Northern Arizona wins regional accreditor’s approval for personalized learning program– from by Nancy Millichap

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

It’s all systems go, at last: Northern Arizona University, one of the ten institutions presently developing breakthrough degree programs with NGLC support, recently got the green light to start enrolling students in their Personalized Learning program. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC), NAU’s regional accreditor, approved their application to offer a competency-based degree program that moves away from the credit hour standard to use an approach referred to as “direct assessment” instead. In this approach, students receive credit related not to their presence in a real or virtual classroom for a specified period of time but instead to their successful completion of assessments that show they have mastered clearly defined competencies or are able to perform specific, predetermined tasks. HLC has created a pilot group of four institutions now approved to offer a competency-based degree program: NAU, the University of Wisconsin Colleges (a system of two-year campuses), the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Capella University.

Traditional institutions will close, number of colleges and universities will rise (audio and transcript) — from (where LLL stands for lifelong learning) by Richard DeMillo | Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities, Georgia Institute of Technology
Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Well, for me, it always boils down to value. People misunderstand this as assigning value based on salaries or employability, but I mean value in the larger sense. You have to have a reason to ask students to pay more than the marginal costs of delivering education. And with all these revolutions in technology for course delivery, that marginal cost is going to zero very, very quickly [think journalism]. So, every institution that’s going to survive, I think, over the next 50 years, is going to have to make that case. Why is it that tuition at this institution is justified?

The interesting thing about this is it’s going to be accelerated because the old bureaucracies, the old institutional models… are crumbling. At least, their boundaries are crumbling. Let me tell you what I mean by that.

The accrediting agencies, which I think traditionally have had — at least for the last 120 years or so—an institutional focus, are now shifting their focus to students; to competencies, to demonstrations of what students know. And that really starts to cut against institutional entitlement.

I think the conclusion of all this is that, as it becomes harder and harder for… a “Me-Too Institution” to argue for a marginal increase in price, the amount of money that those institutions are going to have available to them to spend on anything but core mission for students is also going to go to zero. So, this is kind of a virtuous cycle; … institutions that are unable to make the value proposition will find themselves more and more strapped for discretionary funds in order to move themselves into a different space. And that’s an ending that’s not very good for most institutions.

From DSC:
How will our/your organization keep from becoming a commodity?  What are we/you all going to bring to the table that’s different, unique, and worth paying for?





Also see:



Also see:

On notice, again — from by Libby A. Nelson

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday night called for major changes to the criteria accreditors use to evaluate colleges, asking Congress to either require accreditors to take college prices and educational value into account or to create an alternative system based on “performance and results.Either could mark a significant shift in how the federal government judges higher education quality and eligibility for financial aid programs.


From DSC:

  • This speaks directly to higher ed’s ability — or inability — to stay relevant, be responsive, and to reinvent itself.
  • Accreditation teams should include many others who do not work for — nor are in any way connected to — a current institution of higher education.
  • If higher ed can’t respond, the conversation will continue to move away from traditional pathways/institutions and people will find their own ways of getting ahead/surviving.



Curbing the cost of college: Coursera wins approval to offer online courses for credit for under $200 — from by Rip Empson


Up until now, the startup has not offered degrees or credits for its online classes, which has meant that Coursera classes have existed mostly as a way to pursue supplementary or continuing education — not as part of degree programs. But that changed today, as Coursera announced [last Thursday morning] that five of its courses have been approved for “credit equivalency” by the American Council on Education (ACE). This means that students who complete these five courses can receive college transfer credit at institutions that accept ACE recommendations.

So, importantly, Coursera’s new credit equivalency doesn’t automatically mean that every university it has partnered with automatically guarantees credit for the approved courses; instead, institutions have the option to accept or decline credit. In other words, it’s up to them.

Also see:

Creative learning on mass, or the MIT MOOC– from by Dave Ferguson

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Just this morning, I came across MIT Media Lab’s announcement for its Learning Creative Learning online course. You can read about it or skim the outline to make your own judgment; I’m enjoying the laid-back description, which tracks with my previous massive open online course experience:

  • “This is a big experiment. Things will break. We don’t have all the answer.”
  • “We hope that participants will jump in as collaborators rather than passive recipients.”
  • “Check out our shiny new platform. Actually, don’t, because we didn’t build a shiny new platform.”

MOOCs for credit — from by Scott Jaschik


Two announcements this week suggest that MOOCs — massive open online courses — will increasingly include a route for students to receive academic credit.

Georgia State University announced Tuesday that it will start to review MOOCs for credit much like it reviews courses students have taken at other institutions, or exams they have taken to demonstrate competency in certain areas.

And Academic Partnerships, a company that works with public universities to put their degree programs online, announced an effort in which the first course of these programs can become a MOOC, with full credit awarded to those who successfully complete the course. The educational idea is that this offering will encourage more students to start degree programs. The financial idea is that the tuition revenue gained by participating institutions when students move from the MOOC to the rest of the program (which will continue to charge tuition) will offset the additional costs of offering the first course free.


From DSC:
I think MOOCs still need some work, but they tap into a blend of formal/structured learning and informal/unstructured learning that is attractive to many — not to mention that MOOCs offer people more choice/more control, chances for contribution and participation, greater ownership of the learning, and much lower costs.  As such, they continue to be a valuable experiment within higher education. They continue to usher in the era of what I call “The Walmart of Education”. They also provide students with a way to see if they are interested in a discipline without having to invest much $$ in the course(s).

Also see:

  • Free online college courses take big step forward — from by Susan Adams
    Free online college classes known as “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, have made another big stride toward changing the model for higher education. Dozens of public universities are planning to offer introductory MOOCs for credit to anyone with an internet connection around the world, according to a piece today in The New York Times. The universities, including Arizona State, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Arkansas system, are hoping that students who pass the free MOOCs will then enroll in the schools and pay tuition to earn a degree.

Accreditation actions increased during financial downturn — from The Chronicle by Eric Kelderman


“Not long ago, accreditation sanctions were rare. Now, in response to growing government criticism of poor disclosure about quality, pricing, and outcomes, as well as inefficient cost management, accreditors are taking more aggressive and quicker actions to bolster their role in demonstrating quality and performance standards in U.S. higher education,” the report says.

The main reasons for the actions are, not surprisingly, financial troubles for colleges struggling with endowment losses, cuts in state appropriations, and the growing institutional costs of student financial aid. But accreditors are also focusing more attention on outcomes, including assessing student learning and graduation rates, the report says.

From DSC:
If the public wants change in higher ed, I might suggest starting with changing who is on the accreditation teams.  Historically speaking, things don’t seem to have changed that much with all insiders on these teams. 

(I wondered when these agencies were going to start sensing some heat in their kitchens.  If I could make at least one prediction for 2013, it’s that the temperatures in those kitchens are going to go up in 2013. I’ll probably make more predictions, but I think that one is low-hanging fruit!)


Taking the next step in online education with credit equivalency — from by Daphne Koller & Andrew Ng


At MOOCs like Coursera, offering web-based courses is the first step in increasing access to education for millions of people around the world.  But for many students, much of the value of taking a course is lost if that course is not helpful in allowing them to obtain a degree.  To help address this limitation, we recently announced a collaboration with American Council on Education (ACE) to begin a credit-equivalence evaluation of some courses offered on Coursera — which means that in the future, students will potentially have the opportunity to receive college transfer credit at institutions choosing to accept the ACE recommendations.  This move is well in line with the current trend to provide students with credit for prior learning (including on-the-job training) and for competency, a trend whose aim is to increase completion rate and reduce time to completion.

Does the U.S. accreditation system discriminate against online learning? — from Tony Bates


Furthermore, problems remain in both Canada and the USA if students want to start taking online courses from an institution out of state or province then use that for advancement by transferring to a local university. The answer of course is more flexible credit transfer arrangements, more flexible prior learning assessment, and challenge exams, where students can demonstrate their learning without having to work through courses they have already taken elsewhere. Even some of the more prestigious research universities in Canada are realising that they need to be more flexible if they are to attract lifelong learners, for instance. Thus it’s as much up to the institutions as the regulators to ensure there is some flexibility in the system for students taking out of state or out of province online courses.

Yes, there needs to be sensible protections against fraud and fly-by-night online operators, but too often the restrictions, regulations and barriers are steeped in practices that no longer apply in an open, knowledge-based society. Every institution should be examining the structure of its courses, its admission requirements, its arrangements for credit transfer and prior learning assessment, and its strategy for lifelong learning, if it is to be fit for purpose in the 21st century. It is not an issue just of online learning.

From DSC:
Questions I often ponder re: accreditation:

  • Who sits on accrediting boards these days? Is it not people inside the current system?
  • What responsibilities do accreditation bodies have on them to enable/support change (where appropriate)?
  • Are such accreditation bodies feeling the pressure to help colleges and universities reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant? Or are they maintaining the status quo by all means possible?
  • Whose interests are ultimately being served by the current methods of accreditation? (I hope it’s the students!)


Sal Khan -- My view of credentials - from CNN -- October 2012

Keynote Address: Democratizing Higher Education by Sebastian Thrun, VP & Fellow Google

From DSC:
Sebastian Thrun gave a great keynote at last week’s Sloan-C Conference in Orlando, Fl.  An especially interesting item:

One of the business models Sebastian is considering is to have Udacity act as a job placement organization.  That is, Udacity can run courses, identify the top performers worldwide, and then match employers up with employees.  Udacity would get ___% of these placements’ first year salaries. Very interesting model.


Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., Mor, Y., Gaved, M. and Whitelock, D. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report 1. Milton Keynes: The Open University.


Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers



  • Executive summary 3
  • Introduction 6
  • New pedagogy for e-books
    Innovative ways of teaching and learning with next-generation e-books 8
  • Publisher-led short courses
    Publishers producing commercial short courses for leisure and professional development 11
  • Assessment for learning
    Assessment that supports the learning process through diagnostic feedback 13
  • Badges to accredit learning
    Open framework for gaining recognition of skills and achievements 16
  • MOOCs
    Massive open online courses 19
  • Rebirth of academic publishing
    New forms of open scholarly publishing 21
  • Seamless learning
    Connecting learning across settings, technologies and activities 24
  • Learning analytics
    Data-driven analysis of learning activities and environments 27
  • Personal inquiry learning
    Learning through collaborative inquiry and active investigation 30
  • Rhizomatic learning
    Knowledge constructed by self-aware communities adapting to environmental conditions 33

Learning in a Digital Age - JISC - 2012



Contents of Learning in a Digital Age -- from JISC in 2012



From DSC: First, some articles that caused these reflections

Discounting heads — from by Kevin Kiley


Despite spending nearly 43 percent of their gross tuition revenue from first-time, full-time freshmen on institutional aid for those students, many private colleges and universities had a harder time enrolling students last year, with almost half seeing no growth or a decline in enrollment for 2011, according to survey results released today by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

From DSC:
It seems to me that it’s highly-possible that the higher ed bubble has started to pop — at least at private colleges and universities. So why doesn’t change occur? See the next article for several reasons.

Failure to change — from by Robert J. Sternberg


Universities teach about the importance of societal and organizational change, but often have trouble changing themselves in any but the most superficial ways. As a psychology professor interested in both individual and organizational modifiability, I have studied organizations, including universities, and why it is so difficult for them to change. Meaningful organizational change requires five elements, and unless all five of them are present, the organization — whether a department, school, college, or university — remains static.

Change is not always for the better, of course. But a college or university that is static will inevitably fall behind more dynamic, positively changing institutions. And like any institution that fails to compete, it is on the path to stagnation or death. A dynamic institution will change and, if the change proves to be in the wrong direction, will redirect itself until it finds a sustainable path.

From DSC:
As a relevant aside, it’s not just the “younger folk” who are struggling with student loans either:

Student loans saddle both kinds of seniors: graduates and grandparents — from the Washington Post by Michelle Singletary


Using data from Equifax credit reports, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that people 50 and older are carrying nearly $135 billion in student-loan debt. Those 60 or older have student-loan balances of more than $36 billion.


It’s these types of dynamics and trends that are catalysts for what I call:

“Learning from the Living Room”
Though 2-5 years away, signs point to it coming to fruition
(my prediction is that this movement will really gain traction when Apple’s Connected/Smart TV hits the market and as more people get fed up with the current, unresponsive accredidation monopolies within higher ed). Some example/recent articles:

  • The Evolution of the Digital Living Room — from by Chuck Parker

    Apple with its iPad, Apple TV and iCloud for movies and TV shows has delivered a seamless ecosystem to the consumer’s digital living room for owning and watching content from multiple devices in the home. The rest of the industry (SmartTVs, connected devices, Android tablets) struggles to create a similar experience when they are a single-brand ecosystem and fail miserably when there are devices from multiple manufacturers in the household.
  • Google and Microsoft’s new battleground: Your living room — from ComputerWorld by Preston Gralla
    The upshot will have surprising implications for IT
  • Why the future of Shazam is TV, not music — from by Richard MacManus

    Shazam is in the midst of a major pivot. Currently it earns most of its revenue off advertising from the music app. But within two years, the company told ReadWriteWeb, TV will provide the majority of Shazam’s revenue. Just how big an opportunity is TV for Shazam? According to statistics from the company, it is already outpacing both Facebook and Twitter in second screen user engagement.

“The Forthcoming Walmart of Education” …which is already happening, but far more significant changes will come in the next 1-5 years as people look for more affordable alternatives. A graphic I created back in 2008 states what I see developing and will be a piece of the higher ed landscape in the future:


Besides the items mentioned above (i.e. changes in price and delivery mechanisms),
what might some of these innovations look like? Here are some ideas/articles/examples:

  • Be more responsive to real-world/market needs
    12 college majors we hope to see soon
    — from
    While some college majors have been around for decades or even centuries, others are relatively new and some are still waiting on the horizon to be added to college programs around the world as new technologies and demands shape the needs of modern students. While a host of degree programs have been added over the past 10 or 20 years, many related to computers and other forms of technology, many more will be needed in the future to keep up with a world that is rapidly changing.
  • Introduce more innovations and be willing to experiment with different models
    Examples besides MITx, Udemy, U of People, iTunes U, YouTube Edu, etc.:
    ANGELS, a new European research project, a gateway to the future.

    ANGELS project (Augmented Reality Network Generating Learning on Safety), is the training system that will revolutionize education and learning on safety and health at work, particularly in the hospital facilities. This tool aims at innovating in terms of training on health and safety at work with the use of augmented reality (computer system that can superimpose 3D image on a real image to combine real and virtual). ANGELS introduces 4 key innovations: A practice adapted to an innovative new technology, a realistic assessment in tune with the XXIst century in the area of education and training, a large field of application in the health care facilities and the creation of a starter kit for public and private organizations, training centers and academic centers.
  • …and bring the prices WAAAY down!!!




Education 2.0 isn’t coming. It’s here. And the way you’re educated will be changed forever. — from by Dave Balter

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Sometime in late 2010, I sat down with angel investor Josh Abramowitz in NYC.  I asked him to invest in Smarterer, a business whose purpose was to validate people’s digital, social and technical skills.  What I encountered for the next hour wasn’t someone merely evaluating my specific business concept – it was an attack on the entire higher education system.

Josh argued that our higher education system was on the verge of crumbling.  Not because there weren’t marvelous educators or exceptional institutions, but because colleges and universities were charging exorbitant sums that weren’t equal to the return.  Our educators were burying our students with tremendous debt. But increasingly sophisticated learning and credentialing opportunities were emerging online, and they were free or nearly free.  And this disparity would lead to a full-fledged education revolution, he predicted.

What the Universities need to know is that what’s coming for education is something like the shift the music industry failed to see until it was too late.  Things will never be the same again.  Instead of griping about how hard it will be to tap their endowments to pay for education, they should be thinking about how to take advantage of the changes.

To save their universities, here’s the three-pronged ecosystem that every University Leader should start thinking about…

Also see: -- show what you know


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