5 ways to improve community college completion rates

A new report suggests five structured group practices for community colleges to improve student completion rates

community-college-completionAccording to the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 31 percent of 18 to 24 year-old college students and more than half of all online students in the U.S. attend two-year institutions.

Yet, ensuring that students complete an associate’s degree on time is one of the biggest challenges facing educators, students, and administrators, based on findings in a new report issued by the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) at the University of Texas.

“A Matter of Degrees: Practices to Pathways,” the third and final series of annual reports published by the CCCSE, reveals a disturbing trend among two-year community colleges: Only half of students who enter a community college receive a degree or are still enrolled in school six years later.…Read More

What we can learn from the MOOC experiment

Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the MOOC experience, there are many lessons we can take from these massive open online courses

online-assessments-MOOC“Beyond the MOOC: The return.” That wouldn’t be the worst movie title ever, right?

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, were the talk of the town in 2012-13. A lot of people heralded the giant eLearning experiences as the tool that would save education, while a lot of others expressed vitriolic hatred for “watered-down” education, and the like.

Last month, I wrote an article suggesting that whether you love them or hate them, whether you feel they are dead in the water or getting ready to finally unleash something incredible, there are some important things to learn from the concept. I argued that educators should try to tap into the lessons learned from the MOOC story, like practical learning, contextual learning, better guidance, architecting social learning, and educating at scale.…Read More

9 rules of etiquette for academic Twitter use

Adjunct Professor Anne G. Barretta describes how she’s learned as much about Twitter use from her students as they’ve learned from her

Many CIOs are active on Twitter.

During last year’s Super Bowl, I gave my public relations students an assignment to tweet their reactions to advertisements and identify persuasive techniques used in the ads before, during, and after the game.

The assignment was very successful and generated a great deal of discussion on how companies use Twitter and other social media to brand their products, generate cost-free publicity, and elicit feedback from their customers.…Read More

Driving consortial change–it takes more than missionaries

There are clear models of where consolidation, collaboration, and aggregation do work in higher education

consortial-changeSelective residential colleges and universities usually have several things in common – they are usually small; survive upon tuition, room, and board for their operating budgets; and are very expensive to attend.

And in case you haven’t been on the web or read a newspaper for the last few years, their business model is under more scrutiny – and attack – than any time in recent memory.

An idea, with no small amount of currency, is that small colleges can survive and thrive by leveraging their academic consortial partners, to take advantage of commonalities in their Enterprise Resource Planning and Learning Management Systems, as well as consolidating purchasing power for software, equipment, and subscriptions.…Read More

10 ways ed-tech tools promote academic honesty

Online assessment expert shares academic tools and resources for educators to prevent student plagiarism


Going to the web for teaching and learning doesn’t have to be the den of student cheating (intentional or not) as some make it out to be. In fact, online tools–if you know how to choose and implement them–can promote academic honesty at whole new level.

The internet empowers students with readily available means to compare answers, use outside resources, and look up answers to their online assignments and exams.…Read More

What role can MOOCs play in the development agenda? 5 key questions

How can MOOCs accommodate those who are learning disabled and who need significant individualized attention?

udacity-moocsWith the Millennium Development Goals nearing their deadline, the development sector has been rife with speculation about what the post-2015 development agenda will look like and what role, if any, higher education should play in this future outlook.

So it is only appropriate that the United Nations is asking whether Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)—with their focus on offering tertiary-level courses for mass consumption—are a panacea for increasing access to tertiary education in the developing world, or whether they will instead widen the gap between those with access to higher education and those without.

At a recent discussion jointly organized by SUNY’s Nelson Rockefeller Institute of Government and the UN Academic Impact and facilitated by Ben Wildavsky, this topic was passionately debated by a wide-ranging panel of experts—Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX, one of the largest MOOC platforms; Barbara Kuhn of the Wharton School of Business who teaches a popular MOOC course; Phil Altbach, higher education expert and vocal critic of MOOCs; and Professor S. Sitaraman, Senior Vice President of Amity University.…Read More

How online communities can create a ‘connected campus’

Schools that implement online communities are becoming ‘connected campuses,’ which creates value at each stage of the student lifecycle

connected-campusThe social phenomenon is impacting every facet of higher education.

In an increasingly competitive market, forward-thinking colleges and universities are integrating social concepts and practices—including online communities—to redefine the admissions process, engage alumni more deeply, and transform the learning experience for both on-campus and remote students.

These efforts enhance the long-term value of student and alumni relationships with the institution.…Read More

Hey, Princeton: Consider competencies

This post was first published on the Next Gen Learning blog.

princeton-universityWith A’s doled out in almost half of all undergraduate courses—compared to only 15 percent in 1961— have grades become meaningless?

Ten years ago, Princeton University began limiting the A-range awards in each course to 35 percent. In recent news, the university is likely to reverse efforts to curb grade inflation and instead allow academic departments to set their own grading standards. Such shifts in policy, however, appear to be solutions to the wrong question.

Grade inflation policies simply underscore the inadequacy of grades as proxies for student learning. With learning standards that are disparate and subjective from professor to professor across every single course in the approximately 4,700 degree-granting institutions in the U.S., it is no wonder that grades are poor indicators of student learning. With no agreed-upon standardized unit of learning, there is no useful metric that can translate across institutions, state borders, and employers.…Read More

5 simple ways to streamline campus technology

Paige Francis, CIO for Information Technology Services at Fairfield University, shares five tips to prepare for a future of rapid technology growth


Somewhere along the line, it seems that higher-education technology leaders hit a development gap where the KISS principle was routinely ignored. The “Keep It Simple Stupid” adage states that “systems perform best when they have simple designs rather than complex ones.”

It appears this gap has coincided with significant advancements in technology, leading to near-immediate obsolescence—and resulting in an overabundance of clunky technology and an over-outfitting of space. In a nutshell, more has resulted in less. We oversupplied and over-indulged, and now many institutions are forced to maintain these cumbersome environments … or are they?…Read More

Why is competency-based education so hard to study?

Students need to learn how to learn in a competency-based model that gives them greater choice

competency-based-learningA few research pitfalls seem to be creeping into the still nascent world of K-12 competency-based education: first, the challenge of moving from discussing high-level theory to describing precisely competency-based practices.

And second, going from identifying specific practices to designing sufficiently specific, appropriate evaluation to measure the effects of those practices.

Both of these tensions can make conversations about competency-based education feel speculative. The term “competency-based” often describes a wide range of classroom practices, but schools that call themselves competency-based may not subscribe to all such practices. And even when these practices are spelled out, we have yet to study them in isolation, to understand which—if any—drive student growth and in what circumstances.…Read More