Was 2014 a better year for STEM job placement?

Aggregated data reveals that students are still struggling pre- and post-graduation to fill needed jobs

job-students-technologyIt’s not a new revelation that STEM industry jobs need skilled graduates; but again, it’s not a new issue. And according to recent data from 2014, it seems that though more students want to find a job in high-profile STEM jobs, they’re still not getting them.

The data, which has been pulled from sources such as the College Board, Think Progress, the New York Times, and multiple other academic and journalism publications, at first seems pretty basic: Here are the most popular jobs for 2014…and here are the job placement rates for this year’s graduating students.

The most popular careers are mainly science and technology-focused, including network analysts, database admin and software engineers; and companies that current grad students most want to work for are often STEM-focused, such as Apple, Ford, IBM, NASA, Ubisoft, and Doctors without Borders.

It’s encouraging to see so many of this year’s graduates becoming interested in often well-paying-out-of-college, critical openings in major industry needed to keep the U.S in economic standing.

Yet, the data also reveals that 54 percent of bachelor’s degree holders under 25 are jobless or underemployed; and 33 percent of grads are currently in jobs that don’t require a college degree (ranging anywhere from electrician to bartender).

What’s even more concerning is that, according to a recent After College survey, even students who chose to major in “in-demand career fields” have reported trouble finding work. For example, among seniors who are about to get STEM-related degrees in engineering, math and technology, 81.6 percent are still seeking jobs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, over 85 percent of business majors also still sending out resumes.

(Next page: Infographic on recent job popularity and placement in 2014)


University to use Google Glass for academic feedback

Wisconsin finance professor among first in the world to use Google Glass for feedback for students


Copyright: Hattanas Kumchai / Shutterstock.com

Wisconsin School of Business Finance Professor Michael Gofman is among the first university professors in the world to use Google Glass for academic feedback for students.

Gofman developed the idea in February 2014 after looking for a solution for a problem many educators face: how to improve feedback delivery to students.

“Instead of marking the paper and posting the solution, we can record personalized videos for each student,” explains Michael Gofman, finance professor from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We’re not just showing their grade and what they did wrong, but how they can improve in the future. The technology was the perfect fit for the problem.”

After only one semester of using the technology, student evaluation scores that measure the quality of feedback in Gofman’s corporate finance course jumped to 4.69 (on a scale from one to five, five being the highest)—an increase of 38 percent from the year before and 22 percent higher than the average for all business courses at the same semester..

Gofman applied for the device through the Google Glass Explorer Program and had the teaching assistant for the course, Adam Spencer, use it, starting with the midterm exam. By using Google Glass, Spencer gave more nuanced and detailed feedback to students, touching on mistakes, what they did well, and how to build on what they’ve learned.

(Next page: Best practices in using Google Glass for feedback)


Enrollment, Engagement, Donation: How Higher Education Can Improve Its Grades with Marketing Automation

Marketo200x300Your school is probably under pressure to increase retention, graduation, and post-graduation employment rates—the measures that determine public funding, consumer interest, and support.

But marketing that attracts and recruits new students and maintains the loyalty of past students is no small task, especially when you’re competing against thousands of other schools and fighting for attention in the age of information overload…not to mention squeezed marketing budgets at every turn.

In this ebook, we’ll cover how marketing automation can help higher ed organizations:

  • Improve the results of your marketing outreach by engaging prospective, current, and former students
  • Build enduring relationships with personalized messaging
  • Create a strategy as sophisticated as the best-in-class marketers from every other industry
  • Prove the impact of every marketing dollar spend, so that you can defend and protect your budget

CNBC’s finance expert weighs in on the future of higher education

According to one CNBC analyst, new institutional models are on the near horizon

Epperson-CNBC-higherThe future of higher education and what it may look like in just 10 years from now is a discussion on many tables, with everyone from concerned parents to university presidents trying to predict how institutional models will rapidly evolve in the next few years–not an easy task.

But the more heads that come together, from Clayton Christensen to Salman Khan, the better, and CNBC recently reached out to eCampus News for a discussion on the future of higher education with the network’s Personal Finance Correspondent and Senior Commodities Correspondent Sharon Epperson.

Epperson—recipient of numerous industry awards for her work in journalism as well as in the community, and with a bachelor’s in sociology and government from Harvard University, and a master’s of international affairs degree from Columbia University—is celebrating CNBC’s 25th anniversary by discussing the changing role of higher ed in the U.S., including a look at what education may look like 25 years from now.

Epperson’s work with CNBC has included many pieces on education reform and technology, including:

  • Will the college bubble burst? (Epperson looks at the possibility of the end of the university as we know it over the next 25 years.)
  • The future of America’s education system: (Discussing the customization of curriculum and how the individualized learning approach may change the way students learn, with former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee.
  • Valuing virtual education: (CNBC’s Herb Greenberg and Epperson share their opinions on the barriers to online education acceptance.)

And in this interview with eCampus News, Epperson discusses alternative credentials, traditional universities and their online branches, the potential of MOOCs as a viable financial model, and much more:

eCampus News (eCN): It seems everyone is saying that higher education should focus more on skills-based degrees and alternative pathways to these degrees, even in traditional four-year institutions. How do you see traditional colleges incorporating these alternative pathways into their missions, which typically include “soft skills,” such as critical thinking? For example, will traditional college and universities simply branch off virtually, or do you think the recent trend of offering online platforms in addition to the traditional degree to showcase credentials in the form of badges and certificates is going to become more prominent?

Epperson: Recent history suggests that the internet is very efficient in destroying any systems that rely on the sale of information. In my own industry, I’ve witnessed the prominence of digital content that is free and plentiful, which is putting storied newspapers and flagship magazines to rest.

With that said, the emergence of online courses and virtual learning is forcing educators to rethink the higher education model, and a restructuring will come in the form of more courses designed to teach specific skills that will be used in the workforce. In this higher education model, employers themselves will have to play a bigger role – because colleges and universities largely exist to prepare an entire workforce of leaders and innovators for the future. They will have a larger say in the types of candidates they are looking for – and the skills they will need to succeed.

College degrees will become less about a paper diploma that indicates completion of a four-year degree, but it will be more about certificates of excellence in the skills employers will need. This is the clearest, alternative path that exists for students.

The residential experience will always exist – but it will become a bygone college experience that only a small percentage will be able to afford. The majority will complete “badges and certificates” which will also be the cheaper alternative.

(Next page: Business and badges; monetizing MOOCs; and more)


Wikipedia grows up on college campuses

Wikipedia is starting to lose it’s notoriety in education thanks to academic contributions

wikipedia-academia-studentsA trusted bromide in academia is that you become a better student when you become a teacher. Something like that is happening at Wikipedia.

The internet encyclopedia has grown explosively since its creation in 2001, but it quickly earned a reputation as a Petri dish for misinformation.

That’s changing. Gradually and informally, educators who repeatedly warned students to avoid Wikipedia like the plague began making it part of their course curriculum, assigning students to contribute content, either by writing original Wikipedia articles or editing existing ones.

“Many of those faculty had been Wikipedia contributors themselves,” LiAnna Davis of the Wiki Education Foundation tells me. But as the trend continued and grew, “we wanted to see what would happen if we made it into a formal program.”

Since the program’s launch in 2010, nearly 10,000 students in some 500 classes have contributed 44,000 printed pages of content, editing thousands of existing articles and creating 1,900 new ones, all of it overseen by academics while students get credit. Participating schools run the gamut from Ivy League to community college. The California contingent includes Berkeley, Davis and San Francisco, the California Maritime Academy and Pomona College.

What do students think? “They’re initially a little nervous never having done anything like that but once they get going, they love it,” said Diana Strassmann, a Rice University professor and chairwoman of the Wiki Education Foundation board who regularly assigns her students to write or edit Wikipedia articles.

(Next page: How students and faculty take the experience further)


New movement in learning analytics could change education

Stanford calls for education data science field; presents national road map to analytics success

data-learning-analyticsIn a truly comprehensive report, with advice and suggestions from over 800 teachers and administrators, a Stanford-led national Workgroup calls for a new movement in learning analytics—redefining the field and offering a seemingly scalable road map to success.

The Workgroup, report, and road map were developed, because as Roy Pea, the David Jacks Professor of Education and Learning Sciences at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and lead investigator of the report, explains: the technology behind analytics has progressed faster than education’s ability to use it.

“Data science, as a distinct professional specialization, is in its infancy,” notes Pea. “What we are calling for is an even newer specialization, ‘education data science.’ Technology has run ahead of the readiness and human capital in this emerging field; demand is ahead of supply and will continue to be without a systematic effort at capacity building in the form of training programs and field building.

One of the first steps the report recognizes in better utilizing massive amounts of student learning data toward analytics is in redefining the specialization of the field, allowing for proper training.

It suggests “bringing current education faculty—especially those who study psychometrics and education measurement—into learning analytics, as well as reaching out to faculty in computer science, statistics, bioinformatics, business intelligence, particle physics, and other fields that do advanced work with large data sets.

Outside of pure data analysis, education data science would also need to leverage the expertise of cyberlearning (learning that is mediated by networked computing and communications technologies) experts, and cyberinfrastructure (the distributed computer, information, and communication technologies combined with the personnel and integrating components that provide a long-term platform for open learning) experts.

“To build the field of learning analytics that can meet the challenge of personalized learning through cyberlearning infrastructures will require leveraging the talents, skills, and other resources from the academy, nonprofits, industry, private foundations, and governmental agencies,” explained Pea.

(Next page: Road-mapping the future of learning analytics)


5 ways to improve community college completion rates

A new report suggests five structured group practices for community colleges to improve student completion rates

community-college-completionAccording to the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 31 percent of 18 to 24 year-old college students and more than half of all online students in the U.S. attend two-year institutions.

Yet, ensuring that students complete an associate’s degree on time is one of the biggest challenges facing educators, students, and administrators, based on findings in a new report issued by the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) at the University of Texas.

“A Matter of Degrees: Practices to Pathways,” the third and final series of annual reports published by the CCCSE, reveals a disturbing trend among two-year community colleges: Only half of students who enter a community college receive a degree or are still enrolled in school six years later.

While these statistics should cause concern, the CCCSE report found several optimistic results: Students who signed up for all of their courses early were four times more likely to continue during fall to spring and 11 times more likely to continue during fall to fall. Developmental students were four times more likely to pass an introductory college credit class (gatekeeper) English class if they had signed up for a student success class that taught time management and studying skills. And developmental math students were three times more likely not to drop a course if the teacher had an attendance policy.

John Ebersole, president of Excelsior College and a 24-year veteran in higher education, praised the findings in the CCCSE report while also sharing some of Excelsior’s best practices.

(Next page: 5 structured group practices for schools to improve student completion rates)


Predictors of online success revealed in community colleges

For a majority of online learners, math and reading, jobs hours directly impact grades and retention

online-student-predictorA majority of research on the predictors of student success in online learning focus on traditional four-year institutions; a fact the community college community finds troubling, since most community college students [a growing number!] are also going online. But are there any differences in the predictors of success? Researchers say ‘yes,’ which could also impact traditional institutions’ online learners, too.

According to a recent study conducted by Brian Wolff, biology instructor at Normandale Community College, MN; A. Michelle Wood-Kustanowitz, Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management Program, University of Minnesota; and Jennifer Ashkenazi, librarian at the National Library of Israel; the current cuts in funding for community colleges are similar to those that traditional institutions are also facing. Because of these cuts, and the need for institutions to provide more with less, online learning options are becoming increasingly prevalent.

However, though many studies conducted at four-year institutions’ relatively new online learning options focus on what makes online learning students successful, the online learning students at these often prestigious institutions are not necessarily the most representative of the large number of students currently taking online courses today.

That’s why researchers say it’s critical to research predictors of success for online students at community colleges (who are often employed full-time, parents, and/or remedial learners), since these predictors could better help all institutions develop strategies for better retention, and better exam scores and overall GPA.

Backing the belief that online community college students are more numerous and, therefore, a better representation, according to the Journal of College Teaching & Learning, while overall student enrollment at community colleges remained flat in 2011, online enrollment at community colleges increased 8.2 percent—a percentage that continues to increase.

And according to the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 31 percent of 18 to 24 year-old college students and more than half of all online students in the U.S. attend 2-year institutions.

(Next page: The predictors of online learning success)