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The educative effect is greater when students do something than when something is done to them

Lecture

Ron Byrnes said:

There should be a corollary to the admonition [to students], “Bring energy for learning; be interested and engaged,” such as “Faculty will resist talking at you. Instead they will capitalize on your energy for learning by developing personalized learning environments characterized by meaningful interaction.”

Deborah Meier argues in The Power of Their Ideas, “Teaching is mostly listening and learning is mostly telling” (1995, p. xi). Likewise, Decker Walker contends in Fundamentals of Curriculum, “The educative effect is greater when students do something than when something is done to them” (1990, p. 479). University faculty rarely apply these aphorisms because they think of themselves first and foremost as mathematicians, philosophers, and psychologists who also happen to teach. Consequently, scant time is spent thinking about whether conventional teaching methods are working. Even less time is spent crafting alternative ones; as a result, a talking at students status quo prevails.

via http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17818

Academic publishing in two sentences

Time it took my article to appear in print: 3 years.

Time it took this blog post to appear online: 5 seconds.

[P.S. Not trying to pick on JSL; they’re great. This is an issue endemic to most of our print publications in higher education…]

ADDENDUM: Time it took to edit this post four times: 3 minutes. Time it would take to edit a printed journal article post-production: ha ha ha ha!

Journal of School Leadership

The best school technology leadership program in the country?

CASTLE Logo

Let’s see…

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Does the University of Kentucky have the best School Technology Leadership program in the country? I’m biased because I helped set it up but, yeah, I think it does…

Universities are selling degrees, not skills and competencies

Andrew Barras says:

Universities aren’t selling skills and competencies, they are selling degrees. That creates a disconnect between them and their customers. The ones that resolve this disconnect are the ones that will survive the next 10 years.

via http://educationstormfront.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/an-example-of-how-degrees-matter-less

Picking right answers from a set of prescribed alternatives that trivialize complexity and ambiguity

Leon Botstein says:

The essential mechanism of the SAT, the multiple choice test question, is a bizarre relic of long outdated twentieth century social scientific assumptions and strategies. As every adult recognizes, knowing something or how to do something in real life is never defined by being able to choose a “right” answer from a set of possible answers (some of them intentionally misleading) put forward by faceless test designers who are rarely eminent experts. No scientist, engineer, writer, psychologist, artist, or physician – and certainly no scholar, and therefore no serious university faculty member – pursues his or her vocation by getting right answers from a set of prescribed alternatives that trivialize complexity and ambiguity.

via http://time.com/15199/college-president-sat-is-part-hoax-and-part-fraud

Open source scholarship is a radical transformation for researchers

Alex Fink says:

Open Source Scholarship is a massive attitude and orientation change for scholars. What’s it really about, in my mind? It is about transforming a history in academia of using secrecy, privacy, and private ownership of ideas into one of shared, participatory, co-designed and developed, public, and free work. It is about – especially because I’m at a public institution – helping to build a commons, while simultaneously attempting to dismantle the histories of oppression that knowledge generated in universities has been used to promote and the limited knowledge systems we’ve propagated. Open source scholarship is a radical transformation in the universities’ relationship with ideas, in scholars’ relationships with students and colleagues, in relationships with communities. It is an explosion of the concept of “inside” and “outside”, of “expert” and “lay”, of privileged knowledge and everyday knowledge. Whether or not academics and universities want it, this is the coming world. More and more people will be empowered to use and conduct research, it will be available and evaluated more broadly, and the state of knowledge will be opened up in new ways we can’t yet even predict.

via http://www.hastac.org/blogs/alexanderjfink/2013/11/16/open-source-scholarship-github-academics-next-steps

Principal 2.0 (new book!)

Principal 2.0

Remember last September when I made available for free my most recent book chapter, Supporting Effective Technology Integration and Implementation?

Well, that chapter’s still available to you for free, but I’m pleased to announce that the rest of the book is now available as well. Featuring a diverse set of authors, perspectives, and topics, there’s something for everybody in Principal 2.0: Technology and Educational Leadership.

Here are the chapter titles and authors (including all 4 CASTLE directors!):

  • Foreword: Ready Set Go! with Educational Technology, Governor Beverly Perdue
  • Introduction: Making the Case for Principal 2.0, Jennifer Friend and Matthew Militello
  • Augmenting Educational Realities, John Militello
  • The Role of For-Profit Firms in the Educational Ecosystem, Michael J. Schmedlen
  • Generation X Meets Generation Y: Reflections on Technology and Schooling, Jennifer Friend and Alexander David Friend
  • Zen and the Art of Technology in Schools: Multigenerational Perspectives, Matthew Militello, Ronald Militello, Dominic Militello, Luke Militello, and Gabriel Militello
  • Digital Storytelling for Critical Reflection: An Educational Leadership Story, Francisco Guajardo, Miguel A. Guajardo, John A. Oliver, Mónica M. Valadez, and Mark Cantu
  • Engaging Youth Voice: Collaborative Reflection to Inform School Relationships, Processes, and Practices, Christopher Janson, Sejal Parikh, Jacqueline Jones, Terrinikka Ransome, and Levertice Moses
  • There’s an App for That: 50 Ways To Use Your iPad, April Adams and Jennifer Friend
  • Student-Owned Mobile Technology Use in the Classroom: An Innovation Whose Time Has Come, Tricia J. Stewart and Shawndra T. Johnson
  • Affective Learning Through Social Media Engagement, David Ta-Pryor and Jonathan T. Ta-Pryor
  • The Central Texas Community Learning Exchange Digi-Book: Fostering School and Community Engagement Through the Creation of a Digital Book, Lee Francis, IV, Mónica M. Valadez, John A. Oliver, and Miguel A. Guajardo
  • Leaders Online: Enhancing Communication with Facebook and Twitter, John B. Nash and Dan Cox
  • Balancing Effective Technology Leadership with Legal Compliance: Legal Considerations for Principal 2.0, Justin Bathon and Kevin P. Brady
  • Connected Principals: In Pursuit of Social Capital via Social Media, Candice Barkley and Jonathan D. Becker
  • School Leaders’ Perceptions of the Technology Standards, Matthew Militello and Alpay Ersozlu
  • Supporting Effective Technology Integration and Implementation, Scott McLeod and Jayson W. Richardson.

A big thanks to Drs. Matt Militello and Jennifer Friend for inviting me to be a part of this publication. Happy reading!

MOOCs are here. How should state universities respond?

Southwesternuniversity

Here is a short essay on MOOCs that Drs. Steve Vardeman and Max Morris, Statistics faculty at Iowa State University, gave me permission to share. Their essential premises? That MOOCs are going to rock state (and other) universities’ worlds, that most institutions should immediately institute moratoriums on hiring new faculty and building new facilities, and that universities need to focus on clarifying their value proposition in a world of ‘commodity [higher] education.’

The full essay is below. What do you think?

The Inevitable Coming Impact of Online Education on State Universities and Rational Response to What is Coming
Stephen B. Vardeman and Max D. Morris

The recent appearance and publicity of organizations created to provide “massively open online courses” (MOOCs) is a truly revolutionary development in higher education. The free-for-anyone web-based courses offered by professors at select universities, and produced by Coursera, EdEX, and Udacity, were initially offered without traditional college credit. But this is already changing; participating universities are already offering credit for courses delivered through these outlets, at prices (split between the university and the MOOC provider) well below standard tuition levels. It seems clear that in relatively short order, there will be MOOC versions of many of the large-enrollment freshman- and sophomore-level courses taught at most major universities, and that students will be able to acquire transferable credits for these courses at the accredited schools for substantially less money than the tuition now charged for similar on-campus courses. In 21st century America, where many new college students reach graduation only by acquiring a mountain of personal debt, this can be regarded as welcome news. But for the nation’s educational institutions, the changes (which we believe will unfold very quickly) will present massive challenges.

In the following, we outline what we see as the “realities” and “consequences” of this revolution, and “options” that should be considered now for university administrators and faculty. Our particular perspective is in the context of the generic “Well Respected State University” (WRSU), which represents an enormous proportion of the traditional American college system.

Realities

The coming impact of MOOCs is begin made possible by a number of factors. First among these is clearly the technical capability, via the evolving internet, to physically produce courses that can be viewed at little or no expense by a huge proportion of the world’s population. But there are other factors involved as well, including the public perception of the nature and value of higher education, and economic forces. In particular,

  1. The American public now views most of “higher” education (extending through masters level) as a “commodity,” something thought of primarily in business terms, that will be sold primarily on the basis of price and convenience, subject to meeting of a minimum standard of quality (for the given species of product). University administrators have generally adopted this viewpoint as well, often using terms such as “customer,” “stake holder,” and “marketing” to describe how the school relates to students, their parents, and others.
  2. Technology is now enabling mass production and mass distribution of increasingly low cost coursework of acceptable (and increasing) quality. The organizations that produce MOOCs are well-funded and have selectively associated themselves with universities that have the capability of meeting any “quality” challenge that could arise.
  3. The economics of commodity education (as with all other commodities) will always be driven by competition toward increasing efficiency, lower cost, and improved quality. The innovation of combining high-quality on-line education with traditional college credit at a reduced cost can be compared to the innovation of the Model T Ford. Just as mechanization forever changed agriculture and mass production forever changed the making of hard goods, these innovations will change commodity education forever.
  4. Specialty/niche markets can exist where “hand crafting” with relatively high “profit” margins carries on, while commodity prices decline drastically. Highly respected liberal arts colleges will continue to attract the small minority of students for whom the element of personal involvement is important … and who can afford to pay the required fees. The majority of state universities, however, will not be able to continue operating as they have in the past.
  5. To be absolutely clear, in almost every case, WRSU is not positioned to be at all successful competing for commodity sales. The well-funded start-ups and consortia already have huge professional production staffs working with the best academic institutions on delivering very carefully made courses. In contrast, most university “Distance Ed” programs could be carried out as effectively by arming every faculty member with a tablet PC and capture software. Existing (or even improved) on-line courses, produced by most educational institutions, offered at present rates of tuition, cannot hope to compete with the coming alternatives. And there will be no incentive for any of the current MOOC providers to affiliate with more schools than are really needed to support the new system. The inevitable fate of most state universities is that more and more of their future graduates will be taking (and paying for) fewer and fewer of their courses at their alma mater.

Consequences

The realities described above carry with them consequences which will constitute a massive change in the environment in which WRSU must operate. Our belief is that these will evolve more quickly than most people expect, but whether the time-frame is 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years, these consequences are very predictable:

  1. For most state universities, tuition income will drop precipitously, as students do more and more of their courses at their kitchen tables. In addition, the state revenue reductions of the last few decades will surely continue, especially as on-campus enrollments drop and legislators are even more tempted to spend public money elsewhere. Together, these two trends will force dramatic decreases in funding available to state universities. Except at the very best research institutions (and despite the self-images that may exist on campus, very few WRSU’s can claim to be these exceptions), funded research cannot begin to cover these losses.
  2. It will be increasingly hard to justify the expense required to maintain the faculty and physical plants of most state universities. In the worst case, draconian measures will be necessary to reduce faculty head counts, some institutions will simply close down, and university assets, no longer needed to physically educate so many on-campus students, will be sold. In general, pressure on faculty and departments will increase dramatically as the issue becomes one of institutional survival.
  3. Especially for large departments that have, in the past, justified faculty lines with large-enrollment service courses, there will be increased pressure to justify their relatively large departmental budgets.

Options

As outlined above, the rapidly changing environment of higher education will impose severe constraints on most public universities. However, there are choices that can be made. While many of them will be unpleasant (at least in the minds of those invested in the traditional system of higher education), they should be addressed by WRSU administrators and faculty now, because delay will only reduce the number of alternatives available. First of all, current strategic plans, based primarily on pre-MOOC logic, should be immediately reviewed, and much in them modified. In particular:

  1. For most state universities, a hiring freeze should be seriously considered immediately. Even if enrollments have seen recent increases, the evidence that this cannot continue is overwhelming.
  2. For most state universities, serious consideration should be given to radically changed building plans immediately. In place of big lecture halls, testing centers should be built. Physical inefficiencies should be addressed, and the overall strategy of physical plant development should be reoriented toward the idea that less, rather than more, facilities will be needed.

But simple reduction without a strategy for what comes next is not sufficient. WRSU will need to develop a clear value proposition, and put full energy into delivering it:

  1. Institutions and departments must immediately face up to the value proposition required in commodity education. Most state institutions cannot participate in the MOOC movement and do not have the capability to justify themselves by shifting from “education” to “research.” The question that must be answered by WRSU is: What do we have, or can we quickly develop, that is of real value and can be delivered at a price the new market will bear and will support us going forward? And the first step in answering this question must be an honest reflection on the “ground truth” of the institution; these decisions cannot be made with a “Lake Woebegone” mentality that insists on an “above average” self-image.
  2. Each institution will need to come to terms with what its role can be in commodity education. In nearly all cases, it will at best be a user of MOOCs, NOT a provider. One of its major roles will be in offering the kind of assistance that can only be provided personally (e.g. tutoring), and testing/providing credit for what is learned from externally provided course material. It is likely that courses that contain hands-on experience in laboratory facilities (e.g. chemistry), require one-on-one interaction (e.g. music), or rely on group experiences (e.g. engineering design) will be difficult to adapt to the MOOC model – How can WRSU make the most of its ability to continue this kind of education? Specific strategies will vary by institution, but they will all require huge changes.
  3. All WRSU units, both administrative and academic, need to immediately focus on efficiency and activities that deliver unique value to the institution and students. Administrators must become much more responsive to the new, real challenges that face their institutions, focus on what roles their institutions can realistically play, and become much more willing to make well-reasoned hard choices concerning change. Faculty must understand that former cultures of “entitlement” cannot continue, that the concept of “academic freedom” is likely to be reshaped to focus more on the needs of the institution than the individual faculty member, and that these challenges will require substantial sacrifices from everyone.

Almost inevitably, the advent of large-enrollment, on-line college courses will put many colleges and universities out of business, and dramatically reduce the size of many others. In this new environment, there may also be opportunities for some educational institutions to offer new and valuable components to college education (even if much-reduced in scale relative to plans they have made in the past). But this will not happen without serious and realistic thought and planning – of a qualitatively different nature than has ever been needed before — by administrators and faculty.

Image credit: South Western (sic) University, Dallas, Texas

[cross-posted at Education Recoded]

Publishing in a print journal is only minimally ‘public’

Let’s face it. “Publishing” one’s work in a print journal that languishes on a dusty shelf in an academic library is a fairly minimal definition of making something public. So the real issue here is that we are simply not accustomed to our work being discussed in public. Ever. Period.

Alex Reid via http://www.alex-reid.net/2012/10/twitter-academics-and-the-public.html

‘Rock star’ professor lectures + Lower-cost instructional facilitators = The future of higher education?

if Harvard is offering online courses with world famous professors, what exactly is the justification for offering an inferior product at a much higher cost? It is not at all clear why the “research university” model, with its extremely high costs and inflexible structure, should be the delivery system of choice for postsecondary education across the whole country. Many students might be much better served with a system in which a “rock star” professor delivers lectures online, while specially trained and qualified (but quite likely non-PhD) instructors lead discussions, work one-on-one with students, and grade papers.
A school set up like this would likely offer a much better quality of undergraduate education than lower-tier research universities offer today, with more individual attention and a much, much lower cost.

This kind of change would have to come almost literally over the dead bodies of the current faculties in many schools. . . .

These changes will ultimately be beneficial, though the costs will be real. Society simply needs more education than the classical research university can provide at an acceptable cost. Cheaper, better, more convenient and more democratic: it is hard to win a fight against an alternative that offers so much to so many.

In an ideal world, university professors and other intellectuals would have been thinking about these problems for many years. They would be the pioneers in innovation and experiment. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. The intellectual establishment is fully on the defensive. It is circling the wagons. It instinctively identifies attacks on the existing model with the worst kind of populist ignorance and bigotry. Nobody is angrier, nastier or more self-righteous than an intellectual whose livelihood is under threat.

Walter Russell Mead via http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/06/26/university-of-virginia-only-the-beginning

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