• 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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.

    Learn more

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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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  • 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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  • Creating alternative (educational) realities

    by Chelsey Philpot, Contributor, Pearson

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    Ksenia Sejenkova and Emily Egan want learners to see the world differently—literally. As developers on Pearson’s Immersive Technology team, Ksenia and Emily help build educational apps and experiences for virtual reality headsets (such as Microsoft’s HoloLens), mobile phones, and more. In anticipation of Educause 2018, I spoke with Ksenia and Emily about creating virtual reality and mixed reality experiences (see sidebar for definitions), being female developers, dreaming of new educational possibilities, and imagining the future of VR and MR technologies.

    How did you come to work in virtual reality development and education?

    Emily Egan: I worked as a multimedia content producer before, in publishing, and then I started working at a VR company creating immersive content. So I gained experience from that role and now I work at Pearson.

    [Working in education] was something that just came up as an opportunity. I haven’t always wanted to work in education, but the VR Video Experience Developer role seemed really appealing because there’s a lot of interesting use cases in education. It requires you to be very creative, and I wanted to do a creative role.

    Ksenia Sejenkova: My background is in video. I used to be an editor. That’s how I learned about 360 video. But then I tried VR—got really into that—did a master’s in interactive technology and started working at Pearson, so I combined my video background and technology interests.

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  • Innovation and inspiring talent

    by Marykay Wells, Chief Information Officer, Pearson

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    It’s our differences that make a difference.

    I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have endured a career in Information Technology for many years. At university, I decided that I was interested in pursuing a career in technology and haven’t regretted my decision. Since joining Pearson four years ago, I have had the opportunity to experience how technology is leveraged to fuel the education business. It’s remarkable that millions of learners globally depend on Pearson’s technology platforms to acquire knowledge essential in growing their careers. At Pearson, the technology team is at the heart of our digital transformation and we are challenged every day to find innovative ways to learn and exploit new and emerging technology and trends. Examples of these technologies are Big Data & Analytics through Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

    As part of my role, I have a highly rewarding and demanding responsibility of nurturing and inspiring talent. This is an essential part of leadership, but as a woman who has experienced many years in the technology field, I understand how critical it is for me to prioritize this as it can’t be tackled by a rule book or process.

    We’ve recently seen many headlines regarding the scant number of women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). There are many reasons why girls aren’t deciding to pursue degrees in technology and when they do choose to enter a technology career, there are many more reasons for why they decide to change course early in their careers.

    During the journey, many women continue to be affected by explicit and implicit biases that impact their decision to continue with a degree or a career in technology. Sometimes these biases are the catalyst to barriers of success, and more often than not, it’s women who become the casualties of this. It’s important that we intervene prior to this resulting in a loss of confidence and a feeling of not being “good enough” to excel in the field of technology — ultimately a tremendous loss of talent.

    I am inspired by the growing number of initiatives out there to reach young people who have the odds stacked against them. I advocate for men and women to lift as they climb. Zerin Azun Karim, senior portfolio analyst in tech operations at Pearson, found her way into technology after working at the Genius Bar in an Apple store. Today, Zerin mentors other Bangladeshi women as they navigate STEM careers. It’s hugely encouraging to see talent like Zerin at Pearson, and she’s also made a point to help others facing the same odds she did. I really encourage you to listen to Nevertheless, a podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology, to learn more about Zerin’s story.

    Embracing innovation is also a critical part of success. Overcoming barriers — with or without the help of others — to get your foot in the door is only the start of the battle. Technology is changing and the world at large is changing at an unprecedented speed. In this climate it’s critical that our thinking changes too so that we can keep pace and succeed in an aggressively competitive environment. Technology is not going to wait for us to catch up and I’ve adapted my own style throughout my career. I applaud individuals that push against the status quo, positively disrupting business as usual. Speaking out and trying new things can be daunting, especially at companies that have existed for over a hundred years, but that makes thinking differently all the more urgent and necessary. The stakes are higher, but so are the rewards.

    As a leader, the job of creating an environment where people feel safe and challenging norms rests on my shoulders. It’s simply impossible to tap into the creativity of seasoned professionals if they’re constantly desk-bound, number crunching, fire-fighting or in fear of breaking protocol. There’s equally no incentive for creativity if we solely reward or recognize people for immediate, tangible results. I’m proud to work for a company that recognizes that it’s our differences that make the difference.

    I urge everyone reading this to join me in opening doors for others when and where they can. I encourage you to think big and take calculated risks — everyone will be better for it. After all, innovation has no barriers, except those put up by people.

    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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  • Making data work for teachers (Episode 9)

    by Dr. Kristen DiCerbo, Vice President of Education Research, Pearson

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    This series, produced with The Edtech Podcast, explores the implications of and questions around future tech for education. Listen for insights from experts — including contrarians — from across industry, research, and academia. Get caught up with episodes 1-8.  

    With technology, teachers actually sometimes see less student work than they do with a traditional worksheet. How can resources developers best communicate about students’ work to teachers? What instructional decisions do teachers make for which it is helpful to have data to answer? Are data points useful beyond intervention alone? What do teachers actually seek from data and how it is presented, without adding to existing workload? What latest design methods of communicating information can be used to feedback student performance to teachers whilst maintaining the agency of all stakeholders? Is the “data-dashboard” here to stay? Or, is there another way?

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

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  • Embracing errors in the quest for perfection

    by Pearson

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    Mike Holcomb, a former Dean for Technology of the Arts at the University of Arizona, has had a long and illustrious career helping thousands of students, including Tara Johnson-Medinger, find their creative approach.

    Tara met Mike while studying in the University of Oregon’s film program in the early 90s. Because the film degree was theory-heavy, she added a Fine Arts minor to take advantage of more production-based courses and get a broader arts perspective.

    Tara enrolled in Mike’s motion graphics course, but not without some hesitation. She didn’t consider herself a fine artist, and at first she wasn’t sure that his year-long class was the best choice. Friends who had taken courses with Mike helped convince Tara to take the plunge, and before long she discovered the class was helping her find her artistic voice.

    “Because I was struggling so much with learning the animation process and not being a good illustrator, there were moments of wanting to abandon it. Mike helped me out of that, and really made me think of what I was doing in a different way.”

    Mike has long believed that the pressure to get things right the first time has a damaging effect on students in the arts, so his teaching style has always focused on embracing their mistakes. He’d always gained satisfaction from guiding students to those moments when they understand their capabilities and start believing in themselves, rather than simply learning by dictation and rote.

    “She was apprehensive at first because she didn’t come from a fine arts background. She felt she didn’t have the necessary drawing skills. But there are so many other techniques that can be employed. So, one of my first jobs as a teacher of animation was to acquit her of that notion.”

    I felt I had an ally and a friend that supported me. Mike helped me find my voice.

    — Tara Johnson-Medinger, Director and Producer

    When Tara started to take the lead, he saw the light bulb go on and interesting work develop.

    “I remember him being excited when I was trying to figure out my approach, because it was something quite different than what the other students were doing.”

    Tara recalls the realization that Mike helped her make: “It didn’t have to be the way everyone else was doing it. Go through the process, fail, try again, succeed — he seemed excited about what I was discovering as a student. Initially, I felt very intimidated in his class, but by the end I felt I had an ally and a friend that supported me. Mike helped me find my voice.”

    Tara went on to found the Portland Oregon Women’s (POW) Film Festival and the POWGirls Educational Program, and she credits Mike’s approach with enabling her to do so. She also hopes to pass that approach on to students in the POWGirls workshops.

    “I want to help them to appreciate their work and honor what they create, even if it’s not perfect. It’s okay to move through imperfection. Too many people get caught up in the perfection part of it, and just want to get to the end. I want to live through the process of my creations.”

    And Mike has enjoyed watching Tara’s career flourish.

    “It’s wonderful. Her success doesn’t surprise me a bit. She’s strong, determined, clear-headed, and tireless. I’m just so proud of her.”

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  • A teachable moment

    by Emily Lai, Ph.D, Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D, Peter Foltz, Ph.D

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    Nevertheless, a series produced with Storythings, celebrates women both inside and outside of Pearson who are using technology to transform teaching and learning and improve outcomes for students. 

    Pearson’s Emily Lai on trust, children, and information literacy

    A little-known fact about me is that I was once a librarian. Before I entered the world of educational measurement, I completed a degree in Library and Information Science and worked in an archive. This fact is ironic because there was a time in my life when I actually suffered from library anxiety.

    This occurred during my sophomore year of high school, when I had an English assignment to write a research paper summarizing and critically evaluating evidence of some paranormal topic of my choice (my topic: people who claim to recover memories of “past lives” through hypnosis.) Our class made several visits to the library of a local university so we could carry out research. At that time, there were no full-text electronic databases to consult, just stacks and stacks of books, hard-cover periodical indices, and a computer-based card catalog. Even this was intimidating to me.

    I remember spending way too much time trying to figure out how to search the collection and then retrieve the results — only to find that they weren’t all that relevant to my topic. I should have approached the reference librarian (the most under-utilized resource in the library!) but I was too shy. I felt this was something I should figure out on my own.

    Eventually, I overcame my paralysis in the library and learned to see it as a treasure trove. The tools to support information retrieval projects like this have vastly improved, thanks in no small part to technology. But technology has also made it even more important that students develop information literacy: the ability to diagnose an information need, identify what kind of information is needed, search and retrieve information, evaluate its relevance and quality, and use it responsibly to answer a question or solve a problem. It’s more important today simply because the internet and mobile technology enable ridiculous amounts of information to be instantly accessible to us, anytime and anywhere.

    Recently watching my 9-year old daughter try to research rights and responsibilities of citizens for a school assignment brought me full circle. Although she was sitting at home (not in a library) and using her computer (not bound books) to look for sources, she ended up with about the same result as my fruitless search from years before — a small collection of marginally relevant information sources of dubious credibility for the topic. She didn’t know what question she was trying to answer or how to describe what type of information would be best suited to answering it. She was simply googling her way through the assignment.

    If ever there was a teachable moment for information literacy, this was it. So we talked about how to search for information and how to judge whether that information is valuable for a given question. We talked about mis-information and the need to critically interrogate information sources to figure out if they are trustable.

    If you’re a parent like me who is concerned that your kids aren’t picking up these skills at school, or you’re just interested to hear more perspectives on the topic of trust and technology, make sure you check out the next episode of the Nevertheless podcast, entitled The First Click.


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  • Cracking the code to creativity

    by Pearson

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    Elaine Cohen is a professor of computer science at the University of Utah. She inspired Bruce Gooch to pick up the teaching baton and pass what he learned — and more — on to a whole new generation of students.

    Bruce Gooch wasn’t your typical computer student. For starters, his background was in mathematics, and he had no idea how to code.

    “I used to be an actuary, and, after a wildly unsuccessful job search, was looking for something new.”

    He decided to go back to school for computer science. By his own admission, he looked more like an outlaw biker than a professor. But once he began studying with Elaine, preconceptions fell away and he found the space and support he needed to excel.

    Elaine showed Bruce that coding could be creative. By giving him the responsibility and ownership to explore his ideas, he found the inspiration to make new leaps in the field. As he puts it, “Elaine took away the chains from my mind.”

    Elaine recalls, “Bruce was always very inventive and creative. His whole dissertation was something quite innovative that let him do stuff that nobody had done before. He created beautiful work.”

    Elaine took away the chains from my mind.

    — Bruce Gooch, Founder, Expressive Computer Graphics

    Bruce took this encouragement and ran with it, co-authoring a paper on the fundamental shading algorithms in computer science. Prior to the paper, there were only three such algorithms. “Now there’s a fourth,” says Bruce. “It’s called Gooch Shading.”

    He even wrote and published the first book in the field of non-photorealistic rendering — an area he helped discover — while he was a grad student, and he has become one of its top voices.

    “Elaine let me know that I could do something that I could barely imagine doing—this thing that students just don’t do. My book was published at the same time and by the same company as her book. Students aren’t supposed to do this stuff!”

    Because she developed a trust and respect with Bruce, friendship grew between them.

    “I think that’s part of being a mentor, coaching people to understand that they can cope with whatever life gives you. It’s not easy, but you can do it if you’re passionate enough about what you’re doing.”

    Throughout her career, Elaine has watched her students go on to enjoy all kinds of success.“I consider my students my ‘professional children.’ And when they grow into being successful professionals, it feels good.”

    Bruce is one of those “children.” Now at Texas A&M, he helps students learn to create games and computer animations. He gives his students the same encouragement that Elaine gave him, with the perspective and experience to back it up.

    “I’ve started some companies, and I have software that’s with millions of users. That’s what I’m pushing as ‘possible’ with my students. You can start a company. You can deploy a product. You can do these things that 20 years ago no one could.”

    And Bruce is quick to point out how he got where he is: “Elaine encouraged me to do my own thing. She gave me an extreme amount of confidence, and the ability to see possibilities I hadn’t seen before.”

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  • Digital learning tools foster student engagement and success

    by Pearson

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    Higher education is moving into a new phase when it comes to the power of technology in the classroom. More sophisticated learning tools are being developed, and they promise to fundamentally change how instructors teach and students learn. Such advances are being met with a mix of resistance and acceptance. Some educators worry that new technologies may diminish their role in the education process will eventually replace them, or that digital learning tools are too costly, or not necessary. Some are concerned about the amount of work involved with incorporating technology into their courses. Despite such uneasiness, a growing number of educators are adopting the tools and using them in innovative ways to enhance student learning.

    Among other products, Learning Catalytics is an interactive student response tool that educators are using in classrooms and lecture halls to pose questions and poll students’ understanding real-time with graphical visualization. We are continuing to develop even more advanced learning tools, including technologies that can assess critical thinking skills and broaden tutorial capabilities.

    According to higher education experts, many educators are turning to technology to enhance the learning experience, deliver improved outcomes, and to manage increasing class sizes and varying learning styles. They are selecting course materials that are available in digital format, and they’re using interactive tools to check students’ progress and mastery on assignments when completing course assignments. Many educators are redesigning coursework to blend online activities with classroom experiences. Some are sending texts and emails to nudge students to keep up with assignments, while others are recording and streaming lectures for students to view outside the classroom at their convenience, on a variety of mobile devices. A number of educators are even setting up labs where students can use sophisticated technology to conduct research.

    University of Illinois College of Education uses technology to improve classroom collaboration and efficiency.

    For example, the college of education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign two years ago unveiled its Illinois Digital Ecologies and Learning Laboratory (IDEALL) where students can set up technology–enhanced learning environments and then use technology to study the impact on learning. The lab features state-of-the-art equipment, including 360-degree audio- and video-recording systems, ceiling-mounted cameras, and 55-inch touch-screen tabletops. University researchers say the entire lab operates as a data-collection device to track learners’ interactions with technology. They use data analytics techniques to identify patterns and relationships among the learners’ movements, responses, discussions, and other actions to gain insight into their levels of engagement.

    H. Chad Lane, an associate professor of educational psychology, says the high-tech lab is making a “huge difference” for student researchers, and is an energizing, popular, and much-sought-after resource.

    Although students might be gravitating toward digital tools, many education technology experts say their use will not replace instructors. Digital learning, the experts say, makes educators better able to meet the students where they are technologically, better able to adapt lessons for varied learning styles, and better able to reach more students. Those benefits, the experts say, translate to stronger academic success, improved retention rates, and higher graduation rates.

    “Students learn best when there is an available instructor because those personal interactions and relationships are a very essential part of the teaching and learning process,” says Barnes. “Technology is simply backing up the instructor because the instructor cannot be there at every moment for every student.”

    Indeed, students can access digital coursework on their own schedule, anytime, anywhere, on their personal device of choice. Digital products also offer a flexibility and malleability that print books cannot. Electronic materials can be easily updated by publishers, and they can be integrated with other technologies to become even more adaptable. Interactive learning solutions typically present topics in small chunks, along with a video, audio, or other teaching aid. Students can highlight and take notes, and they test their knowledge before moving on to the next topic. The interactive capability helps students grasp the concepts, accounts for their different learning styles, allows them to work at their own pace, and pushes them to be more engaged in their studies—all while helping to reduce the cost of learning materials by as much as 70 percent.

    The interactive capabilities also help the instructors by giving them a broader reach to connect with students, an opportunity to give feedback outside class, and the ability to adjust and optimize their instructional plans. Instructors can electronically observe what assignments have been completed, how long it takes students to do them, and how they score on the online quizzes. Educators can send notes to students, prompt them online, or modify a lecture, assignment, or coursework, if they see that students are not understanding a concept.

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  • MyLab Statistics Inclusive Access study documents student success

    by Miami University, Ohio

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    Inclusive Access has helped faculty and students at Miami University by enabling more streamlined course material delivery, offering simpler and earlier access, and reducing costs.


    MyLab Statistics Inclusive Access study documents student success

    Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

    Key findings

    • Miami University’s Inclusive Access implementation of MyLab Statistics, as part of a larger course redesign and textbook change, has played an important role in improved student learning outcomes.
    • Pearson Inclusive Access has facilitated the department’s transition to hybrid course delivery at the Oxford campus by enabling MyLab’s integration within the university’s LMS, providing students code-free access to the program at the start of the semester.
    • Student success at the Oxford campus has increased by 5.6 percentage points since Inclusive Access has been implemented as part of the course redesign. Students appreciate the cost savings and streamlined access across devices.


    Miami University is an Ohio public university. Its main campus is located in Oxford, Ohio, about thirty-five miles north of Cincinnati, with four additional regional locations in Hamilton, Middletown, West Chester, and the European Center in Luxembourg. The Oxford campus enrolls approximately 16,000 undergraduate students and 2,500 graduate students, while the regional campuses in Ohio boast a combined enrollment of 5,000 students. Forty percent (40%) of students are state residents, with freshman enrollment including representation from nearly all 50 states. Seventy-eight (78%) of students are White, 3.5% are Hispanic, 4% are Black, and 2% are Asian. Ten percent (10%) of students are non-residents originating from more than 50 countries. The Department of Statistics offers courses at the Oxford, Middletown, and Hamilton campuses. Over 60% of students enrolled in the introductory statistics course are Oxford students.

    Challenges and goals

    Miami University’s Department of Statistics has been a long-time user of MyLab™ Statistics — Pearson’s online homework, tutorial, and assessment application—for its introductory algebra-based statistics course (STA 261) and has been satisfied with the program overall. However, they sought to facilitate student access by eliminating the need to wait for financial aid approval to purchase course materials, streamline the enrollment process and eliminate student difficulty with access codes. At the same time, they were interested in integrating MyLab with Canvas, their learning management system (LMS). Inclusive Access to MyLab via MyLabsPlus offered several advantages: all students gain immediate access to course materials via the university LMS on or before the first day of class; access codes are eliminated; and students benefit from a 13% discount on course material.


    The University implemented Inclusive Access to MyLab Statistics on all three campuses in Fall 2014. The previous year, faculty piloted the model in a few sections of the course. At the Oxford campus, which had been using a Pearson text previously but transitioned to a different Pearson text, Agresti and Franklin’s The Art and Science of Learning from Data during Fall 2014, MyLab was integrated into the LMS immediately. The Hamilton campus transitioned from a different Pearson text and also adopted Agresti and Franklin during the move to Inclusive Access, enabling LMS integration from the start as well. At the Middletown campus, instructors continued using their original Pearson text during the 2014–2015 academic year and only transitioned to Agresti and Franklin during the 2015–2016 academic year. This required students to redeem an access code when registering for the course during the 2014–2015 school year, and MyLab was not integrated into the LMS. The following year, all campuses used the same Pearson text, did not require the use of access codes, and integrated MyLab into the LMS.

    The move to Inclusive Access assisted the Oxford campus in transitioning from a face-to-face delivery model to a hybrid one in their introductory statistics course. Beginning Fall 2014, all sections of STA 261 at Oxford were offered as hybrid courses. As Ms. Lynette Hudiburgh, course coordinator and lecturer at the Oxford campus, explained, “Inclusive Access facilitated the move to hybrid course delivery. We were trying to streamline the process as much as possible. Any time the method of course delivery is changed, it is difficult. Integrating MyLab in the LMS and eliminating the need for access codes was helpful during this transition.”

    In addition to using MyLab content delivered through the university LMS, the department added video to the course, requiring students to take quizzes about the video content before learning the assigned topic in class. This helps students build background knowledge that can lay the foundation for developing deeper conceptual understanding during the lecture. In addition, faculty began using Learning Catalytics™ to help guide assessment. Once a week, they would pose Learning Catalytics questions as students worked on problem sets. If students answered these incorrectly, faculty would intervene with reteaching or with partner discussion. As Hudiburgh explained, “Without Learning Catalytics we would not have been able to determine what students did and did not understand, especially given our large class sizes.”

    Observed impact
    Hudiburgh noted that enrollment has become more consistent across sections during the Fall 2015 semester, with all sections of the course filled. “It seems like attendance was distributed evenly across the board, with 32–34 students in each class. In the past, some class enrollments would drop much lower than that range.” She concluded that this most likely is the result of fewer withdrawals overall in the course.


    • 40% Exams (two exams at 10% each; final exam 20%)
    • 25% Group projects
    • 15% MyLab quizzes
    • 5% Video lecture quizzes
    • 5% MyLab homework
    • 5% Lab activities and problem sessions
    • 5% Learning catalytics

    Results and data

    Across all campuses, the percentage of students successfully completing the course with an A, B, or C increased after Inclusive Access was introduced. As shown in figure 1, the percentage of students succeeding in the course increased 1.5 percentage points after the implementation of Inclusive Access (n=10,232). This change is statistically significant (p=.0361).

    Student success rate (A, B, or C) all campuses

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  • Inspiring a generation of nurses

    by Pearson

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    Professor Margaret Flemming has shared her enthusiasm for physiology with Jeramy Ware and hundreds of other students in the Austin Community College District.

    “I don’t know that I’d be a nurse, much less working towards a master of science degree in nursing, without Professor Flemming,” said Jeramy, as he described his inspirational professor. Jeramy dropped out of high school over twenty years ago, but he returned to school and is now employed as a cardiac nurse at South Austin Medical Center.

    He took Professor Flemming’s physiology course during his second semester at Austin Community College (ACC). “Everybody warns you that this is the hardest class you’re going to take, that this is the one they use to weed out all the people from going to nursing school,” Jeramy recalled. “I was a new back-to-school student, and I was terrified. But Professor Flemming inspires you, and the way she teaches just makes you love the subject.”

    Jeramy credits Professor Flemming with helping him develop skills that enhanced his employability, in addition to teaching him how the body works. “She taught me to look for the cause, instead of just seeing the effect. And that’s how I diagnose patients.”

    “She also taught me how to get through to people and how to teach them,” he said. If one approach didn’t work, Professor Flemming would try another. Jeramy uses this skill every day in his work as he trains new nurses or educates patients to prevent re-admission to the hospital.

    Professor Flemming doesn’t give you answers, but she shows you how to find them, and that’s what serves you best in life.

    — Jeramy Ware, RN

    Professor Flemming has been teaching at ACC for fifteen years. “Most of the students that I work with at ACC are working really hard to pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” she said. “So many community college students are not your traditional four-year students. Many of them are returning after being out of school for a number of years, and many of them are first-generation college students. They just really inspire me.”

    Professor Flemming strives to engage her students. “I just want to hook them,” she explained. “I want to get them excited about what they’re learning.”

    She also wants to teach students how to problem-solve. “A lot of the content in our courses is readily accessible thanks to the Internet,” she explained. “But what to do with that information is the critical part: how to read a patient’s chart and determine what questions they should ask the patient or how to answer the patient’s questions. I teach my students to take their analytical skills forward into whatever they do.”

    Professor Flemming remembers Jeramy as being a persistent student, and she is not surprised at how far he has progressed in his career. “If he didn’t make an A on an exam, he was in my office the next day asking questions,” she recalled. “Like so many of our students, Jeramy is remarkable. He has been working while going to school, and he and his wife have four kids. He is a self-starter and a non-quitter.”

    Jeramy firmly believes that this inspirational professor improved not only his employability, but that of many other nurses. As a preceptor at the medical center, he trains many of Dr. Flemming’s former students. “Her students are the ones I love to work with when we hire new nurses,” he confided. “She inspired a generation of nurses. We’re all better because we took her class.”


    Jeramy Ware earned his associate’s degree in nursing from Austin Community College and his bachelor’s degree from Western Governors University (WGU). He is a cardiac nurse at South Austin Medical Center and is working on his master of science degree in nursing at WGU. His goal is to teach nursing students.

    Margaret Flemming has a master of science degree in veterinary physiology from Texas A&M University. She started teaching biology as an adjunct professor at Austin Community College in 2001 and became a full-time professor in 2006. Prior to her work at ACC, she was a horse trainer, riding instructor, and competitive rider.

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