Technology in Higher Ed

Higher Education Goes Digital, Deepening Student Engagement

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Published in 

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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...)

 

 

Rethinking Design, from Scratch

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When we set out to build our next-generation platform, we took the time-tested user-centered approach. In addition to our own platform, we took a hard look at the other tools people are using, how they’re using them, and what they’ve come to expect. Starting from scratch we knew we had a monumental task on our hands, but we were confident if we focused on the right things we’d be successful.

In business, Jeff Bezos advises focus on the things that are not going to change. We think the same applies for any individual product so we came up with a list of things we knew would not change to help focus and inform our work. This is what we came up with:

  • Users would always need access to common functions like search and filter content, read text, click links and buttons, enter data into forms, etc.

  • Users would always benefit from a consistent user experience

  • Users would always need access on screens of wildly varying sizes

  • Users needs and desires would always be changing

  • No matter how big we got, we would always wish we had more resources than we had

We needed an approach that would be economical to build and maintain and provide the foundation so that even if we couldn’t know what might need to build down the road, we wouldn’t discover we’d painted ourselves into a corner.

To meet these the requirements, we developed the Tenlegs Design System.

Design systems alleviate many of the problems that arise from the more traditional design approach of developing a static style guide then designing new features on top of that. With a design system, the style guide and the features are one and the same.

The design system we’ve built at Tenlegs has enabled our small team to deliver solutions for the ever-changing needs of diverse college and university populations in record time.

You can read about design systems and atomic design here and here, but the basic metaphor behind the concept is that we design interfaces from a hierarchy of structures analogous to those found in nature:

  • Atoms (interface elements like buttons and menus) are assembled into..

  • Molecules (functional blocks like content cards and forms);

  • Different molecules into organisms (like search applications and workflows);

  • Organisms coexist in an environment (such as user administration and event management). The design system even accommodates breakpoints so we can deliver the right experience for the user’s screen size.

Design systems are the most economical way to...

  • Give leverage to small teams

  • Enable scale to large teams

  • Increase design speed

  • Increase development speed

  • Ease maintenance

  • Ease testing

  • Improve overall user experience

  • Ensure high-quality product

  • Increase consistency across products and platforms

A design system lets you “set it and forget it” for all the constituent components.

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When you put them all together, you get products that work well and look great without having to tinker and tweak.

The heavy lifting up front has paid off. Our design system continues to grow and evolve. New features can be built in minutes or hours where they might have taken days or weeks. With a design system, we get to focus more on the user and helping her to achieve goals in a consistent way, rather than reinventing for each new problem.

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...)

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...)

 

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.”

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...)