New Year’s Resolutions

At the start of each year, I, like many others, take time to consider my next step. That includes looking for new teaching opportunities, writing opportunities, or, as of late, technology opportunities. As ed and tech become edtech, one has to be always striving to understand what’s next. This year, I made resolutions in the hopes of publicly declaring my goals.

1) Learn to code-The simplicity of my phrasing reveals how little I know about this subject; all I really know about coding is that I don’t know anything at all. Yet, as education moves more online, I want to have an understanding of how programs work at their most basic level. It’s the difference between being an agent in the field and simply being a user. In addition, I want to have a hand in designing the next platform, program, or tool that is applied in the classroom. It would be exciting to participate in all phases of identifying a problem, developing a targeted solution, and implementing that solution in the classroom.

2) Listen to what students want from technology in the classroom-This has been a shortcoming in my practice. Typically, I teach a class and the institution offers some web tools; so I apply them in the coursework. I have never gone into a semester and asked the students “what works for you online?” or “how can we use all these tools to make this class better?” This year, I want to engage in these conversations. I want the student experience with technology to be enjoyable for them. Many of my students are recently returning to school after some years away. I take the responsibility of acclimating them to the academic climate seriously. Listening to their wants and needs about technology could be the first time they see that the educational space is adaptable for them.

3) Focus on collaboration within my online courses -This is my biggest hurdle with my online-only courses. Students struggle to collaborate with one another. My theory is that there is significantly less community between students within the online space; therefore, they feel no accountability to each other. It shows in how they collaborate. Group work is sub-par and peer editing is minimal. I have felt hamstrung by the online space because all I can do is email and then dock their grade. It takes away some of my power to convey disappointment and spur action with my face and body language. I want to figure out how to improve these shortcomings. Perhaps it’s more about attacking the first part of the equation, building community, then adjusting the collaborative assignments.

4) Write a children’s book-This has nothing to do with technology. But, as a new dad, I have been immersed in children’s literature with my 8-month old daughter. Surprisingly, I love it and I have ideas percolating within my mind on books I could write. I needed to add it to my published resolutions list to create some pressure to follow through. Readers can feel free to follow up at the end of the year to check my progress.

Now is a time of great disruption in education. I hope my resolutions empower me to be an active participant in the growth and change of the industry.

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New dashboard offers a glimpse of next-gen learning management

LMS partnership aims to give insights into student engagement

learning-managementAn expanded partnership between Echo360 and Instructure will integrate Canvas learning analytics with Echo360’s active learning platform, giving colleges and universities a more complete picture of student engagement and learning.

Building on the two organizations’ prior collaboration, Echo360 has been invited to participate as an Instructure Premier Partner, which will allow for deeper integration. This integration will allow instructors and institutional leaders using both platforms to understand how students are progressing toward academic goals, and what factors are driving student engagement, learning activities and class performance.

“Our partnership with Echo360 centers around one common goal – improving the teaching and learning experience for students and faculty,” said Melissa Loble, Vice President of Partnerships and Programs at Instructure. “By working together, we can help colleges and universities spend less time trying to wrangle data, and more time leveraging data and insights to support students and ensure they reach their academic goals.”

As a Premier Partner, Echo360 will integrate Canvas’ learning analytics into its active learning platform, and faculty using Canvas will be able to access student engagement analytics powered by Echo360 in one seamless data dashboard.

“We’re excited about what this partnership says about both the future of the LMS and the future of learning analytics,” said Fred Singer, CEO of Echo360. “Our integration with Instructure ushers in a new era of learning management—giving faculty access to real-time data that gives them important insight into a student’s level of engagement, which we know is an important indicator of student success.”

More than 1,000 institutions have adopted Canvas as their learning management system, and over 8,000 classrooms are using Echo360.

Instructure’s LMS provides insights into course-specific activities, including content distribution, assessments, and grading, while Echo360 provides class-specific insights about specific engagement behaviors like taking notes in class, participating in discussion, and revisiting content after class.

The Echo360 cloud-based platform allows students to better engage with course materials, ask questions during class in an anonymous and risk-free way, and engage with instructors and peers anytime and anywhere. Instructors also have access to powerful learner analytics to identify at-risk students and measure learning outcomes. The integration with Instructure improves the suite of tools and information instructors have at their fingertips to continuously support the learning process.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Stanford expands community college success program

The College Perspectives Program uses research-tested methods to increase community college students’ achievement and motivation

community-collegeCommunity colleges across the nation are invited to participate in the College Perspectives Program, an initiative designed to help students cultivate learning mindsets that will support and increase persistence, motivation and achievement.

The invitation comes from Stanford University’s PERTS Lab, and was designed in consultation with Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck.

The program will, in particular, focus on helping students develop a growth mindset to increase intellectual strength and capacity. This will help equip students to engage with more challenging coursework.

Community college is a vital pathway for adults of all ages to acquire new skills and knowledge that can help them succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy. Yet too many students get discouraged by the rigors of college coursework and dropout because they do not believe they can master the material.

Next page: How PERTS will analyze program results

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Faculty: A 5-part framework for open courses

5R Open Course Design Framework available to help faculty as OER use enters mainstream.

open-course-frameworkOpen course experts have published and revised the 5R Open Course Design Framework, a set of guidelines and best practices for developing courses using open educational resources (OER).

The framework, freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (CC BY), encourages educators and faculty who are not trained instructional designers to capitalize on the unique rights associated with open content also known as the 5Rs: the ability Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute content for educational purposes.

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Lumen Learning, the experts behind the framework, noted that while the framework is an over-simplification of OER course design, the framework is, instead, meant to “support moderate improvements in teaching and learning during the OER transition [and] create opportunities for faculty to think about how their practice might change in the context of ‘open,'” according to an online presentation. The company also plans to offer training, professional development and a course review and certification process associated with the framework. Professional development certifications will be offered to help individuals and organizations build capacity around effective course design with OER.

“Use of open educational resources in U.S. classrooms is entering the mainstream,” said David Wiley, a professor and longtime advocate of open education as well as chief academic officer of Lumen Learning, in a statement. “At the same time, the education community still has much to learn about designing effective courses and educational experiences using OER. The 5R Open Course Design Framework provides a foundation for consistent quality assurance and best practices.”

(Next page: Details of the framework)

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The changing nature of college admissions

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

news-picEvery 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:

Seeking competitive advantage? Look to “clusters”
It’s not news that technology helps colleges and universities expand academic offerings around the world. But while global connections are important, regional connections can provide just as many – if not more – benefits to our students and local communities.

College admissions now using social media like never before
According to the results of a new Kaplan Test Prep survey, a higher percentage of United States college admissions officers visit the social media pages of applicants in order to learn more about them.

Harvard report aims to improve college admissions
A new report issued by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and supported by scores of other institutions offers recommendations intended to ease the pressure of the college admissions process and encourage a more level playing field.

University launches immersive social media course
A new partnership between the Missouri School of Journalism and marketing agency VML will serve as a professional training program for students interested in working in social media.

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The high cost of higher education

2016 presents financial challenges and potential policy changes for higher education institutions across the nation

higher-educationStudents who applied early to the University of New Hampshire will know by the end of the month if they were accepted. Then many would-be Wildcats will start biting their nails, waiting for their financial aid letter. Four years’ tuition and fees at UNH can put families back over $67,000 — roughly what the typical New Hampshire household earns in a year.

The university’s high prices are an extreme example of rising college costs that have affected students in every state. Paying for college has become a financial strain on middle-class families across the country, and a source of anxiety for recent graduates saddled with student debt.

This election year, Democrats, in particular, want to rally voters behind their plans to make college more affordable. UNH — a flagship university in a state that votes early in the presidential primaries — has become a key stop on the campaign trail. “No student should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university,” Hillary Clinton said at an event there in the fall.

But while the presidential candidates debate major new investments in public higher education, states will spend 2016 pursuing a more modest agenda. States only have limited funds to work with, even as many lawmakers say they want college to be more affordable and states aim to increase the share of residents who hold a postsecondary degree or certificate.

“The pressure on higher ed budgets is going to continue. So the question is, how do states navigate that?” said Andrew Kelly, director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a right-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C.

Rather than blockbuster new investments, expect 2016 to bring tuition freezes, tweaks to scholarship programs, and policies that push institutions to do more with existing funding. Even ambitious-sounding changes, such as eliminating tuition for community college students, likely will be targeted to limit state spending.

Boost State Spending

One way for states to bring down tuition is simply to spend more money on colleges and universities.

Public colleges are still a bargain compared to private alternatives, thanks to state subsidies. In-state tuition and fees at four-year publics averaged $9,139 in 2014, according to the nonprofit College Board. Combined tuition, fees, room and board charges were less than half the price of the average private nonprofit college. And students who receive federal, state or institution grants pay less.

Next page: What are states doing?

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Can students’ online posts guide instructor intervention?

A partnership between two universities seeks to predict where students will struggle academically to help better inform instructor strategies

online-forumA method of analyzing what students post in academic forums, and using those posts to help instructors identify where students are struggling most with reading materials, could help improve learning and instruction.

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and MIT are using a new method to analyze students’ online academic forum posts to predict questions so teachers can intervene.

The Nota Bene (NB) forum, developed by MIT Prof. David Karger, is a web-based collaborative annotation tool that supports communication among and between students and their instructors. It is currently in use by thousands of students in dozens of courses given worldwide.

Dr. Ya’akov “Kobi” Gal of BGU’s Department of Information Systems Engineering , and his student team, used machine learning to analyze student posts and predict what parts of the course presented the most trouble in course reading material. Dr. Gal and his students previously developed the first online plan recognition algorithm that has been empirically shown to make accurate predictions in students’ use of open-ended, forum-based educational environments.

The BGU team worked in Prof. Karger’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, mapping how the students interacted in the forum. Thread length found in a post was used as a metric for determining student confusion on a given topic.

“There were hundreds of thousands of comments in the forum, but no one was looking at how the students were using them,” says Dr. Gal, who is also head of BGU’s Human-Computer Decision-Making Lab. “By analyzing posts from previous courses, we can improve the education process. We are identifying the threads that will generate confusion ahead of time and making this information available to instructors.”

This project is part of the BGU- MIT International Science and Technology Initiative Seed Fund launched last year, which enables the faculty and scientists at the two universities to begin new research endeavors.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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4 paths to gain buy-in for analytics projects

Higher education analytics leaders speak out on building support.

university-analytics-buyinHave you ever had a great idea for an analytics project only to see it end up in approval purgatory? Or maybe you’ve had some initial successes with analytics and you’re ready to expand a program, but are struggling with new funding?

I talked to four analytics leaders in higher education to get their advice on how to gain buy-in for analytics projects:

1.Western Kentucky University (WKU): Strive for consistency. WKU uses analytics and data visualization software to support institutional research and reporting. With traditional data at their fingertips, leaders are now able to ask more complex questions. It’s no longer, “How many students does WKU have?” It’s more about how WKU can make these students more successful. What are the stumbling blocks for these students, and how can the university alleviate those? Analytics has also helped WKU automate much of its annual fact book.

Gina Huff, senior applications programmer analyst at WKU, believes consistent data quality is critical.

“The one word that comes to mind whenever you want to get more buy-in from your institution is ‘consistency’,” said Huff. “We want to make sure that we build trust. We want to make sure that constituents know that the data that we are going to provide is going to be good data. It’s going to be something that we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into. And it’s going to be something that’s going to hopefully ensure the success of our student body.”

2.Sinclair (OH) Community College: Use high-quality data for action: Sinclair developed a reporting tool to surface general reports and visualizations that are easily consumable by the end users. With a focus on student success initiatives, Sinclair uses analytics to identify at-risk students and the interventions they need to get back on track. In order to increase course completion rates, and ensure students earn labor-market value credentials, Sinclair has deployed analytics tools targeting completion rates and classroom efficiency.

Karl Konsdorf, acting director, research, analytics and reporting at Sinclair Community College says building trust is important, but you must provide information decision makers can act on.

“Number one, I have to make sure that the data is of high quality so people will believe in it and trust it,” said Konsdorf. “But they also must understand it, so data has to be presented in an easily-consumable format.”

Konsdorf continues, “We don’t want just charts and graphs. We want something that’s meaningful, that’s targeted, and an individual chair or faculty can connect with. We want them to connect with the data, just like they would with a student. We make sure the visualizations we present are relatable and actionable.”

(Next page: Data to individuals; the power of instant information)

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Scholarship supports students with ADHD

Shire scholarship offers support, tuition assistance for students with ADHD enrolled in higher education programs

students-with-adhdShire has launched its 2016 Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship. The scholarship program is for legal residents of the United States who are under the care of a licensed health care professional for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and are accepted to or enrolled in undergraduate programs at accredited colleges, universities, trade schools, technical schools, or vocational schools located in the US.

The Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship by Shire awards each recipient $2,000 in tuition assistance and one year of ADHD coaching services provided by the Edge Foundation to assist in meeting the challenges of higher education. Fifty nationally based scholarships and five employee-related scholarships will be awarded in June 2016. The deadline to apply is March 9, 2016.

Since the start of the program in 2011, Shire has awarded 293 national scholarships and 22 employee scholarships. To see a full list of scholarship recipients, visit www.ShireADHDscholarship.com.

In 2014, Shire renamed the scholarship in memory of Michael Yasick, a senior executive at Shire whose vision made the scholarship possible. Mike envisioned the Shire ADHD Scholarship as a way to recognize brave individuals with ADHD who work hard to overcome the challenges of the condition and to help them continue their educational pursuits.

“Michael Yasick’s legacy of making a difference for individuals with ADHD lives on in the scholarship program, and Shire is proud to support so many talented students in his name,” said Perry Sternberg, head of Shire’s Neuroscience Business Unit.

The Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship by Shire also includes a year of weekly sessions with ADHD coaches from the Edge Foundation. In addition to weekly coaching sessions via phone or online video chat, ADHD coaches check in via e-mail, text, or phone to assist students in meeting their goals. This support may be important for students transitioning to the higher education environment because they have more free time and less adult supervision.

Neil Peterson, CEO and Founder of the Edge Foundation, said, “Shire’s scholarship program assists students with ADHD to pursue their dream of higher education. We are pleased and honored to be a part of this significant effort.”

The Edge Foundation is a Seattle-based international nonprofit organization that provides access to qualified, professional coaches for students with ADHD. For more information about the Edge Foundation, visit www.edgefoundation.org.

The Michael Yasick ADHD Scholarship by Shire is part of Shire’s patient-centric approach that provides support to ADHD patients and their caregivers.

Please visit www.ShireADHDscholarship.com to learn more about the scholarship, the eligibility requirements and to view its governing rules and regulations.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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ERP data integration helping to support continuing ed programs

Augusoft, Inc. and N2N partnership provides higher education with an integrated continuing education solution

erp-dataAugusoft, Inc., creator of the continuing education SaaS enrollment management solution Lumens, announced with N2N Integration successful data integration between Augusoft’s continuing education enrollment management system, Lumens and on-campus ERP platforms such as Oracle PeopleSoft, Ellucian’s Banner and Colleague.

The partnership leverages N2N’s integration cloud solution, the Illuminate Platform, to create Student Information System adapters for Lumens that enables institutions to continue to use their ERP platform as the system of record.

The Lumens cloud-based enrollment management system increases registrations and generates additional revenues for continuing education programs.

“With our exclusive partnership with N2N utilizing their integration platform, Lumens … can integrate securely with ERP systems through the cloud,” said Cem Erdem, Augusoft President and CEO.

The integration solution leverages Illuminate, N2N’s integrated platform as a service (iPaaS), which provides management of the connected data for the various Student Information System adapters utilized by Augusoft’s customers. These adapters create a repeatable process that reduces IT resource needs for both Augusoft and the institutions they serve. N2N’s ability to support both on-premises and cloud-based solutions was critical in meeting Augusoft’s needs.

“Our partnership with Augusoft brings our Illuminate Platform solution to the higher education market,” said Kiran Kodithala, CEO of N2N Integration. “By leveraging N2N’s integration and application solution, we will continue to provide institutions with a rapid deployment option for software platforms such as Augusoft Lumens, making the user experience more efficient and less costly.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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