Higher education jobs decline

Report analyzes federal statistics to pinpoint higher education job trends

higher-education-jobsThe number of higher education jobs declined 1.31 percent in Q3 2015, the fourth consecutive quarterly decline for the industry and the largest quarterly decline since at least 2007, according to a recent report from HigherEdJobs, the leading job and career site for higher education professionals.

According to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by HigherEdJobs, colleges and universities lost about 21,200 jobs during the third quarter compared to the same period last year.

Broken out further, one-third of the positions, or 7,100 jobs, were at community colleges, despite making up only 4 percent of all higher education jobs.

While the number of jobs in higher education was down, the report found that ads for open positions in academia were up 23.4 percent. And, for the second quarter in a row, full-time job postings grew at a faster rate than part-time postings.

“For the past few years, postings for part-time higher education jobs tended to grow at a faster pace – and comprised an increasing share – than postings for full-time higher education jobs,” said John Ikenberry, president of HigherEdJobs. “But for two quarters in a row now, job postings for full-time positions have outpaced those for part-time.”

The report analyzes the most current data from BLS and HigherEdJobs’ posting trends from colleges and universities that have continuously subscribed to the company’s unlimited posting plan for four years, a group of roughly 890 schools that have no financial deterrent not to post any openings. The full report can be viewed at http://www.higheredjobs.com/career/quarterly-report.cfm.

HigherEdJobs provides jobs and career information in academia. During 2014, more than 5,300 colleges and universities posted more than 159,000 faculty, administrative, and executive job postings to the company’s website, which receives more than 1,000,000 unique visitors a month.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Institutions look to next-gen assessments

Institutions use student learning outcomes assessments to drive campus learning experiences

HED-assessmentsHigher education institutions of all kinds — state, private and community — are increasingly being asked for assessments that offer more evidence of student learning.

Many are looking for ways to demonstrate their students’ general education skill levels and use information derived from student learning outcomes (SLO) assessments to enhance the learning experience on their campuses.

“Our intercampus faculty group was looking for an assessment that would help us incorporate competencies relevant to their programs,” said Michelle Soler, Director for Competency-based Education and Assessment for all 17 University of North Carolina campuses.

Earlier this year, a variety of institutions participated in a pilot program for the new HEIghten™ Outcomes Assessment Suite from Educational Testing Service (ETS). The suite consists of six modules measuring general education skills identified by educators as most important for students to have. The HEIghten suite is designed to enable colleges and universities to obtain valid data about their students’ skills, benchmark and track student performance, and identify areas for potential curriculum enhancement.

“Using national frameworks and the latest research from the higher education community, we designed HEIghten to be used alongside institution-developed assessments,” said Ou Lydia Liu, Director of Higher Education Research at ETS. “This way, institutions can tailor their mix of assessments to their unique mission and goals.”

SLO assessments created internally are aligned to the specific education goals of the institution, while third-party assessments, like the HEIghten suite, offer standardization so that colleges and universities can benchmark their performance against similar institutions throughout the nation.

“We had been doing our own in-house assessments, but it worried me that we were not able to see how well our students are doing nationally,” said Julie Lessiter, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Services at Louisiana State University Shreveport.

ETS worked with higher-ed institutions to develop a tool that provides actionable data without burdening their already limited resources. The goal is to help schools maintain their autonomy in an environment of ever-growing pressure for more accountability measures.

HEIghten is designed for educators. “Faculty can administer the assessment during one class period, see how their students performed, and go back to make any changes necessary to improve learning,” said Nancy Williams Parks, Associate Professor and Director of Advising, Assessment and Testing at Pierpont Community & Technical College.

Three HEIghten modules are currently available: Critical Thinking, Written Communication and Quantitative Literacy. Three additional modules will be available in 2016.

To learn more about HEIghten, visit www.ets.org/heighten.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Higher education agrees: Student graduation takes a village

College and university leadership say the factors that lead to student graduation are as diverse as a student body; and more about common sense than technology.

student-graduation-college [Editor’s note: This story originally ran as a feature in our Oct/Nov. digital publication. Read more features part of this issue here.]

From new college rankings to government funding initiatives, higher education is under increasing pressure to prove student outcomes success with graduation rates as an indicator. But at what stage of a student’s postsecondary experience does retention become a concern, and what can an institution do to keep its students on track?

Though technology tools like an integrated LMS that can process student engagement analytics can be a helpful part of an institution’s toolkit, experts in the industry and higher-ed leadership say not only should a college or university be concerned with retention starting at admissions, but sometimes the best way to ensure students graduate is to employ common sense thinking about a student’s overall postsecondary experience.

It’s a Trifecta for Students

Dr Shawntel Landry_300By Dr. Shawntel Landry, American College of Education

I would argue that there are three primary factors that influence a student’s potential to stay on track for graduation: cost, convenience, and outcomes-based programs measured against self-evaluation and peer review methods.

Cost is perhaps the most prohibitive factor, as students who do not qualify for financial assistance or who can no longer afford to pay their way through a program are often forced to temporarily pause their progress, or withdraw altogether. As tuition prices outpace expected salaries, the risk of students falling into one or both of these categories increases.

Convenience is also a heavily-weighted factor. Coursework that’s adoptive of modern technology and flexible for the demanding schedules of today’s students–who often work and raise a family while in school–is imperative to eliminating challenges that prevent students from attending required courses. American College of Education’s online-only, 24/7 access eliminates restrictive traditional models that require students to attend either in-person or online on a specific day and/or time, in order to make degree progress.

Finally, outcomes-based programs measured through self-evaluation and peer review methods assure that students are retaining the necessary information, eliminating the likelihood that a student needs to re-take coursework, or graduates unprepared for his or her field. A 2014 study of ACE students showed that self-evaluation and peer reviews provided documentation that goals and standards set by the College were met from both an evaluator’s perspective and the students’ perception of the program. This is not the case for many other institutions.

Minding these three tenets, American College of Education has improved graduation rates and shortened time to graduation. ACE graduates 73 percent of its students compared to the national average between 50-64 percent, with 76 percent of master’s program students finishing their degrees within 18-months and without the burden of additional student loan debt. American College of Education is regionally accredited and provides affordable, advanced degree programs for educators.

Dr. Shawntel Landry, provost and interim president, American College of Education.

(Next page: No one-size-fits-all; innovative first year programs)


7 trends that will revolutionize online learning

A look at new tools and new opportunities to create an instructional experience that is not only different, but better, taking online learning in mainstream higher ed to the next level.

online-learning[Editor’s note: This story originally ran as a feature in our Oct/Nov. digital publication. Read more features part of this issue here.]

Let’s face it: Online education has always been the unhappy stepchild to traditional classroom teaching. It’s generally been seen as a make-do solution to serve students who—whether for reasons of geography or scheduling—were unable to attend class in person. And, more recently, its great claim to fame has been as a cost saver, a scalable way to enroll large numbers of students with minimal financial outlay. Well, the ugly duckling may be about to turn into a swan.

“We’re starting to hear a real desire for online learning to turn the corner and be focused on a mode of instruction that is inherently better than what we have today in traditional education,” said Chris Walsh, CEO of Zaption, a video learning company based in San Francisco. “People are starting to look at new tools and new opportunities to create an instructional experience that is different but hopefully better as well.”

The idea that online learning could actually be better than face-to-face instruction has gained credence in recent years as new technology solutions promise to make the educational experience more personalized and engaging. Has that time finally arrived? Here, eCampus News looks at seven trends that have the potential to remake the world of online learning.


1) Blended Learning Is the Sweet Spot

Ironically, the ideal learning environment may not be online or face-to-face: It might be both together. “We’re definitely seeing a trend over the last three to five years of people moving to these blended, online, hybrid, flipped-classroom models,” said Jennifer Ferralli, math product manager at WebAssign, an online instructional platform that specializes in STEM subjects. “We’re seeing this across the different disciplines, not just in math but also in physics and chemistry. People are trying to find different ways to connect with students to make classroom time more effective and more efficient.”

It’s a trend that has also caught the attention of ProctorU, a company that provides technology to prevent cheating and fraud in online courses. “The blended model especially is exploding,” said Don Kassner, ProctorU’s CEO. “When we first started seven years ago, we were talking to online-only programs. Now most of the programs are blended.”

In the wake of the hype around MOOCs that engulfed online learning in recent years, there is a growing realization that taking a course online requires a level of discipline and drive that many students lack. “A very small minority of people can completely learn online without any kind of motivation—without having somebody tap them on their backs once in a while to say, ‘You’ve done this very well,’ or, ‘Try a little harder,” said Gregor Freund, CEO of Versal, an online platform designed to help faculty with no technical expertise create interactive learning experiences. “Online learning has to become part of an overall learning process that blends classroom learning, remote learning, on-the-job learning—all of these different elements.”

It’s an approach that has really helped students in the School of Education at Gardner-Webb University, which utilizes Teachscape Learn, a professional development platform designed specifically for teachers. “Flipping the classroom has really changed my game,” said Kelly Taylor, assistant professor and chair of middle grades education. “Students now come in with a background about the concepts we’re studying, instead of my having to spend some of the class period laying the foundation.”

(Next page: Trends 2-4)


Study: Chemistry students boost grades with digital solution

Texas Tech professor’s study finds participating students using MindTap’s digital learning solution outperformed peers

chemistry-studentsTexas Tech Chemistry students using Cengage Learning’s MindTap digital learning solution received significantly better outcomes than those using comparable products, according to results from a study of nearly 1,800 chemistry students.

The study, conducted by Professor Gregory Gellene, compared the course grades and the success rates of students using MindTap General Chemistry with those using alternative e-learning platforms.

The percentage of participating students using MindTap General Chemistry who received a course grade of A or B more than doubled from 32 percent to 66 percent. The percentage of participating students earning less than a C was reduced almost threefold, from 39 percent to 14 percent. This resulted in a course success rate of 87 percent, an increase of 26 percentage points over those using a leading competitor’s product.

MindTap integrates reading, homework, quizzing and multimedia assets into a learning experience for students. The outcome-driven learning path offers instructors the ability to customize courses, with personalized options for students.

“The positioning of focused interactive simulations and tutorials between relatively short segments of text draws the student into reading the text before attempting the assignments rather than using the text as a last resort,” Gellene said.

“The key driver of our product creation is to develop technology that enables students to better interact with their learning material, thus improving outcomes,” said Jim Donohue, Chief Product Officer. “The MindTap platform was developed based on student feedback and adapts to the way students learn. This study underscores our efforts and we commend the Texas Tech chemistry students on their hard work.”

To read the full case study, click here. For more information about MindTap, visit: www.cengage.com/MindTap.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


10 higher-ed buzzwords, campus virtual reality, and more

Catch up on the most compelling higher-ed news stories you may have missed this week

news-picEach Friday, I’ll be bringing you a recap of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week.

I can’t fit all of our news stories here, though, so feel free to visit eCampusNews.com and read up on other news you may have missed.

In this week’s news:

10 higher education buzzwords and phrases
From buzzwords to phrases higher-ed speakers and leaders love to use, it seems there’s a whole new vocabulary—that some call “edubabble”—developed every couple of years. What’s interesting to note in these higher education buzzwords and phrases of 2015 is that many are either directly technology-related or are based on new technology functionalities.

4 federal recommendations to improve accreditation
In the wake of online learning, competency-based education, and a host of other alternative pathways and programs, accreditation has been in the reformation spotlight this year. And now the government is jumping in.

Science develops an algorithm for college selection—but does it work?
A new algorithm is using data and predictive analytics to determine, with noteworthy accuracy (90 percent), which institution is the best match for students.

Colleges begin to take virtual reality seriously
Virtual reality (VR) is emerging as a powerful technology, projected to grow into a $30 billion industry in the next 5 years. But when it comes to higher education, has VR’s dramatic rise impacted colleges and universities?


How to reduce admin tasks post-holidays with online tools

Student meetings, course requests and more can be streamlined with online tools to reduce time wastes for faculty and admin.

online-tools-adminThanksgiving has just ended and faculty and academic staff will soon dive into a full spring course load post holiday season. Professionals in the education industry know that meetings, paperwork, and other administrative tasks can be just as important to ensure a successful school year. However, they can often take up too much of an educator’s time. A study conducted at Boise St University in 2014 estimated these administrative tasks are taking up 30 percent of an education professional’s weekly workload, taking away from their abilities to properly serve their students.

While it is not practical to eliminate these tasks, there are some great ways that professionals within the education sector can reduce the time it takes to complete them. From large universities such as Texas A&M University or Morehouse College, to smaller institutions, by utilizing simple online tools, education professionals can eliminate the burdens of time-consuming administrative tasks.

Here are two simple tips and one great example of how utilizing these tools and related strategies can help improve administrative processes for professionals in the education year-round:

Look to simple marketing technology and practices as examples. While most marketers are using online client management tools to capture more clients, for education professionals they have other great benefits. Online client management solutions can be a tremendous help for faculty with hundreds of students. Also, with the ability to track communication history, past activity and private notes, tracking student interactions can be very helpful to document past interactions in order to be as prepared as possible for the next meeting.

For counselors it can be even more helpful to review notes from previous interactions when prepping for an upcoming meeting with a student. This functionality is also critical when a new quarter rolls around and the need to reference past course load preferences for a particular student arises. Many of these client management platforms also come with mobile capabilities for the on-the-go teacher. New student requests and scheduling changes will immediately pop on the teacher’s phone. These tools can also be utilized for collecting information from new students in order to record all the important information for new enrollees.

(Next page: Scheduling and a powerful example)


Webster U. launches digital admission initiative

Webster University launching Evolution Labs’ S360 engagement platform to reshape students’ admission experience

digital-admissionEvolution Labs announced that Webster University has selected its S360 engagement products to change the way prospective and admitted students and their parents experience the college admission and pre-matriculation process.

S360 enables colleges to immerse prospective, admitted and current students in highly engaging web and mobile-based experiences designed to foster a meaningful affinity between student and school and to impact learning outcomes and student success. Webster will launch the S360 Recruit and Recruit: Parents module this month as well as the Yield and Yield: Parents modules in December.

“Webster has long understood that the key to engaging today’s millennial students is providing them with content that is tailored to their personal interests,” said Peter Kraft, Co-founder at Evolution Labs. “We believe that the university’s choice of Suite360 as its digital engagement platform for prospective and admitted students and their parents is a testament to its ability to provide highly relevant digital experiences at critical junctures in the admission lifecycle.”

S360 provides prospective, admitted and current students with highly individualized content tailored to the criteria and interests they find most relevant to their own college search—from academics and faculty to campus location, size and personality of the school. As prospects and admits learn more about Webster through expert-written topics, engaging videos and surveys, they can also interact and “shadow” current students, view “real-life” social media feeds and share their interest in Webster by connecting program features with their preferred social networks—all on a single platform.

S360 also utilizes a proprietary algorithm designed to determine propensity of prospects and admits on a multi-faceted spectrum that considers academic, financial and lifestyle fit. Engagement insights are delivered back to the school in real time, arming them to make better communication and enrollment decisions.

“Evolution Labs’ approach to recruitment technology is student-centric,” said Dr. Robert W. Parrent, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Webster University. “Their platform will help the university build stronger relationships with prospective and admitted student and their parents by providing an experience that they find personally compelling.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Community college shares OER degree pathway

Students can access two complete degree programs at zero cost using OER

oer-pathwayFor colleges everywhere, offering a zero textbook cost degree program became easier as Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) and open courseware provider Lumen Learning announced a collaboration to publish 24 online college courses for two complete degree programs.

All courses were developed for zero student cost using open educational resources (OER) (i.e., no textbooks, just public access internet).

NOVA says it is the first community college to fully share its OER degree pathways and courses. Building on this pioneering work, other members of the education community can map courses to their own degree requirements, adapt them to fit their own learning outcomes, and offer complete OER-based degree programs of their own.

“From the very beginning, NOVA’s efforts with OER courses and degree programs have been about both increasing student success and creating material to be shared with more educators to impact more students,” said Dr. Wm. Preston Davis, director of instructional services. “With open degree pathways, we provide a huge boost to students who can’t afford textbooks, and we put them on a clearer path towards completion. We want to see the entire education community provide this tremendous benefit.”

The courses now available through NOVA and Lumen Learning were originally developed by ELI, which has offered zero textbook cost certificates and degree programs since 2013. Now available as open, “zELI” courses (z for zero textbook cost from ELI), they fulfill all requirements for NOVA’s Certificate in General Studies, as well as associate degrees in General Studies and Social Sciences. The courses are being published with open, Creative Commons licenses, allowing anyone to freely use, revise, remix and repurpose the materials.

“NOVA has been in the vanguard of wide scale adoption of OER, and it is a significant milestone for its well-developed OER degree pathways to become openly available to the entire education community,” said Dr. Cable Green, director of global learning for Creative Commons. “NOVA and the ELI faculty are taking bold steps to show educators everywhere what is now possible with open education.”