Blended Learning

Higher Education Goes Digital, Deepening Student Engagement

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The current generation of digitally savvy students have been passively trained by years of social media, e-commerce and online entertainment to expect a high-level user experience in all their digital interactions, with no exception for their educational institutions.

In higher education, there are two categories relevant to digital transformation. The first relates to engagement, where what is known about a student is utilized to deliver relevant communications at the right time, in the right manner. Ideally that can be done across a number of channels, depending on the context, including chatbots, text messages, emails, mobile apps and more. The second category enables the first: a foundation of data where student information—gleaned through website clicks and visits, academic performance tracking as well as other sources—can be used to determine how and when that communication should occur.

A recent Forbes Insights executive brief, “Rising to the Challenge: Digital Transformation and Student Engagement in Higher Education,” sponsored by Pitney Bowes, touches on both categories and outlines practical examples of their application to improve the student experience.

Many educational institutions are now turning to customer experience firms to map the student journey and life cycle. That allows them to zero in on the moments when they can support student needs digitally by providing relevant information, and therefore deepen engagement. (Read More...)

Who Is Studying Online (and Where)

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Authored by

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The number of college students enrolled in at least one online course -- and the proportion of all enrolled students who are studying online -- continued to rise at U.S. institutions in the 2016 academic year, newly released federal data show.

The statistics, part of a major release of provisional data on enrollments, employment and other topics from the Education Department's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, provide the most up-to-date information on enrollments in online and distance education.

The overarching story is a familiar one: even as overall enrollment in postsecondary institutions stays flat (unlike recent numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse, the federal data show enrollments staying roughly constant, not declining), online enrollments climb.

As a result, so, too, does the proportion of all students at institutions eligible to award federal financial aid who are taking at least one course at a distance, as seen in the table below.

The increased likelihood of being enrolled online is occurring at most levels and types of institutions in higher education.

Since 2014, the proportion of undergraduate students at Title IV-eligible institutions who are enrolled in at least one distance education course has risen from 27.1 percent to 30 percent in 2016, and the proportion of graduate students enrolled at least partially online has grown from 32.5 percent to 36.6 percent in 2016.

Community college students (30.9 percent) were more likely than undergraduates at four-year public institutions (29 percent) and four-year private colleges (25.6 percent) to be enrolled in at least one online course.

But more than two-thirds of the students taking at least one online course in 2016 were at public institutions, while roughly 18 percent were at private nonprofit colleges and 13 percent were at for-profit institutions. And the growth in the number of students taking at least one online course in 2016 was greater among public institutions than it was for private institutions, a change in the pattern of recent years. (Read More...)

Study: Over Six Million Students Now Enrolled In Distance Education

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Authored by Online Learning Consortium

The Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, conducted by the new Digital Learning Compass organization, reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 now tops six million. Growth, however, was uneven; private non-profit institutions grew by 11.4 percent while private for-profit institutions saw their distance enrollments decline by 9.4 percent. These and other findings were published today in a report titled, “Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017.”

This report is the first in a series of publications from Digital Learning Compass, a new research partnership of the Babson Survey Research Group, e-Literate, and WCET. Digital Learning Compass partnered with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, and Tyton Partners to produce this first report, which examines the trends and patterns of distance education enrollments among U.S. degree-granting higher education institutions. Additional publications in the Digital Learning Compass series will provide a detailed look at multiple facets of U.S. distance education.

“The study’s findings highlight yet another year of consecutive growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.  “This study and earlier reports from the Babson Survey Research Group have shown that distance education growth has a momentum that has continued, even as overall higher education enrollments have been declining.” (Read More...)

How Generation Z Is Shaping The Change In Education

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By Sieve Kozinsky

Forbes

Generation Z has officially entered college. And just as the Millennials before them, this generation is disrupting the way learning happens in higher education. But these differences go beyond just a greater dependence on technology. Gen Z-ers tend to embrace social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. They expect on-demand services that are available at any time and with low barriers to access. And they tend to be more career-focused earlier on in their college careers.

A study done by Barnes and Noble College shows that today’s students refuse to be passive learners. They aren’t interested in simply showing up for class, sitting through a lecture, and taking notes that they’ll memorize for an exam later on. Instead, they expect to be fully engaged and to be a part of the learning process themselves.

In fact, Gen Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience and they even enjoy the challenges of being a part of it. For instance, 51% of surveyed students said they learn best by doing while only 12% said they learn through listening. These same students also mentioned they tend to enjoy class discussions and interactive classroom environments over the traditional dissemination teaching method. (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

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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...)

 

An Era of Scrutiny

Authored by Mark Nemec, PhD, President & CEO Eduventures

As colleges and universities start their fall sessions, President Obama’s plans for higher education need to be top of mind. Top of mind, not because his proposal will take immediate effect—hearings on the issue will take place sometime before 2015 and the President called for implementation by 2018; but rather because his August speech in Buffalo and its proposed policies fully signal what we in higher education have been anticipating: we are in an era of extra attention if not downright scrutiny. Read More...