Social Networks & Friends May Affect Student Success

As college parents, we have witnessed the influence of our children’s friends.  From elementary school to high school many of us have taken steps to encourage certain friendships or even to discourage other friendships.

We also know that great teachers, good study habits, and the right environment are important combinations to completing college. Now an associate professor at Dartmouth College, Janice M. McCabe, demonstrates through new research, another vital factor determining a student’s academic success that most of us tend to overlook: who they hang out with. “Surveying a range of different kinds of college friendships, Connecting in College details the fascinatingly complex ways students’ social and academic lives intertwine and how students attempt to balance the two in their pursuit of straight As, good times, or both.”

The book was featured recently in a National Public Radio story titled – How College Friendships May Affect Student Success.  It is a useful story that is worth considering from the point of view of college parents and families. The story reminds us to think about how these friendships might affect the path to graduation.

According to NPR, “Her conclusion? “It’s important to realize that friends can have academic as well as social benefits.” And the type of network you have matters a lot. McCabe found that college students’ networks fell into three basic types.

Tight-knitters” had a single cluster of friends who all knew each other and did seemingly everything together. They often described those friends as like “home” or like “family.” Their social network resembles a ball of yarn.”

Compartmentalizers” had between two and four unrelated clusters of friends (Read More...)

Leapfrogging in higher ed

Authored by Hunt Lambert, Dean of Continuing Education at Harvard University

In the late 1980s, China’s growing economy demanded connectivity as it struggled to reach the United States’ 90 percent household telephone penetration rate. As it turned out, wiring China was a physical and economic impossibility: social and technological realities stood in stark opposition to large-scale needs.

And yet, in just a few short years, China’s telecommunications progress came to define what we now describe as “leapfrogging” — pioneering the application of new technologies to bypass the older framework in place to unlock their 1.5 billion citizens’ economic potential.

Today, higher education faces a similar dilemma. Against a backdrop of upcredentialing, the imperative for degree completion has never been greater. And yet, former President Obama’s call for the United States to lead the world in college completion by 2020 remains a distant possibility.

No public or private entities in the world have the money to build the campuses — let alone develop the quality faculty — needed to produce the billions of college graduates our global economy demands. MOOCs have failed to live up to their democratic promise of access, completion or meaningful learning outcomes. And even if higher education as we know it could scale over time, consumer preferences are evolving even faster. In an uncertain economy, many students are increasingly skeptical that degrees are a worthwhile investment of time and money.

Should we throw in the towel? Or, is higher education poised for a revolution on par with the telecom explosion of the past two decades?

Here’s what we know: The degree is still the coin of the realm in our information economy, but there is unprecedented demand for — and recognition of — non-degree credentials. Indeed, 41 million adults currently hold some form of non-degree credential, and there is growing acknowledgment that tomorrow’s students, dubbed “the new normal” by former U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell, will demand a mix of non-traditional programs and partnerships providing learning opportunities across a work life that is likely to span 60 years or more. (Read More...)

Online Education Trends in 2017

KUPICOO/GETTY IMAGES

KUPICOO/GETTY IMAGES

By Jordan Friedman of US News

Online students: There's a lot in store for you in 2017.

In the past few years, more students enrolled in online courses, more organizations offered alternative credentials such as digital badges and nanodegrees and more employers accepted online degrees from job candidates.

[Learn what employers ask job applicants with online degrees.]

Here are five trends experts say students might see in online education in 2017.

1. Greater emphasis on nontraditional credentials: Companies in recent years have started offering credentials other than degrees to online learners, ranging from digital badges to showcase achievements, to various certificate programs that highlight skills.

In 2017, many experts predict, colleges and universities will become more involved in granting what are often referred to as "micro credentials." 

At universities, "I think there's going to be more focus on how to best serve individuals, whether they are new to education or whether they are returning professionals seeking different credentials or different learning experiences," says Karen Pedersen, chief knowledge officer for the Online Learning Consortium, a group that aims to improve online higher education worldwide.

The massive open online course, or MOOC, provider edX expects to launch more MicroMasters programs in partnership with universities worldwide, for example, a company spokeswoman says. Students complete a portion of a graduate degree through MOOCs and can then apply to finish the full curriculum on campus at a lower total cost.

The U.S. Department of Education is also in the process of reviewing federal financial aid opportunities for low-income students in some non-degree programs such as coding boot camps, through eight partnerships between universities and organizations.

2. Increased use of big data to measure student performance: Because online students complete their coursework virtually, course providers and universities are collecting data "in really kind of remarkable quantities," says Richard DeMillo, executive director of Georgia Institute of Technology's Center for 21st Century Universities, which tracks technology innovations in higher education.  (Read More...)

 

The Critical Voice of Parents in Education

Authored by Tiffany Taber

Ed Home Room

Parents are critical assets in education. Parents can be a voice for high expectations for children and for supporting educators in creating schools where all children receive what they need to succeed. An excellent education is every child’s civil right; and while our nation has made great strides—with a record high school graduation rate and college enrollment at all-time highs—we have much further to go to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to learn.

Parents can play a key role in demanding the world-class education that their children deserve. But, for many parents and families, it can be an uncertain task determining the best ways to support their children or the right questions to ask to ensure their children are learning and growing.

That’s why, today, speaking from the perspective of a father of two young children, Secretary Arne Duncan described a set of educational rights that should belong to every family in America in a speech at the National PTA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This set of three foundational family rights can unite everyone who works to ensure that students are prepared to thrive in school and in life. These rights follow the educational journey of a student—from access to quality preschool; to engagement in safe, well-resourced elementary and secondary schools that hold all students to high standards; to access to an affordable, quality college degree. (Read More...)

The 5 Biggest Higher Education Tech Trends in 2016

Authored by Meghan Bogardus Cortez

EdTech

This year was ripe for higher ed innovation. Just take a look at coverage from EDUCAUSE, which highlights the trends that have flourished in 2016. Colleges across the country have transformed learning spaces, advanced their libraries technologically, and bolstered campus security.

Along with increases in cloud adoption, the rise of virtual reality and stronger cybersecurity programs, here’s a look back at the biggest higher ed tech trends of 2016.

1. Understanding the Power of Data

This year, data has been a huge factor for a lot of industries, higher education included. Tech decision-makers on a number of campuses have started to examine where data might fit into daily operations.

Data has also powered some significant positive changes across campuses. At Middle Tennessee State Universitypredictive analytics fueled by student data have helped advisors to bring their retention rate up to 95 percent.

University of Maryland University College has made analytics an integral part of their operations, and because of it they could reduce marketing spending by 20 percent.

It turns out students actually don’t mind that universities are collecting more information on them than ever before. Ninety-eight percent of student respondents to an Ellucian survey said they want their schools to use their personal information to improve the overall college experience.

A KPMG survey found that 41 percent of universities were using data for forecasting and predictive analytics. This number is only expected to rise next year, with EDUCAUSE naming data-informed decision-making and predictive analytics to improve student success to their 2017 Top IT Issues list. (Read More...)

What The People Who Read Your College Application Really Think

Mouni Feddag for NPR

Mouni Feddag for NPR

Authored by Kirk Carapezza

 

Time to get together the transcripts and the test scores and put the final touches on those personal essays. It's college application season, again.

To a lot of students, the process seems wrapped in a shroud of mystery. What exactly happens when you send your application out into the unknown only to ... wait?

Well, here's a glimpse behind the curtain at one school.

Inside a tiny conference room at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., the admissions committee is preparing to review 23 applications. The committee members will spend about two minutes on each before deciding whether to accept or deny admission or place the application on hold.

To speed things along, the committee members use a lot of jargon, like "L-B-B" for late blooming boy, and "R-J" for rejection.

If it sounds like they are cutting corners, know that before the committee meets around the table, each application gets a close look from two of the members.

Then it's condensed into a single one-page profile. The one for this student says he comes off just a bit arrogant in his essay and interview:

"Academically he has everything. I wonder if a counselor call might be enlightening?" asks one member of the committee.

"It sounds like maybe he could work on it and be cognizant of it. I mean, he's strong academically," says another.

A third member chimes in, chuckling, "I think his classmates could bring him down to reality. (Read More...)

Students Want Their Personal Data to be Used to Improve the College Experience, Survey Says

Authored by Meghan Bogardus Cortez

EdTech

 

Using student data to inform educational decisions has been a hot topic over the past few years. Predictive analytics to improve student success, along with data-informed decision-making, were named by EDUCAUSE as two of their top 10 IT issues for 2017. And, as one study indicates, students don’t mind when their colleges track them.

A whopping 98 percent of respondents to an Ellucian survey conducted by Wakefield Research said they want their schools to use their personal data to create an optimized college experience. Also, a majority of the 1,000 U.S. college students who took the survey believe their schools can create this positive change in the next 10 years.

The students surveyed have a laundry list of improvements they want their schools to make: make it easier to track graduation requirements, assist in joining student organizations, aid in course selection and registration. The good news, however, is some universities are already making strides to do exactly what these students want.

Data Helps Boost Retention and Streamline Advising

In the Ellucian survey, 62 percent of students said they wanted their university to improve academic processes like tracking graduation progress and 53 percent wanted to see an improvement in the system for scheduling advising sessions.

EdTech reported on Middle Tennessee State University, which used predictive analytics to create a new-school method of advising: students deemed “at risk” of not graduating received targeted interventions.

But perhaps one of the first to use predictive analytics was the University of Kentucky. UK partnered with Dell back in 2012 to deploy an SAP platform to analyze and predict student graduation likelihoodCampus Technology reports.

“One problem we wanted to address was how to immediately affect student success in the short term,” says Vince Kellen, UK’s senior vice provost for academic planning, analytics, and technologies in a 2014 Dell video.

“Part of our predictive model was to look at students who weren’t exactly hopeless cases, but they weren’t sure bets. Students that had a 50 percent probability of returning. We did some direct work and saw a 66 percent re-enrollment rate.”

Learning In The Age Of Digital Distraction

LA Johnson/NPR

LA Johnson/NPR

Authored by Eric Westervelt

Maybe the smart phone's hegemony makes perfect evolutionary sense: Humans are tapping a deep urge to seek out information. Our ancient food-foraging survival instinct has evolved into an info-foraging obsession; one that prompts many of us today to constantly check our phones and multitask.

Monkey see. Click. Swipe. Reward.

A new book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World explores the implications of, and brain science behind, this evolution (some might say devolution)It was written Adam Gazzaley, a neurologist and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and research psychologist Larry D. Rosen.

Our friends at NPR's Shots blog recently spoke with one of the authors about distraction's impact on productivity. I wanted to talk with Dr. Gazzaley about what his research tells us about teaching, learning, studying and screen time in the age of digital distraction.

From food foragers to information foragers. Mechanisms that developed in our brain for survival have now evolved to include information foraging?

Correct. We see it in other primates and we believe that this is sort of a hijacking or an evolution of that same system that was critical for our survival in terms of seeking out food has now been directed at seeking out information.

Adam, we engage this info-foraging, this distraction even when that behavior is self-destructive or counterproductive?

Yes, some behaviors that drive us, like even addictive behaviors, might have some positive reward reinforcement and then many other negative consequences. (Read More...)

 

The Top Skills Employers Need in 2016, According to LinkedIn

Image Credit: LinkedIn

Image Credit: LinkedIn

Authored by Marguerite McNeal

EdSurge News

Recent college grads seeking employment and professionals looking for a new gig would do well to include Hadoop and Hive on their resumes, according to research from LinkedIn. Today the network unveiled the top 10 skills employers need in 2016. Cloud and distributed computing topped the list for the second year in a row.

LinkedIn monitored hiring and recruiting activity that happened on its platform between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1 in 2016—several billion data points, according to the company. The data show the skills that are most sought after by employers in the U.S. and 17 other countries. More than 400 million people have profiles on LinkedIn. 

The new list reads like a career page for any tech company—“web architecture and development framework” and “network and information security” make an appearance. But these skills are increasingly important in industries beyond the technology sector, LinkedIn says.

To surface the most in-demand skills in the labor market, LinkedIn analyzed the thousands of skills that members include on their profiles. The company grouped these competencies into several dozen categories—Android and iOS would fit into “mobile development,” for example. Then researchers identified the skill categories that belonged to members who were more likely to start new jobs and receive interest from recruiters this year. (Read More...)

 

 

Talent and Technology Are Keys to Higher Ed Success

Authored by Joanna Young

EdTech

The list of challenges facing higher education is long: At the top are state disinvestment, increasing competition for research dollars, price pressure, Title IX and new market entrants. Yet our economy depends on the success of higher ed institutions; a well-educated workforce is critical to the U.S. economy.

Our industry is poised to see a wave of integrations and closures. Moody’s predicts a tripling of college closures in coming years. Generally, the smaller the institution and the endowment, the more susceptible the college. The largest and most well-endowed institutions may feel immune, thinking they are “too big to fail.” Yet in reality, in the digital economy, no institution is immune. Leaders and boards of directors should plan today for how to transform themselves tomorrow.

The Competition Is On

Reliance on net tuition remains high, averaging more than 45 percent nationwide, 10 percent higher than during the most recent recession. Tuition is rising at rates of 7 to 8 percent, well above the inflation rate. Competition for students is increasing. In many regions (for example, the Midwest and Northeast), the number of high school graduates is declining, and many public institutions are competing for out-of-state and international students, who pay more and thus subsidize in-state students. This combination presents a challenge.

To perform well in the face of such challenges, institutions need to invest deliberately and heavily in two things: talent and technology. In particular, “top 100” institutions that pride themselves on quality of education and research should have quality of technology and talent to match.

(Read More...)