AI in Action

Twelve months ago, the acronym AI was a popular but still relatively esoteric topic. Today, the technologies, techniques, hopes, and concerns surrounding artificial intelligence have made it the most consequential subject since the advent of the Internet. Announcements about higher education’s involvement in AI integration are in constant rotation. Here are three from just this week:

edX, a leading global online learning platform from 2U, Inc. announced the launch of its groundbreaking new Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence MicroBootCamp program in partnership with 12 leading universities. The intensive online program is designed to rapidly equip technology professionals with the core skills needed to excel in the dynamic fields of machine learning and AI.

The Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence MicroBootCamp program will initially be offered by 12 university partners including Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Southern Methodist University, The Ohio State University College of Engineering, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Denver, University of Kansas Jayhawk Global, University of Central Florida, University of New Hampshire Professional Development & Training, University of Richmond, and others. Enrollment is open at, with the first cohorts starting in July 2023. Prior coding experience in Python is highly recommended.…Read More

Back office business: 5 big higher edtech deals this week

Key points:

  • There are new opportunities for students to access post-grad testing prep.
  • Universities worldwide are implementing new programs to advance both AI and robotics.
  • Online learning programs continue to expand even post-pandemic.

Spelman College, a global leader in the education of women of African descent, announced a new partnership with global educational services provider Kaplan that will provide Spelman students with free test prep courses for graduate-level admissions exams, including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, and OAT.…Read More

3 strategies to start reimagining the learning management system

I wrote several weeks ago that we need to deconstruct the learning management system (LMS) and then reimagine it from the ground up as a “learning” system, not a “management” system.

While there are exceptions, online learning, by and large, has become a vast, sterile wasteland of outdated content and pedagogy. Like many of our industrial legacy educational structures, the focus of the LMS on management over learning creates students that are merely widgets, not learners. It is time to fundamentally reimagine this space.

A number of years ago, I developed a framework called Ideaspaces to help me design an innovation center. It was and came out of a host of disconnected reading I was doing about what facilitated innovation and learning. I recognized that innovation and learning are basically the same thing. “Learning” is self-innovation; “innovation” is the scaling of learning to an organization and beyond. The underlying principles are the same and can be applied to all systems designed to facilitate and augment human intellect.…Read More

How to (almost) guarantee success in higher ed online learning

Student enrollment in online courses continues to surge. A November 2018 report from the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics found that the number of students who took at least one online course jumped 5.7 percent in one year.

More than eight in 10 students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) take at least one online or blended course, with a growing part of the student population taking all their courses online. Three years ago, to provide skilled support to and designated resources for online learners, the school launched its UCF Online Connect Center.

Helping online learners succeed

The Connect Center currently has seven prospective student specialists, six enrollment coaches, and 11 success coaches who work with more than 4,500 UCF Online students. “The goal of the Center is to develop a relationship with our online learners that provides them with a comprehensive overview or connection to the university through the use of success coaches,” says Jeff Jones, vice provost of UCF Connect and UCF Global.…Read More

A major report on digital learning from Arizona State University

On April 4th, Last week Lou Pugliese joined the Future Trends Forum to describe a forthcoming research project he’d just completed. I’d heard about the research secondhand and was intrigued. One text described it as looking into institutional return on investment (ROI) for digital learning. So I convinced Lou, senior innovation fellow and managing director technology innovation Action Lab at Arizona State University, also co-creator of Blackboard, to appear on the Forum and give the community an advance look into the report’s findings, before they were published:

I’m grateful to Lou for his generous time. (You see why the Forum is so cool?)…Read More

3 ways ASU is reaching the “new normal” student

Emerging technologies are threatening traditional roles and have created a demand for new types of skilled workers. This challenge is even greater for people already in the workforce. By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Those with fewer qualifications will find themselves struggling against significantly more barriers to successful careers while employers will continue to deal with workforce shortages.

One thing we know for certain is that we cannot address this need by solely focusing on the traditional pool of undergraduate and masters-level students. The profile of today’s college student has changed, with fewer students fitting the mold of “traditional.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 62 percent of undergraduate students, described as the “new normal,” have at least one nontraditional characteristic such as being a first-generation student, having at least one dependent, or working either full or part time. As leaders in higher education modeling and delivery, we must foster flexible structures that expand access to higher education for the 31 million Americans who have some college credit but no degree. At Arizona State University (ASU), we’re exploring new pathways to reach the changing demographics of today’s students.…Read More

9 things your online learning program should know about students

Online students say tuition and fees are among their top three deciding factors when it comes to choosing an institution, according to a Learning House survey of 1,500 students who are considering, enrolled in, or have graduated from an online learning program.

The report reveals a number of key trends as online learning evolves and becomes widely-used for career outcomes. Seventy-four percent of surveyed students enrolled in their online learning program due to career reasons.

1. Mobile-friendly programs are important to surveyed students–87 percent say they use mobile devices to search for their online program of study, and 67 percent use mobile devices to complete online coursework.…Read More

The single biggest mistake universities make when going online

U.S. News and World Report recently published its ranking of the best online MBA programs. The list featured 284 schools with online master’s degree programs in business administration. In December 2017, this number was 251, meaning 33 new online MBA programs were launched in the past six months!

It’s an understatement to say that online learning has emerged as top-of-mind for many institutional leaders. And for good reason. Scaling offerings through online programs or courses has become an inherent part of growth for public, private, and non-traditional colleges and universities. And for some it is even a matter of survival.

Every day, we speak to university faculty and administrators who are looking to create an online course or degree program to increase enrollment, expand their revenue base, or reposition their brand. Those conversations usually begin with the same question: “How do we put this course/program online?”…Read More

6 steps to gain faculty support for online learning

I have the unique privilege of viewing the development of online learning through three different lenses: as former chaired and tenured faculty and program head at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, as former dean at Babson College in Mass., and now, as principal learning strategist at ExtensionEngine. I’ve had many conversations with institutional leaders, and too often they are complaining about how their faculty get in the way of plans for online programs.

Recently, a case at Eastern Michigan University came to light in which the administration and faculty had very different experiences with online efforts. Unfortunately, most situations that I’ve encountered are more similar to this than they are different.

Faculty are often seen as barriers to change, the “opposition” of administration in leading a school to greatness. This doesn’t have to be the case. Let me point out a few changes that would make the process more successful.…Read More

7 ways humans are critical to online learning

Blended learning done right is the ‘gold standard,’ say experts

online-learning-humansOnline courses that are credit-bearing hold incredible promise for high school and college students eager for flexible schedules and a cheaper education alternative; but as one study shows, it’s the skilled human element part of blended learning that offers the maximum benefits.

The study, “Innovating Toward Equity with Online Courses: Testing the optimal ‘blend’ of in-person human supports with low-income youth and teachers in California,” conducted by the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, aimed to understand whether or not humans played a critical role to credited online learning—and if so, in what capacity?

“In California, online self-education is key to one definition of ‘equity,’ particularly for low-income youth…Many scholars celebrate moments when youth teach themselves using computers, seemingly making a teacher or even physical schools seem unnecessary,” explained the report’s authors. “What should human instructors still be paid to do?”…Read More