Education Policy

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...)

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...)

As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short

Berea High School in Greenville, S.C., graduates 80 percent of its students, but ACT scores indicate few are ready for college.  CreditSean Rayford for The New York Times

Berea High School in Greenville, S.C., graduates 80 percent of its students, but ACT scores indicate few are ready for college. CreditSean Rayford for The New York Times

GREENVILLE, S.C. — A sign in a classroom here at Berea High School, northwest of downtown in the largest urban district in the state, sends this powerful message: “Failure Is Not an Option. You Will Pass. You Will Learn. You Will Succeed.”

By one measure, Berea, with more than 1,000 pupils, is helping more students succeed than ever: The graduation rate, below 65 percent just four years ago, has jumped to more than 80 percent.

But that does not necessarily mean that all of Berea’s graduates, many of whom come from poor families, are ready for college — or even for the working world. According to college entrance exams administered to every 11th grader in the state last spring, only one in 10 Berea students were ready for college-level work in reading, and about one in 14 were ready for entry-level college math. And on a separate test of skills needed to succeed in most jobs, little more than half of the students demonstrated that they could handle the math they would need. Read More...

Increasing education: What it will and will not do...

Authored by Brad Hershbein, Melissa S. Kearney of Brookings Institution and Lawrence H.Summers of Harvard University

Mainstream labor economists as well as several public commentators have argued that trends in the economy over recent decades—including technological developments, globalization, and trade, among others—have weakened the relative earnings power of those with lower levels of skills, especially those without a college degree. In recent decades, the earnings of those with a college degree or more have risen steadily, while the wages of those with lower levels of education have stagnated or fallen. Furthermore, lifetime earnings of workers with a college degree are nearly twice as high as those without one, a point made by a number of previous Hamilton Project analyses, including one fromthis past year.[1]

This line of reasoning leads to the view that to further the goal of widespread economic prosperity, it will be imperative to increase the skill level of many in the population, a position that a subset of us (Hershbein and Kearney) took in a recent Hamilton Project framing paper. Other commentators have objected that education is not the answer to the nation’s inequality challenge. Following up on remarks made at a recent Hamilton Project event, one of us (Summers) noted in a Washington Post interview that “to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion.” In this essay we clarify the different elements of the public debate and note explicitly that these positions are not necessarily at odds. Read More... 

Is college worth it? Is this even the right question?

Are graduates getting value for their money?  Merrimack College/Flickr ,  CC BY-NC-ND

Are graduates getting value for their money? Merrimack College/FlickrCC BY-NC-ND

Authored by Josipa Roksa, Associate Professor of Sociology and Education, University of Virginia, and Richard Arum, Professor of Sociology, New York University

Is a college degree worth it? Yes, on average, college graduates fare much better in the job market than high school graduates.

This question, however, ignores a more important set of issues: Are graduates getting value for their money? And are colleges preparing students responsibly for smooth transitions into adulthood?

There is no doubt, those with college degrees earn substantially higher wages. And even though the recent recession was difficult for everyone, the Current Population Survey indicates that in 2011, twice as many young adults without college degrees were unemployed as young college graduates.

But our research, published in a recent book, Aspiring Adults Adrift, shows that colleges are too often failing to impart students with critical thinking, problem solving and written communication skills that are important to their success in the labor market.

Financial challenges after a college degree

We followed close to 1,000 graduates from the class of 2009 across the United States as they transitioned from a range of four-year institutions into their lives after college. Two years after completing college, only approximately half of the college graduates not pursuing full-time graduate studies were employed full-time and earning over US $30,000. 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...