New York, NY – November 26, 2020 –  The Intercept has published a video investigation by filmmaker Emily Cohen Ibañez on the impact of the switch to remote learning –– and the Coronavirus pandemic –– on students in an agro-industrial town (Watsonville, CA) and an affluent Bay Area suburb (Pine Hills, CA).

The Intercepthttps://theintercept.com/2020/11/25/remote-learning-school-education-covid/

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/7_YoSFNe2lM

“Life at Watsonville High was fast-paced, full of a lot of energy, a lot of really amazing students,” said Dr. Sara Roe, an English Learner Coach at Watsonville High. “Watsonville High is 98 percent Latinx, Latino, Latina. We are made up of a higher percentage of first-generation students. Socioeconomically, we’re predominantly a low-income area, so 100 percent of our students receive free and reduced lunch, and most likely, their parents or someone in their family has worked in the fields or is currently working in the fields.”

“If we thought then that kids had social, emotional challenges, their needs weren’t being met in particular ways,” said Dr. Roe, “If we thought there were issues then, I don’t think we could have ever imagined what the implications of going online would uncover for us in terms of issues for students.”

#digitaldivide #education #remotelearning #K12 #edtech #digitalequity

 
 

“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:

 
 

After the Pandemic, a Revolution in Education and Work Awaits — from nytimes.com by Thomas Friedman
Providing more Americans with portable health care, portable pensions and opportunities for lifelong learning is what politics needs to be about post-Nov. 3.

No job, no K-12 school, no university, no factory, no office will be spared. 

Excerpt:

Your children can expect to change jobs and professions multiple times in their lifetimes, which means their career path will no longer follow a simple “learn-to-work’’ trajectory, as Heather E. McGowan, co-author of “The Adaptation Advantage,” likes to say, but rather a path of “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn.”

“Learning is the new pension,” Ms. McGowan said. “It’s how you create your future value every day.”

The most critical role for K-12 educators, therefore, will be to equip young people with the curiosity and passion to be lifelong learners who feel ownership over their education.

 

New benchmarking tool for higher ed seeks to address workplace soft skills gap — from chieflearningofficer.com by Elizabeth Loutfi
Quality Assurance Commons’ new Employability Self-Assessment will support higher education programs as they develop proficiency in teaching eight 21st century soft skills critical to today’s employers.

Excerpt:

A new assessment tool created for higher education institutions to track and measure the career success of their graduates was launched this week by nonprofit organization Quality Assurance Commons. The tool, which is called the Employability Self-Assessment, helps institutions identify the key skills employers want in candidates in the current and post-pandemic workplace.

The ESA has already been piloted at 20 colleges and universities and is being implemented at eight higher education institutions in the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities System, according to a company press release.

According to the report, the top three missing soft skills reported by employers were problem solving, critical thinking, innovation and creativity; ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity; and communication.

From DSC:
Hmmm…do our current ways of doing things get students to that point? Are the ways in which we structure our educational systems facilitating the development of those skills? Apparently not. What needs to change? For me, it’s offering “More choice. More control.” to the students. And watch the energy, curiosity, and enjoyment of learning greatly increase.

 

Connectivity gap persists for at least 300K California students — from educationdive.com by Shawna De La Rosa

Dive Brief:

  • California school districts are required to provide both devices and high-speed internet connection to any student learning from home, but between 300,000 and 1 million remain disconnected, EdSource reports. A backlog of computer orders and weak broadband infrastructure in remote areas are contributing factors.
  • At a state assembly education committee hearing Wednesday, California education leaders, teachers and lawmakers discussed how to close the digital divide. Though most households have enough broadband to handle some video calls, many family networks don’t have the strength for multiple students to be connected at once.
  • Nationwide, approximately one-third of households with annual incomes under $30,000 and with children under 18 don’t have high-speed internet connection at home, impacting roughly 9.7 million students, according to a Pew Research Center report. A quarter of teens within that socio-economic bracket lack access to a computer at home.

 

 

From DSC:
Who needs to be discussing/debating “The Social Dilemma” movie? Whether one agrees with the perspectives put forth therein or not, the discussion boards out there should be lighting up in the undergraduate areas of Computer Science (especially Programming), Engineering, Business, Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, Philosophy, Religion, Political Science, Sociology, and perhaps other disciplines as well. 

To those starting out the relevant careers here…just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Ask yourself not whether something CAN be developed, but *whether it SHOULD be developed* and what the potential implications of a technology/invention/etc. might be. I’m not aiming to take a position here. Rather, I’m trying to promote some serious reflection for those developing our new, emerging technologies and our new products/services out there.

Who needs to be discussing/debating The Social Dilemna movie?

 

 

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s Monthly Update on Higher Education Enrollment — as of October 15, 2020 and as referenced late last week by The Chronicle of Higher Education

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s Monthly Update on Higher Education Enrollment

From DSC:
The window of opportunity for traditional institutions of higher education to reinvent themselves, become cheaper, and offer more value is beginning to close. The window is still there…but it’s beginning to close.

 

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.
 

Walmart just started delivering stuff with drones — from futurism.com by Victor Tangermann

Excerpt:

Walmart just kicked off its own drone delivery pilot, a collaboration with drone delivery company Flytrex. The pilot launched today in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is limited to select grocery and household essential items from the retailer’s local stores.

 

Let's keep the drone armies out of the skies please.

From DSC:
It starts off with an army of drones from Walmart joined by another army of drones from Amazon.

Drones from Amazon Prime. Let's keep them out of the skies please.

 

Then company XYZ chimes in. Then company ABC chimes in. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Then the armies of drones change to more powerful, louder, more “capable” delivery vehicles that can handle bigger, heavier deliveries.

And suddenly, the skies are full of noise-making, sun-blocking pieces of human-made machinery that, for the most part, are convenient but not necessary. 

We need to think — and act — very carefully these days.

  • What kind of future do we want to hand down to our children and to our grandchildren?
  • What will the skies look and sound like in 2030 if such armies of drones and other types of airborne delivery vehicles are released?
  • Are we willing to say that our kids won’t mind paying the price?

Is this the future we want to create? Not me. I, for one, appreciate a quiet walk. I appreciate being able to look up at the skies, especially when they are clear. 

We have a responsibility to keep things this way.

To the relevant engineers and C-Suites out there:

  • Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
  • Please take more responsibility for what’s being developed/brought to market.

Let’s shut this down — now — before the momentum gets started. Let’s follow Portland’s example by shutting down facial recognition/AI:

  • Portland adopts landmark facial recognition ordinances — from thehill.com by Chris Mills Rodrigo
    Excerpt:
    “What makes Portland’s legislation stand out from other cities is that we’re prohibiting facial recognition technology use by private entities in public accommodations,” Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said during Wednesday’s deliberations. “This is the first of its kind of legislation in the nation,” he added.
  • Why Amazon tried to thwart Portland’s historic facial recognition ban — from salon.com by Matt Rozsa
    Amazon reportedly lobbied in secret to weaken Portland’s ban on private use of facial recognition technology

 

 

 

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?
 

The Great Online Migration and Curricular Materials Product-Market Fit — from eliterate.us by Michael Feldstein

Excerpts:

Third, COVID-19 will accelerate the need of colleges and universities to find ways of continuing to serve their graduates for 20 or 40 years rather than for two or four. Quite simply, they will need revenue at a time when the pace and breadth of reskilling needs in the workplace is accelerating. These students will need online or blended educational experience, which will mean that more instructors will be called upon to teach using new modalities.

Major changes in the market
This shift online will drastically shift approaches to curricular materials at both the individual instructor and the institutional levels.

Meanwhile, institutions will face two pedagogy-related challenges. First, they will have to work very hard to retain students who are under increased financial stress and may struggle in an online environment more than they would in a residential program. Since the colleges will also be under financial stress, they will need to retain every student possible. They will no longer have the luxury of simply letting faculty teach however they like and accepting that some of them are not good at helping their students to succeed.

 

 

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.

 

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