ACE conference addresses college sustainability in troubled times

This week, a panel of higher-education stakeholders gathered to discuss their greatest sustainability challenges during the economic downturn.

During a seminar this week at the American Council on Education’s annual conference, panelists addressed how colleges and universities continue to be plagued by the repercussions of the “Great Recession” of 2008.

A panel of higher-education stakeholders discussed their greatest challenges in dealing with the economic downturn. Chief among these, college presidents said, was achieving a delicate balance between strengthening their financial stability and maintaining good value.

San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman, who was appointed to the post in 2011, touted the value of resiliency and adaptation in troubled times. He spoke about having to contend with strict budget limitations, and having to find innovative ways to generate revenue in order to continue important research initiatives.

Hirshman said knew he couldn’t solely slash the university’s spending, which would only “devastate programs,” but instead focused largely on comprehensive fundraising campaigns. He asked his staff to brainstorm inventive ways to maximize revenue relative to cost.

“Pressure makes diamonds,” he said. San Diego State’s faculty rose to the challenge, and most initiatives they pursued were successful. Under Hirshman’s leadership, San Diego State has raised more than $391 million, very close to its overall goal of $500 million.

Though he and his faculty saw positive results, Hirshman described the period of change as “very difficult,” and filled with “tense conversations.”

“I’m not endorsing our revenue-based approach for every university,” he said. Synergies and mergers were two other options that he suggested universities consider.

Hirshman said he’s encouraged by California voters’ recent passing of Proposition 30, a decision to raise their own taxes to fund higher education. He said colleges now have the opportunity to promote meaningful, lasting change if they’re willing to rise to the occasion.

(Next page: How the SUNY system lowered costs during the economic downturn)

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Top higher-education technology news: March 2013

Here are some of the highlights from the March 2013 issue of eCampus News.

A new business model emerges for MOOCs … Free electronic textbooks see growth … Colleges learn how to boost success in online courses: These are among the top higher-education technology stories in the March 2013 issue of eCampus News.

The digital edition of our March issue is now available online. You can browse the full publication here, or click on any of the headlines below to read these highlights.

A new business model for MOOCs

Nine universities are piloting a new game-changing business model that offers students free access to massive open online courses (MOOCs) for credit in hopes of increasing enrollment in full degree programs…

Five Coursera MOOCs recommended for credit

As massive open online courses continue to soar in popularity, some administrators continue to assert that MOOCs lack the high quality and credit-worthiness of traditional college courses. But soon, all that might change.

The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service announced that it’s recommending credit for the initial five Coursera MOOCs it has been evaluating since late last fall—meaning students enrolled in those courses could earn college credit toward a degree…

‘Community source’ project helps colleges tackle enterprise systems

Large, commercial enterprise systems that handle functions such as campus finances and human resources are notorious for being costly, inflexible, and often hard to manage. That’s why a small but growing number of institutions are turning instead to open-source alternatives developed collaboratively “by universities, for universities” through the nonprofit Kuali Foundation…

Free eTexts prove popular

As college textbook prices continue to climb, a free alternative to traditional textbooks has gathered steam—and its provider claims that students at more than half of U.S. colleges are now taking advantage…

How to boost student success in online classes

A majority of colleges consider online education crucial to their long-term success, according to a study from Education Sector that also examined how educators could learn from one successful college system’s impressive online student retention numbers…

Niche-based digital marketing attracts nontraditional students

To improve enrollment, officials at Mount Olive College in Mount Olive, N.C., knew they needed to understand their own student population better, and identify the types of students they should target in the future. To do this, the college enlisted the help of ed-tech company Hobsons…

Viewpoint: An untapped potential for MOOCs

There’s a key use for MOOCs that U.S. universities so far have missed, write Lisa L. Martin and Barbara F. Walter: the ability to export gender equity and powerful female role models to the rest of the world…

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Most prestigious universities: Times Higher Education’s 2013 World Reputation Rankings

The United States and the United Kingdom’s six “super brands” have pulled farther away from the rest of the world’s colleges and universities, but the nations’ other colleges and universities are increasingly vulnerable to global competition, according to Times Higher Education’s 2013 World Reputation Rankings, a leading ranking of the world’s universities, the Huffington Post reports. The rankings use the Thomson Reuters Academic Reputation Survey to measure the power of universities’ global brands within the market for the best professors, brightest students, richest business investors and most innovative research partners. The “super brands” have held the top six spots since the rankings began in 2011. While the U.S. dominates the list with 43 universities in the top 100, its influence has diminished slightly since the inaugural ranking. One university has fallen off the top 100 list while two have dropped out of the top 50, due mainly to budget cuts…

Click here for the full story

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Apple will reportedly launch new iPad next month, iPad mini sequel possible as well

April may not be the cruelest month for iPad fans this year, BGR News reports. Unnamed sources have told iMore’s Rene Ritchie that Apple (AAPL) plans to release the next iPad as soon as this April, which will presumably include both the fifth-generation 9.7-inch iPad and perhaps the second-generation iPad mini. Ritchie says that while he’s fairly confident that Apple will launch a redesigned version of the 9.7-inch iPad next month, he’s not as confident that Apple is yet ready to take the wraps off a Retina-equipped version of the iPad mini.

“Retina for the iPad mini, however, still doesn’t sound imminent,” Ritchie writes. “Apple is not going to release iPads that costs [sic] more or don’t get as good battery life as the current models. So, if the next iPad mini does end up getting slated for April, it could be a spec bump, or have something other than Retina as a differentiator…”

Click here for the full story

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USC program helps low-income students prepare for college

She stands just 5 foot 2, with a slight frame and soft voice, but to her family, Alfa Lopez is a giant. The Los Angeles teen lives in a low-income area where teenagers are tempted by drugs and the high school drop-out rate is 50 percent, ABC News reports. As she matter-of-factly puts it, “It’s not the best neighborhood.” Lopez, though, has big plans and big dreams. This 16-year-old has her sights set on becoming the first member of her family to go to college. “I try to get straight A’s to make my family proud,” she told ABC News, “and to show myself that I can do this and that I can work hard.” She is succeeding with the help of an innovative program run by the University of Southern California. Called the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI), the program offers intensive classes and tutoring to hundreds of low-income children who live in the shadow of the university…

Click here for the full story

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ACE addresses MOOCs’ potential

MOOCs can reach a wide range of students.

MOOC–better known to some as a massive open online course–was the unofficial buzzword of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 4 and 5, and university presidents say that MOOCs could help expand learning opportunities to students and professionals.

During the conference, one seminar featured a panel of two MOOC platform designers and two university representatives who expressed their views on how MOOCs can enhance higher education without discrediting traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.

Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller said MOOCs can alleviate issues of scale and capacity that universities across the country are facing. One way to make MOOCs cost-effective is to continuously cycle the same professors and courses online, but expand student access.

Koller asserted that MOOCs promote self-paced learning, and in turn, provide a much more solid foundation for continuing education.

“We have seen a considerable improvement in learning outcomes,” she said. “In some ways, [MOOCs] transcend the way students would interact with an instructor.”

She estimated that approximately 80 percent of Coursera students already have higher education degrees, and that they take MOOCs to gain diversified skills to get a leg up over their job competitors. One of the greatest benefits of MOOCS vs. traditional courses is the uniquely rich, globally expansive social communities that develop among students. For the first time in history, students living all over the world are able to connect and communicate with one another at rates of lightning-fast immediacy.

(Next page: How college presidents view MOOCs.)

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eCampus News March 2013


A new business model for MOOCs

‘Community source’ project tackles enterprise systems

How to boost student success in online classes

Liberal arts under attack

Next-generation tablets

LSU unveils third-generation supercomputer

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eCampus News February 2013

Coursera to offer certificates for MOOC completion

Learning analytics aim to boost student retention

A road map for college CIOs
Higher-education funding models are changing

New spec could improve educational web searches

iPads appear in teacher education programs

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Adapt Courseware Releases Learning Outcomes Study, Demonstrating Higher Student Completion, Retention, and Success Rates

Double Digit Increases Validate Effectiveness of Company’s Adaptive Learning Approach

Rochester, NY – March 4, 2013 – Adapt Courseware, the provider of comprehensive adaptive online curriculum resources that individualize each student’s learning experience, has released the results of the first in a series of outcomes studies that are underway measuring student performance using the company’s adaptive learning methodologies. In this initial study, Adapt Courseware compared learning outcomes in two separate online sections of Introduction to Psychology at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC). In the first section, students used Adapt Courseware’s online adaptive learning content, while students in the second section used a high quality online comparison course that did not include adaptive features. The Adapt Courseware section reported higher student completion, retention, and success rates.

“The measurable improvements we experienced in our adaptive learning section when evaluated against our comparison section speak well of Adapt Courseware’s ability to engage and motivate students,” said Dr. Mark Estepp, president of SWCC and member of the Virginia Community College Reengineering Task Force. “We are always looking for new and better ways to help students learn more effectively, while at the same time drive the outcomes that are so important to our continued sustainability. Adapt Courseware’s results are quite compelling in this regard.”

For the Fall 2012 term, Adapt Courseware reported that students enrolled in the section using its content had a 19% higher completion rate than the comparison section, as measured by the number of students earning a letter grade of A through F at the end of the course divided by the number enrolled at the add-drop deadline. Course success, defined as those students earning a letter grade of A through C, was 30% higher. Re-registration rates, defined as students enrolling in at least one course in the subsequent term, were 27% higher than the comparison group.

“We expected to see improvements in course completion rates based on our mastery learning and motivational support principles, and it was extremely encouraging to see these results translating into increased student retention rates as well,” said Dr. John Boersma, founder and CEO of Adapt Courseware. “This indicates that by using a varied set of learning methodologies, a student’s overall perception of the college experience can change in a positive way and the student can be inspired to keep on going. We look forward to releasing more results as our other research studies with two- and four-year public and private institutions become available.”

The comparison section included traditional online curriculum, including instructional videos. While the comparison section had a high rate of student satisfaction and above-average learning outcomes as compared to a national benchmark, the section using Adapt Courseware content delivered an 11% higher student satisfaction rate, and student learning performance scores that were 6% higher using a summative assessment based on the College Board’s CLEP exam.

“I am so excited about Adapt Courseware’s approach to learning. It is an amazing example of eLearning best practices brought together in a realistic and achievable way,” said Dyan Lester, Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Designer at SWCC. “Because it touches on a variety of learning modalities, including video, text, and multimedia interactives, students can create their own learning strategies. The ability for students to choose not only when, but more importantly how they learn really makes a difference in relevancy, student satisfaction, and competency.”

As Adapt Courseware continues to pursue outcomes research studies, it has issued a Request for Proposals for its Scalable Adaptive Online Learning Grant program to demonstrate measurable learning outcomes on a large-scale. Institutions, departments, faculty members, or teams of faculty members can obtain additional information by visiting www.adaptcourseware.com/researchgrants/.

About Adapt Courseware
Adapt Courseware individualizes the learning experience for each student based on academic abilities and needs. The company offers complete, customizable, adaptive online curriculum resources that combine proven learning science with advanced multimedia techniques to help students achieve mastery learning. With Adapt Courseware, colleges and universities can realize measurable learning outcomes, increased student retention, and higher student satisfaction.

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Community colleges’ cash crunch threatens Obama’s retraining plan

Some schools rally around a football team. Harper College has rallied around a number, Reuters reports. When President Barack Obama called for 5 million more community-college graduates by the end of the decade to boost U.S. competitiveness, this commuter school 30 miles northwest of Chicago figured out it would need to produce 10,604 additional graduates to do its part. It won’t be able to count on much government help. Even as Harper and many of the nation’s 1,200 other two-year community colleges try to deliver on Obama’s vision of a revitalized manufacturing sector and a better-skilled work force, support from the federal and state governments is eroding.

“I’ve been in this business for 42 years. I’ve never seen anything like this – the pressure on the business model, the pressure on the whole institution of higher education,” Harper College President Ken Ender said in an interview…

Click here for the full story

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