Why higher ed should be concerned about “education deserts”

New brief discusses why geography is an important factor concerning equity in postsecondary education.


It’s the same concept that applies to food deserts: because travel to another source is not possible, and local access is limited, mostly rural area populations cannot obtain affordable, quality food. Now switch food to education and the concept is fairly clear.

This concept is discussed in a recent American Council on Education (ACE) report, which posits that the national dialogue on equity and college access doesn’t often take into account geography—and it should.…Read More

In this tech age, who’s your target learner?

Making the case for learner-centric higher education by taking a look at elementary practices.

student-learner-centricWhat will university learners require in 10 years? Who will these learners be? How will they learn and what will they demand? Universities must innovate and evolve now to be prepared for the future. But how will they position themselves to be the best fit for students whose learning habits have changed with greater access to technology?

The traditional lecture class has existed for thousands of years and universities take great pride in classrooms that are steeped in history and tradition, where students can attend classes in the same room where their father, grandfather, or great grandfather physically sat before them to take lessons. Yet, during this time, the world has flown by and progressed in leaps and bounds—will this traditional experience be as satisfying for the learners of this coming generation?

Better Higher Ed Means Looking Back…Read More

Calculating indirect college costs could make all the difference

A new report suggests that further research into the indirect costs beyond tuition and fees could be critical in determining financial aid allowances

indirect-college-costsTuition and fees represent less than 40 percent of the total cost of attendance for students attending four-year public colleges and universities, and just one-fourth the cost of attendance for community college students.”

That’s just one of the revelations highlighted by the American Council on Education (ACE) in a new brief urging more research on the implications for college students of indirect costs such as room and board, and books and transportation.

The brief, titled “Exploring the Topic of Indirect Costs to Today’s Higher Education Students,” is the seventh in a series of Quick Hit reports about current and emerging topics in higher education attainment and innovation released by ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation and funded by Lumina Foundation.…Read More

How should quality assurance for competency-based ed work?

If the federal government will fund competency-based programs through Title IV dollars, how should it think about regulating these programs?

competency-based-educationWhenever a disruptive innovation emerges—and online, competency-based learning deployed in the right business model is a disruptive innovation—it doesn’t look as good as existing services according to the old metrics of performance.

Disruptions tend to be simpler than existing services; they start by solving undemanding problems. As a result, the sector’s leading organizations often dismiss them because they don’t look terribly good in comparison to the way people have traditionally thought of quality. But they also redefine the notion of what is quality and performance.

As such, they don’t fit neatly into existing regulatory structures and often create new ones over time. Judging them by the old regulations can also limit their innovative potential by trapping and confining them to replicate parts of the existing value propositions of the old system rather than deliver on their new value proposition.…Read More

The best strategy for managing disruptive innovation in higher ed

A tale of two disruptive innovation implementation case studies provides best practices for interested institutions.

disruptive-innovation-studyIf a traditional college or university wants success for its implementation of a disruptive innovation, make sure that it’s not subject to the same guidelines and strategies currently in place.

In other words, disruptive innovation success means implementation via an autonomous subunit.

This finding is part of an analysis of two university case studies that tried to successfully integrate the disruptive innovation known as “work-focused learning,” which (in the UK especially), is a learning model offered to undergraduate students who want to earn an undergrad degree in three years but are unable to stop working full or part-time and cannot obtain that degree through conventional routes.…Read More

5 rising IT trends going into fall 2015

Cloud app migration, multi-layered security, some top initiatives for IT departments going into the fall semester.

IT-trends-fall“My job is to find stuff that’s transformative, and these days that means the cloud,” said Bob Carozzoni, lead enterprise cloud strategist at Cornell University, during Amazon Web Services (AWS) recent conference.

From cloud migration to dealing with increased cyberattacks, never before have the innovate capabilities of the campus IT department been as mission-critical to colleges and universities under drastic transformation.

And though many basic needs and services of the campus body still require the attention of IT (such as campus WiFi, MOOC creation and distribution, and BYOD implementation strategy), some of the most renowned, innovative university IT departments are future-proofing campus processes through large-scale transformative initiatives.…Read More

Reinventing the college bookstore in the online era

Leaders discuss how the college bookstore is becoming a tech-enabled, data-rich cornerstone of campus life.

college-bookstore-onlineThey still sell t-shirts for proud parents and coffee mugs with catchy slogans, but college bookstores are also going through a renaissance of sorts, using technology-supported measures to become an integral cornerstone of campus life.

It’s what Ed Schlichenmayer, deputy CEO of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), and chief operating officer (COO) of indiCo (a NACS subsidiary), calls a system based on trust equity.

Despite booming online marketplaces for college textbooks–like Amazon, CourseSmart and BookFinder.com—“75 percent of course material transactions stay with the college bookstore,” said Schlichenmayer. “And that’s based on the trust equity they’ve built throughout the entire campus community.”…Read More

How a 1970s policy can boost completion rates today

How extending Credit for Prior Learning can accelerate college completion and improve employability.

credit-prior-learningThe face of the “average” college student is changing. Seventy-five percent of today’s students (mostly adult learners) are juggling some combination of family commitment, job, and education, while commuting to campus, according to Complete College America.1 Growing demands placed on working adult learners can make higher education seem unattainable, inflexible, and unrealistic. For too many people today, time is the barrier to college completion.

Making the case for CPL to help employment and the economy

The 2009 unemployment rate of high school graduates 25 and older was 9.7 percent, compared with 4.6 percent for college graduates.2 Moreover, by 2020, our economy will have jobs for nearly 165 million people —65 percent of which will require postsecondary training.…Read More

Universities create national initiative for competency-based education

National survey, fall conference and online resources will give educators and policymakers unprecedented levels of collaboration and information.


Several nonprofit and higher education organizations are collaborating to create new resources and opportunities in response to growing interest in competency-based education (CBE).
This work includes the largest survey to date of institutions developing CBE programs and a national conference this fall to listen to the challenges and barriers faced by institutions and to help them learn more about what it takes to design high-quality programs that are competency-based.
The multi-pronged effort is led by Public Agenda, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and public engagement organization, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation. The effort responds to calls from institutions of higher education and policymakers for more resources and support to help guide the planning and development of high-quality competency-based degrees, certificates and other postsecondary credentials.
The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AACU) is the Sponsoring Organization of Integrative Liberal Learning. The American Council on Education (ACE), the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) and EDUCAUSE are sponsors. The thought partners are the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and Quality Matters.
In addition to the survey and conference, the organizations are researching models, trends and gaps in knowledge around CBE, and will organize the findings into a publicly available online source of information. For institutions that want to adopt CBE programs, the group is creating a set of research-based design elements of CBE programs and an online tool to help institutions build programs around those elements.

(Next page: Research initiatives and how to participate in the survey)

3 survival questions every institution should ask

Why adapting to changing demographics is a matter of survival; and how colleges and universities can do it.

survival-question-stormIncreased competition, reduced public funding, demand for non-traditional delivery models, and increased regulatory pressure around student outcomes are forcing institutions to ask fundamental questions about the effectiveness of their current strategies and offerings for engaging today’s students and helping them succeed. Questions such as:

1. Who is the typical student today?

Is it the 18-year-old right out of high school who moves away from home for the first time and has never known a world without the Internet? Is it the older student who lives off-campus and works part-time to pay tuition? Or is it the mid-career parent who works full time and needs a more flexible way to gain new skills or academic credit for real-world experience and competencies?…Read More