Video applications skyrocket university admissions

Goucher College’s innovative video application process has proven to be a major success. What are their best practices and what kind of students did they attract?

video-admissions-work-311Does your institution think video admissions are just a flash in the pan gimmick? Well, it might be time to reconsider that stance. One of the first colleges to utilize video submissions as a decisive factor in their admissions process has just completed their risky experiment; and according to not only student feedback but hard data, it was an innovation that paid off big-time.

Launched last September, Baltimore, Maryland-based Goucher College became the nation’s first college to offer self-produced video as the crux of their admission decision through their Goucher Video App. For students applying via the GVA, all they needed to submit was the two-minute video, a brief application form, a signed statement of academic integrity, and two works of scholarship.

“We wanted to do something bold…and find a different way to access a student’s potential to achieve in college,” said Christopher Wild, an admissions counselor and project manager who  worked with the GVA from its inception to reviewing the applications. “Video is a great way to get to know students and learn who they are in a way that is comfortable for their generation.”

The project was envisioned by new President José Antonio Bowen as an alternative admissions process that would focus on potential and negate socioeconomic inequities that often perpetuate the traditional system of test scores. And, while it was predicted that the application would likely attract many prospective students thanks to its technological innovation and new focus on student potential vs. GPA, Goucher found the response to be better than anticipated.

By the December 1 deadline, 64 video applications were submitted by students from over 60 high schools in 20 states across the nation and the students who applied via the Goucher Video App represented almost 30 intended majors that extended beyond traditional Arts & Humanities majors; including communications, biology, pre-med, business management, and international studies. These applications helped make up the highest number of Early Action applications in Goucher’s history.

“We took a risk with the Goucher Video App, and we are optimistic it is paying off,” said Bowen. “At the very least, we have introduced a bold new idea that distinguishes Goucher, and we have helped start an important discussion about repairing the broken college admissions process. We also have attracted an impressive number of students with high potential and an ability to thrive at our college.”

(Next page: Goucher’s recommended best practices)


Why “aggressive enrollment” may be the future

Increased pressure on higher-ed admissions teams could be driving aggressive enrollment practices

enrollment-practicesWhen it comes to communicating with prospective students, nonprofit higher education institutions outperform for-profits on key inquiry response benchmarks, according to “Comparing Inquiry Response Strategies at Nonprofit and For-Profit Higher Education Institutions,” a two-part secret shopper study on responsiveness to student inquiries.

However, both nonprofit and for-profit schools underperformed on other important factors, frustrating prospective students and limiting their enrollment potential.

The study was conducted by Velocify, a cloud-based intelligent enrollment management software, and Enrollment Resources, which helps institutions improve enrollment management practices.

“With enrollment down across the board, attracting enough qualified applicants is a key admissions issue for most colleges and universities, whether proprietary or nonprofit,” said Martin Lind, director of the education vertical at Velocify. “Though the nonprofit schools surveyed were, overall, much more responsive than the stereotype would dictate, there is a substantial opportunity to improve performance across most of the benchmarks, especially speed-to-call, persistence and inbound call user-experience.”

(Next page: How nonprofit and for-profit institutions differ on enrollment practices–and how they’re the same)


2015 e-learning resolutions

At the start of every year nearly half of Americans resolve to change. Pay off student loans. Quit smoking. Learn HTML code. Lose ten pounds. The devil, however, is in the details. Resolutions are easy to make, the challenge is sustaining them throughout the year. According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. The year that started with such promise and hope dissolves into wishful thinking and broken promises. With this in mind I’ve composed a list of simple, specific, tangible (and hopefully obtainable) e-learning resolutions.

What the Email? I am an offender of the worst kind. I am a Go To Jail. Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200 criminal. What is my crime you may ask? I am guilty of unconscious emailing. More than once I have sent one word email responses of ‘Thanks’ or ‘Okay.’ Even worse, I have sent emails with lengthy subject lines to colleagues and students. ‘I received your campaign video but couldn’t open it due to the privacy settings’ being one example. I also need to refrain from sending emails that combine multiple requests and more than one large attachment. No one wants to read a dissertation disguised as an email.  Before hitting send, I need to stop and ask – is it necessary for this email to be part of my digital footprint. Am I consciously emailing?

Demystifying “the Cloud.” I have a storage device problem. The problem is not that I fail to properly save documents for posterity. The problem is that over the last fifteen years I have accumulated too many storage devices. I have 10 USB flash drives of varying storage capacities, three Google Doc accounts, hundreds of Outlook archived folders, a Dropbox account, floppy and zip disks circa 2000. Jurassic technology aside, I vow to spend 2015 organizing my files and syncing my mobile devices and laptop in one place – a la the cloud.

Disconnecting to Reconnect. On my first day as an adjunct professor I remember walking into the classroom energized and ready to teach a section of State and Local Politics. Though I did not expect to be greeted by a standing ovation I did anticipate that students would at the very least acknowledge my presence with a passing glance or ‘hello.’ Instead what greeted me were the tops of 22 heads as it appeared that every student was plugged in to their mobile devices, e-readers, laptops, and tablets. Since that first day to now, digital technology has been a curse and a blessing in the classroom. At the same time that I have developed a course website and Facebook page and integrated YouTube, Poll Everywhere, and learning management systems (LMS) into assignments and discussion; I’ve also had to include statements on electronic usage during scheduled class time on my Government in the United States syllabus. Digital consumption is widespread. From the 2 year old tapping away on an iPad, to the teen that averages 3,500 text messages a month to the adult that spends hours trying to understand ‘Deflategate,’ our time spent plugging in means unplugging from work, sleep and academics. And even when we do sleep our devices are normally within arm’s reach. Instead of simply unplugging my digital device I will spend an hour researching “text neck” and other mental and health impacts of excessive digital consumption. In the words of T.S. Elliot, I am “distracted from distraction by distraction.” While I am not walking-into-a-fountain-while-texting-distracted, I am liking-a-Humans-of-New-York-post and why-isn’t-my-phone-receiving-group-texts distracted. I need to digitally detox and revert back to the good ole days of living and working in digital free zones. Starting with an hour and working my way up to a day I plan to turn my devices off and resist the urge to log-in to social media sites. Of my New Year’s resolutions this one will probably be the hardest but disconnecting to reconnect may be the most worthwhile.


Initiative seeks ways to prep students for postsecondary success

Series of reports will offer insight on impact, success of preparation programs

student-successA new multi-year project, the College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium (CCREC), will identify ways to empower low-income students to become prepared for post-high school success. The project also will examine the effectiveness of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).

GEAR UP, which serves around 650,000 students annually, is a federally funded program aimed at increasing low-income students’ college readiness. The partnership will collect and analyze GEAR UP intervention and outcomes data.

ACT is partnering with 14 states, along with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) to form CCREC.

Low-income students represent more than 40 percent of students under age 18 in the United States. Every year, millions of these students fall behind their more privileged peers and either drop out of college or don’t go to college at all.

Next page: Data and highlights expected from the reports


Drone technology: The new STEM teaching tool

Institutions are creating more engaging STEM programs by incorporating drone technology into instruction

drone-STEMEducators on campuses across the country are using drone technology to teach STEM disciplines, due in large part to what they say is the technology’s ability to offer a real-world and engaging approach to disciplines such as engineering.

3D Robotics (3DR) on Jan. 29 launched the DroneEDU program that offers free and discounted drone hardware, sponsorships, and classroom support to help students and educators deploy unmanned aerial vehicles as they explore advanced STEM concepts.

Many undergraduate engineering programs use old equipment to teach students concepts such as heat transfer or aerodynamics, and those somewhat irrelevant pieces of equipment don’t keep students engaged in the material as well as modern equipment, said Brandon Basso, VP of software engineering at 3DR. Most programs also require students to design and build their own systems for an entire semester, and updated equipment prompts students to think about design in modern ways.

Next page: What educators say about drone technology in the classroom


New network aims to give science education a makeover

More than 24 universities, colleges launch network to improve outcomes in science courses with traditionally high failure rates

science-educationA network of science educators has formed to address the future of science education and identify innovative ways to encourage students to pursue science courses.

The Inspark Science Network is a product of Arizona State University’s (ASU) Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX), an initiative designed to promote active learning, teaching science as a method of exploration and discovery, and technology firm Smart Sparrow. It launched on Jan. 16, 2015, and members will work to create and disseminate courses to help students complete general science education.

Smart Sparrow, which works on adaptive learning authoring platforms, received a $4.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help support the network’s goals.

Smart Sparrow will supply the tools that help faculty create and share digital courses, which will focus on helping educators use pedagogical control and track student progress using sophisticated analytics.

(Next page: How science education can become more compelling)


Will big data jobs go unfilled?

Data experts convene to create profile of the “big data specialist” position, which is predicted to be in high demand if data skills remain untaught

big-dataStudents at both the K-12 and university levels should learn how to handle and interpret big data, but to do this, educators at both levels must be comfortable using and teaching about big data.

Big data is quickly becoming one of the most important fields, and workers who are able to handle, analyze, and interpret data will be in high demand in the workforce. And this need is critical in education, from students who must know how to use data as part of learning, to educators who should be able to interpret student data.

“At the university level, [professors] see this huge need for people who have the training to work with big data, so they’re creating training programs, certifications, graduate programs, and even whole new departments,” said Ruth Krumhansl, director of the Education Development Center’s Oceans of Data Institute (ODI). “What they’re saying is that this is a whole new field requiring knowledge from many different disciplines.”

ODI helps students and educators learn about big data, from its potential, to its importance, to the need for professionals to have data skills.

(Next page: How big data is quickly becoming an essential skill)


Why scaling CBE at your institution is critical

How specific technology can enable a scalable, personalized Competency-Based Education (CBE); and why it’s must-have.

CBE-competency-technologyWe are entering new territory that is already transforming higher education in ways we have not seen since 1893 when the college credit hour was introduced.

That territory is being shaped by outcomes.

In our country today, there is a real imperative around the quality of teaching and learning and in producing outcomes that allow our nation’s students to compete in the global economy. This imperative is leading policymakers, educators and business leaders to support educational programs where institutions certify mastery and outcomes, as well as provide verification of what students have learned.

One of the most effective ways that institutions can scale efforts and demonstrate outcomes like never before is through the marriage of competency based education (CBE) and technology.

Scaling programs to large numbers of students, maintaining the integrity of the programs, and producing outcomes is now possible with learning management systems (LMS’) that are adaptable in design and built for just this purpose. With the right technology platform, the speed with which CBE programs can be developed and brought to the marketplace is astounding.

Take, for example, Algebra Nation, a personalized CBE program created by the University of Florida’s College of Education to help middle and high school students pass end-of-course algebra exams in the State of Florida that about 40 percent of students fail. By offering personalized, individualized learning through a competency-based system, students engaged in the program have consistently higher results than those who aren’t in the program.

There are 2,300 algebra teachers, representing every school district in Florida, who have embraced Algebra Nation. In addition, these teachers are engaging in their own online teaching community, sharing best practices and upping their teaching methods.

This is the future and the now of teaching and learning; and it applies to higher education, as well.

(Next page: The components of a great tech-enabled CBE program for scale)


C-BEN members invited to participate in innovative experimental sites

Experimental sites will examine ways to improve student outcomes

experimental-CBEEleven members of the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) have been invited by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in a new round of experimental sites.

The experimental sites will open the door to higher education innovation aimed at increasing college access and providing more affordable and flexible paths for students seeking quality credentials.

These federally authorized experimental sites will include three strands: competency-based education models; models that include a mix of both competency-based education and traditional academic instruction, or so-called “hybrid” models, which also have approval to offer direct assessment of learning; and the assessment of prior learning for academic credit.

(Next page: Industry reaction to experimental sites)