New partnership expands OER access

Groups work to broaden digital courseware based on OER

MBS Direct and Junction Education are working together to expand access to affordable, comprehensive digital courseware based on open education resources (OER).

MBS Direct’s Higher Ed partners will now have access to Junction’s library of college courses and its authoring platform. This continues to extend the range of affordable options MBS Direct has available to clients spanning rental and used textbooks, eBooks and digital materials.

“Junction’s curated courses are an outstanding option to support campus-wide efforts for affordable blended and fully online learning options,” said Bill Dampier, President & COO, MBS Direct. “We’re impressed by Junction’s ease of use, customization capabilities and rich analytics—all in an affordable package helping to reduce burdens on today’s time and budget-pressured students.”

“We’re pleased to work with one of the leaders in distribution of learning materials to colleges and universities to expand access to our growing range of courses,” said Vineet Madan, Founder & CEO, Junction Education. “We’ve already helped students save more than $300,000 and have saved instructors thousands of hours of effort sourcing, evaluating and integrating OER into courses that 4 out of 5 students prefer to alternatives.”

Junction’s features include:
– Closed captioned rich media with supporting terms and definitions
– Auto-graded assessments with 30+ item types
– Insight centers for faculty and students so they can use real-time data to adjust the class experience
– Integration with any LTI-compliant learning management system
– A proprietary early alert system that drives engagement by reaching students where they are—on their smartphones—via SMS and email

“After utilizing Junction Education in Psychology courses at UNM-Taos for over a year, students find the online materials extremely engaging, informative and up to date. And of course the cost savings serve as the icing on the cake,” said Dr. Randi Archuleta, Dean of Instruction at University of New Mexico Taos. Junction is already in use by over two dozen colleges and universities including University of New Mexico Taos, Luzerne County Community College, and Montclair State University.



Brandeis U. to offer FinTech graduate degree

Online program debuts in response to dramatic FinTech industry boom

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) announced the launch of a fully online, part-time master’s degree that is the first of its kind among U.S. colleges and universities: a Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech (FinTech).

The FinTech degree is geared toward creative thinkers who work for organizations that rely on technology for providing efficient financial services and systems. Developed in conjunction with experts in the field, the program seeks to service a global financial industry where digital advancements are becoming increasingly critical to economic success and market growth.

A March 2015 report published by Accenture shows that investments in FinTech tripled between 2013 and 2014 alone. To stay competitive and meet industry demands, startups and international corporations alike will need to invest in untapped technologies and innovations.

“Financial technology is everywhere, whether you’re using mobile banking to pay for your monthly mortgage or an app to pay for your morning coffee,” said Anne Marando, executive director of Graduate Professional Studies.

“In a world where more and more institutions are turning to mobile technology to transact business, this program gives financial professionals the tech skills necessary to develop innovative solutions and approaches.”

The program’s part-time nature allows students to complete the 30-credit degree in 1.6 to 3 years. The FinTech curriculum captures the industry’s latest tools and best practices while incorporating the rigorous standards of excellence that make Brandeis one of the country’s top universities. A professional advisory board will monitor and ensure the currency and relevance of the program’s courses, which will cover topics in finance, software, analytics and UX design.

Required courses will include:
• The New Economy: Global Disruption and the Emergence of FinTech
• Launching FinTech Ventures
• Mobile Applications and Responsive Web Design

Students interested in joining the MS in FinTech’s inaugural cohort should submit their applications by Aug. 16, 2016. Students may also take individual courses prior to applying for admission or for professional development purposes.

Registration for the fall 2016 term opens on Aug. 23, with courses beginning Sept. 14. Visit for more information.


Op-Ed: Why innovation-desperate higher ed needs to break its shackles

Colleges and universities need to stop ceding their independence in the name of tech and innovation—here’s how to do it.

Outsourcing and technology adoption are booming in higher education, as student demographics change and learning models evolve. There’s an inherent challenge: as the complexity of delivering personalized, student-centered education increases, institutions run the risk of ceding their independence to outside entities in the name of innovation.

Facing pressure from policymakers and accreditors to show movement on outcomes and a tangible return on academic investments, colleges and universities have an imperative to test and scale new approaches to improve outcomes, casting a hopeful eye to solution providers and experts.

As technology becomes a more entrenched component of efforts to improve student outcomes, relationships have grown testy. Institutions feel beholden to consultants, software vendors and services firms instead of the most important stakeholders: students.

The risks and tensions involved in outsourcing are well known to higher education, and institutions would do well to remember that tech is ultimately the vehicle for supporting students, not the master. But many in higher education see a third path between “buy” and “build”. The future of private sector-higher education collaboration will be most beneficial to businesses that can help us build—and then go away.

The Innovation Opportunities That Can Support Insourcing

Online Learning: Online education is often stereotyped as a field dominated by private businesses that run online programs on behalf of institutions on a revenue share basis. In truth, the migration of learning experiences to online and blended courses is a powerful example of how the higher education sector is adapting in the market and fueling innovation from within its own ranks.

When access to web development and digital marketing services were scarce commodities, institutions relied on multi-year revenue-share agreements required by online program management (OPM) firms as a necessary part of launching online programs. This model placed aspiring online providers at a disadvantage by diverting resources from the institution to outside developers.

Today, colleges and universities looking to move their programs online are getting closer to launching their online initiatives internally, even if they aren’t prepared to fully go it alone. As technology and design services have become increasingly commoditized and available at much lower prices, institutions are able to develop and launch online initiatives with growing independence.

Online education leaders are instead focusing on co-developing skills and technology in ways that generate equity and intellectual property for the institution. Over time, institutions are slowly, but surely, starting to unshackle themselves from entangled relationships with outside entities.

(Next page: 2 other innovation opps ripe for insourcing)


Stratasys launches universal design-to-3D application

GrabCAD Print is designed to make 3D printing easier, more intuitive and readily accessible

3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company Stratasys Ltd. has unveiled a new software strategy designed to make 3D printing easier, more intuitive and highly accessible.

The approach is powered by a new, open architecture “design-to-3D print” workflow application, GrabCAD Print* – residing on the GrabCAD SaaS platform and supported by a community of more than 3 million designers, engineers and students.

3D printing techniques are typically characterized by significant “model fixing” time which forces businesses to devise costly, manual solutions to construct an acceptable workflow. GrabCAD Print is designed to make 3D printing fast and easy-to-use, while reducing errors by eliminating requirements to translate and repair computer-aided design (CAD) files. Product designers, engineers, and 3D printer operators can now send native CAD files to a Stratasys 3D Printer or service bureau directly from their familiar CAD environments. Further bolstered by an extensive new business intelligence environment, the application also accelerates data-driven decision-making.

“When we acquired GrabCAD two years ago, our vision was to provide a digital manufacturing backbone to support adoption of 3D printing technologies,” said Josh Claman, Chief Business Officer, Stratasys. “Underscoring the critical nature of software as an essential ingredient for complete and smooth 3D printing workflow, GrabCAD Print is our first new application built on the GrabCAD platform – empowering customers with a single, open, cloud-based environment for job preparation, scheduling and monitoring. Accelerating integration of additive manufacturing on the shop floor, GrabCAD Print also generates real-time business intelligence which can be prepared in actionable reports for Stratasys 3D Printers on the user’s GrabCAD Print network.”

GrabCAD Print works with a variety of Stratasys FDM and PolyJet 3D Printers and can natively read several popular CAD formats from PTC Creo, Dassault Systèmes’ SOLIDWORKS, Siemens PLM Software’s NX software, CATIA and Autodesk Inventor. The application also facilitates data sharing related to job scheduling, print queue status, material usage and historical usage. All information is readily available via standard Web browsers, mobile applications or locally installed clients while securely managed through the GrabCAD Platform.

Committed to architecting an open and partner-friendly solution, Stratasys is making full use of a powerful 3D design ecosystem – creating additional value-added applications based on the GrabCAD Platform. Industry leading CAD solution providers such as PTC, Dassault Systèmes’ SOLIDWORKS, and Siemens PLM Software will be collaborating with Stratasys to further simplify key functions in CAD-to-3D print workflow. Users of these offerings will be able to access Stratasys 3D printing solutions, analyze designs for 3D printability, and prepare and print jobs from their native CAD environment.

“When keeping up with fast paced development, frequently things will change in the last minute. In the past when a build had to be switched to a different 3D printer I’d have to do a clean restart – redo all of that file preparation work. With GrabCAD Print it’s easy to switch between 3D printers within a single app. That’s a huge step forward in improving the workflow,” said Jimmy Callaway, Design Engineer, Joe Gibbs Racing.

*The GrabCAD Print application is planned for public beta in North America this summer with additional releases planned throughout the year alongside new language and regional support.


3 higher ed metrics that can truly benefit today’s students

A new framework is seeking to make higher ed metrics from institutions more transparent.

The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) has produced a comprehensive new report that details the importance of a proposed new higher ed metrics framework that aims to better represent and inform students of all backgrounds.

The report, titled Toward Convergence: A Technical Guide for the Postsecondary Metrics Framework, is a companion piece that provides important details tto support and build on the findings outlined in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s February 2016 report Answering the Call, which proposed a new higher ed metrics framework to measure the performance of institutions. That framework is intended to help policymakers, administrators and learners better understand how institutions are performing, and draws on lessons learned from a decade of efforts by states and institutions to collect and use better data.

Data Rich but Information Poor Not Good for Students

Above all, the newly released report advocates for a transparent postsecondary system that facilitates effective policy and practice, and informed choices for learners seeking degrees. Toward Convergence emphasizes the notion that postsecondary education is currently data rich but information poor, which makes improving data quality, transparency and use all the more important to allow more students (especially low-income students and students of color) the opportunity to gain access to and succeed in higher education as well as to achieve economic and social prosperity upon graduating.

The report also enumerates the technical details of the newly proposed framework. IHEP analyzed the higher ed metrics and definitions used by institutional and state initiatives, along with data specifications in national data collections, to identify points of consensus in the field. The resulting key higher ed metrics fall into three major categories: performance, efficiency and equity.

(Next page: More on the three key higher ed metrics that can benefit students)


Pearson, U. Nevada Reno to launch online Master of Social Work degree

New move will expand access to online learning opportunities

Pearson‘s new partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Division of Health Sciences, School of Social Work aims to expand access to the University’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program, which will launch with the Foundational track and Concentration track, beginning in the fall semester of 2016.

Through the partnership, Pearson will provide comprehensive services, including marketing, recruitment, retention-focused student support, course development, and helpdesk services. The program is expected to serve more than 500 students.

“Educating those who help individuals and families overcome life’s challenges is some of the most noble work both here in the U.S. and around the world,” said Todd Hitchcock, senior vice president, online learning services, Pearson. “We are honored to partner with the University of Nevada Reno, as they work to provide the highest quality online learning experience for what is one of the fastest growing occupations nationwide. Through UNR’s flexible, student-centered online models, students will have access to high-quality educational opportunities that can increase their employability and position them for long-term career success.”

“The faculty and staff at the School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Reno are excited at the agreement with Pearson to develop and deliver an online MSW program to the state of Nevada and beyond,” said Goutham Menon, director and professor in the School of Social Work. “There is a pressing need in the state of Nevada, especially in our rural communities and school districts, to recruit highly trained master’s-level social workers to meet myriad needs in the community.”

Professor Menon continued, “Nevada students now have access to one of the least expensive MSW online degree programs in the country and will have all of our full-time faculty expertise in their online classrooms. Our program will extend to other states, with a particular focus on rural and hard-to-reach areas to create opportunities of access for students to higher education. This is also a critical development for our University, in producing more graduate degrees in key areas of health care, which speaks to our University as a quality, high-impact research institution.”

Pearson partners with over 40 higher education institutions across the country to implement and sustain nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate programs, which have produced more than 30,000 graduates. Some of Pearson’s additional Online Program Management (OPM) partners include: Regis College, Adventist University of Health Sciences (ADU), Arizona State University, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, Abilene Christian University, Washington State University, Hofstra University School of Law, University of California at Riverside, Bradley University, and Villanova University. In 2015, a total of 6,672 students graduated from programs powered by Pearson’s student support and retention services, a component of many OPM partner solutions.



Promoting innovative practices

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

Every Friday, I’ll recap some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week.

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

This week, our news is all about innovation. Though policymakers promote free college, is it really going to work? Students are taking charge and exploring the topics they’d like to pursue after graduation, including virtual reality (plus data) and augmented reality.

Read on for more:

Is free college really going to work?
Why we should take a critical look at the idea of free college beyond an easy sound bite that allows politicians to attract voters without explaining or solving the problem of why college is so expensive in the first place.

UMD’s virtual reality students show off final projects
For 29 students at the University of Maryland, the Spring 2016 semester ended with a virtual walk in the desert and junkyard demolition derby and a digital waterfall created from tweets. The undergraduate and graduate students were part of the university’s first class in virtual reality, the exploding immersive technology that is expected to generate more than $1 billion in sales this year. Students spent the semester learning the technical aspects of virtual reality and augmented reality.

Data courses could include virtual reality
University of Wisconsin (UW) data science students could soon don virtual reality headsets to navigate and interpret data. A UW instructional designer says looking at Big Data in new and different ways can engage more students to pursue its study, and also can impact people’s lives. The courses are part of the online Master of Data Science degree program offered by UW-Extension in collaboration with six UW campuses.

New trend sees higher ed bootcamps go 2.0
It seems that coding bootcamps are so 2015. For students eager to get into a burgeoning field that pays well, data science bootcamps promise to be the new oases amidst hiring deserts. Starting this summer and continuing throughout the fall, third-party hosts, such as Metis and NYC Data Science Academy (NYCDSA), are offering 12-week programs in data science for students that have some beginner’s knowledge of coding and/or statistics.


Pearson, Mathspace to offer real-time math reasoning skill support

Solution will connect higher-ed students to real-time math support, coaching

Pearson and Mathspace are partnering to integrate new Workspace Assignments into MyMathLab and MyStatLab online homework, tutorial and assessment technologies. Mathspace’s technology collects data at multiple points within a math question, and uses this data to create a highly personalized and engaging learning experience for each student.

Available for back-to-school 2016, the integration of Workspace exercises within the MyLab technologies will bring real-time support by allowing college and university students to work through an exercise step-by-step, adjusting to the solution path each learner takes, and allowing them to show their mathematical reasoning as they progress.

Each Workspace exercise is immediately assessed, and students receive feedback at every step of the problem—decreasing the guesswork and frustration they may encounter when solving a difficult problem on their own. Hints, videos, and next steps are available exactly when they need help to further walk them through the problem-solving process.

All mathematical steps are captured by Mathspace and made available to instructors through their MyLab gradebook, allowing them to easily pinpoint where to focus individualized or classroom instruction. Students will also be able to use Mathspace’s handwriting recognition to do math on all mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.

“At its heart, mathematics is a problem-solving discipline, but what we often see are assessments and technologies whose focus is often exclusively on arriving at answers. By providing feedback and reinforcement at each step along the path toward a solution, Mathspace helps students build both confidence and competence in their math skills while providing educators with valuable insights that can be used to tailor instruction around students’ problem areas,” said Paul Corey, managing director for higher education courseware, Pearson.

“We are excited about our partnership with Pearson and have been impressed by Pearson’s focus on efficacy. We’ve seen fantastic results from students utilizing Mathspace’s personalized approach and are thrilled that millions more will benefit with this partnership,” said Mohamad Jebara, CEO, Mathspace.

Mathspace is also available as a stand-alone learning solution. As a whole curriculum solution, Mathspace includes a digital textbook, more than 3,000 instructional videos, interactive widgets, and tools to help instructors create assignments, differentiate learning, and monitor their students’ progress in real time with intuitive dashboards. Mathspace is available through a browser, on tablets (iPads/Android/Windows) and iPhones/Android smartphones.

With input from more than 12 million student users annually, Pearson’s MyLab collection of online homework, tutorial, and assessment technologies create learning experiences that are truly personalized and continuously adaptive. To learn more about the Mathspace integration with MyMathLab and MyStatLab, click here.



Survey: Millennials value advanced degrees

University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies survey finds millennials place high value on doctoral degrees compared with generational counterparts

As the job market becomes increasingly global and competitive, a new survey reveals that millennials hold educational attainment and advanced degrees in high esteem.

When it comes to the perceived value of a doctoral education in the workforce, 78 percent of millennials agree that professionals with doctoral-level education are perceived as superior in the workplace, compared with 67 percent of U.S. adults overall, including Gen Xers and baby boomers, according to a recent survey by Harris Poll commissioned by University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies.

“Many millennials entered the workforce in a post-recession economy, where the perception of a bachelor’s degree shifted from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to being a requirement to start their careers,” said Hinrich Eylers, Ph.D., executive dean for University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies. “It is arguably more important than ever before to provide advanced education that is calibrated with the needs of today’s economy and employers. At University of Phoenix, our doctoral curriculum is designed to teach research for real life so that doctorate-level education delivers value to the workplace for this new generation of workers and the future workforce.”

Are doctoral degrees the new master’s degrees? Maybe so, according to surveyed millennials. While most U.S. adults today still agree that employers place the greatest value on master’s and bachelor’s degrees (32 and 24 percent respectively), they see the potential of a doctoral degree.
Seventy percent of those surveyed agree that obtaining a doctoral-level education can open up a wide variety of career options outside of academia. Again, millennials overwhelmingly agree, with 74 percent saying doctoral-level education can open a wide variety of career options and 78 percent agreeing that doctorally educated employees are valuable to an organization’s success.

To learn more about the degree programs offered by the School of Advanced Studies, visit

A national sample of 2,015 U.S. adults aged 18 and older completed this survey online, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies, from March 8–10, 2016. Individuals who identified themselves as millennials (18–34 years old) totaled 483.


10 ways to reach underrepresented students

Survey highlights the ways that underrepresented students go about their college search, as well as their communication and technology preferences.

EAB has released a survey breaking down the college search, timing and communications preferences of minority, first-generation and low-income students, while also offering tips to institutions on how to best recruit these underrepresented students.

The report, “Communication Preferences: How to reach the next generation of college-bound students,” surveyed 8,515 college-bound high school juniors and seniors from across the nation in the summer of 2015. The online survey was conducted by the Royall & Company division of EAB, and gauged a variety of topics relevant to the college search process including sources used to gather information about colleges, search timing, preferred communication channels and campus visits.

The report emphasizes that with affirmative action under fire, it is particularly important for colleges and universities to think more strategically and recognize the differences on how to best attract under-represented groups compared to their more traditional counterparts.

“We’re really looking for the best possible insights into how to help schools make the best efforts to increasingly recruit and enroll more diverse classes,” said Pam Royall, head of research at Royall & Company. “Everybody wants to create a campus that is a shape of the real world. First-generation students and ethnic groups bring critical life experience to college campuses that prospective students and their families look for.”

(Next page: An in-depth look at student preferences with demographic breakdowns)