The wifi challenge campuses dread

At ACUTA, Aruba’s Jeffrey Weaver discusses the logistics of overcoming campuses biggest wifi nightmare

wifi-stadium-campusDallas, Texas — Massive college sporting events like the NCAA tournament — which concludes here with the Final Four this week — can be a strain on campus wifi networks and IT officials.

But it’s not just times like March Madness that can be a nightmare for campus wifi networks. Officials scramble to make sure university networks can handle all the traffic at basketball arenas and football stadiums all season.

Jeffrey Weaver, manager of large public venue system engineers at Aruba Networks, spoke Monday at the 2014 ACUTA conference about the logistics behind stadium and arena wifi networks.

“Inside Aruba,” Weaver said, “it’s one of the most difficult things we do.”

Demand for speedy wifi inside a stadium comes from many different types of users. The venue itself needs wifi for video feeds. Security uses the network to look for threats. Fans are tweeting selfies and photos of the field or court. Promotions are beamed to digital signage around the stadium.

“You can’t be thinking application by application,” Weaver said.

(Next page: Challenges you may not think of)

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Big Data enters the classroom

With the shift to computerized testing, tablets in the classroom and digitized personal records, schools are collecting more data than ever on how children are doing, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Now, some educators believe, it’s time to put that data to use.

Every answer on a quiz can be analyzed to give teachers a precise picture of what their students have learned. A pattern of wrong answers is no longer just a bad grade; teachers can get clues to why students picked the wrong answer. Publishers can analyze which chapters in their textbooks are working, and which might need revising.

Steven Ross, a professor at the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University, says using data to help tailor education to individuals will drive learning in the future.

… Over the past decade, schools have started using cloud storage or begun sending more data to state education departments for collection and analysis. The amount of data collected is expected to swell as more schools use apps and tablets that can collect information down to individual keystrokes, or even how long a student holds a mouse pointer above a certain answer.

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Action Project: MOOCs remain a debated form of college education

Moving from a traditional lecture hall setting to an online digital classroom is a phenomenon that those in higher education are consistently debating, The Daily Cardinal reports.

Massive Open Online Courses, the latest trend of online higher education, embody the idea of fostering large-scale participation and education through open access on the Internet. While the idealistic program has good intentions, the presence of online programs such as MOOCs cause confusion about the traditional higher-education degree. MOOCs promise a free education to anyone who signs up for the course, but are online students learning as much as they would in a traditional classroom setting?

MOOCs are a relatively new trend in higher education, and according to a 2013 Survey of Online Learning Report from the Babson Survey Research Group only a small portion of higher education institutions are experimenting with MOOCs and a large number of those are in the planning stages.
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Ireland can play major role in online education revolution

Ireland has the chance to be at the centre of an online education revolution if our third-level system champions a glaring opportunity to teach the world, the Independent reports.

Pioneered in Ireland, Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) are published and promoted on the internet and promise to do for education accessibility what iTunes did for music.

MOOCs are rapidly gaining popularity worldwide and cover a massive range of topics immediately addressing current urgent business needs – such as the latest in predictive analytics, data structures and algorithms.

MOOCs significantly reduce the inevitable time delay between identifying the immediate requirements of industry and meeting them with trained lecturers and approved third-level courses.

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This is the reason why higher-ed is dying

Cornell political scientist argues that Congress is to blame for crushing America’s higher-ed dream

higher-education-AmericanIn perhaps one of the most eloquent discussions on the problems facing higher education today, Suzanne Mettler, professor of American Institutions at the Department of Government at Cornell, argued that the polarization of Congress is quickly killing the American Dream-and why.

Mettler, author of the book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream, lead a discussion on how the demise of the promise of higher education is, fundamentally, a political failure.

“I was fascinated from my previous book about the G.I. Bill and its influence on providing access to college for typically below median income people and wanted to know why that access hasn’t changed since the 1970s,” said Mettler.

According to the Mettler, only 1 in 10 low-income students earns a bachelor’s degree by age 24, compared to 3 in 4 for wealthier students.

What’s also shocking, noted Mettler, is the fact that the gains in low-income students obtaining degrees from four-year colleges are unimpressive: not only have over 10 countries surpassed the U.S. in providing traditional college education to all students, but today’s below median income groups are still no more likely to get a four-year degree than they were in the 1970s—a startling fact made even more striking because now, more than 30 years ago, it’s critical for students to have a postsecondary degree to compete in the economy.

“Government, since the inception of higher education, has always been involved,” explained Mettler. “The difference from then to now is in what I like to call the ‘Policy Scape,’ and Congress’ inability to maintain it.”

Mettler’s explanation goes like this: There are ‘landmark’ policies in higher education that have been around for decades. But just like any policy, higher-ed policy requires maintenance in the form of monitoring, evaluation, amendment, and assessment of design and administration.

Up until the late 1980s and early 1990s, Congress was adept at maintaining the higher-ed policy landscape…but not anymore.

(Next page: The reason why Congress isn’t doing its job)

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New trend: Students enrolling with no intention of graduating

‘Skill builder’ students are enrolling in college, but not for the degree

students-degrees-skillsKevin Floerke has been down this road before.

A student at Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California, Floerke, 26, already graduated in 2010 from UCLA, where he majored in archaeology.

This time, however, unlike many other people in his field, he’s not interested in getting yet another degree. He’s just trying to master a set of techniques and technologies that will help him verify the details he finds while doing fieldwork.

“I’m really there to learn the program itself and be able to use it in a professional setting,” he said.

Floerke, who leads tours for the National Geographic Society, is part of a group of students known as “skill builders,” who are using conventional colleges in an unconventional way: not to obtain degrees, but simply to learn specific kinds of expertise without spending time or money on courses they don’t think they need.

It’s a trend being driven by the rising price of higher education and a growing emphasis on paying for training in only the most marketable skills.

(Next page: How institutions are responding)

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Why online courses have low retention rates-and how to boost them

Retention rates for online courses remains low, but many institutions are having success–here’s how

retention-rates-onlineAcademic leaders are notably more worried about retention rates in online courses now than they were a decade ago.

Forty-one percent of chief academic officers say they agree that retaining students is a greater problem for online courses than for face-to-face classes, a new report said. Only 28 percent of respondents felt this way about retention in 2009, and only 27 percent concurred in 2004.

The concerns about student retention were highlighted in a recent survey conducted by Babson Survey Research Group, Pearson, and the Sloan Consortium. The survey featured nearly 3,000 institutions responding to questions about online learning.

“Comparing the retention in online courses to those in face-to-face courses is not simple or easy,” the report’s authors wrote. “Online courses can attract students who might otherwise have not been able to attend traditional on-campus instruction because of work, family, or other obligations.”

Low retention rates have plagued online courses for years, but the popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has helped shine a brighter spotlight on the issue in recent months. It’s also helped to highlight the fundamental differences between the kinds of students taking, and failing, online courses and those who can typically be found sitting in a campus lecture hall.

(Next page: Are online courses really helping the demographic it wants to serve?)

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European Commission wants MOOCs providers to help boost regional web skills

The MOOCs movement has generally lagged in Europe compared to the U.S. But regional providers are being established here in the Old World, such as Berlin-based iversity and the U.K.’s Futurelearn consortium – the latter backed by the veteran distant learning business, the Open University, TechCrunch reports.

And now the European Commission is throwing the budding European Massive Open Online Courses movement a bone, by creating a network of MOOCs providers specifically focusing on web and app skills. It’s partnering with iversity to establish the network.

The E.C.’s agenda here is to up the level of digital skills in the region to ensure future jobs can be fulfilled by the local workforce.

The new MOOCs network is part of the Commission’s wider Startup Europe initiative, which is aimed at improving conditions for technology startups in the region.

The E.C.’s Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan is generally focused on three areas: education and training; creating a pro-entrepreneur environment; and developing role models and doing outreach to reach groups whose entrepreneurial potential is not being fully tapped.

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University of California’s Napolitano joins skeptics over online courses

University of California President Janet Napolitano on Monday joined a growing chorus of higher education leaders who have expressed skepticism about the use and cost-effectiveness of courses that are offered online, Reuters reports.

Napolitano’s remarks at a Sacramento luncheon came as the 10-campus system struggles to overcome a possible $125 million budget shortfall for next year, a gap many had hoped would be repaired over time via low-cost online course offerings that would let the state educate more students while saving money.

“There’s a developing consensus that online learning is a tool for the toolbox, but it’s harder than it looks and if you do it right, it doesn’t save all that much money,” Napolitano told about 500 policy and education experts at a speaker series sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Educators are moving away from the idea that online courses can help disadvantaged students prepare for college or earn their degrees at a lower cost even as numerous startup companies jostle to create online universities that backers say will remake higher education.

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