ACE launches new digital credential program to recognize workforce training

The American Council on Education (ACE) and Credly announced that participants in ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT®) will now be able to issue digital credentials through Credly, making it easier for working professionals to request academic credit for workplace training and to share evidence of their achievements online.

For more than four decades, ACE CREDIT recommendations have connected workplace learning to colleges and universities by helping students gain access to academic credit for formal training taken outside of traditional degree programs. ACE CREDIT organizations include major corporations, associations, labor unions, and government agencies, who offer a wide array of courses in numerous fields, from restaurant management to radiology. The addition of a digital credential platform is expected to generate new insights into the experiences and success of individuals who are awarded credentials through CREDIT-approved courses each year.

“Our work is rooted in the belief that experience in the workplace can lead to a more flexible pathway to earn college degrees and credentials and fuel career growth,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “Credly is helping us transform a powerful concept for the digital era through empowering professionals with portable credentials. We are pleased to enable our CREDIT organizations to tap into the promise of digital credentialing.”

As a result of the collaboration, organizations that offer training recommended for college credit will be able to issue secure, portable, and data-rich digital badges that recognize professional and academic achievements in addition to an ACE official transcript. Transcripts will continue to be used primarily to communicate credit recommendations to colleges and universities across the country. This spring, Walt Disney, KFC, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, and Jiffy Lube will be among the first CREDIT participants to offer digital credentialing.

“The ACE CREDIT program supports our vision for promoting integrity, excellence, and innovation across the Jiffy Lube workforce,” said Kenneth Barber, Jiffy Lube’s manager of learning and development. “We believe the skills and experiences our employees develop on the job should be recognized and be readily convertible into further educational and professional opportunity. Digital credentials help capture and communicate both the achievements and potential of our employees.”

Once awarded a digital credential, individuals are able to showcase their accomplishments through professional networks online, or include in job applications and e-portfolios. Individuals can also seek academic credit for their achievements at colleges and universities by requesting their separate ACE official transcript through a single click within the digital credential itself.

“Meaningful learning increasingly happens in a wide variety of places, and quality alternative education experiences deserve to be recognized,” said Credly CEO and founder Jonathan Finkelstein. “Skills and knowledge, wherever earned or demonstrated, should be readily translated into opportunity. By partnering with one of the nation’s most trusted higher education organizations, we look forward to helping employers and employees better work together to align individual talent with workforce needs.”

To learn more about how to issue ACE CREDIT-verified digital credentials, visit https://credly.com/about/ace-credit.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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The top 5 higher ed CIO myths


[Editor’s note: This story was originally published on the Optimal-Partners blog here. Read more about Optimal-Partners here.]

Being a Higher Ed CIO is a complex and often misunderstood job, as anyone who follows the blogs of any Higher Ed CIO can attest to. This misunderstanding has led to a few frequently propagated myths about the profession, myths that can be counterproductive to progress. Here are the top five higher ed CIO myths that seem to be kicking about the edusphere, and the truth behind these myths that might have you thinking twice about how vital and difficult the Higher Ed CIO’s job truly is.

1: “If We Just Had a Great CIO, Everything Would Work And All of Our Problems Would Vanish!”

While it can be very easy to search for this kind of miracle pill, a single charismatic and go-getting leader will not solve all of an institution’s IT problems. Tech troubles can be complicated beasts involving multitudes of other sub-issues, issues that a CIO might influence but not completely control. Budgets, institutional priorities, institutional allocations, other high-level personalities; these and other troubles can contribute to systemic IT issues that not even a “golden” CIO can solve. While a good CIO can help to address some facets of these issues, simply hiring a “miracle” CIO will not solve them entirely.

2: CIO’s Are Only Around to Monitor and Troubleshoot the IT Environment.

Thanks to developments in monitoring technology (as well as the ever-changing needs of Higher Ed), the role of the CIO is shifting. According to a 2015 survey, CIO’s currently spend up to 27 percent of their time working on business strategy rather than IT-specific issues. What’s perhaps even more telling is the projections of how this will change even more in the future; the same study reports that CIO’s would like to spend up to 72 percent of their time strategizing. CIO’s are increasingly getting involved in the big picture, and seem to want more involvement on that level.

(Next page: Higher ed CIO myths 3-5)

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The top 50 online community colleges

Educators and policymakers emphasize higher education’s role in helping students succeed in the workforce–and community colleges play an important role in helping students access those educational opportunities.

Equity and affordable higher education are now almost constantly in the spotlight, and many states have launched initiatives to connect community college students to free or low tuition. Online community colleges offer flexibility for students who have unusual schedules, work or family obligations.

According to 2016 data from the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly half of all U.S. undergraduate students attend community colleges, and programs are underway to help build capacity for academic and career pathways, to strengthen leadership, and to maximize resources.

To help prospective students sort through the many online options, the Center for Online Education released its list of the 50 best online community colleges for 2017.

In order to produce the top 50, the organization scored each school using a range of factors. All criteria were subdivided into three distinct categories, and each carried a different weight for determining a school’s overall score. Categories include online flexibility, academics, and experience and affordability.

(Next page: The top online community colleges)

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How media literacy is critical to saving our democracy

[Editor’s note: This post by Alan November, written exclusively for eSchool Media, is part of a series of upcoming articles by this notable education thought leader. Check back soon for the next must-read post!]

“At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish. … If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.” —Stanford History Education Group, 2016.

The fact that 80 percent of middle school students in a recent study could not distinguish between fake news and authentic news on the web shows that we, as educators, have to do a better job of teaching media literacy in the digital age. That means paying just as much attention to teaching students how to be smart consumers of information as we pay to what we choose to teach in our institutions.

Across 12 states and 7,800 student responses, the overwhelming majority of our students (ranging from middle schools to universities) were easily manipulated into believing falsehoods to be true or credible. According to reporting by NPR about the study, “In exercise after exercise, the researchers were ‘shocked’—their word, not ours—by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of information.”

I am not shocked. As I have traveled the country visiting with schools, I have learned that many of our students have a false sense of confidence about their web and media literacy skills. In fact, it’s not unusual for students to laugh in disdain when asked if they know how to use Google. One fourth grader in a top private school instructed me, “Sir, if you have any question, you have to know how to use Google.”

Learn from the best innovations in education! Join education thought leader Alan November in Boston July 26-28 for his 2017 Building Learning Communities edtech conference, where hundreds of K-12 and higher-education leaders from around the globe will gather to discuss the world’s most successful innovations in education.

To expose students’ false confidence in their own skills, I will present them with a search challenge that I know will lead to bogus information in the top page of results. (Most students only look at the top page of results.) The scary part is watching students’ complete ignorance of any framework for questioning the validity of their results. The problem is that students don’t know what they don’t know.

I want to be wrong about this, but as with the Stanford researchers, I believe we are in serious trouble. Simply put, we are not preparing students to make informed decisions when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, Google searches, or web-based content. Even when students pass our print-based reading tests, they are basically illiterate when it comes to web-based content.

(Next page: How to ensure students’ media literacy)

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5 of higher ed’s alternative facts

There are many alternative facts I choose to believe in my personal life; for instance, the salad I eat for dinner cancels out the cheesesteak I had for lunch; or the sale is so good I can’t afford not to buy a singing Margaritaville machine; or I’m completely up for going to a bar instead of sitting at home reading in my pajamas.

It seems that we all have these alternative facts we tell ourselves instead of the truth, and higher education is no different. No matter how many times research reports, educator testimonials, or student performance metrics reveal seemingly undeniable truths, antiquated practices or beliefs about how higher education should operate are still used frequently thanks to the citation of these alternative facts.

The editors at eCampous News quickly brainstormed what we believe are higher education’s alternative facts that exist today, but we’d love to hear your suggestions! Make sure you leave your comments in the section below.

Alternative Fact 1: The nontraditional student is not a concern for every institution.

Maybe for community colleges this is an issue, but for ivy league schools and traditional institutions, traditional students are the norm. Therefore, nothing needs to change in terms of student services or alternative learning pathways.

Real Fact: The nontraditional student is the norm, now.

According to recent national data, characteristics formerly associated with nontraditional students are the characteristics the majority of students have today. Blended learning, online learning, accelerated programs and nontraditional degree pathways should be options considered by any institution looking to better serve students today.

Alternative Fact 2: Having institutional data is enough.

Many institutions, especially R1 universities, have been collecting data for years now; and this data is primed and ready to be used for decision-making.

Real Fact: Just having data does not mean it will yield any improvements.

Colleges and universities are quickly coming to realize that even sophisticated analytics dashboards don’t truly help unless leadership knows the questions to ask of this data. Read more about this topic here.

(Next page: Education’s alternative facts 3-5)

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Warning: Students duped by bootcamp fraud

The lure of a month-long bootcamp to teach you the basic skills required of a high-paying job just begging to be filled is so strong that even this humanities-heavy writer considered applying not too long ago. And as I sat there reading the seemingly straight-forward requirements of said bootcamps, never once did it cross my mind that I could be falling into a trap.

Now, multiply that mindset by every job-hungry, ambitious student today, along with well-meaning institutions looking to give their graduates an extra advantage, and you’ve got a problem; specifically, a bootcamp fraud problem.

A Worst Nightmare Scenario

As the STEM rhetoric began to build almost ten years ago, and was then coupled with the Great Recession and Millennial debt crisis, bootcamps aimed at teaching specific high-demand skills from industries desperate for trained employees were offered like magic beans; and, for the most part, seemed to deliver on their promises.

According to switchup —an online resource for tech bootcamps touted by the likes of Wired, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat—a comprehensive 2014 to 2016 survey of bootcamp graduates reported that 80 percent of bootcamp alumni surveyed were satisfied with their education, 63 percent of alumni received a $22,700 salary increase just 6 months after graduation, and 68 percent of bootcamp grads were working in IT within 6 months of graduating.

So far, so good…until it wasn’t just students looking for an opportunity.

From the beginning, some bootcamps had seasoned techies scratching their heads. According to a post written a few years ago by a hacker known simply as “dpg,” there were several reasons why some bootcamp pipelines seemed like a bad idea. “The bootcamp model gives you an ‘intensive’ course good enough so that you’re able to build a [crappy] web app, and then they hopefully place you in a job needing a code monkey. In return, they get a recruiter’s cut when you’re hired. They make money off of people up front and in back (sort of genius on their part, eh?).” dpg goes on to write that this scenario could lead to high employee turnover rate due to burnout or replacement.

Techspiration also wrote a piece in 2015 attempting to bust what it said are the big myths of some tech bootcamps, including learning dense technical skills in just a few short weeks to prepare for a lifelong career in IT.

Despite these posts written by tech professionals with veteran industry knowledge, bootcamps picked up in popularity, with a whole new crop developing recently in an even newer market, data science.

Then, late September last year, a major bootcamp revealed major fraud. According to a report from Inc. magazine, the founder of Devschool, Jim O’Kelly, vanished, taking with him roughly $100,000 in student tuition. After some student-led sleuthing, it turned out that Jim O’Kelly was really Eric James O’Kelly–a man on the Most Wanted List  in Clackamas County, Oregon for charges of assault, menacing and criminal mischief.

Many students part of Devschool do not believe they’ll recoup their money, even after reporting the incident to a variety of authorities, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, their respective state attorneys general, the FBI’s Cyber Division, and the tip line of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. They have also contacted their respective credit card companies, notes Inc.

(Next page: How to avoid boot camp fraud)

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Are education and opportunity at odds in higher education today?

College and opportunity have always been intertwined, yet the relationship can be paradoxical.  Education has been called the silver bullet to poverty.  As an extension of that, higher education can be assumed to offer egalitarian opportunity.  David Leonhardt’s article titled “America’s Great Working-Class Colleges” gives me pause about this relationship, and, as always, technology both solves and exacerbates the problem.

Leonhardt recently wrote about schools he deemed “working class colleges” and laments the decline of these institutions in the higher education landscape.   He discusses research that shows these colleges, like City College of New York or University of Texas El Paso, play a huge role in pushing the bottom of the socio-economic class into a middle class existence.  Leonhardt cites statistics on the make-up of the student body and how, “these students entered college poor. They left on their way to the middle class and often the upper middle class.”

Later, he points out that so many colleges fail to live up to the ideal of truly serving all students.  He cites the well-known ails of for-profit colleges, but also points to an unlikely culprit of the problem: elite colleges.  Leonhardt does not say that elite colleges are not producing good students or that they are short changing the poor students they do serve; but he does make the point that they are not serving a representative sample of the country.  In short, elite colleges mostly serve upper-class individuals.  Elite institutions do not set out to discriminate, but the selective nature of entry turns away, either explicitly or implicitly, the majority of the population.

Technology has a paradoxical role in addressing this problem.  Elite institutions are a driving force behind much of the online education content.  When you go the EdX’s homepage, its banner advertises courses from MIT and Harvard; Coursera features Johns Hopkins, Penn, and U-M on its front page.  Information is at our fingertips and elite institutions are taking down the walls between themselves and the masses.  The paradox is that for all the courses students can take on Coursera, they can’t get a diploma from Johns Hopkins.   Students don’t get the benefits of going to the institution; they only receive the content.

This is a complicated tension between old and new ways of education.  Someone looking at this situation would say the decline of the working class college is not an issue because lower income students can access all the information they need, from elite institutions, online.  Elite institutions would also most likely push back against Leonhardt’s article and say they have removed all barriers to the university by putting the courses online.  But, educators know that so much more goes into higher education that just getting the information.  When looking particularly at the lower socio-economic class, support services, time management, and community building all play a key role in successful education.

These are things that technology has failed to remedy.  As a teacher of face-to-face, blended, and online-only content, I can attest to the fact that the online space contributes to a fractured feeling in the class.  The aesthetic of the education is completely different when taken out of the classroom. To me, this is an appealing space for EdTech to move into.  How can technology better provide students the feeling of education in addition to its content?

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Your monthly marketplace update

Tech-savvy educators know they must stay on top of the myriad changes and trends in education to learn how teaching and learning can best benefit from technology’s near-constant change.

Keep reading for a monthly recap of the latest marketplace news that will keep you up-to-date on product developments, teaching and learning initiatives, and new trends in educational technology.

IT

Nimbix, provider of high performance and cloud supercomputing services, announced its new combined product strategy for enterprise computing, end users and developers. This new strategy will focus on three key capabilities – JARVICECompute for high performance processing, including Machine Learning, AI and HPC workloads; PushToCompute for application developers creating and monetizing high performance workflows; and MaterialCompute, a brand new intuitive user interface, featuring the industry’s largest high performance application marketplace available from a cloud provider. Read more.

Next page: News about career support, digital resources and funding

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8 strategies for successful tech initiatives

For university IT leaders, unveiling major tech initiatives can be a bit like handing out Halloween candy: The customers run the gamut from quiet pixies to absolute ghouls, some complain about the quality of the treats, and others have a nagging suspicion that you’ve put razor blades in their apples. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Handled well, the rollout of a big IT project should unfold more like an adult Christmas, with customers receiving presents they’ve wanted and thought about for a long time. In interviews with IT leaders at a range of institutions and companies, eCampus News identified eight strategies to help colleges ensure that constituents see their next big IT project coming with a bow on top.

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1.Secure Support from the Top

This is an old chestnut, but it’s no less important for that. The blessing of the top dog can give a project a sense of value and urgency that is hard to achieve otherwise. “Having key buy-in and support at the senior leadership level is critical,” said Pete Young, senior vice president for analytics, planning, and technology at the University of Maryland University College, which launched an Office of Analytics several years ago that was recently spun off as a separate company, HelioCampus. “The full engagement of the president was fundamentally important to our success, and it’s something we’ve heard echoed by many other institutions.”

While diktats from above can sometimes bulldoze a new IT initiative into place, meaningful change occurs only when leadership embraces—and steers—the cultural shifts that often accompany major IT initiatives. “You can’t underestimate the culture change involved,” said Young, explaining that President Javier Miyares led the analytics charge at UMUC by constantly asking to see all the relevant data when considering new issues. “This is where strong support from the top comes into place.”

(Next page: IT tech rollout tips 2-4)

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After ethics review, Senate postpones vote for Betsy DeVos

According to the Washington Post:

“The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed the vote on Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos, hours after receiving the completed ethics review for the Michigan billionaire.

The committee vote, originally scheduled to take place Tuesday has been rescheduled for Jan. 31 at 10 a.m., according to a statement from the HELP committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). The announcement arrived after the Office of Government Ethics, an agency that examines nominees’ financial disclosures and resolves potential conflicts of interest, released its long-awaited report Friday. Alexander said he wants to give each Senator on the committee time to review the documents.

Ethics Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. had said a full vetting of extremely wealthy individuals, such as DeVos, could take weeks, if not months, much to the chagrin of Senate Democrats who wanted to review it before DeVos’s confirmation hearing, which took place Tuesday evening.”

(Read the full story on the Washington Post here)

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