EdX Quietly Developing ‘MicroBachelors’ Program — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young


EdX, the nonprofit online-education group founded by MIT and Harvard, is quietly developing a “MicroBachelors” degree that is designed to break the undergraduate credential into Lego-like components.

In December, edX won a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to support the MicroBachelors effort with the organization’s university partners. Officials from edX declined to talk about the project, saying only that it is in the early stages. But at a higher-education innovation summit last month hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, listed the project as part of the group’s long-term vision that began with its MicroMasters program. And the organization has filed a trademark for the term “MicroBachelors” as well.


“Education in five to ten years will become modular, will become omnichannel, and will become lifelong,” Agarwal said at the meeting, later explaining that omnichannel meant offering courses either online or in person.


How would a MicroBachelors be different than, say, a two-year associate’s degree, which is arguably already half a bachelor’s degree? Sarma said that the idea behind both MicroMasters and MicroBachelors is that they are “about putting stuff that can be done online, online.” In other words, the big idea is offering a low-cost, low-risk way for students to start an undergraduate education even if they can’t get to a campus.




Also relevant/see:





Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the United States
Julia E. Seaman, Ph.D. | Research Director, Babson Survey Research Group
I. Elaine Allen, Ph.D. | Professor of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, UCSF
Jeff Seaman, Ph.D. | Director, Babson Survey Research Group

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Distance education enrollments increased for the fourteenth straight year, growing faster than they have for the past several years. From 2002 to 2012 both distance and overall enrollments grew annually, but since 2012 distance growth has continued its steady increase in an environment that saw overall enrollments decline for four straight years and the largest for-profit distance education institutions continue to face serious issues and lose their enrollments.

The number of distance education students grew by 5.6% from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016 to reach 6,359,121 who are taking at least one distance course, representing 31.6% of all students. Total distance enrollments are composed of 14.9% of students (3,003,080) taking exclusively distance courses, and 16.7% (3,356,041) who are taking a combination of distance and non-distance courses.

Year-to-year changes in distance enrollments continue to be very uneven with different higher education sectors, with continued steady growth for public institutions, similar levels of growth (albeit on a much smaller base) for the private non-profit sector, and the continuation of the decline in total enrollments for the private for-profit sector for the fourth year in a row.

Distance education enrollments are highly concentrated in a relatively small number of institutions. Almost half of distance education students are concentrated in just five percent of institutions, while the top 47 institutions (just 1.0% of the total) enroll 22.4% (1,421,703) of all distance students. This level of concentration is most extreme among the for-profit sector, where 85.6% of the distance students are enrolled at the top 5% of institutions. Concentration rates for private not-for-profit institutions are lower, while public institutions show very low levels of concentration.

Distance enrollments remain local: 52.8% of all students who took at least one distance course also took an on-campus course, and of those who took only distance courses 56.1% reside in the same state as the institution at which they are enrolled. Virtually no distance enrollments are international: only 0.7% of all distance students are located outside of the United States.

The total number of students studying on campus (those not taking any distance course or taking a combination of distance and non-distance courses) dropped by over a million (1,173,805, or 6.4%) between 2012 and 2016. The largest declines came at for-profit institutions, which saw a 44.1% drop, while both private not-forprofit institutions (-4.5%) and public institutions (-4.2%) saw far smaller decreases.

The number of students who are not taking any distance courses declined even more from 2012 to 2016, down by 11.2% (1,737,955 students) by the end of the period. The private for-profit sector fared worse (down 50.5%) as compared to both private not-for-profit institutions (-9.5%) and public institutions (-7.7%).






From DSC:

After looking at the items below, I wondered…

How soon before teachers/professors/trainers can quickly reconfigure their rooms’ settings via their voices? For example, faculty members will likely soon be able to quickly establish lighting, volume levels, blinds, or other types of room setups with their voices. This could be in addition to the use of beacons and smartphones that automatically recognize who just walked into the room and how that person wants the room to be configured on startup.

This functionality is probably already here…I just don’t know about it yet.


Somfy Adds Voice Control for Motorized Window Coverings with Amazon Alexa — form ravepubs.com by Sara Abrons


Also see:




Robots in the Classroom: How a Program at Michigan State Is Taking Blended Learning to New Places — from news.elearninginside.com by Henry Kronk; with thanks to my friend and colleague, Mr. Dave Goodrich over at MSU, for his tweet on this.


Like many higher education institutions, Michigan State University offers a wide array of online programs. But unlike most other online universities, some programs involve robots.

Here’s how it works: online and in-person students gather in the same classroom. Self-balancing robots mounted with computers roll around the room, displaying the face of one remote student. Each remote student streams in and controls one robot, which allows them to literally and figuratively take a seat at the table.

Professor Christine Greenhow, who teaches graduate level courses in MSU’s College of Education, first encountered these robots at an alumni event.

“I thought, ‘Oh I could use this technology in my classroom. I could use this to put visual and movement cues back into the environment,’” Greenhow said.



From DSC:
In my work to bring remote learners into face-to-face classrooms at Calvin College, I also worked with some of the tools shown/mentioned in that article — such as the Telepresence Robot from Double Robotics and the unit from Swivl.  I also introduced Blackboard Collaborate and Skype as other methods of bringing in remote students (hadn’t yet tried Zoom, but that’s another possibility).

As one looks at the image above, one can’t help but wonder what such a picture will look like 5-10 years from now? Will it picture folks wearing VR-based headsets at their respective locations? Or perhaps some setups will feature the following types of tools within smaller “learning hubs” (which could also include one’s local Starbucks, Apple Store, etc.)?






As Pedagogy Changes, Learning Spaces Are Transforming Too — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce
The American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function,” and this is true of classrooms as well.


In Johnson’s classroom at H.D. Isenberg Elementary School in Salisbury, NC, students can choose from a variety of seating options. There are tables for students to collaborate in groups of four, as well as bar-style seating on taller stools and even a few couches where they can sit comfortably while they work or read independently. The school provided the tables, and Johnson supplied the rest of the furniture himself.

To teach his students about citizenship, Johnson operates his classroom like a community. “I call it the Johnsonville Learning Community,” he said.

His fourth- and fifth-grade students can earn currency by coming to class each day and successfully completing assignments, and they also hold various classroom jobs. “The students who keep the classroom clean are part of our janitorial service,” he explained. “The student who brings things to the office is our delivery service.” Students use part of their currency to pay “rent” each month, and that entitles them to sit where they want.

Johnson’s school system is a 1-to-1 district, and every student is given an iPad to take home. Much of his instruction is project-based, with students working in small groups on tasks using curriculum from sources such as Defined STEM. In one recent project, his students used 3D modeling software on their iPads to create a multi-touch book about the human body systems.



Johnson’s classroom is an example of how changes in both the design of the learning space and the teaching that takes place there have combined to making learning much more engaging and effective for students.

A growing body of research suggests that the design of a learning space can have a significant effect on student success. For instance, a study by researchers at the University of Salford in England found that classroom design can have a 25 percent impact, either positive or negative, on student achievement over the course of an academic year — with factors such as color, complexity, flexibility, lighting and student choice having the most influence.



From DSC:
I saw the word CHOICE (or some variant of it) mentioned several times in this article. That’s a helpful step in developing the kind of mindset that our students will need in the future. Making choices, thinking on their feet, being able to adapt and pivot, NOT looking to be spoon fed by anyone — because that’s likely not going to happen once they graduate.






When redesigning learning spaces, let the type of learning experiences you want to foster be your guide, Jakes advised. “Focus on experiences, not things,” he said. “This is not about furniture; it’s about the learning. What experiences do I want to create for students? Then, what design would support that?”

David Jakes




High-Tech, High Touch: Digital Learning Report and Workbook, 2017 Edition — from Intentional Futures, with thanks to Maria Andersen on Linkedin for her posting therein which was entitled, “Spectrums to Measure Digital Learning
Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Our work uncovered five high-tech strategies employed by institutions that have successfully implemented digital learning at scale across a range of modalities. The strategies that underscore the high-tech, high-touch connection are customizing through technology, leveraging adaptive courseware, adopting cost-efficient resources, centralizing course development and making data-driven decisions.

Although many of the institutions we studied are employing more than one of these strategies, in this report we have grouped the institutional use cases according to the strategy that has been most critical to achieving digital learning at scale. As institutional leaders make their way through this document, they should watch for strategies that target challenges similar to those they hope to solve. Reading the corresponding case studies will unpack how institutions employed these strategies effectively.

Digital learning in higher education is becoming more ubiquitous as institutions realize its ability to support student success and empower faculty. Growing diversity in student demographics has brought related changes in student needs, prompting institutions to look to technology to better serve their students. Digital courseware gives institutions the ability to build personalized, accessible and engaging content. It enables educators to provide relevant content and interventions for individual students, improve instructional techniques based on data and distribute knowledge to a wider audience (MIT Office of Digital Learning, 2017).

Nationally, the number of students engaged in digital learning is growing rapidly. One driver of this growth is rising demand for distance learning, which often relies on digital learning environments. Distance learning programs saw enrollment increases of approximately 4% between 2015 and 2016, with nearly 30% of higher education students taking at least one digital distance learning course (Allen, 2017). Much of this growth is occurring at the undergraduate level (Allen, 2017). The number of students who take distance learning courses exclusively is growing as well. Between 2012 and 2015, both public and private nonprofit institutions saw an increase in students taking only distance courses, although private, for-profit institutions have seen a decrease (Allen, 2017).








7 Things You Should Know About Research on Active Learning Classrooms — from library.educause.edu


Research into active learning classrooms (ALCs)—spaces explicitly designed to support and promote this kind of learning and pedagogy—is expanding. This research provides educators with insights about how best to implement active learning pedagogies and support learners in ALCs. Studying how pedagogy and physical space can influence each other, researchers assess how well design elements work and how they affect learning. Higher education needs to know why active learning works, how it works best, and how these methods can be adopted more widely. Research that shows the efficacy of ALCs helps advance the use of such spaces and informs improvements in the design of learning spaces.

That item also mentions:
A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom



7 Things You Should Know About AR/VR/MR — from library.educause.edu


Augmented reality can be described as experiencing the real world with an overlay of additional computer generated content. In contrast, virtual reality immerses a user in an entirely simulated environment, while mixed or merged reality blends real and virtual worlds in ways through which the physical and the digital can interact. AR, VR, and MR offer new opportunities to create a psychological sense of immersive presence in an environment that feels real enough to be viewed, experienced, explored, and manipulated. These technologies have the potential to democratize learning by giving everyone access to immersive experiences that were once restricted to relatively few learners.





University of Phoenix Phasing Out Campuses; Current Students Not Affected, School Says — from phoenixnewtimes.com by


The University of Phoenix plans to scale back more brick-and-mortar campuses across the country, according to university employees and internal communications obtained by Phoenix New Times.

The best-known for-profit university will phase out on-campus enrollment and teaching at around 20 locations, according to employees and internal discussions. The locations in question include full-fledged campuses in Detroit, Tucson, El Paso, and Albuquerque, along with smaller learning centers in San Bernardino and Woodlands, Texas.

The university employee speculated that the move is likely related to a decline in student enrollment. The University of Phoenix has shed students since 2010, when it enrolled around half a million nationwide. In 2016, the university reported that its enrollment was around 139,000.



Video on Its Way to Becoming Education Norm — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser


Video has become as ubiquitous in higher education classrooms as big screens in the fitness center and Hulu in residential halls. The use cases abound. The most popular use right now is to help with remote teaching and learning; 73 percent of institutions in a recent survey report the use of video for that purpose. That’s followed by the showing of video in classrooms (70 percent), as supplementary course material (66 percent) and for lecture capture (65 percent). But video is also gaining steam in student assignments, teaching skills and recording students as they practice them, recording campus events for on-demand viewing, as part of library media collections, to deliver personal introductions and to give feedback on student assignments and instructor teaching practices.

These examples aren’t the only ones cited in the latest results of Kaltura’s “The State of Video in Education.” The 2017 survey, done in May and June 2017, drew responses from more than a thousand people, 81 percent of whom work in higher ed (the rest from K–12 and other educational organizations). Most of the survey respondents hold one of four primary roles: instructional design, IT, faculty and media. Kaltura is a company that sells video products and services.




Also see:

Survey: Blended Learning on the Rise — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly
Most faculty in our second annual Teaching with Technology Survey said they employ a mix of online and face-to-face instruction, and many are using the flipped model in their courses.


In a nationwide survey on the use of technology for teaching and learning, an increasing number of higher education faculty members said they employ a mix of online and face-to-face learning in their courses. A full 73 percent of respondents said they use the blended model — that’s up from 71 percent in 2016. And while 15 percent of faculty are still teaching exclusively face-to-face, 12 percent have gone fully online (an increase from 10 percent teaching online in 2016).

Those findings came out of Campus Technology‘s 2017 Teaching with Technology Survey, in which we asked faculty to dish on their approach to teaching, use of technology, views of the future and more.





Smartwatches Deemed Least Valuable Technology in the Classroom — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly
In our second annual Teaching with Technology Survey, faculty revealed what technologies they use in the classroom, the devices they most value, what they wish for and more.


Smartwatches may be one of the hottest gadgets in the consumer market — making up nearly a third of all wearables sales this year — but the climate in the classroom is noticeably cooler for the wrist-worn devices. In our 2017 Teaching with Technology Survey, smartwatches came in dead last in the list of technologies faculty consider essential or valuable for teaching and learning. Just 9 percent of faculty called the devices “valuable” (an increase from 5 percent in 2016), and not a one deemed them “essential.” What’s more, 9 percent of respondents considered smartwatches “detrimental.”

When we asked faculty what computing devices were most valuable for teaching and learning, laptops came out on top, considered “essential” by 54 percent of respondents (up from 49 percent in 2016). Workstations (defined as higher-end computers with faster processors, more RAM, more storage and dedicated graphics cards) came in second, followed by all-in-one computers, traditional desktops and detachable tablets. (The lineup was similar last year.)




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