Blog & News


Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 2/28/20

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela 


EdSurge reports this week on research regarding outcomes of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative. The initiative supported 2,000 instructors who developed and taught 6,600 OER course sections serving 160,000 students over the course of 2.5 years. Students saved on average $65 on each OER course; the theory is that savings help to eliminate barriers to completion for many students. Additional research showed that “Students who took multiple community college courses that used only free or low-cost OER materials earned more credits over time than their peers who took classes that used traditional course materials such as textbooks.” While there were clearly positive student outcomes associated with OER use, there are significant costs to institutions that develop OER based courses that require an upfront investment of money and faculty time. 


The University of Michigan is rolling out a program to help K-12 teachers learn how to most effectively deploy technology in their classrooms. Researchers identified that teachers were using technology - doing so by “gut feel” - but there was no science behind the decisions they were making. “The missing piece amounts to teacher training, which, for the most part, has been seriously lacking in schools during technology integrations,” says Liz Kolb, a clinical associate professor of education technologies at the University of Michigan. Michigan has responded with a synchronous 15-week course for K-12 teachers which centers around assignments intended to be easily embedded in lesson plans.

In a recent survey of 600 K-12 teachers, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Technology, less than half of teachers said they were prepared to manage and teach with technology, and just 40 percent said they were confident in their abilities to select appropriate technology tools.


The Carolina Journal reports this week about the efforts of North Carolina’s community colleges to enroll and graduate adult learners which speaks to national trends regarding adult student recruitment and enrollment. To aid in adult degree completion, state advocates for adult learners want to see systemic changes including abolishing caps on transfer credits and preventing schools from shuffling relevant credits into electives. Fewer than a quarter of non-traditional, part-time students graduate; significant changes will be required to positively shift this graduation rate.


The Chronicle of Higher Education shares this week the results of its latest enrollment survey of 292 institutions. Overall, about 60 percent of respondents (both public and private institutions) missed their enrollment goals in 2019. Sixty-seven percent of institutions reported they did not meet their net-revenue goals. When asked how they were responding, some institutions cited creating new programs to attract more students. However, experts advise that institutions may fare better if they ensure they have a clear mission and identity, are focused on improving the student experience and creating a clear path to a student’s life after college. 


The Hechinger Report this week sheds light on early college high school programs: academic programs where students are simultaneously enrolled in college classes while meeting high school requirements. Research indicates that early college students (often low-income youth) were more likely to have earned two- and four-year college degrees than students not participating in early college initiatives. “This is an effective program that perhaps we should increase in disadvantaged communities,” said Kristina Zeiser, a senior researcher at AIR. “It’s not just exposure to college. It’s increased support and helping students to self identify as learners.”

Author: Meg Foster
Feb 28, 2020
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