald’s which states “At restaurants owned by the company, over three quarters of our crew employees work part-time, averaging slightly less than 18 hours per week.” 
 
So it seems that we in higher education have reached the same benchmark as McDonald’s in the employment status of those who serve (teach) our customers (students) – three quarters are part timers.  The average compensation of these instructors is notoriously low – commonly between $2,500 and 5,000 per course.  At the same time, a student pays about $1,000 in tuition for a three credit hour class at a public university; an average class of 25 students generates $25,000.  So, 10% of the revenue is invested in the teacher with 90% going for overhead and elsewhere. 
 
Recently, the Service Employees International Union announced an aspirational goal of $15,000, including benefits, per class for adjunct faculty members.  Though SEIU says they will not immediately seek this level of compensation for represented units of part time faculty, they believe it is a fair goal. 
 
Certainly, the expectations and the hourly wages of MacDonald’s employees are considerably below that of the part timers in higher education.  But, the announcement by SEIU begs the question of what do we in higher education believe is the appropriate compensation for the instructors of our classes in whom is entrusted the engagement and assessment of our students.  And, how might our operating budgets adjust to adjunct compensation in the $10,000 to $15,000 per course range.  

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

  



Online: Trending Now #50  February 23, 2015  HoloLens Breaks Google Glass

Microsoft, the sleeping giant, awakened with the announcement of Windows 10 and the amazing HoloLens associated technologies that some say promise to eliminate the computer screen! And, with the announcement of this much more advanced and versatile device, it became clearly apparent why Google pulled Glass the week before. The implications for the “Windows Holographic” technology in education are nothing short of revolutionary – and we may see the goggles available for educational applications on a limited basis as early as this fall. We need to understand the potential and begin visioning applications now.

 
HoloLens is a see-through goggle that enables the user to see three-dimensional images projected into the room, lab, or wherever the user is located. Those who have used it most often describe the experience as making science fiction, reality.

Information Week compares the HoloLens to Google Glass:

HoloLens could be categorized as a virtual reality (VR) device, as well as an augmented reality (AR) product like Google Glass. It's easy to see how Microsoft's product is more advanced. Its headset recognizes the wearer's vocal communication, eye movement, and hand gestures to help facilitate interaction between the virtual world and the real world. While HoloLens is designed to project images in midair and on surrounding objects, Glass was designed to perform the functions of a smartphone. Like a phone, Glass could support apps, provide directions, take photos and videos, and perform Internet searches. It didn't offer much functionality that a smartphone doesn't.
 

In a two-minute video, Microsoft shows examples of how the HoloLens will change the way we use computers to share and manipulate three-dimensional images that foreshadows ways in which we may be able to engage learners at a distance. Note how Microsoft is integrating the HoloLens into Skype in the “plumbing” part of this video this video: http://youtu.be/aThCr0PsyuA.

It appears that Microsoft’s plan is to make money more on software than hardware; rumors are that the goal is to keep the price below $500.

The HoloLens is different from virtual reality in that it mixes a view of physical environment with three dimensional images. It is augmented reality. You can walk around those images; look from the top and bottom; manipulate them; and even layer graphics upon them in an educational application. As we visualize the future of learning at a distance, and even in the classroom, we should be considering the augmented reality potential of images, objects, interactive personifications, and artificially intelligent 3-D avatars in instruction, tutoring, and advising – imagine the possibilities!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

  

Monday Briefing #49  February 9, 2015  From Online to On-Demand Learning

In the mid-1990s, online learning began to make an impact in higher education.  Now, 20 years later, online learning is offered in a wide variety of formats from short courses to self-paced courses to direct competency assessment online.  And even newer trends have emerged that are likely to have an increasing impact this year.
 
After a year and a half of study, a campus-wide committee at MIT issued a number of recommendations last summer, including one to move away from pre-packaged three credit hour classes to modules that make sense.  It was suggested in the report that MIT “explore online and blending learning models to improve access to the graduate curriculum — including the availability of online, on-demand modules for students wishing to access discrete areas of knowledge.” 
 
While not unprecedented, this move is an important one; adding a level of credibility to the shifting of a share of the responsibility for the curriculum design from the institution to the student.  Recognizing that students are capable of choosing modules that are relevant to their education, this approach is particularly well-suited for the adult learners in continuing and professional studies. 
 
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) has been offering on demand learning for quite some time.   On their Webpage, KCTCS offers a continuum of examples of how their “learn on demand” program can meet the needs of professionals as they advance through their careers: http://learnondemand.kctcs.edu/about
 
Self-paced online learning offered in relatively short, tightly-focused modules holds appeal for busy professional learners.  But, moving from online to on-demand delivery of modules is not without challenges.  Research shows us that interaction and engagement of instructors with students are important elements of learning success in most classes.  Offering that kind of engagement to students who are starting at any date of their choice and progressing at their own speed presents logistical challenges.  Emerging adaptive learning alternatives may hold answers to many of the challenges. 
 
The advent of self-paced, modular-based learning promises to alter the playing field in online distance learning.  Institutions that are able to solve the pedagogical, logistical and procedural challenges to offer on-demand learning at scale will hold a competitive advantage in the emerging higher education environment. 
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy
 

Monday Briefing #48  January 26, 2015  What We Have Learned from MOOCs (so far)

MOOCs have been around in one form or another for half a dozen years. We continue to learn much from the format. And, they continue to evolve in new ways, spawning useful research results, tools, and applications.

In the early days – before the fall 2011 debut of Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig's xMOOC on Artificial Intelligence  connectivist MOOCs reigned. They were large-scale examples of what has come to be described as heutagogy which is picking up steam as more and more adults pursue self-directed, connected learning opportunities. MOOCs are rich environments for the adult learner to self-select and direct learning to meet individual needs. Without the pressure of final grades and transcripts, MOOCs are meeting informal learning needs. We continue to learn about heutagogy from MOOCs.

Thrun and Norvig's original MOOC, itself, has evolved with the "mainstream" MOOCs. It is now offered by Udacity as a self-paced MOOC that is free and promises to "always" be available. With massive numbers of students engaged in such self-paced classes, we continue to leverage technology to offer on-demand classes that enable learners to access classes when and where they need them.

Recently, Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller published a brief article on "What MOOCs Teach Us." With more than ten million learners enrolled since its inception, Coursera remains the largest MOOC provider. MOOCs demonstrate that the appetite for continuing and professional education is especially strong. Koller reports that 85 percent of Coursera learners are adults seeking either to improve/extend their work skills or to expand their knowledge horizons.

Koller reports that MOOCs demonstrate learner qualities of dedication and self-motivation. She cites a study by Duke and RTI International showing that nearly three-quarters of employers look favorably on MOOC completion in the hiring process. Koller says MOOC acceptance is "a signal that a four-year degree is no longer sufficient for a lifelong career."

Much work continues with the advent of "learning hubs" for MOOCs. Spurred by the US State Department constructing hubs for Coursera support sites in strategic sites around the world, learning hubs are springing up in libraries and campuses around the country. Corporate MOOCs are also growing rapidly. 

MOOCs continue to be a learning mode in progress. We will find new applications and nuanced uses of old applications in the year ahead. It is important that we keep our minds open to finding innovative ways to apply the research results, tools, and techniques that emerge from MOOCs. 

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy
 


Monday Briefing #47  January 12, 2015  Lizard Squad, the Interview and Online Learning

As we launch this new year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the year ahead will be filled with opportunities for growth. The economy is on the rise; unemployment on the decline; and the demand for online professional and continuing education is headed on a high trajectory, fueled by technology advances and other opportunities. But, also there are clouds on the horizon.

In the coming year, we are likely to confront an increasing number of hacks and cyber-attacks. And, although most of these may not be directed at higher education, some will and others will be so large that higher ed will suffer significant collateral damage.

Over the holiday season we watched as the data breach drama (reportedly much better than the movie itself) unfolded surrounding the Sony movie The Interview. The magnitude of the hack and the slow-motion release of mountains of corporate information and correspondence made clear the vulnerability of one of the largest Fortune 500 companies (#105 on the 500 list). And, to the rest of us, it made clear that power no longer resides only in traditional military force and weaponry. The Internet itself has become the playing field of international reputation, economic and political power.

The sad fact is that despite higher education being a tiny fraction of the data holders in the U.S., fully 35% of the data security breaches take place at higher education institutions. Budgets are relatively low in higher ed. But, the fact remains that more than one-third of the incursions take place in our field is disturbing.

The Lizard Squad attack on Xbox and PlayStation that blocked online access to all of their online users over the Christmas holiday apparently was initiated just "for laughs". Yet, it is stark evidence of just how vulnerable even technology giant Microsoft is to such attacks.

What will this coming year hold for Coursera, edX and even our own university online courses? How do we protect ourselves? And, perhaps more realistically, after we are attacked, how do we recover from a major hack? 

These are questions that we all must confront. Scrubbing data; backing up to highly secured standalone offline repositories; preparing alternative coure delivery modes; utilizing smart sampling for regular data validity testing; and more should become standard operating procedures in 2015.

As important and wonderful as our online programs have become, we must realize that we are operating on an increasingly hostile Internet environment where any program of value may become a victim.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,

Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

Monday Briefing #46  January 5, 2015 – Defining the Continuum of CBE
CBE – competency based education – is a hot term as we start the new year. It is a term about which there are some rather strong feelings expressed by educators, innovators, administrators and critics. And, that is good, except for the fact few recognize the continuum that is the truth about competency based learning.
In its simple, unbiased form, competency based learning refers to establishing learning outcomes (competencies) for programs and classes that make up the curriculum for those academic programs. Forming and stating learning outcomes for classes, certificates and degrees are not very controversial. Most all professional certifying associations use these outcomes to assure a level of consistency in what constitutes a class or credential.
The term competency has been used in the medical education field for a long time. In an effort to assure that a common set of competencies are learned by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, competencies have been prominent for some 15 years. And, to most of us consumers of health services, it makes a lot of sense to assure that surgeons and diagnosticians have some basic set of competencies that assure they will address our health needs properly.
But, the controversy over the term competency based education comes about among those who look only at direct assessment of experientially-gained competencies. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) programs have been common in higher education for decades. These usually involve faculty members assessing portfolios of prior work to determine if they reflect mastery of competencies worthy of credit. Detractors of this approach often suggest that much is missing, particularly a depth of theoretical understanding of the subject.
More often today CBE has come to refer to online self-paced classes with milestone tests to assure that competency has been achieved. Sometimes the term mastery is applied in place of competency to indicated that learning has taken place at a more complete level – the equivalent of an “A” or “B” rather than a “C” in a class.
So, there is a continuum of competency based education offerings ranging from traditional courses with express learning outcomes; to direct assessment of previously learned competencies; to mastery learning in which deeper learning than a passing grade implies must be accomplished.
It is most likely that we are going to see competency based programs continue to grow, in part because employers appreciate the clarity offered by expressly listing competencies that must be mastered in specified courses, certificates and degrees. It is important that we who lead in the field of continuing and professional education take a leadership role in shaping standards for CBE at our institutions and in our disciplines. We have much to contribute to this trend that is likely to sweep across higher education as it already has across medical education in recent years.
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy


 
Monday Briefing #45 - December 29, 2014 – Trends in 2015
 
As we have arrived at the end of the 2014 calendar year, it is a time for reflection and, more importantly, for looking ahead to what we will confront in 2015. A number of trends were headlining last year. Some of them will continue to grow in the coming year, others will morph into something new; some will fade away, and still others will emerge.  

Among the trends that will continue to grow and headline in the year ahead is the fiscal train wreck that is higher education. Student loans continue to grow, now moving into the one trillion, three hundred billion dollar territory.  And one very concerning aspect is that students don’t seem to even know the magnitude of their loans and the heavy interest they will pay over the life of the loans. States are continuing to disinvest in higher education. Though the drop in per-student funding is leveling off, there is no clear indication that states will ever return to the level of funding that higher education enjoyed pre-2008.

MOOCs continue to evolve. From the early days when most MOOCs were little more than lecture series with a few videos thrown in to make them more appealing, we have seen a movement toward “blending” of MOOC delivery. Learning hubs and meet-ups have emerged to provide opportunities for some face-to-face time with tutors, advisors and teachers. Through international sites funded by the US State Department and local libraries across the country, including the New York Public Library, we have seen most MOOCs provided a physical home for student engagement and discussion.  

Fading away are more and more departments and colleges at vulnerable institutions. We are on the brink of seeing scores of colleges close due to lack of funding and/or enrollments. I follow these trends daily in the Recession Realities blog. The toll in the coming year promises to be bigger than in the years gone by.  

The biggest disruption is still before us:  the advent of competency-based learning. Not only have we seen the emergence of the Wisconsin Flex program but also the University of Texas Tex program and even more recently the Kentucky Commonwealth College program. All of these are competency-based programs. Most such programs are beginning to feature tuition by the calendar rather than credit hour. That is, all-you-can complete classes in three to six months for one flat fee, no matter how many credit hours are taken. Many of these changes are articulated in detail in Michelle Weise’s recent cover article in EDUCAUSE Review. Dr. Weise will offer the closing keynote at the UPCEA-ACE Summit for Online Leadership and Strategy in San Antonio, January 21st.


I would also like to remind you that the new year is bringing some changes to the Monday Briefing. UPCEA will be launching a new publication -- the UPCEA Briefing -- starting on January 5. Thus, this is the last stand-alone issue of the Monday Briefing. The UPCEA Briefing is a semi-monthly e-newsletter which will be delivered to your inbox with the latest updates within professional, continuing, and online education. Be on the look out for my continued reflections in this new publication.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #44 - December 22, 2014 – the Horizons of Pedagogy
 
The British Open University recently released their third annual report on Innovating Pedagogy. Many of us are familiar with the EDUCAUSE/New Media Consortium Horizon Report that highlights half a dozen emerging technologies that are expected to break loose over the next one to five years. The Innovating Pedagogy report is a similar report, only this one highlights ten pedagogical innovations that are seen as emerging over the next few years.  It is an increasingly important report. 
 
A full-text PDF version of this report is available to download from http://www.open.ac.uk/innovating. I encourage you to download the free, Creative Commons Attribution–licensed report and share it widely with faculty, developers and others responsible for teaching innovation at your institution. I think you and they will enjoy it as much as I do. Here are some examples from the 38-page report.
 
Learning design informed by analytics is described as “a productive cycle linking design and analysis of effective learning.”  The Open University team gives it a “high potential impact” rating on a timescale of two to five years. Appropriately, the emphasis is placed on assuring that reliable data is collected to fuel the design. Over the next few years we will come to better understand which variables are more important than others and how we can include informal learning (and personal learning networks) into the formal learning objectives.
 
Learning to Learn is an important skill that is described as “medium” impact on an “ongoing” timescale. I would suggest that this is a high impact skill, and one that we should not ignore in our online, blended and face-to-face programs. Few students (or faculty for that matter) have gone through exercises to learn to learn. Assuming that our professional and continuing education students want to determine their own outcomes, mindful learning is most useful. The “double-loop learning” process can be described well as a technique that empowers learners to extend their learning framework beyond the formal class to include continuing and more expansive learning opportunities.
 
I think that I found my true self in the Bricolage section of the report! Described as “creative tinkering with resources” this section is assigned a “high” impact with a long timescale of four or more years. Also described in the report is the “second use of the term in education relates to engaging in innovation by creative exploration of the practices and technologies needed to achieve an educational goal.” Likening this to the way children play, the potential is great for innovation and invention as one pursues this approach to learning. The report links this approach to the way in which the Web was conceived by Tim Berners Lee. Great fun, and, great impact! I hope you find time to read this report.


I want to thank you for your loyal readership of the Monday Briefing over the past year. I would also like to let you know that the new year is bringing some changes to the Monday Briefing. UPCEA will be launching a new publication that you will automatically be subscribed to -- the UPCEA Briefing -- starting on January 5. The UPCEA Briefing is a semi-monthly e-newsletter which will be delivered to your inbox with the latest updates within professional, continuing, and online education. Be on a look out for my continued reflections in this new publication.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #43 - December 8, 2014 – Not Disruption, but Milkshakes
 
Often, I blog about Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruption, especially as it applies to online learning and higher education. I am not alone. The executive director of Gallup Education, Brandon Busteed, also pays attention to Christensen’s insights. But, in a recent essay published by Gallup, Busteed points to some findings from a recent study conducted in partnership with Purdue University that point to another potential cause of disruption in higher education. The study probed associations between experiences at college and later experiences of “well-being” (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical) after the students entered the workforce. They found linkages to how deeply “supported” the students felt they were by faculty and others at the universities they attended. If students had engaged mentors and attentive advisers they tended to have higher levels of “well-being” after graduation. 
 
Busteed does not disagree with predictions of disruption in higher education. In fact, he says he agrees that many of Christensen’s predictions may come true. However, Busteed believes that the disruption of institutions will be the result of more than just changes in the mode of education delivery. He suggests that we need to be careful to include close communication and engagement in our online programs to assure that they provide the support that leads to later well-being for our graduates.
 
This leads me to another insight – one that is overlooked by many 
 from Clayton Christensen.  For disruption believers and non-believers alike, please read on; I think you will find this insightful. In one of his many stories, Christensen points to a study that he and some of his colleagues did for McDonalds a number of years ago. He spins this tale in less than five minutes – time very well spent – at YouTube: http://youtu.be/Kjcx87JmhvM. I know that you will not be disappointed if you take five minutes to view that short video!
 
In brief, he describes that he and his colleagues were asked to recommend how to improve the milkshakes sold by the fast food outlet. The researchers sought to determine why people “hired” milkshakes. In this case, they found 
 surprisingly  that half of all milkshakes were sold before 8:00 am, mostly to people who took the milkshakes with them on their drive to work. In asking McDonalds’ patrons, they determined the real motivation of those who bought (“hired”) the shakes was to have a convenient, non-messy, solution to the problem of getting some sort of tasty breakfast alternative that could be consumed while driving. 
 
The message of the video is that once you understand why people “hire” a product, it is much easier to find ways to improve and expand the product. The question, then, for us in higher education is “Why do students/families ‘hire’ colleges and universities?”  Are most of them motivated to spend tens of thousands (or one hundred thousand) dollars to become cultured and educated in classics, or are they hiring us to help prepare them for a successful career and the “well-being” uncovered in the Gallup/Purdue study? If it is the latter, how can we improve our product?
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!


Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #42 - December 1, 2014 – Our Students Are Parents
I have known for years that online students were older than the traditional college students of a couple of decades ago. The average age of online undergraduate and graduate students at my university is 34 or 35. It varies just a little from year to year without a perceptible trend. One of the realities that I often mention, but did not have a number for, is that many students are parents. That wasn’t true a few decades ago, but now it is true for both online and commuting students alike. A growing number of campus students are parents as well.
Knowing that students are parents is one thing, but seeing the numbers released by the Women’s Institute for Policy Research last month are enough to make one take notice.The Institute reports that nearly five million college students are raising children! To put that into perspective, nearly one third (32%) of women attending college are parents. Very nearly half (47%) of black women are parents. Only 18% of male students are parents. Overall, more half of the student parents (two million women and half a million men) are single parents!
Imagine, two and a half million of our college students are single parents who are juggling child care, classes, and in many cases, jobs. Students with children spend on average more than 30 hours a week on dependent care. As a result, 33% of these parent/students are less likely to complete a degree or certificate within six years.
The impact of parenthood on the college student extends well beyond the degree. The average undergraduate debt among women parent students is $29,452, which is above the national average. According to the report, that’s $3,800 more than the debt of female students with no children and nearly $5,000 more than that of male students with no children.
What does this mean to us as we develop and deploy professional programs?
We should certainly remember the time and financial constraints faced by our students. Blended programs that reduce commute time and expense can be especially helpful. And, online programs that enable students to time shift work to hours when their children need less attention can be even more helpful.
 As we design and develop our classes, I think we would do well to keep our students in mind. As we create those assignments, put ourselves in the place of a single parent taking the class and streamline the work to assure that high quality is achieved in the most efficient way. We must never compromise quality, but we also must never engage our students in busywork or waste their time with out-of-date assignments and requirements that do not lead to achieving the learning objectives established for our courses, certificates and degrees. All students will appreciate this attention to efficiency and focus.
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director

UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #41 - November 24, 2014 – Thanksgiving for Online
 
This week, as those of us in the U.S. prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we might take a moment to reflect on where our professional and continuing education programs would be without online and blended learning. It’s hard to imagine where we might be if we were not delivering our programs to students at a distance using the Internet. 
 
Recall the correspondence courses of the past; perhaps even courses delivered via television and newspapers. Compared to today, those enrollments were anemic and the interaction between instructor and student was very slow indeed. They were, for the most part, one-way affairs in which the information was sent to the student with only the occasional test or essay in return. They were much like the one-way communication of reading a book. Engaging though books may be with the right author, they are not interactive and dynamic technologies that engage us in dialogue and shared thoughts. 
 
Now our classes are dynamic and interactive. They bristle with the electricity of instant communication and they are alive day and night, seven days a week. Our students engage one another; not just those students who come to campus or gather on satellite campuses, but all of the students from distant points. Cultures come together in the name of learning in our online classes. And that is a special thing indeed in these times of ethnic and religious conflict and imperfect tolerance of diversity around the world.
 
Do you remember when we would send instructors out to teach continuing education workshops and mini-courses at meeting rooms in towns small and cities large around the county, state, country and world? Armed with brief cases and boxes full of handouts and exams, our dauntless instructors would head out in the car, train and plane to “ride the circuit” of teaching the workshops and classes du jour. Just imagine those who would have drawn the lots to teach in Buffalo and Rochester, New York, last week! Instead, thanks to online learning, our instructors were snugly tucked into offices with headsets and keyboards to communicate with students who remained home, sheltered from the storms, using their tablets, phablets and smartphones, taking our webinars and online workshops. 
 
And, now, as we read that on-campus classes continue to decline in attendance,Moody’s reports that tuition income is lagging behind inflation. More often now, the administration is turning to our professional studies schools, departments and units for subsidies for the flagging core departments where enrollments are falling the fastest. We are reminded that our “non-traditional students” of the past – those thirty-something students who took night classes - are the new traditional students today; and they are online. Professional studies are becoming the new core of the university. And, increasingly, we are teaching these professional studies students online. 
 
So, as we count our blessings, let’s include the technologies and foresight that have enabled us to remain relevant and to continue to thrive when others have not. 
 
Enjoy the holiday!
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #40 - November 17, 2014 – Net Neutrality
 
Once again, Net Neutrality was in the news this past week with President Obama calling on the Federal Communications Commission to classify Internet Service Providers as Title II Common Carriers. That comes in response to a federal appellate court ruling earlier this year overturning the long-standing net neutrality rules. The court decision follows the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars by Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner to overturn the practice of equal treatment of streaming online. More recently, the FCC opened the practice for public comment, receiving nearly four million responses, 99 percent of which supported continuing Net Neutrality. Major tech leaders including Google, Microsoft, Netflix and hundreds of others support keeping the equal treatment policy.

All Internet signals are treated equally along the major backbones of the ‘net worldwide. It is only at the “last mile” that Internet Service Providers have access to give preferential treatment to some streams. And, they want to do that in order to charge for a “fast lane” service to Netflix and other major streaming providers. In turn, of course, those hundreds of millions of dollars in fees would be passed along to consumers.

Even as matters stand now, the U.S. lags far behind many other countries in download speeds. For example, Hong Kong boasts an average speed of nearly 100 mbps; South Korea 90 mbps; the Republic of Moldova registers an average of 47 mbps; Bulgaria 33 mbps; and the U.S. 32 mbps. That’s not very impressive, especially when we are facing the possibility that free signals may face further reduced download speeds if Net Neutrality is no longer in force.

So what does all of this mean to higher education, and in particular online learning?

The importance of all of this is that streamed lectures, interactive modules, and synchronous sessions rely upon equal treatment now to assure that streams are received unbroken by students. If Net Neutrality is removed, the bandwidth available to colleges and universities will be restricted. Our streams will be impaired in some markets at undefined times due to the bandwidth claimed by the “Internet fast lane” that Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner are seeking to establish. It is possible that we may be able to purchase fast lane bandwidth, but most likely the costs will be prohibitive for most institutions.

So, Net Neutrality is important to higher education. It is not a trivial matter. Here’s hoping that our equal access to last mile bandwidth will be preserved and that the United States will improve our overall bandwidth so that we can reach parity with Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, and, perhaps someday, the Republic of Moldova.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #39 - November 10, 2014 – The Great Shift in Funding Public Higher Ed
 
A couple of items in the Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA this week put exclamation points on the dramatic shift in the funding of public higher education in America. One item comes to us from down-under, the Australian Business Insider interviewed renowned Harvard Professor Clay Christensen on his theory of disruption in industries, including higher education. In the interview, Christensen reasserted his prediction that half of the universities in America will be bankrupt in the next 15 years. Christensen is quoted: “Yes.  Everybody else thinks that it’s absolutely crazy. But, I think I’ll be right.” Christensen points to the disconnect between what is taught and what employers (and, therefore students) seek. He explains that even at Harvard Business School, what is taught now is of value “for people who don’t leave the school to be managers.” Over time our degrees are losing salience. 
 
Michelle R. Weise, co-author of with Christensen of Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution explains that there is an “academic inertia” that is very difficult to break. There are three different value propositions pursued by universities simultaneously, ranging from knowledge construction, knowledge proliferation and social growth of students, that constrain universities from focusing on making changes to meet marketplace demands. This puts universities at a disadvantage in meeting expectations of regulators and those who provide funding. 
 
Meantime, the ripples of the recession continue to erode financial support for public universities.  A fascinating interactive map of the United States was released by the Center for American Progress. The map graphically demonstrates the huge shift in funding of public higher education from 2007 to 2012.  And, the shift continues. As Chronicled in the daily blog on Recession Realities in Higher Education, state colleges and universities continue to struggle with reduced funding, layoffs, closure of departments and schools. 
 
I do not doubt Clay Christensen’s predictions. I see the trends daily in the Recession Realities blog. The question is which universities will survive the cuts? Christensen believes that those who survive are universities with a top notch national reputation (as long as their reputations last) and those universities that respond to the marketplace of employers, offering students demonstrable competencies that are in demand. 
 
Fortunately, responsiveness to the marketplace has been at the forefront of our work in continuing and professional education for the past hundred years. We will continue to have good reason to celebrate in Washington, D.C. for the UPCEA 100th Annual Conference in March and in the years to come!
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #38 - November 3, 2014 – End of the Campus-Based MBA?
 
The buzz continues over business programs in online and blended formats. Competition is heating up. Executive MBA programs have tripled their electronic content in the past four years, and social networking for marketing has more than doubled over that same time period.
 
Perhaps even more important is the disruption that has come from MOOCs, or rather MOCs (Massive Online Courses). The movement is from open to paid-for massive courses in business fields. And the movement is generating real money for providers! MOOC provider edX has launched a number of executive business certificate programs. For example Innovation Ecosystems, developed by MIT's Sloan Business School, will cost students $1,249 up front. This sets the stage for head-on competition with other business schools. Meantime, Coursera, not to be left behind, has announced 18 new course “specializations” that conclude with a demonstration project and a certificate to show employers. 
 
This has put pressure on the traditional MBA programs. One example is the long-standing, well-regarded, Wake Forest MBA program. After five years of declining enrollments on campus and increasing enrollments online, Wake will close admissions to the on campus program beginning next year. Employers are enthusiastic about the program because their brightest employees can continue to work while pursuing the Wake Forest MBA online. 
 
Some 200 online MBA programs were examined by US News in their rankings of online business degrees. Although not all met the requirements to be ranked, the numbers continue to grow each year.
 
An interesting example of the transition from MOOCs to for-credit degrees is at the University of Cincinnati where they are making the second offering of the Innovation and Design Thinking course. This MOOC is free and open. But, those students who successfully complete the MOOC and subsequently enroll in the Cincinnati Lindner School of Business MBA program will receive two credits for the course applicable to their MBA at no charge. 
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

Monday Briefing #37 - October 27, 2014 – The Internet of Everything and Learning Online
 
We all are familiar with the Web and browsers; email and Facebook; blogs and Twitter; apps and more.  And, that’s the “people” side of the ‘net.  Yet, there is much more online that is not immediately apparent.  Devices are linked to devices; sensors are smartly connected to expert system software that use sophisticated decision-making algorithms.  It is the “Internet of Things” (IoT) or, as it is more recently called, “Internet of Everything” (IoE) that underlies the more public Internet that we consciously use.   
 
The four pillars of IoE are described as “people, process, data and things.”  It is the linkages and interaction of these four pillars that will dramatically change the way we teach and learn: 
 
Through IoE, the linear knowledge-sharing dialogue between teacher and student can evolve into something entirely within the student’s control. They will be able to learn at their own pace, focusing more on what they perceive as relevant to them. This, in turn, could lower the price of education with students customising a course of learning that is specific to their needs, paying only for what they want rather than a ‘one size fits all model’.... By 2018, we are set to see a whole a new way of learning. Education will become self-directed, with the drive to connect, evaluate and analyse being the true mark of a 21st century education. 
 
Those skills of connecting evaluating, and analyzing in a self-directed environment are not the ones we have emphasized in prior centuries.  They grow out of student-centeredness and constructivist approaches that we have been steadily building in our online classes.  These are markedly different that the teacher-centric, instructivist, lecture-based approaches that still reign supreme in many classrooms around the world. 
 
This transition in approach depends in large part upon the creation of a rich, connected environment in which students are stimulated, motivated and actively supported in their learning.  The future of learning we envision is one of ubiquitous connectivity, modularity and rapidly-responsive opportunities that anticipate the needs of employers and emerging markets.  Mara Hancock, CIO and VP for Technology at the California College for the Arts describes the density of connectivity in this emerging environment:
 
Since 2008, the number of physical items connected to the Internet has exceeded the number of people on earth. Sensors are embedded in the phones in our pockets and also in common consumer devices such as refrigerators and cars; in addition, stand-alone sensors can be placed throughout our environment and set to communicate to our phones, clothes, watches, or jewelry. Campuses are now dealing not only with bring your own device (BYOD) but also with bring your own sensor (BYOS)!  
 
These changes are already well on their way onto our campuses, offices and homes, connected via the Internet of Everything.  Are you ready?
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #36 - October 20, 2014 – Ebola, MOOCs and Learning Online
 
Sadly, the news is filled with the current sober realities and frightening predictions for the spread of a deadly disease. Is there a role for higher education to play in helping to stem the deadly tide of this disease across the ocean? Ebola is on the mind of those who travel, but increasingly it is also on the minds of college and university leaders. What if? What if this or another serious contagious disease were to surface on a campus, among students on athletic teams, among those students in the over-crowded dorms, in campus food service? What if there were a campus-wide quarantine?
 
In both cases, online learning has an important role to play. In the first instance, ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online), a global online education company based in Ireland, has provided a MOOC to more than 10,000 people in West Africa. The course is an effort to educate the affected population about preventing the spread of Ebola. Using smart phones and other devices the thousands of residents have received timely information about the disease and prevention strategies.  
 
This is one way in which higher education has changed. It is no longer the lethargic, slow-to-respond monolith of centuries past. Leveraging technologies, online learning providers can enable their expert faculty members and researchers to promptly reach out directly across the world to serve populations that can benefit from their expertise. No middle-man need be involved. A college or university can intervene to offer expertise where and when it is needed most, rather than being constrained to merely reflecting on disasters to their on-campus students in the semesters following the events.
 
But, what happens when disaster befalls a campus? Of course, we saw the power of online learning in the SARS epidemic when British universities intervened online to provide courses to students in Hong Kong. And, most dramatically, we saw 135 universities across the US mobilize to open up their online classes to students who were thrown out of some two dozen hurricane-ravaged campuses along the Gulf coast in the aftermath of Katrina. The “Sloan Semester” demonstrated the power of online learning in a disaster to universities around the world. 
 
If Ebola or another such disease were to sweep across the US, many universities are now prepared to move their classes to the “shelter” of online learning. Many campuses create a course shell for all classes that are offered, even on-campus classes, assuring that there is an online venue for every single student to continue their studies from a quarantined dorm room to any remote location around the world.  Faculty members also will be able to continue to teach online from their homes or elsewhere. Sierra Leone human rights attorney, and currently a student in the UK, Rashid Dumbuya has outlined such a plan for his country in the future. 
 
It is true that not all courses will be fully served in a hasty transition to online delivery in a disaster. Yet, having a ubiquitous alternative delivery venue instantly available that will transcend quarantines and natural disasters is a tremendous advantage to students and universities in the twenty-first century. 
 
Now may be a good time to review online learning’s role in our disaster plans. 
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
Director
UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy

 
Monday Briefing #35 - October 13, 2014 – MOOCs Discover Continuing and Professional Education
 
Massive Open Online Classes were first offered under that name in 2007.  They evolved from relatively modest sized (100 to 500 students) classes that engaged students in discovery classes where students would all contribute to the content and interactions. By 2011, these classes – often associated with the Connectivist approach advocated by George Siemens and others – expanded to reach a couple of thousand students at a time. Then, in the fall of 2011, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, both with connections to Google and Stanford, offered their Artificial Intelligence class to 160,000 students. Coursera, Udacity, edX and a plethora of other MOOC associations sprouted around the world. For the past couple of years, MOOCs have been casting about to find a business model that works to sustain their efforts.

Most recently, it appears that they have finally found their home in our field – professional and continuing education. Success stories are beginning to build for massive online course efforts, however they are not free.  In fact, they are generating impressive sums! One recent pilot from edX enrolled 3,500 people from more than 2,000 organizations, including large corporations, and grossed some $1,750,000!   

Sebastian Thrun has resigned his position as director of GoogleX to devote full time to his Udacity start-up. Of course, it is Udacity that is partnering with Georgia Techon the online Master of Science in Computer Science. And, Udacity has just opened their first “nanodegree.” This one is in front-end Web Development. It sold out almost immediately. The nanodegree, hosted by Udacity, is co-created by AT&T with additional course collaboration from Google, Hack Reactor and GitHub. More nanodegrees are on the way.

Udemy for Business has a whole host of offerings designed to serve a very wide range of professional and business needs. These mini-courses cost from less than $50 to more than $500; the majority are in the $50 to $100 range. Similarly, Lynda.com has hundreds of courses and thousands of video tutorials in the business field.

Coursera has not been left behind.  They are offering courses that tend to serve executives in the professions. And a series of finance classes are to begin in the spring in collaboration with Bank of New York Mellon. 

What this all means to those of us in the continuing and professional studies field remains to be seen. But, we are well-advised to closely follow these moves – perhaps even participate in them – as universities seek to leverage the massive nature of MOOCs to create a revenue stream in continuing and professional education. 

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #34 - October 6, 2014 – 3-D Future of Higher Ed Computing
 
We live in a 3-D World. On campus, we certainly teach in a 3-D world. Online, most of our offerings have been 2-D… until now!

There is a move afoot to make three dimensions the standard input for laptops and tablets.  Intel is helping to lead the way, implementing gestures and scenes that augment reality with virtual objects and characters. Earlier this year, Intel announcedits 3-D sensing laptop; 3-D webcams for laptops and 3-D tablets are expected to hit the market in the next few months.  And the Leap Motion device has been on the market at less than $100 with very high resolution 3-D motion control for nearly a year.

When one couples the 3-D sensing with a 3-D monitor (not requiring glasses),  you get a robust environment where magical (artistic and scientific) student experiences can take place.  Check out the videos at this site: http://www.holografika.com/. Users can see around objects, even the back side of objects. Users can move, shrink, rotate, and manipulate three dimensional images. There are many more vendors of these technologies coming to the marketplace. 

What does the coming-of-age of three dimensional technologies mean to us? It means virtual labs can become so much more real. It means that simulations take on a realism that we have not seen before. This opens the door to delivering high-quality laboratory, studio, role-playing, and field experiences to students at a distance. 

In important ways the 3-D optimization will enable distance learning to be better than “live” classes, allowing students to time-shift, repeat, and manipulate learning sequences.  And, these capabilities will empower us to create even more immersive environments than we imagined with the avatars of virtual worlds. Adding multi user capability, we will be able to immerse ourselves in an engaging interactive learning environment to manipulate and interact at a distance with in ways previously unimagined.
 
This may well become the future of the online learning environment; an enhanced environment that is actually better than the “real” thing! 
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #33 - September 29, 2014 – Unbundling Higher Education
 
Student debt for higher education in the US continues to grow – it is now $1,200,000,000,000. To make matters worse, students who are accruing the rising debt are facing employment challenges that are among the worst ever seen for new graduates. Slate magazine’s report summarizes it this way:
 
Today’s crop of new B.A.s are staring at roughly 8.5 percent unemployment, 16.8 percent underemployment. Close to half of those who land work won’t immediately find a job that requires their degree, and for those stuck in that situation, there are fewer “good” jobs to go around. Welcome to adulthood, class of 2014.

This comes in an environment of cuts in higher education funding from both the state and federal governments. Large public university systems that had, at one time, been supported by 50% state funding are operating on budgets now that include 15% or less in state appropriations. As a result, tuition and fees have risen, resulting in greater student debt. 
 
These are among the factors that have added fuel to the fire of MOOCs for certificate or college credit, the Georgia Tech MOOC masters in Computer Science, the“nanodegrees” of Udacity, the University of Wisconsin Flexible degree program, and a host of other alternatives. It is clear that a solution has to be found to reduce costs if higher education is to serve a wide spectrum of Americans. That solution will most likely come as a continuum of programs, and many of these are likely to utilize online learning.
 
Most recently, the American Council on Education, which represents the presidents of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions, including two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities, has announced a plan to unbundle the first 30 credit hours of a college degree by endorsing credit for an assortment of lower division general education courses. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the initiative is described by ACE as:

…. a pool of about 100 low-cost or no-cost, lower division courses and general education online courses across 20 to 30 subject areas. In turn, 40 colleges and universities will agree to accept transfer credit for these courses, allow students to enroll with up to two years of credit toward a four-year degree, and track their success rates.... "This project will serve as an incubator and ecosystem for alternative credit and encourage greater acceptance of such credit by higher education institutions and systems," said Cathy Sandeen, ACE's vice president for education attainment and innovation.
 
The unbundling of higher education as we have known it seems inevitable. We all will be wise to consider how we may become part of the solution of providing lower-cost, wider access to degrees.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #32 - September 15, 2014 – Through the Glass Darkly
 
Google Glass is no longer the only tech-enhanced spectacle in town!  There are fully a dozen or more credible manufacturers who have developed, or have announced, plans to develop glasses for robust augmented reality. They have built-in microphones for audio control and input; video cameras to share your field of vision; inside the lens displays for up-close, privately shown information; and an array of applications to keep you fully informed. 
 
These devices are on the leading edge of what are now called wearable technologies or simply wearables for short. These are interfaces that are worn on your person to more easily and seamlessly complete your connection to the Internet or to other computing devices. They are capable of using video or audio input to complete rapid searches for information that is displayed inside the glasses lens or into an earphone.
 
A student on a field study could simply look at a fossil through smart glasses and instantly get matches displayed or spoken. A professor with a larger class could simply look at a student to be reminded of the name, major, etc. And, there are endless other ways in which smart glasses can be used to enhance teaching and learning – fourteen are described here
 
Wearable watches can give instant updates that can be viewed inconspicuously in class or in meetings. Tweets and other short messages can flash on the watch to inform the lecturer of questions or feedback from the class. Studies have shown that in the business environment wearables can increase productivity by 8.5% and employee satisfaction 3.5%.
 
This would seem to be the next step in the mobile learning movement. Students will not only be consuming classes through mobile device screens, but they will be using glasses displays and temple earphone/microphones to interact online. The movement will impact online class design.  Imagine, just as we are getting accustomed to designing for the mobile phone, tablet and phablet screen, we will soon need to take into account the miniscule heads-up display of glass lens display. But, the move to wearables also will enable countless opportunities for instant individualized inquiries/responses. A much more responsive and personal interface will certainly offer new learning enhancements that we have yet to imagine!
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #31 - August 25, 2014 – Movement to Modularize
 
Courses have been the building blocks of higher education for centuries.  It seems that our courses mean more to those of us in the field of higher education than to employers.  Too often the meaning of courses is relevant only by institution rather than by discipline.   What does Rhetoric 201 on a transcript really mean in terms of standardized outcomes and competencies the student has mastered?   It differs from university to university.  A quick look in Google turns up hundreds of Rhet 201 courses, ranging from pure writing classes to “the humanistic foundation of communication” to a study of Aristotle’s Rhetoric (remember ethos, logos pathos?).  If we do not have a common understanding of the courses, how can we (and employers) have a common understanding of the degrees and certificates we confer?
 
MIT recently released the results of an 18 month study by an Institute-Wide Task force on the Future of MIT education. The report urges the university to pursue a path of more global, more modular, and more flexible learning.  It is the modular approach that builds on current pedagogical and technological trends. The pedagogical move is to provide learning opportunities that are more focused and less rambling. The technological move is to collect data through frequent quizzing that allows expert programs to diagnose student problems and adapt to student preferences by referring students to modules tailored to meet the ways that each student learns best (adaptive learning). 
 
The full, 200-plus page, report points to a survey of MIT students that shows 40% feel that they have taken classes that would have benefitted by being broken down into modules. It follows that by dividing classes into learning modules, we may be able to more clearly describe the learning objectives on transcripts that are read by employers. 
 
The move to modularize may also afford economies in that we can share modules across curricula.  For example, many universities offer a plethora of “research methods” classes – one (or more) in each discipline. Yet, a significant portion of each of the classes includes material that is the same as that offered in the others.  Many of the classes include how to craft the effective hypothesis statement, qualitative/quantitative methodology approaches, sampling, essential statistic, testing validity of results, etc. These could be developed into online modules held in an institutional repository that could be selected for use by departments rather than replicating the topics again and again. Of course, each department might have a capstone module specific to research in that field.
 
The move to modularize enables us to retain that which is relatively static in the repository of modules, while selectively revising (perhaps re-naming) or completely eliminating outdated modules to be supplanted with ones that are timely and relevant.
 
It may be time to throw out the age-old concept of three-credit-hour or four-credit-hour courses and replace them with modules that can be used as building blocks for certifying competencies and degrees. Will your institution take the lead to help shape this movement, or will it lag behind only to eventually fall in line with the models pioneered by MIT and others?
 
Of course, I also will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #30 - August 18, 2014 – Online Competency Movement
 
Major change has begun in higher education – we are seeing MOOCs, adaptive learning, competency outcomes, and a call for better linkages with employers.  Sometimes when we look at the forces and changes from 30,000 feet, the movement and direction seems much clearer than it does at ground level. 
 
And, that’s the vision we seen revealed in the newly-released free online white paper by the Christensen Institute, “Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution.”  The paper, by Michelle R. Weise and Clayton Christensen, scopes out the forces at play:

The economic urgency around higher education is undeniable: the price of tuition has soared; student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion and is greater than credit card debt; the dollars available from government sources for colleges are expected to shrink in the years to come; and the costs for traditional institutions to stay competitive continue to rise…. Employers are demanding more academic credentials for every kind of job yet are at the same time increasingly vocal about their dissatisfaction with the variance in quality of degree holders.
 
In this environment, we find parents, students, employers, legislators, and regulators all united in calling upon higher education to become more affordable, more relevant to careers, and more responsive to student needs.  It is clear that values we have held dear in professional and continuing higher education are moving to the mainstream.  It is about learning in the context of a world economy that values skills and competencies, not just knowledge.  And, by that I mean cultivating actionable, workable, employable attributes among students. 
 
While MOOCs may find a role in this emerging environment, it will be for competency-based content rather than just the large numbers they may serve.  TheGeorgia Tech online Masters of Computer Science is a MOOC delivered professional degree. 
 
Adaptive learning is emerging as a competency based mode of assuring learning that is relevant and, in many cases, employable.  As Weise and Christensen write:Workforce training, competency-based learning, and online learning are clearly not new phenomena, but online competency-based education is revolutionary because it marks the critical convergence of multiple vectors: the right learning model, the right technologies, the right customers, and the right business model.

These, then are models to which we in UPCEA must pay attention.  A huge new marketplace for professional education is emerging, pushed by parents, legislators and regulators while at the same time it is pulled by employers.  And we stand in the vortex of these major market pressures.  We are the ones who are best positioned to provide leadership to our institutions to respond to the push and the pull.  We know this field well.  It is our stock-in-trade:  providing learning that is based in career-relevant employable skills and applicable knowledge. 
 
Download “Hire Education: Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution,” read it, and if you find it relevant, share it with upper administration along with a note that you are ready to help make this transition happen. 
 
Of course, I also will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #29 - August 11, 2014 – Predicting Change 
 
This week I have the honor of delivering the Wednesday keynote at the 30th annual Madison Distance Teaching and Learning Conference.  I hope to see many of you there!  My topic is “Keeping Ahead of the Wave” – how one can predict and prepare for changes in our field before they occur.  This is an increasingly important skill.  Change is coming fast and furious in higher education in this decade.  We document many of these changes in the Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. While there is much doom and gloom with falling enrollments and revenues in many universities, we must remember that with every crisis comes an opportunity. 
 
In predicting change in higher education we must, more than ever, track the economy.  We are no longer in a field that is impervious to the ups and downs of the economy.  We are no longer without competition.  With more than a trillion dollars in student debt and substantial unemployment/underemployment, many families are re-thinking the investment in higher ed.  Cost of living/inflation is poised to increase. Moody’s Investor Services has renewed their negative outlook for public higher education. The impact of the economy in higher ed is significant and growing as I document daily in the Recession Realities blog. In this environment we must be sensitive to changes that may make it even more difficult for prospective students to pay tuition.  We face competition from the likes of the “nanodegree” that is rolling out from Udacity with corporate partners assuring that they will hire nano-grads. 
 
In predicting change we must track the technologies of both yesterday and today.  They march forward, opening new doors to learning.  The advance of adaptive learning technologies, for example, enables us to provide individualized instruction to our students while helping to assure subject matter mastery.  The collecting and analyzing of learning data enables us to take full advantage of the four levels of learning analytics: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive.
 
All of these factors come together to create the future of online learning.  Those of us who carefully track the trends and read the tea leaves well stand to lead the rest of us.  And, those who ignore the trends risk their future in this rapidly-changing environment.  You can track my presentation site online as I prepare for Wednesday’s presentation. 
 
Of course, I also will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #28 - August 4, 2014 – Sharing Online Classes
 
The potential of online classes resides not just in time and location shifting for students, but also in the ways in which we can leverage our classes across institutions.  Imagine finding a way to fill all of those classes that are not fully enrolled!  No longer would you have to cancel under-enrolled classes just days before they are scheduled to start, disappointing both students and faculty members in the process. You could get additional revenue without additional expenditure. 
 
Many of our colleges and universities are part of a system of campuses or a collaborative group of other institutions.  Imagine opening up your online classes to enrollments from your partner universities.  And, your students would be able to enroll online in courses offered at the other institutions without having to go through formal admissions and transfer processes.
 
Earlier this year, I visited the University of South Dakota where the South Dakota Board of Regents maintains a portal through which students at all participating universities can sign-up for and take classes at member schools.  The Regents system facilitates this sharing across institutions. 
 
It’s all logistics.  And, granted, the logistics are not simple.  But, this is the realization of the true potential of online learning.  Not just anytime, anywhere for your students, but filling in the blanks of courses your institution cannot offer and with courses that other institutions can.  The potential is enormous.
 
The University of Missouri system realizes this.  They have announced that their course-sharing system will launch this fall.  And, their plan has already seeded 34 inter-campus classes that are designed to be offered online across their four campuses.  For example, the Columbia Tribune reports that “this year, an MU professor will teach a class called Military Culture: Issues for Helping Professionals, while an UMSL professor teaches Social Policy and Military Veterans. Students who are working toward social work degrees or graduate certificates can earn credit by taking both courses, which will likely alternate semesters.”  The Tribune further explains “Each of the campuses still have their own online programs, which are separate from the new effort, and if an MU student is interested in something available at the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, that student’s enrollment dollars for that class then move to Kansas City.”

Those systems and associations that are able to put the logistics in order will tap the enormous inherent potential of sharing online classes.  I will continue to follow the efforts in South Dakota and Missouri and report on them in the blog.
 
Of course, I also will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #27 - July 28, 2014 – Online Gaming… for Learning
 
Over the past two decades much research has been done on engaging students in online learning.  We have developed a host of good practices and effective methods of engaging students, teaching students, assessing students. 
 
But, there remains more to be learned and new techniques to be refined.  Gaming is right at the top of my list.  Laura Devany of eSchool News puts it well:
 
Students frequently walk away from homework when it is too difficult, but difficult games are another matter–kids walk away from games when they're too easy. Difficult games present a positive challenge for students. A challenging task “stretches” a student’s brain, and the more a person expects his or her brain to do different things, the more pathways that person’s brain will develop. 
 
There is enormous potential in the gamification of online learning.  To the extent that we can fully engage students in the challenge of the game, build in rewards, and empower them to discover new ways to solve problems using all that we have previously shared with them, we may be able to bring those students to deeper learning. 
 
Games may play their most important roles at the beginning of a program and at the end of a program.  One can build games into an existing program, adding challenges and an inviting mode of assessment. 
 
Professor Karl Kapp describes the continuum of gaming and how to get started:
 
The first thing is to keep in mind is that gamification is not a technology-driven methodology. Instead, think of gamification as a design methodology… In some cases, people will think gamification is the use of serious games—games for teaching. In other cases, people will think it is the addition of points, badges, and leaderboards. And some people will see it as the redesign of instruction to make it more game-like with the addition of themes, interactivity, and more feedback.  It is not that one definition is right or wrong; it is that everyone in the organization needs to have agreement on what the term actually means for your organization. I tend to think of gamification as a continuum. On one end is a high-quality, fully immersive, 3D game. Meanwhile, on the other end is the addition of a point system to learning.

Incremental approaches are often the best.  After reading a publication by Professor Kapp or another expert easily found online, you might start at the simpler side of the continuum and perhaps scale over time to the more fully immersive game. 
 
 As with much else in our field, many of the techniques we apply in gaming may be replicable in multiple courses and can provide building blocks for further development.
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #26 - July 21, 2014 – Mini Online Courses, Building Blocks of the Future
 
As we have heard in recent weeks, Udacity and AT&T are teaming up again for “nanodegrees” online. In this case these “degrees” are comprised of a number or so mini-classes that are designed to be completed within twelve months or even sooner by students who put more time into the effort. They are self-paced with students paying $200/month for access – those who finish sooner save money!
 
The next big thing in online learning may be something even smaller - the advent of mini or micro courses online.  These courses may even be taken in just one full day of learning.  This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights an example by Donald Boudreaux, an economics professor at James Mason University.  
 
This can be seen as a movement toward creating “building block” classes that can be used as modules to construct certificates or even degrees.  The flexibility provided can be empowering.  Imagine a college or university offering half a dozen online modules, each one being stand-alone with both formative and summative assessments.  Yet, the modules can be combined in approved sequences to provide the equivalent of a traditional course. 
 
For example, a couple of ethics modules might be constructed to provide historical context and principles for ethics study.  Other modules might focus on applications of ethics in contemporary society.  And, still others might build upon lessons covered in the first two groups to apply ethics in different disciplines such as biology, business, and education.  So, out of three groups of online self-paced mini-courses students might assemble relevant sequences that are either the equivalent of bio-ethics, business ethics, or education ethics courses.  Or, perhaps more interestingly, students assemble unique courses in the ethics of bio-business or the ethics of the business of education. 
 
One can build on these permutations to assemble certificates or entire degrees that address specializations that may not be otherwise available at most colleges or universities.
 
The power of this concept is manifold.  It is enabled by online delivery, allowing asynchronous study at a distance as well as self-paced, allowing stand-alone units that be started at any time and completed at any speed.  The combination empowers the students (ideally with expert advising) to design courses that are most relevant to their interests and useful in their careers. 
 
This may be one face of online learning in the future.   
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #25 - July 14, 2014 – Retention of Online Students
 
I will be presenting at the Blackboard World conference in Las Vegas this week on the topic of retention strategies for online students.  Much has been made of the dropout rates of students enrolled in online programs.  To be sure these are often somewhat higher in online programs than on campus programs.  Nationally, I suppose retention is in the 60% range in many programs, where on campus programs run ten to twenty percent higher.  And, yet, this is not surprising since many students seem to enter online programs with the misconception that they are easier than on campus programs.  As we know, that is not usually the case.  Most of our programs apply the same standards and aspire to the same learning outcomes online and on campus. 
 
Among the reasons given for those who drop or stop out of online programs are: 
  • Student expectations that online classes are easier than on campus classes
  • Students not adequately prepared for class (lacking pre-requisite knowledge or skills)
  • Class availability issues - students cannot make steady, efficient progress toward degree/certificate completion
  • Lack of discipline / self-motivation of students to attend to the class (association with maturity of students?)
  • Poorly designed classes that fail to engage or adequately support students (questions of relevancy to interests/careers; unclear expectations-rubrics)
  • Social environment in online class that tolerates bullying, prejudice or other non-supportive culture
  • Faculty failure to engage students in meaningful/supportive dialog
  • Faculty failure to identify and address problems as they occur (not using dashboards, formative assessments, or other tools to trigger interventions)
  • Lack of student support and encouragement outside of the online classroom (advising, tutoring, peer-tutoring)
  • Financial issues - inability to pay tuition/fees
  • Life intervenes (adult students are particularly vulnerable to such factors as child/parent health issues, job loss, other factors related to family/household)
     
What is at stake in the retention of online students?
  • Student hopes, dreams, plans, finances!
  • Careers left unfilled, families left without resources impacting generations
  • Countless reports of students paying loans for degrees never completed
  • The financial loss to the institution is huge – it can average $10,000 or more for each student who drops out depending upon how many credit hours were not completed
The theme of my presentation this week will be how each institution can put in place monitoring metrics that will allow it to find the specific blockages at their institutions within their programs that stop students from successfully completing programs.  An institution can then predict challenges and prescribe interventions that will address those challenges.  These might include targeted interventions such as revised admissions requirements, online orientation, peer tutoring, intense advising, course revisions, faculty development, and related enhancements.  Collectively these will create a student-centric environment in which online student success is enhanced and retention rates improve.
 
You can follow the development of my presentation for the Blackboard World conference online.  I hope to see many of you there!
 
Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #24 - July 7, 2014 – Placement of Distant Students
 
One of the exciting aspects of online learning is that students from across the country and even in other countries can complete degrees and certificates online.  We all strive to provide quality active learning opportunities to these distant students.  In some cases our online faculty members outdo their on-campus counterparts in engaging their students and responding to their questions. 
 
But, one area in which we have seen challenges is in placement services for students who are outside of our area.  The university placement office is most experienced and has most contacts with local and regional employers and opportunities.  But, what about the student from across the country or in in Asia, Europe, South America, Australia or Africa; how can we best serve their needs? 
 
There are a number of strategies that might be useful.  We should survey students early in their academic program on their employment goals, including the geographic regions in which they are interested.  Provide links to the Department of Employment Security in the relevant states.  Contact those offices and identify a person, not just a URL, address or phone number for your students.  Help the students stay in touch with the office to assure they get responsive services.  The search begins with us contacting the agency to collect the information and make the contacts.  The State of Idaho kindly provides links to state employment services.
 
Identify leading employers in each of the fields that you offer degrees or certificates.  Connect to the HR offices at those employers and cultivate contacts for qualified students.  Sharing newsletters and position openings with your students can be especially effective where you have developed a successful track record of placement.
 
An exciting e-portfolio service connects students to employers.  Called MyEdu , the free service has been acquired by Blackboard where integration of the tool wasannounced last month. In brief, the service facilitates students creating resume portfolios that can be made available to thousands of employers.  Students can key on specific skills identified by the employers and pull examples from classes and other experiences to showcase in the e-portfolio.  Employers connect with students who display skills that meet their needs.
 
Services such as those afforded by MyEdu + Blackboard are ones that will serve our nationally dispersed distant learners in ways that were only provided regionally in the past.   
 
Of course, I will track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #23 - June 30, 2014 – Loneliness of the Distant Learner
 
Access, affordability and, alas, too often loneliness, describe online learning. We all know that online learning provides affordable access to learning opportunities for students who cannot come to campus.  Many adult learners are grateful for the opportunity to complete degrees and certificates at a distance.  Unfortunately, some are afflicted with a sense of loneliness in studying without contact and support of a community of learners. This doesn't have to be the case. 
 
One of the founding leaders in online learning, Dr. Jacqueline Moloney of UMass Lowell, describes the circumstances in this recent University Business article. “Some institutions, eager to jump in the field, think once they've developed their online courses, they are set to launch,” says Jacqueline Moloney, executive vice chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. “But many neglect to prepare their institutions to support online students with services customized to their needs.” 
 
Developing a sense of community best begins before the start of the first class.  At the University of Illinois Springfield, program coordinators reach out to students to make contact and provide support from throughout the student’s career. The coordinators keep in contact with the students, serving as their liaison and on-campus friend, counselor and facilitator. The same person becomes a trusted adviser, providing friendly support semester after semester throughout the student’s academic career. 
 
But, student contact is much more than a supplemental service. It is integrated into every class. Faculty members should be encouraged to understand the profile and needs of their students. They should recognize that the students are often working late at night after children have been put to bed, or after a long workday or workweek. Effectively connecting to these students often is best accomplished through well-designed discussion boards in which faculty members are actively engaging, encouraging, supporting and – as appropriate – challenging students. Even modest practices such as responding to student postings beginning with the student’s name, or offering a phone or voice chat can make the experience less lonely for the student.
 
Special challenges can be presented by students in different countries. As described in this Faculty Focus article, it may not be immediately obvious to the instructor that the student who is having difficulties is in a different country and struggling with cultural and language challenges. Peer mentors, coaches, and embedded librarians can all help engage students and ward off loneliness.  An excellent compilation of articles and practices are contained in this Magna Publication Special Report Online Student Engagement Tools and Strategies. You will want to find the right mix for your institution and your students. And, to assure that you remain on the mark, be sure to carefully measure student perceptions of teaching and social presence using toolssuch as the Community of Inquiry Survey.  In this way, you can help assure that your students are engaged with the instructor and fellow students in their online classes. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #22 - June 23, 2014 – Ubiquity 
 
In the early days prior to 1992, the internet was a network largely comprised of Department of Defense contractors and universities. With the development of HTML at CERN by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991, followed closely by the development of the first Web Browser, Mosaic, by Marc Andreessen (who later went on to found Netscape) at the University of Illinois in 1993, the nascent network was set on a path to serve the world.  Millions of hotspots and 21 years later, the internet has come of age as a worldwide service, accessed in places one might never have imagined. It is so important that some countries, and even the United Nations, have declaredaccess to the network a basic human right
 
But, the work of making the ‘net (and therefore online learning) available everywhere is not yet done.  There remain gaps in coverage – both geographic and economic. There are a variety of initiatives underway to assure that affordable access to the internet is available to everyone – even a website to collect these initiatives
 
Most interesting this summer is the initiative of Google called O3B – which stands for the “other 3 billion” people who are without Internet now. This one-to-three billion dollar project is to launch 180 low altitude satellites to cover the globe and provide access to the internet nearly everywhere worldwide. It may take up to five years to complete the project. 
 
Meantime, Facebook has developed Connectivity Lab, a team dedicated to providing the infrastructure for  http://internet.org –  a “global partnership dedicated to making affordable internet access available to the two thirds of the world not yet connected. This initiative plans to cobble together a global network delivered via drones, satellites and lasers
 
Another driving force in developing ubiquitous access to the ‘net is the “Internet of Things” (IoT) that is growing by leaps and bounds – even by internet growth standards!  It is the linking of consumer products, appliances, monitoring systems, even factories together using the internet. In 2013 alone, the IoT garnered more than one billion dollars in venture capital. 
 
What all of this means for online learning, continuing and professional education is that the infrastructure is being assembled to access markets large and small; urban and rural; on every continent on the globe.  Delivery is free. The customers provide their own reception devices, whether they are smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. It is up to us to identify the needs – wherever on this globe they are – and to provide the classes, workshops and Webinars to meet those needs. Our market is as diverse and large as our imagination! 
 
Of course, I will track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #21 - June 16, 2014 – MERLOT and More
 
As we come to the close of one fiscal year, some of us are looking at prospects for a tough budget year ahead.  We are asked to bring in more revenue on a diminishing base. Now would seem to be a good time to add a couple of massive collections offree high-quality online learning resources which, with no expenditures and only a little creativity, can be assembled into some exciting new or refreshed professional and continuing education offerings online. 
 
Let me introduce those of us who have not yet met, to MERLOT – Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching – a repository that has been serving and growing for the past 18 years.  Featuring nearly 45,000 resources (nearly half of which have been formally peer-reviewed), this site offers a vast range of ready-to-use, open licensed materials in subjects ranging from the traditional disciplines to workforce development. There are animations, case studies, learning objects, drill/practice modules, online mini-courses, and much more. Some recent examples are Nursing Ethics, Managing the Digital Enterprise, IRS Tax-Exempt for Unrelated Business Expenses, Michael Sandel’s Justice lecture series, Spanish Proficiency Exercises (with scores of video clips of native speakers) and tens of thousands more. 
 
Many of the MERLOT materials need only a bit of organization and an instructor. Other materials are learning objects that can bring a workshop or course up to date, provide interactivity, or make modules more effective. All are free, open and many with peer review and user ratings. Check out the advanced search site to explore the possibilities.
 
Creative Commons 
Perhaps you may be looking for materials to build or enhance an existing course or workshop.  You want to find reliable materials, but avoid the hassle of securing permissions.  Creative Commons has a search tool that I use at least every week.  The Creative Commons Search site allows you to quickly search Google, Flickr, YouTube and other selected collections for materials are freely and openly available.  The search defaults to the broadest use permissions, including commercial purposes, modification and “building upon.”   
 
LON-CAPA – a deeper open dive in math and the sciences
Developed 15 years ago and in use at more than 150 universities is a free and open international collaborative with a built-in learning management system, sophisticated test generator, and huge content management system boasting nearly half a million learning resources; the Learning Online Network LON-CAPA. A number of our UPCEA member institutions are actively engaged in LON-CAPA.  Check it out if you are looking for resources for math and science instruction.  
 
Of course, I will track the developments in open learning, MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #20 - June 9, 2014 – 2014 Graduates 
 
The signs are clear; higher education in the U.S. is struggling.  There is more than $1,100,000,000,000 (that’s 1.1 trillion dollars) in student debt in this country.  Tuition among state universities has risen nearly 25% in the past five years.  Students are facing substantial unemployment and underemployment rates. And, U.S. degree completion numbers are anemic compared to other countries such as Canada, Israel and Japan. 
 
data-rich news report in Slate Magazine last month included graphs of some of the sad numbers and concludes:

So to sum it up: Today’s crop of new B.A.s are staring at roughly 8.5 percent unemployment, 16.8 percent underemployment. Close to half of those who land work won’t immediately find a job that requires their degree, and for those stuck in that situation; there are fewer “good” jobs to go around. Welcome to adulthood, class of 2014.

The Economic Policy Institute provides even more data. Their report concludes that the negative influences of the labor market will continue for the classes of 2015, 2016, and 2014:

Although the job situation is slowly improving, the Class of 2014 faces an extremely difficult job market. The dramatic increase since 2007 in unemployment among new college graduates underscores that today’s unemployment crisis among young workers did not arise because workers lack the right skills. Instead, the weak labor market the Class of 2014 is entering into is due to weak demand for workers in the economy overall. Continued improvement in the labor market is expected to be slow, with the overall unemployment rate unlikely to fall below even 6 percent for nearly three years. (As a reminder of what a healthy unemployment rate looks like, consider that in spring 2007 the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.) …. Thus, the classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017 will likely also face the negative consequences of entering the labor market during a period of very high unemployment.

To address these problems in part, the White House has issued a fact sheet on the topic on how it plans to make college more affordable and a better bargain for students and their families.    
 
Though it has been delayed, the U.S. Department of Education is adamant that they will launch a public ratings system of universities next year to encourage lower costs of attendance and higher placement rates for graduates.  Central to the plan is “paying for performance” – that is tying financial aid to performance of institutions.  How this rating system will affect each university remains unclear.  But, it is certain to include provisions related to completion, employment of grads, and overall costs.
 
While this may prove challenging to higher education in general, it may uncover the value and importance of continuing education and professional programs that have been dedicated to meeting workforce needs and assuring students get relevant courses.  As the university ratings system emerges in the coming months, we should prepare to help lead our institutions meet the challenge that has been a focus of our programs since their inception.
 
Of course, I will track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #19 - June 2, 2014 – Computer Coding
 
Programming is fast becoming a standard skill required by many positions – not just full time programmers.  Smaller companies with Web sites and services delivered by software use the skill of their employees to get the most out of their programs and extend their services.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts full time programmer positions will continue to grow in the coming years. 
 
As a result, states such California and Texas have begun considering whether to require a computer programming class for high school graduation.  In the UK, computer coding will be part of the required curriculum for primary and secondary schools beginning this fall. 
 
Given the availability of online translators such as Google Translate and a whole host of other software programs, some schools are beginning to question whether teaching basic computer languages may be more productive than first year foreign languages. Code.org last year began a campaign of offering one hour of free computer programming instruction which has now reached more than 36 million people. 
 
Anna Adam and Helen Mowers, self-described as “Digital Learning Specialists, Change Agents, and Inspirers of Innovation” write in Edutopia:  

In the past, the digital divide described students with technology compared to those without. Today, the divide addresses students who receive instruction on how to do things with technology versus those learning how to make technology do things. Now that computer science is the highest paid career for college graduates, it is time to stop teaching students how to push the buttons and start teaching them how to make the buttons.
Codecademy offers free coding lessons and tutoring support around the world.  They are even now offering computer coding in foreign languages to help governments and education groups around the world to advance computer coding. 
 
In sum, the interest in this field is huge and a number of free and open resources are readily available.  This seems to be a natural for offering continuing education short courses at multiple levels of computer coding.  Qualified instructors may come from faculty in computer science or even qualified IT and related staffers.  And what better field in which to initiate offering continuing education badges for successful completers in your program! 
 
Of course, I will track the developments in computer coding, MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #18 - "Tuesday Briefing" - May 27, 2014 – Happiness 
 
Coincidence as it may be, several items loosely related to online learning have come up lately dealing with the topic of happiness.  This prompts me to take up the “happy” topic in this morning’s Monday Briefing. 
 
It seems that interest and expectations are high for an upcoming MOOC offered by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center: The Science of Happiness.  The course is on its way to enrolling 100,000 or more students before it begins in September. Talk about a topic of near universal appeal, this one should be most successful.  It will be interesting to track the popularity and impact of the MOOC across cultures around the world.  This is something that MOOCs are uniquely equipped to do – take a topic offer learning opportunities worldwide as well as taking a sampling of the pulse of students around the world. 
 
The topic of happiness also came up in a Gallup/Purdue University poll looking at college graduates.  Among the questions asked were ones reflecting the happiness of the 30,000 college graduates surveyed.  It found that later happiness did not depend upon the prestige or ranking of the college, but instead had a lot to do with the engagement in learning, college debt incurred, perceived quality of teaching and depth of learning. 
 
In particular, the aspects of engagement and depth of learning are ones that have been studied in online learning in the past.  Much research has been done in this area.  We discussed engagement strategies last week; there are many options in the online classroom.  And, certainly, deeper learning can be fostered through reflective activities and collaborative projects among other strategies.  Debt incurred is reduced online in many cases because of the reduced costs for commuting to campus for adult learners. 

Overall, digital learning has been associated with more “affective” approaches.  As described in this article by Ben Williamson of the University of Stirling, Scotland,“Happiness, Learning, and Technology: Why “Affective” Schools are the New “Effective” Schools”

For those of us involved in researching and educating with digital media, the concentration on happiness, well-being and other “affective” categories is especially interesting because digital media has for some time been recognized as more affectively-centered, loaded with feeling and emotion, and constantly expanding and diversifying through the excitement and enthusiasm of participants. 
In sum, it seems the path to online learning happiness is paved with lower costs, greater student engagement, affective approaches, and quality teaching.  We will do well to remember these as we design and deliver our courses and curricula online.  
 
Of course, I will track the developments with MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #17 - May 19, 2014 – Adding Some “Tec-Variety” to Your Online Classes
 
As we come to the end of another semester, many of us are reflecting on the classes we have taught or overseen in the past term.  And, we ask, what can we do to better engage our students to encourage deeper learning and enhanced retention and persistence in our online classes?  This year, I have a great new resource to share. 
 
I don’t envision the Monday Briefing as a book review platform, but Curt Bonk and Elaine Khoo have collaborated on a free online book that is so valuable that I feel it is worth making an exception in this case.  You can download the book in .pdf formatfor free or purchase a print copy for $15.77 from Amazon. 
 
The complete title is “Adding Some Tec-Variety: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online.”  The book provides a foundation for engaging online learners.  It begins with a review of how the key learning theories address learner motivation.  Then in the succeeding ten chapters, the authors introduce ten principles that advance engagement of online students and encourage active learning. 
 
Among those principles are tone/climate, variety, relevance, engagement, tension and products.  In each case, the authors document ten examples of activities that have previously been tested and succeed online.  For each example, Tec-Variety offers a thorough description of the activity and key instructional considerations.  There is a risk index, time index, cost index, learner-centered index and approximate duration of the learning activity. 
 
The book provides an amazing number of examples of ways in which you can apply effective principles in online teaching and learning. 
 
I recommend that all who teach online or who administer online programs keep the .pdf handy to share examples when reviewing courses for engagement and interactivity. 
 
If you are interested in some other resources in this area, a great to-the-point posting by Judity Boettcher is titled the Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online – Quick Guide for New Online Faculty

Miriam Clifford has another succinct posting titled “15 Ways to engage Students and Prevent Online Drop-Outs.” 
 
The discussion board is often at the center of our online classes’ engagement.  Arizona State University’s Ada Martin recently posted a thoughtful essay on the topic: “Making Online Classroom Discussion more Dynamic and Engaging.
 
Here’s hoping these resources will be of value as you revise and enhance your courses for the coming semesters!
 
Of course, I will track the developments with MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #16 - May 12, 2014 – MOOCs Come Back to Ground to Blend
 
An interesting phenomenon seems to be picking up speed.  It is the blending of MOOCs.  What inherently has been an online phenomenon – Massive Open Online Classes – seem to be migrating back to earth. 
 
From the beginning, MOOCs have had study groups and “meet-ups.”  I recall in the summer of 2011, the Christ Church, New Zealand participants in the eduMOOC we produced at UIS would gather at the local McDonald’s to engage one another.  Using the free WiFi, they would listen to panel discussions and even discuss some of the readings for the week.  It seems that online students want to get together to learn, to access support, and even to pursue social activities with those who share their interests. 
 
Udacity has more than 650 active meet-up communities.  They span the globe.  And Coursera engages more than 40,000 of their “Couserians” in meet-ups in more than 3,000 cities worldwide.  edX has only a few dozen meetup groups, but their numbers are growing. 
 
More recently, the US State Department has partnered with Coursera to offer learning hubs in strategic areas of the world.  And, they are not alone; there are a dozen others who are opening facilities in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. 
 
And, now, libraries are getting into the act of providing MOOC places and support services.  New York Public Library recently announced they would pilot their programwith half a dozen MOOC classes at their sites, providing facilities for in-person discussions. 

It certainly makes sense for libraries to partner on MOOCs.  Materials for MOOCs are generally restricted to open source because it is too unwieldy and expensive to obtain full rights to significant numbers of materials that may be accessed by hundreds of thousands of students worldwide.  The potential of the MOOC/library partnership was the recent topic of an interesting article in the Library Journal. 
 
On-site facilities have expanded to a traditional small university near San Francisco – Dominican University – which, in a pilot program, will offer space for a Coursera MOOC hub.  Students will be able to combine their online time with in-person sessions at the university.    
 
MOOCs continue to evolve.  As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the new leadership teams at Coursera and edX are likely to encourage a greater range of models.  Reaching out to connect face-to-face may provide many opportunities to expand into credit-bearing offerings. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments with MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #15 - May 5, 2014 – Badges are not just for scouts anymore
 
Digital badges have long been a method of signifying competence and knowledge.  In a broad sense academic certificates and degrees serve as badges that affirm the holder has mastered learning that assure certain abilities. 
 
In recent years, digital badges offered by non-academic, but highly credible, sources have become meaningful to employers – in some cases even more meaningful than an academic degree or certificate.  For example, the Microsoft, Cisco, Novell, and others in the IT field offer certificates in programming, networking, and a variety of associated areas.  These certificates are displayed most effectively by online badges.  Holding these badges can mean $20,000 or more in additional salary compared to another applicant with the same degrees and background.  In too many cases, we hear that employers disregard the degree altogether in favor of badge-holders. 
 
Many of our classes and even modules within a class are “badge-worthy.”  Whenever we cover a valuable, employable skill or set of skills, we should consider badging the students in addition to continuing the traditional course or certificate credit.  Think outside the box – even a first year writing course carries a badge at Coastal Carolina University.  Students win twice – they get the credit or non-credit certificate, and they also get a badge they can display on their online resume, social media and portfolios. 
 
So, how does this work?  Educause has published one of their series of “7 Things You Should Know About” on the topic of badges.  With funding from the MacArthur Foundation and others, the Mozilla Foundation has made the open, yet secure, badging process easy.  It will take your IT department a short time to set up the process, you will probably want a graphic artist to craft your badge image, and then you simply create a list of the those who have successfully completed the requirements for the badge and make it securely available to validate the user, allowing the recipient to post the validated badge.
 
What might this mean for higher education over time?  This may lead us to map our classes more closely to employable skills.  In doing so, and in badging our successful students, we will build a reputation for our badges as well as our degrees/certificates.  The badging will empower employers to find the best applicants with the right mix of skills to meet their workforce needs.  An excellent white paper on the topic gives some examples of how badging might enhance this dynamic between educator and employer in the future. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments in emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning  – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #14 - April 28, 2014 – 21st Century Classes Continue beyond the End of the Semester
 
In the not-too-distant past college courses were “snapshots in time” – they offered information, perspectives and skills that were limited to what was known at the time of offering.  If an important breakthrough in the field occurred the day after the class concluded students were out of the loop.  The learning began to age – become dated - the moment the final exam or final paper was submitted. 
 
That is no longer the case thanks to online learning applications.  Courses have been re-designed to include online tools that leverage continuously-updated materials and opportunities to engage with peers and professionals.  Students are put on a path of lifelong updates to assure that they are forward-thinking and connected. 
 
So, how can we add this value in our classes? 
 
A good place to begin is to identify credible and productive blogs in our field.  Lest you think that blogs are merely social tools for non-professional purposes, know that the human genome was first constructed by scientists working around the world, connected by blog.  Google has a search tool for blog postings that can begin your search.  Professional, discipline based blogs have become a cornerstone information source in this century.  Scan the list, bookmark the blogs that you find promising, and follow the postings for a few weeks.  In some cases you find professional associations in your field will be a valuable source of credible information, such as our own Professional Continuing and Online Education Update. Asking your students to subscribe to the RSS or email feed and to comment on updates during the semester can imprint a pattern of forward-thinking in your students as they become professionals.
 
Another incredibly useful tool to track advances in academic fields is Twitter.  Did you know that you can use Twitter to effectively search or track updates in your field?  Take a moment to visit and search keywords - you don’t need to use hashtags (#).  In doing your search, you can filter the results by people, news, timelines, videos and more. Twitter has become an extremely useful tool for educators to inform their students of the most up-to-date developments in the field.
 
One of my colleagues at the University of Illinois Springfield, Carrie Levin, most effectively uses the paper.li tool to create a customized online newspaper with selected social media sources including Twitter, YouTube, and other social media with RSS feeds.  This “newspaper” provides a treasure trove of information for students on topics that are covered in the class.  It introduces the students to the leading sources of updates.  Students continue to read the paper after they complete the class.
 
Examine the social media sources of reliable news in the fields taught by you and your colleagues.  Come into the 21st century of sharing tools in every course that equip and enable your students to continue to track the field after they complete the course.  This value-add will be appreciated by the students and can become a marketing advantage in attracting students to your offerings. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments in emerging pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #13 - April 21, 2014 – New Leadership for MOOCs – Where will Levin and Cebula Lead MOOCs?

In the past month the leadership of the leading MOOC providers changed with a promise of changes that will accelerate the impact of MOOCs around the world.  The longest-serving president of Yale University, Richard Levin who retired in 2013, took over the reins at Coursera as the Chief Executive Officer. Levin promises to bring better internal communication among university partners to the startup which has already secured some $85 million in venture capital.  On the same day, March 24,edX announced the hiring of Wendy Cebula, an executive of Vita Print, as their new President and Chief Operating Officer. 
 
The innovative Coursera, strongly steeped in Silicon Valley support, chose one of the most highly regarded veteran Ivy-League leaders to take the helm.  Meantime, the MIT-Harvard led edX turned to an entrepreneur to lead their operations.  It seems that both organizations are looking for the balance between academic cred and tech startup savvy. 
 
So, where are MOOCs going?  Well, that is defined by a number of factors.  First, we must recognize that MOOCs in their current format have only been around for less than three years.  The inventory of classes is modest, but growing.  The courses are not repeat-offered on a truly predictable schedule.  So, the base “product” and “service delivery” is not yet in place. In this early stage,  MOOCs are evolving and expanding.  Corporate MOOCs are now gaining traction. Not surprisingly,V(ocational)OOCs are on the rise. My home institution, the University of Illinois Springfield, is engaged in producing a MOOC for associations seeking to address roadblocks in providing end-of-life hospital services to hospice patients. And, the notable Georgia Tech MOOC-delivered Master’s program in Computer Science is being closely followed around the world. Also of great interest is the Minerva Projectwhich promises an Ivy-league quality education online to students who will rotate among apartment complexes in the major cities of the world, receiving lectures in MOOC-style with blended local engagement. MOOCs are seeking markets in which the economies of scale make sense, providing cost-savings and reach. Surely Levin and Cebula will continue to explore and encourage these alternatives. 
 
Meantime, on-campus college enrollments have stagnated in the U.S.  Degree attainment is a top educational priority for states and the federal government. Student debt has topped one trillion dollars. The pressure is great to find an affordable and accessible mode of offering higher education. But, the paramount issue is that the courses are lacking accreditation. The American Council on Education now lists just five courses with credit recommendations. More are on the way, but until they are in place and prospective students become familiar with them, there is no clear cut method for gaining credit. Certainly, MOOCs provide the opportunity for credit for prior learning, but no organized path has been established nationally. That has to be “job one” for the new leaders. 
 
I anticipate that accreditation will be the focus of efforts for Coursera and edX this year. To the extent Richard Levin and Wendy Cebula can navigate a route to accreditation their enterprises will thrive. If they fall short, we will see MOOCs divert into niche markets focused on corporate, continuing and professional education.  That’s the path that Sebastian Thrun, has already claimed for Udacity.  And, that just happens to be the heart of the market that many of us in UPCEA serve. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments in MOOCs and emerging pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through  Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing # 12 - April 14, 2014

It is spring at last! After a hard winter across the country, it is time for a spring cleaning. Now is as good a time as any to go through all of the old courses in your closet and freshen them up with a dose of student engagement. 
 
Research tells us that it is in engaging online students that we enhance courses. Engagement leads to persistence and completion. It promotes deeper understanding and social connections among the entire learning community. 
 
But, not all classes fully engage students. Some students report that they feel lonely in some classes as if they were stranded alone to tackle the learning without a community in which to test their ideas, share perceptions and collaborate.  
 
To truly engage students you have to work at it, this is not something that often “just happens” without planning and design. There is good advice in this article about how we can begin to re-design our classes to promote engagement. This takes time, but the effort results in improved learning and greater satisfaction for both instructor and students.    
 
As is almost always the case, it is wise to start the makeover incrementally. Find a few ways in which you can better engage the students, assess the outcomes and make adjustments. As described in the Faculty Focus issue on “Four Ways to Improve Your Online Course”, one good way to start may be to consider action-research in your class.  Action research is instructor-led assessment aimed at course improvement and can be both formative and summative. 
 
The Magna Publications Faculty Focus series has another great issue on “Keeping Students Engaged in the Online Classroom.”  The steps are designed to be simple and incremental. 
 
One of the best ways to approach this is to encourage a refresh of all of the courses in a curriculum. That way, the faculty members and design/development staff can focus on building synergies among the classes that will be taken sequentially and those that will be taken simultaneously. A great example of building engagement into an entire curriculum is this one in Geoscience. The concepts and applications will work well for many disciplines. 
 
Make sure that you assess student impressions of the engaging activities. It is often good to administer a formative assessment to see how well the new approaches are working. A good discussion of formative assessments is offered by ASCD.

Of course, I will track the developments in quality pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you throughProfessional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #11 - April 7, 2014

We all are seeking quality in serving students throughout the course development and delivery process – the beginning, the middle and the end of each course. Here are three points at which we can use tools to assure that we provide the best designed, most supportive, and most interactive effective learning experience possible. 

A good place to begin is with a course design rubric. There are a number of great ones out there.  California State University, Chico has long provided a simple, but effective, rubric for developing, designing and delivering online classes. Developed in 2003 and revised in 2009, the rubric provides baseline, effective and exemplary descriptions of approaches and practices at each stage of development and assessment.  

Quality Matters (QM) has deservedly earned a reputation for excellence in their program for quality design of online classes.  The comprehensive design rubric has been thoroughly researched and studied with scores of publications reporting on many applications and aspects of the rubric.  QM also provides support, workshops, conferences and opportunities for collaborations.

Half a dozen other excellent rubrics to help in the design of online classes are linked at this site from Michigan State University.  The Illinois Online Network Quality Course Initiative; Central Michigan University Quality Assurance Checklist; the Online Course Evaluation Project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education; Online Course and Development Guide of Southern Mississippi University; the Online Course Development and Guidelines of the Michigan Community College Association; and the Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Online Courses from Grant MacEwan College are all linked at the Michigan State page.  Each one has strengths.  Check them out!

A well-designed course is only half of the job.  After the class is deployed, it is very important to provide opportunities for students to give you feedback on what is working and what is not – before the end of the course so that you can make immediate adjustments.  Formative assessments can be the most important strategy to assure quality is maintained and that the students connect with the learning.  ASCD describes the formative evaluation process.The goal is to elicit honest and useful (actionable) feedback from students.  A wide array of social tools are available from sticky notes to smartphone polls to specially-designed apps like Socrative can facilitate this process.  Here’s a great blog posting with links to half a dozen great tools for administering formative assessments.

Finally, the end of the term offers the opportunity to collect information from students on how effectively the instructor and students connected. The Community of Inquiry model examines the teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence in online classes.  The survey instrument includes 34 questions for students to use to assess. The survey has been administered to hundreds of thousands of students and extensive research has been conducted to interpret and validate the results. Whether or not one consults the research, the results of the survey will provide insights into student perceptions of the course that can help you improve the next time around.

Of course, I will track the developments on the moves to mobile as they impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you throughProfessional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #10 - March 31, 2014
 
How often each day do you “google” something? Google reports that they serve one billion searches each day in 181 countries and 146 languages. And yet, many of those searches are ill-formed or not addressing the real questions that people may have.  Too often, we don’t know what kinds of questions we can really ask. 
 
For example, I wonder how many sites link to the UPCEA site.  How do I find that out?  Well, on Google, one simply frames a search link: http://upcea.edu .  There aretens of thousands of returns. Without digging into your analytics, you may want to quickly see which sites link to your department Website or some other site (perhaps even a competitor).
 
How often are you asked for the research behind your assertion that (fill in the blank).  A quick and easy search on your smart phone in http://scholar.google.comwill give you the results in a snap.  What is equally is interesting is that it will give a list of other articles that cited each of the returns it renders.  And, you can even register yourself and claim your articles in Google Scholar.  It is a good way to build citations to your research!
 
Of course most of us have “googled” ourselves to see what others are saying about us.  Now, Google extends that to Twitter and other social media.  There is much to be learned if your name is relatively unique like Ray Schroeder – not so much for John Smith.

But, what if we want to know what others see when they “google” our program or a topic in our area of expertise.  Did you know that you can instantly change the home location of the search?  Changing your search site is as simple as two clicks – click on “search tools” which will reveal the auto-detected location and type in the city, state; then re-run your search.  You may find the differences from one place to another are significant.
 
Another great feature in the search tools category is to delimit your search by time or date.  For example, you can limit the search to items to those posted in the past hour, 24 hours, week, month, year or any custom range.  This can be very useful when you are digging for an item you recall surfaced last summer. 
 
And, don’t forget the Google translator http://translate.google.com/ with which you can translate your Web page or another page among some 75 languages.  You can compose your own correspondence or cut/paste in correspondence from others.
 
There is a great list of some of the other valuable, but less-used tools in Google in this article. Check them out! 
 
There are some great alternatives to Google available.  That may be the topic for another Monday Briefing, but just for those of you who really dislike Google tracking your searches (you know, when you see refrigerator ads popping up in all of your Google apps for a month after you did just one search for deals on refrigerators), check out Duck Duck Go https://duckduckgo.com/.  This engine promises to not track your searches.  

 
Of course, I will track the developments on the moves to mobile as they impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you throughProfessional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #9 - March 24, 2014
 
More than one billion smart phones were shipped worldwide in 2013! That’s more than double the number shipped just two years before. And the growth is predicted to continue, increasing another 70% by 2017. Much as we experienced the shift from desktop computers to laptops as the primary access device for the Internet at the start of this 21st century, we are now in the midst of a paradigm shift from the laptop to the mobile devices (smart phones, phablets and tablets). In 2013, mobile devices passed laptops as the most common web access tool. 
 
Consumers, including students, have moved to a “mobile first” approach in accessing the ‘net. Many universities are lagging behind their student base in adapting to a mobile first approach. A survey by Princeton Partners reveals that schools have not yet fully embraced the mobile move:
 
According to an in-depth analysis of 200 public and private schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, more than 70% of those institutions were lacking a mobile presence entirely, and nearly 50% of schools with a mobile presence were deficient in significant ways, either in terms of technology, mobile content or both…. The Princeton Partners research suggests that schools have not adjusted to the rapid adoption rate of mobile devices, which industry analysts say is growing eight times faster than adoption of the Internet in the 1990s and early 2000s. This communication gap is validated by research from Pew Research and Google that shows:
  • 85% of cell phone users aged 18 – 29 use their phones to go online; and 50% of that group goes online mostly using their phone, rather than a desktop or laptop device, and
  • 61% of all cell phone users say they were unlikely to ever return to a website if they had trouble viewing it on their mobile device.
These findings are important to universities.  If we hope to attract new students and keep the ones we have, we need to adapt our mobile presence.  This is not about jamming the good old website or LMS into a mobile format, rather it is about understanding how, when, in what context, and why students use mobile. We need to re-think the delivery of our online curriculum in ways that meet those needs while remaining to true to the academic quality of our offerings.  A good way to begin may be to form a focus group of representative students to determine their mobile habits, needs, and preferences. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments on the moves to mobile as they impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you throughProfessional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #8 - March 17, 2014
 
Net Neutrality is a term that is bandied about lately because a federal judge upheld Verizon objections to FCC rules effectively striking down net neutrality earlier this year.  The origin of the principle of equal treatment of access to Internet sites dates back many years.  In the inception of the Internet, back in the 1969 (as Arpanet) and continuing through to today, one foundation principle has been that everyone should be able to access materials and services online at equal speed and priority.  No one is to be given (or sold) special treatment in terms of speed of service across the ‘net. That is not to say that certain services may be subscription based or restricted services or restricted by the provider of the service.  But, if you or I were to put up a web page or a streaming lecture, the principle is that we should be able to access that material in the same way with the same efficiency. 
 
The problem has come about that since there are relatively few broadband providers that bear the cost of massive networking infrastructures, they have an interest in leveraging their investment to charge higher rates for expedited delivery of such services as Netflix.  This puts the other streaming services, such as universities, at a relative disadvantage with their video streaming delivered at slower rates that may subject viewers to image freezing and re-buffering. 
 
Now, Netflix has come to terms with Comcast to deliver their services at a higher speed than other services. With 33 million subscribers to Netflix and Comcast with an estimated 32 million subscribers upon the completion of its merger with Time Warner, this could be the beginning of preferential treatment for those services that can afford to pay for the service. 
 
At issue is that non-profits such as universities are unlikely to be able to pay the premium rates to assure quality delivery of their course materials to online students.  A diminished bandwidth could result in poorer quality online classes, and perhaps fewer online students. 
 
And, with the ubiquity of the Internet, this has become a first amendment, free-speech issue that is defended by the ACLU and Common Cause to assure that rights of expression are not restricted.
So, now, the FCC is re-writing its rules in a fashion that will make it much less likely that they will be struck down again by broadband providers. 

The hope is that this time the rules will provide lasting protections that will assure that universities and others can get their messages out with the same quality of service as large profit-generating businesses.  The new rules are to be finalized by late spring. 

Of course, I will track the developments on net neutrality as they impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can also click here to have the updates sent directly to your email each morning  – no advertising, no spam!

Best,

Ray Schroeder

Monday Briefing #7 - March 10, 2014
 
The rising cost of tuition at colleges and universities coupled with the rising college debt of former students and graduates – now more than one trillion dollars – have caught the attention of legislators and regulators in Washington.  This is not new.  But, the news is that we are hearing proposals from both Democrats and Republicans to leverage MOOCs as low-cost / no-cost college courses that could help bring down the overall expense of a degree.  Standing in the way is the fact that MOOCs do not carry college credit from the universities that offer them.  So, while students may earn a certificate of successful completion, a badge and other forms of recognition, they do not directly earn college credit for MOOCs. 
 
The American Council on Education has begun assessing and recommending MOOCs for college credit through their CREDIT program for workforce training.  One can see the listings under Coursera and Udacity just as ACE has provided for the US Army, USDA, StraighterLine and many other providers for years.  More than two thousand colleges and universities consider ACE recommendations in granting college credit based on the CREDIT program.
 
In recent months, both Democrats and Republicans have floated the idea of accrediting MOOCs on a course-by-course basis.  Most recently, Florida Senator Marco Rubio called for such accreditation:  

At the heart of his proposal are alternatives to a four-year college degree. Free online courses—evaluated and overseen by an independent accrediting board —would be transferable to traditional schools and eligible for federal aid. Workers could also use their skills to earn certifications or degrees outside traditional institutions by passing new standardized tests. 
Late last fall, long-time US Department of Education official and now policy analyst at the liberal Center for American Progress, David Bergeron proposed the creation of a new alternative accrediting body, “Modern States.”  This body, or another like it, would accredit individual MOOCs and aggregate MOOCs into degrees. 
 
Others seem interested in possibly taking on the role, ranging from the American Council on Education (ACE) to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as described in this analysis by the Stanford Graduate School of Education.  The conservative American Enterprise Institute suggests that when it comes to alternative accreditation, who chooses the accrediting entity is just as important as how the accreditation is conducted.
 
The bottom line is that there is support on both the political right and the left to find a way to grant credit for MOOCs.  UPCEA and seven of our member institutions are tracking inquiries from students seeking credit for MOOCs that have been recommended by ACE.  More on this as the project progresses.
 
Of course, I will track the developments on alternative accreditation proposals as they impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,

Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #6 - March 3, 2014
 
Open educational resources are incredibly valuable to higher education, institutions and students.  The Internet has afforded us access to an awesome array of learning materials, interactive objects and entire mini-courses that can be accessed, revised and fully utilized for free!  Entire sequences of content – many with built-in assessment tools – are available at no charge for only attribution.  We can revise and create derivative products as long as we also make those available to the original creator.
 
Given the current fiscal context in which most of us operate, using open resources are particularly attractive because they allow us to quickly expand our quality online professional / personal development courses at no more cost than the time to research and assemble the content from sources listed below.  For example if we wanted to launch a personal accounting course, the resources are all there for an interactive, visual course.  Without acquisition or significant development costs, we can have the course ready for marketing within a couple of weeks.  The students won’t be required to purchase a text, reducing their cost of taking the class.  If instead we wanted to offer a small business accounting course, the resources are available – even open pig farming accounting resources (really – check out OER Commons if you are interested!). 
 
Here are links to the leading providers of free, open online learning content:
 
 
So, why are these resources available for us to repackage and deliver to our continuing and professional education students?  In part, it is the altruism of some individuals and institutions that believe they should share the materials they generate so that a larger audience may benefit from them. Others have been subsidized by grants that encourage or require openness. But, it is more than just that.  In many cases these are produced in whole or in part with federal or state tax dollars.  There is a growing movement to assure that materials that were developed with our tax money should be made available to all, including colleges and universities that can build them into programs. 
 
Of course, I will track the developments on open educational resources as they impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning (http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=OnlineContinuingProfessionalEducationUpdateByUpcea) – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,

Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #5 - February 24, 2014

Augmented reality is advancing by leaps and bounds.  In many ways it is the 21st century version of class labs, field trips, and even immersion activities.  Augmented reality is any electronic system that provides additional information to “augment” the site – audio tours in museums were among the early examples.  Now technology is leading us to heads-up displays (HUDs) in which the user does not have to divert their view from the action as they see additional information projected in front of their eyes.  These technologies are natural learning tools that provide additional, repeatable information to learners as they are engaged or totally immersed in an activity such as a lab experiment or a tour of a an advanced facility or business activity.  AR offers authentic learning experiences using technologies that inform very lifelike experiences, safety, asynchronicity, and significant cost-savings over time.(http://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does/).

Google Glass
Perhaps the best-know hardware advance is Google Glass.  This technology is expected to be fully released later this year, but has been tested by many professors who are called “explorers” in the project.  From science to business through the humanities professors are imagining and testing new ways to augment their students’ reality with Google Glass (http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/professors-envision-using-google-glass-in-the-classroom/44401).

Alternative, but similar technologies are under development by other companies.  In most all cases these – like Google Glass – enable connectivity to the Internet, voice commands, audio responses enabled with heads-up display.  Google Glass was released for “explorers” at $1,500, public release later this year is expected to be at a lower price point; prescription lens models are $225 additional. (http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/features/gadget/3436249/google-glass-release-date-price-specs/)
 
A Related “Leap” Forward
A surprisingly affordable precision device – leap motion – has been released to interface with most PCs.  (https://www.leapmotion.com/) This $80 device senses the three-dimensional motion of your hand over a pad that is either added-on or built into the computer.  It enables 3-D control of images and an extraordinary fine input that is far more accurate and controllable than a mouse or mouse pad.  This enables new dimensions in virtual laboratories, computer art and design.  The potential at this low price is enormous!
 
Of course, I will track the developments on augmented reality as well as leap motion as their impact continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning (http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=OnlineContinuingProfessionalEducationUpdateByUpcea) – no advertising, no spam!

Best, 

Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #4 - February 17, 2014

Innovation often comes using technologies that are years old, but putting them together in new ways to serve emerging needs.  Today, let’s look at two new initiatives in online learning that are doing just that.  They have the potential to create new paths to higher education that offer new opportunities to students and to universities.

The Minerva Project
The Minerva Project (http://www.minervaproject.com/) has garnered tens of millions of dollars in venture capital for what is planned to be an Ivy League level university in which students take classes online while living in apartment communities around the world – moving each semester to another city.  The community living affords blending of the classes for discussions and more.  The faculty members are to be a highly-select group of leading scholars who will teach individual courses on contract while continuing their full time positions. The university is seeking accreditation through the innovative Keck Graduate Institute, Claremont Universities of California. 

For the initial class of a few hundred, the Minerva Project seeks top-notch students who would qualify for Ivy League schools, but seek an innovative international experience (http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/09/18/minerva-plans-annual-price-29000-online-residential-program). They will pursue degrees in traditional fields such as economics, philosophy and computer science (http://news.yahoo.com/university-bets-hybrid-online-learning-model-050334491--sector.html).

Combining the qualities of online distance learning with the benefits of blending for discussion and collaboration, this innovative project is offering a new spin on the Ivy League experience. 
 
Georgia Tech Masters of Computer Science – MOOC delivery of traditional degree 
Long known for excellence in technology and engineering, Georgia Tech has also offered a number of MOOCs.  Now the university is combining those leadership experiences to offer a MOOC technology delivered MS in Computer Science.  In collaboration with Udacity and AT&T among others, the university is putting its $42,000 degree program online to be offered at a massive scale for some $7,000. (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/first-massive-online-degree-program-begins-wednesd/ncnyF/
 
Offering the degree in a quantitative field in which the university has an abundance of expertise makes this project one that has a high likelihood of success.  And student selectivity is no small part of the equation.  More than 2,000 applicants were rejected for the first cohort of 375 students.  The plan is to scale this project into thousands of students enrolled at a distance, studying online at a tuition rate of one sixth of the same degree offered on campus. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/education/masters-degree-is-new-frontier-of-study-online.html)
 
Innovation
These are two innovations that are well worth following.  They may set a trends in the way higher education is delivered, and they open new markets for higher education.  Of course, I will track the developments and share them with you throughProfessional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA  (http://continuingedupdate.blogspot.com/). You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning (http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=OnlineContinuingProfessionalEducationUpdateByUpcea) – no advertising, no spam!
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
 

Monday Briefing #3 - February 10, 2014
 
Most of us have heard of the term "flipped classroom."  It is often used as a synonym for blended learning.  But, while all flipped learning is blended, it has distinct characteristics that sets it apart from all blended approaches.  Some of those characteristics are particularly appropriate for many continuing and professional education classes.  
 
As the name implies, we flip the more traditional model of lecture/discussion in the classroom and project/activity outside the classroom.  In the flipped model, lectures are recorded and "chunked" into fifteen minute or less segments, and put online for students to review on their own schedule.  This also allows students to pause, rewind and review part of lectures that are not immediately clear to them.  Discussion boards are also available asynchronously for students to discuss the topics.  In class time is reserved for active learning.  This could be case studies, group projects, or other activities that more closely resemble professional work that applies what has been learned in the class.  
 
The result can be very impressive as you can see in this infographic by Knewton: http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/
 
Another interesting study at the University of Minnesota showed that cutting in-class time by two-thirds using a flipped model resulted in equal or more positive learning outcomes than the traditional model.

Even more markedly, student satisfaction improved in the flipped model.  Students perceive that flipped model results in more relevant and engaging class sessions and a better use of their time in observing recorded rather than live lectures.  
The lecture portion that is delivered online can be not only from a local faculty member, but as pointed out in this article by noted author Tina Rosenberg can come from Khan Academy or another source:  
 
And, Khan Academy is a great source for lecture materials for continuing education such as 
 
All are high quality. All are free. All can fit right into continuing education classes you may be already offerings (or would like to offer with a low initial investment).
 
The flipped classroom may provide just the right opportunity to enhance enrollments, promote completion, and expand your portfolio of continuing education classes.
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder

 
Monday Briefing #2 - February 3, 2014
 
 
Much is made of "big data" and how it will impact education.  Certainly, we all deal with big data as we analyze our registrations, retention, and project enrollments.  But, big data is now becoming a part of the learning process itself.  The collection of big data coupled with learning analytics enable the advent of "adaptive learning."  Data driven learning and assessment will be one of the six key trends to be officially announced today by the New Media Consortium in their 2014 edition of the annual Horizons in Higher Education series.  (http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-higher-ed ) 
There is a growing interest in using new sources of data for personalizing the learning experience and for performance measurement. As learners participate in online activities, they leave a clear trail of analytics data that can be mined for insights. Learning analytics is a collection of tools to process and analyze that data stream, and use it to modify learning goals and strategies in real time. As the field of learning analytics matures, the hope is that this information will enable continual improvement of learning outcomes.
 
Adaptive learning as described above, appears to be the natural path to the future of learning in higher education.  Using computers to assess learning and offer alternative teaching modules using a variety of different approaches has been shows in some early studies to provide better learning outcomes.  Students do not progress until they master each module (score and "A" or 110%).  
 
Here's a good roundup of some of the leading providers of adaptive learning software and frameworks : http://www.educationdive.com/news/adaptive-learning-the-best-approaches-weve-seen-so-far/187875/ . 
 
The adaptive learning approach allows the instructor to engage with the students who need help in moving forward.  Adaptive approaches are generally self-paced, allowing students to move forward on their own schedule.  Soon, we will will see marketing campaigns based on the superiority of "mastery learning" (adaptive learning) approaches -- "my university uses 'mastery learning' so all of our engineering students must earn an "A" in bridge-building, but other universities award degrees to students who receive a "C" that course - who do you want building your bridge?"
 
The Horizon Report predicts substantive change in this area in three to five years.  It is time to prepare.
 
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder
 

Monday Briefing #1 - January 27, 2014
 
Much has been made of the Fast Company interview with Sebastian Thrun, the inventor of the xMOOC (extended audience MOOC) and founder of Udacity.  Back in the fall of 2011, Thrun and associate Peter Norvig (VP for Research at Google) offered a MOOC on Artificial Intelligence that garnered 160,000 and launched the current movement that now includes some 750 MOOCs.   In that interview, Thrun called Udacity MOOCs "lousy."  http://www.fastcompany.com/3021473/udacity-sebastian-thrun-uphill-climb
 
Those who oppose or fear MOOCs rejoiced through Tweets and blog postings.  But, what some may have missed is that Thrun will now turn his attention to professional and continuing education!  He is pursuing collaboration with corporations and other businesses in providing just-in-time learning to masses within the workforce rather than the traditional students to whom he offered developmental courses in collaboration with  SJSU.  
 
One important example, the Udacity collaboration with Georgia Tech, AT&T, has just launched its pilot program: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/13/georgia-tech-admits-first-cohort-ahead-online-masters-degree-program-launch.  
 
MOOCs are still in their infancy.  We will see many versions and adaptations emerge in the coming year including more examples of MOOCs at modest tuition levels.  
 
If you are considering offering a MOOC or just interested in what might compete with your continuing education offierngs, did you know that there are MOOC aggregators that allow you to search all of the MOOCs out there?  Here are three examples, each one with a different interface:
  1. http://www.class-central.com
  2. http://www.mooc-list.com
  3. http://edspire.com/
Best,
 
Ray Schroeder