Leaders discuss taking online learning from an alternative to a “must”

Advocates say going online in higher-ed allows for educator collaboration, competitive advantage.

online-teaching-learningUntil recently, online learning has been viewed as either solely for those interested in adult education or as a branding tactic for innovative institutions.

And though online learning is still one of the most accessible ways of providing quality postsecondary education to those with diverse backgrounds and commitments, the popularity of blended learning models, and recent trends in cross-institutional collaboration, online learning is experiencing rapid implementation in today’s colleges and universities.

Here, eCampus News asked distinguished online learning advocates to give their thoughts on why it’s imperative to take higher education’s perception of online learning from an alternative to a “must.”

[Listed in alphabetical order by last name]

One size doesn’t fit all

Tom_arnett300By Thomas Arnett, The Clayton Christensen Institute

Students learn differently. They have different interests and they approach new learning experiences with a range of background knowledge, cognitive ability and grit. Yet despite their wonderful individuality, the lecture-based classroom treats students like identical receptacles of information. It’s hard to blame schools and teachers for relying on traditional instructional methods; one-size-fits-all lectures are economically practical for disseminating information to large groups of students. But unfortunately, they fail to ensure that each student masters the content they are taught.

This is where online learning has a powerful role to play. Online learning gives teachers greater ability to personalize their instruction to individual students’ needs. Good online learning is far more than holding classes using teleconference technology or recording lectures and posting them online. Rather, high-quality online learning enables teachers to truly differentiate their instruction and frees them up to provide more individualized support to their students.

For example, the Relay Graduate School of education has leveraged online learning to reimagine traditional approaches to training teachers. Relay provides approximately 40 percent of its instruction through online videos and digital material. With core instruction happening online, face-to-face sessions can then focus more on discussing concepts, practicing teaching skills and providing teachers-in-training with individualized support. Many of Relay’s course assignments also require teachers-in-training to integrate their new skills into real-life K-12 classrooms and then upload videos of their lessons onto Relay’s online learning platform for prompt, detailed feedback.

Relay’s graduate students not only receive the learning benefits of an online approach, they also become better equipped to implement online learning in their own classrooms one day. Thus the great instruction of today prepares the great instructors of tomorrow.

Thomas Arnett is an Education Research Fellow from the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. His research focuses on changing roles of teachers in blended learning environments, the evolution of teacher education and professional development, and policies and innovations affecting technology access and infrastructure.

(Next page: Reaching today’s generation; knowing the language)


Could GRIT be a trend that sticks in higher-ed?

A new partnership focuses on teaching students to improve their GRIT in order to help them accomplish their goals.

pearson-students-gritRecently, the idea of GRIT, or Growth, Resilience, Instinct and Tenacity, is increasingly seen by educators and even the Obama Administration as a key to success in higher education.

And the same goes for employers. A poll sent to 20,000 employers across the world by PEAK Learning revealed that if a decision came down to someone with perfect skills and qualifications but little to no GRIT versus someone with high GRIT but missing a few pieces of useful experience, a whopping 98 percent said they would rather employ the later.

PEAK Learning was founded in 1987 by Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D., as part of his 35-year quest to answer the question of why certain people win or succeed while others do not. Initially, Stoltz turned to everything from psychology to neuroscience, but was unable to find any substantive answers. Eventually, he discovered what he believes is an accurate predictor: adversity.

“Adversity is surely the epicenter,” Stoltz said. “There is something fundamental about when human beings interact with adversity. It’s high-octane, pivotal, and affects everything that happens in life and who we become.”

PEAK Learning developed the GRIT Gauge, which the company says is the only assessment validated to quantify predictors such as performance, productivity, optimism, quality of life and innovation to measure the quality and quantity of GRIT.

“We know GRIT can be improved, and we know how to do it,” Stoltz said. “We can enact a measurable improvement of a statically significant amount, and once it goes up, we have never seen it go down. Now, students will gauge it, grow it, and it will stick. When we measure this, GRIT heightens the likelihood of improving your station in life.”

(Next page: How the GRIT Gauge is used in institutions)


looped in updates mobile payment app

Version 3.0 of mobile rewards and payment app features a more user-friendly interface for college campus ecosystem

mobile-paymentslooped in, the university community mobile rewards and payment app, has a new and improved release for Apple and Android phones. The new looped in, version 3.0, features an array of updates, advantages and user-friendly enhancements for all smartphone users.

“We compiled feedback from our users and created a fresh, enhanced system while maintaining much of the same basic functionality,” said Lisa DiOrio, Director of Customer Experience. “It’s all about making the app more user-friendly and more intuitive for all constituents in the college community.”

The new, enhanced looped in offers a more personalized design. Users now have the option to upload a profile picture to change the home screen to a personalized photo. Version 3.0 also features easier access to payment options and available funds. From the click of a “super button”, users can pay their bill, update their account balance, and send money to friends.

looped in merchants also benefit from changes in version 3.0. The updated app features a more user-friendly map that geo-locates all of the looped in merchants – with more merchants being added all the time. The map feature also offers directions to merchants from within the app. Version 3.0 provides a smoother payment process including automatic tip calculations at the time of payment.

Version 3.0 is available, free, in the Apple Store and through Google Play. Preexisting users can update the app to run version 3.0 without any changes being made to their settings.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


WPI to host institute on project-based learning

Nearly 40 schools applied for program that leverages real-world experiential education

project-basedWorcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will host an intensive program this summer to collaborate with other colleges and universities looking to engage students in project-based learning at their own institutions.

The 2015 Institute on Project-Based Learning will run from June 25 to June 27 on WPI’s campus. Offered in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Institute aims to help colleges and universities identify innovative ways to engage students in powerful learning experiences that not only prepare them for the real world, but have demonstrated value for graduates in the job market.

While WPI received applications from 38 institutions, it was able to admit teams from 18 local, national, and international colleges and universities.

Next page: How teams will identify and work toward goals


Epson announces PowerLite 4770W

New Epson projector model aims to deliver advanced connectivity, crisp image quality and high brightness

epson-projectorEpson has introduced the PowerLite 4770W, a widescreen projector delivering brilliant color and crisp image quality for almost any venue.

The PowerLite 4770W ($1999*) delivers 5,000 lumens of color brightness, 5,000 lumens of white brightness and WXGA resolution, as well as advanced connectivity options and cutting-edge video processing for a range of installation applications at a competitive price point.

As the newest addition to the PowerLite 4000-Series, the 4770W delivers exceptional image quality, advanced connectivity, and flexible installation tools including horizontal and vertical lens shift. It includes HDMI and DisplayPortTM to easily display content from nearly any device.

 Next page: Projector features and functionality


Faculty-developed tools that bend the curve on student engagement

The success with student learning thanks to mobile computing, coupled with faculty-developed, cloud-based tools means that high tech and great teaching aren’t necessarily at odds.

faculty-technology-toolsThree years ago, several colleagues at the University of Ottawa made a push to ban the use of laptops in the classroom, citing concerns that students were not engaged during class. They’re not alone. There has been a decade-long debate taking place at institutions over whether there should be rules in place to govern the use of laptops and smartphones in class.

What’s fascinating is the very technology that enables today’s students’ constant state of inattention can be an instructor’s best tool in engaging students in and beyond the classroom.

Published in 1987, The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education urge active learning: regular interaction between students and faculty, collaboration among students, prompt feedback, high expectations, and multi-modal learning.

Early in my teaching career, active learning was relatively easy to implement. Small classes made it possible to incorporate case-based teaching, and facilitate class discussion. Today, with large lectures of 300 or 400 students, fidelity to that model is increasingly difficult.

(Next page: The possibilities created by faculty-powered tools)


3 considerations for the device-agnostic class

A look at what it takes to develop a BYOD initiative that incorporates device-agnostic lesson plans, content, and collaboration tools.

device-agnostic-classIn the 2015 Higher Education Edition of the Horizon Report, The New Media Consortium pinpoints Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as one of the most important developments in educational technology with a time-to-adoption horizon of one year or less.

“In higher education,” NMC states, “the BYOD movement addresses the fact that many students are entering the classroom with their own devices, which they use to connect to the institutions’ networks.” The Horizon Report includes an example from California State University, which studied the BYOD phenomenon and found that students “could only engage in educational activities for six minutes before turning on their devices for support.”

The open question on U.S. campuses is not if students are bringing their own devices or how to connect them to the institutional network, but rather: how do you support all these personal devices at the point of instruction, in the classroom? How can educators can effectively design lessons and utilize software in an environment where their students are using myriad different devices, computers, and operating systems?

According to some educational experts, the best approach to supporting BYOD for instruction is the “device-agnostic” class. Device-agnostic tools are applications that work across multiple systems without requiring any special customizations; they are compatible with most (or all) operating systems and can be used on various tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

(Next page: 3 considerations for the device-agnostic class)


edX: This is how you do online courses for credit

New ASU, edX program turns to a unique virtual proctoring solution.

proctoring-verification-edXOffering online courses for credit is a unique endeavor for each institution, but the fundamentals are the same: To offer courses for credit, you need to verify student I.D. and protect against exam cheating. But how can a program do this most efficiently and successfully?

According to Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, one answer lies in the ability of a virtual proctoring solution’s decoupling of exam taking from proctoring verification.

“The solution we choose for this program is unique because instead of having thousands of employees monitor a live video stream of student exam taking, the video is stored in the cloud and watched offline at a later time,” said Agarwal in an interview with eCampus News. “What this means is that students around the world, in any time zone and at any time can take their online exam.”

He continued, saying that if the new program at Arizona State University (ASU) is successful, one major reason for that success will be the decoupling capability of the software solution.

(Next page: edX’s program at ASU; making an online course credit-worthy)


Duke students apply big data to real-world trends

Annual DataFest Competition gave students a chance to analyze data and apply it to consumer trends.

big-dataStudents from more than 20 prestigious colleges and universities recently tried their hand at “Big Data” analysis at seven different campuses around the country during DataFest, an annual month-long data-analytics competitive event sponsored by the American Statistics Association.

The undergraduate students of DataFest spend one weekend analyzing data provided by an organization with a store of accessible information. In the 2015 challenge, the data was supplied by car shopping website Edmunds.com; past providers include eHarmony, GridPoint, Kiva.com and the Los Angeles Police Department.

“The students found a lot of unexpected and interesting stories to tell using the car shopping data from Edmunds,” said Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Statistical Science at Duke University. She is a co-founder of the event, which has been running annually since 2011.

(Next page: How a Duke University team used the data)