Why education is a ‘wicked problem’ for learning engineers to solve — from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

So, back to the wicked problem: How do we make education that’s both quality education and at the same time accessible and affordable?

“Now, we are building a new technology that we call Agent Smith. It’s another AI technology— and we’re very excited about it—that builds [a] Jill Watson for you. And Agent Smith can build a Jill Watson for you in less than 10 percent of the hours.”

So one question for online education is, can we build a new set of tools—and I think that’s where AI is going to go, that learning engineering is going to go—where AI is not helping individual humans as much as AI is helping human-human interaction.

Huge ethical issues and something that learning engineering has not yet started focusing on in a serious manner. We are still in a phase of, “Look ma, no hands, I can ride a bike without hands.”

Technology should not be left to technologists.

Learning from the living class room

 

Tips for decoding college financial aid offers — from nytimes.com by Ann Carrnes

Excerpts:

Schools often use different jargon for the same types of aid or loans. Student advocates offer suggestions on how to figure out what you’ll pay.

After the college acceptance letter comes the financial aid offer. But beware: The offers are not always easy to decipher, and different colleges often use different jargon for the same types of aid or loans.

Among the colleges that offered a common type of federal loan, for instance, researchers found more than 100 terms for the loan, including two dozen that didn’t even mention the word “loan.”

To compare aid offers, student advocates recommend that you…(see the details in the article)

 

For 5th straight year, study shows hunger and homelessness hinder American college students — from hope4college.com; with thanks to Angela Baggetta for this resource

Excerpt:

In 2019, nearly 167,000 students from 171 two-year institutions and 56 four-year institutions responded to the #RealCollege survey. The results indicate:

  • 39% of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days
  • 46% of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year
  • 17% of respondents were homeless in the previous year
 

From DSC:
By not listening/taking action nearly enough through the last several decades, the backlash continues to build against colleges and universities — institutions of traditional higher education who didn’t take the rise in tuition seriously. Students graduated and left campus, and the invisible gorillas of debt being placed on students’ backs weren’t acknowledged — nor were they fought against — nearly enough. Instead, the gorillas just kept getting bigger and bigger. 

Year after year, I tried to fight this trend and raise awareness of it…only to see the majority of institutions of traditional higher education do absolutely nothing. Then, as the backlash started to build, the boards and the administrations across the country began priding themselves on how their percentage increases were amongst the smallest in the area/state/nation. They should have found ways to decrease their tuition, but they didn’t. Instead, they resorted to playing games with discounts while their “retail values” kept going up and up.

The time’s coming when they will pay the piper for having done this. Just like what happened to the oil companies and to the car/truck manufactures who made megabucks (for the time being) when their vehicles kept getting bigger and bigger and when the price of oil was high. What happened? The end result was that they shot themselves in the foot. These days, Tesla — with their electric cars — is now the most valuable car company in America.

Within the realm of education…when effective, cheaper alternatives come along that still get people hired, you better look out traditional institutions of higher education. You didn’t listen. It happened on your watch. And speaking of watches, the next major one could be you watching more of your institutions close while watching your students walk out the door to pursue other, far less expensive alternatives.


Follow up comments:
I realize this is a broad swath and isn’t true for several institutions who have been fighting the fight. For example, my current employer — the WMU-Cooley Law School is reducing their tuition by 21% this fall and other institutions have reduced their tuition as well or found ways to honor “Promise” types of programs. Other institutions have done the market research and are offering more relevant, up-to-date curricula. (Don’t worry those of you who work within the liberal arts, I still support and believe in you. But we didn’t do a good enough balancing act between offering liberal arts programs and developing the needed skillsets to help students pay off those ever-growing gorillas of debt.)

The fact was that too often, those invisible gorillas of debt went unnoticed by many within higher education. And it wasn’t just the boards, administrators, presidents, and provosts out there. In fact, the full-time, tenured faculty members taught what they wanted to teach and were furious at those who dared assert that higher education was a business. (Watch a college football game on the major networks last fall? Have you seen the size of research institutions’ intellectual property-based revenues? We could go on and on.) 

Anyway, what tenured faculty members offered didn’t align with what the market needed and was calling for. They offered what was in their best interests, not the students’ best interests.

 

2020 Top 10 IT Issues — from educause.edu
The Drive to Digital Transformation Begins | EDUCAUSE Review Special Report

Excerpt:

Colleges and universities are working to unmake old practices and structures that have become inefficient and are preparing to use technology and data to better understand and support students and to become more student-centric.

They are working to fund technology and to sustainably manage and secure data and privacy. Higher education institutions are applying data and technology to innovate student outcomes and experiences.

The role of the CIO is undergoing its own transformation in order to advance institutional priorities through the use of technology.

The focus in 2020, then, is to simplify, sustain, innovate, and drive to Dx in all of our institutions and places of higher learning.

 

 

From DSC:
To me, one of the key roles of today’s collegiate CIO should be to collaborate with the academic side of the house to identify ways to strategically use technologies to significantly lower the cost of obtaining a degree. Higher education affordability is listed as #8. That’s waaaaaay underestimating the issue and another key reason the backlash continues to build against traditional higher education. If things don’t change and a much cheaper — but still effective — means comes along, look out. Students and families are feeling the weight of the gorillas of debt on their back — weight that lasts for decades for many people today. Along these lines, issues involving privacy and data security — while also important to students — are mainly a CYA for colleges and universities. They don’t address the gorillas of debt as much as other solutions might.

Sorry if you don’t want to hear it, but one of the best solutions involves offering a significant amount of 100% online-based offerings. While this was mentioned, you can still get major pushback about this strategy. But you can’t tell me for one second that offering online-based classes is more expensive than offering traditional, face-to-face based classes. Why? What?! How could I possibly assert this?! The answer is quite simple. One just needs to request to review the budget of your Physical Plant Department. That’s why. Check it out if you can — you’ll see what I mean.

Also, though data is important, it won’t save colleges and universities from closing. What are some things that stand a better chance of doing that?! Here are some:

  • Vision
  • Developing a culture that supports innovation and a willingness to experiment/change 
  • Finding ways to significantly lower the price of obtaining a degree
  • Scanning the horizons to see what’s coming down the pike and how that will impact our students’ futures. Then, develop the curriculum to best help our students prepare for their future.

“The CIO’s ‘role at the table’ has evolved to be one that is less about the mechanics of the IT organization and more about how IT can serve as a strategic partner in helping the institution execute its mission.”(source)

 

 

Student debt is over $1.6 trillion and hardly anyone is paying down their loans — from cnbc.comby Jeff Cox; with a shout out to Ryan Craig’s Gap Letter for this resource and the resource mentioned below

Excerpts:

  • Student loan debt totals more than $1.6 trillion and is not shrinking as few borrowers have reduced their balances, according to Moody’s.
  • High student loan balances are having multiple negative economic effects, such as restricting household formation, Moody’s said.
  • Outstanding loans total more than $1.6 trillion, more than doubling over the last decade and tripling since 2006.
  • In the meantime, the burden of student loans continues to be felt with an 11% default rate that is the highest of any debt category. Education also is now second only to mortgages as the highest form of debt for all Americans.

Also see:

 

 

 

From DSC:
This report reminds me of a graphic that Yohan Na and I did 10+ years ago…and the student debt now sits at around $1.5 trillion.

 

 

DC: Precursor to a next gen learning platform…? Another piece is falling into place.

 

The cost of college increased by more than 25% in the last 10 years—here’s why — from cnbc.com by Abigail Hess

Excerpt:

During the 1978 – 1979 school year, it cost the modern equivalent of $17,680 per year to attend a private college and $8,250 per year to attend a public college. By the 2008 – 2009 school year those costs had grown to $38,720 at private colleges and $16,460 at public colleges.

Today, those costs are closer to $48,510 and $21,370, respectively. That means costs increased by roughly 25.3% at private colleges and about 29.8% at public colleges.

Also see:

How affordable are public colleges in your state for low-income students?

Students from low-income backgrounds should be able to attend college without shouldering a debt burden or having to work so many hours that they jeopardize their chances of completing a degree. But that’s just not possible today.

Think students today can work their way through college? Think again.

For millions of college-going students, one of the most urgent concerns is the rising cost of college and how to pay for it — and not just for tuition but other necessities like textbooks, housing, food, and transportation. The idea that one can work one’s way through college with a minimum-wage job is, in most cases, a myth. In the vast majority of states, students at public four-year institutions would have to work an excessive number of hours per week to cover such costs. The same goes for students at many public community and technical colleges. In one of the costliest scenarios, students would have to work 45 hours a week to be exact, leaving nearly no time to focus on academics.

Overall, students from low-income backgrounds, despite access to financial aid, are being asked to pay well beyond their means for a college degree. In the following analysis, we look closely at just how much beyond their means.

Also see:

Also see:

 

 

Learning from the living class room

 

Get Smart About Going Online: Choosing the Right Model to Deliver Digital Programming — from evolllution.com by Charles Kilfoye
A veteran online educator looks at the benefits and pitfalls for each of the three main ways to launch an online program.

Excerpt:

Online learning is making headlines again with big players such as University of Massachusetts and California Community College Online launching high profile online initiatives recently. Some would argue that if you haven’t made it in online education already, you’ve missed your opportunity.

However, my sense is it’s never too late. You just have to be smart about it. It all boils down to asking yourself the basic problem-solving questions of Why, What and How to determine if online education is right for your institution. To illustrate my point, I will briefly discuss major considerations you should make when exploring an online strategy and I will examine the pros and cons of the three most common models of delivering online programs in higher education today.

Be aware that differentiated pricing may indicate to prospective students that one format is more valuable or better than another. My personal opinion is that a degree earned online should be considered the same degree as one earned on-ground. It is the same program, same faculty, same admissions requirements, same relevance and rigor, so why not the same cost?

 

From DSC:
Regarding the topic of pricing, it would be my hope that we could offer online-based programs at significantly discounted prices. This is why I think it will be the larger higher education providers that ultimately win out — or a brand new player in the field that uses a next gen learning platform along with a different business model (see below article) — as they can spread their development costs over a great number of students/courses/program offerings.

If the current players in higher ed don’t find a way to do this (and some players have already figured this out and are working on delivering it), powerful alternatives will develop — especially as the public’s perspective on the value of higher education continues to decline.

 

Learning from the living class room

I’d also like to hear Charles’ thoughts about pricing after reading Brandon’s article below:

If it’s more expensive, it must be better. That, of course, has been the prevailing wisdom among parents and students when it comes to college. But that wisdom has now been exposed as an utter myth according to a new study published in The Journal of Consumer Affairs. It turns out the cost of a college does not predict higher alumni ratings about the quality of their education. In fact, the opposite is true: total cost of attendance predicts lower ratings.

Quality matters. Price does not. Quality and price are not the same things. And this all has enormous implications for the industry and its consumers.

 

 

Coming down the pike: A next generation, global learning platform [Christian]

From DSC:
Though we aren’t quite there yet, the pieces continue to come together to build a next generation learning platform that will help people reinvent themselves quickly, efficiently, constantly, and cost-effectively.

Learning from the living class room

 

Learning from the living class room

 

Learning from the living class room

 

The following information is from Rebecca West, Founder and CEO, Helium Communications

Make School is working to level the playing field for underrepresented groups in tech.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, scarcity of technology talent is an acute point of pain for many organizations. The SF Bay Area has experienced a remarkable 90% growth in tech employment and a 36.5% expansion in STEM jobs in the past decade. California’s tech workforce grew by more than 51,500 jobs in 2018, with well over half of them in the Bay Area. In the current business climate, the biggest barrier to growth for many organizations is their inability to find qualified job candidates, particularly in technical fields such as coding and computer science.

Ironically, many students graduating from US colleges and universities are still having trouble finding work because they don’t possess the skills required in the actual workplace.  According to the most recent Global Information Workforce Study, the skills gap is only going to become more pronounced in coming years, with as many as 1.8 million IT jobs that could be left unfilled by 2022, a 20 percent bump from what the same study revealed two years earlier.

Make School is a college in San Francisco that’s working to level the playing field for underrepresented groups in tech. Make School is changing the higher education landscape with a unique model of deferred tuition that makes it possible for computer science students to gain the skills they need in order to find employment in the technology market without saddling themselves with huge amounts of debt.

Make School serves high school students entering college and transfer students (either from community colleges or from other four-year institutions). Accessibility to diverse populations is a key component of their offering. Make School offers a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Computer Science, teaching students to design, program, and launch software products while providing a foundation of liberal arts to ensure a lasting career. Students who graduate from Make School do not pay tuition until they have secured employment and are earning an annual salary of at least $60K.

With four years of positive student outcomes comparable to schools like Stanford and MIT, Make School has demonstrated the success of its model. Alumni currently work at companies including Facebook, Google, Apple, Zendesk, Y Combinator startups, and other leading technology innovators.

Fall and Spring semester tuition is $15,000. Summer semester tuition is $10,000. Total tuition for the bachelor’s program is $70,000.

 

From DSC:
I’d like to see the tuition come down for this school — especially as they are marketing themselves as a school that aims to help underrepresented groups in tech. Perhaps they’ll need to develop some satellite branches/campuses outside the San Francisco area in order to make that tuition reduction happen. As it stands, this is not much of a discount. That said, I do appreciate that they are trying to address the gorillas of debt on our graduates’ backs. Plus they are pursuing new business models, alternatives to the status quo, and are making efforts to address some of the numerous gaps in our society.

 

Creativity Required: How a Tesla Partnership is Setting the Stage for Program and Credential Innovation — from evolllution.com by Lenore Rodicio
By building strong employer partnerships and bringing a creative approach to program design and credentialing, it’s possible for colleges to create opportunities for learners to build the skills they need to work while progressing toward a degree.

Excerpt:

So for this particular program, a new state-of-the-art facility is being specifically constructed at MDC’s west campus from the ground up. Tesla provides the vehicles, equipment, instructors, tools and curriculum for hands-on learning.

 

Here’s another item that deals with creativity:

  • Digital Transformation: A Focus on Creativity, Not Tools — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Ellen Wagner
    Excerpt:
    It is easier to talk about [the technology tools] than it is to talk about the things people need to do to adapt to working with the new tools. And what’s odd is the lack of anticipation about the potential of digital transformation to open up true innovation and creativity. That’s the real prize, and it seems like this point is often missed.

    Of course, in my role as a researcher at the Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (the METIL lab) at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, I’ve begun work on three new projects that incorporate simulation, mobile, and artificial intelligence. We don’t just learn about the tools; we study their impact and how they can extend creativity.For another example of related research, take a look at ShapingEdu and the Humersive Learning Project at Arizona State University. There, the researchers look specifically at immersive learning and how to humanize it while fostering innovation.
 

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