Home Trends in Higher Education A funny thing happened on the way to the forum…

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum…


I spent two days last week in Honolulu attending and presenting at the 2011 Hawaii International Conference on Education.   With me were Dr. Karan Powell, our Academic Dean and Dr. Phil Ice, our Director of Course Design, Development, and Metrics.  The three of us co-presented on four different topics, Optimizing Faculty Workload and Learning Effectiveness in Distance Education; Semantic Mapping of Learning Assets; Comprehensive Assessment of Student Retention in Online Learning Environments; and Using Data to Assess Learning Effectiveness, Student Retention and Institutional Productivity in Online Programs. With the exception of the last lecture that was designated a workshop, the format of the conference booked four different presentations in the same room for a 90-minute period.  Because of the format, we were able to attend and participate in multiple presentations other than ours without leaving the seminar room.

While our topics were organized under the headings of Distance Education and Technology in Education, they were not limited to higher education and thus, some of the presenters had topics that related to K-12, language training, and teacher training.  What amazed me about this year’s conference is that most of the presenters in our segments were from traditional educational institutions.  At APUS we embrace technology as it is the platform that serves as the foundation for our campus.  Because of that, we usually present at conferences with distance education or technology as the theme.  With themes of lectures at this conference ranging from training traditional college professors to build and teach in an online class, teaching fractions to fifth graders using a smartphone app, and using Twitter as a means of engaging students outside the traditional classroom, the other presenters represented a segment of educators that I have generally not seen at the more technical conferences.

Education is criticized for its slow rate of change.  While some of us have been utilizing technology to deliver instruction online for nearly 20 years, perhaps 2011 is the year we will look back and see a significant increase in the adoption of technology to enhance traditional K-12 and Higher Education instruction and learning.  In Disrupting Class, Clayton Christensen and his co-authors predict that 25 percent of high school classes will be online by 2014 and half by 2019.  Until this past week, I did not think that their prediction had a chance of being correct.  Today, I am much more optimistic.



Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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