Educational simulations are on the rise

Educational simulations are trending, with more and more institutions using simulations to teach and evaluate skills.

Backed by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Excelsior College has worked with Polk State College to develop simulations to teach and then assess key skills in power generation and advanced manufacturing to prepare technicians for the workplace.

Excelsior College was the first online college to receive this NSF grant, which helps technicians with occupation-specific training and certification in the energy and manufacturing industries.

Related content: Why simulations (not VR) are the next big thing in education

Using educational simulations can help close current gaps in teaching skills and assessing learning, and can help ensure workforce readiness.


This infographic breaks down the top 10 worst data breaches

Cybersecurity education is increasingly important in a tech-based world, and for good reason. Some of the worst data breaches have exposed exceptionally sensitive information and have higlighted the need for a steady crop of trained experts to combat these threats.

Cybersecurity experts at Purdue University Global predict that 2019 is on track to be the worst year for data breaches.

In fact, the number of data breaches in the first six months of 2019 is up 54 percent compared to the same period in 2018, and the number of exposed data records is up by 52 percent, according to a report from Risk Based Security. In those six months, more than 3,800 data breaches were reported, exposing more than 4.1 billion records.

Many organizations hire full-time “ethical hackers,” or “white hats,” to monitor what has become a constant threat of attack and cybersecurity breach. Instead of trying to steal information from computers and exploit it for themselves, ethical hackers help companies find holes in security, close back door access, and plug gaps in cybersecurity. Ethical hackers hack an organization’s systems to come up with recommendations to protect against such threats. They also try to replicate some of the destructive techniques a real cyberattack might employ, and they teach company leaders and employees how to protect sensitive information.

“Companies and government agencies can’t fill IT security positions fast enough,” says Dr. Rhonda Chicone, a professor of IT and and a veteran IT professional. “We need a pipeline of qualified, well-rounded IT professionals to protect the intellectual property of these organizations.”

The need for cybersecurity education is larger than ever. A recently-released set of cybersecurity curriculum recommendations aims to improve postsecondary cybersecurity education and produce graduates ready to fill alarming workforce gaps.


Veterans say non-degree credentials pay off

Veterans without degrees are much more likely to hold non-degree credentials than their non-veteran peers, according to a survey.

Those non-degree credentials provide meaningful financial returns: veterans with certificates or certifications earn an average of $10,000 more per year than veterans with no postsecondary credentials.

Related content: Non-degree credentials play a pivotal role in our economy

Prior research has shown that the skills and knowledge veterans gain in the military are often under-recognized and undervalued by civilian employers. Veterans in particular are harmed by the lack of recognition and transparency of non-degree credentials.

The new report from Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation, “Veterans Without Degrees: The Benefits and Opportunities of Certificates and Certifications,” draws on veterans’ perspectives to understand the value of non-degree credentials as a means of translating military-based learning and the civilian labor market.


5 things impeding students’ ability to choose a college major

College students, especially those in Generation Z, struggle to pick a college major, increasing the time and cost associated with obtaining a degree, according to a new study from Ellucian.

Many incoming students are not confident in their career path and nearly two-thirds of students say they feel overwhelmed by the process of selecting a major. This leads students to change their majors without understanding the ramifications–they wind up taking unnecessary courses and delaying their expected graduation, sometimes by multiple semesters.

Related content: Here’s how students pick a college major

Students are looking for more support when choosing a major, selecting courses that work towards completion and transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution. While students most often turn to advisers for help, pathways approaches can simplify choices for students by providing structured, clear paths through college coursework and on to the start of their careers. Additionally, personalized technology tools can ensure that students have clarity into their individual goals and the requirements needed to achieve them.


6 new findings about food insecurity on campus

Rising tuition and massive student loans are regulars in news headlines, but a lesser-known plight is plaguing students at campuses across the nation. Food insecurity is an increasingly difficult challenge for many college students, and it leads to poor academic performance and an inability to balance the demands of school, work, and family, according to a new study.

Studying on Empty: A Qualitative Study of Low Food Security Among College Students, from Trellis Company, explores the lived experiences of students with food insecurity, how students cope with its challenges, and how these strategies influence academic performance.

Related content: How technology can help solve food insecurity on campus

The report reveals common drivers of food insecurity at the collegiate level and also highlights promising practices for supporting students with low food security.


6 reasons students are choosing online learning

Today’s younger generation is growing up in an ever-changing, fast-paced world of technology. It is easier than ever to disseminate knowledge—and students are used to having access to information and services immediately. This immediate access is one of the drivers behind online learning’s popularity.

More students are turning to online learning, and it begs the question: Will universities eventually become redundant?

Related content: 7 new online learning trends

Forbes has estimated that by 2025, online learning will be worth $325 billion. It’s clear that online learning is likely to retain its popularity for the long term, and there are many reasons behind this likelihood.

1. Variety
Although brick-and-mortar universities have come to offer a more diverse range of subjects over the last few decades, choices are sometimes limited compared to what is available online. Some subject areas may only briefly be covered in modules, if not at all.


Schools need mental health training on campus

This August, two major research reports focused on the need for mental health training on campus. One surveys college presidents, and the other surveys college students. What these reports have in common may surprise you.

What college presidents want

Mental health training on campus is a recurring theme in College Student Mental Health and Well-Being: A Survey of College Presidents, published in August by the American Council of Education. The report surveyed 400 college and university presidents on mental health:
• Compared to three years ago, 81 percent of presidents say student mental health on their campus has become more of a priority.
• Among presidents, virtually all (99 percent) said it is very important or moderately important for presidents to understand the issues related to college student mental health, but only 35 percent feel very knowledgeable.
• Only 30 percent of presidents said that yes, they have all the tools they need to address college student mental health concerns.

These responses represent a gap among mental health needs, current knowledge, and tools needed to close that gap. Digging deeper into what additional resources would be of value, the report cites that “over one-quarter of presidents said professional development and training for themselves or training directed at specific campus groups like faculty, staff, students, executive leaders, and board members” would be of value.

Related content: Student wellbeing is transformative

Additionally, 60 percent of presidents strongly agree that staff are spending more time addressing student mental health concerns compared to three years ago. And about half of that, 32 percent, strongly agree that faculty are spending more time. “We need training to be able to identify someone who may be experiencing a mental health episode or breakdown and strategies to assist that individual,” one president wrote.


3 initiatives that form a path to sustainability

As higher education costs rise, and as many small colleges struggle with sustainability, institutional leaders are faced with tough challenges. How can we best deal with and overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of sustainability? How do colleges help existing students graduate, attract new students and align resources with institutional priorities? We recently faced this dilemma at Drury University.

Founded in 1873, Springfield, Missouri-based Drury University is a private institution in the Midwest. Its 90-acre campus in the historic part of the city serves 3,359 students who have access to more than 70 majors and programs, 39 minors and five graduate programs as well as a robust study abroad program with a satellite campus on the Greek island of Aegina and partnerships with educational institutions across the world. With our high impact learning style and 13:1 student to faculty ratio, every student gets the support they need.

Related content: Do your campus sustainability solutions stack up?

But as a small school, we faced the challenges of sustainability. This tenuous situation sparked our focus to identify opportunities and overcome challenges that hold back sustainability. Embracing our motto of “Go Beyond” has garnered positive results in the university’s application of transformative ideas that are not only yielding great success but changing the face of higher education at our institution.


Redefining what it means to be ‘college-ready’

Societal pressures on high school seniors seemingly grow by the year. These days, a student’s level of college and workforce readiness is said to be dependent on their college admission test scores, completing the most rigorous high school classes possible, and obtaining AP credit. But research shows that these are not the sole indicators.

ACT recently released a report that claims only 26 percent of 2018 high school graduates were ready for the workforce, but I believe readiness is dictated by so much more than a standardized test score.

Related content: Program targets college readiness gap

For example, research from the University of California Berkeley found that high school GPA is the best indicator of grades during freshman year in college as well as college graduation. Of course, I don’t presume that everyone should go to college.

Being college-ready vs. post-secondary-ready

When educators say they want students to be “college-ready,” it’s easy to assume we mean a four-year degree. What we really mean is “post-secondary ready.” If an individual wants to earn a family-supporting wage over the course of their work lifetime, they need access to some form of post-secondary education.


We’ve digitized higher ed–here’s how we modernize it

Thanks to the hard work of faculty and the dedication of students, college campuses are hotbeds for innovation and discovery. The internet, antibiotics, the Richter scale, and Google’s algorithm are just a handful of the innovations that have been created on university soil. But, when it comes to technology’s role in supporting innovative teaching and learning practices in higher ed, U.S. institutions face significant barriers.

While education technology has grown as an industry, its acceleration isn’t up-to-speed with other sectors, such as business and health care. It’s easier for college students and their parents to buy furniture online, or even a car, than it is to select and pay for course registrations online. Current campus technology doesn’t match the expectations or needs of higher-ed consumers.

Related content: 3 ways higher ed needs to modernize to survive

Yes, digital platforms are present on campus. But, most of these solutions aren’t built with the student experience in mind. To match the features of modern platforms such as Facebook and Uber, educational technology must prioritize engagement and the user experience.