After Big Surge Community College Completion Goes Flat

March 5th, 2015

By Caralee Adams , Education Week

On the heels of President Obama’s proposal to provide free community college tuition, a new report shows that while degree and certificate productivity has increased among community colleges in the past decade, there was a drop in completion last year in most states.

Of the 42 state directors of community colleges who responded to a survey by the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama, 22 reported flat to declining rates of degree completion between the academic years 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Looking back at results of the annual survey, there has been a 75 percent increase in associate degrees and a 122 percent increase in certificates awarded by community colleges  between 2000-01 and 2012-13.

The report, by lead author and center director Stephen Katsinas, explains the recent drop is linked to reductions in 2012 Pell Grant funding, improvements in the economy that lured some students away from campuses before finishing, and cuts in state appropriations for community college.

Leaders are growing more pessimistic about future funding. Last year’s survey showed 14 state community college leaders predicted state appropriations would not cover inflation; this year 31 did so.

Three out of four respondents in the University of Alabama survey said their states had no long-term plans to fund operating or capital budget increases in three or the four states necessary to boost completion rates.

“The increases in state-level, long-term planning for the operating and capital budgets needed to expand the number of adults with degrees and first-certificates are so small as to make the achievement of the national objective of making America first in the world again in adult baccalaureate degree attainment a pipe dream,” the report says.

Researchers conclude by calling for a new direction that will jump-start completion and recommending federal policymakers consider President Obama’s proposal for free community college tuition, which could create incentives for states to maintain funding.

The University of Alabama is co-hosting a conference today at Mississippi State University today discuss the future of community colleges and the administration’s America’s College Promise initiative.

 

 

Top 10 Sites to Boost Student Productivity

March 4th, 2015

By Jane Hurst

As a college student, there is so much going on in your life that sometimes it can be difficult to maintain a good level of productivity. But, there are a number of ways that you can boost your productivity, and get a lot more done. Here are some of the best websites that will help anyone, including students, learn how to relax, get their lives uncluttered, and be more productive.

  1. Rescue Time – This is a package that lets you know how long your computer sessions are, and how productive you are while you are spending time on your computer. You can also use it to track specific activities, as well as block sites that keep distracting you from what you are supposed to be doing.
  2. Unroll – This is really going to help unclutter your life. It will see all of your email subscriptions, and gives you the option to unsubscribe to any that you no longer want. This is a great way to see how many subscriptions you have that you don’t really need, and clean out your inbox.
  3. Nature Sounds for Me – You need to take time out to relax and recharge, and what better way than to listen to the peaceful sounds of nature. You can choose from all kinds of sounds, from waves to thunder to birds chirping and more. Getting into a more relaxed state is going to help boost your productivity.
  4. Mind Bloom – This is another relaxation app that will give you the musical sound of birds singing, but it offers so much more. You will enjoy an interactive experience that allows you to consider the things that matter the most to you, so you can figure out what actions you need to take in order to achieve all of your goals.
  5. Custom Button Co. – If you are involved in fundraising activities for your college, team, etc., buttons are a great way to let people know what you are doing. Let Custom Button Co. create buttons for fundraising and other events.
  6. Pocket – This is the best tool you can use to get information, links, images, and more from the Internet. You can store everything you find, and search for it when you need it. There is a browser plugin, as well as more than 300 supported apps that will help to increase your productivity.
  7. Calm – Did you know that you can actually meditate while you are working? Check out calm.com to learn how. This website offers a completely guided meditation session that you can do online, any place and at any time. It only takes two minutes of meditating to change the way you look at what you are doing.
  8. Cold Turkey – This is an app that is going to help you to kick the habit of surfing when you should be studying. With Cold Turkey, you can set controls that will keep you from accessing non-productive sites at certain times of the day. Simply download the app, and then start adding websites to the block list and the times when you shouldn’t be looking at them. This is going to help create more discipline in your life.
  9. Away Find – One of the biggest time-wasters in a student’s day is checking their email all the time. Away Find will alert you when you receive emails that are important, so you don’t have to keep checking. If you add a contact to the alert list, you will be notified each time that contact sends an email.
  10. Simple Note – This app syncs up with Notational Velcity to give you a great way to keep all of your daily tasks organized. The more organized you are, the more productive you will be. This is extremely popular with Mac users.

Byline:

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.

Thank you!

Indiana Financial Incentive Spurs Increased Course Taking

March 3rd, 2015

More Hoosier college students on track to graduate following recent state financial aid reforms Hoosiers are responding to recent state financial aid reforms with double-digit improvements in the percentage of college students taking—and completing—the minimum number of courses needed to graduate on time. A new report released by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education spotlights early progress and lessons learned following sweeping state financial aid reform adopted in 2013 under House Enrolled Act 1348. “Indiana lawmakers took bold action with student-friendly legislation that promotes college completion and rewards students for staying on track to graduate on time,” said Lubbers. “We are encouraged that students are responding to these incentives that promise to increase graduation rates and lower college debt.” Indiana has one of the most generous need-based college financial aid systems in the U.S. with more than $300 million in state aid awarded to Hoosier students annually. The majority of this aid is distributed through the state’s two largest programs: the Frank O’Bannon grant and the 21st Century Scholars program. The key provision of HEA 1348 requires students to complete at least 30 credits each calendar year—the minimum amount required to graduate on time—in order to renew their aid for the following year at the same level. Both the O’Bannon and 21st Century Scholars programs have seen significant gains in the percentage of students taking and completing 30 credits since HEA 1348 took effect. More students are enrolling in 30 or more credit hours:  21st Century Scholars’ course-taking improved by 55% over the prior year  Frank O’Bannon recipients’ course-taking improved by 19% over the prior year More students are completing 30 or more credit hours:  21st Century Scholars’ course-completion improved by 56% over the prior year  Frank O’Bannon recipients’ course-completion improved by 21% over the prior year “This law is a significant step toward better graduation rates, more affordable college degrees and a stronger Hoosier workforce,” said Governor Mike Pence who has championed efforts to decrease the cost of college and reward students for graduating early or on time. Since the legislation’s passage, the Commission and Indiana colleges have been working to increase student awareness of the new requirements, ramp up academic advising efforts and provide new resources to keep students on track. Though it is too early to predict the long-term impact of these reforms, the dramatic progress to date suggests further improvement as ongoing awareness and intervention efforts take hold.

Should Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Be Taught At College? Pro et Contra

March 2nd, 2015

By Melissa Burns

Talk to almost any SEO specialist and you will find out that he doesn’t have any specific education but somehow stumbled upon this job. People from all walks of life become SEO experts: marketers, journalists, mathematicians – it doesn’t matter who you are, as the majority of SEO people are self-taught anyway. But why it is so? Does it have to be so? Why don’t colleges offer a legitimate degree in this sphere?

As it turns out, there are very good reasons for it. Let’s take a look at them.

1.     Rules Change Every Day

As Google is the absolute hegemon in the field of web search, any course in SEO would be more or less limited to studying how to influence its results. Unfortunately, Google is very, very far from being a stable organism – on average, its search algorithms go through 500-600 changes per year (it is once or twice every day!). And while absolute majority of these are just minor tweaks that are almost unnoticeable for an untrained eye, at least once a year Google issues major updates like Google Panda or Google Penguin that throw the entire industry into disarray.

As a result, SEO specialists have to follow these changes every day and keep their methods up to date. No formal educational program is capable of keeping abreast with such a swiftly changing industry – yes, there are a few courses that deal with the topic, but what they teach you is likely to become obsolete mere months afterwards.

2.     Lack of Universal Standards

Yes, SEO is heavily based on statistics, analytics, raw data and metrics, but it is far more creative than you may suppose. As time goes on, the industry is less and less concerned with the quantity of links and more with their quality, and it means that it will inevitably drift from mechanical link-building to original, creative and unusual methods of attracting traffic. And even now each specialist, firm and team (at least those of them that are worth anything) have their own style of work – website marketing by Eminent SEO, for example, is mostly aimed at increasing organic search engine traffic and site visibility.

3.     Variety of Tools

It is only natural that such a popular industry turned into a battleground between dozens upon dozens of developers, all offering their analytic software, campaign building tools, data mining programs, metrics, platforms and so on – yet none of them managed to corner the market. There are lots and lots of tools with similar yet not identical characteristics: some are slightly better for one task, some for another. In such an atmosphere it would be very difficult for a course author to choose any particular tool, because they depend more on preference than anything else.

There is, however, a growing number of people who believe that no matter what, SEO should be taught at college, either as a separate discipline or as a part of a larger course, like Marketing. Their major points are that SEO isn’t unique in being constantly subject to change, and that a more systematic and formalized approach to teaching it would give, firstly, credibility to the industry in general and secondly, a sound base for students to build their further careers on. Even if the principles themselves will get obsolete faster than they are taught, there are still basic notions that remain more or less the same, and knowing these principles students will have easier time adapting to the changing realia of the market than when all they have is method of trial and error.

Some universities introduce SEO-like courses in their curricula even now; it remains to be seen how effective they are going to be.

Author’s bio:

Melissa Burns  graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she

is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information

technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact

Melissa via e-mail: burns.melissaa@gmail.com

One vision of tomorrow’s college: Cheap, and you get an education, not a degree

February 27th, 2015
By Kevin Carey, orginally published in RealClearEducation 2/20/15

Higher education — increasingly unaffordable and unattainable — is on the verge of a transformation that not only could remedy that, but could change the role college plays in our society. Can you imagine the benefits of colleges having little bricks-and-mortar overhead, of each student being taught in ways scientifically tailored to their individual needs, of educators, students and researchers being able to capi­tal­ize on global intelligence?

In “The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere,” Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, a public-policy think tank in Washington, lays out a provocative history of how the university system got to this point and one vision of the revolution that’s beginning because of digital innovation. Riverhead will publish the book March 3 . An excerpt:

The University of Everywhere is on the horizon. It’s going to emerge while the current generation of young people mature into adulthood. This is what it will look like and what attending it will mean: Organizations such as edXCourseraUdacitySaylorOLI and a range of others like the United Kingdom’s long-established Open University will continue to create and refine an ever-larger catalogue of college courses that anyone in the world with an Internet connection can take, for free. Over time, those courses will be organized into sequences that approximate the scope of learning we associate with college majors.

MIT is already moving in this direction, starting with a seven-course sequence in computer programming that begins with introductions to coding, computational thinking and data science, and then moves to software construction, digital circuits, programmable architectures and computer systems organization. The length of the course sequences will vary depending on the field or kind of work. Some will involve a few courses, others will be dozens long. Neither the courses nor the sequences will be constrained by the artificial limitations of semester hours.

The experience of taking these courses will be familiar in some ways. Education will still involve reading books, writing papers, solving problems, talking to other people and getting out into the world. Nobody is going to have information uploaded into their brain via coaxial cable, “Matrix”-style. We will still watch the Abelards of our time lecture, weaving characters, ideas and emotion into narratives of enlightenment. We will still exchange ideas with other people about what we’re learning.

In other ways, the courses will be quite different, built around immersive digital learning environments. These environments will not be designed by lone individuals. Instead, the best will be created by teams of people specializing in different aspects of the learning experience. They will be shaped and assembled using open-source components shared by millions of educators collaborating. They will benefit from network effects — the better they are, the more people will use them, generating more data and more money that can be used to make them better still.

Organizations competing for students — some existing colleges, many others businesses and nonprofits yet to be created — will incorporate increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence into their educational designs. The AI will diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of each individual learner and customize their education accordingly, constantly challenging and motivating people to work harder and better without breaching the threshold of frustration and failure. The machine learning techniques developed by people like Google’s Peter Norvig will analyze the oceans of information being generated by millions of students and continually improve what students experience and how much they learn.

Meanwhile, a thriving ecosystem of nonprofit and for-profit organizations will develop around the core education providers, offering students a range of services to support, facilitate and improve their educational experience. Counseling, tutoring, advising, study groups, course notes, learning aids, supplementary texts and videos, and much more, each offered by technology-driven organizations that specialize in a specific aspect of higher education.

The long-term trend is obvious and unavoidable: A larger and larger percentage of the education that has been historically confined to scarce, expensive colleges and universities will be made available to anyone, anywhere. That means that students will have peers from every corner of the Earth, of many different ages, backgrounds and creeds.

New systems like open badges will emerge to gather evidence of what people have learned, replacing traditional letter grades and diplomas. Most of that information will be extracted from regular academic work. Because so much of the learning process will be digitally recorded, courses will rely less on high-stakes standardized tests to assess what people know. There may be some costs associated with ensuring the integrity of the testing process — for example, hiring people to read students’ poems and essays and to evaluate portfolios of student work. So while future courses will be free, there may be some charges for assessment. But those costs will be more than manageable. (MIT charges $425, total, to assess students and issue certificates in its seven-course computer science sequence on edX.)

This kind of rational pricing — free courses, inexpensive assessments — will be part of a long-term process in which the price of higher education falls to the marginal cost of providing different pieces of the unbundled university. Services that computers can provide for essentially no cost to the next student will cost nothing. Services that require human labor, such as career counseling, will cost something. But here, too, people will be aided by powerful, productivity-enhancing technology. The total cost of college for many students in the University of Everywhere will be a small fraction of the current market price of higher education.

Evidence of what students have learned in the new digital learning environments will be organized in an entirely new system of credentials — a secure personal educational identity that is controlled by learners, not institutions. Instead of being bound to a college and fixed in a moment of youthful time, these credentials will continually change as people themselves change, reflecting their growing experience, knowledge and skill set. Employers competing for the best and brightest will adapt their hiring practices to take advantage of the enormous amount of information available in rich, machine-discoverable credentials. Because the credentialing systems will be open, millions of Americans and many more elsewhere will compete on a level field in the labor market for the first time, rather than being systematically shut out for lack of an obsolete and elitist degree.

The way that people learn in the University of Everywhere will vary tremendously, because people will not be forced to conform to the outdated traditions of today’s universities. Some people will learn mostly by themselves, on computers. This isn’t the ideal learning environment for many, and it’s simply untenable for some. But we live in a big world with a lot of people. Some of them have jobs and families that consume most of their daily time. Some are isolated by geography or medical circumstance. Some live in societies that deny or discourage educational opportunities to members of certain genders, religions, ethnicities and castes. Some don’t have enough money for anything else. Less than ideal will still be far better than nothing at all.

Moreover, no one is alone on the Internet if they don’t want to be. One of the great truths about social media is that people form deep and lasting connections with others in virtual environments. As technology improves, the nature of those interactions will more closely approximate actual face-to-face meetings. Right now, talking to a life-size virtual image of a real person is the kind of experience you see only in the cafeteria at MIT. In the future, as telecommunications and video technology improve, the conversation might come through an image projected onto a pair of glasses or through ultra-high-definition screens that are large, flexible and cheap. Whatever way it happens, the experience of seeing and hearing people that are nearby and at a far distance will increasingly converge. Information will keep moving faster, and experiences once reserved for the elite will become commonplace for the many.

The international learning communities that develop in the virtual education world will have enormous advantages of scale. They will be inexpensive and at certain levels of access, entirely free. Millions of people simultaneously enrolled in a course of study will create data that is analyzable at great depths of sophistication. In addition to customizing the environment for each learner, in a way that reacts to what they bring to the environment and how they proceed to learn, educational designers will also be able to shape the way students interact with one another, much asMinerva plans to do with its all-seminar education.

The coming abundance of inexpensive, highly effective, continually improving digital learning environments will radically change the economic logic of creating new higher education institutions. Colleges won’t need to hire hundreds of professors and build scores of pricey buildings to house their offices, libraries and lecture halls. Just as information technology has made it exponentially cheaper to create a start-up technology company in Silicon Valley, it will make it exponentially cheaper to create a start-up college, almost anywhere.

Everyone lives somewhere, and most people live near many other people. Certain kinds of master-student and peer relationships form most naturally and strongly in physical proximity. Most parents will still want to kick their children out of the house when they’re grown, and most children will gladly go. So there will always be organizations dedicated to higher learning where people live and learn together. But those organizations will not look much like colleges and universities as we know them today.

The rise of new digital learning environments will supercharge the logic of creating new Minerva Projects. When all the books in the world and a wide array of digital learning environments can be accessed at very low cost from anywhere, people will be free to organize higher education institutions in ways that make much more sense in terms of cost, size and the focus of human activity. Great colleges won’t have to be scarce and expensive anymore. They will become abundant.

Imagine a small group of buildings or spaces run by people with a particular educational philosophy and open to anyone who’s interested in learning. The educators there focus on mentoring students and helping them form relationships with one another. There are places for people to work person-to-person, or to engage electronically with peers in other cities, states and countries. Some of the students live nearby and spend hours there every day, learning full-time. Others come in from their families and homes.

It sounds kind of like a liberal arts or community college, except these buildings don’t have traditional classrooms, lecture halls, libraries or academic departments. The educators work within and alongside digital learning environments, but they do not design them alone. Words like “semester” and “credit hour” have no meaning. The organization won’t control the evidence of what students learn. It isn’t in the business of granting degrees with the institution’s name in bold type. Having a PhD or an MA or even a BA won’t be a job requirement.

Instead, a typical student might be taking one course along with a half million other people around the world and another with three peers and a mentor in the local community. Because it doesn’t cost very much money to start such a place, there are dozens of similar organizations nearby. Some may specialize in a particular subject area, offering a few extended educational programs. Others may be organized around different ideas, faiths, occupations and philosophies of learning.

The future of higher education is one in which educational organizations shrink back to a human scale. They will be big enough to form authentic communities and not so big that interpersonal connections are overwhelmed.

Private businesses might create these new learning organizations, or governments, or philanthropists. Andrew Carnegie had the right idea a century ago when he built thousands of local libraries around the world. The Carnegie libraries made sense given the state of the art in educational information technology then: the printed book.

Local communities were obligated to invest in the buildings in the form of land and ongoing operating support from public sources. They were also required to make them free for anyone to use.

The world needs the 21st century equivalent of Carnegie libraries — beautiful, peaceful places where knowledge lives and grows and spreads. Places supported and beloved by local communities, open to everyone, that offer people all of the educational opportunities technology will make possible.

A great learning experience at such a scale might seem impossible given the colleges we’ve all experienced in our culture and lives. But gigantic universities are a relatively new, mid-20th-century phenomenon. A lot of people learned a great deal in the entire sweep of human history that preceded them. The higher learning places of the future will be portals as much as meeting places, connected to the global University of Everywhere beyond.

 

From “The End of College” by Kevin Carey, to be published March 3 by Riverhead Books, an imprintof Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Carey. Carey directs the Education Policy Programat New America. To comment on this story, e-mail wpmagazine@washpost.com or visit washingtonpost.com/magazine.

 

 

 

What States Can Do To Improve Developmental Education

February 26th, 2015

Heavy Lifting: The State Capacities Required for Scaled Developmental Education Reform
Developmental education is increasingly a target of reform for state policymakers. Rigorous research has exposed developmental education as a significant obstacle for students, particularly low-income young people and workers, as they pursue the postsecondary credentials they need to compete in today’s economy. Heavy Lifting draws on the experience of four states in Jobs for the Future’s Postsecondary State Policy Network—Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia—that are among a very small number of states engaged in statewide developmental education reform. These states’ experiences highlight what all states can consider to ensure that changes are well-designed and effectively implemented and squarely aimed at helping students earn credentials with value in the labor market. Both what these states did well and what they might have done differently can provide insight to states now considering or embarking on statewide developmental education reform. Also check out the new infographic about this work

USA Four Year College Graduates Near The Bottom In International Skills Assessment

February 25th, 2015

By Bo Cutter & Les Francis

“America cannot lead in the 21st Century unless we have the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world.”

– President Barack Obama, April 24, 2009From the late 19th Century well into the second half of the 20th, America reacted to successive steam, electricity and combustion engine revolutions with the emergence of the “factory system,” a new economic platform that brought a continuous adaptation to lower costs of organization, plant design, product manufacturing, distribution, and logistics.

Along with that new economic platform came one of the most fundamental educational revolutions in American history — the high school movement. America’s children and young people were taught skills — trade, managerial or professional — that were most in demand.

As we move further into the 21st Century, the combination of enormous increases in computing power, the Internet, and new technologies represent changes in costs and factors of production every bit as substantial as — and even more pervasive than — the industrial revolution of the past.

Changes in technology are creating new waves of entrepreneurship and industry disruption across much of the economy; in virtually every sector, new entrants are out-competing the incumbents. The Internet has also powered the decentralization and disaggregation of enterprise, and exposed the vulnerability of large integrated companies with command and control management systems and cultures that are inefficient, expensive and resistant to change.

As this new business system evolves, so, too, will the very nature of jobs, work, and careers. The organization of work that was the centerpiece of our industrial economy for 100 years is disappearing. Like it or not, “jobs” in the traditional, 40-hour, 5-day-week sense will no longer be the way we define a “healthy economy.”

Looking ahead, three phenomena are likely to become more central to our lives: part-time assignments, portfolio careers, and pervasive entrepreneurialism.

- In the “gig economy”– more “work” will consist of short term assignments and careers composed of a bundle of such assignments over a lifetime.

Many people will carry out more than one of these short-term assignments at any given time, and while not everyone will want to manage a “portfolio” of assignments, many will see it as the way to make the most of their talents.

Increased entrepreneurialism and personal responsibility will become more important as work becomes less rote, more unpredictable, and fast changing.

Given the growing challenge, just how well is our nation meeting it? The answer is: not very well. There are some bright spots, to be sure: high school graduation rates are up, reaching a record high of 81 percent. In 2013, just under two-thirds of students who graduated from high school went on to enroll in college. But there is more to the story, and it is not nearly as good.

About one-third of the 1.8 million high school students who took the ACT exam in 2013 were not ready for first-year college courses in core English, reading, math or science courses, according to U.S. News and World Report. Just 26 percent reached the college readiness benchmarks across all four subjects. Further, America’s young adults are coming up short on the skills needed to compete in the global, technology-rich economy, a report this week from Educational Testing Service reveals.

How can it be true that we are graduating more young people from high school and college, and yet they don’t come out possessing adequate skills?

Here’s what the ETS research tells us:

Even America’s best performing and most educated millennials — those who are native born and with the greatest economic advantage in relative terms — do not perform better their international peers

Young Americans possessing a four-year bachelor’s degree scored higher in numeracy than their counterparts in only two countries: Poland and Spain. And those whose highest level of educational was high school or less scored lower than their counterparts in almost every other country. Shockingly, our best-educated millennials — those with a master’s or research degree — only scored higher than their peers in three countries.

It is clear that we are failing to prepare our citizens for the demands of the New American Economy. As a consequence, redefining true educational attainment — the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the nurturing of key dispositions (rather than merely conveying paper credentials) — must be at the top of our national priorities. That means that for educational attainment to grow and yield results, we must devote intense concentration of effort and resources to our youngest.

Investment in sustained and targeted early childhood education– beginning with preschool and lasting long past–offers potential for great rewards: These children who receive additional, focused teaching could see an increase in lifetime income worth 10 times more than the cost of that education, according to Brookings research. Such an increase would go a long way toward closing the income gap between families at the bottom of the economic ladder and those above them.

Our education system has long been predicated on the belief that the more schooling one has, the better one’s prospects for long-term employment (“a job”), higher income, and a better standard of living. The trouble is that the dynamics of the New American Economy suggest that narrative may no longer be true.

So not only must we make a major commitment to early childhood education and development, we also have to take a hard look at what is going on — or not — in our schools, K-20 and beyond. In K-12, it would be utter insanity to retreat now from hard-fought gains in the areas of higher standards and greater accountability. It would also be crazy not to provide the resources necessary to recruit, train, and support a higher quality teaching force, and to greatly improve the practice of school leadership. Nor should our institutions of higher education be allowed to go on without answering for the quality of their products.

We also need to look at those people who are no longer in school — whether they are graduates or not — and who will either benefit or suffer in the New American Economy. Everything we know about technology tells us that changes in necessary workplace skills will only multiply and accelerate.

As a nation, we must invent or cultivate institutions and means that provide lifelong learners with the ability to continuously update their skills, including through a wide variety of mini courses that allow for certification and authentication of newly acquired skills.

A lot has to happen to bring about the policy changes above. And none of it will be easy, especially in the highly polarized and largely dysfunctional political environment of today. The New American Economy will not be a blue one, a red one or a purple one. It won’t have a right wing or a left one. But like all economies, it will produce winners and losers. The challenge before us is to produce vastly more of the former than the latter. That will be tough, but not impossible — unless, of course, we choose to do nothing.

Bo Cutter is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt institute and director of its “next American economy” project. He formerly served as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton and as Associate Director of OMB during the Carter Administration.

Les Francis is a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs & communications consultant with a long career in education. He served as Deputy Assistant and Deputy Chief of Staff in President Jimmy Carter’s White House. He was also Executive Director of the DNC, and later of the DCCC.

Article was first published in Real Clear Education

Top 10 EdTech Sites every College Student should Know About

February 24th, 2015

By Jane Hurst

When it comes to higher education technology, companies involved in this industry can get lost in the shuffle once they have launched their product and they are not in the startup phase or looking for seed funding. Administrators and IT staff of colleges are pretty much on their own while they are working at improving the learning technologies and approaches to help students in college. It is important to keep an eye on what is coming up in the technology world, because there are always new things being released that are going to benefit students. Here are the top 10 EdTech tools to look for in the coming months.

  1. Excelsior College’s OWL – This multi-media, online writing lab received a WOW award. The program helps students with their writing, including documentation, grammar, and teaching how to avoid plagiarism. One study shows that students who used OWL upped their final grades by an average of 6.6 points.
  2. Skillsoft – Also on the CIO Magazine list, this company offers a cloud-based learning management system known as Skillport. This is used by a variety of clients, in both business and education. It uses e-learning solutions, on-demand courses, and online video. Clients include the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and the University of Florida.
  3. Capella University’s FlexPath – This is a program that has received federal approval for business, information technology, and psychology program. Capella University also received a WOW higher-education technology award in recognition of this program, which is basically a competency-based, direct-assessment degree program.
  4. WhichVoIP – Although VoIP has been around for quite a while, there are new applications being created all the time that can benefit students. Long distance calling costs can easily mount up so it is worth evaluating some of the low cost services that are now available. Additionally, any campus that is not already using VoIP should have it near the top of their list of IT priorities.
  5. Civitas Learning – This company has been named to the CIO Review list, for creating applications that are used by colleges and universities to identify at-risk students and help keep them from failing in their studies. They also offer predictive analytics that show the success rates of students, so higher education institutions can adjust their programs to give students the greatest chance of success.
  6. Colorado Technical University’s Intellipath – Another WOW award winner, Intellipath is an adaptive learning platform that can be used by both students and faculty. This technology is currently being used for the university’s business master’s degree program.
  7. Respondus – This company is on the CIO Magazine list, and develops assessments that help educators to keep students from cheating on online exams. It offers a LockDown Browser application, which keeps students from being able to access other windows or apps while they are taking their tests. Currently, 800 universities and school districts are using this technology.
  8. Ellucian – This CIO Review list-featured company offers software and services for higher education institutions that will help improve student recruitment and retention, enterprise resource planning, self-service student planning, records management in admissions and academic offices, advising, and more. There are currently 2,400 education sector clients using this technology, including Duke University, Yale Univeristy, Purdue University, and American University.
  9. Hitachi ID Systems – This technology helps higher education institutions to better manage network security, controlling access and ID’s for administrators, staff, faculty, students, alumni, and others.
  10. Biometric Signature ID – This made it to the CIO Review top 20 list. Biometric Signature ID offers identity verification students for college students that the colleges can also use with online courses to ensure that all registered students are taking quizzes and exams. This technology analyzes how users move the mouse or their finger to draw certain characters, and uses these movements as identifiers.

Byline:

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.

Dual Enrollment Success Depends On Instructor Quality

February 23rd, 2015

BRIEF

Michael Brickman, Fordham Foundation

High schools hoping to increase student success in college have often turned to an innovative solution: allow students to take college-level coursework before they graduate. The hope is that by exposing teenagers to college courses earlier, they will be more likely to think they are “college material,” earn a bit of college credit for free (or nearly free), and get acclimated to college-level rigor. (Most of these courses are taught on high school campuses by high school teachers.) A new report from the Education Commission of the States (ECS), however, questions just how strong some of these courses are and examines state strategies to ensure rigor.

The ECS analysts found that states generally follow one of four approaches to ensure quality in “dual enrollment” courses: 1) Some states, including Colorado, leave decisions about whether courses are worthy of credit up to post-secondary institutions; 2) others, such as Delaware, require post-secondary institutions and high schools to reach agreements, but do not prescribe the nature of those agreements; 3) eight states have adopted the guidelines of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), which are designed to ensure quality and cover topics including curricula, faculty, students, assessments, and evaluations; and 4) six others require or encourage actual NACEP accreditation.

States and districts working to encourage the completion of truly college-level coursework in high school should, as ECS recommends, ensure that educators are prepared to teach such rigorous work. They should also ensure high schools are being honest with students so they don’t enter college thinking they have earned credits only to find out those dual enrollment courses weren’t up to par. The NACEP standards may help, but they might be overly prescriptive and sometimes seem more focused on inputs than outcomes.

For these reasons and others, states may wish to preserve local control and encourage innovation by leaving some additional flexibility to institutions. They might also offer courses that are more focused on earning industry credentials than college credit. Whatever the case, states and districts must ensure that students are focused on the next step, but aren’t deceived about whether they’re progressing toward whatever productive endeavor they ultimately choose.

Origination Fees Could Substitute For Student Loans

February 20th, 2015

Student Loans Don’t Need Interest Rates

Interest rates on student loans cause a lot of confusion and anxiety among student borrowers. Alexander Holt  explains how eliminating interest rates and utilizing origination fees could make the cost of student loans more transparent.

edcentr.al/eliminateinterestrates