Women say online degrees ‘more achievable’

With college costs at a record high, many prospective students are forced to choose between price and prestige – and women facing that decision are overwhelmingly choosing the former by turning to online courses.

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MOOCs have been male dominated.

Women “see online degrees as more achievable than traditional on-ground program” by a margin of three-to-one, according to a survey released in September by Western International University

Nearly 80 percent of the survey’s respondents, who were all women between the ages 22 and 50, said they believed online universities offered specialized degree programs and that they could advance their careers.

Since the late 1990s, the number of women earning degrees has been surpassing the number of men, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

First in bachelor’s degrees, then master’s, and finally Ph.D.s beginning in 2009. That trend can be found online, with 61 percent of online undergraduates being women.

The same, however, cannot yet be said for the most hyped member of the online education family, massive open online courses (MOOCs), where early evidence points to a potential male-heavy gender gap.

The Western International University survey aimed to gather information on what barriers and motivations exist among women interested in continuing their education.

See Page 2 for details on why more women than men may prefer online courses.

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Professor in hot water after controversial tweet

University of Kansas anthropology professors are accusing school officials of violating the constitutional rights of a fellow professor by placing him on leave because of a Twitter post.

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Kansas lawmakers want a professor fired after a controversial tweet.

Journalism professor David Guth got into hot water for a tweet aimed at the National Rifle Association (NRA) after the Sept. 16 shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., that left 13 dead.

“The blood is on the hands of the (hash)NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you,” Guth posted.

The backlash was swift, with many accusing Guth of wishing death on the children of NRA members.

Some Kansas legislative leaders have called on the university’s Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to fire Guth, with a few saying they will not support funding for the university if he isn’t fired.

Guth said he wasn’t advocating violence but was trying to make gun-rights advocates look at shootings from the point of view of the victims’ families.

In a statement issued Sept. 27, 14 professors and anthropology department chairwoman Jane Gibson said the university’s actions against Guth have a chilling effect on academic freedom, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

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Ambassador and Westwood College Session Explores Successful Curriculum Standardization Strategies

Melville, NY – September 30, 2013 – Ambassador Education Solutions, experts in powering course materials management and delivery for higher education institutions, has been selected with Westwood College to present at this year’s CAPPS Annual Conference. Attendees will gain a first-hand look at the way institutions approach standardization in course materials as a means to create efficiencies, deliver a great student experience, achieve cost savings, and more.

Sue Wierenga, CIO of Westwood College, will join Ambassador’s Bruce Schneider, Director of Business Engineering, to explore standardization strategies that drive operational and financial success. Discussion will focus on schools’ ongoing efforts to reduce the cost of course materials for students, including booklist management and content partnerships.

“Standardization allows schools to efficiently and effectively get the right materials into students hands at the right price, enabling them to achieve their curriculum management goals from both an academic and financial standpoint,” said Schneider. “We are excited to deliver an encore presentation of this session with Sue, which was very well received at the APSCU Annual Convention this summer, and we are looking forward to some terrific collaboration with attendees at CAPPS.”

Standardizing Curriculum From a School Perspective is scheduled to take place on Friday, October 11th at 10:00 a.m. Ambassador is also exhibiting at the event in booth #38, where its team will be talking to schools about simplifying the adoption, delivery and management of all student course materials.

The California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) has more than 300 member institutions, and works to ensure that the needs of the entire sector—from small approved schools to large publicly traded institutions—are met from a policy, educational and business perspective. Its conference takes place October 9th to 11th in Pasadena, CA.

About Ambassador Education Solutions

Since 1973, Ambassador has engineered, developed and implemented customized bookstore and technology solutions for higher education institutions to simplify the adoption, delivery and management of all course materials, including textbooks, eBooks, eResources, custom content, scrubs, kits, supplies and logo apparel. Ambassador’s products and services, which integrate with Student Information Systems, Learning Management Systems and Digital Content Platforms, deliver an optimized student learning experience with extensive student and faculty support, while enabling institutions to maintain control and streamline costs. Ambassador also supplies print, digital and media requirements to libraries worldwide. Ambassador’s proprietary supply chain technology, specialized advisory services, analytic tools and dynamic solutions enable institutions to efficiently fulfill their academic and financial goals. For more information, please visit www.ambassadored.com.

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Free online classes are an unsustainable gimmick

For a year or two there, free online classes seemed like they just might be the future of higher education, Slate reports.

Why, some influential computer scientists wondered, should there be thousands of colleges and universities around the country all teaching the same classes to small groups of students, when you could get one brilliant professor to teach the material to the whole world at once via the Internet?

In a March 2012 Wired cover story about the phenomenon, Udacity founder and Stanford artificial-intelligence whiz Sebastian Thrun predicted that within 50 years there would be only 10 institutions of higher learning left in the world. Udacity, he reckoned, might be one of them.

As of this month, that prediction is looking overblown. After a year in which almost every big-name university in the United States rushed to get in on massive open online courses, or MOOCs, the backlash is in full force.

And no wonder: The idea of free online video lectures replacing traditional classrooms not only offends many educators’ core values, but it threatens their jobs. Worse, the early evidence suggests the model may not work very well: A partnership between San Jose State and Udacity this spring ended with more than half the students failing. In the same spaces where advocates not long ago trumpeted the MOOC revolution, critics now warn of the “MOOC delusion.”

As much as everyone wants to see college costs reined in, replacing thousands of professors and classrooms with a handful of websites populated by remote talking heads cannot be the answer. But before we throw the whole idea out the window, it’s worth asking: Mightn’t there be a way that online lectures could complement the traditional higher-education experience rather than replace it?

Read more

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Faculty members share experiences with MOOCs

A panel lead by faculty discussed their experiences in teaching courses online Friday morning, The Duke Chronicle reports.

The forum was a response to an April meeting of the Arts and Sciences Council that voted against a motion to adopt online courses for credit. Subsequently, the University’s contract with 2U—an online education company—was broken.

“The April resolution of the Arts and Sciences Council encouraged the faculty and council to encourage and support faculty that are experimenting with online teaching and learning,” said Thomas Robisheaux, chair of the council. All of the professors that spoke had developed and taught a Massive Open Online Course.

“The faculty really want to and need to know what we are currently doing with online learning,” Robisheaux said.

Orin Starn, professor and chair of the cultural anthropology department, said he was eager to try teaching an online class. Before he began developing his MOOC, however, Starn said that he had not considered the ethical implications of working in an online forum, nor had he realized how much work would go into producing the course.

“It is a nightmare just how hard it is to teach these classes,” Starn said.

He estimated that it took 20 times more effort to complete the lessons for his MOOC than for his in-person course.

Read more

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Faculty take the lead in creating GW’s first MOOCs

GW is guiding a handful of professors to create massive open online courses, which could start teaching students from around the world by the end of the academic year, The GW Hatchet reports.

Paul Schiff Berman, vice provost for online education and academic innovation, said MOOCs – free, not-for-credit classes – allow faculty to “reach a larger audience” and share information with those who have little access to education.

“MOOCs should be about faculty empowerment, faculty members who want to experiment with a different modality of education,” Berman said. “I want to provide a way for them to do it.”

The University announced last winter that it would start to plan its own set of free online courses, which have multiplied at top universities like Harvard and Northwestern universities. Now, those plans are taking shape, with subjects like nursing and political management pegged as some of GW’s first MOOCs.

Berman said he hopes to eventually start programs tailored for audiences in developing countries. For example, he cited a possible School of Nursing-led course on neonatal care that would be slower-paced and involve more background exercises than a typical class.

GW is late to the free online education craze. MOOCs, which are often taught by star professors, attracted international media attention last year by drawing thousands of signups.

But some universities that rushed to start their own programs lost faculty support along the way. San Jose State University paused its MOOC program this summer after two semesters.

Read more

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Stigma of online learning needs to be debunked, say UAE academics

Academics will face the challenges within the country’s higher education system at a conference in November, and top of the agenda will be technology and research.

The Mena Higher Education Leadership Forum will see UAE organisations and institutions such as the University of Dubai and the Saudi German Hospital coming together with international counterparts from around 30 countries.

Dr Narimane Hadj-Hamou, the forum chairwoman, said the conference will “tackle what a world-class university actually means” and how those concepts and qualities can be applied to the UAE.

“We will focus a lot on technology and research, which is a problem across all disciplines.”

She said with the “impressive growth” in the number of universities in the UAE – there are more than 100 – some areas still need to be smoothed out.

“There is still a perception that online learning, for example, is inferior quality but I think that will change if you see how many online universities are launching in the region, including Hamdan bin Mohammed e-University here in Dubai.”

The e-University has been around for nearly a decade, and it is the only accredited online university in the UAE.

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This week’s top 5 most viewed articles

Did your favorite articles during the week of September 23 make the top five most viewed articles in eCampus News?

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This has been another great week for eCampus News.

This week’s featured stories include big campus security spending by the University of Kentucky, FutureLearn, a MOOC consortium from the U.K. looking to challenge American MOOC platforms like Coursera, and more in-depth coverage of MOOCs.

Please enjoy this week’s top 5 most viewed articles:

  1. Has Coursera solved the catch-22 of for credit Moocs? by Jake New, published 9/19/2013.
  2. MOOC students to be identified with webcams by Jake New, published 9/17/2013.
  3. Using technology to distract students from distraction by Jake New, published 9/24/2013.
  4. Research: Social media has negative impact on academic performance by Denny Carter, published 4/17/2013.
  5. Students: Online courses require more discipline by Denny Carter, published 9/23/2013.

For instant updates and breaking news, be sure to join our growing community on Facebook and Twitter.

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Planning platform helps organize hectic academic lives

When she was in high school, Julienne Lam considered herself to be an organized student, planning out her courses, assignments, and deadlines with relative ease.

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Students can compare the time they take on an assignment to that of their peers.

But when she started attending Stanford University, she found herself struggling to keep her head above the deluge of college coursework.

“As a freshman it was really difficult to adjust to all this planning,” she said. “I was not ready for this new environment.”

Figuring other students may be feeling the same way, she and another classmate, Sam Purtill, created ClassOwl, a social academic planner that has now partnered with big names in education technology like Pearson and Sakai’s CourseWork.

While many students and educators use learning management systems (LMS) to post assignments, deadlines, and other important course material, the systems are often fragmented, separating information by course. ClassOwl pulls all that information together into one online planner.

But that’s not all it can do.

Professors can use ClassOwl to let students know how much time they should spend on an assignment. When they’ve completed an assignment, students can compare their times with that of their classmates.

Administrators can then use the data for accreditation purposes.

The social aspect of the planner comes into play when students, professors, and teaching assistants interact through the platform, updating assignments and deadlines in real-time.

Next page: Take our poll and read more about how ClassOwl uses a “bottom-up approach.”

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Symplicity Releases Residence 2013 Fall Update

ARLINGTON, Va., September 27, 2013 — Symplicity, a leading provider of cloud-based solutions for higher education, today released the fall update of Residence, a comprehensive student housing management platform designed to manage and streamline all aspects of the housing management process.

New modules added to the housing system were among the most notable features in the fall update. The new Financial section allows for further configuration of the Billing module, enabling administrators to process room assignments and miscellaneous fees, as well manage invoices, including collecting payments or adjusting charges. Configuration of charge templates permits one-time set up of charges that may then be used when creating ad hoc charges.

Symplicity also released a new Guided Move-In & Move-Out module, which provides steps for students to follow before they officially check-in or out of an assignment, ensuring a streamlined move-in/move-out process.

The new Guest Tracker module provides an avenue for tracking guests within campus residential buildings. Guests may be registered by staff through the Residence interface, or by students through the Kiosk interface.

The new Occupancy Reporting tool gives administrators a preconfigured graphical report that displays detailed data breakdowns by building and term, including arrival status, gender restrictions, and occupancy and space utilization.

Other important enhancements to the system include an improved Conference Management module, advanced search functionality and several new batch options.

“We value our clients’ feedback, and with each update, we strive to make their lives a bit easier and their processes more streamlined,” said Ariel Friedler, president of Symplicity. “Our new Residence features and enhancements like occupancy reporting and guided move-in/move-out kiosks are in line with of our ongoing initiative to improve the student housing experience.”

Since the beginning of the summer, several new client schools of various sizes have implemented Residence as their student housing system, including St. Michael’s College in Vermont. “People in our office, as well as others on campus, are very excited about having the new system in place, and I know our returning students are looking forward to it as well,” said Brian Lee, associate director of residence life at St. Michael’s College.

Symplicity is thrilled to offer Residence to housing and residential life offices of varying levels of size and budget. For more information about Residence, or to schedule an online demonstration, please contact our Sales team or visit http://www.symplicity.com/residence.

About Residence
Residence is an all-inclusive cloud-based housing management platform designed for residential life staff and students to perform and manage daily housing functions. Residence offers a robust suite of tools, including roommate matching and selection, assignment and ad hoc billing management, occupancy reporting, guided move-in/move-out, conference management, guest tracking and more.

About Symplicity
Symplicity is a market leader in enterprise technology and information systems management for higher education, government, and businesses. Symplicity is committed to providing its clients with innovative solutions and services that enable them to streamline business processes, improve performance, and cultivate positive relationships with their students, customers, and communities.

Symplicity offers a comprehensive suite of products for admissions, career services, student conduct, behavioral intervention, alumni engagement, housing & residence life, and campus activities offices. Now reaching tens of millions of students worldwide, Symplicity is the leading provider of student affairs solutions in higher education.

To learn more, visit www.symplicity.com.

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