Thursday, March 26. 2015
I don't usually turn to business magazines, such as Forbes, as a source for articles on education. Unfortunately, even non-profit educational institutions need to make money.
An article on forbes.com talks about about "the next assault on the Ivory Tower." What does it see that assault as being? The unbundling of the college degree.
It looks to other industries as earlier examples of unbundling: music CDs by iTunes, airline tickets and the recent unbundling of cable TV packages. The article contends that "employers don’t appear to be searching for degree alternatives" but rather at ways to unbundle the components (courses) into the "discrete skills and competencies most predictive of success in the workplace." For one thing, this would mean an end to the general education requirements required for a degree.
It was only three years ago when all the talk was that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) were going to disrupt degrees and colleges. That didn't happen, although the MOOC movement certainly set a number of things into motion that may ultimately lead to degrees being unbundled.
The article's author is Ryan Craig, managing director at University Ventures, which is described as a private equity fund focused on innovation from within higher education. He is the author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education. One of his premises is that the "unprecedented data sharing and transparency between higher ed and labor markets" will lead the way.
I am not so sure that there is this sharing occurring. It may be that it is happening, but it's not in my purview. If universities and employers are sharing this data and they are doing so in order to determine what courses lead to the employer outcomes that they are looking for, then unbundling would occur.
I can see benefits for students - lower tuition costs, shorter periods of study leading to jobs - and benefits for some employers - customized programs for their industry. But what are the advantages for the colleges?
Ryan Craig refers to LinkedIn as a “competency management platform.” That's a new term to me. Apparently, linking uploaded resumes, transcripts and competencies and mapping those competencies to specific jobs or careers will allow matches for employers and job applicants.
Is this the end of the university? Craig says, no. He still sees it as the locus of educational content and talent and the places that will produce the coursework. The university survives; the degree does not.
Will higher education refocus on the bottom line returns that probably matter most to a majority of students - employment and wages? Just as it was predicted that MOOCs wouldn't impact the elite universities as much as it would the smaller schools. Those elites are the ones whose reputation still relies heavily on the "four Rs" - rankings, research, real estate, and rah! (i.e. sports and other aspects of campus life). Don't those elite students also want jobs and great wages? Of course, but their path has been and will continue to be a different one from the majority of college students.
Wednesday, March 18. 2015
I read an article about personalizing professional learning (PL) that posits that, as designers and providers of PL, we tend to not take into account the expertise of the teacher-as-learner. What we do concentrate on is their weaknesses, rather than their strengths.
At my university, faculty and PL providers both grumble about the constraints on their ability to do more PL. Time, support and resources top the list of constraints. I don't hear them complain about personalization, but that might be because no one expects there to be any personalization.
Friday, March 13. 2015
MOOCs might make headlines, but Yale's experiments with professional degrees say more about how top universities that stayed away from online courses are now using them.
"Yale Announces ‘Blended’ Online Master’s Degree" excerpted from chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/
Monday, March 9. 2015
Makerspaces (AKA hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs) are creative, do-it-yourself (DIY) spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. A large number of them have been opened in libraries and more recently in public spaces and on campuses.
The makerspace may contain 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools that most individuals can't afford to own but want to learn to use.
Makerspaces in K-12 schools edutopia.org/blog/creating-makerspaces-in-schools
Thursday, February 26. 2015
The MOOC I facilitated on Canvas Network in 2013 was called "Academia and the MOOC" and was intended to attract teachers as well as others in academic roles (instructional designer, support staff, administration and student).
Monday, February 23. 2015
On March 13, I will be presenting on "Making Learning Visible to Increase Student Engagement" at the NJEDge Faculty Showcase. This "Best Practices" presentation was inspired in part by the educational research from the Project Zero group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
I will be talking about the practice of using a public forum in both undergraduate and graduate online and face-to-face classes (at NJIT and at Montclair State University) and having students publicly reflect on their learning experiences.
Requiring students to document their work in a class forum immediately changes student ownership of their work. This type of documentation makes learning visible, rather than the private 1:1 relationship that assessment and evaluation often has between a student and instructor.
I will explain the documentation and process reflection methodology and show student examples. This practice borrows on earlier use of and the pedagogy of portfolios.
The Making Learning Visible (MLV) Project was based on collaborative research between Project Zero researchers and educators from the Municipal Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. MLV investigated how best to understand, document, and support individual and group learning for children and adults. I read about it in Making Thinking Visible and Visible Learners. The five key principles are that
learning is purposeful, social, emotional, empowering, and
In particular, the aspect of
learning and teaching in MLV that I identify most strongly with is the role of
observation and documentation in deepening and extending learning.
Documentation involves one or more specific questions
that guide the process, often with an epistemological focus (questions on learning).
Documentation also involves collectively
analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating individual and group
observations. (It's interesting that the keynote speaker at the Showcase next month will be Etienne Wenger-Trayner who is a leader in the field of social learning theory, and coined the term "communities of practice," and their application to organizations.)
This process is strengthened by multiple perspectives and so it is necessary to make the learning visible. It becomes public
when it is shared with other learners, parents, teachers or the public.
Prompting reflective thinking during learning helps learners develop strategies to apply new knowledge to the complex situations in their day-to-day activities. Reflective thinking helps learners attach new knowledge to prior understanding, and also understand their own thinking and learning strategies.
I find that this practice is also very beneficial to me as an instructor in grading student work as it reveals the hidden process that cannot be seen in only grading a final product.
Ultimately, I have found that this is another way to promote student engagement. Teachers in K-12 have known intuitively that displaying student work lets students know that their work is valued and that the classroom space is shared.
Sample student infographic by Anabel Damstrom as posted within the course LMS
with her process reflection and also on her public portfolio.
Friday, February 20. 2015
MOOCs and companies partnering with MOOC providers to offer mini/microdegrees are a new approach to higher education that can be viewed as a threat, alternative or innovation. In the past decade, the entrance of for-profit colleges and universities were seen as a threat. Some of those have failed and some have succeeded. The latest news in this line is that The New York Times will be entering education in a bigger way.
The new NYT EDUcation is a collaboration with the CIG Education Group. This not the paper's first attempt to enter education. Their Knowledge Network was an online education program started in
2007 that partnered with colleges (including Stanford University and USC) that eneded in 2012.
NYT EDUcation is in the process of assembling its management and curriculum development team, planning courses and programs and expects to offer its first courses in fall 2015. “All the options are on the table,” said Michael Chung, chief executive of CIG. Some courses could be online, others could meet face to face, or they could be hybrids."
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