“Worth Reading” is a hand-picked weekly collection of new and not-so-new articles, ideas, events and other items for busy professionals in higher education.
Getting Credit for What You Know
Excerpt: “IT (Information Technology) was among the industries that pioneered the new approach to credentialing. Some 20 years ago, employers in the tech sector came together and devised a process to identify the skill sets needed for the most common jobs in the field. It’s a complex, laborious process, and it has to be repeated every few years as new technology ripples through the industry. But the end result is invaluable: a set of industry standards for what a well-trained worker needs to know.”
3 Things Academic Leaders Believe About Online Education
Excerpt: “You can read this year’s report, based on a survey conducted in 2014, here. But if you don’t have the time, here are three things academic leaders believe about online education:
1. Online education has become mission-critical, even at small colleges.
The percentage of academic leaders who agreed that online education is critical to the long-term strategy of their institutions crept up steadily until 2013, when it fell slightly, from 69 percent to 66 percent. In 2014, however, the percentage was back up to 71 percent, the highest rate yet.
The most-drastic recent shift in the perceived importance of online education was at small colleges (i.e., those with fewer than 1,500 students). In 2012, 60 percent of academic leaders at small colleges said online education was strategically crucial. Now that number is 70 percent—nearly the same as at universities with more than 15,000 students.
2. “Hybrid” courses are at least as good as face-to-face courses.
A majority of survey respondents said hybrid courses—which are held partly online, partly in the classroom—are equivalent to courses that are held entirely in person, but nearly 33 percent said they thought hybrid courses were superior.
This is not a new belief: The percentage of academic leaders who believe in the superiority of hybrid courses has hovered around one-third since at least 2012. (The U.S. Education Department expressed a similar view way back in 2010.) In fact, the slim percentage of respondents who thought hybrids were worse than face-to-face courses actually went up in 2014, from 7.9 percent to 10.6 percent.
3. Most professors still don’t think online courses are legit.
Some things never change. Back in 2002, Babson asked academic leaders if their faculty members “accept the value and legitimacy of online education.” That year 28 percent said their professors thought online courses were legitimate. This year it was … 28 percent.”
Sharp Drop in Part-Time Student Enrolment Since Fee Rises
Excerpt: “Part-time student enrolments in higher education fell by 22% in the two years since university tuition fees were allowed to triple, according to new figures released last Thursday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, or HESA.
Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, the number of part-time students fell by 2% overall. According to HESA the decline in total student numbers of nearly 41,000 was mainly because of a fall in undergraduate enrolments, down by 2%, and part-time student numbers, which fell sharply by 8%.”
Pell Report on Access to Higher Ed
Excerpt: “Nonetheless, as illustrated by the indicators in this report, higher education outcomes are highly inequitable across family income groups. Moreover, on many of these indicators, gaps in outcomes are larger now than in the past. The disinvestment of state funds for public colleges and universities occurring since the 1980s and the declining value of federal student grant aid have all aided in the creation of a higher education system that is stained with inequality. Once known for wide accessibility to and excellence within its higher education system, the U.S. now has an educational system that serves to sort students in ways related to later life chances based on their demographic characteristics rather than provide all youth with the opportunity to use their creative potential to realize the many benefits of higher education and advance the well-being and progress of the nation.”
What It Takes: Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star (Equivalent to classroom and online higher ed?)
Excerpt: “That argument is rubbish. In the late 70’s, the Buggles sang “Video Killed the Radio Star,” but the reality is that a new medium didn’t kill the radio star or the theatre production or film or books or television shows. Lack of vision killed the second-rate versions of all of these, while the classics survived and the visionaries emerged.”