• Retention: Creating learning environments that engage

    by Terri Moore

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    Why retention is important

    Several national studies (Swail; American Institutes for Research; Lake) purport approximately 60% of all college students attending four-year institutions persist until graduation within 6 years. Thus, there is a 40% attrition rate nationally.

    American tax dollars contribute to the grants, scholarships and financial aid used by many students. According to LendEDU a college drop-out has incurred about $14,000 dollars in student aid debt. About half of these loans are in default. There are high stakes involved at the institutional level as well.

    According to a study of retention at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016, the cost to that one university of losing almost 40% of their enrolled students during that 6 years was $86 million. Given the high financial impact to society, institutions, and students, the study of college retention and student persistence has become an important one.

    Beyond financial loss

    While retention has hefty financial implications, perhaps more important, college degrees prepare students to critically evaluate the needs of their society and to understand how to effect change for the better. Retention also affects the national reputations of colleges where legacies, among other advantages, are at risk in institutions with high attrition rates. Finally, and perhaps most critically, the impact on the individual student of attrition, withdrawal, or dropout goes beyond crushing college loan debt.

    The impact on self- esteem and self-efficacy results in far more pervasive and damaging long-term consequences than mere financial limitations. The assault to self-worth may be the greatest danger of college attrition and the most important reason to show concern for increasing student retention. An examination of student retention can help us change the retention narrative, and help our students write brighter and more hopeful futures for themselves and our society.

    What we can do

    There are factors that lead to attrition beyond the control of institutions and instructors. Student abilities, skills, and preparation come with them to college. As do their personal attributes, values, and knowledge base. While we know students with the character trait of resilience are far more likely to persist against negative factors, colleges cannot control whether a person has this trait or not.

    The outside influences, often leading to student dropout, such as families, jobs, or lack of support are factors beyond the scope of college control as well. While programs within colleges may ameliorate the effects of some of these influences, these influences come with the individual and vary widely between students.

    The good news is there are a number of factors colleges and instructors can influence. Several of these factors are defined by Alan Seidman (2012). Seidman purports these may be the greatest contributors toward student success. These include; expectations, student support, involvement, and feedback.


    Expectations clearly communicated to students from their institutions and teachers is critical for student comfort, increasing engagement. While it is common knowledge that syllabi are contracts of the class expectations between the student and the teacher, institutional expectations are equally important.

    Students will most likely interact on an institutional level before having access to individual classrooms. Schools that have clear mission statements, clear and comprehensive student orientations, clear student handbooks, and information to access support services go a long way toward creating an open and transparent environment where students feel respected and valued. This atmosphere of clear expectations should flow into each classroom, reducing confusion and miscommunication, creating an atmosphere of comfort and clear outlines of how to succeed.

    Student support

    Student support should have a three-pronged approach providing services for academic, social and financial support.

    Academic support

    Academic support may be provided through tutoring centers, peer, and faculty mentoring programs, computer proficiency workshops, writing centers, computer labs, and service-learning centers. Not only do academic support centers help students in their classes, but they foster social networks between peers, teachers and the student, creating learning communities.

    Social support

    Social support in college has been linked to positive student engagement, potentially increasing retention. Social centers designed to bond like others for common goals or common identities have shown value in creating climates of collaboration in colleges. Social groups might include clubs or centers for foreign students, service groups, ethnic identity, or spiritual unity, among any other traits that bond groups.

    Financial support

    Financial support may take the form of required workshops on financial responsibility for any student on financial aid, or grants and student financial rewards, or student work programs. Some colleges have even offered short-term small cash loans to students struggling at the end or beginning of terms. Students who have a clear understanding of what they are getting for the amount invested are armed with information about the investment and may make better choices about wise expenditures of their energy, time, and resources.


    Involvement studies (NASPA; Purdue University) indicate students who feel positive emotional connection to their educational environments, through peer or faculty connections, are more likely to persist. College student populations have evolved from primarily residential students to the majority of students commuting.

    With busy, active lives beyond the borders of college campuses, involving students in campus life has become a challenge. Dissociated students are far less likely to find the support needed to weather the inevitable stresses of college. Programs such as peer and faculty mentoring also foster an atmosphere of connectedness.

    Methods of student involvement in the classroom include group projects designed for students to connect through remote or social media communication. Class time can also be allocated for group work. In short; happy, connected people are more likely to want to remain connected to each other and the environment that fosters those connections.


    Feedback is often overlooked as a critical factor in student retention; however, it is the one factor that is absolutely in the control of the institution and instructors. Transparency by all parties is the key ingredient for solid and satisfactory problem solving. Students need to know how they can succeed and what they need to do to get there.

    Institutional feedback

    Institutional feedback comes in the form of monitoring student’s academic standing. Students need accurate and timely assessments of their degree progress. They need clear communication of their GPA, college and national standing, as well as communications from financial aid concerning their current debt and estimates of debt upon graduation. Students also need early warning when they are steering off the path to successful completion.

    Instructor feedback

    Instructor feedback answers the common student questions of: “What is my grade? How do I measure up? Can I pass this course? Our assignment assessments are our feedback to these questions. The practice of assessing content mastery with only one or two major exams or papers gives little indication to students of where they are going off the rail before it was too late. This should not be the case in a learning-focused classroom.

    Learning-centered classrooms should offer immediate feedback on formative low stakes assignments. That feedback should be clear and meaningful resulting in the students increased awareness of what they know or don’t know. This translates into better metacognition and students are less likely to overestimate their knowledge acquisition.

    The learning-centered classroom

    Learning-centered classrooms demand students learn first-hand, moving away from the teacher centered classroom, where learning is strained by passive listening with little interaction. After implementing new learning-centered feedback strategies in my classroom such as quick mini quizzes using clicker type answering providing immediate feedback in a low-stakes situation, I saw striking results in improved preparedness and retention.

    Learning-centered classrooms are also collaborative. Building learning communities within the classroom is often the only peer association commuter students will have. Collaborative learning has been shown to produce greater levels of intellectual development. Teachers can foster this through group work in the classroom assignments.

    These might be problem-solutions focused or project-based. Service-learning opportunities in the classroom allow students to work together and apply the academic principles they are learning to real world settings. Other classroom activities that have been suggested in the book, “Make it Stick,” as excellent methods for student learning include:

    • Spacing Retrieval Practice, based on the testing effect, where taking tests increases the ability to be a better test taker. Activities that lend themselves to this might be short quizzes, one-minute essays, self-analysis activities, or partnered homework assignments.
    • Interleaving is cycling back to previous learning and bringing it forward for application. Reviews, reflections, quizzes, short essays, or group presentations might lend themselves to this type of assignment.
    • Elaboration gives new learning meaning and commits it to longer-term memory through application. Essays, scenario creation, group projects and presentations are all able to offer opportunities to elaborate on new knowledge. One particularly successful activity has been to have groups teach a portion of the new concepts for the week.
    • Generation is the process of finding creative and innovative solutions to problems or assignments. Offering students opportunities to submit drafts with feedback generates deep understanding of the concepts building towards a more successful final product. Working in groups to resolve a difficult problem is also effective in generating deeper understanding through the lens of other perspectives.
    • Reflection reviews new learning, making applications to prior learning or novel situations in real world settings. Service-learning group projects with field notes foster reflection on how the classroom principles apply in practical settings. Essays and scenario activities also allow students to make meaning of new information.
    • Calibration teaches students how to judge what they know. It increases metacognitive skills and helps student more accurately assess the time and energy expenditures needed to succeed. Testing of any kind as well as self-evaluation aid in calibrating, as do peer evaluations.

    Collaborative learning-centered classrooms where homework is due prior to class, where the student was provided immediate feedback on homework before coming to class, where the teacher has access to performance data from the homework, allows the instructor to focus on those concepts deemed most difficult for the entire class.

    This classroom is now flipped to address this specific group of students with their unique learning needs. The flipped classroom lends itself to collaborative learning and interactive problem-solution activities that address the most difficult concepts using valuable class time effectively.

    As a young teacher, my classroom was all about my teaching; how creative I could be thoroughly covering all the material. I now see my classroom is not about my teaching, it is about my students’ learning.

    I am empowered to know that while retention is an enormous problem impacting our society, colleges, and students, there are things we can do at the institutional level and the classroom level to combat student attrition and student dropout rates, leading to more students meeting their goals and achieving successful and productive futures.

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  • 3 ways the right tech can encourage non-traditional student achievement

    by Pearson

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    As institutions analyze their student demographics, they’re seeing that 40% of today’s college students are at least 25 years old, 73% have jobs, and 21% work 20 hours a week or more. They’re not always present on campus — they’re digital learners, relying on online tools and tech more and more every year. Almost three million students enroll in online classes, and another three million have at least some online coursework.

    They’re parents, veterans, and caretakers for older family members. Unlike “traditional” students, who only make up a fraction of the population of potential learners, many start their higher education much later than the age of 18. And as a growing force in the educational space, they’re a cause to rethink how we approach teaching. To that end, we’ve spoken to non-traditional students and their professors to find out how tech can support (and fail to support) their learning.

    How edtech can support non-traditional students

    1. Make lessons accessible to all

    Alyssa Kropp, an integrated design instructor, discovered that using programs that bridged the gap between different types of students was a foundational step toward moving her lesson plans forward.

    Because all of her students use laptops or smartphones to participate, her most successful materials involve visual, auditory, and closed captioning approaches that attune to diverse learning styles.

    “A lot of students are new to design, and so I always encourage online materials — they are interested in being exposed to different methodologies.”

    Kropp has taught many international students, ESL students, and students who have started their college careers later than average. Accessibility within digital learning tools is incredibly important to her: “My students come from India, Vietnam, Dubai, the UK — all over. They come from a variety of economic backgrounds and social classes, which brings a different style of diversity.”

    Tip for admin: Engaging work can be assigned online, giving your faculty the leeway to develop interactive lessons during the classroom hours. If the tools that you are using for non-traditional students aren’t successful, give your faculty opportunities to incorporate digital learning materials and change their approach.

    2. Allow for mobility and class access on the fly

    Non-traditional students tend to take different approaches toward making headway in their courses. For Ryan Glassman, a computer science student, his coursework and online class schedule require him to study at unusual times.

    “More and more of my lectures are being video recorded, which is nice when you have a huge computer science class. I can catch up on those lectures online, which is a lot better than asking another student for notes.”

    Digital tools allow Glassman to manage his time more efficiently while living in a hectic city landscape, “I’m cognizant of how much time I spend commuting each day, which is about an hour and a half each way. I try and relegate classes that have a ton of reading, and I restrict my reading to my commutes.”

    “It’s harder for me than most to make use of physical resources like TA hours or review sessions on weekends because I don’t live on campus. So I try to make as much use of the remote stuff as I possibly can.”

    Tip for admin: Hold training sessions for faculty on how to provide online course forums that allow students to ask questions remotely. Other students, TAs, or professors can respond with answers. The online forums provide an easy way for non-traditional students to speak up without feeling embarrassed.

    3. Engage at your own pace

    More than anything, smart tech opens up opportunities to improve a student’s higher education experience, no matter what else they’re juggling. Brianna Maldonado, a United States Marine Corp veteran and student of mental health counseling, is a visual learner who seeks out online videos in addition to her studies.

    Maldonado’s unique style of learning leads her to watch educational videos online that supplement her clinical studies: “We’re learning a lot about psychology theorists right now, and online videos can condense materials that are easy to understand. I can pause on keywords that will be useful for midterms.”

    Tip for admin: Visual learners thrive with supplemental video materials and in-person engagement. Remind faculty how meaningful one-on-one interactions with non-traditional students can be. Often, digital learning materials provide instructors with data and insights into student learning and study habits they can use to help provide personalized support to these students during office hours.

    When you ask the right questions of your non-traditional classroom, you become a step closer toward a pathway to student achievement. For more strategies for enhancing learning for this demographic with digital tools, visit Pearson’s website on institutional leadership.

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  • Preparing for downturns & demographic shifts

    by Pearson

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    Education Dive recently explored how Maryville, Arizona State, and the University of Maine are igniting (or reigniting) growth via online education. They know the economy won’t stay strong forever — and even if it does, there will be fewer 18-22-year-olds to fill campus classrooms. Online learning is a key to their strategic response.

    Ed Dive makes powerful points about the opportunity in adult learning (30 million potential students). Also: the importance of scale and infrastructure in online programs, the investments required to succeed, and the tough competition.

    Based on our experience running 350 online programs with our university partners, we agree — and we’d stress that you can succeed.

    One way, as our partner at Maryville told Ed Dive, is to “find the unmet need.” Right now, sizable opportunities exist if you know where to look.

    Next, widen your geographical reach. You can draw students from across the country, and the right national marketing can have a “halo effect” on campus enrollments, too.

    Once a student’s enrolled, retain them — by helping them progress, graduate, an achieve their career goals.

    And remember, it’s easier to build a great online program with a strategic partner who can fill in the gaps wherever you need it, whether that’s in strategy, investment, marketing, recruitment, student support, or across the board.

    We believe it’s worth your time to go read Ed Dive’s article. Once you do, tell us what you think. And let’s talk. This topic is critically important, and so is this conversation.

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  • 3 tips for student success in the age of AI-based hiring

    by Pearson

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    For today’s students, the college experience is about more than exploring areas of study and learning professional skills. Entering students want to know the investment they’re making in higher education will pay off. With long-term career opportunities defining student success, career centers feel the pressure to provide guidance and actionable insight to students preparing to enter the workforce—which means keeping up with the latest hiring trends.

    The big trend this year? Integrating technology into the hiring process.

    The rise of hiring technology

    Career counselors used to base their coaching on the six-second rule, essentially the length of time a resume has to impress the hiring manager. Now, to even be seen by human eyes, candidates have to pass something much more elusive: the applicant tracking system (ATS).

    Applicant tracking systems are nothing new, but they’ve become ubiquitous in the hiring process. In fact, 99% of Fortune 500 companies use them (source). As they collect and organize applicant resumes based on employer-defined keywords, ATSs streamline the tedious work of sorting through resumes for the hiring manager.

    Even organizations that don’t have an ATS are often using other tools that rely heavily on search terms, like LinkedIn and Indeed.

    While ATSs have been around for several years, a new player in the hiring field is AI technology, which essentially replaces a candidate’s first-round interview process with a video recorded interview. Candidates answer questions, and the AI compares their word choice, facial expressions, and enthusiasm with current employees.

    With multiple technology barriers before human interactions, how can you prepare students to impress both humans and machines?

    Here are three ways you can encourage student success in the hiring process.

    1. Advise students to conduct keyword research

    Career centers already encourage students to research the company in preparation for interviews. But students should expand this research to identify key terms used by the industry, the company, and the job description. Encourage students to think beyond technical, quantifiable abilities that many applicants will share on a resume, and include soft skills that they can expand on in the interview process.

    Keyword research can benefit students in two ways: They can add it to their resume and use it in their interview responses. Using keywords from the job description will help the student’s resume rise to the top of the applicant pile and get the attention of hiring managers. Using industry and organizational language in the interview highlights their knowledge and preparedness.

    2. Record student interviews

    A twist on traditional mock interviews, recorded interviews help students practice a different conversation format. Video interviews can be awkward and uncomfortable, but they’re more prevalent than ever. Practicing helps students feel prepared and gives them the opportunity to see what they look like on camera.

    Encourage students to review the recorded interviews to identify their weak points and adjust accordingly. Make sure they focus on getting across their measurable skills, as well as their interpersonal skills on screen. They can even sit down with a career counselor to go over the footage together for more feedback.

    3. Consider AI-based software

    Although there’s no substitution for a career counselor, using AI-based software to provide resume suggestions can help students avoid ATS pitfalls, like poor formatting choices or date conventions.

    Having a tool that can identify the more technical resume fixes many career centers encounter will give counselors more time to work with students on more challenging aspects, such as training interpersonal skills and effective workplace interactions.

    Focus on student success

    Avoid favoring technology at the expense of human interactions. Remind students that despite the addition of AI-based software in the hiring process, the final decisions will always be made by a person. “Beating” or “gaming” the system will only get students so far, and nothing replaces experience and personal connections.

    Career centers should continue to encourage students to focus on building hard and soft skills to stand out in the crowded job market.

    Learn how to ensure long-term student success through innovative educational practices.

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  • Five things you should know about AI and learning

    by Laurie Forcier

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    The robots are coming – or have likely already arrived – to a school or university near you. Should you be worried?

    It’s easy to understand why some feel that applying AI to learning will dehumanize education. But the algorithms and models that drive these technologies form the basis of an essentially human endeavor. AI can provide teachers and learners with tools so they can see not only what is being learned, but also how it is being learned. It also has the potential to help learners develop the knowledge and skills that employers are seeking.

    So before you get worried, here’s five things you should know about AI and learning.

    AI helps us open up the “black box of learning”.

    AI involves computer software that has been programmed to interact with the world in ways normally associated with human intelligence. To do this, it relies on both knowledge about the world, and algorithms to intelligently process that knowledge. This knowledge about the world is represented in “models”.

    There are three key models used in applying AI to learning:

    •     the pedagogical model, representing the knowledge and expertise of teaching,
    •     the domain model, representing knowledge of the subject being learned, and
    •     the learner model, representing (of course!) the learner

    These models develop – that is, they get smarter – over time as learners interact with them.

    By using AI in learning, we hope to “make computationally precise and explicit forms of educational, psychological and social knowledge which are often left implicit.” In other words, AI might be our most powerful tool to open up what is sometimes called the “black box of learning.”

    When a learner uses an AI-driven tool for learning, the result is a deeper, and more fine-grained record of how learning actually did or didn’t happen. For example, AI can help us see and understand the micro-steps that learners go through in learning calculus, or the common misconceptions that arise. These understandings can be used to improve learning technologies, and they can also be used to good effect by human teachers.

    AI will not replace human teachers

    Although AI is designed to interact with the world through capabilities and behaviors that we would think of as essentially human (for example, by recognizing and reading handwriting), it’s important to remember that AI doesn’t have a mind of its own, and that artificial intelligence is different from human intelligence. And, as we have learned from the world of competitive chess, it’s the combination of human plus machine that provides the ultimate advantage.(cite)

    So rather than a future in which AI replaces teachers, we predict that the continued introduction of AI-powered learning tools will serve as a catalyst for the transformation of the role of the teacher. Drawing on the power of both human and artificial intelligence, teacher time will be used more effectively and efficiently, and their expertise will be better deployed, leveraged, and augmented.

    AI will help us better understand soft skills.

    We know from our past Future of Skills research, and the work of many others, that the combinations of knowledge and skills needed for success in the future will be different from what is expected today. Although technical skills will be increasingly important, equally, if not more valuable will be three categories of “soft skills” that will be at the core of human-machine synergy:

    • skills related to our ongoing ability to teach and to learn
    • skills related to understanding, navigating and adapting to complex systems, and
    • skills related to creativity and originality.

    Going forward, AI will be able to assist educators and learners with two important tasks. First, to establish more rigorous and systematic ways of categorizing and assessing the soft skills that students acquire. (In other words, to develop hard metrics for soft skills.) And second, to understand and document the teaching and learning strategies that best help learners to develop and strengthen specific soft skills in a more structured, systematic and deliberate way.

    The increasing range of data capture used by AI-powered learning tools – such as biological data, voice recognition, and eye tracking – will provide new types of evidence for currently difficult to assess skills. For example, a practice-based learning experience that incorporates elements of problem solving or collaboration might be assessed using a combination of data sources including voice recognition (to identify who is doing and saying what in a team activity) and eye tracking (to explore which learner is focusing on which learning resources at any particular moment in time).

    In addition, the increasing use of AI-powered learning tools will enable the collection of mass data about the teaching and learning practices that work best, enabling us to track learner progress against different teaching approaches and, in turn, populating a dynamic catalogue of the best teaching practices suited to the development of different skills and capabilities, across a range of environments.

    AI will help us bring intelligent, personal tutors to every learner.

     One-to-one human tutoring has long been thought to be the most effective approach to teaching and learning (since at least Aristotle’s tutoring of Alexander the Great!). But until now, one-to-one tutoring has been an unreachable goal. Not only are there not enough human tutors; it would also never be affordable. How can we make the positive impact of one-to-one tutoring available to all learners across all subjects?

    This is where Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) come in. ITS use AI techniques to simulate one-to-one human tutoring, delivering learning activities best matched to a learner’s cognitive needs and providing targeted and timely feedback, all without an individual teacher needing to be present. Some ITS put the learner in control of their own learning in order to help them develop self-regulation skills; others use pedagogical strategies to scaffold learning so that the learner is appropriately challenged and supported.

    One new example of an ITS is Aida, Pearson’s AI-powered mobile calculus tutor. In Aida, AI is applied to multiple tasks to help personalize the tutoring to the student’s learning path and capability. Specifically, AI is used to recognize and analyze the student’s handwriting and problem being solved; analyze each line of a written solution; provide step by step feedback on what is correct or incorrect; give intervention hints about how to solve a problem, including relevant explainers or examples; and recommend other related concepts to practice or learn in order to strengthen understanding.

    AI-driven learning companions will support our lifelong learning journeys.

    The early versions of Learning Companion Systems, developed in the 1980s, were collaborative computer-based learning companions. Companions used collaboration and competition to stimulate student learning. They could also act as a student for the human learner to tutor, and in so doing helped the student learn.

    The next generation of learning companions are poised to become an essential part of lifelong learning. There are no technical barriers to the development of companions that can accompany and support individual learners throughout their studies – starting with school and extending through higher education, multiple careers, and retirement. These lifelong learning companions could be based in the cloud, accessible via a multiplicity of devices, and operated offline as needed.

    Rather than teaching all subject areas or skills, a learning companion might access specialist AI systems or humans as needed. In addition, the companion could focus on helping learners to become better at learning, for example through prompts focused on developing a growth mindset. And because this type of system can help all learners to access learning resources that are optimal for their needs, it will be suitable for struggling learners as well as those who are high achieving.

    To make lifelong learning effective and successful, we know that learners will need better navigational tools and services to map their learning path. A lifelong learning companion could also fulfill this role. Think of this as a Waze for learning. The companion could help learners identify their strengths and weaknesses, and suggest methods and resources to build skills more quickly. And, it could be combined with sophisticated labor market analytics yielding more granular insights into how jobs, skill requirements, and career opportunities are evolving. This information would help learners to identify career opportunities, acquire new knowledge and build requisite skills.

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  • Creating a customer-centric culture

    by Pearson

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    The higher ed model has traditionally been focused on delivering the final product — well-educated graduates. However, as learner demographics evolve and lifelong learning becomes, well, a way of life, institutions are recognizing the need to shift focus by turning to customer service models outside of higher ed to make it happen.

    Student success is on the line, but so are increased enrollments and graduation rates — along with affinity among alumni and donors.

    We understand there’s heavy debate over whether or not learners are, indeed, “customers”, and a perception that the application of customer service models in higher ed undermine the altruistic values of academe. At the end of the day, both camps can agree that student success is the ultimate goal. Let’s examine an institution that’s reinventing the student experience through corporate inspiration, and see what some of the best companies are doing.

    What do a progressive healthcare system and a grocery chain have to do with student success?

    Just ask American University.

    When new students arrive at American, as is the case at many colleges, they confront a complex aggregation of offices and practices. Traditional university structure and advising isn’t set up to respond to today’s digital natives who expect access and resolution at the click of a button.

    When leaders at American began the university’s Reinventing the Student Experience (RiSE) project in 2015, they discovered that “the comprehensive nature of what we were trying to imagine was a bit easier to spot in the corporate world,” said Jeffrey Rutenbeck, then dean of the School of Communication.

    They turned to the renowned Cleveland Clinic and high-end grocery chain Wegmans for a look at their approaches to improving customer satisfaction. They found that, in both instances, the “customer” was at the center of the experience, with the overarching goals of anticipating and exceeding expectations.

    This is accomplished through continued customer service training at all levels of the organization during standing monthly meetings that explore various topics and celebrate employee success. Data is also a critical component in measuring “customer” success, and it is employed throughout to measure everything from communication to employee satisfaction.

    In the development of their RiSE project, students remained at the forefront of their plans. American understood that students have unique goals, needs, and challenges throughout their experience. In their meetings with students, four unique types of student themes evolved, and personas were developed from this feedback to serve as a guide in the reinvention.

    Another key component to ingraining this “customer-centric” ethos throughout the culture is listening. By providing training that fosters this key skill, American gives their employees (and learners) an active role to play in improvement initiatives and the opportunity to have ownership of the experience.

    “The kind of excellence you can achieve with technical proficiency is very different from the kind of excellence you can achieve if you build a culture that connects everyone to the same mission,” said Rutenbeck.

    Best practices

    Here are some best practices from corporate customer service models that you can apply at your institution:

    1. Understand who your “customers” are
    2. Deliver a consistent, seamless experience throughout the learner journey
    3. Make the experience convenient
    4. Set and manage expectations
    5. Align services with your overarching mission and values
    6. Personalize the experience
    7. Listen
    8. Be responsive
    9. Ask for feedback
    10. Establish accountability across all services

    Wondering where to start looking?

    Here are 10 companies delivering outstanding customer service:

    1. Zappos
    2. Apple
    3. Wegmans Food Markets
    4. Hilton
    5. Costco
    6. Amazon
    7. Trader Joe’s
    8. Lexus
    9. Google
    10. Publix

    Learn how you can stay competitive and improve retention rates through the adoption of innovative practices.

    Information from this article comes from “The Innovation Imperative” by The Chronicle of Higher Education 2019.

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  • How to design a course backwards

    by Debbie Schmidt

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    Being assigned a new course can fill a professor’s heart with joy, dread, or a bit of both.  The joy can come from the excitement of being able to create something new; to put into use all the techniques and technology that you have learned about and exercising the academic freedom that you may have been denied teaching courses designed by others.  Some may dread it because of the daunting amount of work necessary to design and implement a new course; often without extra time or pay to do it.

    Recently, I found myself in both the camps of joy and dread.  I was given the opportunity to develop the fully online version of Anatomy and Physiology at my college.  I have taught the subject many times, so I knew the course, the student population, and the resources well.  I had just completed courses myself about creating engaging online courses and I had lot of ideas ready to go.

    Then, I was begged to revamp an old course in Human Diseases, a course I have not taught before, knew little about the student population or resources, and just had an old syllabus to go by.  It also had to be changed from a 16-week semester to an 8-week term.  And oh, by the way, it started in two weeks.  Ugh.

    So, there I was, designing two different courses and I had two vastly different attitudes about it.  With the time crunch, I had to be very deliberate about how I invested the time I had.  Human nature had me wanting to spend all my time on the course I was excited about.  That felt good.  It was fun to me.  But I also had a responsibility to produce a good course for the other about which I was less excited.

    For a moment, I sat there with the world of possibilities swirling before me.  Syllabi, readings, PowerPoints, videos, delivery platforms, assignments, labs, quizzes, exams and more piled up inside my head, threatening to bury me under the weight of the time needed to create them while each rallied for my attention first.  It was hard to know where to start!

    Then I remembered the work of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe called Understanding by Design in which they recommend that instead of starting at the beginning, I should start at the end.  Their strategy called Backward Design, also called backward planning or backward mapping, is a process meant to be used to design learning experiences and instructional techniques to achieve specific learning goals.


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  • Making students responsible for their learning

    by Alan Shapiro

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    Many of you have had this kind of email from a student:

    “I am not sure why I got a 78% on the assignment. I followed the instructions correctly and yet the MyLab product graded it wrong. Why did I get these questions wrong? I think something is wrong with the MyLab or Mastering Product. I need you to look at this now and change my grade.”

    Many students will blame the system or something external instead of looking at themselves as the reason for not doing well on course assignments. Trying to make students responsible for their own learning is not an easy task. Providing feedback on these assignments is essential to shifting the focus of learning to the student.

    Feedback can be best described within the web article titled, The Importance of Feedback for Student Learning, as “Feedback is commentary on the student work, individualized to best accommodate for the needs of each student, personally” (Sources).

    The next question that arises is how can you make students review your feedback? One way according to the Khan Academy is to, “…empower and drive students as they’re learning is to encourage them to monitor their own progress. This allows learners to track their own improvement, figure out what they need extra help on, and set their own goals” (Academy). Making students monitor their own progress can lead to better student success.

    All Pearson MyLab and Mastering products have some form of feedback that students can use to help enhance their understanding why they received their grade on an assignment. It is important for you as a faculty using the product to understand the type of feedback provided and encourage your student to use it. As the faculty advisor for MyLab IT, I will highlight in depth the type of feedback provided within MyLab IT. I will also point out some of the learning science behind MyLab Math. I encourage you to contact the Faculty Advisor at Pearson to learn more about the type of feedback in each of the MyLab Products.

    Type of Feedback found in MyLab IT

    Within MyLab IT, there are three types of assessments, Simulations, Grader Projects, and Objective Based Quizzes. Simulations take the student into a simulated Word, Excel, Access, or PowerPoint environment. Students are asked to complete specific skills related to the MS Office products such as inserting images in Word or creating formulas in Excel. With Grader Projects, students download a set files that include an instruction document and starting file. Students then work offline within the actual MS Office application to complete the project. Students then come back into MyLab IT and upload their document for grading.

    There are two types of feedback provided within the Simulations, methods to complete, and student actions. The methods to complete helps the student understand all the methods possible to complete the skill within the simulation. This type of feedback helps the student understand all the ways they could have completed the task if they got it wrong. If multiple attempts are allowed, the students can then try the task again making sure to use one of the methods to complete the task.

    Student actions allows the student to view a movie of exactly what they did within the simulation task. Many students using MyLab IT will say they keep doing it right, but it kept being marked wrong. The student actions can show them that they were doing the task wrong. See more on Student Actions here

    The feedback within Grader Projects helps the students know why they were marked wrong on specific instructions. One type of feedback is called the Scorecard. This feedback shows the student which instruction they wrong and by clicking on the dropdown arrow to see exactly what they did that was wrong. The other type of feedback within Grader Projects is called a Live Comment report. This report is similar to you marking up a document where the student got things wrong and providing comments as to why it was wrong. However, this markup is done by MyLab IT. See more on Grader Projects here..

    Type of Feedback found in MyLab Math

    Thank you to Bonnie Rosenblatt, Faculty Advisor for MyLab Math, for providing the screen shots and information about the feedback found within MyLab Math. Instructors can add comments to individual questions within an assignment. Adding these comments can encourage the student to do better on the next assignment or to understand why they got the question wrong.

    Please visit the website, The learning science behind MyLab Math, to learn more about how MyLab Math empowers students.

    Making your student responsible for their own learning will make them a better student and to a better worker when they get out into the work world. When students send you an email and says that something went wrong, it was not my fault that I got something wrong, please encourage them to research the why on their own. They can use the feedback built into the MyLab and Mastering products to help them be a better learner.

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  • What does it take to be a super innovator?

    by Pearson

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    Institutional leaders are looking for the next big idea — the ability to leave behind a legacy of innovation and student success. But what does innovation mean? For some it means scaling high-tech platforms that promote personal learning approaches, for others it’s redefining traditional course materials to more modern, affordable and sustainable options.

    In a recent report published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled, “The Innovation Imperative”, they share information and insights on the topic of innovation, including what it looks like in higher education, barriers to progress, and an in-depth look at what students really think about it.

    Arizona State University (ASU)

    How can you integrate online with the rest of your institution, and align everyone’s incentives for success?

    It takes the ability to scale

    Ranked #1 in the nation for innovation by U.S. News and World Report for five years running, ASU provides a number of opportunities for its students to get the most out of technology and creativity.

    Innovation at work:

    • ASU Online, a fully online degree program, scaled from 8,200 to 41,000 students in six years, as its portfolio of programs has grown from 33 to 173.1.
    • Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an innovative partnership with a large corporation, covers tuition for students who work there 20 hours/week.
    • ASU Prep Digital, a college readiness program, allows high school students to start prepping now through a blend of high school and university coursework.

    A centerpiece of ASU’s innovation strategy is that scaling isn’t just about the number of programs. It’s about evaluating your marketing efforts to recruit ever-larger numbers of students.

    Michael M. Crow, the university’s president since 2002, believes the role of institutions like his is to “find ways to massively innovate” to ensure that growing numbers of students can have high-quality educational opportunities.

    Western Governors University (WGU)

    How do you set costs to optimize enrollment, serve students, and sustain your program?

    It takes return on investment

    Gone are the days of brick and mortar as the only model for higher ed. As the nation’s first online nonprofit university, Western Governors University’s programs are delivered solely online, meeting the needs of today’s non-traditional student body, allowing them to graduate faster and at a lower cost.

    Innovation at work:

    • The University only offers degrees in business, IT, teacher education, and health care. Through this specialization, WGU is able to serve more students at lower costs.
    • A competency-based education model allows students to advance upon mastery making education accessible to more students, and better preparing America’s workforce.
    • A unique faculty and instructional model where different people are responsible for monitoring a student’s progress helps lower administrative costs.

    Low tuition is one of WGU’s hallmarks because, as its president, Scott Pulsipher, has said, affordability “increases the access for so many to be served.”

    Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    How can you differentiate and future-proof both new and existing online programs?

    It takes adaptability

    The world we’re in right now requires adaptive change, particularly when it comes to lifelong learning — no matter what that looks like. To meet this demand, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) has established one of the biggest online-education operations of any college in the country, with an enrollment of more than 120,000.

    Innovation at work:

    • SNHU has been recognized for its pioneering work in serving refugees overseas.
    • Its Shapiro Library Innovation Lab & Makerspace supports students, faculty, and staff in exploring new technologies, learning new skills, and developing innovation.
    • College for America, its partnership program with employers, provides low-cost, high-quality education for working adults.

    The university aims to be ready for the changing needs of students by, in the words of its president, Paul LeBlanc, “future proofing” the institution.

    Learn how you can make your mark through the adoption of innovative practices.

    Information from this report comes from The Innovation Imperative by The Chronicle of Higher Education 2019.

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  • Sweet chili lime pistachios? In my classroom?

    by Diane Hollister

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    Sweet chili lime pistachios. Yes, they are real; and they are addictive. One of my team members told me about them, and because I’m a pistachio lover and a chili lover, I had to try them. Yum! I’m a sucker for Tex-Mex flavors, and this one got me. Like many of you, I tend to eat lunch and snacks at my desk, so I need to be careful my laptop doesn’t end up with chili in the keyboard!

    When I first heard about sweet chili pistachios — maybe you did this, too — I kind of debated whether I really wanted to try them. Sometimes we read or hear about combinations of foods that don’t sound so good, like the Scandinavian chicken / banana dish my aunt recently sent me as a joke. Ew.  Sometimes we try the new combo and discover it’s really amazing. And other times … well, it may have been better to ignore it! (Kudos to the first person who put peanut butter and chocolate together … but why would anyone want that chicken / banana combo or a mayonnaise-and-peanut-butter sandwich?!)

    You might justifiably wonder just how this foodie blog has anything to do with student engagement. Bear with me a moment or two while we explore some thoughts here. Like those addictive sweet chili lime pistachios, sometimes we need to spice things up to get students engaged. Sometimes we have to be willing to try something new, or look at something innovative to capture their attention. Sometimes we need to seek out new resources to share with them.

    First, it can be helpful to think about how we teach and how students learn. Take a look at a book like Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide. Read Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning if you haven’t yet done so, or Powerful Teaching. Whet your own appetite with practical applications for the classroom based on solid cognitive research. Consider tools like retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and feedback and how these can be used to help your students learn better — and keep them interested. Our excitement, and our own growth mindset, can help students be more engaged.

    Next, explore technology tools (or even non-techy tools like index cards) that allow you to track student responses and get real-time feedback on muddy points. Look at tools like Pearson’s Learning Catalytics.  

    Then, take a look at the research about emotional intelligence, grit, mindset, and related qualities. As simplistic as it may sound, many students aren’t sure how to schedule portions of their days. They don’t realize the importance of mindfulness vs. the multi-tasking that they are so familiar with. They need specific, targeted feedback and modeling to develop metacognition skills.

    Don’t forget resources for the students. Maybe they are not engaged because they don’t even know how to be a student. Share www.studygs.net. Students might really appreciate the Learning Scientists blogs. A recent one explores the importance of explaining things to help cement memory and learning. Earlier this summer, another blog outlined research about note-taking. Giving such tools to students can empower them, and drive them to succeed  which can engage them more deeply in the learning process both in- and outside of the classroom.

    Something to keep in mind is that we don’t need a lot of chili powder to spice things up — many of these changes don’t need a lot of time, and they don’t take a ton of effort. Maybe you’re even doing some of them already. 🙂 A little bit can go a long way. And humor helps. Check out articles like this one: Examining the energizing effects of humor: The influence of humor on persistence behavior. 

    Time for a snack!

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  • Online proctoring just got easier!

    by Dr. Calandra Davis

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    Online faculty often require their students to take proctored tests to help safeguard the academic integrity of their courses. Research has shown that students regularly cheat in courses they do not value, which are usually fact-based courses such as math and science (Anderman, 2017; Trenholm, 2008).

    In a position paper published in 2012, the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges recommended that instructors of online math courses require students to take at least two proctored exams that constituted a minimum of 50% of students’ course averages. The idea was for at least half of students’ course grades to be based on assessments that students were observed completing.  While a review of the literature on academic integrity and the propensity for cheating in online classes is beyond the scope of this article, it suffices to say that proctored testing is an important issue and a key requirement for many online faculty.

    Arranging for online students to take proctored tests can be a tedious process. Students unable to take tests on campus with their instructors due to time or location must work with their instructors to identify acceptable alternative locations. Furthermore, instructors must send their test information to each approved proctor so that students can be given supervised access to their tests.

    For instructors teaching multiple online classes with multiple students in each class needing testing accommodations, the logistics and the preparation of forms can be quite time consuming.  However, a new and very easy option for proctoring is now available for instructors using MyLab!

    Pearson recently entered into a partnership with ProctorU, a well-known provider of online test proctoring since 2008. Once an institution secures a contract with ProctorU, instructors are given an institutional key which they use to enable the ProctorU feature in their MyLab courses; this is similar to how the Lockdown Browser works.

    Once enabled, ProctorU can be required for selected tests or quizzes.  The process for students could not be simpler; students log into their MyLab courses and access their tests or quizzes as they normally would. When students press the Start Test button for a test with ProctorU enabled, a window pops up that walks students through the steps to start their proctored test experience.

    After completing the multifaceted identity verification process that includes biometric keystroke analysis, facial recognition, and challenge questions (www.proctoru.com), students are monitored virtually by their webcam, microphone, and ProctorU software. Both the students and their computer screens are recorded while taking the test, and any questionable activity is flagged so it can be reviewed by the instructor either in real time or after the test has been taken.

    This “auto proctoring,” which uses artificial intelligence to identify and flag suspicious behavior, has a one-time cost per course that is significantly lower than what students would pay for live proctoring of a single test at a physical location.  In addition to its low cost, the ProctorU integration with MyLab allows students to schedule their tests for any day and time. So instructors using MyLab can now easily incorporate proctored assessments into their courses without compromising convenience for their online students.

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  • Using screencasting for student feedback

    by Alan Shapiro

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    Here is a scenario that I am sure most of you have experienced in your teaching career:

    Sam is one of your students in your course and is having some issues with one of the assignments. He sends you an email asking for help. You respond with what you think is a detailed answer. Sam responds and asks more questions. You then respond again spending more time and energy typing another detailed answer. Unfortunately, Sam emails again still not understanding what he is supposed to do for the lesson.

    Now let’s look at this scenario again but add something you may not have thought of doing:

    Sam is one of your students in your course and is having some issues with one of the assignments. He sends you an email asking for help. You do a short video and audio of using your computer screen detailing and showing Sam what he is supposed to for the lesson. Sam responds and tells you that he is all set and understands what to do for the assignment.

    In the second scenario, by providing the video to the student, he can quickly see and understand the assignment. These short videos are called Screencasting. According Educause’s 7 things you should know about Screencasting, the definition of screencasting is “a screen capture of actions on a user’s computer screen, typically with accompanying audio.”

    The above scenario where student is asking a question via email provides just one example of how screencasting can be an effective learning and communication tool. It does not matter if the course is online, face to face, or blended because students will always send you questions.

    In other situations, using screencasting for reviewing students’ work can be very powerful. As a personal example, I teach a Web Design class. My students need to complete several activities each chapter where they are building a website using HTML and Cascading Style Sheets.

    Each chapter builds on the previous, so it is important for my students to master each chapters’ concepts. I have a rubric that I use to grade the student’s work but, in some cases, doing a screencast to point out the issues with the student’s work is much more effective.

    In following video that is 2:32 minutes long I can show and explain to the student what is wrong with their web page and show what it should correct. This is much more effective than typing up a long email.

    Screencasting Software

    You will need screencasting software in order to create them. In this section, I will outline a paid and free version of screencasting software.

    SnagIt from TechSmith

    Snagit is the best option for screencasting if you willing to pay a little bit. The education price for Snagit is $29.95 and worth every dime.

    Snagit not only will do screencasting but you will also be able to capture images on your computer. Please watch the short video below about Snagit. I captured from the TechSmith site and used my computer audio to capture the sound. I highly recommend spending the money for this software.


    Screen-0-Matic is a free screencasting software. There are some restrictions on the length of the videos which are limited to 15 minutes maximum. This should not be a problem when doing short screencasting videos. Plus, there is a branded logo from the company on all their free screencasts. Again, this may be an issue. Here is a quick example of a Screen-o-Matic video.

    Screencasting can be a very powerful way of communicating with your students. An important benefit of screencasting for students is the ability to watch the video as many times as they wish. Students can also stop and watch portions of the video. It is very worth your time and energy to explore the world of screencasting.

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  • The search for a high quality CTE

    by Stephen DeWitt

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    What is high-quality career and technical education? For years, policymakers, business leaders, education professionals and others have referenced and called for high-quality CTE programs. But until recently, there has been no comprehensive, evidence-based definition of this term.

    To bring clarity to this conversation around high-quality CTE and help CTE educators and administrators develop and improve the quality of their CTE programs of study, the Association for Career and Technical Education® has created a comprehensive, research-based program of study framework and tested that framework through a pilot study. The ACTE® Quality CTE Program of Study Framework includes a companion program self-evaluation instrument, available in print and online, that is intended to be used by CTE educators and administrators as they seek to evaluate and improve their CTE programs.

    The framework defines 92 criteria across the following 12 elements, a set of evidence-based standards that address the breadth of activities that impact CTE program delivery, implementation and quality:

    • Standards-aligned and Integrated Curriculum
    • Sequencing and Articulation
    • Student Assessment
    • Prepared and Effective Program Staff
    • Engaging Instruction
    • Access and Equity
    • Facilities, Equipment, Technology and Materials
    • Business and Community Partnerships
    • Student Career Development
    • Career and Technical Student Organizations
    • Work-based Learning
    • Data and Program Improvement

    This voluntary tool can be used for program self-evaluation, program improvement and to encourage secondary-postsecondary collaboration. The framework’s elements and criteria are designed to be as mutually exclusive as possible. The online program self-evaluation instrument can provide automatically calculated scores and direct users to the High-quality CTE Tools online library for areas identified as needing improvement. This library includes strategies, case studies, professional development models and toolkits to help practitioners develop and support success within each element.

    The framework and self-evaluation may be especially useful related to new local needs assessment provisions required in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the newly reauthorized version of the federal law supporting a system of CTE throughout the nation. State and local CTE providers are currently developing plans to implement the federal law at the local level, including the comprehensive local needs assessment.

    Additionally, ACTE is incorporating the quality framework into its efforts to recognize and disseminate CTE best practices through our professional development activities and awards program. This is the first of several blogs that will explore some of the elements within the Quality CTE Program of Study Framework. You can find more details and tools online at www.acteonline.org/high-quality-CTE.

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  • Successful design strategies for online courses

    by Terry Austin

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    In order for an online course to be successful, one must first divorce their thinking from the traditional face-to-face classroom, and consider several key components of the online course experience. Let’s focus on the big items…

    Lecture videos 

    One of the most natural starting places for creating an online course is the lecture. This can of course take many forms. The lazy alternative is to simply tell students to read the chapter, but this is, as one might expect, unfair and inadequate. Our students look to us to explain, and that is, of course, one of our primary jobs.

    Many instructors make their initial videos mimic what they might do in front of a class, and some even attempt to record their actual classroom lectures. For quite a few reasons this is a bad idea. Let’s address a few of these issues.

    If you actually record your classroom, this will include extraneous comments and questions from the students in the room that day. This does not provide an “inclusive environment”, as some might argue. What it does provide is audio distractions for students trying to focus on critical material.

    Yet another problem with this style of lecture capture is length. Ideal videos for an online course should be “small bites”. Each video should address a discrete topic (commonly a chapter section) and no more. Ideal time on a video of this sort falls between 3 – 10 minutes. This provides a few key benefits. Students don’t have to remember where they were in an hour-long lecture should they need to leave/return. Students can easily watch/rewatch a short video in available time even with a busy schedule.

    How should you actually capture your lecture? There are several useful tools/techniques that can serve this purpose.

    At hand for most instructors is PowerPoint narration. Both PowerPoint and Apple Keynote permit users to record narration on each slide. While you certainly can then share narrated presentations with your students, that relies on students having the original software to play the presentations. An easier option is to simply export a video. Powerpoint: File>Export>Create Video. Keynote: File>Export to>Movie.

    A more robust option would entail use of screen capture (sometimes called “screencasting” software such as Camtasia (Windows or Mac) or Screenflow (Mac). These apps allow capture of the entire computer screen or a portion of the screen. More importantly, they permit robust editing of the video after the initial recording. This provides an easy remedy for an instructor who has made an error during the lecture. They can simply pause and correct the error. One would then remove the error in postproduction prior to saving the final video.

    Since we have addressed the idea of editing, we should bring up the idea of closed captions. Any instructor providing lecture videos should be extremely aware of remaining ADA compliant with any materials produced. Both Camtasia and Screenflow have features that allow you to insert true closed captions. One strategy that makes this process easier is lecturing from a pre-written script. This will enable you to simply cut/paste the actual words read from the script into the captions track during editing.

    Good Audio

    One cannot have “good video” in absence of “good audio”. To that end, it is strongly recommended to not simply rely on the microphone built into your computer. Bad audio is distracting and is a disservice to your audience.

    You may wish to consider either a headset mic such as the Logitech H390 Noise Canceling headset (around $25 from online retailers).

    Alternatively, you may want to consider a more robust studio microphone such as the Rode Podcaster. Going with this option, you may wish to include a boom arm to mount the mic to your desk. This configuration is a bit more expensive (around $350 total for mic and arm) but provides exceptional audio quality. As a side benefit, this certainly puts the online professor into “recording mode” when you pull the microphone boom arm over in front of you. As a user of a system like this, there is a lot to be said for the level of focus that a good microphone brings to your workflow.

    Online Homework

    One hallmark of an online course is, of course, online homework. Your publisher’s platform is an ideal place to go for ready-to-go assignments. Depending on your discipline you may wish to consider Mastering, MyLab, or Revel. Your publisher also has Customer Support teams standing ready to help you learn all about designing effective assignments.

    Ideally for each chapter, one should consider pre-lecture, mid-lecture (tough topics), and post-lecture (chapter quiz) assignments.Some instructors express concern as they first begin assigning online homework that they don’t want to assign “too much homework”. That approach is actually counter-productive.

    Ask yourself: How many times have students come to you to ask, “What else can I do to study?” Now remind yourself, have you ever said to students: “For every hour you are in the classroom, you should spend 2-3 hours outside of class studying.” It is actually common for an online course to have more homework assignments than a similar face-to-face course.

    A final consideration should be point value. Students won’t be invested in assignments that are simply busy work that don’t contribute to their overall outcome. A good target range would be 10 – 25% of total course grade. I myself set a value of my students’ online homework at 20% of their semester grade.

    Securing high stakes exams 

    Most schools will require some form of proctoring on high stakes exams. These are the “traditional exams” we’re all familiar with. There are several options for having these exams proctored for your online course.

    If you happen to be teaching a discipline that uses MyLab you’re in luck. MyLab has a partnership with ProctorU, an online proctoring service that watches both what happens on a student’s screen and watches the student and immediate environment through the computer camera. In this form, ProctorU is utilizing an artificial intelligence engine rather than an actual human proctor. At present, this option is not available in either Mastering or Revel, thus proctored testing in those platforms is not currently an option.

    For schools that insist on proctored exams there are a few options.

    On-campus Testing Centers are available at most campuses, and students of those campuses can usually test for free. If an online student does not live near the instructor they may still utilize a campus testing center near their home, but they may have to pay a per-exam fee. In such cases, students should provide contact information to their instructor and obtain permission to use the testing center at the alternate school. In either case, details needed to take the exam should be communicated to such a testing center by the instructor. Exams can either be paper based, run on publisher sites (Mastering, Revel, Pegasus, MyLab) under password protection, or via questions uploaded to the school LMS, again under password protection with Testing Center staff entering the password which remains unknown to students.

    The second option would be a proctoring service such as ProctorU.com. These companies provide pay-by-exam services for students (free for instructors to set up) and involve a human proctor watching the student, immediate environment, and student’s computer screen. The service provides incident reports including screenshots, video, and descriptions of incidents. The cost to the student depends on the amount of time permitted by instructors. My own students typically pay about $30 per exam. It is worth noting that the pay scale is based SOLELY on the maximum time an instructor permits. In particular a student cannot rush through the exam for a cheaper session. So, there is no monetary incentive for them to finish an exam early. Most students don’t consider this their primary exam strategy, but rather use it in a pinch when they can’t come to campus.

    Online Discussions Options

    One critical component of an online class is providing a way for your students to feel connected to the instructor and their classmates. There are several options for this component of the class.

    Publisher platforms (Mastering, Revel, MyLab, Pegasus) all include asynchronous discussion forums, as do most of the common LMS platforms such as Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Canvas, and Moodle. Many, if not most of these, require the student to be logged into the platform in order to see current and past posts, or to reply.

    An interesting alternative solution can be found in app-based discussion platforms such as GroupMe. I began using GroupMe a few years ago and it has revolutionized my online class discussions. At the beginning of the semester I create a Class – GroupMe group and send the invitation link to my student email list.

    GroupMe can be accessed in a browser, as well as on-device apps. Students can configure GroupMe to send them group messages as SMS texts. Students and instructors can post messages that appear in real time. The history of the discussion is available to scroll back through all the way back to the creation of the group. Participants can post text and images. The group creator can create group polls. As exam time approaches I post sample questions for students to answer and encourage them to create their own. What ensues is often an impromptu study session.

    This app creates an on-device environment that most of my millennial students seem to relate to, in a communication form that speaks to them at a core level.

    I have had students over the past 2-3 years tell me that they feel more connected to me and other students in my online classes than they have ever felt in any face-to-face class. So, if you are considering creating an online course, stick with these core principles:

    • Produce a lecture component that is easy to consume and ADA compliant.
    • Design and assign homework that contributes to your students’ success.
    • Find a way to securely deliver high-stakes exams that satisfies your administration and is accessible to your students.
    • Communicate! The students in your online course should not feel as if they are in a vacuum. They should feel a part of a community who are all on a learning journey together with their instructor leading the way through the course material


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  • 5 role models and the lessons they continue to teach generations

    by Pearson

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    We teamed up with researchers from Nesta and the Oxford Martin School to understand the top skills that every student will need to flourish in their careers — learning strategies, psychology, instructing, social perceptiveness, and sociology and anthropology. See how leaders throughout history have best exemplified these skills while making an impact on our lives through their actions, ideals, and messages  — whether we knew it or not.

    Learning Strategies: Fred Rogers

    On May 9, 1969, during an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers asked black police officer, Officer Clemmons, to cool his feet in his wading pool. At first, Clemmons declined, saying he didn’t have a towel, but Rogers offered his. This small act broke the color barrier that existed at the time as racial tensions were rising. By sharing both the water and the towel, the men exposed the bigotry of not allowing black people access to pools and other establishments.

    In 2018, Clemmons said, “It was a definite call to social action on Fred’s part. That was his way of speaking about race relations in America.” This small act is just one example of the messages of love, kindness, and acceptance that Rogers taught children (and adults), while at the same time sending a much larger message to the public via media. 1

    Psychology: Dr. Joyce Brothers

    During the 1960’s, sexual satisfaction and menopause were considered taboo subjects for television and radio, but Dr. Joyce Brothers knew they were front and center in women’s minds. As a result, she started her television show, where she gave out psychological advice on relationships, family, sexuality, and self-empowerment, while also answering audience questions.

    Brothers created the “The Brothers System,” which stresses that if a woman is self-loving and takes care of her own needs, then she will be able to better care for her husband and family. She also encouraged equal relationships that allow for wives to ask their husbands for what they need to be personally satisfied in a marriage. 2

    Instructing: Anne Sullivan

    When Anne Sullivan was only 20 years old, she helped Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, make associations between words and physical objects. Sullivan finger-spelled the word “water” on Keller’s hand as she ran water over her other hand. Keller made a major breakthrough, connecting the concept of sign language with the objects around her. With Sullivan’s help, Keller was able to learn almost 600 words, most of the multiplication tables, and how to read Braille in only a few months. 3

    Social Perceptiveness: Nelson Mandela

    During the 1950s Steve Bloom’s parents, who were anti-apartheid activists, knew Nelson Mandela. They told their son the story of the time Mandela saw a white woman stranded with her broken car in Johannesburg. He stopped and offered his help. After he was able to fix her car, she thanked him by offering a sixpence. He declined, saying he was just happy to help. She asked why a black man would help her if it wasn’t for the money. “Because you were stranded at the side of the road,” he replied. Mandela’s life as an anti-apartheid activist, politician and philanthropist was full of moments of kindness, humility, and courage like this one. 4

    Sociology & Anthropology: Dr. Jane Goodall

    While studying chimpanzees in Tanzania in 1960, Jane Goodall saw a large male chimpanzee take a twig, bend it, strip it of its leaves, stick it into the nest, and spoon termites into his mouth. This was the first time any creature, besides a human, was seen making and using a tool.

    “It was hard for me to believe,” she recalls. “At that time, it was thought that humans, and only humans, used and made tools. I had been told from school onwards that the best definition of a human being was man the tool-maker — yet I had just watched a chimp tool-maker in action.”

    As her work continued, Goodall found that chimpanzees (our nearest evolutionary cousins) also embraced, hugged, and kissed each other, as well as experienced adolescence, developed powerful mother-and-child bonds, and used political chicanery to get what they wanted. It is thanks to Goodall and her work that we now know the many similarities between humans and chimps and have much greater knowledge of chimpanzee behavior. 5

    Contemporary role models

    Today, people in various fields are exhibiting these same skills and making their own impact.
    Learn more about these skills and the modern people we can look to as examples.



    1. Kettler, Sara. “Fred Rogers Took a Stand Against Racial Inequality When He Invited a Black Character to Join Him in a Pool,” Biography, May 24, 2019.
    2. Isaacs, Shalyn. “Joyce Brothers,”Feminist Voices, 2016.
    3. Biography.com Editors.“Anne Sullivan Biography,” Biography,April 12, 2019.
    4. Paramaguru, Kharunya. “5 Great Stories About Nelson Mandela’s Humility, Kindness and Courage,” Time, December 06, 2013.
    5. McKie, Robin. “Chimps with everything: Jane Goodall’s 50 years in the jungle,” The Guardian, June 26, 2010.


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  • Call me by my name

    by Brooke Quinlan

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    While in graduate school at West Virginia University, I was a teaching assistant for college algebra. The course coordinator gave me some of the best teaching advice I was ever given. It boils down to two magic words: seating chart. Given that most freshmen classes are held in large auditoriums, the coordinator thought it was important that the students felt like individuals in our small classes of 30. She was confident that the easiest way for us to learn their names was by using a seating chart.

    My initial reaction was, “What is this – elementary school?”, but she quickly won me over by saying we would let them choose their seat for the duration of the semester. I took her advice as a graduate student, and I continued the practice for the rest of my teaching career. I taught at a community college for 15 years, where our class sizes never exceeded 36 students. Every single semester, I gave the students one week to decide where they wanted to sit, and then on a previously-announced day of Week 2, I created the seating chart.

    It was always funny to see some students show up 20-30 minutes before class started that day so they could lock down their preferred seats. One semester, a very conscientious student missed class on the day I created the seating chart. When he showed up for the next class and realized that the only remaining seats were at the back of the room, he offered $100 to any student in the first two rows who would give up his or her seat for one in the back. To my utter surprise, only one person volunteered to swap seats!

    Seating charts serve a myriad of purposes for both the professor and the students. First, it allows the instructor to take attendance very quickly. Instead of calling roll, you simply look for empty seats. Since you know who is supposed to be in each seat, you immediately know who is absent. “Taking attendance” takes about 10 seconds. Second, it gives students the stability of knowing who will be sitting around them for the entire semester.

    After I create the seating chart, I usually say something like “OK, now it’s time to meet your new best friends! The people sitting next to you might help you study or let you copy their notes if you miss class. The least you can do is learn their names!” The classroom immediately began buzzing as students introduced themselves. They could refer to the person next to them by name instead of “that girl who sits on my left”.

    Lastly, the seating chart made it very easy for me to learn my students’ names. I referred to it when returning assignments, so I was typically able to learn all my students’ names within the first 3 weeks of the semester. I can’t tell you the number of times I would return tests around the 4th week of class and the students would say “How do you know my name? None of my teachers know my name!” They were delighted to not be anonymous in my classes.

    Originally, I created a “seat template” for each classroom I taught in and wrote down each student’s preferred name on his or her chosen “seat”. Eventually, my college adopted Canvas, which has an awesome feature called Roll Call Attendance. With Roll Call, you can bring up a blank, grid-like seating chart, then you drag and drop the student name from a list on the left to the appropriate “seat” on the right. It really sped things up on seating-chart-creation day!

    Once the seating chart is created, you can then take attendance every day by logging into Canvas on a computer or using their phone app. I always told my students “If you see me using my phone during class, I’m not texting! I’m just taking attendance.” If you are fortunate enough to teach relatively small classes, I hope you will consider implementing a seating chart. I think you will find it to be a huge benefit to yourself and your students.

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  • What's next for education? Voices of career and technical education students and teachers

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    Career and Technical Education (CTE) is emerging as a platform for educational innovation in schools. CTE and academic courses are now part and parcel in preparing students for the rigors of learning, living, working, and playing in the 21st century.

    On June 17, 2019, Pearson CTE Specialists Deborah Noakes and Jim Brazell presented a workshop titled Certified Futures at Certiport’s 2019 Certified Conference. Certiport,® a Pearson business, is dedicated to helping learners excel and succeed through certification.

    At Certified, teachers were asked to write haiku poems where the first stanza reflects the state of learning, the second line illustrates a key change, and the third line exhibits the final state of learning after the change. A haiku is a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five. Below are select Haiku from students and teachers:

    Student Haiku

    My mom made me come
    My teacher cares about me
    Now I want to go

    My phone is my life
    I learned how to innovate
    Tech is my life line

    I’m not an artist
    Teacher, teach me Photoshop
    I am an artist now

    Teacher Haiku

    Code on screens
    Inanimate life takes shape
    Building the future

    Here, there, and everywhere
    Everyone needs to certify

    The test is a bore
    Entertainment we implore
    Too stressed for high stakes tests

    Empowering students
    Embrace the future

    Apathy vs Enthusiasm
    Daily grind of change
    Students seek relevance
    Teaching relevance is key
    Real world experiences
    Certify them all

    The world is ready
    Education is behind
    Time to shift the mind

    Students bored in class
    Active engaging lessons
    Transform the classroom

    Graduation sparks
    Those that certify before
    They face the future

    These haiku exemplify the key shift in 21st century learning: The shift from axiomatic (self-evident truth) to inductive (using observation and experience to move from specific to broader conclusions) presentation of curriculum. This strategy worked in the 1960’s as a platform for the United States to reform teaching physics as a national priority motivated by the Space Race.

    The shift in pedagogy engender improvements to education by modeling the way experts work and think affording students the opportunity to approach the content knowledge in the same way that experts approach problems in the field. Today, we call this inquiry-driven, project-based learning and for many states and schools the method of assessment is industry certification. CTE is answering this call for innovation. Learn more about Pearson CTE programs.

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  • Neuroscience and my classroom: Can it really help?

    by Diane Hollister

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    Wonder if you are the only instructor trying to figure out what might help your students learn? Wading through emails and articles and questioning what really works? Could you use a cup of coffee right now, and a chat with another instructor? Grab a cup….and read on.

    Today’s educator is bombarded with a lot of information. With the advent of the internet, information is literally at your fingertips all the time. Some might think that makes it easier to learn about the latest research and techniques, but in many ways we educators know it’s harder and more overwhelming. It’s time consuming to weed through “propaganda,” false news, misinterpreted data, ads, and more to determine what really works.  We’ve all had those moments where we read something or heard someone speak and thought to ourselves, “That person has never been in the classroom with real students,” or “She has no idea about little students are engaged,” or “His students are not like mine.”

    You can find many articles about Generation X, Y, Z students, or the i-Generation, or whatever you want to name them. You’ll also find common themes; today’s students have short attention spans. They are very used to technology and often have little or no interest in investing a lot of effort into learning. They are motivated by a “gaming” approach to learning. They often have poor study skills. And so on. Add that to the proven untrue theory of learning styles, and today’s educator is left wondering…what on earth am I supposed to do?! How do I find the balance, or is there no way to achieve a Goldilocks state in my classroom? Does anything work?

    The answer is a resounding YES!

    Want an easy-to-read resource chuck full of ideas? Try Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. What’s really nice with this small text is each chapter is a stand-alone and you can read in small chunks about things such as interleaving, spacing, retrieval tools, and more. You can also check out the CIRCLE website, or the Center for Integrative Research in Cognition, Learning, and Education.

    Did you ever wander into a room and then ask yourself why you’re there? Try to remember where you filed something in your Google Drive? Attempted to recall what someone mentioned at a meeting last week? Any time we engage in activities like that, we’re doing the same thing our students are doing when they try to recall what you taught as they complete an assignment. Retrieval practice is a learning strategy where we focus on getting information out. It’s even more powerful when combined with additional research-based strategies including spacing, interleaving, and feedback-driven metacognition. One of the most powerful tools in learning is effective retrieval, and there’s an entire website devoted to research on it. You can subscribe to get updates and new studies sent right to your inbox.

    You can also get quick infographics to summarize these topics for yourself and students, as well as blogs for you and students, on a site hosted by Learning Scientists. Curious about the latest information about note-taking or wondering if naps can help you focus better? Do you think learning styles really make a difference? (Hint, we already mentioned they don’t; but how do you respond to those who think they do?) There are some great blogs about all sorts of topics…and they are supported by research not just a popular idea.

    What about Bloom’s Taxonomy? How does that tie in with retrieval practice? Dr. Pooja Agarwal examined whether retrieval practice could do more than just support the acquisition of factual information. She wanted to test the assumption that students should first focus on the lower levels of the taxonomy before higher-order thinking can be accomplished. Dr. Agarwal directly compared retrieval practice with the use of lower vs. higher-order thinking to determine if that was the case.  What do you think happened? You can probably guess by the fact that retrieval practice is so powerful. Read more here.

    Are you also a bit of a research junkie? You might want to check out this book; I’m partway through Powerful Teaching and keep finding all sorts of gold nuggets in there. In theory, I’m using it to augment planning a training for later this year and using info from the book but must admit I find myself reading and then doing additional research just to learn more. I love learning about cognitive science and psychology. The best part is, this book shows us how to use it. We can learn how to filter what works and what doesn’t.

    Hmm, I think it’s time to refill the cup and dig in….let’s talk again soon!

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  • Teaching corequisite courses with MyLab Math

    by Stephanie Walker, MyLabs Math & Stats Faculty Advisor, Pearson

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    To better serve students who require developmental courses, many schools are considering corequisite courses (also called pathways or a similar term) to help their students be successful. So whether you are already teaching a corequisite course, planning one, or just thinking about it, you are most likely also looking for products that will help increase your students’ success. Let’s take a look at a few helpful MyLab features:

    • Foster student success through encouraging a growth mindset. A new Mindset module is available in recently released (2018 copyright and newer) MyLab Math courses. You can find this handy tool under the “Student Success” or “Skills for Success” area of your course, or you can assign related media questions to the students through the Assignment Manager. You can also use the Mindset website to test your students’ growth mindset.
    • While exploring the Skills for Success area of your course, don’t miss the College Success module. Encourage students to achieve their potential through topics such as “Time Management” and “Reading to Learn.”
    • Supplement your teaching with workbooks and note-taking guides. The experience varies by author, but the majority of titles from Basic Math through Applied Calculus have some form of workbook or note-taking guide available.
    • Fill gaps in student knowledge by using one of the many integrated review courses. These courses come with prebuilt assignments that will adapt to the individual student’s skill set. You will also have access to integrated review worksheets, many of which start with a mini-lesson. Again, this experience varies slightly by author.
    • Let students get just-in-time assistance while doing homework with Skill Builder. Skill Builder lives inside the homework engine and targets the prerequisite skills students may need. This means students will be offered prerequisite skill recommendations as they work through their homework.
    • Combine Skill Builder with Personalized Homework for an even stronger learning experience.
    • Assign a Companion Study Plan to give your students additional targeted practice, whether it’s optional or for a grade.
    • Engage your students with Learning Catalytics (and throw out those old clickers!).
    • Help your students answer the question, “Why do we need to know this?” using MathTalk videos in MyLab.
    • Easily manage your gradebook and assignments in co-mingled courses using assignment and student tagging.

    Designing a corequisite course?  Not sure where to start? The Roadmap to Corequisite Redesign will give you an in-depth look at the logistics. Visit Pearson for an overview of the corequisite course solutions for math and statistics.

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  • Growth advice from an institutional leader

    by Pearson

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    Today, online programs make sense, but given growing competition, few institutions have the resources to launch or scale them alone. Take Duquesne University, for example.

    When Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow arrived as dean of Duquesne University’s School of Nursing, its online programs were already delivering world-class instruction — however, online enrollments had leveled off.

    This is where Duquesne saw opportunity.

    “We’d been really good at running a solid small-to-moderate-sized online program,” Glasgow said. “But today, success is about more than just a good program: institutions have to sell it, market it, and provide strong student support. Trying to do all that on their own can distract them from educating students. We needed an infusion of fiscal and human capital to attract candidates throughout the US.”

    As part of its due diligence, the university’s leadership found that institutions that work with Online Program Management (OPM) partners average better performance than those that keep programs in-house, and in 2016, we formed a partnership.

    If your institution is considering a deeper online commitment, Glasgow has some practical advice:

    • Clearly explain a potential partnership to stakeholders. Share what it will mean, what will not change, and how you’ll safeguard academic quality.
    • Prepare carefully. Help students and faculty prepare, and make sure students understand the workload upfront.
    • Identify potential “cracks” in your system. Look for places where small communication issues can become big problems as you scale.
    • Focus on quality improvement. Optimize assignments, improve consistency between courses, and ensure that student support is always available.

    The problems are solvable and the rewards are high.

    “We all know it’s a challenging time in higher education. So, being at a school that’s growing, where people are being offered good jobs and finding new opportunities, is most gratifying,” said Glasgow.

    Learn more about Duquesne and our partnership.

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  • Emerging Fields Q&A

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    Our webinar: Emerging fields of study: How to identify key target markets to grow and compete online, certainly generated a lot of buzz — and great feedback! In our last blog, we provided an overview of five emerging degree trends. In this one, we’d like to highlight five of the questions our presenters, Brian DeKemper, Director of Business Development, and Darcy Wilson, Associate Research Director, received following the presentation. (Note the time codes in case you want to listen to the complete answer in the webinar recording.)

    Watch the webinar

    [32:20] What’s the ROI for launching undergraduate versus graduate online programs?

    Brian: In terms of ROI for undergraduate program opportunities, we find that it is important to   leverage a suite of programs to target a broad spectrum of the addressable market. The reason for this is that competitive undergraduate programs typically have very competitive tuition rates, so in order to sustain the costs behind things like student support services and transfer credit evaluation services, you need to attract enough student volume to offset the costs of those extremely important, previously mentioned resources.

    Similar to our ASU or Maryville partnership models, we’ve found that, if students are looking for an undergraduate degree program, you’ll want to have enough variety in your portfolio to capture as many students as possible.

    The most important lesson is to start out by fully understanding the economics behind these things before you start developing programs. Make sure to know how much your own “internal” costs of instruction are and how your processes work for prospective student evaluation.

    Another important detail when it comes to ROI is student acquisition costs. If you have access to low cost leads that may come from  corporate partnerships, industry associations, or referrals — and you can attract students without spending a ton of money on direct marketing and lead acquisition, you’ll also find success ROI can be possible in the undergraduate space, but it is a competitive market, and there is narrow space for opportunity based on what you have to invest into the program.

    [34:53] What is the biggest mistake/s schools make when launching a new online program?

    Brian: I’d have to say the biggest mistake is when an institution has an idea baked before spending the right amount of time looking at the industry, evaluating competitors, talking to faculty, or their target audience. If you don’t try to keep your programs designed to be as nimble as possible, it’s hard to adjust to competition if you need to add a couple of concentrations or adjust tuition to be competitive. Keep an open mind about how to build and launch the program, because after the program is launched, making changes to react can be very challenging.

    Darcy: Success with emerging degrees requires the institution to create demand for the program by educating potential students about what the degree is, why it is important, and what it can do for them. Clear communication of degree purpose and the compelling focus areas that drive the program should help this cutting-edge program increase enrollments and thrive.

    [43:14] How do you learn the brand of your clients to really get them where they need to be?

    Brian: Any good (program management or marketing) company that understands why an institution is successful will work to understand the differentiated value of what the school offers. One of the things we do in every conversation we have, is really dive into a program assessment where we’re talking to the faculty and we’re trying to understand: what is the mission of this program, what is the ideal type of student you want to look for, and where do you want it to go in the future?

    Then, everyone in the room needs to align the answers to those questions to things like: is this something that students want? Is this (prospective student) market large enough so that we can get enough students to make this venture sustainable?

    We also hold institutional-specific sessions where we work to understand the university brand and how the school wants the brand to be portrayed. These conversations are fascinating because you find that many times academic program leaders and university marketing/communication/brand leaders don’t often have the opportunity to work together in such a direct way. We want to understand how we can do this in a unique and differentiated way that makes you stand out from another institution.

    [44:45] How is the OPM landscape changing in how they are partnering with universities?

    Brian: From our standpoint, the biggest thing that’s changing is the amount of competition and the way people seek out, compare, and evaluate online programs. There are a lot of companies popping up that specialize in different capabilities maybe disaggregated services or different kinds of service models. But, at the end of the day, we have found that we’re able to offer flexible program support services and flexible financial models to support the varying types of needs of an institution.

    I think that even the idea of how people (universities) go online has come full circle. Now, after 3–4 years of different competitors coming and going and various types of service models emerging, we find that it comes back to really understanding the student audience and where the job market is going. Educational attainment is extremely important and is a philosophical pillar of our company, but we also know that we serve students.

    Students care about value, career advancement, and following their passion. Sometimes all of those things don’t directly align with the legacy mindset of what “a degree” looks like. So, a lot of the changes in the OPM industry have been around how to make sure you can maximize the potential audience, from undergraduate to graduate, degree completion, and all the way through terminal degrees, leveraging all the things our partner schools do and what prospective institutions can do as well.

    There is a significant amount of evolution, and we’re happy to say that we’re seeing evolution on our side as well with the kinds of programs, or institutions frankly, that we work with — and the different types of models we use to help them go online.

    [48:02] Faculty can be quite wedded to an idea of what the curriculum may look like for a new degree and may be suspicious of thinking about degrees from a more marketing/business perspective. What are some ways you’ve found that worked well when working with faculty?

    Brian: I rely heavily on research and an institution’s competitive set. If a program leader at a university says, “we have to do this, and we have to take it in this direction, and we really want the program to look like that,” one of the things we might say is, let’s take a look at your five biggest competitors, locally and regionally, who are doing the exact same thing. Maybe they all have really low degree conferral numbers, which would mean that there isn’t much opportunity for a program to grow or scale.

    It might be something the institution or faculty really want to do, but the prospective program might just not be a sustainable opportunity. We can say that students are simply not interested in this kind of market or program, whatever it may be, and try to let the data really tell the story.

    It’s our job to identify the data for the institution to use to find an operational and sustainable program to go online. That means that when it comes to something faculty are really looking for, we try to help them understand what the overall viability looks like based on the types of program attributes they’re trying to put together.

    Darcy: We’re also looking at metrics that they deem important for brand strength, such as their U.S. News & World Report ranking, total conferrals, total enrollments, ranked programs, and the institutions accrediting body. These are some of the key metrics to help an institution understand who its key peers are and provide a more defined recommendation when uncovering the market viability of the program.

    [50:55] What are the types of things that Pearson does to develop leads?

    Brian: One of our primary value propositions is sourcing high-quality students that fill the needs of universities and help them grow and scale. In terms of lead acquisition and generation, we don’t buy leads or source lists of contacts. Rather, through our understanding of the program and the DNA of the institution and how they want to be differentiated and go to market, and through our research and data points, we build assets and different types of content and collateral and utilize them in traditional channels. It could be a web page or digital advertising through LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google paid search, or different types of media.

    We do experimental things that are starting to take shape in terms of radio or television, like Pandora, or a conference or magazine publication — wherever the particular type of student we’re looking for might be and tailor the content accordingly, ensuring we’re using the right channel to develop a lead and gain interest.

    It might be a diversification strategy as well to say where can we get the best quality and best converting types of students for these programs. Each program has its own angle on where to go to find the right students, and we rely on our research and data to find those leads that we can convert into students who ultimately become graduates.

    We also answer the following questions in the webinar recording:

    • What would the average cost be to acquire a non-organic adult bachelor’s enrollment? [46:35]
    • Have you worked with Christian Bible colleges or universities? [42:00]
    • What has your experience shown about the appeal of full MA degrees vs. grad certificates? What is more valuable to students? [39:18] 
    • How can you project Customer Acquisition Cost? [53:24] 

    Watch the complete webinar to hear those answers.

    If you have your own questions, please contact us. We’d be happy to follow up personally: Brian DeKemper and Darcy Wilson.

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  • You want me to use my phone in class?

    by Diane Hollister

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    Students and smartphones. Educators have legitimate concerns about their use in the classroom, and how the technology is quite frequently a distraction. Cognitive scientists study the effects of distraction on learning and point out how short the typical student’s attention span is. As an instructor, can I  use those tools – especially cell phones – to my advantage? Can we use them to help students learn?

    The answer is yes. I want students to use their phones in class, but not for scrolling through Facebook or checking text messages, posting on Instagram, etc. We use them as a classroom response system (and any wi-fi enabled device will work, so a laptop or Kindle or Google tablet or iPad will work, too). Think of them as a more powerful clicker type of system. Instead of being able to only use multiple choice questions, I can choose from 18 different types of questions. It’s all about using the phones as a catalyst for learning; the tool is Learning Catalytics.

    As an instructor, you can pose a variety of open-ended questions that help your students develop critical thinking skills, while monitoring responses with real-time analytics to find out where they’re struggling. With this information, you can adjust your instructional strategy in real time and try additional ways of engaging your students during class. Students can review their work after class as well, and see your additional notes and feedback. It’s a great just-in-time tool for you–and it’s a great review tool for them.

    Learning Catalytics also lets you manage student interactions by automatically grouping students for discussion, team-based learning, and peer-to-peer learning if you’d like. You can deliver a session in five modes; typically we think of the instructor-led synchronous mode, but you can also deliver it automated online or use self-test or self-paced options, or even teams as noted above.

    This amazing and engaging tool allows you to search thousands of existing questions across many fields of learning; anything from art history to psychology to mathematics to physics to anatomy and much more. You can search questions loaded by Pearson Education and tagged by author or content. You can also search content shared by your colleagues down the hall or around the world. If you want still more questions, or you can’t quite find exactly what you want, you can easily create your own questions. You can embed images or dataset links, use an equation editor, provide additional feedback, and even leave notes for other educators.

    The help site on Learning Catalytics is quite extensive; it’s good to explore the video resources if you are thinking about getting started.

    One of the best things? It’s free if you are already using a MyLab & Mastering product. If you aren’t, it’s $12 (6 months) or $20 (12 months). It’s also easy to access student performance data by class or even by module or question.

    I’ll admit, when I first saw it more than 6 or 7 years ago, I thought it was neat. I also figured I didn’thave time to add one more thing in my classroom. I was concerned students might not have access (what if our wi-fi went down?) and I didn’t know if it was really worth the time to set things up. At the time, I taught courses that had very little available in terms of pre-written questions, so I wrote my own.

    The first day I ran some sessions with students made me a believer. The very last question I asked them in each class was what they thought about that day’s new tool. Yes, I loved the instant feedback in class, and I liked seeing them more engaged, but if they just saw it as a toy….maybe it wasn’t worth it. I wanted it to help them remember and develop new memory skills. (Interested in more about working memory? Read this article.)

    Their replies cemented it for me. One young man wrote that it was the first time -ever- that he enjoyed a math class even though he had to work hard. Others wrote it was fun, it made them pay attention, or they liked being able to ask questions or let me know they didn’t understand without everyone else knowing it.

    Thus began my journey. I’ve used Learning Catalytics online. I’ve done large workshops with nearly 100 attendees participating. I’ve done team-building in my classes both face-to-face and online. I’ve written a lot of questions. I’ve shown other faculty how powerful this is–and they teach everything from art to economics to math to English to career readiness. It’s a flexible and powerful tool.

    And, not only does it engage my students, but it engages me. I like technology, but I also want it to be something that really benefits my students, not just makes them have fun. Learning Catalytics fits the bill-I like to think of it as “teach-nology.”

    Want to see it in action?

    Looking for some more training materials to help you get started?

    Learning Catalytics was developed by Eric Mazur, the creator of Peer Instruction, speaker on physics education and interactive teaching, founder of SiOnyx, and a professor of physics and area dean at Harvard. He collaborated with Brian Lukoff, an educator, entrepreneur, technology designer, and engineer. Brian was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and a Stanford Ph.D. in educational measurement and technology. Eric also worked with  Gary King, an expert on statistical methods, founder of Crimson Hexagon, Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and one of just 23 University Professors at Harvard.

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  • 21st-century skills: Teaching empathy? It's complicated.

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    Trevor Walraven was just 12 years old when he started using methamphetamines, smoking weed, and taking hallucinogens. When he was 14 years old, he shot a man in the back of the head and then took his car for a joyride. At 15, Walraven was tried as an adult in Oregon state court, found guilty of aggravated murder, and sentenced to life in prison with a 30-year minimum. By the time Walraven was granted parole in 2016, he had spent more of his life in prison than outside it.

    Walraven entered prison as a young man who romanticized the criminal lifestyle and would do anything, even take a life, to be accepted by his peers. Today, he’s a legal assistant, prison reform advocate, and evangelist for the idea that empathy can be taught. “I do believe that people have the capacity to change,” he said during a phone interview. “I think there, of course, are limits to everything, but I think it’s important to instill hope and to encourage positive, forward progress.”

    Until recently, most people thought that empathy was something you were born with. You either had it or you didn’t. However, research gathered by scientists and doctors over the past few decades shows growing evidence that empathy can and should be taught.

    Researchers and authors have also recently made arguments for why empathy isn’t always a good thing. It can lead to racism, tribalism, and a whole bunch of other us-versus-them societal evils that are, in many ways, the opposite of empathy. While we may be able to teach empathy, that doesn’t mean doing so is without complications.

    What we mean by “empathy”

    In Harper Lee’s 1960 classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, the character Atticus Finch tells his daughter Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” As a lesson in empathy, it’s a good start.

    However, empathy is more complicated than seeing the world from someone else’s perspective. When a human being empathizes with another, she not only identifies what that other person is feeling, she also uses her imagination to viscerally experience what he’s experiencing.

    In her 2018 book,The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences, Dr. Helen Riess, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, explains that empathy is not just a personality trait. “Increasing evidence suggests that empathy is partially hardwired into the brain and splits into three different aspects,” she writes, “emotional (or affective empathy), cognitive (or thinking empathy), and motivation for an empathic response.”

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  • I can't remember! Or can I?...Let's learn about retrieval practice

    by Diane Hollister

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    Maybe you are chuckling to yourself about a moment recently where that happened to you. You sat at your desk or stood in the middle of the room or waited in your car at the intersection…trying to remember the thing you wanted to recall. You may have employed some mnemonics or keywords or other tools to help you store and later access that information. Sometimes if information hasn’t seemed to clearly fit into our mental mapping or schemas, or we haven’t attempted to access it for a while, it’s kind of tough!

    Often times when we think about teaching, we’re focused on getting information into students’ heads. We have content to cover, a final to prepare for, etc. We may think we don’t really have time to add another “thing” to our classroom routine, and yet, there is something very critical that we should be focusing on. Happily, it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time, money, or any special technology tools.

    Retrieval practice” is a learning strategy where we focus on getting information out of student minds. Through the action of trying to recall information, our memory for that information is strengthened. Consequently, forgetting is less likely to occur.

    In the book Making it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, the authors share the benefits of using learning strategies such as retrieval, spacing, interleaving, elaboration, dual coding, and more. There has been a significant amount of research in the field of cognitive science as well as neurobiological research about how we learn. We’ve learned that a few strategies in particular are far more effective; from LearningScientists.org: “About 10 years ago, a report was published summarizing the research from cognitive psychology applied to education. These strategies in particular were found to have solid evidence and were suggested for implementation. Unfortunately, a recent textbook report suggests that they have not really made their way into teacher-training textbooks. However, it’s important to note that not all 6 strategies have equal amounts of evidence behind them. In particular, spaced practice and retrieval practice are most strongly supported by decades of research.”

    The real question is, though, how can we make use of those studies in our classroom? What does learning science really tell us? What would retrieval look like?

    It can be a 2 – 5 min activity in the beginning of class where you ask students to recall material from the prior class. They can then pull out their notes and fill in the gaps. It can be using sample tests and frequent low-stakes quizzing to help students practice. It can be using flash cards to not only recall ideas but to think about connections between topics. I read about one professor who said when he bumps into a student on campus, he uses those moments to review key things from class or help them make connections to other coursework.

    Want some ideas for warm-ups?

    Learn more on this great Retrieval Practice site--you can even subscribe for some newsletters and timely articles and information. You can also download resources. And here’s a second site to check out, for both you and your students: Learning Scientists.

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  • Opportunities to bridge the college & career readiness gap

    by Donna Butler

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    In education today, many states are testing high school (HS)  students in their junior year to determine if they are college ready. This enables students who test college ready excellent opportunities to earn college credit while taking dual credit courses. Many of these students graduate from high school with college credit, Associate Degrees, and no student loan debt.

    Since this is such a successful model, HS educators are now focusing on providing more opportunities for HS students not testing college ready by offering Transition or College and Career Readiness (CCR) courses. These opportunities are bridging the gap for college and career readiness.

    Providing students college readiness resources while still in high school is a benefit to students. In the past, most colleges enrolled these students in Developmental Courses to enable them to become college ready. Students did not earn college credit for these courses but did pay tuition. Providing these resources in high school eliminates cost, saves time, and reinforces skills. In addition, college and career ready students encounter more opportunities for higher education and employment choices.

    Implementing these courses varies from state to state. Many states now mandate high schools provide these transition classes before graduation. Student progress and the number of students graduating college and career ready are monitored by the state. Some school systems include these classes in the student’s schedule, offer courses as supplemental instruction or boot camps, or even an independent study for students.

    Increasing the high school college and career readiness rate continues to be one of the strongest outcomes. In Kentucky, for example, after 5 years of implementing the high school transition classes, the college and career readiness graduation rate doubled. As a result, students, colleges, and employers benefited from graduating seniors being better prepared. (Source: Kentucky Department of Education)

    Bridging the gap for college and career readiness by providing resources, educational, and employment opportunities during high school benefits students and communities. As an educator, I am proud to be part of so many initiatives that empower students to be successful in life.

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  • Four tips for living more mindfully

    by Rebecca J. Donatelle, Emeritus, Oregon State University

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    It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially this time of year. We invite you to pause, and take a moment to look at the world and really see it. Focus on the present and live in that moment — tune in, calmly, and with awareness of your surroundings and sensations. Here are four tips based on content from Access to Health, 16e that are designed to help you live a more mindful life.

    1: Live more compassionately

    • Be there. When others are down, be kind and offer support. Compassion is so much more than helping others through grief or pain — it’s the good and bad.
    • See the good in others. Listen to your inner critiques of others, their appearance, or actions, and block the negative and focus on the positive.
    • See the good in you. Practice self-compassion (cut yourself some slack).
    • Remember that compassion is a skill. You can consciously foster your capacity for compassion for others and yourself.

    2: Live with purpose/meaning

    • Carve out “me” time. Start with 30 minutes of quiet time per day. Disconnect from media intrusions, meditate, play calming music, walk in nature, listen to the silence, and block any outside “chatter” in your life.
    • Think about what’s important to you, and ask yourself, “What makes me happy?” Jot it down and ask yourself whether you did anything today that made you happy.
    • Say “no” to things or events that are “downers” for you or those things you do out of guilt or a need to feel needed.
    • Engage in activities (like volunteering) that help others and bring you satisfaction.

    3: Live with gratitude

    • Make a list of the things that you’re thankful for in life.
    • Consider the “lessons” you’ve learned through pain, loss, adversity, or challenges. Think about how something that seemed like a bad thing in life may have actually shaped who you are today, and how you have moved ahead.
    • Think about the people who are positive influences in your life and how you might “pay those actions forward”, and make a difference for others.
    • When you wake up each day, try to say to yourself, ”Today will be a good day, because…”

    4: Lean in, tune in

    • Wake those sleeping senses. Hear more, see more, taste more, smell more. Slow down on your walks — hear the birds, smell the air. Take the time to savor your food.
    • Do your part to reduce your environmental footprint — live simply, waste not, and walk the talk when it comes to planet survival.

    It only takes minutes each day to live a more purposeful life. Use these helpful tips to make the most of your summer, and be ready to enter the next school year refreshed.

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  • My pathway to corequisite courses

    by Stephanie Walker, MyLabs Math & Stats Faculty Advisor, Pearson

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    I absolutely love trying new things! From travel experiences to foods (as long as they are not stinky), I’m willing to attempt new things. My adventurous nature really shows in my teaching experience. For me, gone are the boring days of straight lecture. I’ve taught online, in a lecture/lab format, in a flipped format, modular (that’s similar to emporium), and fast-track. Basically, if it’s a new way to teach, I’m willing to give it a try. By the way, did I mention I teach math?

    As a math instructor, I taught the traditional three tier developmental sequence for years, knowing that it was a broken model but not knowing how to fix it. Our department tried two non traditional formats for our developmental courses: lecture/lab and modular. We observed a slight increase in pass rates with the lecture lab model but nothing significant.

    The modular approach, or mastery-paced approach, led to a significantly higher pass rate. However, because the students had more than one semester to finish a course, this model increased the number of students taking longer to complete the sequence of courses.

    Then in 2012, my college became a co-development partner with the Dana Center to pilot a new model, Mathematics Pathways. This was earth-shattering for me and I was, and still am, so excited about this new way of teaching. No longer would students have to struggle through three levels of developmental math before taking their first gateway math course. They could take their gateway course with the developmental support needed to be successful.

    While we did not call this “corequisite” at the time, by definition, it is a corequisite model. You may ask what is the reasoning or the logic behind this model. Well, at some point during their high school experiences, students saw the material that we deem “developmental” and they just don’t remember it. The idea is to go ahead and put them in the college level course and refresh their memory on the prerequisites as they go.

    So, back to our first attempt at designing and teaching a corequisite course… The first two years were tough as we redesigned, and then redesigned the redesign, looking for what worked best for our students. If you’ve ever been through a major educational redesign, you know that it takes time and tweaking to get to a workable model.

    The best model for us was a cohort model with one instructor and just in time support. With this model, we were able to spend more time on task with the collegiate level topics and also managed to squeeze in those soft skills that students need: time management, stress management, note-taking, etc.

    We offered this model for intermediate algebra level students who needed liberal arts math or statistics for their major. Personally, I taught the statistics corequisite course. It was a three hour course with one hour of support scheduled so that the in-class time was seamless. Because it was a cohort with all students testing at the same level, I was able to gauge when that just-in-time support was necessary and integrate it into my lecture as needed.

    How did I actually teach the course? I used a combination of lecture and active learning, what an old mentor called “10 on,10 off.” I would lecture over a topic for approximately 10 – 15 minutes and then break up the monotony with worksheets that covered both the prerequisite and collegiate material. Students were required to work individually and in groups (the tried and true Think, Pair, Share). This allowed the students to get peer instruction and often cleared up simple misunderstandings. I would always wrap up the “10 off” time by showing the worked out example(s) on the screen and discussing any lingering questions.

    In 2016, I transitioned from a full-time instructor to a part-time instructor and full-time faculty advisor for Pearson. My role is to ensure instructors are using the MyLab product to the best of its ability in order to increase student success.

    Almost everyday, I have the privilege of talking with an instructor where I introduce them to a new aspect of MyLab. With the increase in corequisite course offerings across the nation, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with instructors whose attitudes concerning corequisite courses range from excited to terrified. My advice: Stay positive and give it a try. And don’t be surprised by the students’ success!

    Designing a corequisite course? Not sure where to start? This Roadmap to Corequisite Redesign will give you an in-depth look at the logistics of corequisite course design and using MyLab to support those courses. You can also view my webinar, Using MyLab Math and Statistics in Corequisite Courses.

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  • Dual-ly noted: What's the fuss?

    by Julie Cavanaugh, Customer Success Specialist & Educational Consultant, Pearson

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    Seven years ago I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to envision an ideal high school, and to turn that vision into a reality. My school district had recently acquired a state-funded grant to found an Early College High School, a new and burgeoining concept melding secondary and post-secondary education.

    As an educator, program coordinator and instructional coach for Sheldon Early College High School in Houston, Texas, I, along with my colleagues, was able to create a unique environment where underserved and underrepresented student populations were given the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree and high school diploma at the same time. We were able to accomplish this with a non-traditional high school course model: dual enrollment.

    In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 3 million students participated in this now fast growing sector of education. Dual enrollment, also known as concurrent enrollment and dual credit, is the practice of allowing students to be enrolled in two institutions at once: a high school or middle school and an institute of higher education (IHE).

    In most models, the students tandemly earn credit towards their high school diploma and credit towards their associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Dual enrollment has grown by over 67% since 2002, with some states such as Texas experiencing growth rates of over 1000%! With substantial dual-enrollment offerings, the first graduating class of Sheldon Early College, or SECHS, earned over 4,000 college credit course hours with over 65% actually earning their associates’ degrees!

    Dual enrollment, however, is not just found in early college high school models. This model has also spread to traditional high schools. Studies published by the Community College Resource Center indicate that successful completion of dual enrollment classes decreases the timeline in which students attain a college credential after high school graduation.

    In fact, 46% of students who took a dual enrollment course in high school went on to complete a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree within 5 years of graduation compared to 39% of students who did not participate in dual enrollment attaining a credential in 6 years. Additional studies from What Works Clearinghouse indicate that dual enrollment has positive effects on student attendance, grades, high school graduation rates, college enrollment and college completion.

    The positive effects are especially significant with minority and first-generation college students. I’ve witnessed this first-hand with my students at SECHS, where over 50% of our student population were first generation college students and over 85% were classified as low-socioeconomic status, yet 100% graduated with their high school diploma.

    As high schools, community colleges, and 4-year universities discover the benefits of dual enrollment, the partnerships between these institutions have become more frequent and more unique to best serve the needs of all student populations. Dual enrollment courses can be taken physically at a community college or 4-year university campus, digitally through online courses, and many are being offered directly at the high school with high school faculty attaining college teaching credentials. State legislation is now in place in 47 states governing the relationship between the high school and IHE to ensure equitable access to dual enrollment for all students.

    As enrollment and class offerings have increased, ensuring the quality and rigor of dual enrollment has become a core focus. As such, institutions have arisen to accredit these partnerships, the largest of which is NACEP, The National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. NACEP accreditation is the preeminent distinction among secondary and higher ed partnerships and reflects meeting measurable criteria in 5 different categories: curriculum, faculty, students, assessment, and program evaluation.

    Currently more than 100 programs are NACEP accredited. Pearson is proud to be a sponsor for both the National and Regional NACEP conferences and looks forward to presenting how our engaging, student-driven platforms can enhance student success.

    I am thrilled that Pearson recognizes this fast-growing sector and is committed to providing solutions and services as unique as these programs themselves. When I reflect back on my experience designing Sheldon Early College High School, the suite of Pearson products and services could have helped us to improve student course grades, provide personalized tutoring, and create a college-growing culture. As Customer Success Specialists dedicated to those using Higher Ed Courseware in K-12, we have been hard at work to ensure a smooth Back-to-School Fall 2019. Our initiatives include expansion of Pearson’s Dual Enrollment website, a customized Dual Enrollment Instructor Handbook, and launch of Dual Enrollment Customer Success Journeys.

    For more information on the studies mentioned in this blog and more, visit: http://www.nacep.org/, https://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/, https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/EvidenceSnapshot/671.

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  • Five emerging fields of study

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    The question we get asked most often is “what’s next?” As new technology, business practices, laws, and changes in the global economy are happening at breakneck speed, they’re creating needs for new and evolving occupations and career specialties. To meet these demands, we’ve provided a brief overview of what’s next — five innovative emerging fields of study that your institution should consider to help you stand out in a hyper-competitive online market.

    In our evaluation, we scored fields of study based on a combination of the following key indicators of success:

    • Student demand
    • Employment opportunities
    • Competitive intensity
    • Search volume

    Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence

    With the rise in “big data,” interest in data analytics roles have shown rapid growth. Schools that are testing how to go to market with AI offerings are increasing as well. Course work covers such topics as natural language processing, cybernetics, human factors, computing theory, computer science, cognitive psychology, and/or engineering.

    Current examples in market

    MS in Artificial Intelligence

    Graduate Certificate in Artificial Intelligence

    BS in Data Analytics

    MS in Data Analytics

    Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics

    Substance Abuse Nursing

    Every day, more than 115 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids. As the drug abuse epidemic continues, more qualified nurse practitioners are needed to tackle the problem head on. Substance Abuse Nurses must be able to monitor patient treatments, administer medications, speak with patients regarding aid programs, educate on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, or addiction, and provide support to patients.

    The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) provides Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners the opportunity to demonstrate their nursing knowledge by completing various professional certifications. Some certifications are professional differentiators for nursing professional development, while others are required by the respective state laws for practice licensure. Qualifications to take certifying examinations differs per examination.

    After becoming a credentialed nurse practitioner, one can differentiate themselves among job applicants by completing a program that offers specialized training in substance abuse, opioid treatment and/or addictions, and by working in a psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral health care center. The specialized training programs in substance abuse, opioid treatment, and addictions are offered through nursing, medical, psychology, and social science departments at colleges and universities, and can be taken online. These types of specialized programs may be at the undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate level, and are open to other professionals working to provide care to patients and clients needing assistance.

    Current examples in market

    Healthcare Innovation

    As healthcare organizations face challenges to improve quality, access, and efficiencies, reduce harm, eliminate waste, and lower costs, innovation is becoming a necessity. A healthcare innovation program teaches change theory, leadership, entrepreneurship, application technology, and system design programs to create transformative solutions to current healthcare challenges.

    Current examples in market

    MS in Healthcare Innovation

    Healthcare Innovation Courses

    Financial Technology (Fintech)

    A fintech program seeks to fill an important gap that exists today between the supply of and demand for academic knowledge in the area of digital currency. Financial analyst jobs in fintech are in great demand as startups continue to grow. Additionally, as the regulatory burden in fintech grows, there will be a need for more compliance experts, compliance officers, and compliance analysts working in these financial companies.

    Current examples in market

    MS in Fintech

    Concentration in Fintech

    Graduate Certificate in Fintech

    Human Computer Interaction (HCI)/User Experience (UX)

    User experience has emerged as one of the fastest growing specializations in today’s business world. It’s about finding that balance between what people want to do and what they haven’t even imagine yet. Interdisciplinary by definition, human computer interaction impacts nearly every area of our lives. The program reflects a broad recognition in academia and industry of the need to train researchers to meet the challenges created by today’s breakneck pace of technological progress.

    Current examples in market

    BS in UX/HCI

    MS in UX/HCI

    Concentration in UX

    Graduate certificate

    Take a deeper dive

    In the recorded webinar, Emerging fields of study: How to identify key target markets to grow and compete online, we further explore:

    • how your institution can identify key markets
    • recommended criteria for entry, risk factors, and key success indicators
    • how Maryville University and Pearson partnered to successfully expand online offerings

    Watch the webinar →

    Research and analysis used to identify emerging fields of study

    • Review of new NCES CIP codes
    • Analysis of BLS Employment Projections to identify occupations slated to grow in the next 10 years
    • Review of national and syndicated data sources, like Burning Glass and TalentNeuron
    • Utilization of Google Trends to analyze the popularity of search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages over time
    • Review of institutional websites to identify new and emerging programs
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  • Creating a strategic education benefit that works for your employees and your business

    by Sean Stowers, CPTM & Rachael Bourque, MBA, Accelerated Pathways, Pearson

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    Here’s what we know

    For years, organizations have established tuition reimbursement benefits to attract potential new hires, but generally put them on the shelf and forgot they existed. Traditionally these policies were designed to meet a $5,250 per person, per year allowable tax benefit deduction and covered only post-secondary education expenses.

    The benefit was used to show stakeholders and industry competition that the company was a good corporate citizen, even using the benefit in campaigns to get onto “Top 100” lists, but the desire for actual employee utilization is very low and often deterred. Still, other organizations have turned their back on an education benefit all together, thinking investing anything in individuals that turn over at such a high rate is a waste if they never show up for a second shift.

    Most companies who have adopted this approach have seen low benefit participation rates, and worse, fail to articulate the value of such benefit to senior leadership. With the right toolkit leveraging insightful questions, organizations can shift their thinking on education assistance as a powerful tool in attracting, developing, training and retaining employees.

    Here’s what we found

    Both scenarios above are missing several key components such as: strategy and unification of cross-business stakeholders to drive a meaningful discussion related to talent management; design thinking around educational programs and solutions that can impact job and career development; the right technology and support to capture data analytics related to performance and business impact of these benefits; and ultimately, widening the lens of who your workforce is.

    We’ve met many companies who keep similar philosophies; not because they’re meaning to, but because they don’t understand the underlying strategy or cost to the organization. These lackluster views about talent development aren’t keeping up with the pace of change, in an economy where nontraditional competitors are now attracting your talent and, where employee resignation or quits have risen steadily by the millions since 2010 due to lack of development opportunities.

    Total employee quits per year

    Total employee quits per year. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Here’s why we did it

    Leveraging our collective years of experience in working with employers to design, develop, deliver and manage learning and education programs for companies, we partnered with Jaime Fall and UpSkill America as a way for us to share our insights broadly with the marketplace. UpSkill America, in partnership with the Walmart Foundation, has built a toolkit for organizations to use in designing sustainable upskilling strategies and solutions.

    We encourage you to download the “Tuition Assistance Policy Discussion: Roadmap to a Skilled and Educated Workforce”.

    This tool is the latest in a series released by UpSkill America in the past year to equip businesses with the tools to educate, train, and support frontline workers’ development to advance their careers. The work builds on UpSkill America’s 2017 UpSkilling Playbook for Employers.

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  • What can Phil Hansen do with an ink pad and a shoe?

    by Pearson

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    You can find out at Now/Next in learning – our new ed tech event happening April 22-24 in Scottsdale, AZ!

    We are so excited to host Phil Hansen as our opening keynote. Phil is an internationally recognized multimedia artist, speaker, author and innovator. Crashing irreverently through conventional boundaries, Phil works at the intersection of traditional art, electronic media, offbeat materials, and interactive experiences.

    When a tremor developed in his drawing hand, his artistic career almost came to an end. In exploring new ways to create art, Phil discovered that by embracing his shake, limitations could become the passageway to creativity.

    We need to first be limited in order to become limitless. –

    Phil Hansen

    Join us at Now/Next in learning to participate in Phil’s keynote on The Art of Collaboration: (An Interactive Art Experience). Register now!

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  • Transmedia Storytelling with Rick Ramsey at Now/Next in learning

    by Rick Ramsey, Education Director for Visual Arts, Full Sail University

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    Interested in learning how storytelling can enhance connections inside and outside of your course? We have the professional development opportunity for you. Now/Next in learning– a new ed tech event happening April 22-24 in Scottsdale, AZ – includes a Storytelling Workshop with The Moth and Rick Ramsey’s session on Transmedia Storytelling. Learn more about Rick and what drives him to transform education experiences in our conversation below.

    What inspires you most about teaching/education?

    What inspires me the most about education is change. For centuries the educational institution has been seen as the breeding ground for change. It was where relative social and political ideals were discussed, discoveries were made, and experts molded young minds. Today the educational institution is being assaulted by change.

    As educators we are in a race to keep up with how technology and digital social platforms have affected how the learner receives and shares learning moments. We no longer have the expert voice. We can no longer simply open the doors of the classroom and expect the learner to be mentally present.

    For the first time in academic history the educator and the learner run the risk of being separated but also have the opportunity to interact in ways we never thought of before and this need to change how we teach and how the learner learns inspires me to find new modes of teaching.

    In the past 5 years, how has technology changed the way you teach?

    There are so many changes in the technology landscape that has definitely affected how we teach. The two I feel are the most impactful are accessibility and connectivity.

    Today the student has access to so much more information via websites like Wikipedia and YouTube that they can gather information on a subject within seconds, but they often lack the skills to critically evaluate that data. This is the new role of the educator to curate and apply critical thinking skills to the plethora of information portals out there.

    When it comes to connectivity the educator is challenged with matching the accessibility that the learner has become accustomed to with new technology. With students having options to text, post, and interact with multitudes of subcultures at varying degrees of involvement, the educator not only has to compete with multiple messages but has to interact at a more direct and personal level if they want to break through the digital noise.

    How do you connect what’s going on in your course with the outside/”real” world?

    I think of it more as connecting what’s going on in the outside world with my course. Maintaining relevance has always been a responsibility of the educator but now it has become almost a daily upkeep. I keep the connection constantly updated by inserting examples from recent events into standard discussions.

    What’s your secret to keeping learners engaged?

    I don’t know that there is a secret. I think one thing is to understand that the learner’s expectations and communication modes change and to make sure you are not only aware of these changes, but are redesigning your lessons to make optimal use of them.

    What’s the biggest obstacle you face in education today?

    I think the biggest obstacle in education today is trying to satisfy new user expectations with outdated teacher demands. For example we treat online education as more of a self-study and believe that if we post the same materials we use in the classroom with more detailed instructions the student will experience the same level of satisfaction.

    We forget that students can like a subject based solely on their like for the teacher. If the teacher’s personality isn’t present in the online experience then we have no right to expect the student to have the same desire to learn.

    Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message.” I say, “the teacher is the message,” holds true as well. Educational institutions need to limit student loads on educators so they have time to create more engaging online materials and have one-on-one time to spend with students.

    Describe the ideal classroom.

    That is a big ask but if I were to answer I would say the ideal classroom allows the campus and online student to interact with each other as well as the educator all at the same level. Online social networks serve both groups of students and the class, like a YouTube channel, consists of avid followers who subscribe to both the message and the messenger, or educator. A system where online and campus students feel the same level of connectivity as well as freedom to explore the digital landscape together.

    Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with Rick at Now/Next in learning!

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  • 5 reasons to attend Now/Next in learning

    by Caroline Leary, Manager, Pearson

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    There are a lot of higher education professional development opportunities in the spring. I’d like to bring your attention to a new one on the market –  Now/Next in learning that is happening April 22-24 in Scottsdale, AZ.

    Here are 5 great reasons to attend:

    1. Bring out your inner artist

    There are several opportunities for you to embrace your creative side including Phil Hansen’s Interactive Art Experience keynote address and the pre-conference Storytelling workshop with MothWorks at The Moth.

    2. Enjoy an inspiring desert getaway

    The Scott Resort is a secret oasis in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona — the perfect setting to relax, put aside distractions, and be inspired by new ideas and ways of thinking. Escape the cold winter gripping most of the country and enjoy a beautiful desert sunset during our Evening Social at El Chorro.

    3. “There are no strangers here. Only friends you haven’t met yet.”

    When William Butler Yeats said it, he wasn’t talking about Now/Next in learning — though he could have been. Whether you attend with a crew or on your own, you’ll have the opportunity to network with 200 like-minded individuals keen on driving education forward in new, innovative ways.

    4. No extra costs

    Your registration fee covers all sessions — including the pre-conference Storytelling Workshop with The Moth on Monday, April 22 — meals, the Opening Reception & StorySLAM, and the Evening Social on Tuesday, April 23. Download this Justification Letter to help make your case to the boss.

    5. Flexible pricing options

    In order to ensure you are getting the most value from attending Now/Next in learning, there is an array of registration options at different price points, including group rates and individual day and activity passes.

    View the program and register for this event

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  • Getting to know today's learners through segmentation

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    This is the second blog in a two-part series about segmentation in higher education. Read part one: One size doesn’t fit all: The value of segmentation.

    Today, the needs and desires of learners are much more diverse. Students are changing, and so should the ways colleges think about serving them.

    To better tailor your offerings, your institution needs to more broadly adopt a segmentation approach.

    Where to start?

    The foundation of all market segmentation lies in data (and listening).

    Online survey tools allow you to constantly ask about students’ experiences. And thanks to the growing digitization of campuses, we know so much more about how students learn in the classroom and interact with campus services.

    What’s unique about modern segmentation is that the divisions are more tailored to the psychological and emotional characteristics of students, and go beyond the very basics such as location and gender.

    There are four types of market segmentation:

      • Geographic: This divides the market on the basis of geography. This type of market segmentation is still important, as people belonging to different regions may have different wants and needs.
      • Demographic: This is the most commonly evaluated, and considers variables like age, gender, marital status, family size, income, religion, race, occupation, nationality, etc.
      • Behavioral: Here, the market is segmented based on a learner’s behavior, usage, preferences, choices, and decision making.
      • Psychographic: This divides the segment on the basis of their personality, lifestyle, and attitude.

    Understanding student expectations in this consumer era is vital to colleges, and data collected from their students can help in this process.

    Jeffrey J. Selingo, author, The Future Learners

    Bringing segments to life

    In partnership with The Harris Poll, we conducted a survey of 2,600 people ages 14–40. Using the information gathered through the survey, the following personas were created as a snapshot of possible ways your university can segment students and provide a more strategic approach for possible pathways to serving those students.

    The Traditional Learner (25% of learners)

    These 18–24 year-olds are your prototypical students seeking a traditional, brick and mortar college experience. They are top-notch students with a passion for learning new things in a conventional environment.

    • How they want to learn: These learners enjoy in-person interactions with classmates and professors, and have a tendency to prefer reading and listening over group study and videos.
    • Motivators: They strive to get a better job.
    • Opportunities: Provide research and internships, improve face-to-face professor interactions, and added services like boot camps.

    The Hobby Learner (24% of learners)

    These are a diverse set of older learners who view education as a journey of learning about new things rather than a way to make it to the top of their professions. In fact, 6 in 10 of the learners in this segment are not enrolled in college, have never earned a degree, and don’t need one for their job.

    • How they want to learn: They prefer a hybrid method that includes digital, books, and in-person instruction. They’re self-directed learners who enjoy the engagement of a high-touch environment.
    • Motivators: They highly value education, but money is a barrier.
    • Opportunities: Provide shorter, more flexible programs, create alternative credentials, and adopt digital tools at a lower cost.

    The Career Learner (19% of learners)

    The Career Learner is quite similar to the Traditional Learner in many ways, including their love for college and ability to excel academically. While this segment is made up of multigenerational learners, the largest subgroup (60%) is in college right now.

    • How they want to learn: Even though this segment understands the need for soft skills like teamwork and collaboration, they tend to prefer learning through digital platforms.
    • Motivators: Job placement and career advancement are their goals.
    • Opportunities: Provide career services into curriculum, build co-ops, and incorporate portfolio-style learning that can translate what has been learned to potential employers.

    The Reluctant Learner (17% of learners)

    Identified as academically average, these learners have little passion for learning. They learn because they have to, not because they want to. They’re the most diverse segment in terms of enrollment trends, and include those currently in college (36%), degree holders (25%), and those without a degree (39%).

    • How they want to learn: Whether online or on a campus, this segment wants a high-touch environment and favors face-to-face when possible.
    • Motivators: They need flexibility as to when and how they learn.
    • Opportunities: Meet them where they are. Provide multiple mix-and-match options with anytime learning, at their own pace. Also, addressing pricing as an incentive for degree completion might engage these learners a bit more.

    The Skeptical Learner (15% of learners)

    These learners don’t think that school is for them. They’re somewhat older and feel like they’ve gotten by just fine without a degree. In fact, 68% (in this case) have not enrolled or never earned a degree.

    • How they want to learn: If they have to go to school, they would prefer it to be digital to minimize inconvenience.
    • Motivators: They enjoy the engagement/social aspect of education, but not the academic pursuit.
    • Opportunities: Create low-price pathway program, replicate a social setting by redesigning online learning, and offer low-residency campus options and credit for work experience.

    For a more in-depth look at these personas, check out The Future Learners: An Innovative Approach To Understanding The Higher Education Market And Building A Student-Centered University.

    Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires a strategic approach to successfully reach more of the right students where they are. Partnering with Pearson can help you accelerate strategic change while reducing the risks associated with growing your online presence. Our online program management services and community can help your students thrive as you build the brand and reputation you’re striving for.

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  • One size doesn't fit all: The value of segmentation

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    This is the first blog in a two-part series about segmentation in higher education.

    The individuals in your institution’s target audience aren’t just “students”. They have unique wants, needs, and expectations for instruction, campus amenities, and technology. A mass, “one-size-fits-all approach” is no longer enough.

    Colleges need to adopt a broader segmentation approach throughout their institutions to:

    • guide and inform academic programs
    • understand which programs/services to reposition or launch
    • navigate students through the experience
    • help determine which go-to-market strategy to employ

    The more higher-education leaders understand what motivates prospective students to enroll and persist and what offerings and services meet their needs, the better offerings can be tailored for them.

    Jeffrey J. Selingo, author, The Future Learners

    What’s segmentation?

    On a basic level, segmentation is the separation of a broad, homogeneous target group (like “students”) with different needs into heterogeneous subgroups (like the “traditional learner”) with similar needs and preferences.

    While segmentation in higher ed has been used in limited, siloed functions such as admissions, fundraising, and marketing, the process must expand so institutions can better tailor and target offerings to meet each segment’s needs.

    To be effective, each segment should be:

    1. Measurable: Are your segments uniquely identifiable? You should have enough information available on specific target characteristics to be measured or categorized.
    2. Differentiable: The students in a segment should have similar needs (preferences and characteristics) that are clearly different from those of other segments.
    3. Substantial: Is your segment large enough to be profitable? Small segments without viable spending power can be a waste of time and resources.
    4. Accessible: How might each segment be accessed, and is it efficient? Your institution should be able to easily reach its segments via communication and distribution channels.
    5. Actionable: What is the segment’s practical value? Your institution should be able to design and implement effective programs for attracting and serving the segments.

    What’s the value of segmentation?

    While segmentation is not a new concept by any means, the higher ed industry has been slow to adopt it. However, attitudes and the use of segmentation are slowly beginning to change because of pressures on enrollment and tightening budgets that together require institutions to assess who they want to serve and how.

    In the short term, segmentation can guide your recruitment and marketing teams and aid in targeted efforts to ensure that you’re reaching the right students with the right messages. Long term, it can guide decision making on expanding your institution into adjacent categories or segments.

    While segmentation provides the groundwork for sound strategy, to truly unlock student-centric growth, segmentation must galvanize your institution around priority learners.

    For colleges to remain relevant in the decades ahead, it’s critical that leaders start thinking about the broad range of students they want (or need) to serve and how to appeal to their specific needs and desires.

    In our next blog, we share five examples of major learner segments your university could use to strategically market and grow your programs.

    To learn more about segmentation in higher ed, check out The Future Learners: An Innovative Approach To Understanding The Higher Education Market And Building A Student-Centered University.

    Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires a strategic approach to successfully reach more of the right students where they are. Partnering with Pearson can help you accelerate strategic change while reducing the risks associated with growing your online presence. Our online program management services and community can help your students thrive as you build the brand and reputation you’re striving for.

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  • Technical skills in high demand

    by Pearson

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    Data literacy skills are no longer reserved for data scientists. Organizations today look for employees who can comprehend data, generate insights, and put it to actionable use for their business. But there’s a gap. According to a recent report by the Data Literacy Project and Qlik, only 21% of 16–24-year-olds are data literate. This suggests that schools and universities aren’t providing opportunities for students to gain the skills they need to enter the working world.

    Business school programs can play a pivotal role in helping their students develop the technical prowess to wrangle data. Here are the three data literacy skills that every business school graduate should have in their skill set.

    Analyzing and interpreting data:

    Combing through sales data—transaction systems, customer interactions, and demographic data—to uncover trends and identify gaps can give sales teams a competitive edge.

    Making data-driven business decisions:

    Translating data into usable insights for a business—for developing new practices and driving decision-making—can give individuals in finance and operations roles a leg up.

    Communicate data insights:

    Telling data stories to different audiences effectively—visually and with words—is a valuable skill that helps individuals formulate and employ successful marketing strategies.

    Help your business school students advance their careers by complementing their curriculum with skills training in data literacy. To learn more about the technical and professional skills your students need to succeed, download our ebook, “Preparing career-ready students.”

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  • Why your students should be fluent in Microsoft Office

    by Pearson

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    At technology-driven workplaces, employers expect employees to have a working knowledge of Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Ensuring your students are taught how to use these programs will set them up for success when they enter the workforce.

    Here’s how the Microsoft Office suite can arm your students with the technical skills they need to flourish in the real world.

    Organizing data and insights with Excel

    Not only should students be able to organize, analyze, manipulate, and present data within Microsoft Excel, they should be able to communicate their insights in a way that helps build a business’s competitive advantage.

    Creating polished business documents in Word

    There’s more to Microsoft Word than word processing. Business students can harness intuitive editing features, advanced formatting options, tables, lists, and sleek design elements to create documents and proposals.

    Presenting ideas to a group with PowerPoint

    Business school students are no strangers to PowerPoint. But understanding the ins and outs of the software can turn a basic slideshow into a dynamic presentation that lets their professional skills shine.

    Staying connected and organized with Outlook

    Whichever industries your students pursue, a solid grasp of Outlook is likely to come in very handy. The ability to manage emails, calendars, and tasks will help them stay organized and productive.

    Support your students by helping them sharpen their technical skills in Microsoft Office. Discover more technical and professional skills your students need to succeed after business school in our ebook, “Preparing career-ready students.

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  • Bridging the STEM gender gap

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    Although women fill 47% of U.S. jobs, they only hold 24% of jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.* Despite an increase in awareness regarding gender inequity, women are still underrepresented in STEM careers.

    It’s time to bridge the gender gap and open the doors into the scientific and engineering fields for women. Hear from Dr. Catherine Murphy, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, co-author of Chemistry – The Central Science,and senior editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry, about her STEM journey and how to overcome obstacles that women in these fields face.

    Why did you choose to study chemistry?

    I always liked nature and science from a young age and had great chemistry teachers in junior high and high school, so I became a chemistry major in college.

    How have you dealt with competition and the gender gap in the STEM field?

    My advice is to do good work and eventually reasonable people will recognize it. I was the first woman hired on the tenure track at my previous university (University of South Carolina in 1993), and the faculty there really were excellent at making sure I had good mentoring.

    How has technology changed your life, particularly in STEM education?

    Technology makes it possible for me to work anywhere, all the time. That’s both good and bad! I use a little technology when I teach classes, so students can text answers rather than raise their hand.

    What advice would you give to women wanting to enter a STEM field?

    You can do it! Double down on math and read widely to find your technical interests. Don’t let one not-great instructor in an intro class discourage what could be a lifetime of scientific joy.

    Learn more about Professor Murphy

    Get inspired

    Follow our Nevertheless Podcast series celebrating women who are using tech to transform teaching and learning. Hear their stories and how they persisted to create change.

    *Source: Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, 2017 report

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  • Why I'm the worst example of a woman in STEM. Or maybe I'm the best?

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    This week’s episode of Nevertheless is a bit different. It’s a live conversation that took place at Pearson dealing with the tricky real-world issues of diversity and inclusion. It’s a good reminder that this podcast and these stories don’t take place in a vacuum. These are people who are still growing, learning and reflecting on what it means to create a fairer and better place to work.

    Along with this live conversation, we wanted to share the story of one of those people, Vicki Gardner. Vicki joined Pearson in 2015. She now heads the company’s Primary Schools Sales Team providing literacy and numeracy pedagogical schemes. Prior to this, Vicki spent nine years at RM Education in a variety of operational roles supporting strategic managed service contracts with local education authorities.

    My first experience of the Nevertheless podcast was back in October when I listened to the episode “Finding Genius” on my commute home one day. By the time I pulled up my driveway, I was dumbfounded and a bit upset, which are both unexpected consequences of listening to a podcast. That particular episode was about lost potential and included a great interview with a female engineer who is passionate about getting kids to invent stuff. Why did this interview upset me? Because my name is Vicki, and I used to be an engineer.

    I studied electronic engineering at university and then had a really interesting first job working as an electronics assurance engineer for a global confectionery company in their vending machine division. One of my responsibilities was to research and reverse engineer our competitors’ products to see how they worked, while the other part of my role was to take prototypes of my company’s new products and try to destroy them through any sort of creative means I could think of to prove their quality. I was one of three graduates in the role and as a third aspect to all of our jobs, we each had a research and development project where we got to use our engineering skills creatively to improve the next generation of products.

    But fast forward to now. I’m far removed from being an electronics engineer. Now, I work at Pearson in the UK Schools Sales team selling printed and digital resources to primary schools. So how did I get from my first job to here? What happened along the way to change my direction?

    I would say that my change in direction began with the promotion panel. To be promoted at my first job, you had to present your research and development project to a panel of senior engineers. Our manager had put my two male peers and I up for a promotion at the same time. The other two graduates were both men my age and we’d all joined the company at the same time, but they were both paid more than me. At the time, I remember being a bit confused about the reasoning behind their higher pay, but I accepted it. They also were both given (I now realise), the really prestigious projects, the ones that were related to the new products that had the most investment and were forecast to bring in the most revenue. My project was interesting and I really enjoyed working on it, but it was on a product that was regarded as a bit of an unknown and not expected to do anything in the market.

    “The panel I faced was made up of six male engineers, all much older than me, and an HR officer, also male. I was in that room for nearly an hour, and I was absolutely torn apart. It was horrendous.”


    When it came time to speak to the promotions panel, my colleagues went before me, each spending about 30 minutes in his panel and coming back looking confident. When it was my turn, I, a painfully shy 23-year-old, was trembling. The panel I faced was made up of six male engineers, all much older than me, and an HR officer, also male. I was in that room for nearly an hour, and I was absolutely torn apart. It was horrendous. When I returned to the office I shared with the other two recent graduates and my peers asked me how I’d done, I shakily mumbled an answer. Our boss turned up some time later and broke the news to us all together; my colleagues had both been successful and were promoted. And me? He had tried to argue my case and there’d apparently been a long discussion about me, but he was sorry, I would have to try again in six months.

    I was gutted, and beat myself up, but my main worry was, how was I going to go home and tell my mum and dad that I hadn’t been good enough? I will never know if unconscious bias was playing a part in the promotion panel, or whether I really didn’t make the grade. What the Nevertheless episode did help me see, though, is that I definitely wasn’t given the same opportunities as my male co-workers. I eventually did get promoted, but I never quite got over feeling like a failure while I was with the global confectionery company, and, subsequently, always felt six months behind my colleagues.

    The second event that I now realise changed my direction happened when a new senior manager came in and we recent graduates were all “given the opportunity” to move from the assurance role into technical sales. We were told that the assurance role demanded engineers with more experience, so I moved into sales. Over the 20 years between now and then, I’ve worked in technical sales and managed distributors, technical salespeople, technical support desks, delivery teams, technical operations teams, inside sales teams, and field sales. Having a background in engineering has made me a creative problem solver, and I can always work out how things are going to break before they do. I’m also quite good with data and pretty adept at creating processes, which is handy when you’re running an operational team.

    But I’m not an engineer any more, something that I had to work very hard for and overcome lots of challenges to achieve. It took my mum a long time to accept this (she was still telling people I was an engineer years after I’d moved to sales).

    “Today, only 11% of the British engineering workforce is female, yet women have played and continue to play a significant role in the field.
    Women’s Engineering Society”


    I recently volunteered to be a mentor to sixth-form students in a local secondary school because I want to share my experience with girls and let them know that it’s okay to move away from the path you originally set out for yourself. Just make sure that the decision to make a change is your decision and not because someone’s made you feel “not good enough.” I want to tell girls who like maths and science that sometimes, life (and other people’s biases) can get in the way of your dreams, but it’s important to challenge the status quo.

    This is why I’m both the worst and the best example of a woman in STEM, because now I can see how easily you can be taken off course.

    Nevertheless is a a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Supported by Pearson. Subscribe on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherSoundcloudTuneIn or RadioPublic.

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  • Sparking an interest in public history

    by Pearson

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    Dr. Steven D. Hoelscher, a professor of American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, inspired Dr. Jessica (Jessie) Swigger to become a great teacher and author.

    “Steve informed everything about how I approach my job,” Jessie, an associate professor of history at Western Carolina University, said about her inspirational professor.

    Jessie first met Steve when she took his Memory and Place course at the University of Texas (UT), Austin. “The point of the course is to examine how members within different cultures and societies do certain things to remember a shared past as well as to forget a shared past,” explained Steve, a professor of American Studies.

    “I was really inspired by that class,” Jessie recalled. “Steve was studying the kind of things that I was interested in.” His enthusiasm for the subject was infectious, and it sparked her interest in public history, the way history is put to work in the world in fields like museum curatorship and historic preservation. Jessie eventually decided to specialize in this area of American Studies, writing her dissertation on the history of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village and choosing Steve as her advisor.

    Initially, Jessie was a silent participant in Steve’s course. “I had a lot of trouble speaking up in classes,” she confided. “But he pushed me to enter the discussion in a really kind way. He would ask me just the right question to get me talking. That’s something I have yet to master in my classroom.”

    Steve informed everything about how I approach my job.

    — Jessica Swigger, Associate Professor

    Describing his approach to encouraging class participation, Steve said, “I think a certain degree of empathy is necessary to be a good teacher. You need to try to place yourself in the shoes of the students, and to do that, you need to know them. Once you understand their perspective, you then try to draw out things that might otherwise just be unspoken.”

    Jessie also credits Steve with helping her fine-tune her research skills. She fondly recalled going to office hours and talking to him about her ideas for different research projects. “They were such intellectually fruitful conversations that expanded how I was thinking about different problems,” she recalled. “He taught me how to do research—the way to think and how to read carefully and write. He would always give me such detailed feedback on my writing.”

    “If professors are doing a good job, they offer critical feedback,” Steve noted. “And sometimes that can be kind of hard to receive. But Jessie was always interested in figuring out ways to do work better, and she worked really hard.”

    When it came time for Jessie to look for a job, Steve was there to help. “When you are an advisor, you do more than just read the dissertation and give feedback,” Steve explained. “You write letters of recommendation. You look for jobs that might be suitable for the candidate. You suggest avenues for publication. And you talk about the difficult job market and the sort of things that one needs to do to prepare.”

    Now in her fourteenth year of teaching, Jessie praised her inspirational professor by saying, “I want to be the kind of teacher that he is.”

    In response, Steve said, “One doesn’t always hear that when you are a teacher or a professor. You go about your business and do the best job you can. So when you hear that you have been important in someone’s career, that means a lot, especially when it’s from someone whom I admire like Jessie.”


    Dr. Jessica Swigger is an associate professor of History and the director of Public History, at Western Carolina University. She is the author of “History is Bunk”: Assembling the Past at Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village and is working on a book about the history of children’s’ museums in the United States. Jessie earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from the University of Texas, Austin.

    Dr. Steven D. Hoelscher is a professor of American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, and the faculty curator at the Harry Ransom Center. He has published four books and over forty book chapters and articles. Steve has a doctorate of philosophy degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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  • Tech, teens and trust: Navigating the digital world of our children

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    Those of us parenting in a digital world, frankly, don’t know what we’re doing. Warnings about the negative impact of screen time and social media abound. We are told that the internet is a breeding ground for cyberbullies and predators, a facilitator of social isolation and mental health challenges, and a mad scientist that is rewiring our kids’ brains so they can’t concentrate while also exposing them to an unmitigated cesspit of bad language and porn. These threats — combined with the lack of response from the big players in the tech field — have left parents floundering in a stormy, unregulated digital ocean.

    For now, the best way for parents to mitigate the hazards of the digital world is for them to be as digitally savvy as their children.The following are a few tips that might help them do just that.

    1. Walk your talk

    It is vital that parents model the behaviour they expect from their kids when it comes to the use of devices and social media. A family mission statement on how, when and where smartphones are used can be helpful if it’s something everyone buys into. Experts suggest that parents are best placed as mentors rather than micromanagers when it comes to the use of technology, with the idea that conversation is more powerful than coercion. You might decide, for example, to keep mealtimes tech-free, but it won’t work if parents have iWatches pinging messages to them over pizza. Thinking about your relationship with digital tech, and discussing it as a family is a great place to start.

    2. Sleep is sacred

    Most experts agree that parents should be aware of the effect technology is having on children’s sleep. Having clear boundaries around the use of smartphones at night and around bedtime routines is important. Left to their own devices (pun intended), many kids will text and receive messages when they should be winding down.

    3. Deal or no deal

    I can honestly say that screen time is the only thing we fight with my 12-year-old daughter about, and while negotiation is always our first step, we have set non-negotiables around her device use because, well, we pay the bill. We have access to all of our daughter’s passwords, social media and chat accounts, not so that we can spy on her, but so she knows that we can, at any time, see what she is saying and doing online. We’ve tried a number of parental control tools along the way too, and you might find them useful: OurPactCircle Home, and Forest.

    4. Know your Finsta from your Rinsta

    Parents need to understand that the way they engage online is not how their kids engage online. Sitting down with my daughter and going through her apps opened my eyes to how she uses Instagram’s chat function more than its image sharing features. I was exposed to Snapchat streaks, Finsta (“fake” Instagram) and Rinsta (“real” Instagram) accounts, and a host of terrifying anonymous apps that went instantly into the NO DEAL pile and were deleted. Any app that enables anonymous posting is an absolute NO in our house. We went through each app’s geolocation features, switching off where appropriate, and talked through the data that was being collected. I find having this check-in regularly and getting my daughter to talk me through the what and the why makes me feel more comfortable and keeps the conversation open.

    I’ve also found it helpful to understand my daughter’s school’s policy on social media — teachers and educators often have real insight into the latest social media trends, and can be great allies in tackling problems.

    5. Fill their world with alternatives and dial up the good

    Where possible, we try to fill our daughter’s life with books, music, outdoor activities and shared experiences offline, but we also embrace the opportunity to teach her to be a responsible digital citizen by sharing screen time, talking about images, encouraging critical thinking and understanding, and discussing the power of advertising, influencers and data. We feel our task is not so much to protect her from the online world, but to encourage her autonomy, her ability to make good decisions, and to equip her with the information she needs.

    While the secret life of our children has never felt more dangerous, I also realise that teenagers today have the same angst, insecurities, challenges and need for guidance as other generations of teens. The difference now is that everything is chronicled publicly and the pace of change means that parents need to constantly upgrade their knowledge. It’s a parenting task pre-digital adults did not sign up for, but we’re in it. For every hour spent on an app, there is always a walk in the park to be taken; for every Kardashian, we can show them a Malala.

    Hear more from Sara in Episode 8 of Nevertheless “Half the Story: Is being a YouTuber or influencer a viable career?

    Nevertheless is a a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Supported by Pearson. Subscribe on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherSoundcloudTuneIn or RadioPublic.

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  • Nevertheless: How to hold a girls tech career day

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    This November, Iowa Tech Chicks, an educational nonprofit in Iowa City, held its sixth Girls Tech Career Day. This technology-centric event offers approximately forty school girls (grades 5-8) the opportunity to learn about STEM careers through presentations from women in the field and hands-on activities.

    Girls Tech Career Day Co-Chair Michelle Knedler has participated in planning and running the event since 2016. She started volunteering with Iowa Tech Chicks and quickly got involved with the organization’s annual career day, coming up with activities, organizing volunteers, and lining up partnerships and sponsors.

    Below, Michelle, who is a product manager at Pearson by day, shares some words of advice for organizations that want to start holding their own tech career events.

    Why girls only?

    According to “Girls in IT: The Facts,” a report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, “Each year since 1999, the AP Computer Science exam consistently has had the lowest female percentage of any of the 37 AP exams, hovering at 19% or lower,” and one of the reasons girls are reluctant to take computer science classes is that they’re uncomfortable being the only females in a classroom full of their male peers.

    The disproportionately low number of women in computer science trend continues into higher education and the workplace, creating a situation where even though, “Computing jobs are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying…few women are benefiting from these occupations.”

    Some girls may need a nudge to consider computer sciences, and will feel more comfortable trying it with friends, so they won’t be the only girl in the class.

    – Code.org

    The report suggests that girls-only computer science educational opportunities are one way of combating negative peer influence early by providing girls with spaces where they feel supported and able to ask questions, mess-up, and try again.

    Set goals

    In order to gauge the success of your tech career day, you’ll need to clearly define your aspirations and expectations. Iowa Tech Chicks’s  2018 tech career day goals include the following:

    1. Give the girls a clear understanding of computer science and computer science careers.
    2. Challenge stereotypes about careers in technology, including that they’re tedious, not “people”/social jobs, really difficult, and not creative.
    3. Build up participants’ resilience and their confidence in their own technological abilities and knowledge.

    Computer science is the study of all of the different ways computers can be used to make things easier, faster, or more fun.

    – Girls Who Code

    Debunk stereotypes

    Ask a group of middle school girls what they think of when they think of people in technology and they’re going to tell you that it’s a bunch of guys staring at a computer screen all day working on things that they don’t find interesting. To have a successful tech career day, you have to show participants that

    • Technology careers are creative, social/people facing, meaningful, and diverse;
    • Lots of roles fall under the banner of tech careers, including developers, project managers, designers, artists, business analysts, data scientists, engineers, testers, product managers, etc;
    • And that technology can be paired up with their personal interests.

    Make it interactive

    Interspersing the day with activities will keep participants engaged and will help prevent information overload. At the Iowa Tech Chicks Career Day, we strive to provide the girls with a range of experiences that reflect their interests and are relevant to their lives right now.

    • Keep the activity session sizes small by rotating groups.
    • Determine if any of the sessions can be led by girls close to participants’ age groups. For example, we’ve had high school and college girls lead the Protect the Pringle activity (see below).
    • Most of all, don’t be afraid to challenge participants. You may be surprised by how capable they are.

    Activity examples

    Distracted driving simulation: Volunteers from the National Advanced Driving Simulator show the girls how technology can save lives. Tech Career Day participants get to drive simulators and learn firsthand about the dangers of distracted driving.

    Protect the Pringle: This problem-solving activity asks the girls to create packaging for a single Pringle potato chip from simple, everyday materials. Their contraptions must protect the Pringle from damage during three secret tests: a fall, heavy weight, and submersion. The girls are given a chance to try again once they know the challenges their chips will face.

    Robotics: Girls use Lego WeDo robotic kits to build and code a robot to perform a simple task.

    Development life cycle: Participants work in groups to select a problem they want to solve. They then brainstorm potential engineering solutions to their problems, create wireframes to layout functionality, and develop pitches to explain their ideas to their peers. This activity is great for demonstrating how STEM careers require creativity.

    This year’s ideas included “EZVote,” an app that allows citizens to vote online using facial recognition, and an online school platform that made learning more fun.

    Reach out

    Take advantage of the resources in your community to provide a unique experience for Career Day participants.

    Partnerships: Iowa Tech Chick partnerships have led to field trips to local businesses and nonprofits (such as the Iowa City FabLab), a welding program at a local community college, a robotics workshop with a woman-owned business, and a mini med school session with students from the University of Iowa.

    School districts: Coordinating efforts with your local school district can aid with Career Day preparation and execution. For example, the Iowa City Community School District has helped Iowa Tech Chicks by identifying girls to participate in Career Day and securing parent permission. This has enabled us to invite a diverse group of girls who have had limited exposure to the Career Day topics and technology. The School District has also helped us by providing free bus transportation on the day of the event.

    Sponsors: Look for local business sponsors to help with the cost of the event. Iowa Tech Chick expenses were food (snacks and lunches), t-shirts, and items donated for goody bags.  Additional money helped buy materials and gadgets like Spheros and Kindles.

    Volunteers/Mentors:Connect with volunteers through work, professional organizations, friends, etc. Invite women who are working in technology to give presentations and lead activities. Try to show as wide a range of industries and roles as you can.

    Resources: Introduce Career Day participants to resources in their school and community, so that once you pique their interest in technology they have the means to keep exploring.

    Get feedback & make improvements

    Get the girls feedback on the activities so you can hone in on what worked well and what can be improved upon next time. We solicit feedback through surveys that we ask the girls to fill out and through conversations between participants and volunteers.

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  • Three ways employers can prepare for the future of work

    by Nathan Martin

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    To prepare for the future of work, we could do much worse than learning from Geoffrey Owens.

    Remember Geoffrey Owens? He’s the former Cosby Show actor who was thrust into our timelines after a “look where he is now” image of him bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s went viral. The tabloids’ attempt was to shame, but the public saw his example as something to be praised, not ridiculed.

    Here was a man who had spent his life teaching and acting and, like so many people, had picked up additional work to support his family. The tabloid backlash was immediate and justified. Vindication was swift and Owens handled the situation with grace. He summed up the incident well on Good Morning America, “I hope this helps us rethink what it means to work, the honour and dignity of work.”

    His story is something to be celebrated, a role model to emulate, but it should also make us think about not just what it means to work, but how employers can better support and prepare people for a world of work that is changing and seems to require more than one career in a lifetime.

    Successful workplaces will be places where the best people can thrive regardless of bias about gender, age or background.


    This is something I think about in my job at Pearson — how to not just prepare for the future of work, but to also ensure that this future is one which benefits all people. We know that the world of work is undergoing seismic changes. Trends like automation, climate change and political changes will impact jobs and careers. The idea of a traditional career or “job for life” is changing.

    We need to ensure that education and employment is fit for the needs of our changing world.

    That was one reason why, in 2017, Pearson published The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, in collaboration with Nesta and Oxford Martin. By combining a wider understanding of the trends that impact the future of work with expert human judgment and machine learning, a clearer understanding emerged of the skills more likely to be future-proof.

    While the research pointed to a coming disruption in employment (one in five jobs will likely decline), that will be accompanied by increased demand for other jobs. Skills which will be important are qualities like the ability to teach other people, solve problems, read social situations, analyse systems and develop unusual or clever ideas about new topics.

    Increasingly, as automation and artificial intelligence plays a greater role in our lives, what makes us human is what will make us employable. Employers must find ways to sustainably support and get the best out of those human qualities. Three ways they can do that are:

    1. Support flexible pathways

    Living in London, I am reliant on the web of the Underground. As I wrote in a recent report with Jobs for the Future, the changing world of work will look less like the linear highways of America, and more like the Tube. Pathways to employment may not follow traditional routes. It might look like the gig economy. There may be stops and starts. Whether it’s apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships, flexible working, new models of work-place learning or credentialing, employers should embrace ways to make it easier for people to progress throughout their career, even if it’s not in a straight line.

    2. Enable life-long learning

    A changing world of work means that learning new skills will need to be a continual part of each employee’s lives (you can explore what skills you’ll need in 2030 to succeed in your current job here). Employers play an important role in supporting the acquiring of those skills. That might involve the apprenticeships and training offered by a group like Network Rail, the skills mentoring offered by LocalizED, or it could be the Best You EDU partnership that Pearson operates with Brinker International and its restaurants in the United States. At no cost, employees are able to earn different credentials, including their GED and Associate Degree.

    3. Prioritise diversity as a core competency

    Workplaces in the future must see the business case for equality and be able to attract and retain people from all backgrounds at all ages and stages of life. For the first time, five generations of workers are working at the same time. It is difficult to build a “Fourth Industrial Revolution-ready” workplace where these generations can succeed and do good. Diversity makes for better work and we’ve been exploring this critical topic with journalists, educators, scientists and students in Nevertheless. Successful workplaces will be places where the best people can thrive regardless of bias about gender, age or background.

    This is just a start, but for the world of work to become a place that values humanity, we will need more than just policy or business actions, we will need better heroes. And we will need to be honest and transparent about the opportunities and challenges.

    It might look like an actor trying to continue balancing a career, a scientist whose accomplishments were overlooked (now featured on this STEM Role Model poster) or a colleague who literally worked their way up from nothing to helping lead technology at a major company and mentor other women in STEM careers.

    We need pioneers to show what it looks like to dream, to continue learning, take different pathways and stay resilient in the face of changing circumstances and this brave new world of work.

    This guest post is republished from Virgin Unite’s 100% Human at Work Series.

    Nevertheless is a a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Supported by Pearson. Subscribe on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherSoundcloudTuneIn or RadioPublic.

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  • A new talent compact: Striking a new deal with your employees

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    The U.S. is experiencing historically low levels of unemployment. As a result, learning and development (L&D), talent management and human resource (HR) thought leaders are declaring that the war for talent is over. Talent has prevailed.

    Even with historically low unemployment, consider this:

    • There are an estimated 6.6 million jobs currently going unfilled in the U.S.
    • There are over 70 million individuals in the U.S. with either some college education but no degree, or without a high school diploma
    • These same individuals currently work in jobs with a high likelihood of being impacted by automation
    • By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of post-secondary education and training beyond high school

    This doesn’t sound like either side won.

    To prevent another declaration of war for talent, L&D must create a new compact for talent. We need to strike a grand bargain with our employees and offer them a new deal.

    Ed Baldwin, an HR strategist, suggests doing away with the concept of “at-will” employment and striking a compact that is worthy of reciprocation for both employee and employer. Additionally, Evan Hackle, CEO of a leading training development company, believes that we must provide career planning for every employee and transparency to where they stand in the talent pipeline.

    With all of this as a back drop, I would like to propose that there is a new compact to be had with talent, and as L&D leaders, it is within our grasp to strike this grand bargain. This new deal for talent requires L&D to deliver on three main points.

    1. We will ensure you have the skills you need to succeed in your role.

    Now, for many of us, this may feel like what we are already doing. We provide what we think is role-specific training or tools to our employees to help them be successful in their current job, but in many industries, like hospitality, retail or quick service restaurants, the lack of foundational skills, literacy, numeracy, and even fluency in English, is holding workers back from achieving their potential.

    As a learning and talent leader, we often lament when our front line does not take the programs we push out. But what if the obstacle to taking these programs is a language barrier or not having the personal technology devices or Wi-Fi to assist them in consuming these courses? Research shows 30 percent of the workforce falls into this latter bucket.

    Forward-thinking organizations like Brinker International have recognized this. In January of this year, the parent company for Chili’s and Maggiano’s launched an innovative, voluntary employee education benefit Best You EDU™ to all hourly and salaried team members that begins with foundational education all the way to college.

    2. We will invest in the development of your skills to advance your career.

    Imagine being told you had $3,000, $4,000, or $6,000 a year that you could spend on developing your skills and advancing to your next role. How would you spend it?

    As I talk to learning and talent leaders across a wide spectrum of companies, and we talk about the cost of turnover especially in front line worker roles, replacement costs can equal $2,000-4,000 a year for roles making on average $10/hour.

    What if we flipped the model and instead of accepting this as the “cost of doing business,” we focus it on developing the employee for their next role – inside or outside of the company. For each year you stay in your role and have satisfactory performance, we will invest the value of turnover that year into your personal development. Talk about worthy reciprocity.

    The Amazon Career Choice program is an example of this type of approach. Amazon invests up to $3,000 per year, up to a total of $12,000, for warehouse workers to reskill to their next role – largely outside of Amazon – for jobs in high-growth areas such as health care, technology and the skilled trades.

    Imagine a world in which companies with programs like Career Choice are connecting their talent ecosystem to companies that are looking for that particular skill set, seamlessly moving talent from one organization to the next.

    3. We will provide you with the tools and resources to determine how to invest in your skills.

    How do we trust individuals will make smart investments in their skills development? This new deal is about providing tools and resources to help them make those investments. In my view, this is about career advising, academic advising and success coaching.

    It may seem foreign to think about these types of services or roles in the context of your traditional talent management team. But giving your employees the resources and tools to plan their career requires these types of roles. The traditional back-office educational assistance program is not providing this level of support or strategic alignment to your talent strategy.

    This means moving away from the fallacy that our managers are effective at guiding career planning conversations. Sure, they can conduct performance reviews, but most managers have limited capacity, few tools at their discretion, and minimal training in guiding an effective career planning conversation.

    Success coaching is important to front line workers who are returning to learning for the first time. Success coaching is there to monitor and support the employee through their learning experiences. This should be required of every educational provider the organization works with – or a service provided by a third party.

    A great example of this is an insurance company located in the Midwest. As part of its talent management organization, they have individuals who help coach internal candidates through their talent management process – from understanding a job posting, to preparing a resume, to submitting the resume to the hiring manager, to prepping for the interview. Their commitment to helping their employees understand internal talent mobility is a defining part of what it means to be an employee for that company.

    Many will say “This is not possible. This would be too expensive to fund. I could never get this approved.” Yes, this is a departure from the norm, but consider the following:

    • Several studies by the Lumina Foundation have shown a return on investment (ROI) for up to 140 percent for organizations that strategically use their educational assistance programs. What learning programs do you currently offer that show that level of ROI to the organization? If you could demonstrate that level of ROI to your CEO and CFO, what would their reaction be?
    • Turnover of employees is a major cost to organizations and a drain on an organization’s results and resources. What if you could reduce turnover by 20 percent in your organization? What is the value of that reduction, not only in turnover cost, but also in increased productivity, revenues and customer satisfaction?

    A Starting Point

    As learning and talent leaders, this new deal starts when we prioritize workforce development. It starts when we move programs, like tuition assistance, out of being a benefit and into being a strategic tool for investment. It starts when we begin to look at our educational assistance policies and begin to customize them to the workforce. It starts with equipping your employees to make good decisions about how they develop their skills and invest in their development. It starts with removing the roadblocks your employees have in order to utilize these programs.

    According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace Report, 33 percent of the workforce is actively engaged and fully productive. That means that 67 percent of our workforce is looking for a new deal – better opportunities for development, opportunities for advancement, opportunities to be the best version of themselves. Gallup estimates that for every $10,000 in salary, a disengaged employee cost the company $3,400 per year. As learning and talent leaders, the business case is ours to make. The impacts are ours to make. This grand bargain is within our reach.

    It is time for L&D professionals to strike a new deal with talent – a deal that is good for organizations, employees, and for the communities in which the business operates. A deal that is truly worthy of reciprocity.

    This article originally appeared in Training Industry Magazine.

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  • Top 4 fears (and realities) of working with an OPM partner

    by Jason Simmons, Director of Strategic Marketing, Pearson Online Learning Services

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    “Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” Dale Carnegie

    Humans don’t like change. While the unknown can be exciting, fear is always a part of our emotional mix. This is especially true when you’re dealing with new innovations at your institution.

    As you look for a partner who can help expand or take your programs online, you’re bound to experience some common fears:

    • Fear of success/failure: Will our program fail (and what happens if we succeed)?
    • Fear of losing control: Who runs the show?
    • Fear of upsetting others: Who will we need to convince?
    • Fear of the unknown: Will we become just a “diploma mill”?

    The last one here is critical — we don’t know what to expect when we don’t have enough information about the change, and this stops us from taking any action at all.

    Knowledge is power. Below you’ll find answers to some of the top fears we hear from institutions across the country — and the true realities of working with an Online Program Management (OPM) provider.

    FEAR:  Our online programs will be less rigorous and our online students will be less qualified.

    REALITY: This is the #1 block. After all, your faculty and students are your top priority. From admissions to program development, maintaining academic integrity is of the utmost importance. However, don’t be afraid, as evidence shows online can be as competitive (if not more so) than on-ground. You determine the educational experience built into each course, and the same academic policies and controls that govern on-campus programs generally apply to online learning programs.

    FEAR: If we partner with an OPM provider to deliver online programs, we’ll lose academic control.

    REALITY: This is one of the most common fears that institutions experience — the desire and need for certainty. Rest assured, similar to on-campus programs, your institution will always maintain full control over academic standards and admission decisions. Your regional and professional accrediting bodies determine the academic standards of all programs, including online programs. Faculty are responsible for creating the course curriculum, selecting materials, designing learning activities, and assessing student learning.

    FEAR: Faculty will never get on board with launching and teaching online programs.

    REALITY: Resistance to change is normal, and faculty can often be the most challenging audience to get on board when choosing to go online. Often, they feel that online programs are “watered down” versions of on-campus programs, or that they’ll require extra work on their behalf.

    OPM’s can provide a one-stop link to your institution’s critical services (marketing, recruitment, and student services), freeing faculty to focus exclusively on teaching and learning, not program and course logistics. With this direct support, we’ve found that some of the biggest faculty challengers become an institution’s greatest advocates. Also, online programs can lead to additional resources for faculty — more TAs, more tenured positions, or more time to do research.

    FEAR: OPM providers aren’t flexible and will only work with us one way.

    REALITY: I can only speak to our services, but we think you’ll find Pearson to be highly flexible. While we offer core services (marketing, recruitment, and student services), many of our other services are optional and can be customized. For example, course development is available but not required, we are technology agnostic (working with any LMS, SIS), and don’t require the use of Pearson print content.

    Access our full mythbuster list here (myths and realities of going online).

    Let’s talk about it

    There’s one more fear we haven’t mentioned yet — fear of missing out, or FOMO. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to take or expand your programs to the next level online.

    But first, ask yourself what’s standing in the way of your institution launching or expanding its online degree programs? We’d love to have a conversation with you about the realities of partnering with Pearson.

    Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires a strategic approach to successfully reach more of the right students where they are. Partnering with Pearson can help you accelerate strategic change while reducing the risks associated with growing your online presence. Our online program management services and community can help your students thrive as you build the brand and reputation you’re striving for.

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  • Kate's story

    by Kate Edwards, Senior Vice President, Efficacy & Research, Pearson

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    Kate Edwards, SVP, Efficacy & Research at Pearson: “Why I chose to tell this story.”

    At face value, what I’m sharing is a story about efficacy in medicine and what can be learned and applied in the field of education. It’s about the power of focusing on outcomes and what can be achieved by a diverse team applying evidence in the service of delivering those outcomes. It’s also a story that tells another tale. It’s the story of someone, me, who at the time felt they had personally and physically failed — and what they went on to do next.

    With that in mind, it wasn’t an easy decision to share my story. I am not someone who lives a life of self-disclosure. In fact, however seamlessly presented this narrative appears, its sharing has been grounded in a lot of fear and self-doubt.

    I was afraid. Afraid I’d jumble up events, misrepresent things or people, forget important medical things. I was afraid others would judge me, or the sharing of it, as inappropriate. Scared that it would be interpreted as giving advice when I don’t presume to have any to give. The story is my family’s experience of extreme premature birth. It is also a story that is not ‘over’ for us, we are still living with the effects of what happened.

    Why did I choose to do this? Living through that experience, I learned that it’s the moments when you think everything is going wrong that a strange alchemy can take place. One that transforms the disaster into a renewed and purposeful journey. I chose to share this story not because of the experience of failure, but because of what I learned next, and what that’s helping me to go on and do.

    The twists and turns that learning took me on, taught me that straight roads are conducive to a speedy arrival at your destination, but they don’t necessarily make skillful drivers.

    Over the course of the 116 days we spent in hospital I learned things about myself, about others, about resilience in the face of adversity, and about what you are capable of doing in the service of the things you care most about.

    After we left the hospital and returned home, a very wise man (Pearson’s CEO, John Fallon) who was reflecting on his own personal challenges said,“I’ve learnt that it is not what happens to you in life, ultimately, that matters, but what you do about it.” John’s words have stuck with me. Over time, and with the support of other colleagues at Pearson like Tim Bozik, Kate James and my team, the words gave me the courage to build on what I learned. I have come to understand what it means to show-up as myself, not just in private, but at work, and as a leader. Ultimately, to paraphrase researcher Brené Brown, I learned that the courage to be vulnerable can help you transform how you live, love, parent, and lead.

    On the 16th of November, it will be two years since my daughter’s scheduled delivery date. November 17th is World Prematurity Day. To personally mark these poignant milestones I agreed to write about my experience. I wanted one or two of the parents of the 15 million babies born prematurely each year to know that they are not alone. I also want to remind you that we all have these stories that go into the making of who we are and how we show up. It’s by feeling the fear, choosing courage over comfort, daring to be brave, sharing and listening to stories of persistence, and using what we’ve learned to make a difference (however big or small) that change can come: in our personal relationships, our families, our workplaces, our communities.

    Nevertheless is a a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Supported by Pearson. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Soundcloud, TuneIn or RadioPublic.

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  • Teaching students that communication is a two-way street

    by Pearson

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    During the fifteen years that Dr. Keri Stephens has taught at the University of Texas, Austin, she has helped hundreds of students like Courtney Bagot develop communication skills that empower them to succeed in their careers. Courtney is now using those skills to fund meals for food-insecure families across North Texas.

    “I did not plan on becoming a teacher, but when I was in graduate school, I had the opportunity to teach some classes,” Dr. Stephens explained. “I decided to keep teaching when I saw that my students were getting jobs based on the things that I had told them. I really felt like I could have a tremendous impact on young adults’ lives.”

    One of those young adults was Courtney Bagot. Courtney now works for the North Texas Food Bank, managing partnerships with corporate donors. She uses skills that she learned during Dr. Stephens’ Organizational Communication course every day in her work.

    Dr. Stephens hopes students who take her Organizational Communication courses learn questioning and listening skills. “I want to teach my students that having a communication background can help them navigate just about any organizational situation,” Dr. Stephens explained. “Things are not laid out cleanly for them, and they’re going to have to use their asking and answering skills. And it’s my hope that it empowers them to be good at no matter what they choose to do.”

    In the course, Courtney developed her listening skills. “Listening is even more important than getting your message out because it enables you to really tailor and customize your message,” Courtney said. “That’s important in my current job because I’m not just selling our mission—I’m trying to help our partners understand what we are doing and apply it to their values.”

    Courtney also learned how to network from Dr. Stephens. Courtney recalled, “She gave us tips on how to ask questions that helped us inspire more meaningful conversations in order to create relationships. And with my job, that’s exactly what I have to do. I have to build relationships with people so that they trust us and work with us.”

    Using these skills, Courtney was able to help the North Texas Food Bank fund and distribute seventy million nutritious meals to food-insecure families across thirteen counties last year. Her efforts earned her a recent promotion to associate director of corporate engagement, a position that requires her to manage approximately seventy-five partner relationships.

    Courtney attributes her success to what she learned from Dr. Stephens. “She taught me how to communicate with different types of people, and those basic principles helped me move up quickly in my job,” she explained.

    She taught me how to communicate with different types of people, and those basic principles helped me move up quickly in my job.

    — Courtney Bagot, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement

    Learning of Courtney’s promotion, Dr. Stephens said, “I’m not surprised that she has moved ahead quickly because of how much she engaged in my class. Professors want to see their students succeed, and it makes us very happy when we hear that they’re doing great things.”


    Courtney Bagot earned her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication from the University of Texas, Austin. She spent a year working for a for-profit organization before deciding that something was missing from her life. Wanting to make a difference in the world and help those who are less fortunate, she applied for a job at the North Texas Food Bank. She has worked there for four-and-a-half years and was promoted in September 2016 to the position of associate director of corporate engagement.

    Dr. Keri Stephens earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. After working in industry for a decade, she returned to school at the University of Texas, Austin, to pursue a PhD in Organizational Communication and Technology. As a graduate student, she had the opportunity to teach some classes, and fifteen years later, she is still teaching there as an associate professor. Dr. Stephens has published over fifty peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, and she recently received The President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award (only seven were given to faculty at UT Austin).


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  • AI-based tutoring: A new kind of personalized learning

    by Pearson

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    The Discovery Channel’s This is AI looks at how artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world now, the scientists shaping it, and the lives affected by this nascent technology.

    This is especially significant in the education industry with the increasing need for lifelong learning. The future of digital learning offers the potential of even greater tools and supports. Imagine lifelong learning companions powered by AI that can accompany and support individual learners throughout their studies – in and beyond school – or new forms of assessment that measure learning while it is taking place, shaping the learning experience in real time.

    While the full potential of the application of AI is being discovered with each day, today there are students and educators benefitting from a new kind of personalized learning.

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  • Marketing online programs: Five questions to ask yourself

    by Rob Bishop, Vice President, University Partnerships, Pearson Online Learning Services

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    In a sea of online programs (often touting the same messages of high quality, low cost, great faculty, etc.), how does your institution stand out from the crowd? As new platforms to reach prospective students arise, sticking to traditional approaches might leave you falling behind your competitors. Ask yourself these five questions to help your institution market smarter — and gain an edge over the competition.

    Are you visible?

    In this day and age, it takes more than just having a website and a few social media profiles to be visible in the marketplace. It involves actively using them and creating a dynamic digital presence with regular updates. Digital visibility strategies include creating content and ads optimized for a specific audience to appear on relevant channels such as social media, websites, and search engines. When done right, Google AdWords and other search advertising can play a key role in your marketing initiatives. Search campaigns, however, need constant attention, optimization, and creativity. Overall, the goal of online marketing is to create content specific to the ideal audience and display it where they’ll be looking. The more people who find your institution, the more interest you’ll receive.

    Are you providing a clear, consistent experience?

    If your institutional brand is going to work across all audiences and markets, it needs to be consistent. And that means your processes need to be completely focused on delivering equal experiences to students and faculty both on and off campus. An important part of delivering on a superior experience is cohesiveness in brand messaging and outreach in order to provide high-quality leads that turn into enrollments. Being consistent doesn’t mean that your institution can’t change. In fact, consistency gives you a firm foundation for evolving into offering even more options for even more students. Once you have built or refined your brand through the consistent delivery of your brand promise, you are able to evolve and expand. Every interaction a prospective student has with your marketing materials and every person they come into contact with representing your school creates a brand impression. You should think through the entire process from the prospective student’s point of view using this lens.

    Are your marketing and recruitment teams aligned?

    Aligning your recruitment and marketing teams is the best way to fuel institutional growth efficiently and effectively — and keep them from pointing fingers at each other when challenges come along. Structuring and fostering a philosophy of consistent and constant communication along with relevant data is the key. This means defining not only goals and language, but also every stage of the recruitment process. By creating open communication and shared goals backed up with shared hard data and analysis, you can improve your marketing effectiveness, increase qualified leads, and track them through the entire prospect lifecycle: from first contact through enrollment. Defining terminology, developing a plan, and setting mutual goals can help you to align your recruitment and marketing teams, improving your efficiency and enrollment growth. Remember, the purpose of marketing is to produce students, not leads or impressions (which is the smoke and mirrors agencies will try to sell you).

    Are you agile?

    We’re not talking about jumping on every new channel that pops up or addressing every hot idea. By weaving agility through your business efforts, your institution can create environments that stay focused on where the current need is within the higher ed industry, and allow for quick pivots to respond to demands. Successful agile practices require some big, but manageable, changes to implement including a mentality of collaboration and cooperation across the institution that accounts for and encourages calculated risk taking. Do this by creating a culture and system for testing and optimizing, both at the channel and asset level. Marketing leaders can be famously confident, only the market response is a fair judge of performance.

    Are you tracking your ROI?

    Do you know if your marketing is actually working? Evaluating results is a top challenge among many institutions today. Tracking and measuring your ROI allows for an in-depth, data-backed picture of where your marketing dollars are spent and how many leads and students you’ve earned as a result. Clear and up-to-date data can also help you be strategic based on the results. This information can inform your marketing budget allocation so you can reinvest in the tactics that are bringing you a return and pull back on the weaker strategies. Now that you’ve considered the hard questions, here’s one more: Is your institution willing to invest in the resources and expertise internally to address these needs? Or are you ready to consider working with an outside partner who will bring these assets and investment capital to reach your institution’s potential? Read our free white paper to learn what other issues and costs you may need to consider when growing your online programs and get insights to help you answer one pivotal question — should you build or buy?

    Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires a strategic approach to successfully reaching more of the right students where they are. Partnering with Pearson can help you accelerate strategic change while reducing the risks associated with growing your online presence. Learn more

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  • How to identify strategic opportunities for online growth

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    Over the past decade, many leaders in higher ed have shared the same mantra as it relates to growing online: If you build it, they will come. But are “they” showing up? Or are “they” the right people you want knocking at your door?

    There’s no doubt that online enrollment keeps rising, but at the same time, institutions are finding it harder than ever to grow successful online programs and often face risks when doing so — financially, academically, and with respect to reputation . To control risks and improve performance, institutions must become far more strategic about how they build, deliver, and scale online programs.

    Four keys to building a successful strategy

    Going online isn’t a tactical approach. You need a strategy that will help you understand and react to the demands and shifts in the market. It starts with gathering market data, choosing the right program, and lining up appropriate resources.

    Understand your market

    Taking the path of least resistance by going online with the most convenient program option or providing a generic online degree is no longer the answer; you need to identify key differentiators, true demand in the market, aligned with strong program outcomes.

    • Identify or reevaluate your core target audience. Your online programs can’t serve everybody.
    • Understand and pay attention to competitors (including your own institution’s on-campus courses and programs). Many schools forget to look beyond their own region when analyzing online program competition. For a good example, perform a Google search for “online nursing degree” to see who’s advertising in your own backyard (as well as nationally).
    • Is there a market segment that is not currently being served or is not being served well?A niche strategy allows you to focus your efforts. For example, perhaps you can build a highly successful program around your faculty’s expertise in business analytics, a specific industry, or new partnerships with key regional employers. A strategy like this can lower the cost of student acquisition and allow a program to be sustainable.

    Identify a need

    Rethink segments around students’ unmet needs — the needs you’d be uniquely positioned to meet, once you innovate properly around your core assets.

    • Assess your students’/prospective students’ overall journey to discover potential opportunities. Opportunities can sometimes exist when it comes to simplifying the application process, admissions review timelines, or communication with prospects.
    • Understand what motivates them to take online courses. Is it saving time? Money? A convenient location?  Focus on programs that students “have to have” and that are tightly aligned with the career outcomes (license, credentials, certification, professional requirements, etc)
    • Take the time to listen. What do your students or prospects think of your institution? Where are there program opportunities where your school is well known, highly-ranked, or well-suited for a creative opportunity, like taking a program online?

    Invest in research

    Professional market research should objectively assess student demand and shifting labor markets, as well as your brand strength, reputation, culture, and ability to deliver.

    • What qualitative and quantitative data will you need to make the right decisions and do you have internal resources to get it, or do you need outside expertise?
          • Consider this: “on average, schools partnering with traditional end-to-end OPMs [Online Program Managers] have outperformed their peers in increasing enrollment.” Eduventures, Expanding the OPM Definition, 2017)
    • Often, the key to unlocking new opportunities for profit doesn’t require changing what you offer. It requires changing what you charge for it. Understand the ramifications of improperly pricing a program and attracting the wrong student demographic.
    • Realize the importance of your program name. This can attract radically different students.

    Create a culture to succeed

    Dig deep to understand if your university has established a culture that allows for an entrepreneurial and growth-minded atmosphere.

    • Are university tax policies and faculty incentive structures in place to make sure critical team members have what they need to take a program online, once one has been identified? All university stakeholders want to feel supported and also feel part of the conversation — be ready to ensure the right kind of support so your top talent has what they need to succeed in the venture of launching an online program. No one wants to be part of a project that feels like twice the work with no incentive or support in sight.
    • Do current university approval processes allow you to be nimble with your strategy?  Program, department, college, university, and accrediting body approval processes can take anywhere from months to years to navigate. This kind of delay allows any kind of competitive advantage to disappear. At public institutions, procurement processes may not always be accustomed to evaluating solutions like enrollment management or marketing services. Know and understand how your university is “positioned to move” in order to succeed.
    • Is there a centralized strategy to prevent conflicts between programs and colleges? Some universities will see situations where programs within the same college are actually competing against each other. Other schools can have multiple marketing vendors or enrollment partners all working within the same university — creating costly competition and conflicts for the university. Create alignment and alliances within campus leadership to prevent this costly mistake.

    If you’re struggling with scaling your institution or finding new areas of profitable growth online, you’re not alone. Learn what it takes to compete in today’s competitive market. Get our free white paper to help you answer one pivotal question — should you build or buy?

    Today’s increasingly competitive landscape requires a strategic approach to successfully reaching more of the right students where they are. Partnering with Pearson can help you accelerate strategic change while reducing the risks associated with growing your online presence.

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  • Chemist Linda Bush on mixed reality and changing the way people learn

    by Robin Beck, Contributor, Pearson

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    Linda Bush is the Director of STEM, Nursing, Business Studies and Program Development for Smarthinking, Pearson’s Online Tutoring Service. In this role, she manages hundreds of subject expert tutors for college-level online academic support, provides consultative services to client institutions and faculty on optimal integration of online tutoring into their courses, and works on new programs and business opportunities for Smarthinking.

    In anticipation of Educause 2018, we spoke with Linda about discovering her love of science, empowering learners, and imagining the possibilities of mixed reality.

    Explain your career path to date. How did you come to work in education?

    I got my undergrad degree at Bryn Mawr, and I have a PhD in organic chemistry from Yale. I was fortunate to have a mentor in graduate school who was a preeminent scholar and teacher. I learned so much from him about thinking critically, asking the right questions, and considering multiple solutions to problems.

    In my work life I’ve had at least three careers so far! I was a chemistry professor, then a freelance media consultant and contributor for a textbook publisher, which sort of led to my third career as Director of Online Tutoring in STEM for Smarthinking and Pearson. All my work has been education focused. I always had such respect for my teachers, and I’m really a nerd, so education was a natural path for me. I love science and chemistry, and I’m drawn to any opportunity to share more about those subjects with anyone willing to learn.

    Pearson supports Nevertheless, a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. Who or what inspired you to pursue a STEM career?

    When I was growing up, our neighbor was a biology lab instructor at a local college, and she would spend hours with me looking at pond water samples under a microscope or collecting and curating bugs and snakes in our shared yards. Also, my dad had a PhD in chemistry, so although he never pressed it, that sort of thing was always on my radar. As I said earlier, I went to Bryn Mawr College, a women’s college with very strong programs in STEM, and that’s when I really found my own calling in chemistry.

    I know you worked with Bryn Mawr College recently! Can you share more about the work you and your team did there?

    This was really how I got involved with the Pearson Immersive team. There are features of Windows10 Skype which allow enhanced video calls between HoloLens and other devices. In 2016, the Immersive team reached out to Smarthinking to explore the potential use of this type of virtual connection for academic tutoring. I am an active alumna, so I contacted some faculty at Bryn Mawr College to see if they’d help us run some testing and focus groups with students.

    Once they had HoloLens devices on campus, the instructional technology team at Bryn Mawr really made the most of them. Students jumped into the project with enthusiasm. There was tremendous interest in students learning programming and coding for mixed reality. Because of Pearson’s partnership with Microsoft, we were also able to sponsor some on-campus internship experiences. We learned a lot about app design from things the students built into their creations.

    It was very empowering for those young women to have a hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology. It meant a lot to them to know that they were among a relatively small number of people worldwide who have used and developed content for HoloLens. It also meant a lot to me and the whole Pearson team to be able to share our work with them.

    Explain the HoloLens to a six year old.

    HoloLens is like a special set of glasses or goggles through which you can see the world around you, but with two additional features: little cameras on the front that map the contours of objects in your environment and allow you to control the device with hand gestures and transparent screens in front of your eyes on which holograms can be projected. Those holograms seem to actually take up space in your environment. While wearing the HoloLens, the holograms have presence in your world and you interact with them as though they are real physical objects.

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