Higher Ed Insights: Week of Oct. 10, 2016

pexels-photo-163662-mediumA recent Inside Higher Education article, Oberlin Expands Its Reach, noted that Oberlin College is willing to open its library to online students in a Pioneer Academics program, and grant them credit for completing college level courses requiring a 15-30 page research paper. Oberlin is remunerated for the use of its library and for the credit granting. I would be a bit reluctant to award credit to someone never attending my institution and am curious why Oberlin chose to do so.

In what appears to be a first for acknowledging the rights of affected students disciplined, the Department of Education said that Wesley College violated the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct. It has been my concern for some time that misconduct hearings on many college campuses have not allowed due process rights for the accused. It will be interesting to see if there are changes as a result of this ruling.

Final regulations linking federal college grants to the evaluations and success of teacher graduates were announced last week. There appear to be many more opposed, than in favor of, the implementation of these regulations. The administration has deferred to the states to determine the evaluation of teacher prep programs in their state-approved schools of education, but most will likely be rating public institutions. Because of post-graduation teacher performance ranking, it’s likely that these regulations will significantly reduce the opportunities for teacher education through online programs (with on-ground practicums).

A partnership between a public, two-year college and a public university in New Jersey has been criticized because of the exclusive nature of the relationship.  Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) and Rowan University entered into a 3 + 1 partnership in which RCBC students majoring in certain programs are allowed to remain for a third year and will matriculate at Rowan University for their fourth  to earn an undergraduate degree. RCBC will not host transfer fairs or tables for other four-year universities. Some institutions interviewed believe that this limits choice for RCBC students. RCBC notes that they continue to offer 2 + 2 programs but that they advertised for 3 + 1 partners and that Rowan University was the only school that responded. In an era of declining enrollments, this type of structure makes sense and we’ll likely see more such arrangements.

Rich DeMillo, author and former dean at Georgia Tech, wrote about alternative credentialing (a.k.a. online master’s degrees and micro credentials) and how they complement traditional degrees. He notes how the online master’s in Computer Science offered at Georgia Tech in partnership with Udacity has expanded enrollment by 4,000 students studying from 80 countries and increased computer science master’s students at U.S. institutions. While I am not convinced that traditional (face-to-face) degrees are mandatory for all (there are many excellent online bachelor’s programs), I agree that micro credentials and online master’s degrees are excellent complements to both traditional and non-traditional programs.

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