ABA cleans up accreditation rules surrounding distance education for law schools — from highereddive.com by Lilah Burke

Dive Brief (emphasis DSC):

  • Recent amendments to American Bar Association accreditation standards addressed definitions of distance education, but Leo Martinez, immediate past chair of the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, says the resolution won’t change much for law schools without waivers allowing them to conduct extra distance education.
  • The changes, made at the ABA’s annual meeting in August, were meant to clarify language in accreditation standards.
  • The ABA, which serves as the accreditor for 199 law schools and programs, requires waivers for institutions that want to offer more than one-third of J.D. program credits online. But it remains interested in reviewing distance education.

From DSC:
For an industry in the 21st century whose main accreditation/governance body for law schools still won’t let more online learning occur without waivers…

…how can our nation expect future lawyers and law firms to be effective in an increasingly tech-enabled world?

Here’s the pace of change in the world today:

The exponential pace of change is like warp speed for the U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek) or the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars).

Yet here’s the pace that the American Bar Association (@ABAesq) has been taking — and continues to take — at least in the area of supporting online-based learning as well as in developing sandboxes/new methods of improving access to justice (#A2J):

.

It’s high time the ABA did their research re: online-based learning and majorly picked up their pace. Undergraduate online-based education started back in the late 1990’s for crying out loud! (And the number of students taking one or more of their courses completely online has been increasing ever since that time.)

Plus, many law school students are adults who have jobs as well as families. They often don’t have the time nor the money to travel to campuses in order to take part in something that they could have easily accomplished online.

It’s also appropriate to recognize here that the current learning ecosystems out there continue to move more towards hybrid/blended learning models as well as a hyflex model. 

The ABA is not serving law school students nor our citizenry well at all in this regard.

 

I think we’ve run out of time to effectively practice law in the United States of America [Christian]


From DSC:
Given:

  • the accelerating pace of change that’s been occurring over the last decade or more
  • the current setup of the legal field within the U.S. — and who can practice law
  • the number of emerging technologies now on the landscapes out there

…I think we’ve run out of time to effectively practice law in the U.S. — at least in terms of dealing with emerging technologies. Consider the following items/reflections.


Inside one of the nation’s few hybrid J.D. programs — from highereddive.com by Natalie Schwartz
Shannon Gardner, Syracuse law school’s associate dean for online education, talks about the program’s inaugural graduates and how it has evolved.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In May, Syracuse University’s law school graduated its first class of students earning a Juris Doctor degree through a hybrid program, called JDinteractive, or JDi. The 45 class members were part of almost 200 Syracuse students who received a J.D. this year, according to a university announcement.

The private nonprofit, located in upstate New York, won approval from the American Bar Association in 2018 to offer the three-year hybrid program.

The ABA strictly limits distance education, requiring a waiver for colleges that wish to offer more than one-third of their credits online. To date, the ABA has only approved distance education J.D. programs at about a dozen schools, including Syracuse.

Many folks realize this is the future of legal education — not that it will replace traditional programs. It is one route to pursue a legal education that is here to stay. I did not see it as pressure, and I think, by all accounts, we have definitely proven that it is and can be a success.

Shannon Gardner, associate dean for online education  


From DSC:
It was March 2018. I just started working as a Director of Instructional Services at a law school. I had been involved with online-based learning since 2001.

I was absolutely shocked at how far behind law schools were in terms of offering 100% online-based programs. I was dismayed to find out that 20+ years after such undergraduate programs were made available — and whose effectiveness had been proven time and again — that there were no 100%-online based Juris Doctor (JD) programs in the U.S. (The JD degree is what you have to have to practice law in the U.S. Some folks go on to take further courses after obtaining that degree — that’s when Masters of Law programs like LLM programs kick in.)

Why was this I asked? Much of the answer lies with the extremely tight control that is exercised by the American Bar Association (ABA). They essentially lay down the rules for how much of a law student’s training can be online (normally not more than a third of one’s credit hours, by the way).

Did I say it’s 2022? And let me say the name of that organization again — the American Bar Association (ABA).

Graphic by Daniel S. Christian

Not to scare you (too much), but this is the organization that is supposed to be in charge of developing lawyers who are already having to deal with issues and legal concerns arising from the following technologies:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) — Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), algorithms, bots, and the like
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and/or the Internet of Everything (IoE)
  • Extended Reality (XR) — Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Holographic communications
  • Big data
  • High-end robotics
  • The Metaverse
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • NFTs
  • Web3
  • Blockchain
  • …and the like

I don’t think there’s enough time for the ABA — and then law schools — to reinvent themselves. We no longer have that luxury. (And most existing/practicing lawyers don’t have the time to get up the steep learning curves involved here — in addition to their current responsibilities.)

The other option is to use teams of specialists, That’s our best hope. If the use of what’s called nonlawyers* doesn’t increase greatly, the U.S. has little hope of dealing with legal matters that are already arising from such emerging technologies. 

So let’s hope the legal field catches up with the pace of change that’s been accelerating for years now. If not, we’re in trouble.

* Nonlawyers — not a very complimentary term…
I hope they come up with something else.
Some use the term Paralegals.
I’m sure there are other terms as well. 


From DSC:
There is hope though. As Gabe Teninbaum just posted the resource below (out on Twitter). I just think the lack of responsiveness from the ABA has caught up with us. We’ve run out of time for doing “business as usual.”

Law students want more distance education classes, according to ABA findings — from abajournal.com by Stephanie Francis Ward

Excerpt:

A recent survey of 1,394 students in their third year of law school found that 68.65% wanted the ability to earn more distance education credits than what their schools offered.


 

Shifting Skills, Moving Targets, and Remaking the Workforce — from bcg.com by Matt Sigelman, Bledi Taska, Layla O’Kane, Julia Nitschke, Rainer Strack, Jens Baier, Frank Breitling, and Ádám Kotsis; with thanks to Ryan Craig for this resource
Our analysis of more than 15 million job postings reveals the future of work.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Jobs do come and go, but even more significantly, jobs change. Day by day, skill by skill, the basic building blocks of a job are repositioned, until the role looks much different than it did just five years ago. Yet the job title—and the worker in the job—may remain the same.

But even company leaders may not realize how profoundly and rapidly the jobs throughout their business and industry are evolving. A comprehensive look at job listings from 2016 through 2021 reveals significant changes in requested skills, with new skills appearing, some existing skills disappearing, and other existing skills shifting in importance.

The challenge for employers and employees alike is to keep up—or, better yet, to get ahead of the trends.

Four Big Trends
We see four big trends in skill change:

    • Digital skills, like technical fluency and abilities including data analysis, digital marketing, and networking, aren’t limited to jobs in IT.
    • Soft skills, like verbal communication, listening, and relationship building, are needed in digital occupations.
    • Visual communication has become increasingly important even outside of traditional data occupations. Experience with tools such as Tableau, MS Power BI, and Adobe Analytics is in high demand.
    • Social media skills, such as experience with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Adobe Photoshop, are in demand in the current media climate.

Also from Ryan Craig, see:

How to Really Fix Higher Ed — from theatlantic.com by Ben Sasse
Rather than wiping the slate clean on student debt, Washington should take a hard look at reforming a broken system.

Excerpts:

Most young Americans never earn a college degree, and far too many of those who do are poorly served by sclerotic institutions that offer regularly overpriced degrees producing too little life transformation, too little knowledge transmission, and too little pragmatic, real-world value.

Far too often, higher education equates value with exclusivity, and not with outcomes. The paradigmatic schools that dominate higher-ed discussions in the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post measure themselves by how many high-school seniors they reject, rather than by how many they successfully launch, by how much they bolster the moral and intellectual development of the underprivileged, or even by a crude utilitarian calculus such as the average earnings of their recent graduates.

Each of these changes will depend on breaking up the accreditation cartels. College presidents tell me that the accrediting system, which theoretically aims to ensure quality and to prevent scammers from tapping into federal education dollars, actually stifles programmatic innovation inside extant colleges and universities aiming to serve struggling and underprepared students in new ways. 


One last item here:

Learning Should Be Like Cooking — from linkedin.com by Cali Koerner Morrison

Excerpt:

We need systems of record that are learner-owned, verifiable and travel across all types of learning recognition. 1EdTech is making great strides in this direction with the comprehensive learner record and the T3 Innovation Network with the LEROpen Skills Network and Credential Engine are making great strides to level the playing field on defining all elements of skills-based learning and credentialing. We need pathways that help guide learner-earners through their career progression so they are in a constant swirl of learning and earning, leveling up with each new achievement – from a microcredenial to a master’s degree.

 

The Future Trends Forum Topics page — from forum.futureofeducation.us by Bryan Alexander

Excerpt:

The Future Trends Forum has explored higher education in depth and breadth. Over six years of regular live conversations we have addressed many aspects of academia.

On this page you’ll find a list of our topics.  Consider it a kind of table of contents, or, better yet, an index to the Forum’s themes.

Also see:

Since we launched in early February, 2016, the Forum has successfully published three hundred videos to YouTube.  Week after week, month by month, over more than six years we’ve held great conversations, then shared them with the world, free of charge.

 

Groups call for college trustees to learn more about accreditation — from highereddive.com by Rick Seltzer
“Board members lack a solid understanding of what accreditation is,” says a report issued by AGB and CHEA in the face of stress on the system.

Excerpts:

Much has changed since 2009, the report says, as colleges now face heightened problems stemming from declining enrollment, constrained state funding and sometimes shaky finances.

Institutions also face challenges that don’t show up on balance sheets: pandemic-related stresses, remote instruction, public skepticism, threats to freedom of speech, tensions over diversity, equity and inclusion — and external influences.

Many of the people who sit on colleges’ governing boards are not from the academy and might not be familiar with processes like accreditation, said Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, CHEA’s president.

“It’s about trust,” Stoever said. “What accreditation is intended to do, it’s not only around academic quality and financial integrity, but trust — public trust that these institutions of higher education are trustworthy.”

From DSC:
But maybe that’s part of the problem institutions of higher education face today. They’ve lost the trust of the public. When faculty teach what they want to teach — and presidents, deans, faculty councils, trustees, boards, etc. allow that to occur — then students graduate without the skills and knowledge that the workplace is hiring for. By the way, I realize that’s too general and not true in many cases. I still believe that the liberal arts are very important — and the communications skills and the ability to reason, think critically, etc. will likely always be important and beneficial (regardless of the job). 

But when you are a student who has gone to school for 4-6+ years, you finally graduate, and then you find out that you don’t have the skills or knowledge that the employers are hiring for, that will likely impact one’s trust level in one’s alma mater as well as in higher education in general. When you graduate with a gorilla of debt on your back, that may also impact your trust levels (though it may not in some cases).

 

This new organization wants to accredit career education — from highereddive.com by Rick Seltzer
The Workforce Talent Educators Association will focus its quality assurance on outcomes, says its chief accreditation officer and managing director.

Excerpt:

A new nonprofit organization, the Workforce Talent Educators Association, is attempting to use the accreditation model to push for strong career education programs and degrees — and to serve as a stamp of quality for them.

That’s no easy task. The career education space is filled with a range of traditional college degrees as well as other options like certificate programs, stackable credentials, badges and apprenticeships. Plus, data on student outcomes for programs in the space can be confusing, lagging and limited.

Also from highereddive.com see:

 

Census Bureau Releases New Educational Attainment Data — from census.gov; with thanks to The Chronicle of Higher Education for this resource

Excerpt:

FEB. 24, 2022 — Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the Educational Attainment in the United States: 2021 table package that use statistics from the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement to examine the educational attainment of adults age 25 and older by demographic and social characteristics, such as age, sex, race and nativity.

Also from The Chronicle, see:

Higher Ed 101: The Credential Cluster — from futureupodcast.com with Sean Gallagher, Michael Horn, and Jeff Selingo

Higher Ed 101: The Credential Cluster

 

 

3 Questions for Susan Aldridge — from insidehighered.com by Edward J. Maloney and Joshua Kim

Excerpt:

According to RNL research (2022), over each of the last five years, face-to-face undergraduate and graduate enrollments had a net decline, while online enrollments have seen significant expansion. The pandemic further accelerated online growth. University presidents and provosts are taking advantage of the post-pandemic environment to transform their universities by building digital ecosystems.

 

Why the World’s First Virtual Reality High School Changes Everything — from steve-grubbs.medium.com by Steve Grubs

Excerpts:

The recipe required key ingredients to happen. In addition to an accredited school to manage students, admissions and the for-credit learning, it also needed a platform. That’s where EngageVR comes in. There are other platforms that will ultimately host schools, perhaps AltSpace, Horizon or others, but the first is on Engage.

The bottom line is this: creators, coders, educators, entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, parents and students all played a role in finally bringing the first global virtual reality high school to life. It won’t be the last school to open in the metaverse, but to all those involved in this inaugural launch — the Neil Armstrongs of your age — a special tip of the hat today for having the vision and the willingness to launch a better and more equitable era of education.

Also see:

This is a snapshot from the Geo Guesser VR game

 

Higher ed groups call for stricter oversight of accreditors — from highereddive.com by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf

Dive Brief:

  • Sixteen experts and advocacy organizations in higher education are calling for stricter U.S. Department of Education oversight of accreditors, particularly in how they handle colleges with poor student outcomes.
  • The groups and individuals wrote to the Education Department late last month recommending ways to make the evaluation process for accreditors more transparent and asking agency officials to more closely scrutinize several major accreditors up for review in February 2023.
  • Among their suggestions were that the Education Department should make certain documents public early in the process of accreditors seeking department approval, that it should spend more time reviewing accreditors that control access to federal financial aid funds than to those that do not, and that it should develop new regulations to make sure accreditors consider how institutions are serving disadvantaged students.
 

Why Aren’t Professors Taught to Teach? — from techlearning.com by Erik Ofgang
Professors are experts in their subject matters but many have limited training in actually teaching their students.

Excerpt:

“A lot of faculty are just modeling their instruction after the instruction they’ve received as an undergraduate or graduate student,” says Tanya Joosten, senior scientist and director of digital learning at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the lead of the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements.

As a perpetually short-on-time adjunct professor, I understand those who worry about mandatory training and required course reviews, but Pelletier stresses that she’s advocating for a more organic shift and that a top-down approach isn’t best. “That’s not as collaborative and generative as really just embracing that we have these two different kinds of experts, one type of expert is an expert in their subject, and the other expert is an expert in teaching and learning,” she says. More attention is needed to meld these two kinds of expertise. 

From DSC:
It’s not just that colleges and universities are big business — if you have any remaining doubts about that perspective, take a moment to look at this new, interactive database to see what I mean. But it’s also that this type of business often rewards research, not teaching. And yet the students over the last several decades have continued to pay ever-increasing prices for skilled researchers, instead of increasingly skilled teachers. 

Healthcare and higher education face similar challenges and transformations -- costs continue to soar

Image from Inside Higher Ed

 

Would people put up with this with other types of purchases? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want to…would you?  Would we like to pay for something that we aren’t getting — like paying for all the extra options on a new car, but not getting them?

What goes around, comes around.
But by allowing this to have occurred, a backlash against the value of higher education has been building for years now. In many learners’ minds, they are questioning whether it’s worth taking on (potentially) decades’ worth of debt. At a minimum, the higher the price of obtaining degrees and/or other credentials becomes, the less Return on Investment (ROI) is realized by the learners (i.e., the purchasers of these goods and services). So while getting a degree is often still worth it, the ROI is going down.
And this doesn’t address how relevant/up-to-date the educations are that these learners are receiving, which the employers out there will take issue with.

From an Instructional Designer’s perspective, it isn’t just time that’s the issue here. There continues to exist a tiered hierarchy within higher education. Faculty see themselves as more knowledgeable because they are teaching and because they are the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). But they are not expert teachers. Many full-time faculty members don’t listen to people who are knowledgeable in the learning science world, and they often don’t value that expertise. (This can be true of administrators as well.) But when a fellow faculty member (i.e., their “true peer” from their perspective) suggests the same idea that Instructional Designers have been recommending for years, they suddenly open their eyes and ears to see and hear this seemingly new, wonderful approach.

Some possible scenarios
Thus, a wave has been building against traditional institutions of higher education — readers of this blog will have picked up on this years ago. Once alternatives significantly hit the radar — ones that get the learners solid, good-paying jobs — there could be a mass exodus out of what we think of as traditional higher education. At least that’s one potential scenario.

For example, if a next-generation learning platform comes along that offers teams and individuals the ability to deliver lifelong learning at 50% or more off the price of an average degree, then be on the lookout for massive change. If professors and/or teams of specialists — those who are skilled in instructional design and teaching —  can go directly to their learners — it could be an interesting world indeed. (Outschool is like this, by the way.) In that scenario, below are two potential methods of providing what accreditation agencies used to provide:

  • Obtaining the skills and competencies being requested from the workplace to “pass the tests” (whatever those assessments turn out to be)
  • Voting a course up or down (i.e., providing crowd-sourced rating systems)

Other possible scenarios
Another scenario is that traditional institutions of higher education really kick their innovation efforts into high gear. They reward teaching. They develop less expensive methods of obtaining degrees. They truly begin delivering more cost-effective means of obtaining lifelong learning and development “channels” for educating people.

And there are other possible scenarios, some of which I could think of and many I would likely miss. But to even ask the solid and highly-relevant question as plainly stated in the article above — Why Aren’t Professors Taught to Teach? — that is something that must be dealt with. Those organizations that use a team-based approach are likely to be able to better answer and address that question.

 
 

From DSC:
My answer to the question “Is Accreditation a Barrier to Innovation?” would be “Yes, it is.” But admittedly, maybe that’s because I work for a law school these days…and in the legal education realm (as controlled by the American Bar Association), there is YET to be a fully 100% online-based Juris Doctor (JD) degree that I’m aware of. There are some schools that have applied for “variances,” but we’re talking 20+ years after institutions of higher education introduced online-based learning! Those programs who have applied for variances are under an incredible amount of scrutiny by the American Bar Association, that’s for sure. So the legal realm is NOT doing well with innovation.

But in regards to other areas of higher ed and its accrediting bodies…I’m sorry, but you can’t tell me that the run-up in the price of higher education over the last several decades had nothing to do with HE’s accrediting bodies and either their support of — or their lack of support of — those organizations who were trying to introduce something new.

But along these lines, I’d like to hear from folks like:

  • Burck Smith from Straighterline on his perspectives and his company’s experiences with the various accrediting bodies that Straighterline has had to deal with. His insights here would carry a significant impact/weight for me.
  • Or perhaps someone like James DeVaney from University of Michingan’s Center for Academic Innovation or Joshua Kim who writes about higher education and edtech/online learning
  • Or folks like Mary Grush or Rhea Kelly at CampusTechnology.com
  • Surveying organizations who could speak for a massive group of students/learners/employees
  • …and/or other folks who are either trying to innovate within the existing systems, have heard from both sides of the table here, and/or have tried and failed to innovate within the existing structures

We’ll see if institutions of traditional higher education can reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant and survive (especially colleges and universities…not so much the community colleges). The accreditation bodies will have a large part in whether this happens…or not.

Along these lines…let’s see what happens to the growth of alternatives to those types of institutions as well.

 

OPINION: Meet certificates and “microcredentials” — they could be the future of higher education — from hechingerreport.org by Arthur Levine and Scott Van Pelt
In years to come, they will become prevalent — and possibly preferred — to college degrees

Excerpt:

What is new is that we are calling them badges and microcredentials and using them primarily to certify specific skills, such as cross-cultural competency, welding and conversational Spanish.

So what are they? Microcredentials are certifications of mastery; badges verify the attainment of specific competencies.

No matter what we are calling them, they may be here to stay.

We now live in a time that is more open to rethinking college and university credentials. We are witnessing experimentation with competency-based education, through which students earn credits by demonstrating skills instead of spending time in courses. We are also seeing discussion of free or reduced tuition, along with subscription pricing that lets students take as many courses as they like for one low cost.

Also see:

Can an AI tutor teach your child to read? — from hechingerreport.org by Jackie Mader
Some AI reading programs are boosting early literacy skills

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence has been used for years in education to monitor teaching quality, teach classes, grade assignments and tailor instruction to student ability levels. Now, a small but growing number of programs are attempting to use AI to target reading achievement in the early years — a longstanding struggle for America’s schools.

 

Recording of “The Future of Education Collaborative for Higher Education” on 8/12/21 — this event was sponsored by Instructure and AWS

From DSC:
One of the most interesting items for me in this was to hear how one university is allowing students to drive the Request For Proposal (RFP) process – giving students much more VOICE. Staff and faculty are consultants but students have the final say! Wow! 

Also, I agree with the idea that the market will drive changes within higher education. But for that to occur more significantly:

  • Employers need to hire more people from a variety of backgrounds and that come into their interviews with a greater variety of credentials.
  • The accrediting agencies involved with higher ed are going to need to become more innovative and flexible.
  • And the elephant in the room for me is that faculty members are going to have to come to the realization that those organizations/courses of the future that will thrive and have the most impact will be much more team-based and will be based upon what the market needs (i.e., better alignment is needed between the corporate/business world and the world of higher education). For far too long, the faculty member has been the sole person at the table….the person holding the steering wheel…the person in control of everything that gets presented and how it gets presented….the person who decides what they want to teach (vs. what the market actually needs) and how they want to teach it.

Finally, I bet AWS and Zoom could have said a LOT more than they actually said.

#learningfromthelivingclassroom

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian