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Coronavirus: Its Impact on the Higher Education Experience

The month of March was not a good month for higher education. With the national, state, and local social distancing recommendations, college leaders recognized that college campuses had to be closed. Within two weeks, almost all of our colleges and universities transitioned to online classes with students attending classes remotely from home, their off-campus apartments, or in a few cases, from their dormitories.

Interoperability, Not Third-Party Assessors, Is the Answer: A Response to Creating Seamless Credit Transfer

It’s always a joy and a challenge for me to read the work of Michael Horn and Richard Price coming out of the Christensen Institute. I revel in the creativity of ideas, the diversity of examples and the parallels they make to other industries and times in higher education. And it’s a challenge in the climb-a-mountain-for-a-better-view variety. The document "Creating Seamless Credit Transfer: A parallel higher ed system to support America through and beyond the recession" did not disappoint in the ideals I hold for these scholars’ thinking.

Penn GSE: An Unforgettable Experience

I recently attended the 10th reunion of doctoral graduates at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program is an Ed.D. program initiated two decades ago at Penn GSE by Professors Robert Zemsky and Marvin Lazerson. Unlike traditional doctoral programs, the Penn GSE program was modeled similar to Wharton’s Executive MBA program, with a cohort of students from around the country and overseas.

Google vs. Harvard?

Brandon Busteed, president of University Partners at Kaplan and former director of education & workforce development at Gallup, recently wrote an article for Forbes, “Americans Rank A Google Internship Over A Harvard Degree.” He notes that when 2,000 Americans were asked what would be most helpful for a high school graduate to launch a career, a Google internship or Harvard degree, nearly two-thirds of the respondents selected Google. The December 2019 Kaplan survey was conducted by QuestResearch Group.

New Year’s Announcement: Free Tuition For Four Years – With a Catch

Among my newsfeeds over the holidays was one from the Lexington, KY Herald Leader about an announcement from Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY about a new four-year, tuition-free scholarship for local graduating high school students. The offer applies to students admitted over the next decade and requires they live on campus all four years and pay for room and board, approximating $12,000 annually.

Some College and No Degree

“Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate” is the headline for a recent Strada, Gallup and Lumina Study report. Another recent National Student Clearinghouse report provided an overview of this population by state, noting that a nuanced review of the data is required before making conclusions and recommendations. The researchers pulled Strada-Gallup survey data from more than 42,000 individuals who did not complete college to complement the Clearinghouse study and shared the following key findings.

My Top 10 Wish List for College Learning

As president of a university with a mission to provide a relevant and affordable education to adult learners, I have watched as American Public University System has added approximately 70+ degree programs over my nearly 18-year tenure. As a result, we have a wide variety of career-relevant offerings, with more than 90,000 alumni and 80,000 active students enrolled in more than 200 online degree and certificate programs. Someone recently asked me what program I would advise today’s students to seriously consider for their major.

Expanding Pathways to College Enrollment and Degree Attainment

Last week, non-profit research firm ITHAKA S+R released an issue brief, discussing the policies and reforms necessary for states to increase access to higher education and degree attainment. The authors write that the U.S. has a projected shortage of five million workers with appropriate postsecondary education credentials by 2020, noting that most undergraduate students today are nontraditional.

The 60-Year Curriculum

 

A friend recently sent me an article from The EvoLLLution,Preparing a Traditional University for the 60-Year Curriculum,” by Josh Herron, dean of Online and Continuous Learning at Anderson University. Herron discusses ongoing corporate initiatives to train and retrain their employees, noting that universities should consider the 60-Year Curriculum (ages 15-75) as a framework to prepare people for lifetime learning in order to continually re-tool or upskill because of technology disruption eliminating their jobs. Citing badges, certificates and “other modular approaches,” in addition to Competency Based Education (CBE), he assesses the Anderson initiatives accomplished thus far using this framework.

One of the articles he notes was an EvoLLLution interview with Hunt Lambert, dean of Continuing Education and Extension at Harvard. In the interview, Mr. Lambert suggests that higher education morph from its two-year A.A., four-year B.A., two-year M.A., and seven-year Ph.D. learning models to a 60-year model to cover the likely major career changes/shifts of adult learners. I found it particularly noteworthy that he stated that if higher education institutions do not make these changes, then Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Salesforce, and others will. He further states that, in the long run, any individual school is unlikely to supply more than 20 percent of any learners’ solutions from their faculty-based degree programs (italics are mine). I wholeheartedly agree.

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.