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.
We operate in a turbulent higher education marketplace. Many forces are impacting the foundational pillars of higher education, from economic and demographic to social, cultural, and, especially, technological. Knowing how these forces will impact higher education helps leaders adjust, adapt, and plan for the future. This awareness can help an institution to survive or even flourish.
One established source for understanding trends has been the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) annual Horizon Report, which assesses short-, mid-, and long-term trends in the adoption of technology in higher education. The report also looks at the anticipated timeframe for the adoption and the challenges that might impede the adoption of that technology. Over the last 16 years, NMC has used the Delphi Method, engaging industry experts like consultant Bryan Alexander to develop, discuss, and forecast the likelihood and strength of these trends. I have used the report as homework for my academic leaders and it has been suggested reading for all university leadership for many years.
Innovative institutions of higher learning are increasingly incorporating Open Educational Resources (OER) in their curricula to improve instruction and lower students’ education costs.
OER brings together teaching, learning and resource materials in any medium that have been released under an open license. Open Educational Resources include textbooks, curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation products. In 2017, APUS converted 222 courses to OER.
Reuters wrote about how a Chinese company, Dipont, bought access to admissions officers at elite U.S. colleges and universities including Vanderbilt, Tulane, the University of Virginia, and Wellesley College. Eight former Dipont employees were interviewed about the company’s practices with U.S. admissions officers. One of those practices, hosting a summer program in China and inviting U.S.
On September 12, 2015, the White House released its long-awaited College Scorecard and, much like other ranking and comparison tools available for use by students, the Scorecard came up short in representing all institutions fairly. While it may have been created with the latest mobile technology to allow for easier access, its data do not accurately portray many institutions, including those serving non-traditional students or where most students do not use federal student aid (FSA) to cover the cost of tuition.
A week ago, research firm ITHAKA S+R published the results of its fall 2015 survey. More than 100 American higher education administrators and experts were invited to join a panel of advisors who have been asked to participate in two semi-annual surveys as part of their advisory roles. The Fall 2015 survey examined initiatives and strategies to improve degree completion rates, the quality of student learning and college affordability, and respondents evaluated and rated the initiatives and strategies.
Michael Horn’s and Andrew Kelly’s August 2015 whitepaper Moving Beyond College: Rethinking Higher Education Regulation for an Unbundled World discusses current and proposed alternatives to the postsecondary education system and how more of them might be eligible for federal and state financial aid programs. The authors explain that the development of technology-enabled modular or unbundled offerings for higher education is common and occurs in many industries as technology matures.
As part of its ongoing contributions to improving higher education, the Lumina Foundation issued a white paper in August 2015, A Benchmark for Making College Affordable – The Rule of 10. The paper initially references the 45 percent increase in the cost of college over the past decade while the average family income rose only 7 percent over the same period.
Susan Dynarski’s June 2 article in The New York Times elicited more than a few tweets. Dr. Dynarski, a professor of education, public policy and economics at the University of Michigan, wrote about a project called the Education Longitudinal Study that began tracking 15,000 high school sophomores in 2002. Last month, the researchers updated their educational attainment data for those sophomores and issued a report.
Last week’s announcement that Sweet Briar College would close in August came as a shock to many. Some alumnae have organized a fundraising campaign to keep Sweet Briar alive and others are wondering why a college with an $84 million endowment and 700 students had to close while it still had cash in the bank. The board cited an unsustainable enrollment decline as one of the reasons.