What does it really take to build a flourishing online learning program?

More than half of higher education institutions participating in a new survey offer at least one fully online program, and an additional one-third offer hybrid programs or online courses.

The new report updates a 2013 report that was a joint project of The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and The Learning House, Inc.

The number of institutions offering no online or hybrid courses or programs is declining. The report predicts soon will be in the single digits as a proportion of all institutions.

More institutions now offer online programs, and the number of programs offered also is increasing. Comparing data from the 2013 and 2016 surveys, the proportion of institutions that offered five or more fully online programs increased from 15 percent to 25 percent.

“No matter the modality, students are starting to expect flexibility to not just be an option but the norm in their educational experience,” according to the report. “Online or on ground, technology is pervading the classroom.”

The updated survey also reveals how more CIC member institutions have overcome barriers that in 2013 prevented them from increasing online course or program offerings.

More than 80 percent of surveyed CIC member institutions said they experienced barriers to online learning, including lack of acceptance of online instruction by faculty, as well as it requiring a greater amount of faculty time and effort to instruct online. But the 2016 report shows that fewer than half of those surveyed said those barriers still exist for them.

One of the major reasons that less barriers exist is due to the availability of more robust wireless solutions, says St. Edward’s University of Austin, Texas. Read more about their experience here.

A new Wi-Fi performance boost could also help pave the way for stronger online programs. Read more here.

(Next page: 12 recommendations to build a strong online program)

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EDUCAUSE and University of Central Florida enable blended learning innovation

Recently, EDUCAUSE and the University of Central Florida (UCF) announced the availability of BlendKit2017: Becoming a Blended Learning Designer, a five-week course developed to provide facilitated assistance to faculty members and instructional designers in developing and designing blended courses. The MOOC is the fifth iteration of the EDUCAUSE and UCF partnership.

BlendKit2017 will be facilitated by UCF Center for Distributed Learning instructional designers Dr. Baiyun Chen and Ms. Sue Bauer. The course is free and open to any learners. Course registrants can also elect to participate in a low-cost certification track, which includes a full portfolio review and, upon completion, offers a certificate from EDUCAUSE and UCF and a digital badge.

The course also includes:
● Expert and peer assessment and critique on design work
● Blogging and social networking interaction opportunities
● Weekly webinars with guest presenters
● Document templates and practical step-by-step “how to” guides
● Interactive activities for institutional groups participating together

The program encourages institutional cohorts—making it possible for faculty and staff from the same college or university to participate in BlendKit2017 as a shared experience. Institutions with faculty cohorts receive custom coaching in strategies to extend the impact of BlendKit after the course. Continuing education units (CEUs) are also available. Details on local cohort options are available at http://bit.ly/blendkitlocal_recording.

A short on the BlendKit course speaking to the course design and participant experience can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2lv5y69.

The BlendKit2017 course begins Feb. 27, 2017, and registration is currently open on Canvas Network at https://www.canvas.net/courses/becoming-a-blended-learning-designer-3. Those interested in the course can also follow along on Twitter at #BlendKit2017.

About The University of Central Florida
America’s Partnership University: The University of Central Florida, one of the nation’s largest universities with more than 64,000 students, has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation in its first 50 years. Today, the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region’s future while providing students with real-world experiences that help them succeed after graduation. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.

About EDUCAUSE
EDUCAUSE is a higher education technology association with a membership of more than 2,300 colleges, universities, and educational organizations, including over 350 corporations. The organization has an estimated 68,000 active members in over 40 countries. The EDUCAUSE annual conference is considered one of the best technology conferences in higher education. EDUCAUSE holds over 20 face-to-face events each year that reach approximately 11,500 individuals, with thousands more involved in online events. The association produces various publications for its members including the award-winning EDUCAUSE Review, with a bimonthly print circulation of 22,000 and online unique monthly views of 100,000.

About Instructure
Instructure Inc. is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company that makes software that makes people smarter. With a vision to help maximize the potential of people through technology, Instructure created Canvas and Bridge to enable organizations everywhere to easily develop, deliver, and manage engaging face-to-face and online learning experiences. To date, Instructure has connected millions of teachers and learners at more than 1,600 educational institutions and corporations throughout the world. Learn more about Canvas for higher ed and K-12, and Bridge for the corporate market at www.Instructure.com.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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3 tech hacks that help universities cut costs (not students)

It’s no secret that cost control is a hot topic for colleges and universities across the country. Following the 2008 recession, most states have struggled with limited budgets and have had to make difficult decisions that, at times, have included reducing funding for education. In fact, 46 states spent less per student in 2016 than they did before the recession.

Who really suffers as a result of these funding cuts? Students. It’s simple math: As funding decreases, tuition often climbs. Specifically, since 2008, tuition has risen 33 percent for colleges and universities across the United States. Arizona’s tuition rates have increased the most, jumping 72 percent between 2008 and 2014.

But let’s face it: Institutions can only raise tuition fees so high before it begins to affect enrollment, which drops as fewer students are able to foot the bill. And because developing students is the basic premise of higher education, the situation seems pretty clear—colleges need a better way to manage costs.

Growing by Reducing

In an ongoing attempt to balance budgets, colleges and universities have cut courses and reduced or eliminated certain student programs. Some universities have pushed individual departments to find ways to generate funds in order to stay afloat, while some may be surviving through endowments or grants. Others have had to increase their fee-based services, such as research or consulting.

Labor is, of course, one of the biggest costs for any university. To reduce these expenses, colleges have gone so far as to eliminate positions, suspend salary increases, implement furloughs, and enact hiring freezes.

While many of these initiatives have been effective, the world of higher education continues to seek ways to maintain (or even increase) the services they provide without raising tuition and other costs. Many in the industry have found that the answer to this quandary lies in technology.

3 Ways Technology Can Control Costs

When it comes to today’s technology, campus leaders and department heads are quickly learning that its benefits go far beyond the classroom. Here are three time-saving, cost-cutting tech hacks colleges can implement to drastically affect their bottom line:

1. Online Scheduling: Streamlining Once-Tedious Communications

Today’s web-based software as a service (SaaS) applications don’t require you to purchase additional hardware; you just need an internet connection. They also tend to have low monthly fees, allowing departments to make software buying and funding decisions without having to seek approval outside of their departments.

Chief among SaaS applications that reduce labor costs is online appointment scheduling software.

Academic advising, financial aid, testing centers, student housing, and other departments all schedule student appointments frequently. Most colleges and universities still handle this task the traditional way: Students either call or email the department to book an appointment, which starts the back-and-forth process of trying to find a date and time that works for both parties. It’s inefficient and labor-intensive.

Taking your department’s scheduling to the internet solves this problem by allowing students to book appointments themselves—no calling or emailing necessary. The result? Labor cost savings for your team and time saved for everyone involved.

(Next page: 2 more ways technology can cut costs)

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Will universities be responsible for the success of cities?

According to researchers around the world, there is increasing momentum from some of the world’s most innovative universities to align curriculum, research and overall mission to city development that specifically focuses on technology-based systems and services. In other words, progressive higher education is linking itself more than ever to the Internet of Everything.

Read more about how colleges and universities are better aligning to IoT here.

The research is part of a special edition issue from Knowledge Management & E-Learning (KM&EL), which presents nine cases of higher education’s alignment to “smart cities of the future,” including cities in Italy, India, the U.S., Russia, Japan, Pakistan, Tanzania, South Africa, and Canada.

Read more about smart college and university buildings here.

In an introduction by Dr. Fanny Klett, director of the German Workforce Advanced Distributed Learning Partnership Laboratory, and Dr. Minhong Wang, associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong, and director of the Knowledge Managing & E-Learning Lab, the authors explain the concept of a smart city as any city utilizing technology as a critical enabler to solve rising urbanization issues and improve the cities’ environments according to a set of priorities (usually through initiatives such as e-Home, e-Office, e-Government, e-Health, e-Education and e-Traffic) to create a common framework for the city’s performance.

Smart cities currently thriving include those in Barcelona, Chicago, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Yokohama, as well as many in India. In fact, the Indian government plans to develop 100 smart cities by 2022, with an economic value of the Digital India initiative estimated to be $600 billion over the next 10 years.

However, the only chance for a smart city’s success, note the authors, is to ensure that its citizens are motivated, and enabled, to be a driver for these innovations. This motivation hinges on businesses’ and academia’s willingness and readiness “to modernize their approach to the citizen’s inclusion and immersion in education and services in the fast changing conditions of the global market;” specifically, in developing collaborative and tech-based skills.

In the U.S., many smart city initiatives “address the challenge of developing a highly educated workforce and creating more jobs,” write the authors. For example, enabled by an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, Chicago integrated career and technical education, building a pipeline from high school to college to employment, and creating the Roadmap for Career and Technical Education.

(Next page: 9 examples of higher education’s pipeline for smart cities)

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Amazon partners with state for new cybersecurity education pipeline

Governor McAuliffe recently announced a new strategic relationship between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Virginia Cyber Range that will expand the reach of the initiative and help make Virginia a national resource for cybersecurity education. AWS will join the Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Tech to support scalable cloud infrastructure and collaborate on cybersecurity educational efforts, enabling the Cyber Range with both content and a closed network for hands-on exercises, competitions, and other simulations.

“Partnerships between the private sector and our academic institutions are critical to solving the cyber workforce challenge,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Creation of the Cyber Range is just one example of the steps that the Commonwealth of Virginia is taking to position the state as a leader in cybersecurity. In Virginia and across the country, businesses, governments, and private individuals are impacted by the growing threat of cyber-attacks. We need a capable workforce that understands these swiftly changing threats and is ready to mount an agile defense against them.”

By using AWS, the virtual facility will be well positioned to provide Virginia educators access to cybersecurity courseware, as well as a hands-on laboratory environment for students. A variety of innovative Capture-the-Flag (CTF) competition environments will round out the lab infrastructure, creating a virtual training ground to hone students’ defensive and offensive cybersecurity skills. In addition, AWS may provide mentorship or internship possibilities for student participants.

“This collaboration is critical to our ability to scale up our offerings and provide infrastructure across the Commonwealth,” said David Raymond, director of the Virginia Cyber Range. Raymond, in cooperation with cybersecurity experts from nine Virginia colleges and universities, began developing this state-of-the-art platform for cybersecurity education in fall 2016. Virginia Tech is the lead institution for the Cyber Range effort. “Our goal is to support Governor McAuliffe’s vision of making Virginia a leading source of cybersecurity expertise.”

Currently, the Cyber Range is supporting hands-on exercises and educational content for over 250 students in three courses at two different Virginia colleges. Additional courses are in development, and more courses across the Commonwealth will use the Cyber Range during fall 2017. The initial focus of the Virginia Cyber Range is to serve Virginia colleges and universities, but will expand to serve high school students, starting with support for student and teacher cybersecurity camps this summer.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this important initiative in Virginia, which is one we hope will spark similar programs across the country,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector for AWS. “It’s critical that we have a skilled cybersecurity workforce to meet the growing demands of the field. Security is ‘job zero’ for us at AWS, and we are excited to help inspire the next generation of cyber experts.”

Capabilities of the Cyber Range will be on display at the Commonwealth’s inaugural Cyber Fusion event and Virginia Cyber Cup Challenge on February 24-25 at Virginia Military Institute. Student cybersecurity teams from Virginia’s universities and community colleges have been invited to compete in the Capture the Flag exercise, to be hosted by the Virginia Cyber Range. The winning team will leave with the Virginia Cyber Cup, a traveling trophy indicating their mastery across a range of cyber-related skills.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Report: Millions of students reveal surprising online learning trends

In perfect timing with Digital Learning Day, international social learning platform GoConqr surveyed over 2.5 million students and teachers currently using the platform from over 160 countries last year (2016) to better understand their online learning habits and how learning is changing in general.

According to the report, which surveyed students and teachers ranging from secondary to postgraduate levels, the biggest online learning trends encompassed behaviors in collaborative learning, mobile learning, types of subjects studied, active learning patterns, and differences in learning and teaching styles.

Some of the key findings of the report reveal that students and teachers are using online platforms as an additional source to help with subjects either not taught under general education curriculum, or are subjects considered difficult to learn and therefore require more time to learn at a personalized pace.

Also, despite the prevalence of social networking, online study tends to be a solitary activity, with 79 percent of those surveyed choosing not to study collaboratively when they are online. However, this percentage is decreasing over time as traditional learning methods are being replaced with online and blended teaching styles.

According to Dualta Moore, GoConqr’s CEO, the increasing application of technology—not only in the classroom, but in the whole process of learning, study and revision—raises the question of whether, in the coming years, “after school study will continue to be a largely solitary task” or, on the other hand, “the increasing popularity of online educational resources and study groups will increase collaborative learning “.

GoConqr’s poll of millions of students and teachers across the globe revealed interesting findings across a number of areas, including:

Geography

  • The U.S. has the most variety in eLearning tools
  • The U.K. has the strongest focus on science-based subjects
  • Germany has the top viewers of peer content: 72 percent of German users view other peoples’ resources
  • Columbia has the top creators of content: 93 percent of Columbians create their own resources
  • Brazil has study groups with the largest number of people: +30 percent are members of a group
  • The U.A.E. has the highest percentage of mobile users: 77 percent
  • Australia has the most active study groups: 22 percent of those in study groups contribute regularly

(Next page: Fascinating online learning trends from the report)

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How the trust gap works against minority students’ higher-ed aspirations

A “trust gap” that begins in middle school may render students less likely to attend college, even if they succeed academically, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.

The research, published in the journal Child Development, focuses on middle school students of color who lose trust in their teachers due to perceptions of mistreatment from school authorities.

Researchers said low expectations from teachers, couple with wide-ranging differences in discipline for misbehavior, contribute to the disproportionate mistreatment of African American and Latino youths in schools across the United States. When these students perceive and experience such biases, it can lead to a growing mistrust of authority–a trust gap, researchers said.

“When students have lost trust, they may be deprived of the benefits of engaging with an institution, such as positive relationships and access to resources and opportunities for advancement,” said UT Austin assistant professor of psychology David Yeager. “Thus, minority youth may be twice harmed by institutional injustices.”

In their study, Yeager and researchers from UT Austin, Columbia University and Stanford University examined 483 U.S. middle school students’ perceptions of their teachers’ impartiality and how those attitudes related to any disciplinary treatment they received and to the likelihood of on-time enrollment at a four-year college.

(Next page: How the trust gap contributes to minority students’ academic challenges)

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Will higher edtech, innovation really change under Trump?

The tumultuous early weeks of the Trump administration have produced plenty of headlines and controversy, but almost nothing on higher education. The nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has only recently been confirmed, and given her background in K-12, higher education was not a major theme of her Senate hearing. The announcement of a task force to reform higher ed, to be led by Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell, Jr., gave little detail about its policy priorities or objectives, but remains the young administration’s only substantive action on higher ed to date.

Last year’s electoral campaign and executive actions in the early weeks of the administration, however, offer some insight into education priorities, pointing attention—and, potentially, funding—toward workforce development and institutional accountability. Neither area is a major departure from longstanding trends in higher education, but the administration’s emphasis will create opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Opportunity: Educating America’s Workforce

Throughout the campaign, then-candidate Trump made restoring manufacturing jobs a centerpiece of his platform. Early executive orders and announcements have reiterated this theme, suggesting that it will remain a focus of his administration.

The president typically casts his jobs message as a warning to U.S. manufacturers who outsource supply lines and production facilities to foreign countries. He has also repeatedly spoken of restricting the flow of immigrants who might compete with American workers. He has not, however, emphasized automation or the increasing skill requirements for workers in growth sectors such as technology, advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

Nonetheless, these latter trends are greater contributors to the stagnation that has dimmed the career prospects for many American workers and must be key considerations for any effective job creation plan.

Regardless of the causes, education will be essential to the solution. Upskilling and retraining programs create a virtuous cycle, encouraging corporate and government investments in new factories by bolstering the preparation and potential of local workforces. EdTech that supports flexible delivery models and decreases time (and cost) to marketable credentials—such as CBE, micro-credentialing and experiential learning platforms—will provide critical infrastructure to retrain and strengthen the U.S. workforce.

Tools that align educational opportunities with employer demand for specific skills and expertise will continue to gain attention and investment dollars for their systems that provide better data to help students and coaches personalize learning experiences and pathways to credentials.

(Next page: More innovation opportunities under Trump?)

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Students develop game-changing software for football teams

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.

Check below for the latest marketplace news to keep you up-to-date on product developments, teaching and learning initiatives, and new trends in education.

STEM

It’s first and goal for Eric Wilson, a senior at Saint Anselm College who, with his business partner, has developed software that could revolutionize the way football teams are coached and practice plays. The technology, “MentalRep,” from Eric Wilson, a computer science business major from Dover, N.H., and Harris Williams, a Boston College graduate from Lynn, Mass., turns a coach’s two-dimensional playbook with its X’s, O’s and arrows into an interactive video-based simulation; a game-like bird’s-eye-view animation that replicates teams on the field, complete with team colors and player numbers. Read more.

Leveraging the immense popularity of the hit movie “Hidden Figures,” the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has launched a nationwide campaign titled #BlackSTEMLikeMe. This unique multimedia initiative is aiming to encourage black students and professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to share their stories and passions; bring visibility to the important work they are doing; show black boys and girls that a future in STEM is an incredible and attainable career path; demonstrate the value of NSBE membership and celebrate the unique, wonderful and life-changing aspects of the African-American community — past and present. Read more.

Next page: More marketplace technology news

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