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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...)

The best career advice from this year’s graduation speeches

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This year's headline-grabbing commencement speeches have been high on thinly veiled critiques of the Trump administration and big on dire warnings about the state of American democracy.

Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson cautioned graduates at Virginia Military Institute about the end of American democracy if Americans don't “confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders.” Michael Bloomberg talked at Rice University of the threat from “our own willingness to tolerate dishonesty in service of party and in pursuit of power.” And 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, raising a Russian ushanka hat as part of a Yale University tradition, said Sunday that “we're living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy,” telling students “to stay vigilant, to neither close our eyes, nor numb our hearts or throw up our hands.”

But not all of this year's graduation speeches are quite so political or cautionary. A few — though not many — seemed to remember that they were speaking before a group of people who were about to embark upon life as adults who will have to navigate the politics of the workplace, the complexities of new relationships and the decisions of adult life. (Oprah Winfrey to USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism graduates: “Invest in a quality mattress. Your back will thank you later.")

Here, some of the best advice offered by this year's commencement speakers so far that graduates — or anyone — can apply to their work and careers:

Oprah Winfrey, chair and CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California

Winfrey, whose past speeches have drawn speculation that she might be planning a run for president — a rumor she has squashed — got plenty of attention for her calls for graduates to vote in her speech at USC on May 11. But after offering a litany of practical wisdom (“Eat a good breakfast,” she said. “Pay your bills on time. Recycle.") she also added some clear advice for graduates' time in the workplace.

“The number one lesson I can offer you where your work is concerned,” said the media titan, “is this: Become so skilled, so vigilant, so flat-out fantastic at what you do, that your talent cannot be dismissed.”

She also countered the typical “do what you love” advice that fill so many graduation speeches with something else. “You need to know this: Your job is not always going to fulfill you,” she said. “There will be some days that you just might be bored. Other days you may not feel like going to work at all. Go anyway, and remember that your job is not who you are. It’s just what you are doing on the way to who you will become. With every remedial chore, every boss who takes credit for your ideas — that is going to happen — look for the lessons, because the lessons are always there.” (Read More...)

More Frequent, Intensive Advising Cranks up Student Engagement

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When Georgia State University added 42 academic advisers, it cost the institution an additional $2 million each year. However, reported Tim Renick, vice president for enrollment management and student success, the investment paid for itself, "because the increased retention rate meant more revenue for the school." Graduation rates there grew by more than 20 percentage points in just over a decade, including among students of color; now Black and Hispanic students graduate at rates comparable to or higher than those of White students.

Georgia State's story features in a new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, as an example worth the attention of two-year schools. "If community colleges want to increase student engagement, one place to start is by examining the foundation of academic advising," said Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director of the center.

To put data behind the impact of advising on retention and engagement, the center surveyed about 180,000 students at 297 colleges around the country. The survey was issued in paper form in the spring semester during class to students enrolled in randomly selected credit-bearing courses. (A parallel survey was given to 9,577 faculty at 86 colleges.) The final report, "Show Me the Way: The Power of Advising in Community Colleges," found that overall, students who get more time in advising with more in-depth discussions during their advising sessions are more engaged in community college.

Yet, the survey also found that the content of those advising sessions varies widely among students. While a majority of students (62 percent of first-termers and 78 percent of returning students) do meet with an adviser, most of those sessions are focused on figuring out what classes they need to take for their educational goals. While two-thirds (65 percent) also said advisers helped them create academic plans, just over half (53 percent) were also able to discuss their commitments outside of school. And most (65 percent) didn't discuss scheduling for a follow-up advising session. (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...)

 

 

Building Community in Online Courses

Authored by Dr. Kathleen Stone, Western Governors University

In November, I presented at the AAACE annual conference on research I completed as part of an Ed.D in Higher Education and Adult Learning. My research explored how adult online students at a small rural community college described a sense of school community when completing online courses. I wanted to understand their perceptions of the presence of a sense of school community and what aspects they felt could contribute to successful completion of online courses. From this small qualitative case study, I found students did not perceive a sense of school community, yet they felt having a greater sense of school community would help them successfully complete online courses. What is school community and why look at this factor when exploring online course completion rates?

A sense of community in an online environment includes two distinct aspects: classroom community and school community. A sense of community in the online classroom has been the focus of much research in distance learning (Childress & Spurgin, 2009; Rovai, Wighting, & Lucking, 2004). However, less attention and research has been given to the culture and climate that makes up a school community in the online environment (Childress & Spurgin, 2009; Rovai, Wighting, & Liu, 2005). School community has two dimensions: social community and learning community. A school’s social community involves “spirit, cohesion, trust, safety, trade, interdependence, and a sense of belonging” (Rovai et al., 2004, p. 267). A school’s learning community consists of the feelings of learning community members regarding the degree to which they share group norms and values and the extent to which their educational goals and expectations are satisfied by group membership (Rovai et al., 2004, p. 267). (Read More...)

 

Unlocking educational silos yields a wealth of data to help students succeed

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Authored by Nelson Williams 

Silicon Angle

Colleges, universities and other centers of higher education collect a lot of information about their students. That data then disappears into legacy systems and custom applications. Breaking those silos can bring out the real power of that data and enable institutions to take intelligent action to guide students through their educational journey, according to Jeff Ralyea, senior vice president and general manager of cloud at Ellucian Inc.

“Ellucian has a sole focus on higher education. It’s really the only industry we serve,” Ralyea said, during the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C.

Ralyea spoke with John Furrier (@furrier) and John Walls (@JohnWalls21), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, about the importance of unlocking data and using insights. (* Disclosure below.)

Guiding students to data-driven success

Ellucian comes to educational organizations from an enterprise software perspective. It finds its bread and butter in the student systems, although the company does serve other areas. In particular, Ellucian runs systems that help students achieve success. Registration and recruitment make up just two examples for a suite of software that helps drive this outcome, Ralyea explained.

Likewise, unlocking the data in higher education is a really big deal. Systems that have lived on campus for decades hold all sorts of information about students. To tap this well, Ellucian built a platform, Ethos, that uses a new data model that sits above all the original systems. Then, they set this platform to run “role-based analytics” to discover new insights about the students, Ralyea stated. (Read More...)

Community engagement and collaborations can strengthen the bottom line of nonprofits

Coming Together from a Place of Strength, Not Weakness

Nonprofits are facing increased pressure to develop new and more efficient ways to deliver on their missions. Thoughtful and unconventional collaborations can strengthen the bottom line of nonprofits while delivering added value to their communities.

Authored by Carrie Fox

Authored by Carrie Fox

In January, Leadership Montgomery, a small but influential nonprofit leadership center in Maryland, unveiled its new strategic plan, complete with a new mission, vision, and way of talking about the organization’s community impact.

This shift followed a time of deep reflection for the organization. For nearly 30 years, Leadership Montgomery had brought together private, public, and nonprofit professionals through leadership trainings and service activities that broaden perspectives and build connections for community improvement. But with a new CEO at the helm, it was time for a step back to move forward—to reframe tired language and re-examine the organization’s role and relevance within the community.

Leadership Montgomery timed the unveiling of its new strategic plan so that it coincided with the announcement of a major expansion of its programming—via the addition of another small but influential nonprofit called the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County (CVC). CVC trains businesses on how to build effective volunteer and charitable programs, and it too had been going through a time of reflection; its board wondered how it would or could scale CVC’s model to more effectively interlace with the region’s business and community leaders.

“The needs of our county have evolved,” said Leadership Montgomery’s new CEO during the public announcement. “As I’ve listened to what our members, our graduates, and our partners desire in leadership programming, I’ve realized without hesitation that with CVC, we can deliver more for those whom we support, and we can pull our community closer together in the process.” (Read more...)

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...)

Prepare for Business School over Summer

Credits: ISTOCKPHOTO

Credits: ISTOCKPHOTO

Authored by Delete Smith-Barrow of U.S. News

Newly accepted MBA candidates may want to relax this summer before starting business school in the fall. As tempting as that idea sounds, it may not be realistic.

The Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University requires students to take preprogram online courses in accounting and statistics. Starting this summer at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, incoming students can participate in a workshop that covers networking and other topics. A number of programs offer similar preparation courses, which can take as little as a few hours or as long as a few days to complete.

Every program has its nuances, but the goal is generally the same: to ready students, many of whom have been out of school for a few years, for a rigorous academic experience.

"You don't want to pull the academic Achilles tendon when you hit the court. You need to stretch out and warm up," says Monte Swain, associate director of the MBA program at Marriott. (Read More...)

 

 

Social Network Effects in Hiring

Photograph by Nancy Rothstein

Photograph by Nancy Rothstein

Authored by Laura Geller

Authored by Laura Geller

Job seekers are keenly aware that who they know matters. A contact at a prospective employer can push a resume to the top of the pile, put in a good word, or arrange an introductory lunch. Companies, for their part, are happy to oblige. Employee referrals help them cut through the noise, target searches, and save money.

Social networks play a positive role in the hiring process. But what can these useful connections tell us about performance on the job? Does the advantage of knowing someone carry over once an individual joins a firm? Adina Sterling has been asking these questions since transitioning from engineer to academic nearly a decade ago. Sterling had spent five years with Procter & Gamble’s global baby care and beauty care R&D teams before leaving to pursue a Ph.D. in organization and management. She joined the faculty of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business as an assistant professor in the fall of 2015. Read More...