“Stuck in it until I die”: Parents get buried by college debt too — from hechingerreport.org by Meredith Kolodner
ParentPlus loans have spiked, leading to financial disaster for many low- and middle-income families

Excerpt:

The couple’s original $40,000 loan to cover the cost of their son and daughter attending public universities in Indiana, where the family lived at the time, has snowballed in those 18 years, with interest rates as high as 8.5 percent. Their bill now stands at more than $100,000.

The Rifes would have lost their house if they had been forced to make the original monthly payment, so they negotiated with the federal government to get it down to $733. Still, it’s more than their mortgage, and it doesn’t cover the interest, so the amount owed has continued to grow.

From DSC:
I have fought for over a decade to bring the costs (involved with obtaining a degree) down. Through the years, I have tried to reach anyone who works within higher ed to listen…to change…to find ways to bring the price of obtaining a degree waaaaaay down. 

Before 2010, I had written about a future where the cost of obtaining a degree would be 50% less. And that has already happened with a handful of instances. But the future will likely look much different than the past.

Fast forward…and the perfect storm against higher ed continues to build. The backlash continues to build.

There will be change. Count on it. 100% bound to happen. In fact, it has to happen, or this nation is in big trouble otherwise. 


(11/24/20) An addendum from the Wall Street Journal:

 

Financial aid officials share how they’re advising college students now — from educationdive.com by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
We asked administrators how they are guiding students and families through a process made more complex by COVID-19.

Excerpt:

This uncertainty among students and families has compounded an already complex process. Education Dive contacted several financial aid experts and asked them one question: What changes in the financial aid process should colleges account for during the pandemic, and how should they communicate those changes to students, families and the public?

 

The pandemic pushed universities online. The change was long overdue. — from hbr-org.cdn.ampproject.org by Sean Gallagher and Jason Palmer; with thanks to Mike Mathews for his posting on LinkedIn re: this item

Excerpt:

A number of elite institutions — such as Princeton University, Williams College, Spelman College, and American University — have substantially discounted tuition for their fully online experience in an historically unprecedented fashion, highlighting pricing pressures and opening up Pandora’s box. This comes after a decade of growth in postsecondary alternatives, including “massively open online courses” (MOOCs), industry-driven certification programs, and coding bootcamps.

This moment is likely to be remembered as a critical turning point between the “time before,” when analog on-campus degree-focused learning was the default, to the “time after,” when digital, online, career-focused learning became the fulcrum of competition between institutions.

 

Some resources mentioned by Goldie Blumenstyk out at “The Edge” — in her posting entitled “How to Keep Old Debts From Deterring Returning Students

  • Institute for College Access & Success (Ticas) has just released its annual report on what college graduates owe in student debt
    Excerpt:
    Student Debt and the Class of 2019 is TICAS’ fifteenth annual report on the student loan debt of recent graduates from four-year colleges, documenting changes and variation in student debt across states and colleges. Unless otherwise noted, the figures in this report are only for public and private nonprofit colleges because virtually no for-profit colleges report what their graduates owe.Nationally, more than six in ten (62%) college seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2019 had student loan debt, down from the Class of 2018 (65%). Borrowers from the Class of 2019 owed an average of $28,950, a 0.9 percent decline from the average of $29,200 in 2018, continuing a trend of relatively flat student debt levels in recent years.

The Institute for College Access & Success (Ticas) has just released its annual report on what college graduates owe in student debt. 

 

Solving Stranded Credits: Assessing the Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding on Students, States, and Institutions — from sr.ithaka.org by Julia Karon, James Dean Ward, Catharine Bond Hill, & Martin Kurzweil

Excerpt:

Attention to the burden of U.S. educational debt, now at $1.7 trillion, has grown in recent years.[1] For too many former postsecondary students—especially Black students—debt they took on to improve their lives and career prospects has instead become a financial hindrance, delaying or undermining their efforts to buy homes, build savings, or provide for their families.[2] The debt burden is especially severe for those who never completed their postsecondary program and therefore did not receive the credentials that might have boosted their careers and incomes enough to justify taking on the debt.

Also see:

  • The pandemic has pushed hundreds of thousands of workers out of higher education — from chronicle.com by Dan Bauman
    Excerpt:
    The work-force that serves much of higher education in America has shrunk by at least 7 percent since Covid-19 arrived on American shores — a staggering, unprecedented contraction, according to federal data. And like the national economic downturn that is running parallel to this unprecedented viral outbreak, much also remains uncertain about what a “recovery” will actually look like for higher education.
 

Reflections on some nice ideas from Dr. Barbi Honeycutt [Lecture Breakers Weekly!]

Per this week’s Lecture Breakers Weekly! from Dr. Barbi Honeycutt:

Break up your online lectures with the Watch Party! Here’s how you can do it: 

  • Pre-record your mini-lecture or find a video you want to use for your lesson. 
  • Instead of asking students to watch the video on their own, play it during your synchronous/live class time.
  • Explain to your students that they are watching the video all at the same time and that you will be facilitating the chat and answering their questions as they watch the video together. It’s a watch party!
  • Option: Take the conversation out of Zoom or your LMS. Create a hashtag for your course on Twitter and invite other experts, colleagues, or friends to join the conversation.

Instead of presenting during the synchronous class time, you can now focus completely on managing the chat, prompting discussion, and responding to students’ questions and ideas in real-time. And be sure to record and save the chat for students who couldn’t attend the live session or want to review it later.

From DSC:
This is one of the kind of things that I envisioned with Learning from the living class[room] — a next-generation, global learning platform.

Learners could be watching a presentation/presenter, but communicating in real-time with other learners. Perhaps it will be a tvOS-based app or something similar. But TV as we know it is changing, right? It continues to become more interactive and on-demand all the time. Add videoconferencing apps like Zoom, Cisco Webex Meetings, Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect and others, and you have real-time, continuous, lifelong, relevant/timely, affordable, accessible, up-to-date learning.

Also, you have TEAM-BASED learning. 

Add videoconferencing apps like Zoom, Cisco Webex Meetings, Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Connect and others, and you have real-time, continuous, lifelong, up-to-date learning.

 

 

 

From DSC:
The perfect storm continues to build against traditional institutions of higher education. The backlash continues to build strength. And there WILL BE change — there’s no choice now. Alternatives to these traditional institutions of higher education continue to appear on the scene.

Over the last several decades, traditional institutions of higher education had the chance to step in and do something. They didn’t take nearly enough action. As in other industries, these days of the Coronavirus just hasten the changes that were already afoot. 

Also see:

  • Alternative Credentials on the Rise — from insidehighered.com by Paul Fain, with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
    Interest is growing in short-term, online credentials amid the pandemic. Will they become viable alternative pathways to well-paying jobs?
 

Moody’s: Coronavirus is accelerating shift to online education — from educationdive.com by Natalie Schwartz

Dive Brief:

  • The pandemic will hasten a transformation of higher education business models, according to a new Moody’s Investors Service report.
  • The crisis will accelerate many colleges’ plans to grow their online footprints, though not all schools have the resources to invest in digital infrastructure, the report notes. They will also likely expand non-degree and certificate programs.
  • Analysts predict that once the pandemic subsides, some colleges will struggle if they haven’t established a strong online presence.

“Some universities previously resistant to change will have to take more expansive steps to adapt to this transformation,” Pranav Sharma, assistant vice president at Moody’s, said in a statement. “Not all universities, however, have the resources or culture to move quickly and the coronavirus will expedite existential threats for some.”

Also see:

Active Learning while Physically Distant — from blogs.acu.edu

Excerpt:

  • Use a Google Form as an entrance or exit ticket. Upon entering class, a quick google form can engage students with a couple of quick questions. A google form as an exit ticket can provide good insight into student learning that day.
 

Alternative Credentials, Scaled Degrees, and the New Higher Ed Matthew Effect — from insidehighered.com by Joshua Kim
The potential impact of elite-branded affordable online certificates and degrees on regionally-branded tuition-dependent colleges and universities.

Excerpt:

I pulled those quotes from the 8/10/20 IHE article At Home, Workers Seek Alternative Credentials. Given the crazy times, I’m not sure if that article is getting the attention across higher ed that it deserves. Everyone is entirely focused on the near-term challenges of academic continuity during the pandemic. And that is the right place to be focusing. You can’t plan for the long-term when the short-term is so unstable.

But today, I’m going to ask you to do just that. If you can, step back from thinking about COVID-19 and what is happening to your school in the fall, and give some thought to the medium-to-long-term impact of the rise of alternative credentials and scaled degrees to your institution.

First, let me ask you a question. How does your school balance its books? Where does the money come from?

 

At home, workers seek alternative credentials — from insidehighered.com by Lindsay McKenzie
Interest in alternative online credentials spiked after people started working remotely this spring. Will the surge continue long-term?

Excerpt:

Several leading massive open online course providers, coding bootcamps and business schools offering non-degree credentials reported manyfold increases in web traffic, inquiries and enrollments.

 

First They Came for Adjuncts, Now They’ll Come for Tenure: And who will be left to stop them? — from chronicle.com by Ed Burmila

Excerpts:

If, by their own accord or by caving to outside political pressures, university administrators take the current crisis as an opportunity to eliminate tenure once and for all, who’s going to stop them?

Put another way: Are there enough academic workers with a stake in the tenure system left to defend it?

As go the adjuncts and the nonacademic staff today, so go the tenured faculty tomorrow.

It is in the interest of tenured faculty to fight for their non-tenure-track colleagues. But the key question, as The Chronicle’s Emma Pettit asks, is: Will it be too little too late? When contingent labor protested for years about poor working conditions, it did not find many allies willing to fight alongside it. Now the roles are reversed: Tenured faculty will soon need the rest of the profession to help fight attempts to erode tenure.

Addendum on 8/20/20:

Higher ed group offers ideas for supporting contingent faculty — from educationdive.com by Hallie Busta

Dive Brief:

  • Support for non-tenure-track faculty members continues to be a concern amid pandemic-related cutbacks and pushback over how some campuses plan to reopen.
  • A faculty industry group this week put out a list of principles and recommendations for institutions to protect those instructors, calling for them to get paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, and extended access to rehire or promotion opportunities.
  • The ideas come as calls for greater shared governance grow across the sector in light of the ongoing health crisis.
 

From DSC: I’d like to thank Ryan Craig for mentioning several interesting articles and thoughts in a recent Gap Letter. At least 2-3 of the articles he mentioned got me to thinking…


With a degree no longer enough, job candidates are told to prove their skills in tests — from hechingerreport.org by Jon Marcus
Instead of relying on credentials, more employers want applicants to show their stuff

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Among the many frustrations ahead for millions of Americans thrown out of work by the pandemic is one that may surprise them: To get a new job, it’s increasingly likely they will have to take a test.

As the number of candidates balloons while health risks make it hard for hiring managers to meet with them in person, a trend toward “pre-hiring assessments” — already under way before Covid-19 — is getting a huge new push.

Skeptical that university degrees are the best measure of whether candidates have the skills they need, employers were already looking for ways that applicants could prove it — including in fields where that was not previously required.

“It’s like try before you buy,” said Price.

It's very possible that students will have to take assessments to get that job -- assessments that are based on a completely different set of Learning Objectives (LO's).

PDF version here.

Also see:

From DSC:
There is a huge misalignment between the Learning Objectives (LO’s) that the corporate world supports — and ultimately hires by — as compared to the LO’s that faculty, provosts, & presidents support.

This happened to me a while back when I was looking for a new job. I traveled to another city — upon the company’s request (though they never lifted a finger to help me with the travel-related expenses). Plus, I dedicated the time and got my hopes up, yet again, in getting the job. But the test they gave me (before I even saw a human being) blew me away! It was meant for PhD-level candidates in Computer Science, Programming, or Statistics. It was ridiculously hard.

The article above got me to thinking….

Higher education increasingly puts a guerrilla of debt on many students’ backs, which adds to the dispiriting struggle to overcome these kinds of tests. Also, the onslaught of the Applicant Tracking Systems that students have to conquer (in order to obtain that sought after interview) further adds to this dispiriting struggle.

How can we achieve better alignment here? Students are getting left holding the bag…a situation that will likely not last much longer. If higher ed doesn’t address this situation, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a mass exodus when effective alternatives pick up steam even further. Last call to address this now before the exodus occurs.

Along these lines see:

Better Connecting College and Career — from insidehighered.com by Steven Mintz
How to improve career readiness.

Excerpt:

How can colleges best prepare students for careers in a volatile, uncertain environment? This is the question recently asked by Marie Cini, the former provost at University of Maryland University College and former president of CAEL.

Career service offices, she observes, are first and foremost job search centers: reviewing résumés, publicizing job openings and arranging interviews. What they are not about, for the most part, is career preparation, a longer and more intense process involving self-analysis, skills building and genuine insights into the job market.

 

Here’s how colleges should help close the digital divide in the COVID-Era — from edsurge.com by Dr. Mordecai I. Brownlee

Excerpt:

One key problem prevalent in many low-socioeconomic communities around the nation—like San Antonio, which now has the highest poverty rate of the country’s 25 largest metro areas—is the digital divide. Digital divide is a term used to describe the gap present in society between those who have access to the internet and technology and those who don’t.

It speaks directly to a primary challenge facing our education system in this COVID-era: Some students and families have the means to succeed in a remote learning environment, and others do not.

 

Online learning critical to the ‘reskilling’ of America — from thehill.com by Jeff Maggioncalda
[From DSC: As Jeff is the CEO of Coursera, a worldwide online learning platform, it causes this to be an opinion piece for sure; but his points are nevertheless, very valid in my opinion as well.]

Excerpts:

America is facing the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. One in four American workers has filed for unemployment insurance since March. In less than four months, over 44 million American workers have watched their jobs be put on hold or disappear entirely — and that number is expected to grow in the coming months.

Policymakers should use this opportunity to launch a large-scale effort to help Americans develop the skills to do the jobs of the future.

Amidst this pandemic, Americans require a solution that meets them where they are, offering a safe learning environment during social distancing while preparing them for in-demand jobs now and post-COVID.

Online learning helps workers develop skills at an unparalleled speed and scale, as seen with the recent experience of training tens of thousands of contact tracers in a matter of weeks.

Learning from the living class room

 

 

Are universities going the way of CDs and cable TV? [Smith]

Are universities going the way of CDs and cable TV? — from theatlantic.com by Michael Smith; with thanks to Homa Tavangar & Will Richardson for this resource
Like the entertainment industry, colleges will need to embrace digital services in order to survive.

Excerpts:

We all know how that worked out: From 1999 to 2009, the music industry lost 50 percent of its sales. From 2014 to 2019, roughly 16 million American households canceled their cable subscriptions.

Similar dynamics are at play in higher education today. Universities have long been remarkably stable institutions—so stable that in 2001, by one account, they comprised an astonishing 70 of the 85 institutions in the West that have endured in recognizable form since the 1520s.

That stability has again bred overconfidence, overpricing, and an overreliance on business models tailored to a physical world. Like those entertainment executives, many of us in higher education dismiss the threats that digital technologies pose to the way we work.

Information technology transforms industries by making scarce resources plentiful, forcing customers to rethink the value of established products.

Paul Krugman, Economist, teaching on Masterclass.com

 

Learning from the Living Class Room

From DSC:
I can’t help but hear Clayton Christenson’s voice in the following quote:

An analogous situation prevails in higher education, where access to classroom seats, faculty experts, and university diplomas have been scarce for half a millennium. When massively open online courses first appeared, making free classes available to anyone with internet access, universities reflexively dismissed the threat. At the time, MOOCs were amateuristic, low-quality, and far removed from our degree-granting programs. But over the past 10 years, the technology has improved greatly.

 

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