This Week’s Trends in Edcuation and Technology (March 16-22)

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

Notable Quote

Embracing universality in post-secondary education would come at tremendous financial cost but would also rob us of the byproducts of a competitive marketplace — innovation, quality and adequacy of supply.

(Elizabeth Akers, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, encouraged lawmakers to turn away from models that make college “free.”)

Things That Caught My Attention

K-12

According to this article in Education Next, differences in the performance on math, reading, and science tests between disadvantaged and advantaged U.S. students have remained essentially unchanged for nearly half a century. Authors Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, Laura M. Talpey, and Ludger Woessmann write:

Contrary to recent perceptions, we find the opportunity gap—that is, the relationship between socioeconomic status and achievement—has not grown over the past 50 years. But neither has it closed. Instead, the gap between the haves and have-nots has persisted.

The stubborn endurance of achievement inequalities suggests the need to reconsider policies and practices aimed at shrinking the gap. Although policymakers have repeatedly tried to break the link between students’ learning and their socioeconomic background, these interventions thus far have been unable to dent the relationship between socioeconomic status and achievement. Perhaps it is time to consider alternatives.

In other K-12 news, it seems that education leaders worldwide are struggling with smartphones in the classroom.

Schools and governments around the world are struggling to figure out how to deal with smartphones in the classroom. Last year, France passed a law that banned students from using smart devices at school, and now in the UK politicians are discussing joining in, with UK schools minister Nick Gibb recently saying there should be a new policy introduced to ban phones from schools.

In many ways, this is just more evidence of the growing gap between an education model developed int he last century and 21st-century demands for new literacies and competencies.

Higher Ed

Affordability is all the rage in Washington D.C., with congressional leaders holding hearings related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Among those providing testimony at a recent hearing was Douglas Webber, associate professor of economics at Temple University. “According to his research, the costs of college (with financial aid benefits considered) have risen 75 percent at public four-year schools and private institutions. These rising costs come at a time when the average per-student support from state and local sources has decreased by a third over the past three decades.”

Speaking of affordability, an APM Research survey found:

  • Altogether, 72 percent of Americans say they would support free tuition at public colleges and universities for qualified applicants.
  • Despite the widespread desire for free college, a majority of Americans agree that college is worth its current high price tag: Nearly 6 in 10 Americans—regardless whether they attended college or not—say the cost of college is worth the investment.
  • However, 36 percent of Americans say that college is not worth the cost. When this group was asked to choose which of two responses was closer to why they believe this, the majority (60%) said, “people often graduate without specific job skills and with a large amount of debt.”

As enrollments decline nationally, colleges are also feeling the economic squeeze. According to a recent report by credit-ratings firm S&P Global, ”With enrollment and tuition revenue under pressure across the country, many colleges — especially small, private nonprofits — are under financial stress and could look to merge or face closure. Of those scenarios, closure is more likely given the difficulties in merging colleges.”

We already see universities taking proactive steps to position themselves for potential future economic upheaval is the University of Akron. This past week, the university “offered a buy-out to about 47 percent of faculty on Monday in an effort to balance its budget. The offer is to full-time permanent (non-visiting) faculty who are not in what the university calls a ‘Strategic Investment Area.’ No law school, polymer science, or engineering faculty can take the offer.”

According to UA spokesperson Wayne Hill:

We designed this VSRP to ensure that areas of strategic investment at the university will continue to have the needed faculty members to achieve the investment goals,” UA chief financial officer Nathan Mortimer said in a news release. “For those who are eligible for the VSRP, this offering may enable them to take their career in a different direction or to retire, depending on their personal situation.”

One opportunity for colleges and universities is to begin serving as a foundational bridge to employment in the new skills and competencies workplace. A report produced by Education Design Lab is the result of work with more than a hundred colleges and universities over the last five years to design and implement new approaches for delivering their programs and increasing student success. The report suggests five models for college innovation.

  • The “platform facilitator,” described as “distribution curators” that license courses, credentials and other services from “content providers.”
  • The “experiential curator,” schools that bundle online and hybrid education with new forms of assessment to create educational experiences that exist outside the boundaries of campus.
  • The “learning certifier” takes what students pick up in class, work, gaming and other experiences to “translate them into a coherent whole that makes sense.”
  • The “workforce integrator” is an institution that draws on employers to help map out competencies and allow faculty to integrate “in-demand workforce competencies” into their courses.
  • The “specializer” model will appeal to smaller colleges that “are known for a niche.” These schools will have opportunities to deliver their areas of focus to larger audiences.

Learning Design

Over at e-Literate, Kevin Kelly has a terrific three-part series on course design rubrics. The series is divided into the following parts.

  • Part 1: WHAT? A comparison of the seven most widely used online course design rubrics, along with their collective strengths and limitations
  • Part 2: SO WHAT? A discussion of why using these rubrics has become so important, and some early evidence of impact
  • Part 3: NOW WHAT? Recommendations for what the rubric providers and adopters should do next to increase online student success further

Kelly has done a great job aggregating the many different course design rubrics across U.S. universities and placing them in categories for practical reuse.

Interesting Media and Technology Developments

AI continues to make its presence felt in many areas of society. In Asia, for example, AI is being used with facial recognition to revolutionize security.

AI is now smart enough to detect if a person is acting out of the ordinary and flag these “exceptions” to the central command center, where human operators can decide on the course of action.

For low-level actions like a smoke detector being activated, AI can automatically tell personnel on the ground to check and report. Depending on the level of sophistication, high-definition cameras with thermal imaging can determine whether there is a fire, negating the need for human officers to visit the site and cutting down response time.

Ground sensors along perimeter fences mean that there is no need for human patrols because any movement would trigger an alert. The use of analytics also frees up human operators from having to constantly monitor banks of screens and dealing with cases flagged by the software.

AI is also making big waves in education. According to a new market analysis report by ISC, “Education will experience the third-largest growth of any sector, coming in slightly behind government (44.3 percent) and “personal and consumer services” (43.3 percent).”

Other big technology news this week included Google’s announcement of its new Stadia streaming for gaming. The platform is 100% cloud-based and will be available everywhere that Chrome is: PCs, phones, tablets, and televisions, with current hardware.

Research Articles and Posts for the Week

TEL Library Posts You May Have Missed

New Business Models for Higher Education (Daily Takes)

Education Futures Episode 6: How WIll U.S. Higher Education Respond to the Next Recession? (Podcast)

Homeschool FAQ: How Can I Prepare My Child for College Studies? (Daily Takes)

VR Cinema as a Possible Model for the Future of Education (Daily Takes)

The Two Dresses (Parables on Learning)

The Future of Education is About Sustainable Models of Affordability and Access (Daily Takes)

K-12 Education

Why banning phones from schools is a backward step for education

For nearly 50 years student achievement gap fails to close – Education Next : Education

Apple Launches Media Literacy Initiative, Pledges Support to Education Nonprofits

Petrilli & Ragland: At a Tough Time for Education Reform, Colorado Defeat of Charter School-Defunding Bill Offers a Ray of Hope

Education Reform’s Deep Blue Hue: Are School Reformers Right-Wingers or Centrists

Higher Education

College of St. Joseph, in Vermont, announces it will close

Report: More college closures ahead

Trump signs executive order tying research funds to campus free speech

As higher ed eyes adult learners, community colleges add supports

5 Reasons Why Low-Residency is the Future of Higher Ed Employment

The Learner Revolution: How Colleges Can Thrive in a New Skills and Competencies Marketplace

OPINION: ‘Free college’ fails to address racial and class gaps

By the numbers: A look at for-profits’ latest quarter

Big Buyouts at U of Akron

Confused About How ‘Free College’ Programs Differ? This Primer Can Help

Presidential Hopefuls Are Pushing Free College Back Into the Spotlight. But What Does ‘Free’ Mean?

Reshaping the College to Avoid Failing the Modern Learner

In the wake of one university’s headline-making failure, a look at business models

Higher Education – the Last Bastion? Distance and e-Learning Policy and Development – The Role of e-Learning and Distance Education in the Modernisation Process of Economies, Societies and Education Systems

College Affordability Advocates: What Comes After the Admissions Cheating Scandal?

Elite Colleges Make Low-Income Students Feel Unwelcome

Cengage Learning Brings Subscriptions to Higher Ed Publishing

Artificial Intelligence Seeing Massive Surge in Education

Why are the Biggest Barriers to Student Success Bureaucratic?

House Hearing Tackles College Affordability

A Common Language for College Credit

Americans support free college yet think 4-year degrees worth the price

Learning Design

Introduction to the Learning Sciences

Online Course Design Rubrics, Part 3: Now what?

Online Course Design Rubrics, Part 2: So what?

Online Course Design Rubrics, Part 1: What are they?

Workforce Readiness

Positioning The Academy To Serve The Corporate Education Market

Uber is creating a new gig economy that turns workers into customers

Are certifications more valuable than college degrees?

Hard- and soft-skills in high tech training

Jobs at All Levels Now Require Digital Literacy. Here’s Proof.

Media Trends

Cengage Learning Brings Subscriptions to Higher Ed Publishing

How do people use digital, social media? A new Edison survey

It’s time to start caring about “VR cinema,” and SXSW’s stunners are proof

AAP Reports eBook Sales Down 5% in January 2019

Technology Trends

Google’s Stadia Streaming Platform is an All-Out Invasion of Gaming

How AI, facial recognition revolutionize security in Asia

Artificial Intelligence Seeing Massive Surge in Education

AI starts to crack the critical thinking… astonishing experiment…

It’s time to start caring about “VR cinema,” and SXSW’s stunners are proof