Saving arts education…by going online?

A startup company is using a custom-built learning platform to offer cutting-edge arts courses online—often for credit—at a fraction of the cost of traditional college courses.

arts-education-onlineAs higher education pivots away from the liberal arts in favor of more career-focused degrees, a new online learning platform is hoping to fill the vacuum by offering low-cost arts courses online—for credit or otherwise.

Kadenze, which went live on June 16, launched with 22 courses that range from Web Coding for Artists to Reinventing the Piano, taught by some of the leading names in their fields.

“The goal of Kadenze is to bring together the leading institutions and universities in the world that are teaching arts curriculums and help them put their courses online,” said Ajay Kapur, CEO and cofounder of Kadenze, which has signed agreements with 16 colleges to date, including Princeton, Stanford, and UCLA.

Underlying the development of the Kadenze platform is a recognition that the soaring cost of traditional higher education is forcing students to choose degree paths that offer a significant return on investment. “Being an engineer or a doctor, you have an opportunity to get a great job and a salary that can support your expensive education,” explained Kapur. “In the arts it’s a serious problem, though. If you’re a jazz musician, a painter, or a dancer, a very high tuition bill and student loan are just crippling.”

While Kapur believes that 80 percent of what is taught at an art institution should still be taught on campus, the online environment is an ideal way to allow students to fulfill their first-year course requirements—at a fraction of the cost of traditional college. Seven of the participating schools, including the California Institute of the Arts and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, are offering college credit for their Kadenze courses for $300, $600, or $900, depending on the number of units.

“We’re really trying to build that first-year experience where students can learn the key assets for their particular field and then apply to college, maybe with a semester done,” said Kapur. “Our goal is not to replace the university; it’s to get people prepared for it while also reducing the costs.”

(Next page: Enrollment structure and “the three Ps”)


Art and design college becomes first to host Maker Lab

Florida International University’s College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) will be the first and only arts/design college in nation to house a MakerBot Innovation Creative Lab.

3D-maker-labFlorida International University (FIU) will soon be home to a new, 3,000 square-foot MakerBot Innovation Lab, a collaborative makerspace for students and other innovators, to be housed at its Miami Beach Urban Studios. The lab is supported by $185,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Knight support will be used to create a MakerBot Innovation Lab of 3D printers and 3D scanners where public programs, private innovation explorations, and educational opportunities will be offered across all age groups. The lab will support a range of activities from dual enrollment programs for local high school students, to for-credit classes for FIU students and start-up programs for recent graduates. Community members can also use the space to develop new products, ideas and tools, conduct research or launch personal projects.

“This lab will foster integrated, interdisciplinary creative solutions establishing FIU as a national voice incorporating arts and design thinking into our curriculum,” said Brian Schriner, dean of FIU’s College of Architecture + the Arts. “Knight Foundation’s commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs and idea makers aligns with the college’s strategy to build community and widely benefit the city, while greatly enhancing its prominence in the world of innovation, design and arts.”

“Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has seen enormous growth over the last few years – adding  co-working spaces, mentor and funder networks, educational offerings and a host of events. But there are few established makerspaces where entrepreneurs can experiment and build,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation’s Miami program director. “The MakerBot Innovation Lab will help to fill this gap, providing the next generation of Miami talent with a space to realize their ideas and inviting the community to connect toward building a stronger startup culture in our city.”

FIU Urban Studios will also collaborate with Miami Beach-based Rokk3r Labs, a unique platform for anyone, anywhere in the world to launch ideas that change the world. Rokk3r Labs will work with FIU to initiate workshops, seminars and other programming within the MakerBot Innovation Lab.

Miami Beach Urban Studios offers undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to study in one of the most vibrant, artistic urban centers in the world for one semester, while gaining valuable professional experience at design firms, and by working with arts organizations throughout the city. Located in the Art Deco 420 Lincoln Rd. building, the Miami Beach Urban Studios gives students and faculty access to Miami Beach’s arts and design culture.

“College of Architecture + The Arts will be the only arts/design college in the nation to house a MakerBot Innovation Lab,” said John Stuart, AIA, associate dean for cultural and community engagement and the executive director of Miami Beach Urban Studios. “Our vision is that FIU will be recognized nationally at the forefront of innovative teaching, learning, engagement, research and creative activities and this lab will assist greatly in achieving this vision.”

Support to FIU’s MakerBot Innovation Lab is a part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to invest in Miami’s emerging innovators and entrepreneurs as a tool to build community, while fostering talent and expanding economic opportunity. Over the past three years, Knight has made more than 100 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

For more information on FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios, visit

Material from a press release was used in this report.


9 ways to support collaboration in higher ed

The next step in improving students’ experience in higher ed may be in rebuilding campus spaces for collaboration and data sharing.

campus-design-collaborationInstitutions need to create layered, blended and personalized places that support a variety of interactions and digital platforms, rather than creating specialized spaces, such as computer labs.

These findings are part of a recent study, which also found that mobility has transformed the way students learn, and therefore requires careful attention to physical spaces now more than ever.

This revelation may just be one of the factors to shed light not only on how student homes or spaces affect learning in the classroom at college, but also how students interact in common university spaces.

The study took place in G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons at Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta, where a user-oriented research collaboration between Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Herman Miller, Inc.’s Insight and Exploration teams looked at the “lived experience” of college students.

The aim of the study was to properly determine how learning styles affect the way some students interact in shared campus spaces.

“There were many studies out there of what happens within the formal learning stage [but] there are very few studies out there that focus on the learning that happens outside of the classroom. […] We thought it was really important to tell that story,” said Susan Whitmer, co-author of Does Space Matter?: Assessing the Undergraduate “Lived Experience to Enhance Learning.

(Next page: 9 steps to personalized learning spaces)


Do colleges and universities really teach higher-order thinking?

If higher education is supposed to teach higher-order thinking, then why is the business industry frustrated?

career--critical-businessIn today’s fast-paced economy, employers need new hires who can fail fast, solve problems quickly, and learn continuously. At the core of these abilities are critical thinking and information literacy skills.

But, after completing four years of college, one-third of all college students do not improve their complex reasoning or critical thinking skills. This gap in skills undermines the careers of these young people, stunting their professional growth and preventing them from leading productive and satisfying careers.

The knowledge-driven economy has transformed the business world: ideas and information are now our greatest assets, propelling progress at ever-increasing speeds. Unprecedented amounts of data, the size and scope of which create labyrinths of information, are changing how businesses must operate in order to stay competitive. And these forces are dramatically changing what businesses require in their workforce as well.

From the perspective of employers like me, students are woefully unprepared for this reality.

(Next page: The higher-order skills that will get grads ahead)


Professors: New coding platform a must for higher-ed classrooms

Computer science profs say coding  a must for all students, just like reading and writing; help design new classroom platform.

codecon-coding-educationA new coding platform has a mission to elevate the state of coding education in higher-ed classrooms around the world; and one way it’s doing this is through professor buy-in.

Bloomberg’s CodeCon platform, which features new weekly challenges this summer, is a browser-based, e-learning platform that enables cloud-hosted programming contests and seeks to reshape the way people improve their coding skills. Contests are based largely on efficiency and problem solving. Participants are asked to write optimized code that solves problems with real-world applications within a specified amount of time and memory constraints while accounting for all possible test cases.

In partnership with the Standard C++ Foundation, students who rise to the top of the CodeCon’s competitions will have a chance to win an all expense paid trip to CppCon, the flagship C++ (a popular programming language) conference, in September.

But beyond competitions, CodeCon is proving to be a valuable asset in the higher-ed classroom as well, thanks to buy-in, and advice on design, from computer science professors.

(Next page: how CodeCon is changing coding in the classroom)


Is higher education still viable?

New report examines how higher education can meet students’ needs, better prepare them for workplace success.

higher-educationA new report identifies three strategies that could prove useful when it comes to helping higher-ed institutions produce students who have the skills and knowledge to succeed in today’s competitive workforce.

Many students today do not gain the skills they need to be successful in today’s workforce, and that is largely due to a disconnect between educators and industry leaders regarding skill sets that are essential for success, according to “Pursuit of Relevance: How higher education remains viable in today’s dynamic world.”

In compiling the report, the IBM Institute for Business Value and the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 900 academic industry leaders from private and public colleges and universities, vocational programs, community colleges, education service providers, and corporation. They also interviewed 25 academic subject matter experts.

(Next page: What industry and academic leaders say about the state of higher education)


5 characteristics of next-gen cloud technology

Leaders in cloud ed tech discuss what makes the best platform for institutions and their users.


“Innovation,” “scalability,” and “streamlining” are all great catch phrases when it comes to cloud technology in education, but what does it mean, and what is the technology behind the companies and universities developing best practices in cloud effectiveness?

According to two leaders in cloud-based higher ed-tech software, nothing beats  Amazon Web Services (AWS) functionality—and you may be surprised at just how many higher-ed institutions and platforms use AWS.

“Adoption across education is fairly high,” said Sri Elaprolu, manager of Solutions Architecture for AWS during the AWS Public Sector Symposium in D.C. “We have roughly 4,500 education institutions using AWS, which includes K-12 and higher education institutions, but also ed-tech companies. Just a handful of examples include Berkeley, Coursera, edX, 2U, San Francisco State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University and Notre Dame.)

One popular ed-tech company in higher ed, Instructure, whose offerings include Canvas LMS, Bridge and Canvas Network, attributes their success to AWS’ tech.

“Our mission when we started the company was to transform legacy LMS’ that didn’t talk to other systems,” explained Wade Billings, senior director of global IT shared services at Instructure. “We basically placed our entire infrastructure into AWS’ hands for testing and what we got was a platform that uses software to essentially make people smarter.”

According to Billings and Niranjan Nagar, CTO for Civitas Learning, there are five characteristics of Amazon Web Services’ functionality that create best-of-breed cloud solutions for higher-ed institutions and the companies that serve them:

(Next page: 5 characteristics of effective cloud tech)


Technical college adds additive manufacturing certificate program

Stratasys partners with Dunwoody College of Technology to incorporate additive manufacturing into curriculum.

additive-stratasysStratasys Ltd., a global provider of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions, has teamed up with Dunwoody College of Technology as it incorporates additive manufacturing into its curriculum.

Dunwoody College of Technology, located in Minneapolis, has been involved in manufacturing education for over 100 years. Because additive manufacturing is becoming a more mainstream technique, Dunwoody decided to increase emphasis on it in its program.

“I see additive manufacturing as an essential partner to the traditional manufacturing process,” says E.J. Daigle, the Dean of the schools Robotics and Manufacturing Department. “Not only do we want to give our students the tools to intertwine both, but we saw a need for businesses in the industry to further their education. Stratasys has been the ideal partner for the development of our courses and curriculum.”

Dunwoody uses a Fortus 400mc and two Fortus 250mc 3D Production Systems as teaching tools in its program. By collaborating with Stratasys, Dunwoody will expand its curriculum and offer a certificate program for students and professionals around the country.

“The partnership allows Stratasys to collaborate with Dunwoody’s talented instructors who have years of experience in manufacturing technology,” says Stratasys’ Education Manager, Jesse Roitenberg. “Manufacturers are in need of a trained and talented workforce that is up-to-date on how additive manufacturing can enhance traditional processes, and this partnership will begin that evolution in training.”

To learn more about the capabilities of the Stratasys Fortus 400mc and Fortus 250mc 3D Production Systems, visit the website. For more information about the Dunwoody College of Technology, visit their website.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Can predictive analytics ID “likelihood to thrive” on campus?

Research applies big data to correlate qualitative features of U.S. college campuses to individual thriving and completion.

analytics-thrivevibeffect, a family-centered college-decision framework that helps students identify campuses where they’re most likely to thrive, has published a scientifically peer-reviewed paper on how predictive analytics can determine the campus features that most contribute to an individual’s likelihood to thrive and complete.

“The majority of research in the field of higher education attainment focuses on indicators of weakness (or dropout) or indicators of persistence,” said Elena M. Cox, CEO of vibeffect. “We challenged ourselves to scientifically define and prove what drives thriving on an individual level by treating campuses as an ‘eco-system’ made up of varying social, academic and individual qualities.”

The research reveals that every individual has unique attributes that partially determine their potential for success. Combined with the features of college ecosystems, vibeffect is able to identify the settings wherein individual students are most likely to succeed and thrive in their postsecondary educational careers.

The article, published online in Decision Analytics, is based on a 2013-2014 national study of sophomores, juniors and seniors in four-year undergraduate programs with physical campuses. The model used is based on identifying the highest thriving college students today, understanding their success on an individual level, and applying the findings to custom assessments designed for middle and high school students, as well as college freshman.

“The goal is to close the gap for families’ access to metrics and information that helps them determine the best possible return on the college investment,” said Peter Negroni, SVP of Global Partnerships for vibeffect.

The full research article in Decision Analytics titled “A new multi-dimensional conceptualization of individual achievement in college,” is available here.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Millions of dollars given to reform humanities degree

Mellon Foundation grants $2.7 million to UCI for shorter degree time with postdoctoral position in the humanities.

millions-reform-humanitiesThe UC Irvine School of Humanities has received a $2.7 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a pilot program that aims to transform graduate education by streamlining the time to degree, providing full funding throughout the degree program, and establishing a teaching and research position of up to two years for all candidates who complete their dissertation in five years.

UCI said in a statement that it is the first institution to couple a shorter time to degree with postdoctoral appointments to create an integrated program designed to launch humanities scholars successfully into academia and alternative careers.

With 40 percent of UCI humanities Ph.D.s finding tenure-track university positions within three years of completion and more than 80 percent finding full-time employment within the same time frame, the school says it is building upon its strong foundation of graduate program success to lead the national conversation about timely graduate education in the humanities.

“This new partnership between the School of Humanities and the Mellon Foundation is a prime example of how we are pursuing excellence through innovation. UCI has always been known as a leader in the humanities, and this support from the foundation ensures the kind of new thinking that will allow us to maintain that leadership in the years to come,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman.

(Next page: How the program works)