by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association
Join leaders of online learning, including EDUCAUSE President Diana Oblinger, Sloan Foundation Senior Advisor Frank Mayadas, Higher Learning Commission President Sylvia Manning, WCET’s Russ Poulin, AASCU VP George Mehaffy, US Dept of Ed’s Joel Thierstein and other leaders in the field of online learning as they discuss the shifting policy landscape and how online learning is re-shaping post-secondary education.
On the 100th anniversary of distance education at MU this year, two distance learning programs are merging into one: Mizzou Online. The first program, The Center for Distance and Independent Study, offered general studies classes set to the students’ own timelines and one bachelor’s degree program. The second, MU Direct: Continuing and Distance Education, offered semester courses, graduate degrees and four bachelor’s degree programs. All of these will be offered through Mizzou Online. Stacy Snow, Mizzou Online interim director of marketing, said the merge will bring efficiency to distance learning programs. “We wanted to make it easier (for students) to understand how to get distant education from the university.”
Marketdata Enterprises, a 32-year old market research firm that has tracked a wide variety of service sectors since 1979, has released a groundbreaking new 115-page report entitled: Online Education: An Industry & Competitor Analysis. Among the report’s major findings:
Online education program enrollments represented about 30% of the post-secondary total, and this share is expected to rise to 37% by 2015.
6.2 million students are now enrolled in online ed courses (2010), up from just 1.6 million in 2002. Heavy advertising, marketing and recruiting by the large public companies/schools, coupled with easy Federal loan money, and recession-induced career changes, all contributed to the rapid growth of this field.
by Andrew Stevenson and Jen Rosenberg, Sydney (AU) Morning Herald
“The change is on in higher education: online course offerings are growing rapidly and there is an irreversible change that is happening in Australia,” Larry Kamener, a senior partner of the group in Australia, says. The Boston study, Unleashing the Potential of Technology in Education, argues that the actual impact of technology in the sector has been disappointing and has failed to lift student outcomes. Teachers are still trapped by textbooks. University lecturers who continue to deliver uninspired performances should watch out, Kamener warns. ”The average lecturer I think will struggle. Why would you bother turning up to hear someone when there is much better content available digitally,” he says. The vice-chancellor of the University of New England, Jim Barber, goes further, suggesting it is time to kill off the term lecturer, with high-speed broadband set to make education more interactive and students needing to be taught how to find, appraise and apply information.
Despite overwhelming opposition at seven public hearings around the state, a subcommittee of Idaho’s State Board of Education voted today to require next year’s Idaho high school freshmen to complete two online courses to graduate from high school. One of the two must be “asynchronous” – taught remotely, without a teacher present in the classroom with students, and with students and the teacher participating on their own schedule. The panel did vote unanimously, however, to revise the rule to remove an outright ban on the teacher ever being present in the classroom with the students during course time.
Even as debate continues about how problems of rising costs and unsatisfactory graduation rates, innovative web-based approaches to higher education are being piloted around the state and being embraced by students and, yes, even some faculty and administrators. Taking these on challenges some of higher ed’s established business practices and, more importantly, the way students and professors think about the learning process. This is especially on display this week at the University of Texas System, whose regents have assembled in Austin for a board meeting. Among other things, they will consider a deal with myEdu, a Austin-based web company. While system officials are cagey on the details and say it’s not a sure thing, according to the board meeting agenda, it would entail “a business arrangement that would provide enhanced access to online data including academic course, grade history, and degree information.” Also anticipated, per the agenda, are comments relating to the work of a system task force on blended and online learning.
By Kim Parker, Amanda Lenhart, and Kathleen Moore, Pew Internet in American Life
As online college courses have become increasingly prevalent, the general public and college presidents offer different assessments of their educational value. Just three-in-ten American adults (29%) say a course taken online provides an equal educational value to one taken in a classroom. By contrast, fully half of college presidents (51%) say online courses provide the same value. These findings are from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in spring 2011. One is a telephone survey taken among a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 colleges and universities nationwide. More than three-quarters of the nation’s colleges and universities now offer online classes, according to the survey of college presidents, and about one-in-four college graduates (23%) have taken a course online, according to the general public survey. Among those who have graduated in the past decade, the figure rises to 46%. Adults who have taken a course online have a somewhat more positive view of the value of this learning format: 39% say a course taken online provides the same educational value as one taken in person, a view shared by only 27% of those who have not taken an online course.
An increasing number of institutions will soon make the tough decision to no longer serve students residing in some states. Many have already done so. They take this action because of state regulations that place restrictions over which institutions can serve students taking courses via distance and correspondence education. While these rules seek to protect consumers, a recent survey by WCET and the University Professional & Continuing Education Association suggests that many thousands of students will be “protected” out of taking courses.
There is hardly a single area of modern life that has not been touched by the Internet in some way. Even the simple phrase “going to school” has taken on an entirely new meaning with the advent of online schools. Adult learners in search of post-secondary or professional development credits were the early consumers of online education services, but now students of all ages can learn anywhere an Internet connection can be found. Online education (also referred to as virtual learning) is becoming increasingly popular for elementary, middle and high school students. In a 2008 report, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated that the number of K-12 public school students enrolling in online courses grew by 65 percent in the two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05. A 2009 estimate puts the number at more than one million online students. In addition, data suggests that by 2019, about half of high school courses will be delivered online.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has approved a new doctor of education degree (Ed.D.) in Instructional Systems Technology (IST) from the Indiana University School of Education to be delivered entirely through distance education technology. The new program is the first IU doctorate offered completely online. “The IST program has an outstanding international reputation for quality and innovation,” said School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez. “Our graduates are employed in leadership positions in a variety of settings throughout the world. The new online degree will make available a program with a proven track record to people we could not have reached otherwise. It is in itself an application of the innovative teaching for which our faculty is known.”
With recent registrations reflecting a growing enthusiasm for more online classes, SUNY Oswego officials say they will meet the demand. Officials announced a 60 percent increase of online classes for the fall semester. Some students say they prefer online courses because they’re more accessible and offer more flexibility. MBA graduate student Alex Klatsky says online courses help ease the commute from Syracuse to Oswego. He has completed six online courses. “Between going to Syracuse and up to Oswego for classes, it can be a bit of a commute,” he said. “And with the price of gas, it can also be a bit costly. So by being able to take online classes, I save probably an hour a day on travel time.” That adds up to $50 a week in Klatsky’s bank account and the college is saving money too.
There’s an increasing number of paid and free online classes you can take to learn a new trade, brush up on your calculus skills, and even learn a language, but are online classes the best way to go? For some, it takes the edge off of the skyrocketing tuition costs in the US (since you can sometimes find online classes at a lower price). While for others, it’s a great idea in theory but requires huge amounts of self-discipline to complete. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of online learning verses the traditional college education. Which is right for you?
A set of educational videos made by a nonacademic in his bedroom closet are now part of a line of college e-textbooks. The upstart textbook publisher Kno Inc. announced on Friday that its digital textbooks will incorporate links to videos by Khan Academy, a nonprofit video library that grew out of Salman Khan’s popular instructional Youtube videos (produced in his home “studio”). That collection has grown to more than 2,400 free videos online, featuring Mr. Khan’s voice with accompanying notations on a digital blackboard. When students click or tap on Kno’s new “Smart Links” feature, they will be directed to a playlist of relevant videos from Khan Academy that have been embedded into an individual page or chapter of a book. The feature is the latest in a series of efforts by the company to engage digital readers with what it calls “added value.”
As classes resume this fall, take a good look at those first-year students armed with their laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones. They are the first college freshmen to grow up taking the word “online” for granted, say Ron Nief and Tom McBride, the minds behind the annual Beloit College Mind-Set List. Mr. Nief, who was the college’s longtime director of public affairs and is now retired, wrote in an e-mail on Monday that the Class of 2015 is “the symbolic generational start of a revolutionary adjustment in the systems and processes on which so much of society is built today.” Most members of this year’s freshman class were born in 1993, the year Mosaic was introduced as the first widely used Web browser, the year Time magazine declared, “Suddenly the Internet is the place to be,” and the year The New Yorker ran what is said to be its most reproduced cartoon ever, the one with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
This summer, Abilene Christian University in Texas hosted its first K-12 Digital Learning Institute for teachers. And this school year, the university will observe teachers’ lessons as they apply what they learned about mobile technology to their classes. At the week-long institute in July, 150 teachers learned how to incorporate mobile tools into their curriculum. The university started the institute with grant funding from AT&T after K-12 educators expressed interest in the university’s mobile initiatives.
Now, students can take online classes as early as kindergarten and must take some in high school. They can earn college credit or hone career skills while still in high school. They can take advantage of taxpayer-funded scholarships to attend private schools or qualify for transfers from one public school to another based on the schools’ state or federal performance ratings. “I think what the whole movement has done is get parents more involved in their children’s education,” said state Sen. Evelyn Lynn, an Ormond Beach Republican and former senior administrator for Volusia County schools. “We’re beginning to see different children have different needs. As an educator, I want what works for children.” Virtual classes, which allow students to complete courses online, are among the newest school choice offerings.
As the new academic year starts, many faculty members may be beginning or continuing independent studies with students. They’re a great way for students to pick up specialized knowledge or research experience, but they can sometimes be a bit of a pedagogical afterthought. This post looks at blogging as way for students to “narrate, curate, and share” their work while pursuing an independent study. ProfHacker writers have often written about blogging as a tool in a regular course. (For a handy overview, see Natalie Houston’s “From The Archives” post from February “On Blogging.”) Most of those posts think about blogging in relation to other students and assignments–but what about as part of an independent study or directed reading? When I signed up this summer for such a project, my professor suggested that I perhaps keep a blog to document the study, and I think other faculty might be interested in how it has worked.
Traditionally, students shopping for textbooks have faced a simple choice: buy new or buy used? But recently things have gotten complicated. Publishers now offer digital editions. Rental programs let students lease printed books. And Amazon recently opened a site that rents out digital editions that self-destruct at the end of the semester. To help students sort through all those options—and compare prices—several new online services have emerged that aggregate offerings from various retailers.
by George Lorenzo, the SOURCE on Community College: Issues, Trends & Strategies
Our fourth report, with many more in the making, features a synthesis of issues, trends and strategies relative to institutional and student success in online education environments at community colleges. It is based on some of the recent literature about community college online education along with interviews conducted with 17 community college educators who can be considered innovators in the online education sector.
by Susi Peacock, Sue Murray, Alison Scott, and Jacquie Kelly, Journal of ePortfolio
This article reports findings of a study based in Scotland that explored healthcare learners’ experiences of feedback and ePortfolios. Feedback is a highly complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon, and healthcare learners consider it essential for their learning, recognizing that without it patient safety may be compromised. This study sought to explore whether ePortfolios, with their dual emphasis on both the product and process of learning, could encourage deeper and broader learner engagement with feedback. Drawing upon three examples where ePortfolios have been embedded into the curriculum, our findings demonstrate that most participants were generally positive about using the ePortfolio to access, read, and store feedback on their assessments. In some cases where ePortfolio had been introduced across a program, a number of learners had also begun to use feedback provided through the ePortfolio as a springboard for reflection and planning for future development. However, many of our students missed the wider opportunities for long-term, regular creation of and engagement with feedback through the ePortfolio. After reviewing our implementation and using novel work based on threshold concepts, we propose the Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) framework as a guide to support deeper learner engagement with feedback.