Attention higher ed: Here’s what you should know about adult ed back-to-school

As the dog days of summer draw to a close, it’s time to turn our attention to the classroom. “Back to School” season is now in full swing, and students around the country have furiously begun preparing for the upcoming school year. But there are also a number of new and emerging avenues for personal and career development that people are taking advantage of.

Why? Because a growing number of adults are opting instead to pursue education later in life. In 2014 alone, more than 8 million students over the age of 25 were pursuing advanced education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics–and that number is expected to rise to 9.6 million by 2020.

The reasons for these numbers are as varied as the individuals they represent: some may have joined the military at a young age or decided to first save money or start a family, while others may have experienced life transitions like having kids or becoming caretakers of elderly loved ones. For others, pursuing education later in life may have allowed them to undertake passion projects at a younger age.

Finding the Right Learning Fit for Adult Ed

It is easier than ever to design the path of educational growth and development that works for the individual at any age or stage, thanks to an abundance of tools and resources that allow for increased convenience and flexibility.

A variety of programs and platforms exist for skill development, such as online learning and digital tools that focus on teaching new (or developing existing) professional skills. These offerings are also more accessible than ever before, and appeal to modern learners who are looking for new, convenient and cost-effective resources.

Today’s adult ed students also understand that education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition: they value a personalized productivity path. A number of resources are at their disposal, making it possible to craft the curriculum, learning style and schedule that best fit their lives. Such options provide flexibility, allowing for side gigs well as personal projects alongside a primary career, encouraging well-roundedness and emotional fulfillment.

(Next page: Adult ed learning programs and pathways popular right now)


New partnership aims to improve Texas higher ed tech, sustainability

Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT) is partnering with Johnson Controls to assess and evaluate campus-wide infrastructure needs for more than 40 member institution campuses. Through this collaboration, ICUT and Johnson Controls are helping members make campuses safer, smarter and more sustainable.

“We are excited about the opportunities this partnership provides for our members,” said Ray Martinez, ICUT’s President. “This means better access to valuable information about planning facility upgrades, ultra-efficient campus technologies, and programs and tools that make it all possible.”

With a long history of completing more than 3,000 major infrastructure projects in North America, Johnson Controls will provide ICUT members with an array of professional services and training on issues relating to improving aging infrastructure. Members will learn about topics like environmental and energy management programs, campus security, smart technology, and the use of renewables.

“The needs of colleges and universities are shifting to focus on reducing the operational costs of aging buildings and systems,” said Larry Jones, account executive and Performance InfrastructureTM expert at Johnson Controls. “Planning for advancements in technology, security and energy independence is crucial for not only reducing utility costs and improving campus safety and resilience, but also for attracting and retaining students.”

In the past five years, Johnson Controls has invested $15 million in infrastructure renewal programs for higher education institutions nationwide to transform campuses and engage students through experiential learning.

To learn more about how Johnson Controls is helping to improve higher education, go to


These 3 game-based components can increase student achievement-here’s how

Remember the days of Oregon Trail? How about Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? While learning games have been around for decades, technological advancements are creating an entirely more modern gaming experience—one where quality mirrors the digital literacy expectations of today’s student, one that entices the student to play and play again, and one that aligns a game’s outcomes with the goals of the course.

Every game teaches the player something, from the very basics of how to play the game to achieving the game’s objectives, whether it be killing zombies or winning races. As Eli Neiburger points out in the paper “The Deeper Game of Pokémon, or, How the World’s Biggest RPG Inadvertently Teaches 21st Century Kids Everything They Need to Know,” entertainment games are proven to teach very complex skills and knowledge.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, knowing how to kill a zombie or effectively battle Pokémon doesn’t necessarily translate to a useful skill. Below are three key components to successful game-based learning:

1. Mastery: What Level is Acceptable?

Mastery is a key component of measuring what a student has, in fact, learned. What do students receive if they achieve 90 percent mastery? In most situations, they receive an A, yet 10 percent of knowledge has been left on the table. And what about students who receive a B or C?

Consider what happens if students leave knowledge on the table year after year, from elementary school to college. While they may be earning A’s, there is a significant compounding knowledge gap.

Think about this: how would you feel if you knew the pilot who is flying your plane achieved 90 percent mastery? My guess is uncomfortable at best. Now imagine if I told you that the pilot achieved the 90 percent mastery by watching someone else, reading about it, and hearing lectures about it. Are you going to get on that plane? I know I wouldn’t. Yet this passive learning approach is exactly what we are offering students today, and then we wonder why they are not competent in the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

Thankfully, this is not what is happening in the aviation industry. All pilots undergo rigorous hands-on training before they are allowed to fly. The same holds true for engineers, doctors, firefighters, police, and numerous other professionals who participate in experiential learning and on-the-job training before they are considered competent in their fields.

Now, take an experiential learning game. Students simply can’t progress to the next level until they achieve 100 percent mastery of the current level.

(Next page: 2 more components to successful game-based learning)


The affordability trap: How to use tuition to frame IT projects

The excitement of college acceptances is now past for the Class of 2021 and their parents. Conversations have now moved from “Where will I go to college?” to “How are we going to pay for college?” College affordability dominates both discussions on campus and in the general public. With the price tag for four years at an elite private institution approaching a half million dollars, how can it not?

Affordability, however, is only one-half of the equation that should be driving family decision making. The value of the degree is the other half of the equation. Sandy Baum, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, states this reality bluntly—“The amount you can and should pay [for college] depends on what it is that you’re paying for and what you get for that investment.” The value of the investment should not be seen in a limited fashion. Not only should it include the lifetime earnings potential that a particular degree or major imparts, but also it should reflect the knowledge and skills that the student acquires allowing him or her to be a happy and productive member of society.

An Administrative Dilemma

Administratively, we often fall into the same trap of focusing solely on the price of a college degree. If our only goal is to hold the price down, we are led to actions that will reduce costs at the university. In reality, such actions may have the effect of reducing the quality and value of the degree.

If class sizes are increased, class offerings reduced, support services reduced, etc., we may be able to hold down tuition but the value of the degree may fall. In some cases, the result could actually be a tuition increase if the actions increase the number of years required for a student to graduate.

Private universities frequently market against large state universities emphasizing that student at the privates are able to graduate in four years whereas those at the publics cannot. For some universities, raising tuition and fees to fund investments that increase the value of their degrees and to expedite graduation may be a more effective strategy than cost cutting.

A similarly counter-intuitive argument can be made on the student side. Settersten and Ray argued several years ago in their book Not Quite Adults that students are not borrowing too much money for college but rather too little. They reason that students spread college out over six or more years working large numbers of hours to help pay tuition bills. A more effective strategy would be to borrow enough to graduate in four years or earlier thereby entering the job market sooner where a premium is paid for the college degree.

(Next page: Framing IT projects for affordability)


Report: Higher ed leaders reflect on the next 20 years of education technology

Blackboard Inc., an education technology company for teaching, learning and student engagement, released a new white paper exploring the future of higher education.

Based on in-depth interviews with 13 American higher education thought leaders, the white paper “Future Forward: The Next Twenty Years of Higher Education” is being released in conjunction with Blackboard’s 20th anniversary. Blackboard has a longstanding history of partnering with the global education technology community to garner unique insights into their pressing challenges around student access and success.

To compile this new resource, Blackboard asked U.S. higher education leaders to share their insights into what the higher education institution of the future will look like; how other industries will influence higher education; how technology will enable change in the way learning is delivered and assessed; and a variety of other topics.

The following key themes emerged from the interviews and are detailed in the white paper:

  • The current higher education system is unsustainable and ill-suited for a globally connected world that is constantly changing.
  • Colleges and universities will have to change their current business model to continue to thrive, boost revenue and drive enrollment.
  • New technologies will allow faculty to shift their focus to the application of learning rather than the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Data and the ability to transform that data into action will be the new lifeblood of the institution.
  • The heart and soul of any institution are its people. Adopting new technologies is only a small piece of the puzzle; institutions must also work with faculty and staff to change institutional culture

To view the white paper in full, visit

“Blackboard is committed to innovating for an even brighter, more informed future of education. As part of our 20th anniversary, we’re proud to provide the public with this collection of interviews with American higher education leaders on the future of higher education,” said Bill Ballhaus, chairman, president and CEO of Blackboard. “We hope these interviews will spark conversation, learning, and the exchange of ideas about the future of higher education that is so necessary for its advancement.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.


The 1 thing higher ed should really invest in to reach millennials and gen Z

There is a basic truth about the millennial generation that most technology companies and higher education institutions don’t like to hear: they don’t care that much about features. To succeed with millennials on the market and in the classroom, technology must deliver simple connectivity. Period.

The biggest shocker for those who weren’t born between 1982 and 2004 is that expensive, extraneous features aren’t that important to millennial tech natives, as long as its intuitive, relatively inexpensive, and easy-to-use. Quality is great as an addendum, but ultimately, simplicity and familiarity will win every time.

It’s always dangerous to generalize, but, in my experience as a college professor of twenty-somethings, millennials think that much of today’s technology offerings are extraneous. What they don’t want is something expensive with bells and whistles they don’t need. They are a generation who is happy to watch a movie on a tiny iPhone screen rather than on a high-definition, 60-inch television and it’s because they want simple interfaces that allow them to get work done efficiently without a lot of training, or really any training. They want to pop it out of the box and start making calls.

Chucking College and University Bells and Whistles

Higher education institutions often make the mistake of investing in exorbitantly expensive products they don’t need. If the higher ed market really considered the generation it serves, it would make a better cost-benefit analysis.

For example, I use the completely-free Facebook LIVE in all of my classes, while my university has spent thousands of dollars on alternative solutions that are impossible for the average person to use and require an AV tech to launch. My students are familiar with Facebook. They are already on it in their daily lives. It’s free. And, let’s face it, sometimes college students don’t want to get out of bed and get dressed for class. So, Facebook LIVE allows them to never miss a class. As a professor, I am using the technology to adapt to them, instead of having them adapt to me. Remember, I’m the old person in the room, not them.

Millennials don’t want to have to learn something new that doesn’t feel instinctive–nor should they have to. And, ideally, technology shouldn’t need to come with instructions.

Today, if I were the CEO of a tech company, I would immediately buy every engineer an Amazon Dot and tell them to figure it out with no instructions. Even those who are much older wouldn’t have trouble operating it, then, I would say, “That’s how all our tech should operate if we want to meet the demands of the millennial and up-and-coming Generation-Z markets, simultaneously.”

(Next page: The technology that will keeping millennials engaged in class)


Digital textbook rental for students just got an upgrade

iFlipd, the first pay-as-you-go weekly textbook rental platform, has teamed up with McGraw-Hill Education, the learning science company, to allow students to rent select McGraw-Hill Education titles in both print and eBook formats for just $15 a week.  After eight weeks, students are given the option either to own the book or to earn a $50 rebate.

“We’ve spent a lot of time listening to students throughout the country, and understand their need for affordability and choice when it comes to course materials,” said Mark Dorman, president of Higher Education, Professional & International. “We’re excited to be working with iFlipd, as well as other channel partners, to expand the options students have for easily and affordably accessing high-quality McGraw-Hill Education materials to support their success.”

Every rental includes an eBook (accessed immediately on iFlipd) as well as a printed and bound book, if the student desires it.

How does it work for the student?

  • If you rent an eBook for at least eight weeks and don’t order the print book, you will continue to have access to the eBook, plus receive a $50 rebate.
  • If you rent both the eBook and the print book for at least eight weeks, you will continue to have access to the eBook and own the print book.
  • If you return the print book to McGraw-Hill Education, you’ll receive a $50 rebate.

“McGraw-Hill Education continues to innovate in higher education, and this new program makes access to textbooks a lot easier for students,” said Kati Radziwon, iFlipd CEO and founder. “iFlipd also provides greater flexibility for students by offering both a print and ebook for one low weekly price.”

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, iFlipd is a weekly rental platform that allows students to pay for the weeks that they need the textbooks and return them when they are done. In addition to the special $15 per week offer on select titles, all other McGraw-Hill Education print titles will be available for regular rental as part of iFlipd’s weekly model.

To learn more about the pilot program, please visit:

An example of the eBook+Print Access is available here.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


5 ways the cloud is building the University of the Future

The goal for any higher education institution is the same: attract, retain and graduate quality students. However, the way students seek and complete their education is changing. The future of higher education depends upon adapting to these changes. To be the college or university of the future – a modern, competitive institution that provides the best for its students – leaders in higher education need to know what will make prospective students choose them, what will give existing students a reason to stay and ultimately, what will make students successful.

At the 2016 annual EDUCAUSE conference, Huron asked more than 110 IT professionals in higher education to explain how their institution is using technology to prepare for the future. While many respondents said cloud technology was a key step in transforming their institution, many also explained how the cloud will have a significant impact on student experience and success.

Here are five reasons from IT professionals why the University of the Future rests within the cloud.

1. Cloud Enables Institutions to Meet Student Expectations

Forty-six percent of Huron’s survey respondents listed “user expectations” as one of the greatest challenges facing IT leaders in higher education. These high expectations are based on the students’ daily experiences with personal devices. In a world where everything is accessible at the touch of a screen, IT leaders know a clunky, hard-to-use legacy system students can’t understand and hate to use simply isn’t going to make the grade. A key step to building the university of the future is using the cloud to create positive user experiences for students.

2. Early Cloud Adoption Puts Institutions Ahead

Most institutions and their IT leaders recognize that to build the university of the future, they must start the cloud migration process early. Seventy-five percent of Huron’s survey respondents said their institution is moving to the cloud, or would be within the next 12 months. With so many institutions making the move, those that don’t adopt a modern technology infrastructure risk being left behind. Late cloud adoption can negatively affect colleges and universities in two ways: First, the lack of modern technology will make it even more difficult for institutions to attract prospective students. Second, those institutions will struggle to retain and graduate existing students. By implementing the cloud, an institution not only invests in the success of its students, but in the success of the institution itself. It is in the best interest of colleges and universities to start cloud adoption early.

(Next page: 3 more ways the cloud is building the University of the Future)


13 strategic technologies to keep on your fall semester radar

Technologies for planning and mapping students’ educational plans, along with mobile app development, are among the top strategic technologies covered in EDUCAUSE’s 2017 Integrated Planning for Advising and Student Success (iPASS) trends and technologies report.

The report examines higher ed’s top strategic technology priorities. Strategic technologies are newer compared to mature and commonly-deployed technologies such as financial information systems, and these newer technologies are the technologies on which institutions will likely spend most of their time implementing, planning, and tracking this year.

None of the 13 iPASS technologies in the report are currently in place in more than 30 percent of institutions, according to the report.

Student success has for the first time risen to the top 10 issues included in the annual survey of strategic technologies, due in part to a nationwide urgency to address the too-high levels of students who leave their institution without obtaining degrees or certifications.

(Next page: The 13 strategic technologies you’ll want to keep an eye on this fall semester)


This admissions fiasco shows that predicting enrollment isn’t an exact science

A flood of students unexpectedly accepted admission offers. A University of California campus was caught off guard. Administrators scoured the files of the admitted and took a hard line on those who had failed to meet paperwork deadlines. They withdrew more than 500 offers, causing a furor.

The year was 2015, the campus Santa Cruz.

The storm that UC Irvine recently unleashed when it took a similar approach to overenrollment was unusual but hardly unheard of on the nation’s college campuses. Experts say the two UC cases and others like them at Temple University in Philadelphia and St. Mary’s College of Maryland underscore the vagaries of enrollment prediction — a discipline that aims to meld the science of data analysis with the guesswork of anticipating teenage whims.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo also miscalculated its numbers this year, with about 700 more students saying yes to its offers than expected. One curveball was a campus decision to eliminate the option for students to make an early, binding commitment to enroll, which boosts their chances of admission but was seen as advantageous to the wealthier ones who did not need to wait for financial aid packages.

(Next: What universities are doing about enrollment prediction)