Here’s why your college should create learner profiles

Registrars have long been advocates of student-centered policies and processes. However, the Registrar’s Office can also play a role in working with faculty to create a student-centered pedagogy. Consider how far we have come with modifying the generic system class roll. Today, faculty have access to student pictures, pronouns, academic standing, notification that the student has applied for graduation, or even to submit an e-warning if they are not performing well. We thought: Why don’t registrars provide additional information about students to help faculty adjust the way they teach an individual section of a course?

A report is born

To experiment with this idea, Elon University Registrar’s Office created a report for instructors teaching capstone courses in the core curriculum. While capstone courses may vary by institution, most seek to serve as the pinnacle of a program of study, designed to give students experience in the practical applications of their coursework.

Related content: Are you reaching the “new normal” student?

At Elon, the capstone is an opportunity for students to integrate and apply what they have learned during their Elon experience. The capstone also challenges students to consider larger themes of the program—ethical reasoning, personal and social responsibility, and global citizenship. The new report illustrated the distribution of completed courses by students enrolled in each capstone, enabling the instructor to further tailor their multidisciplinary approach by knowing the disciplines in which their students excel or may require additional focus.


UK launches landmark esports program

The University of Kentucky is moving forward with a global gaming and esports program, driving home the growing trend of esports on campuses across the globe.

UK has partnered with global esports company Gen.G to build the program, which will be jointly led by two UK officers: Student and Academic Life and Information Technology Services.

“We view technology, not as an end, but as a tool to help us maximize the success of our students–in their educations and as they pursue all that’s possible at the University of Kentucky,” says University of Kentucky Provost David Blackwell. “We want to provide them tools and learning opportunities that will help them succeed at UK, but also as they pursue jobs and careers that will help them succeed throughout life.”

The esports program will focus on three specific pillars, according to a UK press release.


5 higher ed developments you should have on your radar

As we all know, technology is constantly evolving, leading to advancements in higher-ed edtech.

These advancements have a big impact on teaching and learning, on efficiency in higher ed, on policy, and on instructors’ ability to personalize instruction for students.

Related content: Higher ed must use data more wisely

Here are some of the most interesting developments in higher-ed policy and technology from the past couple weeks.

1. From MarketScale

After nearly 200 years in existence, Green Mountain College in western Vermont is no more. The same goes for Southern Vermont College, the College of St. Joseph and Atlantic Union College. All of them, gone. The fact that some smaller colleges come and go should surprise nobody. Change is inevitable in any industry, and higher education is no exception. But I believe there are more fundamental issues at play with these recent closures. As we look toward 2020, we are hearing that many traditional colleges and universities — unable to adjust to technological and other socioeconomic changes — will essentially go out of business. 


3 reasons access management has a place on campus

In an era where technology serves as the connective tissue between people, organizations, and resources, certain truths are increasingly self-evident. Most people today rely on their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices to do their jobs and manage their daily lives. In turn, though, that reliance makes all of these end users more vulnerable to malicious cyber actors.

Perhaps nowhere are these truths more relevant than modern college campuses. After all, college students effectively originated the bring-your-own-device movement as they arrived with their own smartphones, computers, gaming systems, and other connected devices. They also came in with certain expectations: ubiquitous connectivity, easily accessible online tools for communication and collaboration, and apps that can address virtually any and every need.

Related content: Cybersecurity is complex–here’s how to do it right

For college students today, that’s all they’ve ever known. But for cybersecurity, the deluge of devices, applications and data eliminates traditional perimeters and lowers barriers against hackers.

While technology can be a boon for colleges, juggling these expectations and IT security can be tough. Universities also face unique challenges, perhaps most significant being the constant flow of digital identities—all of which must be provisioned and managed—as students come in and out of the organization. While they’re in, they need access to a plethora of online capabilities, from scheduling classes to crowdsourcing class notes to managing financial aid and tuition payment.


Climate change’s challenge for education

Greta Thunberg’s testimony before the United Nations has sparked a renewed discussion of the world we are handing our children, and it caused me to reflect on the role of our educational systems and myself as a teacher. There is no question that climate change will define the lives of our students. Addressing it will require a series of complex decisions the likes of which humanity has never faced before.

There may be technological advances that save us, but these will not be easily found. No technology will, by itself, save us from the consequences of our societal decisions. Climate change is a consequence of our inability to adapt our institutions and our economic and political thinking even as the science has become clearer and clearer. If we had had the political will and foresight to face mounting evidence that dates back for decades, then perhaps we would not be in as dire a situation as the one we are heading into now.

Related content: 7 alarming problems with students’ critical thinking

Blame for this failure is often directed at our political institutions, but we should not underestimate the role our educational processes and priorities played in the formation of the individuals and ideas that underpin these systems.

Education is also central to meeting these unprecedented challenges, but this will require that we rethink some of our basic priorities and approaches to teaching and learning.


These are the top colleges and universities in the U.S.

What makes a great college or university? Some say an Ivy League reputation, while others focus more on affordability or graduation rates. Now, a new report from WalletHub ranks the top colleges and universities in the U.S. based on 33 key measures.

According to College Board research, average tuition and room and board at a four-year college ranges from $21,000-$48,000 per year. When students and/or their families make that kind of investment, they want to be sure they’re putting their money toward a high-quality education.

Related content: College ranking now looks at social mobility

In its ranking, WalletHub compared more than 1,000 higher-education institutions in the U.S. across 33 key measures. The data set is grouped into seven categories, such as Student Selectivity, Cost & Financing and Career Outcomes. The metrics range from student-faculty ratio to graduation rate to post-attendance median salary.

Institutions with the highest admission rates include Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. Those with the lowest student-faculty ratios include the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Princeton, and the University of Chicago.

Schools with the highest graduation rates include Harvard, Yale, the University of Notre Dame, Princeton, and Columbia University in the City of New York.


Chief enrollment officers say these 12 things about their role

The role of chief enrollment officers is complex due to increasing pressure, yet many who responded to a recent survey say they feel optimistic about the future of their position.

A survey from Witt/Kieffer sheds a light on the intensifying pressure chief enrollment officers face from institution presidents, provosts, colleagues, and departments such as student affairs and marketing.

It finds that a majority of the 137 chief enrollment officers surveyed say they are ready to face the increased expectations of the position–83 percent of those surveyed are optimistic about the future of the enrollment profession, and 64 percent say they plan to stay in the enrollment field.

Related content: What colleges can learn from chief enrollment officers

Chief enrollment officers’ main goal is to find the best match and right number of students for their specific institution, but this task is complicated by a shrinking student pool, the need to please a wide range of stakeholders, the relative newness of the profession, and the wide range of skills needed to satisfy the growing challenges accompanying the profession.


What’s the state of campus IT?

Finding and keeping excellent campus IT leaders is a major priority for CIOs and senior campus officials, according to the 2019 Campus Computing Survey.

Seventy-seven percent of surveyed CIOs and senior campus officials cited hiring and retention as one of their top challenges, and 78 percent specifically pointed to “noncompetitive campus salaries and benefits as a major problem in their quest to hire and retain.”

Related content: 5 reasons we upgraded our campus Wi-Fi

And while the Great Recession of 2008 has ended, its effects still permeate campuses across the nation. Two-thirds (67 percent) of higher-ed leaders say institutional IT funding has not recovered from budget cuts institutions were forced to make during the recession.

“Personnel, not tech products, are the heart of the campus IT infrastructure,” says Kenneth C. Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project, in a statement.


Active learning without the barriers – how teachers respond

The University of Northampton moved to a new purpose-built campus on September 2018, the successful conclusion of a demanding project. It was decided from the outset that the new campus should provide the best rather than the cheapest way of teaching students.

This led to the creation of an ideal environment for small group teaching and active learning. But how do teachers respond when the barriers to active learning are removed?

We put this and other questions to Rob Farmer, currently the University’s Learning Technology Manager, who worked as part of a team of learning designers during the lead up to the campus move, helping academic staff (re)design their modules and courses to take full advantage of the active, technology-enabled learning opportunities that the new campus would bring.

University of Northampton

Why was this project important?

Arguably the move from two University sites to a single purpose-built one was the biggest thing to happen to the University in its history. It gave us a great opportunity to really think about the type of teaching we wanted to do, and about the type of University that we wanted to be.

It would have been very easy to build a new university full of lecture theatres, but the University decided that our teaching would be far more effective if we focused on small group teaching and active learning – a far more preferable pedagogical solution.

The University asked the question, ‘What is the best way of teaching?’ Then designed and built a campus to support it.

What happened when the barriers to active learning were removed?

The University worked hard to engage with both staff and students. There were many roadshows, workshops, and other opportunities to ask questions. The learning designers, in particular, worked with individual academics, supporting them to adapt, re-purpose and re-design courses, modules, and teaching content.

Of course, it is essential to note that we adopted active learning and small group teaching as it is good pedagogy, not simply because we were moving to the Waterside campus.

The impact on teachers is entirely dependent on who you talk to.

For some, the transition has gone almost seamlessly with few significant changes. We are lucky at the University of Northampton in that we already had many teachers who were already switched on to active learning and small group teaching. Now they still work with groups of 20-30 students but in a much nicer and more practical environment.

For others, though, the move has been more transformational. Previously, although many teachers may have wanted to adopt a more active approach to learning, this was difficult if they were timetabled to teach in large lecture theatres. Course content is still vitally important – students still have to know things, of course – but there are far more opportunities now for small group teaching and for students to put their knowledge to work, and this has been extremely well-received by both staff and students.

What was the secret of your success?

There are several:

  • Starting with the right question – what is the best way of teaching
  • Support for academics – learning designers worked closely with many scholars during the lead up to the campus move and afterward, and each academic department has always had a learning technologist aligned to it, so every faculty member knows who to talk
  • We have been involved with technology-enabled learning well in advance of the move to the new campus, so the learning technology side of things didn’t come as a shock to anyone as all staff and students have been using the University’s digital learning environment for many

What were the benefits?

Even the skeptics like the new Waterside campus more than they expected to. It is awe-inspiring, well designed, and very green. It looks modern, and it is in a great location – very close to the town’s cultural quarter with its theatres, arthouse cinema, museum, art gallery, etc., but also with the river, parks, historic buildings, and sites of historical interest on the doorstep.

This has had an impact on both staff and students. Some new academics that we have spoken to cited our commitment to active learning and small group teaching as the reason why they wanted to teach here.

There is another angle to this as well. All universities struggle to find their USP.  But Northampton’s USP is much more visible now as you walk around the campus, with its commitment to active, small group,  technology-enabled teaching and learning clearly on display all around the campus. It’s a real twenty-first- century campus.

What were the challenges?

Many people think the main challenge will be to get academics to change their approach to teaching; this has not been our experience.

Our primary battle has been to get staff to understand some of the nuances of technology-enabled learning. Misconceptions were sometimes evident. Some people think technology-enabled education means that everything should be online when it’s not about this at all, or that it is a considerable departure from business as usual. We’re still a campus-based university, and most of our teaching takes place with academics and students in classrooms. In the end, many of the academics we worked with were much closer to the University’s vision of active, small group, technology-enabled learning than they thought, and in some cases, we even found ourselves trying to persuade academics to do less online.

What are your top tips for others?

  • Focus on what’s important – the student experience – and build your approach to learning and teaching around this.
  • Be mindful of what educational research tells us are effective approaches to teaching and
  • Provide academic staff with plenty of support, in the form of learning designers, learning technologists and content developers, but make sure that they focus on helping and supporting academics to do what they want to do in the best way possible, rather than trying to push a clumsy ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to teaching and learning.
  • Build close relationships with the people you support (this has worked very well for us).
  • Take the time to explain your pedagogical model to students. If you’re doing something unexpected or innovative, explain to your students why they’ll learn better using this

What does the future hold for EdTech?

There are a number of exciting developments. Significant growth in apprenticeships in the UK will be necessary. The use of electronic portfolios will expand further and become more critical for apprenticeships and others who need to blend work and study. Portfolio systems can be very good at turning the whole world into a classroom, and students can see learning opportunities everywhere.

Several departments, particularly medicine and healthcare, are exploring exciting developments in virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR). It is very exciting work and as the quality of simulations keeps improving, the results are quite remarkable.

The University of Northampton is a Barco case study.

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What you will learn:

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Strategies to help your institution combat cyberattacks

It doesn’t matter where you look. Today, technology is everywhere. In educational organizations, tech has become a crucial part of the daily learning process, fundamentally changing the way students learn, how teachers educate, and how learning institutions operate. Whether doing research in a computer lab or conducting classwork on a personal tablet, students and teachers are more connected now than ever before. Of course, with such connection, there comes potential of cyber threats and cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks are happening in schools nationwide

Since 2016, there have been 688 publicly-disclosed cybersecurity-related incidents involving U.S. public schools and 61 public school districts have experienced more than one cybersecurity incident. Higher ed has certainly had its share of data breaches. This underscores the need for institutions to have a strong cybersecurity curriculum to help produce future cybersecurity professionals.

Related content: How to balance transparency and cybersecurity

One might ask, “Why are attackers targeting schools?” Beyond the troves of personally-identifiable information (PII) on students and staff, there is frequently sensitive—and lucrative—data associated with research projects being conducted at the schools.