This Week’s Trends in Education and Technology (March 1-8)

[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education.]

Notable Quote

“We are going to have to come back to learning in some sort of way, and it’s probably not going to be with our universities,” Weise said. “If we are fumbling it right now, why would I return as a 55-year-old male who is finding his skills are waning? Why would I go back to the school that made it so difficult for me in the first place?” (Michelle Weise, chief innovation officer at the Strada Institute for the Future of Work)

Things That Caught My Attention

Higher Ed

This week, the UMass System announced its intentions to become a mega-university with a strong online presence nationwide. If successful, this will move UMass into the mega-university category along with existing institutions such as Southern New Hampshire University, Western Governors University, and Arizona State University.  At the other end of the spectrum, Southern Vermont College has officially announced that it will shut its doors.

These announcements are part of larger trends in higher education that are being fueled by long-term enrollment declines, changes in workforce opportunities, and increased competition within and across state boundaries. What will be particularly interesting to track over the coming year is the effect of a possible economic downturn on both ends of the higher education spectrum.

Of course, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters in higher education, especially with all the hype we the industry generates over new technology solutions. As Michael Feldstein concludes in his post:

But the thing about chasing the hype is that it is exhausting and expensive. After a while, it wears you down. That’s what I think we’re in now. A period of exhaustion. We have enough people who have been burned enough times in rapid succession, and who are trying to solve enough serious and immediate problems, that they just can’t afford to be burned chasing the next shiny thing right now. They have to focus on solving the hard problems, because those are the real problems that just might move the needle for their respective institutions. That’s good news for almost everyone, from the students, to the faculty, to the universities, to the ed tech companies that want to do the right thing.

Workforce Readiness and Education

Speaking of keeping your eye on the important things that need to be solved, there was a panel this week at SXSW EDU that discussed the need to fix the college-to-career handoff. According to panelist Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, “We need to intentionally design a handoff so we are integrating the curriculum experience and what will prepare (students) for the workforce and it’s a seamless transition.”

On the same theme, a recent study reported that 43 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed in their first jobs. One possibility for this statistic is that, in fact, we are not being successful in giving students the essential skills they need to find career success.

One of the most important skills for all future-ready adults is critical thinking. As David Ross writes, “Business and education may be struggling to define critical thinking, but they know it when they see it, and they know we all need it to be successful in college, career, and life.”


On the high school front, we are seeing continued growth in dual-enrollment classes. As I wrote in today’s Daily Take post, dual-enrollment and concurrent-enrollment programs have a number of positive benefits.

  1. Taking college-level courses in high school helps prepare students for the academic rigors of college study, which can improve the likelihood of attaining a degree.
  2. Both dual-enrollment and concurrent-enrollment studies lower the cost of college in multiple ways.
  3. Dual-enrollment and concurrent-enrollment programs can provide valuable curricular options for students, particularly in schools or groups that, due to small size or inadequate funding, are unable to offer interesting and impactful course options.
  4. Completing college-credit courses in high school also gives students a more realistic understanding of the academic and social skills that they will need to succeed in college.

One area where dual-enrollment can have the biggest impact is in rural school districts. That said, many colleges have been unable or unwilling to cover “the last mile” between their traditional offerings and what is needed by rural districts. Higher education institutions have also lagged behind in extending their recruiting to rural areas.

Speaking of rural districts and schools, one challenge they face is the lack of adequate digital resources. The authors of a recent report “ found that, compared to non-rural students, those living in rural areas frequently still lack reliable access to online resources and learning opportunities.” Perhaps this digital divide will be addressed in the future by Facebook and Google expanded connectivity efforts.

Other Items of Interest

Evidently, in the U.S. we are still committed to reading books. According to the Pew Research Center:

About three-quarters (74%) of Americans have read a book in the past 12 months in any format, a figure that has remained largely unchanged since 2012, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January. Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 67% of Americans having read a print book in the past year.

Finally, I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone that next Thursday is Pi Day. Here’s a handy Pi primer for those who feel the need to brush up on their Pi knowledge for the celebration.

Research Articles and Posts for the Week

TEL Library Posts You May Have Missed

Dual Enrollment and COncurrent EMrollment — What’s the Difference? (Daily Take)

4 Important Questions to Ask About Higher Education (Daily Take)

What’s in a TEL Lesson? (Daily Take)

The Story of the Beautiful Meal (Parables on Learning)

Redefining Affordable and Equitable Postsecondary Learning in the U.S. (Daily Take)

K-12 Education

No-Collar Jobs Offer Schools Chance to Create Mashups of Academics and Vocations

New York is shutting the door on schools that deliver for kids

A big reason rural students never go to college: Colleges don’t recruit them

A Third of High Schoolers Tackle Dual Enrollment Classes

College Recruiting Still Lags At Rural Schools

Advanced Placement for all

Why the nation’s K-12 accountability and assessment system doesn’t make the grade

Teacher shortage hits hardest in rural Alabama

Study Confirms Persistence of Rural Digital Divide

Cognitive Benefits of Bilingualism

Higher Education

Flawed AEI Report on Online Education: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Growing Profile of Non-Degree Credentials: Diving Deeper into ‘Education Credentials

AAC&U Working to Strengthen Guided Pathways in Community Colleges

UMass System Aims to Join the Mega-University Club

Southern Vermont College says it will shut its doors

How UT-Austin’s Bold Plan for Reinvention Went Belly Up

A Quick Look at the Future of OER

Why Higher Ed Hypes: The MOOC Example

Which colleges spend the most tuition revenue on instruction?

The promises and limits of online higher education: Understanding how distance education affects access, cost, and quality

D2L: Continuing emphasis on services and completion of move to SaaS mode

Embrace Mission-Minded Innovation

OPM Readings: New policy briefing from UCT and other useful coverage

Stephen’s Web ~ UC Drops Elsevier

Murray Wants Higher Ed Act Reauthorization to Tackle Affordability

How Student Expectations Are Driving Digital Transformation

Learning Design

Donald Clark Plan B: Learning experiences often not learning at all

Workforce Readiness

SXSW EDU: Why we need to fix the college-to-career handoff

Our Graduates Are Underemployed… So What Are We Doing About It?

Critical Thinking – a Critical Skill in School and for the Future of Work

How Tech Will Let You Learn Anything, Anytime, at Any Age

Culture and Media Trends

A Slice of Pi History: How π Took Over The World

Print books still much more popular than e-books, audiobooks

World’s most important charts that explain markets, Wall Street says

Technology Trends

Turnitin to Be Acquired by Advance Publications for $1.75B

Magic Leap wants to build AR “Layers” over the entire earth

Facebook, Google extend connectivity efforts at Mobile World Congress

Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

The Planet Computers Cosmo is a laptop/phone hybrid that fits in your pocket