We’re really excited to introduce you to The Knowledge Project Podcast, which explores ideas that help expand your mind, live deliberately, and master the best of what other people have already figured out. Produced by Shane Parris of Farnam Street, an organization that helps people develop an understanding of how the world really works, the podcast covers everything from decision making to living life more fully. It features interviews about science and the humanities that will help you connect ideas and explore meaning.
Episode 42: The Path to Perpetual Progress: My Interview with Atul Gawande— Surgeon, writer, and researcher Atul Gawande shares lessons about creating a culture of safe learning, the critical difference between a coach and a mentor, and how to ensure constant improvement in key areas of your personal and professional life.
Episode 39: Thinking About Thinking: My Conversation with Tyler Cowen — Parris chats with Tyler Cowen, economics professor, author, and creator of Marginal Revolution blog, about tech advances, the changing labor market, and upgrading your thinking process to accommodate the information age.
Available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, this is a can’t-miss podcast.
[Editor’s Note: eCampus News will be featuring a higher ed podcast every Friday. Send your favorites to email@example.com.]
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is reimaging the traditional conception of college as the middle ground between high school and the workplace. In a merger with LRNG, a non-profit that serves disadvantaged youth populations, SNHU will work with cities and employers to develop innovative learning and workforce solutions.
The ambitious effort will reach out to both pre-college and older learners, offer opportunities to youth from low-income backgrounds to become more engaged with their studies and help them transition into rewarding careers. LRNG was chosen, in part, because of its groundbreaking platforms that use micro-credentials, badges, and playlists as part of the learning sequences.
“I told our team that we had to build a learning platform that accommodates an 11th-grader working on her associate’s degree as easily as it accommodates a 60-year-old formerly incarcerated adult working on his GED or high school diploma,” says Paul LeBlanc, president of SNHU.
Preparation has already begun in Chicago and Birmingham, Alabama, with plans to be fully operational in both cities by next summer. LeBlanc says that cities provide the ideal amount of scale for these solutions compared to the complexities of designing a statewide strategy.
In a public-private partnership that could signal the future of higher education, the University of Memphis has teamed up with FedEx Express on a new initiative that will give more than 11,000 FedEx employees the opportunity to earn a tuition-free degree from UofM Global, the university’s online learning program.
All employees who work at the FedEx Memphis World Hub are eligible to participate in the “Learning inspired by FedEx” (LiFE) program as long as they remain in good academic standing. Employees can choose from among more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered by UofM Global, and FedEx will pay the full cost of tuition.
The program is a “win-win-win” for everyone involved, advocates say. Employees have an opportunity to advance their education (and possibly their careers), while the company inspires loyalty among its workers, which should result in higher retention—and the university adds a major new source of tuition revenue.
Richard Irwin, dean of UofM Global, says he believes the future of higher education depends on how well colleges and universities can serve adult students who are returning to school. Toward this end, UofM Global offers a number of resources designed specifically to support returning adult students and ensure their success—and the LiFE program can serve as a model for other institutions to follow.
Here are five key lessons that higher-ed leaders can take from the program as they aim to serve returning adults students at their own institutions more effectively online.
1. Assess students’ readiness for online learning.
Before adult students begin their courses, UofM Global measures their readiness for online learning through an initiative called Smart Start. It’s a home-grown assessment that takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and it asks students about their technical knowledge, what type of device they’ll be using, whether they have Wi-Fi access at home, and when they plan to complete their course work, among other questions.
Mentoring is one of the pillars of Indiana State University (ISU). The school offers an assortment of both formal and informal options, including programs that serve distinct student populations. Others involve peer mentoring or drawing on an axis of faculty-staff-alumni to lend their guidance and support.
After winning a five-year, $2.38 million dollar grant in September from the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive Strengthening Institution Program, ISU is amping up to enlarge its mentoring opportunities.
Research has shown the transformative effects of mentoring on students, especially for those who come from impoverished backgrounds. “Relationships matter,” says Josh Powers, associate vice president for student success at ISU. “That is at the core of mentoring. It’s particularly important for marginalized students to feel like they matter and someone is investing in them.”
Exact numbers are hard to come by, but Powers estimates that at least one-third of ISU students have taken advantage of a mentoring program at one time or another. For example, Destination Success, in the College of Technology, uses faculty and outside alumni to mentor women in technology; the Mentoring Assistance Program (MAPS), run by the African American Cultural Center, helps minority students complete their education.
Many student success initiatives in higher education focus on meeting the needs of students who are most at risk of dropping out. Loyola University New Orleans has flipped this script by giving every first-year student personalized coaching—and the percentage of students who return for their second year is now at an all-time high.
“We believe deeply that any student can enhance their experience through these kinds of conversations,” says Director of Student Success Elizabeth Rainey.
The university had been coaching students on how to be successful through its own home-grown effort, but this program was by referral only, Rainey says—and it was clear that “we needed some formal training on a model with a proven track record, so that students received a consistently high-quality experience.”
Improving the process
For the 2017-18 academic year, the university partnered with a company called InsideTrack to help with its student coaching, and it expanded the program to include all first-year students.
InsideTrack coached about 300 of the university’s 800 first-year students by phone, email, and text messaging last year, and the company also trained university staff how to be student coaches for the other 500 first-year students. This year, two full-time university staff members and several volunteers do all of the student coaching, while InsideTrack conducts monthly training with staff to ensure success.
Social media is such a big part of our culture. Pew Research estimates that about 70 percent of the U.S. population uses social media in some form or another (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat), and that number is greatest in the 18- to 29-year-old age group (about 80 percent).
So if this is where my students are, I want to be there too—but in a professional way. I use a combination of my professional Twitter and Instagram accounts to stay connected with my students. In all of my classes, my students have a class assignment to create a professional Twitter and Instagram account. I don’t require them to post but I do require that they search for the class hashtag and check out the articles and information that I share. I also recommend that they follow the professional accounts I follow. I keep it pretty simple, but students often mention that they love getting connected to the educational professionals I follow and they like that I retweet posts from various university organizations.
I encourage my students to create a professional online presence. I tell them that they will be Googled by their prospective employers (when I was hiring teachers I would Google applicants all the time) and having a social media presence that presents them as a professional is very impressive. This is an easy way to connect to my students and also to bring them into the field of education.
We are in the business of creating smart, responsible, and well-connected professionals, and modeling a strong professional social media presence is a great way to teach this skill set. Check out my examples below.
If you have questions or comments or just want to see what I’m doing in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @careyingle and instagram @teachingandlearningwdringle.
[Editor’s Note: See previous Better Teaching Thru Tech columns here.]
Higher ed leaders: You have the opportunity to be at the forefront. Most companies are focused on millennials, but they should pay attention to Generation Z (Gen Z).
Gen Z, the oldest of whom are 23, are accustomed to scrolling, clicking, and monitoring social media for their news and to help them make decisions. When competing to earn the attention of these prospective students, you’ll need to execute strategies that set you apart from the crowd across social channels. Lynn Morton, strategy director at digital marketing agency R2i, specializes in working with higher education marketing teams. eCampus News talked with Morton about how to best target Gen Z.
Fact: Gen Z is a true digital generation.
“Gen Z has grown up in a post-9/11 world with unlimited digital access,” says Morton. “Recent data shows that they have an 8-second attention span, which is 3 seconds less than previous generations.”
What this means for higher ed: Because this generation is so digitally involved, you have to think mobile first: phones and TVs—not laptops and desktops. If the actions you want them to take aren’t easily accessible on mobile, they will leave. Everything from filling out forms to registering for classes needs to be quick and easy. Break larger tasks down into bite-size chunks and don’t deliver all the information at once.
This week’s podcast, Teaching Matters, is all about the students. Produced by WOUB Public Media and available on iTunes, Google Play, and NPR One, it covers 21st-century learning and teaching. The topics include how higher ed must adapt to millennial expectations, redesigning classrooms to promote learning, and the excuses students give for being absent.
Hosted by Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, Teaching Matters also focuses on how teachers can update their practice to reach this tech-savvy audience. New episodes are released every Tuesday, and archived episodes are at WOUB Digital.
[Editor’s Note: eCampus News will be featuring a higher ed podcast every Friday. Send your favorites to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
EDUCAUSE is, at least in my experience, traditionally attended by and filled with content from mostly white men, so it was very refreshing to see an all-female panel offering advice for fellow women aspiring to leadership roles in IT.
The session addressed issues such as conscious and unconscious gender bias, how to identify role models and mentors, and how to build the skills necessary to lead an IT team.
The topic comes at a time of heightened tensions around gender bias and sexual harassment in the IT field, and the conversation was especially timely given the atmosphere of outspoken protest against gender inequality. Tech giant Google has faced huge internal backlash and an international employee walkout over the way it has handled–or hasn’t handled–accusations of sexual harassment against male executives.
Celeste Schwartz, vice president for information technology and chief digital officer at Montgomery County Community College and 2018 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award Recipient
Sue Workman, vice president for university technology/CIO at Case Western Reserve University
Sharon Pitt, vice president for information technologies at the University of Delaware
Melissa Woo, senior vice president for IT and CIO, Stony Brook University
Moderator Steven Burrell, VPIT and CIO at Northern Arizona University, offered up a mix of pre-populated questions and audience-submitted questions.
1. Women continue to face significant obstacles on the path to IT leadership roles. What activities, initiatives, and efforts are particularly effective at raising awareness and creating positive change in diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Pitt: “At my own institution, I’m pleased that some folks within my organization started a Women in Technology group. As much as possible, I try to engage in diversity activities that happen [around me]. I think there’s a lot we can do, and you’d be surprised how the smallest effort has such a big impact, such as asking my staff to participate in HR activities around understanding and privilege.”