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Online Disruption, MOOC Mania, and Change in Higher Education – How Crazy (or Bad) Will it Get?

(keynote delivered at the Distance Learning Administration Conference on June 5, 2013)

I began writing this speech nearly three months ago.  A week and a half ago, I wrapped it up and thought I had better run through it one last time in case any new educational technology had been released that I needed to discuss today.  While nothing notable has been released, I am sure that somewhere, someone with a background in technology is working on the next great thing to sell to students and/or institutions.… Read the rest

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Pilot Program Forces Discussion of Online Learning, MOOCs, Student Retention, and the Future of Higher Education

Earlier this week, the California State University System (CSU) announced an online pilot program with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses).  Udacity will provide a remedial algebra course, a college level algebra course, and a statistics course as part of the pilot that will initially be limited to 300 students at San Jose State University and several local community colleges.  The cost of each course will be $150.  Udacity will provide mentors to the students to answer their questions and encourage them to complete the assignments and stay enrolled in class. … Read the rest

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Barriers to Adoption of Online Learning Systems in U.S. Higher Education

Ithaka S+R recently published a report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and titled, “Barriers to Adoption of Online Learning Systems in U.S. Higher Education.”  I have written extensively on this blog about the economic constraints facing institutions of higher education, issues of student persistence and retention, and the litany of other issues daunting the American higher education system today.  In their report, the authors explore many of these same topics explaining why they believe online education could be a boon for higher education in general and students, faculty, and individual institutions specifically. … Read the rest

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Completing College: Rethinking Institutional Action

Vincent Tinto’s research related to student retention is well known among academicians.  His 1975 paper in the Review of Educational Research creating a theoretical construct of the major factors leading to student retention has been cited in hundreds, if not thousands of papers and publications.  Additionally, Tinto’s sociological construct of the college dropout influenced future researchers toward examining the cause of dropouts instead of blaming the victim.  In 1987, Tinto published Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition (and later reprinted a second edition in 1993).… Read the rest

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In the clamor for increasing graduation and persistence rates, are we ignoring the student at risk factors and student characteristics?

In the early days of online education, a commonly discussed phenomenon was the low completion rates of students.  Some chose to explain the departure of students using characteristics such as lack of social integration and academic integration for students matriculating in online programs as identified by Vincent Tinto and others.  As technologies utilized in the classroom improved and subsequently, online teaching techniques, student persistence improved as well, but not close to the levels sustained by some of the best face-to-face programs. … Read the rest

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Online Student Retention

I had the opportunity to present a paper this week at the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education’s (AACE) E-Learn 2010 conference in Orlando along with Dr. Phil Ice, our Director of Course Design, Research & Development.  The paper, Comprehensive Assessment of Student Retention in Online Learning Environments, originated from research that I conducted as part of my doctoral dissertation at The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

Student retention has been an issue in higher education since the late 1800’s. … Read the rest

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