17
Mar

Higher Ed and the Shifting Life Course

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Rethinking higher education in light of the changing contours of young adulthood

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

09
Mar

The Maturing MOOC

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

In the summer of 2011 we produced eduMOOC — a constructivist massive open online course about online learning with the help of a small group of talented and expert professionals at the University of Illinois Springfield as well as colleagues around the country who were then, and continue to be, among the leaders in our field of online learning. By the time it concluded in August, eduMOOC had reached 2,700 learners in 70 countries — making it among the largest such classes produced up to that time.

Some of the most successful early MOOCs were produced by a couple of Canadians, Stephen Downes and George Siemens. They were groundbreaking. Many early MOOCs were largely low budget (compared to today), noncredit, interactive, volunteer efforts. Moving outside the institutional structure, they reached beyond the campus, beyond the country and into many languages and cultures. Just one month after eduMOOC, Sebastian Thrun of Stanford and Google launched a massive-scale MOOC on artificial intelligence surpassing 150,000 students. And the X-MOOC era had begun. The year 2012 was declared “the year of the MOOC.”

Over time these freestanding classes were collected and hosted by the likes of Coursera, Udacity, edX, FutureLearn and XuetangX. They offered certificates and degrees.

And soon, some commentators declared MOOCs “dead” or “failures.” The newer generation of MOOCs were massive and online and courses, but they were not open in the purest sense. Some had prerequisites and others had fees.

Certainly, MOOCs have changed. They have matured in scale and sophistication. While many are now not truly “open,” as in free, without prerequisites, they are more massive than before and are far less expensive than the cost of on-campus offerings. There are now more than 5,000 recognized MOOCs generally available. Some are self-paced and can be started and completed on your schedule. Class-Central keeps a roster of available MOOCs.

Just a few weeks ago, I took a short MOOC offered jointly by McMaster University and the University of California, San Diego, through Coursera: Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects. Some two million people have taken the course. It was refreshingly engaging and useful to sharpen my learning and retention skills. As with many such courses, it was free to take and only required $ 49 for a certificate of completion. I got the certificate and put it in my LinkedIn profile.

In the past couple of years, certificates and entire master’s degrees have become available through MOOCs. There are now 45 online at-scale master’s degrees, with many more on the way.

As highlighted in a previous posting, Georgia Tech is among the leaders in the delivery of affordable at-scale degrees, including the master of science in computer science program — the largest online MS in CS in the world. The University of Illinois offers four master’s degrees through Coursera. The University of Pennsylvania is offering an at-scale baccalaureate to begin this fall. There certainly will be many more. What began as largely volunteer, noncredit efforts have now matured into full-blown master’s and baccalaureate degrees that are changing the landscape of higher education. The trend promises to capture a sizable portion of all online degree-seeking students in the coming few years.

MOOCs will continue to evolve. The groundbreaking work of Ashok Goel at Georgia Tech in developing a virtual teaching assistant is a key milestone in enabling these large-scale classes to engage students and to potentially personalize learning. In the meantime, the essential online, at-scale characteristics will make them affordable and attractive to students around the world.

The MOOC did not die. Rather, it grew up into a mature, fully-functional degree platform that is serving millions of learners globally on a daily basis. At-scale learning is too large to ignore. It is changing the learning environment worldwide. In less than a decade, this phenomenon has moved from the fringes of education to the fastest-growing format for certificates and degrees, having just passed the 100-million-learner mark last year.

Are you delivering at-scale learning? Have you noticed the impact of large-enrollment programs on enrollments in your “traditional” online degree programs? How are you adapting your offerings to make them competitive? These are questions that we should all be asking in the changing environment of online learning.

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Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

01
Mar

Thinking About ‘Massification of Higher Education Revisited’

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Why we may be at peak U.S. college, but we are decidedly not at peak global higher education.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

21
Feb

When Educational Leaders Invoke ‘Safety’

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

In a diverse democracy, education ought to be about learning and building relationships across lines of difference. Does invoking the concept safety help facilitate either of those goals?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

13
Feb

Does Elite Higher Education Function Like White Privilege?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

The multicultural meritocracy gives its own a leg up, just not quite in the same way that it used to be done.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

21
Jan

Creating a More Collaborative Higher Education Ecosystem

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Why well-resourced institutions need to contribute more to higher education as a whole.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

13
Jan

Higher Education and Identity Issues in Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Does engaging diversity in college mean unmooring people from their identities, or anchoring them more fully within those identities?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

05
Jan

Is Innovation Possible in Latin America?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Higher education throughout Latin America is in need of dramatic transformation.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

12
Dec

Hey, Google, Alexa, Siri and Higher Ed

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

I watch the many ways in which my 7-year-old grandson engages with Google Home when he drops by the house. Whenever a question of history or fact arises, I pull out my phone or walk to my open laptop, but he always beats me to the answer by simply speaking out: “Hey Google …”

This is just a seed of a rapidly growing phenomenon in human-computer interface that will enable far greater personalization and reach. Voice recognition and artificially intelligent interpretation are at the core of these technologies. As this rolls out into a pervasive interface, we are seeing changes in the way in which higher education is conducted.

Georgia Tech, Northeastern University and Arizona State University are among the universities leading the way in embracing voice assistants in supporting students and faculty members. “Call it a next-level chatbot, a natural extension of existing smartphone apps, or even a way to demonstrate technological prowess in a crowded student-recruitment market. Believers say that the use of the technology will only expand, and that lessons from the first year of student use across the country can instruct future adopters,” Lindsay Ellis wrote in The Chronicle. The early applications are mostly focused on everyday student needs on campus, but clearly the future is the way in which this technology migrates into research and the curriculum.

Imagine a true “student assistant” that links to AI applications and can conduct customized research. For example, a student might ask the assistant to list five articles on a topic that is being discussed in class — such as the impact of the midterm election results on climate policy. A trivial extension of that inquiry would be to send the results to a printer. And how about a logical extension that is nontrivial: asking a computer program to write a five-page paper citing those five articles, print the paper and email an electronic version to the student?

Manuscript Writer by sciNote is AI software that claims to assemble the key pieces of a research paper. Reviews of the grammatical quality at this point are not strong, but the potential of this technology is undeniable: “The sciNote system is likely to improve, though. In theory, its AI will learn from its mistakes by comparing users’ finished papers to the software’s first attempts. Given what we’ve already seen in automated journalism, it’s not so crazy to predict that the quality of science paper robo-prose will soon become much better than it is today. Perhaps we’ll even reach the point where it’s about as good (or about as bad) as the work of average human scientists.”

How far away are we from a full synthesis of emerging capabilities to do original research and writing — all triggered by a voice command? Not far. And, one has to ask, how does the advent of this technology impact the way in which we teach? Do we need to re-examine our pedagogies in light of very smart assistants?

Outside the classroom, voice-search technologies are affecting the way in which prospective students learn about our universities, degrees and programs. Increasing numbers of students are asking Alexa, Google and Siri, “Which university in this state has the highest ranked M.B.A.?” or “What is the average starting salary for a blockchain developer?” and “What universities offer certificates in blockchain development?”

The questions lead us to ask if our marketing departments are optimizing for these kinds of questions. This step beyond search engine optimization is called voice engine optimization, and it differs significantly from what we have doing for the past decade: “When it comes to voice search, getting to the top is more important than ever,” Emily Alford from marketing technology site ClickZ states. “On a desktop search for businesses, there are pages of options. On mobile, there are less, but being in the top four will probably get you noticed. Voice search, however, really only gives one or two options.”

Voice enabling is the funnel through which we will access increasingly smart technologies. As these technologies evolve and further intertwine into a conversant smart system, we must respond and anticipate the changes that are only months away. A good place to begin is implementing VEO for all of our programs.

Universities must be responding to this new trend to capture new prospective students, and to make sure you are sending current students to the proper resources that will enrich their time on campus. Have you begun implementing VEO at your school? If not, one of the best ways to start is to simply act like a student might and use your devices to ask the questions one might ask in natural speech, and then assess the position of your pages and tweak, text and repeat as needed. The changes you find could be small, and their potential impact for your school could be transformative.

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Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

11
Nov

The Verdict Is In: Competition Is Bad For The Health Of Public Higher Ed

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Competition is both inefficient and costly. Plus it erodes the institutional mission and operations of public higher education institutions. 

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U