Aligning the business model of college with student needs: How WGU is disrupting higher education — from christenseninstitute.org by Alana Dunagan

Excerpt:

Since its inception, Western Governors University (WGU) has aimed to serve learners otherwise shut out of the traditional system. Now, the groundbreaking institution has both graduated 100,000 students and has over 100,000 students currently enrolled. These milestones demonstrate WGU’s ability to scale its high-quality, low-cost model, signaling a momentous shift in the higher education landscape.

In the mid-1990s, governors of 19 states across the western United States were concerned about bringing accessible college education to rural populations, especially working adults.These governors, led by Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, decided to explore building a new university to address the challenge. As the memorandum of understanding between those governors that officially marked the founding of WGU stated, “The strength and well-being of our states and the nation depend increasingly on a strong higher education system that helps individuals adapt to our rapidly changing economy and society. States must look to telecommunications and information technologies to provide greater access and choice to a population that increasingly must have affordable education and training opportunities and the certification of competency throughout their lives.”

 

Now in its third decade, WGU has students in every U.S. state and has over 100,000 enrolled students—a 230% increase since 2011. 

 



Excerpts from their paper:

The potential of competency-based education
Competency-based education is an approach to learning that allows students to determine the pace of their learning and move ahead once they demonstrate mastery in a concept. As described by Clayton Christensen and Michelle Weise:

Competency-based programs have no time-based unit. Learning is fixed, and time is variable; pacing is flexible. Students cannot move on until they have demonstrated proficiency and mastery of each competency but are encouraged to try as many times as necessary to demonstrate their proficiency. Although skeptics may question the “rigor” behind an experience that allows students to keep trying until they have mastered a competency, this model is actually far more rigorous than the traditional model, as students are not able to flunk or get away with a merely average understanding of the material; they must demonstrate mastery—and therefore dedicated work toward gaining mastery—in any competency.

Competency-based education first took hold in the K-12 education system, but it is also growing in higher education. As of fall 2015, roughly 600 institutions were using or exploring competency-based programs in higher education.13 However, only a handful of institutions are using competency-based education exclusively and have designed their business models around it.

WGU offers programs across four industry areas: education, business, information technology, and healthcare. All of these programs are offered online; unlike most higher education institutions, WGU has no physical campus. Instead, it has invested heavily in a technology platform that allows it to deliver curriculum asynchronously, to wherever students are. In addition to its online platform, another unique aspect of WGU’s resources is its approach to faculty. In traditional institutions, faculty are responsible for academic research, course development, teaching, assessment, and advising students. Alternatively, WGU’s model unbundles the faculty role into component parts, with specialists in each role.

 

15 more companies that no longer require a degree — apply now — from glassdoor.com

Excerpt:

With college tuition soaring nationwide, many Americans don’t have the time or money to earn a college degree. However, that doesn’t mean your job prospects are diminished. Increasingly, there are many companies offering well-paying jobs to those with non-traditional education or a high-school diploma.

Google and Ernest & Young are just two of the champion companies who realize that book smarts don’t necessarily equal strong work ethic, grit and talent. Whether you have your GED and are looking for a new opportunity or charting your own path beyond the traditional four-year college route, here are 15 companies that have said they do not require a college diploma for some of their top jobs.

 

From DSC:
Several years ago when gas prices were sky high, I couldn’t help but think that some industries — though they were able to grab some significant profits in the short term — were actually shooting themselves in the foot for the longer term. Sure enough, as time went by, people started looking for less expensive alternatives. For example, they started buying more hybrid vehicles, more electric cars, and the sales of smaller cars and lighter trucks increased. The average fuel economy of vehicles went up (example). The goal was to reduce or outright eliminate the number of trips to the gas station that people were required to make.  

These days…I wonder if the same kind of thing is happening — or about to happen — with traditional institutions of higher education*? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?

Traditional institutions of higher education better find ways to adapt, and to change their game (so to speak), before the alternatives to those organizations gain some major steam. There is danger in the status quo. Count on it. The saying, “Adapt or die” has now come to apply to higher ed as well.

Faculty, staff, and administrators within higher ed are beginning to experience what the corporate world has been experiencing for decades.

Faculty can’t just teach what they want to teach. They can’t just develop courses that they are interested in. The demand for courses that aren’t attractive career-wise will likely continue to decrease. Sure, it can be argued that many of those same courses — especially from the liberal arts colleges — are still valuable…and I would agree with some of those arguments. But the burden of proof continues to be shifted to the shoulders of those proposing such curricula.

Also, the costs of obtaining a degree needs to come down or:

  • The gorillas of debt on peoples’ backs will become a negative word of mouth that will be hard to compete against or adequately address as time goes by
  • The angst towards higher ed will continue to build
  • People will bolt for those promising alternatives to traditional higher ed where the graduates (badge earners, or whatever they’re going to be called) of those programs are hired and shown to be effective employees
  • I hope that this isn’t the case and that it’s not too late to change…but history will likely show that higher ed shot itself in the foot. The warning signs were all over the place.

 

 

The current trends are paving the way for a next generation learning platform that will serve someone from cradle to grave.

 

 

* I realize that many in higher ed would immediately dispute that their organizations are out to grab short term profits, that they don’t operate like a business, that they don’t operate under the same motivations as the corporate world, etc.  And I can see some of these folks’ points, no doubt. I may even agree with some of the folks who represent organizations who freely share information with other organizations and have motivations other than making tons of money.  But for those folks who staunchly hold to the belief that higher ed isn’t a business at all — well, for me, that’s taking things way too far. I do not agree with that perspective at all. One has to have their eyes (and minds) closed to cling to that perspective anymore. Just don’t ask those folks to tell you how much their presidents make (along with other higher-level members of their administrations), the salaries of the top football coaches, or how many millions of dollars many universities’ receive for their television contracts and/or their ticket sales, or how much revenue research universities bring in from patents and so on and so forth.

 

 



Addendum on 8/24, per University Ventures e-newsletter

2. Facebook Goes Back to College (emphasis DSC)
TechCrunch report on how digital giants are buying into Last-Mile Training by partnering with Pathstream to deliver necessary digital skills to community college students.
Most good first jobs specifically require one or more technologies like Facebook or Unity — technologies that colleges and universities aren’t teaching. If Pathstream is able to realize its vision of integrating industry-relevant software training into degree programs in a big way, colleges and universities have a shot at maintaining their stranglehold as the sole pathway to successful careers. If Pathstream’s impact is more limited, watch for millions of students to sidestep traditional colleges, and enroll in emerging faster and cheaper alternative pathways to good first jobs — alternative pathways that will almost certainly integrate the kind of last-mile training being pioneered by Pathstream.

 

America’s colleges and universities could learn a thing or two from Leo, because they continue to resist teaching students the practical things they’ll need to know as soon as they graduate; for instance, to get jobs that will allow them to make student loan payments. Digital skills head this list, specifically experience with the high-powered software they’ll be required to use every day in entry-level positions.

But talk to a college president or provost about the importance of Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, Tableau, Adobe and Autodesk for their graduates, and they’re at a loss for how to integrate last-mile training into their degree programs in order prepare students to work on these essential software platforms.

Enter a new company, Pathstream, which just announced a partnership with tech leader Unity and previously partnered with Facebook. Pathstream supports the delivery of career-critical software skill training in VR/AR and digital marketing at colleges and universities.

 



 

Addendum on 8/24, per University Ventures e-newsletter
3. Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College
Inside Higher Education Q&A on upcoming book A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College.
Last-mile training is the inevitable by-product of two crises, one generally understood, the other less so. The crisis everyone understands is affordability and unsustainable levels of student loan debt. The other crisis is employability. Nearly half of all college graduates are underemployed in their first job. And we know that underemployment is pernicious and lasting. According to the recent report from Strada’s Institute for the Future of Work, two-thirds of underemployed graduates remain underemployed five years later, and half remain underemployed a decade later. So today’s students no longer buy that tired college line that “we prepare you for your fifth job, not your first job.” They know that if they don’t get a good first job, they’re probably not going to get a good fifth job. As a result, today’s students are laser-focused on getting a good first job in a growing sector of the economy.

 

 

 

You’re already harnessing the science of learning (you just don’t know it) — from edsurge.com by Pooja Agarwal

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Now, a decade later, I see the same clicker-like trend: tools like Kahoot, Quizlet, Quizizz and Plickers are wildly popular due to the increased student engagement and motivation they can provide. Meanwhile, these tech tools continue to incorporate powerful strategies for learning, which are discussed less often. Consider, for example, four of the most robust research-based strategies from the science of learning:

  1. Retrieval practice
  2. Spaced practice
  3. Interleaving
  4. Feedback

Sound familiar? It’s because approaches that encourage students to use what they know, revisit it over time, mix it up and learn about their own learning are core elements in many current edtech tools. Kahoot and Quizlet, for example, provide numerous retrieval formats, reminders, shuffle options and instant feedback. A century of scientific researchdemonstrates that these features don’t simply increase engagement—they also improve learning, higher order thinking and transfer of knowledge.

 

 


From DSC:
Pastors should ask this type of question as well: “What did we talk about the last time we met?” — then give the congregation a minute to write down what they can remember.


 

 

Also from Pooja Agarwal and RetrievalPractice.org

For teachers, here’s what we share in a minute or less about retrieval practice:

And when it comes to students, the first thing we share are Retrieval Warm Ups. These quick, fun questions engage students in class discussion and start a conversation about how retrieval is something we do every day. Try one of these with a teacher to start a conversation about retrieval practice, too!

 

 

Experiences in self-determined learning — a free download/PDF file from uni-oldenburg.de by Lisa Blaschke, Chris Kenyon, & Stewart Hase (Eds.)

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

An Introduction to Self-Determined Learning (Heutagogy)

Summary
There is a good deal that is provocative in the theory and principles surrounding self-determined learning or heutagogy. So, it seems appropriate to start off with a, hopefully, eyebrow-raising observation. One of the key ideas underpinning self-determined learning is that learning, and educational and training are quite different things. Humans are born to learn and are very good at it. Learning is a natural capability and it occurs across the human lifespan, from birth to last breath. In contrast, educational and training systems are concerned with the production of useful citizens, who can contribute to the collective economic good. Education and training is largely a conservative enterprise that is highly controlled, is product focused, where change is slow, and the status quo is revered. Learning, however, is a dynamic process intrinsic to the learner, uncontrolled except by the learner’s mental processes. Self-determined learning is concerned with understanding how people learn best and how the methods derived from this understanding can be applied to educational systems. This chapter provides a relatively brief introduction of the origins, the key principles, and the practice of self-determined learning. It also provides a number of resources to enable the interested reader to take learning about the approach further.

Contributors to this book come from around the world: they are everyday practitioners of self-determined learning who have embraced the approach. In doing so, they have chosen the path less taken and set off on a journey of exploration and discovery – a new frontier – as they implement heutagogy in their homes, schools, and workplaces. Each chapter was written with the intent of sharing the experiences of practical applications of heutagogy, while also encouraging those just starting out on the journey in using self-determined learning. The authors in this book are your guides as you move forward and share with you the lessons they have learned along the way. These shared experiences are meant to be read – or dabbled in – in any way that you want to read them. There is no fixed recipe or procedure for tackling the book contents.

At the heart of self-determined learning is that the learner is at the centre of the learning process. Learning is intrinsic to the learner, and the educator is but an agent, as are many of the resources so freely available these days. It is now so easy to access knowledge and skills (competencies), and in informal settings we do this all the time, and we do it well. Learning is complex and non-linear, despite what the curricula might try to dictate. In addition, every brain is different as a result of its experience (as brain research tells us). Each brain will also change as learning takes place with new hypotheses, new needs, and new questions forming, as new neuronal connections are created.

Heutagogy also doesn’t have anything directly to do with self-determination theory (SDT). SDT is a theory of motivation related to acting in healthy and effective ways (Ryan & Deci, 2000). However, heutagogy is related to the philosophical notion of self-determinism and shares a common belief in the role of human agency in behavior.

The idea of human agency is critical to self-determined learning, where learning is learner-directed. Human agency is the notion that humans have the capacity to make choices and decisions, and then act on them in the real world. However, how experiences and learning bring people to make the choices and decisions that they do make, and what actions they may then take is a very complex matter. What we are concerned with in self-determined learning is that people have agency with respect to how, what, and when they learn. It is something that is intrinsic to each individual person. Learning occurs in the learner’s brain, as the result of his or her past and present experiences.

 

The notion of placing the learner at the centre of the learning experience is a key principle of self-determined learning. This principle is the opposite of teacher-centric or, perhaps more accurately curriculum-centric, approaches to learning. This is not to say that the curriculum is not important, just that it needs to be geared to the learner – flexible, adaptable, and be a living document that is open to change.

Teacher-centric learning is an artifact of the industrial revolution when an education system was designed to meet the needs of the factories (Ackoff & Greenberg, 2008) and to “make the industrial wheel go around” (Hase & Kenyon, 2013b). It is time for a change to learner-centred learning and the time is right with easy access to knowledge and skills through the Internet, high-speed communication and ‘devices’. Education can now focus on more complex cognitive activities geared to the needs of the 21st century learner, rather than have its main focus on competence (Blaschke & Hase, 2014; Hase & Kenyon, 2013a).

 

 

 

U.S. L&D Report – Benchmark Your Workplace Learning  — from findcourses.com, via Alexander Caplan

Topics covered include:

  • L&D Benchmarking Survey: 2018
  • Virtual Reality: A New Reality for L&D
  • How to Promote a Learning Culture in Your Organization
  • How to Calculate Meaningful ROI for Workplace Learning

 

types of training offered to entry level, mid- and senior- level employees

 

 

types of technologies the learning and development group will use in 2018

 

Key takeaways from the U.S. L&D Report

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 
 

Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem — from edu2030.agorize.com
How might we empower people to design their own learning journeys so they can lead purposeful and economically stable lives?

Excerpts:

The problem
Technology is rapidly transforming the way we live, learn, and work. Entirely new jobs are emerging as others are lost to automation. People are living longer, yet switching jobs more often. These dramatic shifts call for a reimagining of the way we prepare for work and life—specifically, how we learn new skills and adapt to a changing economic landscape.

The changes ahead are likely to hurt most those who can least afford to manage them: low-income and first generation learners already ill-served by our existing postsecondary education system. Our current system stifles economic mobility and widens income and achievement gaps; we must act now to ensure that we have an educational ecosystem flexible and fair enough to help all people live purposeful and economically stable lives. And if we are to design solutions proportionate to this problem, new technologies must be called on to scale approaches that reach the millions of vulnerable people across the country.

 

The challenge
How might we empower people to design their own learning journeys so they can lead purposeful and economically stable lives?

The Challenge—Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem—seeks bold ideas for how our postsecondary education system could be reimagined to foster equity and encourage learner agency and resilience. We seek specific pilots to move us toward a future in which all learners can achieve economic stability and lead purposeful lives. This Challenge invites participants to articulate a vision and then design pilot projects for a future ecosystem that has the following characteristics:

Expands access: The educational system must ensure that all people—including low-income learners who are disproportionately underserved by the current higher education system—can leverage education to live meaningful and economically stable lives.

Draws on a broad postsecondary ecosystem: While college and universities play a vital role in educating students, there is a much larger ecosystem in which students learn. This ecosystem includes non-traditional “classes” or alternative learning providers, such as MOOCs, bootcamps, and online courses as well as on-the-job training and informal learning. Our future learning system must value the learning that happens in many different environments and enable seamless transitions between learning, work, and life.

 

From DSC:
This is where I could see a vision similar to Learning from the Living [Class] Room come into play. It would provide a highly affordable, accessible platform, that would offer more choice, and more control to learners of all ages. It would be available 24×7 and would be a platform that supports lifelong learning. It would combine a variety of AI-enabled functionalities with human expertise, teaching, training, motivation, and creativity.

It could be that what comes out of this challenge will lay the groundwork for a future, massive new learning platform.

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

Also see:

 

From DSC:
As important as being able to effectively communicate with others is, I think we could do a better job throughout the entire learning continuum of proving more coaching in this regard. We should provide far more courses, and/or e-learning based modules, and/or examples where someone is being coached on how best to communicate in a variety of situations. 

Some examples/scenarios along the continuum (i.e, pre-K-12, higher ed and/or vocational work, and the workplace) might include:

  • For children communicating with each other
    • How to ask if someone wants to play (and how best to find an activity everyone wants to do; or how to handle getting a no each time)
    • How to handle a situation where one’s friend is really angry about something or is being extra quiet about something
    • How to listen
  • For children communicating with adults (and vice versa)
    • How to show respect
    • How to listen
    • Not being shy but feeling free to say what’s on their mind with a known/respected adult
  • For highschoolers
    • Wondering how best to interview for that new job
    • For communicating with parents
    • How to handle issues surrounding diversity and showing respect for differences
    • How to listen
  • For college students
    • Wondering how best to interview for that new job
    • Encouraging them to use their professors’ office hours — and to practice communication-related skills therein as well
    • For communicating with parents, and vice versa
    • How to listen
  • For those entering the workplace
    • How to communicate with co-workers
    • For dealing with customers who are irate about something that happened (or didn’t happen) to them
    • How to listen
  • For managers and their communications with their employees
    • How to encourage
    • How to handle disciplinary issues or change behaviors
    • How to listen
  • For leaders and their communications with their departments, staffs, companies, organizations
    • How to inspire, guide, lead
    • How to listen

I intentionally inserted the word listen many times in the above scenarios, as I don’t think we do enough about — or even think about — actively developing that skill.

The manner in which we deliver and engage learners here could vary:

  • One possible way would be to use interactive videos that pause at critical points within conversations and ask the listeners how they would respond at these points in the scenarios. They might have 2-3 choices per decision point. When the video continues, based upon which selection they went with, the learner could see how things panned out when they pursued that route.
  • Or perhaps we could host some seminars or workshops with students on how to use web-based collaboration tools (videoconferencing and/or audio only based meetings) and/or social media related tools.
  • Or perhaps such training could occur in more face-to-face environments with 2 or more learners reading a scene-setting script, then pausing at critical points in the conversation for students to discuss the best possible responses
  • ….and I’m sure there are other methods that could be employed as well.

But for all the talk of the importance of communications, are we doing enough to provide effective examples/coaching here?

 


Some thoughts on this topic from scripture


James 1:19-20 (NIV)
Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

 

Proverbs 21:23 (NIV)
23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.

 

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

Proverbs 12:18-19 (NIV)
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

 


 

 

 

Blockchain: Is it Good for Education? — from virtuallyinspired.org

Excerpt:

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a public ledger type database made up of records called blocks that are linked together like a chain.  It is a shared unchallengeable ledger for recording the history of transactions. Here, the ledger records the history of academic accomplishments. An education ledger (blockchain) could store academic information such as degrees, diplomas, tests etc. It could be kind of digital transcript.

A Few Potential Applications of Blockchain

  • Learning Credentials Repository – A blockchain database of credentials and achievements can be a secure online repository. Digitized records/blocks replace paper copies for sharing proof of learning and can be easily accessible and tracked. Blockchain can make it easy to access all of your academic accomplishments in a digitized and ultra-secure way. Each record is a block. Your records would be chained together and new credentials will be added as you go throughout your lifetime of learning.
  • Lifelong Learning Building Blocks – Informal learning activities could be captured, validated and stored in addition to formal learning accomplishments. This can be as simple as noting a watched video or completed online lesson. We’re already seeing some universities using blockchain with badges, credits, and qualifications.
  • Authenticating Credentials – Institutions, recruiting firms or employers can easily access and verify credentials. No more gathering of papers or trying to digitize to share. Blocks are digital “learning” records and come in multilingual format eliminating the painstaking task of translation.

What’s more, with diploma mills and fake credentials causing havoc for institutions and employers, blockchain solves the issue by providing protection from fraud. It has two-step authentication and spreads blocks across numerous computer nodes. It would take hitting over 51% of computers to falsify a block.

Sony and IBM have partnered and filed patents to develop a blockchain educational platform that can house student data, their performance reports and other information related to their academic records. Some universities have created their own platforms.

 

 

Also see:

Blockchain in Education — from by Alexander Grech and Anthony F. Camilleri

Context
Blockchain technology is forecast to disrupt any field of activity that is founded on timestamped record-keeping of titles of ownership. Within education, activities likely to be disrupted by blockchain technology include the award of qualifications, licensing and accreditation, management of student records, intellectual property management and payments.

Key Advantages of Blockchain Technology
From a social perspective, blockchain technology offers significant possibilities beyond those currently available. In particular, moving records to the blockchain can allow for:

  • Self-sovereignty, i.e. for users to identify themselves while at the same time maintaining control over the storage and management of their personal data;
  • Trust, i.e. for a technical infrastructure that gives people enough confidence in its operations to carry through with transactions such as payments or the issue of certificates;
  • Transparency & Provenance, i.e. for users to conduct transactions in knowledge that each party has the capacity to enter into that transaction;
  • Immutability, i.e. for records to be written and stored permanently, without thepossibility of modification;
  • Disintermediation, i.e. the removal of the need for a central controlling authority to manage transactions or keep records;
  • Collaboration, i.e. the ability of parties to transact directly with each other without the need for mediating third parties.

 

 

Sony wants to digitize education records using the blockchain

 

 

 

 

College of Law Announces the Launch of the Nation’s First Live Online J.D. Program — from law.syr.edu

Excerpt:

The American Bar Association has granted the Syracuse University College of Law a variance to offer a fully interactive online juris doctor program. The online J.D. program will be the first in the nation to combine real-time and self-paced online classes, on-campus residential classes, and experiential learning opportunities.


The online J.D. was subject to intense scrutiny and review by legal education experts before the College was granted the variance. Students in the online program will be taught by College of Law faculty, will be held to the same high admission and academic standards as students in the College’s residential program, and will take all courses required by its residential J.D. program.

 

Also see:

 

 

“The JD degree is usually required to practice law in the United States. It is considered the first degree in law. The JD degree is offered by American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools, by law schools that are not ABA-approved, and by many Canadian law schools.”

(source)

 

From DSC:
The American Bar Association is finally starting to grant more variances that involve online-based education (or in their terms, “distance education”). I’m sure that they have been facing increasingly intense pressure from a variety of law schools over the last decade or more. It’s good to see the ABA grant these types of variances, as it won’t be long now before online-based learning is as much a part of the offerings from a variety of law schools as it is for institutions offering traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees.

 

 

 

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