Memorial Day O'Donnell

Memorial Day 2019: A Video Tribute featuring the Words of Ronald Reagan

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. But it’s also about spending time with friends, family and those you love. To commemorate this important holiday, In Military has shared a special video featuring the timeless words of President Reagan in his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery in 1985.

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Vernon Smith

Commencement 2019: A Provost Takes Pride

Are you a fan of Commencement? Does hearing Pomp and Circumstance stir excitement and fond memories? Do you look for the most creative mortarboards with phrases like, “She did it!”, “I persisted!”, “Hi, Mom!” and the like? Do you like hearing the thoughts and advice shared by graduates and keynote speakers? If you're like me and happened to attend our recent Commencement, then you weren't disappointed.

Over 1,300 students walked across the stage during the ceremonies attended by some 7,000+ family members and friends along with our faculty and staff at the Gaylord at National Harbor. We publicly recognized them for obtaining a diploma as well as showing the grit, tenacity, hard work, and dedication to earn that diploma. These graduates represented but a fraction of the nearly 11,000 students who were conferred American Military University or American Public University degrees throughout the year. Some wore brightly colored stoles indicating special designations, such as being a first-generation student, their military service, and academic and student organization honors. In addition to being congratulated by me and our president Dr. Wally Boston, General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., 29th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and President of our Board of Trustees, personally greeted every AMU student wearing their Class-A uniform.

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Wally Boston competency-based education

Postsecondary Competency-Based Education: Scalable or Not?

Among the many panaceas touted by policymakers to improve graduation rates of adult students, Competency-Based Education (CBE) may be the innovation most often cited but not yet widely adopted. Eduventures’ new study, “State of the Field, Findings from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary CBE,” includes responses from leaders at 500 schools with existing CBE programs or future plans to add them. With approximately 5,300 postsecondary institutions in the U.S., that number represents slightly less than 10% of all providers.

Among the study’s findings:

  • 50% of institutions with CBE programs enroll less than 50 students. Schools were asked what factors either helped the growth of their programs or hindered their growth and the top responses for undergraduate programs were: demand from students, CBE program start-up costs, evidence about CBE programs’ potential to reduce cost for students, and Federal Student Aid regulations and processes.
  • Of these four top responses, program start-up costs and FSA regulations skewed negatively (hindering) and demand from students and evidence about CBE program potential to reduce costs skewed positively (helping).
  • Despite the current low enrollment for many schools, more than 75% of all respondents believe that CBE will grow significantly over the next five years.
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Wally Boston competency-based education

The Outcomes Imperative for Adaptive Learning

When I first joined APUS, conferences were an easy way to get up to speed on many issues. Similar to other industries, there are many different higher ed conferences whose agendas reflect member needs. There are events for college presidents, financial officers, enrollment management and student services staff, academic advisors, accreditation leaders, chief academic officers, faculty, etc. Over time, I’ve reduced my conference schedule as I feel more comfortable with the relevant issues in a given area.

One conference I consistently attend is the Higher Education Leadership Conference at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The event is unique in that only graduates of Penn’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program are invited. Alumni organize the agenda to address some of the current issues in higher education. Because graduates are administrators at colleges and universities (including more than 50 college and university presidents), the dialogue between speakers, panelists, and participants is as stimulating as the presentations.

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melissa layne open educational resources

Open Educational Resources: Pioneering Low-Cost Course Materials and Peer-Reviewed Scholarship

This past November, a new kid on the block joined the ranks of peer-reviewed scholarly journals with its inaugural issue, APUS’s The International Journal of Open Educational Resources (IJOER). This publication, however, is not the common journal that academic scholars have all come to know and love.

In March 2018, APUS Provost Dr. Vernon Smith approached me to see if I would be interested in developing and overseeing a journal focusing on open educational resources (OER). After consulting with several OER leaders, I was quite surprised to learn that IJOER was indeed the FIRST journal to focus solely on OER research — especially given that the OER movement began well before 1995.

In fact, it wasn’t until November 2018 that the first OER-focused journal was developed. Prior to IJOER, research studies around OER were published in content-specific journals. For example, if a researcher conducted a study titled “The Development of OERs in the Physics Classroom”, the article would likely be published in a physics-related journal. IJOER provides scholars with a new and more relevant venue to publish their work.

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Cali Morrison technology-driven learning

APUS Leaders Discuss the Value of Technology-Driven Learning in Higher Education

APUS Associate Dean of Alternative Learning Cali Morrison and APUS Provost Dr. Vernon Smith were each recently appointed to new leadership positions with the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), one of the leading authorities on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Cali recently sat down with Dr. Smith to discuss the value of APUS's long-standing relationship with WCET and their respective new advisory roles.

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wes odonnell

Veterans Day 2018: Serving the Needs of the Community | American Military University

Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, is observed annually on November 11th and gives the nation an opportunity to honor those who served in the U.S. Military. Many other countries celebrate the same day as Remembrance Day to mark the end of major hostilities after World War I, but for Americans, it’s a day to explicitly thank a veteran for his or her service and sacrifice.

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Vernon Smith

The Provost Challenge: Driving Innovation to Enhance Student Engagement and Learning Outcomes

Something about a challenge motivates us. Whether it’s the first transatlantic flight, landing on the moon, or taking on one of numerous YouTube challenges going viral on smartphones everywhere, there is something about challenges that creates energy, creativity, and innovation. Even the U.S. government has harnessed the power of challenges, from using RFID to locate items on the International Space Station, launching payloads into space within a matter of days, or helping to prevent opioid misuse in expectant and new mothers. Challenges with cash prizes are available from various agencies on Challenge.gov, which reports awarding over $250 million in prizes to creative individuals, small business owners and academic researchers.

One of the wonderful aspects of the challenge process is that you don’t have to do the challenge to participate; you can learn from the process itself and even assist in judging entries for which you have expertise and interest. However, if you have a unique approach or an innovative idea, you can join the students, entrepreneurs, technology-inclined, and academic researchers in the challenge to be the first and best.

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Wally Boston competency-based education

The Future of the Digital University

I recently participated on a panel at the University of Pennsylvania’s Future of Higher Education conference. The text below is excerpted from my prepared remarks.

It’s no surprise that we have both digital-only universities and universities that offer digital classes. However, you may be surprised that in the U.S., we have 140 digital-only universities and 3,338 universities and colleges offering online courses. The latest Babson Survey Research Group online learning survey found that approximately 6.4 million students attending U.S. universities (representing 31.6% of all students) took at least one online course in the last year. Almost half of these students attended one of 235 institutions representing 5% of U.S. higher education institutions.

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Cali Morrison technology-driven learning

Revisiting the CBExchange

I recently attended my third CBExchange and this year, I had the pleasure of serving on the program and welcome committees. The number one benefit to being a Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) member and/or attending CBExchange is learning from the experiences of those who participate. The community is open in sharing the good, the bad, the challenges, and the triumphs of starting, fostering, and scaling CBE programs. While I wasn’t around at the beginning of the online education movement, the comradery I’ve seen forged in those who built online education is reflected in the relationships established through CBEN.

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