Desperate or brilliant? Universities offering cash prizes for this

Should universities hold cash-prize competitions to encourage more students to pursue degrees in computer science?

Credit: iDevAffiliate

How can the U.S. remain not only relevant in the technological age, but ahead of other nations in the global economy?

For years, this crucial question has perplexed educators and policymakers.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report comparing American adults’ skills in literacy, numeracy, and technology across 24 countries.…Read More

The shocking politics of online learning

Parties both support online learning, just different forms, and for different reasons

ecnaprilstory200A Republican governor and a Democratic governor in 1996 teamed up to convince the leaders of 17 states to create the all-online, competency-based Western Governors University. It was as bipartisan a venture as one could hope to find in politics.

“It was the liberal governor of Colorado, Roy Romer, and the conservative governor of Utah, Michael Levitt, who joined forces to create this new university,” said Russ Poulin, deputy director of research and analysis for WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. “It grew out of a joint frustration of the existing public systems in their states to meet the needs of their growing populaces and to be innovative.”

At the time, few outside of those states paid much attention to the young university and the bipartisan effort that produced it. Nearly 20 years later,WGU is now a fully accredited institution with 40,000 students – and online education as a whole is receiving more political attention than ever before.…Read More

7 features of a next-gen online learning platform

Customized online learning platform removes many differences between face-to-face and online learning

platform-online-learningAs massive online learning platforms like Coursera and edX move past their infant years, one university is taking the next step by partnering with innovative companies to produce a custom-built platform, incorporating next-generation features poised to eradicate many of the differences between face-to-face and online learning.

One of the main critiques of online learning, and MOOCs specifically, is that the courses aren’t equal to face-to-face learning due to a lack of personal interaction and low retention rates.

Yet, the University of Oklahoma (OU), after partnering with social learning technology experts, NextThought, have developed what could be considered the next-generation online learning platform: A platform that delivers social interaction technology, direct lines to professors, customized courses, new video technology for MOOCs, and much more.…Read More

INFOGRAPHIC: Distance education by the numbers

New facts discovered about distance education reveals that our perception may be exaggerated

ditance-learning-onlineAccording to a new analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the current national conception that distance education is “booming,” is an exaggeration, since only a low percentage of postsecondary students are enrolled in a distance education course.

The analysis, conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), which brings higher-ed stakeholders and institutions to “improve the quality and reach” of eLearning programs, and based on the same methodology of Phil Hill of the e-Literate blog, is based off of IPEDS’ first time inclusion of data on students taking distance education courses in Fall 2012.

“With this data, we can finally get a comprehensive, objective look at the current state of distance education adoption nationally,” said Terri Straut of Ascension Consulting, who provided the analysis for WCET.…Read More

4 ways to make your course more engaging

New method called ‘Connected Learning’ aims to make courses more engaging for youth

engaging-course-connectedMobile technology and its use in the classroom is booming across the country; but outside of the ‘cool tech’ aspect, many educators struggle to understand why students find tech-connected classrooms more engaging. A new method of teaching and learning explains that it’s not about the technology–it’s about the four principles behind it.

Connected Learning, an educational approach designed by the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE), says it harnesses the information age to make learning more powerful.

“For too many young people, particularly our most vulnerable populations, formal education is disconnected from other meaningful social contexts in their everyday lives,” explains AEE in a new brief. “The connected learning model posits that focusing educational attention on the links between different spheres of learning—peer culture, interests, and academic subjects—better supports interest-driven and meaningful learning in ways that take advantage of the potential of digital networks and online resources to provide access to an engaging learning experience.”…Read More

Competency-based learning proving popular

Canvas’ new competency-based gradebook is part of a larger trend toward alternative student assessment

competency-assessments-learningAt a January conference in Washington, D.C., two representatives from Western Governors University claimed that the institution had transitioned from an experiment in competency-based learning to a “proof of concept.”

“We know from that different people learn things at different rates,” Sally Johnstone, vice president for academic advancement at the university, said. “We also know that the same individual may learn different subjects at different rates. We can use competency-based education and online tools to accommodate that. We are no longer in a position where we have to ask all students to do the same thing at the same time at the same pacing.”

With competency-based learning, student progress is not necessarily mapped to traditional grades, textbook chapters, or even, in Western Governor’s case, semester time-frames. Instead, it’s based around the mastering of key concepts, often at a more personalized pace.…Read More

Has the number of online programs been exaggerated?

Major discrepancy may exist because of the ‘overly ambiguous and broad’ definition of “online”

online-programs-learningColleges and universities may be drastically over-reporting the number of online programs at their institutions, a new report concluded.

The report, released by, said that the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) lists far more programs than what actually exists. While IPEDS, which relies on self-reported surveys, lists 3,311 schools offering online programs, ApprovedColleges only found 1,243.

So, if true, why the discrepancy?…Read More

How multimedia can improve learning

Research sheds light on students’ ability to process multiple modes of learning

brain-multimedia-learningAn analysis of existing research supports a notion that already has begun to transform instruction from coast to coast: that multimodal learning–using many modes and strategies that cater to individual learners’ needs and capacities–is more effective than traditional, unimodal learning, which uses a single mode or strategy.

According to a report commissioned by Cisco Systems, adding visuals to verbal (textual and/or auditory) instruction can result in significant gains in basic or higher-order learning, if applied appropriately. Students using a well-designed combination of visuals and text learn more than students who use only text, the report says.

It also provides insights into when interactivity strengthens the multimodal learning of moderate to complex topics, and when it’s advantageous for students to work individually when learning.…Read More

3 pros and 3 cons of MOOCs

Cornell report understands the promise of MOOCs, but warns of shaky revenue, taking up faculty time

MOOCs-learning-cons Colleges across the country are either showcasing their massive open online courses (MOOCs), in stages of development, or considering their value as thousands of students attend distance learning courses on a daily basis. However, a new report cautions that there may be drawbacks to supporting one form of distance learning over another, and that some trends might not last forever.

The report, presented by the Cornell Distance Learning Committee—comprised of faculty members, administrators, and IT leaders—notes that new developments in distance learning are “generating much excitement,” especially with “the recent rise of MOOCs.”

However, though there is much excitement, there are many who are worried that issues such as faculty time, quality of the online class, and sustainability of the revenue model are just some of the reasons to hold back on over-offering, or over-investing in, MOOCs over other forms of distance learning.…Read More