Aurora Institute: Federal Policy Priorities and Recommendations 2022 — from


It is critically important for our country to reimagine education and focus on investing in our future, not our past. The current K-12 education system has not produced equitable outcomes for all students. We must change policies and invest in innovation to transform our education systems. Student-centered policies are needed for true systems change and innovations for equity. We must challenge frames and investments that perpetuate tinkering with the existing system, rather than reimagining it. The time is ripe to redesign education to align with future needs and purposes to achieve human flourishing.

To ensure all learners are prepared for life’s uncertainties, as well as a more knowledge-driven workforce and economy, we must restructure the education system to universally recognize anytime, anywhere learning. Many states and districts have taken steps to move in new and improved directions, but more work must be done to meet students where they are and accelerate them to successful futures and prosperity. We must question the fundamental purposes of our education system, align our goals to that purpose, and expand learning to anytime and anyplace, with greater opportunities for next generation learning.

Aurora Institute’s latest Federal Policy Priorities represent an equity-oriented and future-focused set of recommendations designed to ensure that the nation’s education system moves from its current state to a system capable of preparing all learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve lifelong success.


From DSC:
I post this because I like the design thinking exhibited herein. I love the idea of greater collaboration between K-12, higher education, vocational training, and the workforce/workplace. We should consider eliminating — or at least building much better bridges between the — existing silos. These silos seem to be easier to put up than they are to take down.



Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 and 6 Invest in Many Ventures; as written by King Solomon

11 Ship your grain across the sea;
    after many days you may receive a return.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
    you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.

Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well.

From DSC:
Perhaps Solomon should get more credit as one of the first wise investment advisors. If he lived today, he would likely support diversification and support the concepts behind using index funds! 


State Court Budget Forecast: Stormy with Rising Backlogs

State Court Budget Forecast: Stormy with Rising Backlogs — from by Andrew Strickler

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

As state lawmakers begin preparing for upcoming legislative sessions amid a resurgent pandemic, a scattered but largely grim outlook for state court funding is beginning to take shape.

With some judicial administrators already dealing with staggered budgets and new technology costs, experts and advocates say court leaders have their work cut out for them to convince budget analysts and lawmakers to pay for pandemic recovery efforts.

Perhaps nowhere is the coming financial strain more apparent than in Florida, where legislators began gathering Tuesday in Tallahassee to face a historic $5.4 billion budget deficit over the next two years.

There, court leaders have drawn on their experiences dealing with a crush of foreclosures and other litigation following the 2008 financial crisis to project that nearly 1 million additional cases will be in front of the state’s trial courts by the middle of 2021.

In New York, where the next fiscal year promises to include a gaping $14.5 billion budget hole, dozens of appellate judges over age 70 are being forced into retirement, a move court administrators said would save $55 million in the coming years and help prevent staff layoffs.

Addendum on 11/24/20:

Civil Justice Fest: A Month of Dialogues On the Most Pressing Civil Justice Issues — from
Judicial Education Program & Congressional Civil Justice Academy Law & Economics  Center Antonin Scalia Law School George Mason University November 2020 Virtual


The shift online has colleges looking to share courses — from by Alia Wong
Dozens of institutions have joined consortia for exchanging online classes since the pandemic began, and new options have sprung up.


Dozens of other small, private institutions followed thanks to the Council of Independent Colleges’ (CIC’s) Online Course Sharing Consortium, which was formed in late 2018 and today is the largest of the dozen or so networks on Acadeum.

CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium


Course recovery consortium


From DSC:
The article below caused me to reflect on the idea of using Income Share Agreements (ISAs) as a way for students to get through college these days. Although I appreciate that others are trying to help students get through college — an admirable goal for sure and one that I wholeheartedly share — I don’t like the means/method being proposed here. Why? Because I’m concerned that ISAs don’t offer any incentives for colleges and universities to lower their prices in the first place. The burden of debt is just spread out into the future. In fact, one could easily imagine the costs of obtaining a degree to continue to increase, because the immediate impact of the debt isn’t felt right now…it’s spread out over one’s future. The problem becomes invisible again, making it once again easy for those working within higher education to ignore.

So I hope this method doesn’t take off (as I understand it); instead, I hope that we can figure out better ways to reduce the price of obtaining a degree. Technology should be of use here.


Students Get Tuition Aid for a Piece of Their Future — from by Jillian Berman
Income share agreements seem poised to take off, as costs and debt loads rise


To help pay for ever-growing college costs, more students may soon be trying a new approach: selling rights to their future earnings.

Long discussed in college policy and financing circles, income share agreements, or ISAs, are poised to become more mainstream. A handful of backers currently exist that in effect have invested in college students’ futures by advancing them thousands of dollars in tuition money to bridge gaps in financing when student loans don’t quite meet all of their expenses.

Under the terms of a typical ISA, students agree to pay a percentage of their future earnings for a predetermined period in exchange for help up front with their tuition. Now, more students may have the opportunity to enter such deals, as lawmakers in Congress are working on possible ground rules for the agreements.





Next-gen schools thriving in Detroit — from


  1. Student Centered:
    Designed to meet the diverse learning needs of each student every day
  2. High Expectations:
    Committed to ensuring that every student will meet clearly defined, rigorous standards that will prepare them for success in college and career
  3. Self Pacing and Mastery Based Credit:
    Enables students to move at their own optimal pace and receive credit when they demonstrate mastery of the material   <— From DSC: More choice, more control.
  4. Blending Instruction:
    Optimizes teacher- and technology- delivered instruction in group and individual work
  5. Student Ownership:
    Empowers students with skills, information, and tools they need to manage their own learning
  6. Scalable:
    Designed to serve many more students if it demonstrates impact
  7. Financial Sustainability:
    Sustainable on public per-pupil revenue within four years



Blended learning -- the best of both worlds


Blended/hybrid learning: Combining the best of both worlds



Accreditation on the block as lawmakers look to innovation — from EvoLLLution NewsWire


Accreditation and federal financial aid policies are in line to be overhauled as lawmakers start to debate the possibility of mainstreaming some of higher education’s most recent innovations.

During a recent hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, numerous federal senators pointed toward competency-based education and hybrid models of online education as examples of strategies that could revolutionize higher education. However, they were concerned by the role of federal financial aid rules and regional accreditation boards in keeping these innovations from reaching the wider higher education marketplace.

It is expected that a number of bills will be introduced in the coming days to overhaul the regulatory systems that govern American postsecondary education.  Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) plans to unveil a bill to move accreditation responsibilities from the region to the state. This would allow greater market access to non-institutional education providers, which are typically unaccreditated and cannot compete with traditional institutions on an even footing.





The Yearbook is a unique publication produced annually by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) that highlights some of the outstanding trends,

people and events over the past year in education technology. The first part of the Yearbook gives readers market awareness by outlining how much money schools spent on education technology, where the funding came from and what technologies have been garnering the most attention.

The second part features 40 education innovators who are using technology to inspire their students, improve learning and better the K-20 education system. We hope that this 2013 Yearbook issue provides inspiration to our readers to continue on their quests towards innovation in education.


From DSC:
My quote in the Center for Digital Education’s 2013 Yearbook reads:


“Educational technologists need to be bold, visionary and creative. They need to be in tune with the needs, missions and visions of their organizations. We have the opportunity — and responsibility — to make lasting and significant contributions within our fields and for the organizations that we work for.”



U.S. teams up with operator of 0nline courses to plan a global network — from by Tamar Lewin

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Coursera, a California-based venture that has enrolled five million students in its free online courses, announced on Thursday a partnership with the United States government to create “learning hubs” around the world where students can go to get Internet access to free courses supplemented by weekly in-person class discussions with local teachers or facilitators.

The learning hubs represent a new stage in the evolution of “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, and address two issues: the lack of reliable Internet access in some countries, and the growing conviction that students do better if they can discuss course materials, and meet at least occasionally with a teacher or facilitator.

“Our mission is education for everyone, and we’ve seen that when we can bring a community of learners together with a facilitator or teacher who can engage the students, it enhances the learning experience and increases the completion rate,” said Lila Ibrahim, the president of Coursera. “It will vary with the location and the organization we’re working with, but we want to bring in some teacher or facilitator who can be the glue for the class.”


From DSC:
Some thoughts here:

1)  When institutions of higher education cling to the status quo and disregard the disturbing trajectories at play*…when we don’t respond, people — and governments it seems — will find other options/alternatives.

* Such as middle class incomes that continue to decline
while the price of higher education continues to escalate

2)  I wonder if this type of setup might predominate in some countries.
i.e. blended learning types of setups in learning centers around the world where people can come in at any time to learn with a relevant Community of Practice, aided by faculty, teachers, trainers, coaches, etc.   Some of the content is “beamed in” and shared electronically, while some of the learning involves face-to-face discussions/work. Will schools become more community centers where we will pool resources and offer them to people 24×7?

Also see:

  • The New Innovator’s Dilemma — from by Michael Moe and Ben Wallerstein; with thanks to Lisa Duty for the Tweet on this
    Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
    Increasingly, we’re worried that a generation of entrepreneurs is facing a “new innovators dilemma” — where innovation is stymied by regulatory and political environments focused on outdated needs and the wrong set of “customers.” The truth is, Silicon Valley investors and techies will get by just fine without addressing our big, societal problems. But if we encourage our nation’s top entrepreneurs to join search engines and social networks, we will miss the opportunity to apply their genius to solving society’s most pressing problems.

    This isn’t about the classic political divide of right versus left. This is about policies and regulations written in a different era that are not easily translated to modern technology. It’s no secret that the challenge stems, in part, from the motivations of regulators and the politics of protecting the status quo.

    Change is difficult. And no one is arguing that the transportation, hospitality, and higher education industries don’t need to be regulated. New approaches, in particular, warrant close scrutiny. But if we are ever going to experience the sort of revolutionary change that technology might afford to virtually every sector of the American economy, we need to be willing to rethink the traditional ways of regulation to make innovation easier and more responsive to the consumers and students these regulations were originally enacted to protect.


Addendum 11/1/13:




An excerpted slide:





A brief thought/response from DSC:
What continues to ring true — we need to give students more choice, more control over their learning; asking, “What do you want to learn today?”







Also see:

Net Price Rising — from by Michael Stratford

Even though colleges have slowed the rate at which they raise tuition, the total grant aid available to students has not been able to keep pace with tuition growth, according to two reports released Wednesday by the College Board.

Public four-year institutions, after years of sharp increases, raised in-state tuition by only 2.9 percent this year, the smallest one-year increase in more than 30 years. Private, nonprofit four-year colleges increased their sticker price tag by 3.8 percent, which is slightly lower than recent tuition hikes.



Higher Education: New Models, New Rules — from by Louis Soares, Judith S. Eaton, and Burck Smith
What are the new rules that will accompany future new models in higher education? Three essays address this question by exploring state higher education policy, accreditation for non-institutional education, and the disaggregation of the current higher education model.




Excerpt from Burck’s essay:

Accordingly, the government spurs “supply” by paying for colleges and universities and spurs “demand” by paying for students. Accreditors determine who can receive these funds. All of this worked well for sixty years. Until, suddenly, it doesn’t.


A JPMorgan Ph.D.? — from by Ry Rivard


JPMorgan Chase plans to give $17 million to start a doctoral program at the University of Delaware, an effort that may raise new questions about collaborations between colleges and donors.

As part of the plan, JPMorgan will renovate a building to house the program, put up money to pay program faculty and pay a full ride for students seeking a degree, according to an internal university plan. In addition, JPMorgan employees may sit on dissertation committees and advise the university on which faculty members should teach in the program, according to the planning document and a top university official.


From DSC:
I’ll add this partnership to the list:

AT&T, Udacity, and Georgia Tech.
Google and edX.
Microsoft and Degreed.
IBM sending Watson to school and partnering with 1000+ universities (see here and here).
JP Morgan and University of Delaware (see this addendum from 10/7/13)

Is there a new trend forming here? Will there be tighter integration between the corporate world and the world of higher education? 

If so, my thoughts re: The Walmart of Education and Learning from the Living [Class] Room could be taking a giant step forward.  I say this because such visions require some serious resources.  It will take a handful of larger organizations with deep pockets — and or many smaller organizations pooling their resources — to enable these trends.  But we are starting to see some organizations with deep pockets forming such partnerships out there.

Is this all a good thing? In some ways yes, in other ways, I’m not so sure. There are a variety of reasons to go to college; getting a job is just one of them. But given the price of education, things are now out of balance; students are now being forced into a more career-focused perspective for their college experience.

Also, given the pace of change, those in the corporate world have a decision to make — should they work with current institutions to enable change, create their own communities of practice, bring further training in house,…other?



Higher education is headed for a shakeout, analysts warn — from by Jon Marcus

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

“A growing percentage of our colleges and universities are in real financial trouble,” the financial consulting firm Bain & Company concluded in a reportone-third of them, to be exact, according to Bain, which found that these institutions’ operating costs are rising faster than revenues and investment returns can cover them.

That’s because, as enrollments decline and families become more sensitive to price, colleges are cutting deeply into their revenue by giving discounts to attract students. The result is that, even though their sticker prices seem to be ballooning faster than the inflation rate, many of these schools are falling further and further behind.


Also see:



Daniel S. Christian - Think Virtual -- April 2012





From DSC:
Match the needs of your institution with your donors’ passions!

In thinking about how to get the funding necessary to accomplish things, it seems to me that more people would give more of their resources if they knew what the specific needs were at a particular school, college, and/or university. This is where Web-based solutions could play a new, important role (and serve as another example of using technology strategically).

I was reminded of this possibility during a recent conversation with a faculty member from our Music Department.  First, some background. My mother was/still is a piano teacher. My folks met due to music and my dad has sung throughout his lifetime.  My siblings have each played 1 or more instruments.  Music has been something that has been extremely positive for my folks’ marriage and was always heard throughout our home.  (Not to mention that music can turn a bad day around for me.)

You can see where music was important to our family, to me…I have a passion for music.  So when I heard of a need that our Music Department had, I was ready to get my wallet out on the spot.  

I wonder how many more people would be struck like this if they only knew what the specific opportunities to contribute/make a difference were.

See below for some
related resources
on this topic.






Also see:


Addendum on 9/12/13:

© 2024 | Daniel Christian