• The role of remote proctoring tools in academic integrity

    A young woman using proctoring tool on a a desktop.

    Academic integrity has been of paramount concern in distance education since its inception. Arguably, the integrity of online classes received increased attention in recent years due to the pandemic when many instructors and students alike were thrust into the world of online learning by force.   

    During this time, upwards of 75% of all undergraduate students were enrolled in at least one distance education course. Further, 44% of undergraduate students took only online classes during this time (NCES, 2022). Some online instructors utilize measures outside of traditional tests to discourage cheating, such as projects, open-ended assessment questions, or other “internet resistant” question types (Suzuki, 2000).   

    However, many of these instructors also require proctored testing as part of their academic integrity toolbox. While in-person proctoring may be the gold standard, as far as control over the testing environment and the test-takers, remote proctoring may be a more cost-effective option for students who do not live near a testing center or students who need to minimize proctoring costs.  

    Pearson has partnered with two titans of the online proctoring industry to offer remote proctoring options directly within MyLab®: ProctorU and Respondus.   

    ProctorU

    ProctorU has been a well-known provider of online test proctoring since 2008. Once an institution or instructor secures an agreement with ProctorU, instructors will receive an institutional key to enable this proctoring option in their MyLab courses. Depending on the type of license that is granted, the testing cost may be covered by the institution, or it could be passed to students with a paywall before they can access the test.   

    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 start their tests, 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, students are monitored virtually by their webcam, microphone, and ProctorU software.  

    Respondus

    Respondus has been part of the online testing industry for over 20 years. Respondus Monitor is their automated remote proctoring system that uses a student's webcam and industry-leading analytics to detect suspicious activity during exams and has been integrated into MyLab since 2020. To enable Respondus Monitor, instructors can choose to enter the Respondus license of their institutions, if available, or they can immediately choose the Student Payment option, which will pass the nominal test cost directly to the student.     

    Respondus Monitor can be required for selected tests or quizzes. Further, instructors can customize the authentication sequence that students must complete prior to starting their tests (e.g., include custom instructions, require students to show their ID, check students’ environment, etc.).

    Proctored testing is one of many tools often utilized by online instructors to help ensure the academic integrity of their courses. For more information about our platform proctoring options, explore MyLab and Mastering® features or speak with your sales rep today.  

      

    Sources  

    United States Department of Education. N.d. Fast Facts. National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed October 26, 2022. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80  

    Suzuki, J. (2020, August 4.). Writing good questions for the internet era. American Mathematical Society Blog. https://blogs.ams.org/matheducation/2020/08/04/3229/

    read more
  • Find Your “Why” to Reach Shared Success in OPM Partnerships

    Brought to you by Pearson’s Online Program Management team

    Scot Chadwick, Pearson’s Vice President of Partner Success, knows exactly why he pursued a career in higher education: to change lives, and reach non-traditional learners who couldn’t access traditional on-campus programs.     

    That goes back to his days at eCollege, an early pioneer in providing comprehensive technology, services, and support to help institutions move online. More recently, he put his passion to work at the University of Colorado, leading the rebuild and relaunch of CU Online’s team and operations, and set the multi-campus unit on a path to grow from 900 to 6,000 fully online students in its first five years. Here, he shares his experience and insights to help institutions excel in the fast-changing online environment, and partner successfully with Online Program Management (OPM) service providers.  

    What’s your ‘why’?   

    I really enjoy what I do, but more importantly, I enjoy the impact of the work.    

    I started with eCollege, an online pioneer that was a common ancestor to today's OPMs. We offered institutions and their online learners a wide set of services, technology and support, with a first-of-its-kind shared-success business model. One day early in my career at eCollege, one of our academic partners shared an email with us from one of their students, a single mom living in rural Iowa. In her note she said, ‘I just graduated, and I'm so excited. I just wanted to thank you for offering this program online, because I would have never been able to get my degree if it wasn't offered online. There’s no way I could have made it work.’    

    I’ll always remember that. It made a powerful impact on me because I was raised by a single mom who was never able to get her degree, and it still bothers her to this day.   

    When I think about the work that we do, it's about providing opportunity.  

    You’ve been on both sides of the table. How do you build a true collaborative partnership between a university and an OPM, and overcome the challenges?   

    First, it’s about having shared goals. And, as in any good relationship, it's about really good, candid communication. It's about not being afraid to talk about the things that aren’t going well and that we need to be better at together, as well as celebrating things that are going well.    

    Achieving sustained success is very challenging for any online program. Many partnerships go through ebbs and flows: great times where programs are growing at an extremely rapid pace, and other times when they aren’t. Situations change. The individuals involved may also change, which can influence the tenor of a partnership.    

    When you’re in a challenging phase it helps to take a step back, assess the program(s), the market, your shared financials, and make sure your shared goals are still valid, and you still see them the same way. Then talk openly about how you can achieve them together going forward. There’s always room to deliver a better student experience, and to address core issues that may be getting in the way. 

    You’ve stressed shared success. How do you and our partners define that?  

    Shared success means our interests are aligned, both partners are motivated to achieve our shared goals, and we both benefit from achieving them.  

    A shared success goal might be program growth. Or it might be extending a program’s reach to serve students the institution can’t support today, whether geographically or otherwise.    

    The institution may want to deliver a unique and personalized learner experience or demonstrate to employers that their graduates have the skills and competencies that prepare them for career success. These are just a few of the goals we’re working toward every day with our partners.  

    How can an institution make sure its online programs, and our services, align with its unique mission?   

    Again, it starts with clarity of goals, and the why behind the investment of funding and resources. If an institution wants to expand the population they serve via online programs, how will doing this help them achieve their mission? I’ve seen institutions move rapidly into the online space without first investing time with their faculty and staff to ensure everyone understands how it aligns with their institution’s mission.  

    It's critical to have clarity on why it matters. That can be at an institutional level, but it also should be at a school, college, department, or program level.  

    Scaling a high-quality online program in today’s market is challenging and requires genuine collaboration, communication and support institution-wide. 

    There will always be stakeholder questions about how and why the institution is investing significant resources in this area. Effective institutional leaders listen and can clearly articulate “Here’s why it’s important. Here’s how it connects to our mission and something that's bigger than all of us. Here’s why we’re well positioned to do it and how you can contribute to our success.”   

    Institutions and leaders have also become more sophisticated in how they approach expanding their online footprint. Increasingly, they know to think critically about the “why” of their programs and apply a formal process to evaluate opportunities and program readiness internally, sometimes even before they ask us what kind of support we could provide.  

    What might success look like five years from now? What should partners focus on to get there?    

    Historically, many learners thought: ‘I’ll get a degree, and then it’ll pay itself off… somehow.’ But now learners are rigorously evaluating higher education ROI upfront. As just one example, Google has reported significant growth in searches for the ROI of specific credentials – an MBA, an MS in Business Analytics, an MSN degree, a project management certificate, you name it. Earlier this year, for the first time, searches for alternative credentials outnumbered searches for degree programs.    

    Learners are making more consumer-based decisions in a more competitive environment. Institutions need deeper insight into who they’re serving, and into the learner’s overall experience from the first interaction forward. Traditionally, consumers tolerated less-than-stellar experiences at higher education institutions. Those days are over. You want to re-enroll both current alumni and the new alumni you’re creating every day. To develop that brand loyalty, the experience you deliver in every interaction matters, at every stage of the student journey, digital or live. 

    How do you build teams to deliver high-growth online learning that delivers these great experiences and outcomes?  

    I feel fortunate. My team’s work really matters. We get to have a generational impact on people’s lives. Not everybody gets to do that. For me as a leader, everything starts with making sure this is as meaningful to everyone on my team as it is to me. Then, I work to inspire them to continuously learn, challenge themselves, be unafraid to fail, and be collaborative. And I make sure we’re having fun!  

    Layered onto all that, we need a structured and formalized approach to how we engage with partners. We need to ensure we’re aligning ourselves and our leaders with theirs, reflecting what’s important to them as an institution and in their individual leadership roles.    

    Strategic relationship management is really challenging. The impact of our partnerships is massive. We take that very seriously. We must work every day to show value to the institution and to each of its leaders.  

    That involves engaging many people within our organization. Across Pearson, our team has incredible capabilities. It’s our job to bring in that specialized expertise to make sure every partner and program is as successful as possible. When it’s time to think about the partnership’s future, we want them to think: ‘of course we want to do this with Pearson, because this team understands us, and we’ve built trust in what we can accomplish together.’ 

    When you’re not changing learners’ lives or building great partnerships, how do you recharge? Where would we find you on your perfect weekend?  

    I live in Colorado, and we definitely take advantage of living in this amazing state. My hope is you’d find me on a river, somewhere in the mountains, fly fishing with my wife, my kids, and my dog.

    read more
  • Starting with Stackables? Learn from Maryville

    by Pearson

    You woman holding laptop looking out her window

    Brought to you by Pearson’s Online Program Management team

    Stackable courses offer immense promise to both learners and institutions. To get started with them successfully, it helps to learn from early adopters – including expert innovators such as Maryville University. 

    Maryville is a nationally recognized pioneer in access and opportunity, meeting learners’ fast-changing needs, and helping people quickly gain practical value from education. Even before the university launched stackables, it partnered with leading regional businesses to offer targeted short-term certificates and badges for employee upskilling, reskilling, and career progress.  

    As Maryville president Mark Lombardi says, “We have entered an era of the democratization of education where access and opportunity are expanding and workforce training on a continual basis is a career imperative. Universities must be able to deliver different types of education and high skill training on a variety of platforms to meet the needs of a growing and diverse workforce and a wide array of employers.”  

    Stackables: A Natural Next Step 

    One key element of Maryville’s growth strategy involves attracting learners who’ve earned some college credit but no degree. These are typically working adults who want to earn promotions or transition into better careers. For learners like these, stackables are attractive and efficient. 

    According to Katherine Louthan, Dean of the School of Adult & Online Education, “We’re solving for future of work issues, focused on upskilling in areas with high industry demand. Students in our existing degree programs tell us they need to dive into the content areas more quickly, so they can showcase what they’ve learned to advance in their position or even start new careers. This is a reasonable approach and one we wanted to accelerate for learners so they can apply what they’re learning right away, and gain value whether they complete a full degree or not.” 

    Innovation That Builds on Strength 

    As Maryville moved into stackables, says Louthan, it made sense to build on existing program strengths. “Where were our signature programs? Where are we growing in the future?” 

    Maryville is especially strong at the intersection of business and technology. It had already launched highly successful programs in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, and software development. Its Fall 2021 stackable launch plan focused on these strengths and included five undergraduate-level certificates in computer science: the three aforementioned subjects, plus artificial intelligence and UX/UI.  

    All are offered for credit towards a degree, or stand-alone for immediate credentialing. Like all of Maryville’s degree-linked stackable offerings, they carry the same pricing and fees either way.  

    Two post-bachelor’s certificates, Big Data and Machine Learning, are offered as stand-alone and embedded within Maryville’s graduate programs in computer science, offering a shorter time commitment and a seamless onramp into a full graduate program if and when learners are ready. 

    In another example of programmatic innovation, Maryville is offering a new post-bachelor’s certificate in Communication Sciences and Disorders, designed for career changers planning to enroll in master’s programs in Speech Learning Pathology (SLP) or doctoral programs in audiology. These individuals often already have a bachelor’s degree but need multiple courses to “level up” before they can pursue graduate work. 

    Communication Sciences and Disorders bundles an essential undergraduate-level foundation in crucial areas such as voice, speech, language fluency, swallowing, and hearing disorders. Carefully crafted to prepare learners for highly competitive graduate programs -- including Maryville’s – it also connects learners to innovative “learn by doing” resources such as the Master Clinician Network. Through MCN, learners can take part in guided observation and start building clinical skills even before they enter graduate school. 

    Off to a Strong Start 

    Since the Fall 2021 launch, early signs are positive, says Louthan. “We’re getting great feedback from students who are experiencing success. We’ve had a lot of interest in areas such as AI and UX where many professionals need to upskill to stay relevant or advance. Our content is also aligned well with employer feedback. We believe we’re creating a successful starting point in addressing students’ growing demand for more flexible options. Whether they will go on to complete their degrees is yet to be seen. We are more focused on whether they are achieving their goals, and we hope they will come back to Maryville when they are ready to, or need to, upskill or reskill again.“ 

    “Challenges always exist in times of change,” says Louthan, “and we are in a time of significant disruption in education and industry. As we work to drive down the cost of education, having a menu of options to meet both learner needs and market demands will require continuous analysis. We also recognize that while certificates are attractive in emerging areas of technology and computer science, some more traditional areas may still require a degree. Students have shared that during this transitional time many employers still require a bachelor’s degree for consideration. 

    “Considering the future of work and the rapid rate of change, we know the model must shift so we can offer learners what they need and want to reach their goals – whatever their goals may be. As lifelong learning evolves, we will continue listening to our learners and employers to best meet their needs. We believe milestone achievements matter to students and they should be recognized for their achievements and able to apply them along their learning journey. We are focusing our work on their success and their ability to achieve their goals.” 

    Placed in broader context, stackability fits well with Maryville’s key strategic goals and institutional mission: to create a global, student-centered active learning ecosystem, to drive transformational innovation around learner outcomes, to define its success by learner success, and to expand access and opportunity. 

    As Dean Louthan concludes, “We understand education isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different students have different circumstances and considerations, and Maryville is committed to being as inclusive and accommodating as possible. Our certificate programs underscore this mission, serving as alternative paths to meet learners where they are — and help them reach their career goals.” 

    Learn more, and explore Pearson's online learning offerings and OPM services  

    read more
  • Designed to Deliver Value: The University of North Dakota Introduces Certificates to its Cyber Security Program

    by Pearson

    Man looking out the window, with laptop open in front of him

    Brought to you by Pearson’s Online Program Management team

    How do you deliver value to learners and employers alike? In the hot field of cyber security, the University of North Dakota has cracked the code with the design of its recently launched online program.

    The University of North Dakota is a public research university in Grand Forks, N.D. It offers more than 120 online degree and certificate programs, encouraging students from around the world to explore more than 225 fields of study every year. UND is dedicated to its mission to provide transformative learning, discovery and community engagement opportunities for developing tomorrow's leaders.

    Designing transformative online learning experiences

    In consultation with Pearson Online Learning Services, Vice Provost for Online Education and Strategic Planning  Jeff Holm chose to align the cyber security curriculum with highly sought-after and industry-recognized certifications. Advancing skills in cyber security can mean better job security, higher pay and more leadership opportunities for learners — program features that align with the university’s mission.

    To create a program that appealed to a broad audience while meeting UND’s high pedagogical standards, UND and Pearson established a collaborative working relationship. The teams partnered on course development, tailoring courses to 14 weeks each. Both partners agreed that this gave learners the right amount of time with the material and addressed their needs for convenient, short courses that deliver work-ready skills.

    The university also relied on the partnership for market research and insights, marketing and enrollment support to widen its reach. The strategy was to give more learners valuable career preparation by including certificates in the degree program. With the addition of cyber certificates to the online program, learners can gain recognizable, industry credentials as they move toward earning a full degree — making them more valuable to employers sooner.

    “UND offers a variety of options so learners can tailor their M.S. in Cyber Security to fit specific interests and career goals,” Holm says. “The cyber security master’s program offers four tracks (or) stackable academic certificate options.” One certificate is mandatory. Learners can select two of three other certificate options and graduate with a master’s and three academic certificates. The tracks and certificates include:

    • Cyber Security Analyst track aligned with the EC-Council Certified Threat Intelligence Analyst (CTIA) certification
    • Ethical Hacking track aligned with the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification
    • Computer Forensics track aligned with the EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) certification
    • Secure Networks track aligned with the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification
    read more
  • Pearson’s Maestro of Marketing Brings a Human Touch to a Customer-Centric Strategy

    by Michael Collins

    Man sitting in chair, smiling, as he is reviewing content on his laptop

    Brought to you by Pearson’s Online Program Management team.

    Since Michael Collins joined Pearson Online Learning Services as senior vice president of marketing and learner acquisition, he’s been working to harmonize and humanize everything we do to engage and enroll learners in our partners’ online programs.

    Collins brings a background in journalism, marketing, public relations, corporate communications, and — not least — music. In this interview, he shares insights that reflect where he’s been, what he’s seen, and where we can make the greatest impact for partners by building lifelong relationships that keep learners coming back.

    You studied music in college. What did you learn from that experience?

    Sometimes you can be the lead in a musical or in a play, right? But many times, you’ll be part of the ensemble. In marketing, I’ve learned it’s much the same. Sometimes you’re still part of the ensemble, and you have to switch between supporting roles. I may be leading marketing and learner acquisition, but I’m also part of a leadership team working to achieve shared outcomes. Even where I’m the lead within my own team, sometimes another member of the team has the stage.

    Beyond that, when we work with our partners, we’re also part of their team. So, knowing how to make all these teams work together well at the same time is one of the most important things I can do.

    You come to Pearson from the CFA Institute, the leading global provider of investment management education. But you’ve also played key marketing roles in other industries. What lessons do you see as especially relevant for your work here — especially your work with institutions?

    There’s a note that runs through my career in terms of working in-marketing, whether it’s been in retail, manufacturing, distribution, technology, or tech-enabled service companies. And that’s about creating affinity that makes customers want to keep buying from you.

    I ran global marketing at Iomega, which made external storage drives: Maybe you remember the Zip drive. We went from $140 million to $2 billion in revenue in under 36 months. We sold through retail channels like Best Buy, as well as through distributors who sold to retail. And I learned the power of channels and partnering.

    It’s one thing to sell your product or service, but how will you help partners be successful, so they want to keep partnering with you? That’s our challenge, too. We’ve built a business model where, when Pearson’s partners are successful, we’re successful. And our partners in turn succeed when their learners succeed.

    And it’s never one-and-done. In our student success and retention work, and in everything else we do, we need to be relentlessly focused on making both learners and partners more successful continually.

    read more
  • Guarding the Online Learning Galaxy

    by Jaime Mordue

    Brought to you by Pearson’s Online Program Management team

    When a college professor tells me that they never imagined their in-person course could be so engaging in an online format, or a student interacts with learning more online than they would have in the traditional classroom, I know that I, along with my incredibly talented team, are fulfilling our mission.

    We are Pearson's Learning Design Solutions (LDS) team, and our job is to reimagine traditional higher education courses for the online environment. Last year alone, we supported over 1,400 courses across 35+ programs for over a dozen of our university partners. We developed courses in disciplines such as Law, Social Work, Public Health, Education, Nursing, and Business, among others. It's a responsibility we take very seriously—not only to deliver amazing online learning—but to help safeguard the integrity and validity of the entire online education “galaxy.” It's no secret that online learning has had its naysayers, so if we prove them wrong while delivering, time-and-again, for students and academic partners... then, we fulfill our mission.

    With decades of expertise in online education and course development operations, LDS brings science and insight to ensure our college and university partners' online courses are designed and developed to meet the highest expectation of quality and efficacy. Our tenets are straightforward:

    1. Pedagogy: LDS brings data and science into designing courses to ensure they meet the appropriate rigor, engagement levels, and measurable outcomes. All instructional designers in LDS engage in regular professional development in the industry and hold various levels of certification in Quality Matters (QM). The team is currently supporting several partners in aligning courses to QM standards, including Regis College’s Nursing programs and Health Sciences programs.
    2. Equity: By designing through a lens of historically informed compassion and empathy, LDS consults to design courses with equity top of mind. LDS seeks ongoing team training opportunities in a commitment to raise diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) standards for online learning. LDS recently supported a university partner interested in auditing courses to identify ways to improve inclusivity in course content. All course components produced by LDS meet current WCAG 2.1 AA and Pearson’s Global Content and Editorial Policy.
    3. Research: By participating in, and helping to conduct, ongoing research in online learning, LDS helps partners refine practices, innovate learning solutions, and keep up with generation after generation of digital learners. LDS is currently engaged in collaborative research with multiple partners, who are focused on developing learning analytics dashboards to advance data-driven learning design insight and practice.

    It's especially meaningful when faculty recognize that designing together with Pearson’s Learning Design Solutions team positively influences their course beyond project boundaries and into their regular teaching practices. A recent Brookings article, Online college classes can be better than in-person ones, reaffirms that online learning is gaining recognition and thriving beyond the potential consequences of the pandemic. This is a goal for us—to use our education (super)powers for the good of all learners, no matter the model or method.

    Learn more, and explore Pearson's online learning offerings and OPM services

    Originally published by the Pearson Insights blog.

    read more
  • Use Online Learning to Drive Change, Create Opportunity & Thrive Amidst Disorder

    by Sasha Thackaberry

    Sasha Thackaberry, Ph.D. recently joined the executive team at Pearson Online Learning Services (POLS) as Vice President of Student and Partner Services. Previously, she led Louisiana State University’s online program organization, where in just four years, her team grew from supporting 800 students in 9 programs to over 12,000 in 120+ programs, while keeping a strong focus on quality. Her online learning experience has been honed throughout a career at LSU, SNHU, and other innovators. See how her experiences shape her current work at Pearson to help learners and institutions thrive.

    Sasha, tell us something we should know about you.

    I get really geeked out about what’s next, and how to drive change – both in education, and in my own teams. I’m interested in building teams that get addicted to evolving, and to making the next big thing happen.

    Even today, change is underrated. Disruption is going to occur continually, and I’m passionate about how we move things forward towards a more effective fusion of education and technology.

    “High-tech, high-touch” isn’t a new concept, but in higher education, historically, we haven’t done it all that well. Now, though, there’s a lot of insight we can draw on to do better. For instance, we can use more of what’s been learned by behavioral economists. The techniques so often used to sell us stuff can also be used to remove barriers to learning and encourage people to continually engage in it.

    You’ve said institutions can go beyond resilience to become truly “anti-fragile”: able to thrive amidst disorder and chaos. How?

    It starts with creating and building a foundation that enables you to be proactive and flexible, no matter what. Then, there’s a reactive piece: when you see something coming down the pike, always getting ready, seeing what works and what doesn’t, pivoting quickly. You can build in “space” in your systems and processes, and keep things as simple as possible.

    Two issues are key. First, institutions must invest heavily in their technology infrastructures. Valuable data is everywhere, but you can’t react if you don’t know what’s going on.

    Second, there’s culture: committing to pivot on a dime and be super creative. One of the best ways is to be very upfront about failures because they teach us how to change. Obviously, there are exceptions, but in higher ed environments, failure is too often viewed as a lack of competence. Instead, we need to embrace smart risk, and then be ready to pivot fast if it doesn’t work. You need leaders who can approach "Black Swan” events as opportunities to do really great things, as some institutions did during the pandemic.

    COVID changed things forever, but what are we learning about the new higher ed environment that’s emerging?

    We now have a marketplace of many different sizes, types, and forms of learning – and our audience looks radically different. A generation ago, few expected the post-traditional audience to become the only part of higher ed that was growing. Twenty years from now, people will look back and ask each other, “Do you remember when they based everything on the degree?”

    We see young people who aren’t all headed straight to college. They’re doing other things first. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just think we must accommodate their needs as learners.

    Then, there’s “education as a benefit” from employers. Our infrastructures need to accommodate that, and many other flexible options – not just paying by credit card, but also subscriptions. More of what we do needs to be time-variable. People are voting with their enrollments, and they’re saying: I want shorter, faster, more applicable.

    You were a pioneer in stackables. What advice would you offer to those who worry about learner outcomes and building viable programs that don’t just cannibalize current programs?

    To begin, you can’t overly focus on cannibalization of revenue. If an early automaker thought, “If I build cars, I’m gonna cannibalize my base of horse customers,” they missed the point. It’s about what people want. It’s not about what we want to create for them. If you don’t disrupt your own business, someone else will.

    But it’s not just about defense. You can start a virtuous cycle of creating stackables by yourself, partnering with content providers to build them, and ingesting them from other places.

    Colleges and universities have amazing resources for learning in their faculty and their content knowledge. Many times, those same faculty and that same content can be used to create short-form credentials that open the door to a wider set of learners. It’s not only about the degree or a single point-in-time credential. All of us will need to continually learn and collect new credentials throughout our careers. Stackables empower institutions to set up lifelong partnerships with their students – from a traditional experience through a fully online experience, from a degree to a single hour-long, just-in-time learning session.

    Some folks worry about whether microcredentials will really have the value they promise. But institutions can develop a lot more information about what is being learned. And as we get better at intervening with post-traditional learners, we can get better at moving them to the appropriate classes or paths.

    You do, however, need to remain focused on your institution’s actual mission, to avoid mission creep. Not every institution needs to be everything for every learner. Each institution has its own unique strength, lens, and approach to learning. In the online space, it’s no different.

    You led LSU’s initiatives in non-degree and degree online learning. How did you bring faculty aboard?

    There are always champions: people who’ve discovered ways to get innovative things done. Find them. Then support them with all the expertise and political capital you can. If you make early adopters successful, others will come on board. I’ve never been in an environment where you didn’t have innovative faculty. It’s always a question of critical mass and political will.

    LSU was proud of building its own internal online learning organization without an external OPM. Now you’re at the company that pioneered the OPM model. Can you reflect on the decision to partner or go it alone?

    I had a very unusual situation at LSU. I had Board support, strategic focus from the President, and the best boss I’ve ever had – a Provost who promised to block and tackle for me, and came through every time, whether it involved changing policies or getting mainframes reprogrammed. She was willing to be unpopular – and that included fighting to protect our budgets.

    When you work with an OPM partner, there’s a contract in place, and dollars for things like marketing and recruitment are protected through that contract. Many institutions really don't know the true cost of learner acquisition, marketing, and recruitment. They may not know what it means to do digital campaigns, or the differences between a website and landing pages, and the implications for marketing spend. That requires specific talent, and it can be hard to get.

    At LSU, I was empowered to build a team from the ground up, where we had to be super-creative, use super-modern techniques, and be super-efficient. And it worked. But when an average institution has a strategic communications budget of, say, $200,000, and you propose dropping $6,000,000 on marketing for an online program that has 5,000 students this year, that budget line tends not to get preserved. You might start out with the commitment, but it gradually turns out that you can’t afford to market the program to reach the scale needed to sustain it.

    Even just the technology behind online programs can be challenging. You need a CRM, autodialers, texting, chat boxes, web development. Universities are not historically excellent at all that. If you can’t build that, you must get it externally.

    Not everything is either-or, and when we build service packages for new partners at Pearson, they’re differentiated and customized to each institution’s needs. But I can 100% say that if you don’t have certain ingredients to scale, it’s better to go with a partner.

    You’ve been a thought leader at institutions like LSU and SNHU, but also in organizations like Quality Matters. Based on all you’ve seen, can you share any final reflections?

    I’ve had the incredibly good fortune of meeting many great people who’ve been eager to have candid conversations about online learning. It seems strange to say this, though: this is still a relatively small and new field. The opportunities are wide open. We really are still at the very beginning of online education.

    read more
  • Transformational Learner-Centered Innovation: A Leader’s View

    by Lisa Knight

    Two young ladies looking at a screen, standing beside each other, with a smiling face.

    Lisa Knight is ready to infuse learner-centered innovation in everything we do at Pearson Online Learning Services (POLS). A recent Pearson arrival, Lisa steps into a pivotal role as Vice President for Innovation & Product Strategy. Partners and friends will get to know her well in the months ahead; in the meantime, read about her journey to Pearson, her perspective on innovation, and what she aims to accomplish for learners and partners.

    Lisa, tell us a bit about who you are and what you’ve done.

    I have over 20 years of experience in strategy and innovation and have spent most of my career at IBM Consulting and PwC Consulting. Along the way, I worked with more than fifteen Fortune® 500 companies and was instrumental in creating IBM Canada's enterprise strategy practice. I’ve been focused on leading clients on their innovation journeys and finding ways to drive new growth through digital technologies.

    My own education spans three countries—the US, Canada, and France—and includes digital strategy at Harvard’s executive education program. I also competed in NCAA Division 1 Team Tennis, and that taught me a philosophy I live by: teaming to win. Successful innovation comes from collaboration and co-creation—teaming. Deepening our relationships through innovating together and successful partnering is a win-win for everyone. In NCAA tennis, every point counts whether you play the #1 spot or the #6 spot; everyone plays a role in achieving success. This is vital to innovation as well.

    At IBM, I was profoundly influenced by then-CEO and Chairman Ginni Rometty. Her own life story, and how she came up through the ranks to lead IBM, was deeply inspiring to me. And she was an exceptionally powerful advocate for learning. IBM developed its own digital learning platform that offered 300,000+ internal and external courses to its employees. The company mandated 40 hours a year of learning, and I averaged first 80, then 120, over and above work. I knew it was critical to be deeply knowledgeable about emerging technologies to inform innovation strategies for my clients. In short, learning became a fundamental part of the IBM DNA and a core part of who I am and what I value.

    How does your experience translate to your role at Pearson?

    It matters in at least three ways. The first is technology innovation: helping Pearson and its partners accelerate innovation and use it to grow. For example, I have designed accelerated innovation programs to find new business revenue streams, using an innovation framework that encompassed elements such as global trends analysis, idea generation, value case assessment, architectural design, and prototype definition. What truly creates value is a structured, disciplined approach to innovation.

    Second, strategy and leadership, with my experience spanning multiple industries. I bring a breadth of perspective that differs from someone who chose to focus deeply on one industry. To me, innovation requires broader thinking. Having seen and influenced many ways of working in my prior consulting experiences, I can bring that breadth of thinking and ideating as we consider the problems we are solving for.

    Third, and most important, I’m a strategist with extensive experience in transformational execution. Real execution experience informs better strategy creation. Effectively implementing transformational change is challenging. Being pragmatic in how to implement comes from experience managing the change from start to finish.

    Can you share some lessons about partnering to drive and sustain transformational change?

    To start, there needs to be a business or organizational need, an inflection point that makes people recognize change is necessary. Next, there needs to be a willingness to invest. And finally, there must be a commitment at all levels of leadership, because if you haven’t focused on getting people on board, and there aren’t strategies to do so, you won’t succeed.

    Sometimes the middle of the organization is forgotten. It’s crucial to put strategies in place to get everyone engaged. It is truly important to involve everyone who’s affected, and that means helping people understand: what does this change mean to me, and what’s my role going forward?

    Strategy also needs to be iterative. There’s no such thing as perfect. There’s what you plan for, and the assumptions you make, and when you execute, there are things you didn’t expect. Market factors. Challenges in your capabilities, or your partner’s. You must be prepared to make changes – and, if necessary, pivot.

    What’s your view of the role of technology and innovation in online learning?

    Learning is certainly at an inflection point. There’s more competition, with a wider set of offerings, from traditional to free, to non-traditional like micro-degrees and stackable certificates. Learners’ needs and expectations have changed. As digital technology continues to transform ways of working, people need to continually gain new skills. Meanwhile, high speed internet and 5G network capabilities enable us to incorporate powerful new technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, to design outstanding, immersive learning experiences.

    It's critically important that innovation centers on the learner. “Technology for technology’s sake,” brings no value to learners or our partners. In my experience with technologies ranging from machine learning to blockchain, I’ve learned just how important it is to know who it’s for and what problem or friction point you’re trying to solve. To that end, I'm a strong proponent of design thinking. For us, it’s about starting with empathy for the learner, deeply understanding their challenges and constraints, and what they want to achieve.

    During Covid, my teenagers’ schools did a “lift and shift,” focusing on providing access from home. Unfortunately, teachers had to try to figure out the rest. With each student having different learning styles and motivations, it was extremely challenging. I knew there was a need to make this a better experience for both teachers and students. That said, learners, like my teenagers, have become very comfortable online, and it’s changed their expectations for everything they do—and not just for services like Amazon or Uber, but for education, too.

    What did you see at Pearson Online Learning Services that made you want to join this team?

    This wasn’t a lighthearted decision. I firmly believe there’s enormous opportunity at Pearson, and the factors have been put in place for innovation to succeed here. My conversations with my new executive peers have been phenomenal, and senior leadership has given me a clear vision of where we’re going.

    I am excited to say innovation was in flight before I came on board, and Pearson already demonstrated a strong willingness to commit the resources needed to embed innovation throughout our business. Our recent Fast Company 2022 Most Innovative Company award for Pearson+, a convenient new way for students to engage with learning, is a great example. Pearson, and specifically, Pearson Online Learning Services had already decided to invest in my VP-level role to provide the leadership experience, frameworks, and guidance to a team of strategists and innovators who are ready to drive an aggressive innovation agenda. Innovation is a top priority at Pearson. I have really been set up for success.

    I quickly came to appreciate an organization that can provide real value across the board to learners. Pearson Online Learning Services excels from course creation through design, launch, and operational execution. It will further support students throughout their learning journeys as we continue to innovate. And, Pearson brings deep insights on the future of learning, as well as emerging trends that are shaping demand for reskilling and new skills as we look ahead to the future and new ways of working.

    For me, it all ties back to what Pearson believes: learning is the world’s most powerful force for change. Since joining Pearson, I feel the passion for learning. I see it in the culture, every day. I firmly believe that an inspirational leader enables great things to happen. I am truly inspired by our CEO, Andy Bird, and his vision for Pearson. His influence is enabling innovation to thrive across our organization. Our breakthrough subscription offering, Pearson+ is game-changing. And wait until you see what is coming next!

    This is why I’m thrilled to be at Pearson and why it is such a good fit for me. It doesn't get any more exciting than this.

    read more
  • Leading students through a changing career landscape

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    read more
  • Maryville University - Now the 2nd fastest-growing university in the nation

    by James Montalto

    blog image alt text

    There is no doubt that back-to-school plans have been hotly debated as the higher-education world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Institutions have whipsawed between resuming on-campus classes or opting for a virtual approach to learning. Students themselves are carefully considering where, when, and how to pursue their college degrees. There are no straightforward answers or “one size fits all” solutions. Despite all the uncertainties and hurdles that have impacted the education industry as a whole, Pearson partner Maryville University has experienced remarkable growth.

    Congratulations to Maryville University for making The Chronicle of Higher Education’s fastest-growing colleges list again after record enrollments for the 16th consecutive year. Maryville anticipates this growth trend will continue into the Fall 2020. The proof is in the numbers. Maryville projects overall enrollment increases of 10 percent across traditional on-campus undergraduate students and online undergraduate and graduate students this year. Maryville is welcoming more than 925 new students to campus, including more than 750 incoming Freshmen students enrolled in on-campus classes this fall – representing a 7 percent increase in on campus enrollment. Online class enrollment has grown by more than 17 percent, with more than 7,200 students engaging with Maryville online.

    “Students across the country choose Maryville because we offer market relevant, high quality, online programs that provide the flexibility they need to fit education into their busy lives,” said Katherine Louthan, dean of the School of Adult and Online Education. “We are one of the few universities committed to the continual innovation and evolution of the digital learning experience.”

    Maryville has long embraced digital learning as the future of higher education and understands the vital role it will play as an element of our “new normal.” Maryville’s decades-long focus on developing robust online programs and providing support for its faculty to deliver high-quality curriculum across all learning environments enabled Maryville to quickly pivot between in-person and virtual learning in response to COVID-19. This flexible and active learning model makes Maryville’s program offerings especially appealing to students eager pursue higher education in the midst of their already busy lives.

    Pearson Online Learning Services has partnered with Maryville University since 2012 and we share in their excitement! #SaintStrong

    Read the full press release.

    read more
  • New ideas to grow tomorrow's critical thinkers and problem-solvers

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    Thick skin in junior english class

    Matthew Ventura, Ph.D., recalls a high school English teacher who taught him a hard but important lesson.

    “Mr. Davidson was really tough,” he says. “He felt no shame ripping apart our essays.”

    “Despite the criticism, he spent so much time giving us detailed feedback,” Matthew says. “It really affected me.”

    “Not only did I become a better writer,” he says, “I realized that a Mr. Davidson-like level of feedback can help improve critical thinking skills like few other things.”

    Important skills, better teaching

    Matthew went on to study and develop new ways to teach and assess 21st century skills like critical thinking.

    An early collaboration, the Physics Playground, was a digital game that walked students through complex physics concepts with outcomes and processes that mimicked real-world experiences.

    It was a breakthrough.

    “These kinds of natural, playful simulations,” Matthew says, “help students strategize their way through tough subjects—and provide an opportunity for teachers to provide feedback based on where each student is in the learning process.”

    “Imagine a class of 400 students,” he says. “How can a teacher be like Mr. Davidson and provide such granular, one-on-one feedback to everybody?”

    Innovative digital platforms, he says, provide a trifecta of benefits:

    They teach effectively. They lead to one-on-one feedback for students. And they’re scalable.

    The need for problem-solvers

    “It was an opportunity to explore some basic questions about critical thinking,” Matthew says. “What do we mean by ‘critical thinking? How can we improve it?”

    It’s part of a conversation, he says, that’s been batted around by academics for decades.

    “More and more employers want to hire good problem-solvers,” Matthew says.

    Good problem-solvers, he says, can spot opportunities for innovation thanks to critical thinking skills—”so these questions were important to try to answer,” he says.

    Critical thinking in specific disciplines

    “Skills for Today” reviews the history of definitions around critical thinking. It summarizes leading research on the various methods of teaching and assessing critical thinking.

    The paper also takes the discussion about critical thinking in a new direction.

    “There is so much talk about broad critical thinking skills,” he says. “What we want to start exploring is: How can we improve critical thinking in particular disciplines?”

    A speech class might employ new critical thinking teaching methods in debate exercises, he says.

    An IT course might show students how to find bugs in computer code.

    A business or economics class might guide students to weigh issue pros and cons in order to make tough decisions.

    “We want to provide an actionable framework for educators in this new approach,” Matthew says, “so we can reach more learners and prepare them for tomorrow’s workforce.”

    Next-generation teaching tools

    Matthew emphasizes that critical thinking skills are skills—and that they are only improved with practice.

    He hopes his paper can be a part of making this practice more effective.

    “We hope this research helps us develop new learning tools that benefit learners,” he says, “and, at the same time, guides teachers to bring new teaching approaches into their classrooms.”


    read more
  • Teacher self-care: Tips for working from home

    by Dr. Terri Moore

    blog image alt text

    Online teaching has gone viral! COVID-19 is causing teachers, who never thought they’d teach this way, to dive right into unchartered territory. Learning how to use technology to deliver content and evaluate students’ mastery of course principles is happening–almost overnight—and often without much guidance for instructors.

    Faculty are often working more hours than they can count, trying to quickly ramp up so their students have little disruption in their learning.

    Creating online learning environments is daunting, even for seasoned online instructors with weeks of lead time. But now, face-to-face face teachers are under the gun to get these courses up and running pronto. Those teaching in Spring 2020 are under pressures no one ever anticipated.

    Add on to that the stress of self-isolation, homeschooling children, and sharing home office spaces with partners and children. Self-care is vital for any caretaker, and right now, it’s vital for teachers too.

    This article offers teachers self-care tips to destress and renew so they continue to offer their expertise and talents to their students in these unprecedented times.

    1. Work-time

    Use the Pomodoro method of working. Complete 25 minutes of intense work followed by a 5 minute break. Repeat 3x if needed. Then take a 30 minute break before beginning the cycle again.

    Remember, a 40-hour work week included water cooler time or meetings. Four hours of intense work per day is really an ambitious goal. Clearly, sometimes we spend more time and sometimes less, but don’t let working online dominate your entire day.

    You need designated down time. Make rules for working hours that suit your most productive times and around other people and duties in your home.

    2. Workspace

    Designate a workspace (even if you have to share). Straighten and clear your work area every day. Try to keep this space only for your online teaching. Leave it when you have completed your work and don’t return “just to check.”

    If you have to share a desk or computer with others, create a schedule and a way to remove your tools for work. Try putting your office tools on a cutting board you can take with you when you exit or find a box for your files/papers. This way, you have a portable workstation you can remove to prevent others from disturbing.

    3. Teaching support

    You are not alone. There are plenty of resources for teaching online, some at no cost. Sites like Pearson’s can provide you with online teaching tips as well as faculty experts to consult about best practices for teaching online.

    4. Take care of your students

    By now you may realize how time consuming and emotionally draining maintaining an online presence with your students can be. Take these steps to help take care of your students, and yourself!

    • Remember #1 and don’t feel you must be physically present 24-hours a day because your students may email you at 2 a.m. And while you need to find ways to create a real relationship at a distance with your students, they didn’t have access to you in the classroom beyond their class times and your office hours. The same rules also apply online.
    • Be clear with your students when you will and will not communicate with them. Defining expectations reduces misunderstandings that can occur when asynchronous communication becomes the rule rather than the exception.
    • Be cognizant of this crisis and consider bending some rules in your class that made sense before but may become less relevant now. Practice flexibility.
    • Focus more on collaborative activities between students if possible (shared Google docs or other methods of online collaboration).
    • Rethink deadlines.
    • Offer students some live time virtual meetings with you.
    • Create short video messages to your classes showing your willingness to understand how this crisis is impacting their lives.

    5. Exercise

    If you follow the Pomodoro method mentioned above, use the breaks for some type of physical exercise. Intense mental focus is relieved by short bursts of physical activity.

    • Try using an exercise ball to stretch out your back. Or you jump on that stationary bike or step machine.
    • Designate off time for physical workouts every day. Being confined in our homes doesn’t mean we can’t work out. Use YouTube for dance workouts (you can do this with anyone in your home or alone).
    • Take a walk (keeping safe distances). Getting outside, even if it means on the roof of your building, will do wonders for your attitude. Morning sun is particularly important, so try to get some of those early morning rays on the top of your uncovered head.

    6. You are what you eat

    Eat well, but not deprived. Now may not be the best time to go on that diet, but it is a time to eat well.

    • Comfort foods like chips and candy aren’t the best mindless munching snacks. Instead, try nuts, fruits, or crunchy veggies. Reserve your “treats” for designated times and make sure to really focus on the enjoyment of that special something (chocolate for many of us).
    • Eating out is not an option currently, so find ways to get fresh vegetables, fruits, and other groceries in safe ways. There are companies that will deliver fresh veggies and fruits to your door weekly, and many markets are providing curb side pickup or deliveries of preordered items.
    • This may be the time we all learn to create shopping lists and stick to them, making meal plans, maybe even cooking those recipes we’ve been saving and never trying.

    Remember as you plan and eat well, we will all emerge from our cocoons in time; while a few pounds to shed may not be something to worry about, gaining 20 or 30 pounds will decrease your sense of well-being, creating additional stress. So, refer to #5 again!

    7. Take care of your feelings

    Most of us are overwhelmed by this crisis. Be gentle with yourself if you find you are less patient with others, have times when you just want to be completely alone, feel anxious, or find yourself in a cleaning or cooking frenzy. These are just signs that you need to decompress a bit.

    • Take up that hobby you’ve been putting off; use yoga or meditation to set the tone for the day or to decompress, or relax with a book in the evening. There are many free apps that can help you with these types of activities.
    • Reach out virtually to friends and family through regular video meetings. Free resources such as Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, or Teams in Outlook can help you connect real time with those you love.
    • Attend virtual concerts that many orchestras and musicians are creating to provide comfort and inspiration, watch live cameras of zoos or wildlife, or start that blog you’ve been putting off.

    Externalize your feelings in healthy ways by talking with supportive people either in your home or at a distance. If these feelings result in prolonged depression, please know there are many online counseling services that provide counseling. Counselors nation-wide are mobilizing and also working from home to help decrease stress and depression.

    8. Care of others

    One of the greatest methods of self-care is to flip the focus of helplessness or irritation and think of ways you are already caring for others. Look for fresh ways to be supportive of friends, family members, and your community that you hadn’t considered before.

    There are sites and apps that offer opportunities to volunteer virtually in a number of ways beyond just donating. Often getting out of ourselves and into the needs of others lifts our spirits, increases our self-worth, and spills over to the jobs at hand; caring for the educational and sometimes emotional needs of our students.

    Know that while you may not be getting the applause and ticker tape parades you deserve, your tireless efforts to provide ongoing education are not without notice. We will come out on the other side of this, and hopefully with greater depth in our understanding of what teaching and teachers mean and can come to mean to the students today facing challenges we have never encountered.

    You are the trailblazers, teaching the leaders who will face new worlds of challenges. Take care of yourselves! The world needs you!

    read more
  • 5 tips for being a leader in the virtual world

    by Jessica Yarbro

    blog image alt text

    Being a leader can be challenging at the best of times, but even more so in a crisis situation like the current pandemic. Transitioning Survey findings from Pearson identified that people’s satisfaction with the work from home experience has declined: Only 82% of those in the US are currently satisfied with working remotely versus 93% in early March.

    But how do you lead well when you can’t physically meet with the people you are leading? Here are our tips for effective leadership in a virtual world

    1. Focus on inspiration and motivation, rather than just managing or controlling

    Motivating and inspiring leadership strategies are especially important when leading virtually because we lack many social cues and tools we usually use to influence others. Be more mindful and practice this.

    Examples of these types of strategies include:

    • Displaying ethical and inspiring behavior, taking a stand, and acting with conviction.
    • Supporting others and attending to their individual needs.
    • Motivating others by projecting a positive vision.
    • Supporting innovation and creativity.

    2. Be optimistic, but honest

    In times like these, people look to their leaders for hope, while also expecting honesty and transparency. This can be a difficult balance, when you might be experiencing personal stress and worry and often have to communicate bad news.

    We recommend:

    • Delivering information in a timely manner, and in a compassionate, caring, and straightforward way. Here is a checklist from the CDC on how to communicate in a crisis.
    • Giving others an opportunity to process the information, and a space to share their thoughts and experiences.
    • Finding opportunities for realistic optimism, pointing toward the future and highlighting ways that everyone can work towards it.

    3. Support trust and cohesion within virtual teams

    It can be challenging for virtual teams to develop trust and cohesion.

    As a leader, you can:

    • Set norms and processes around communication.
    • Encourage and schedule time for personal and social conversations as well as work discussions.
    • Include regular opportunities for video conferencing, which allows for much richer interaction.
    • Be a role model for these strategies.

    4. Provide frequent and explicit opportunities for coordination

    Because virtual teams have fewer opportunities to spontaneously interact and coordinate work, it is particularly important to provide clear channels and expectations for communication and coordination.

    Leaders play a key role in establishing these norms and expectations, such as:

    • Plan regular calls so that everyone in the group can share their progress.
    • Use instant message or chat functions to take the place of impromptu in-person meetings.

    5. Take care of your own mental health

    Leaders are not immune to experiencing worries, stress, anxiety, or sadness at times of uncertainty. In fact, you may experience a unique set of stressors, making it all the more important for you to take the time to take care of yourself. For strategies to do this, read our blog on wellness.

    read more
  • Wellness: 6 tips for taking care of yourself during this stressful time

    by Jessica Yarbro

    blog image alt text

    Right now many of us are juggling working in a new environment, becoming a teacher for our kids, caring for our family full time and dealing with the anxiety that comes from living in the middle of a pandemic. We’re all feeling pretty stressed. Self-care is crucial for managing these negative emotions and being resilient.

    Here are six tips based on the science of learning to help you get through this:

    1. Look after your physical and mental well-being

    If possible, continue your current self-care practices since it is easier to stick to existing habits. However, many of us will have to alter or discover new ones.

    Here are some ideas if you are stuck at home for a few weeks:

    • Take care of your body by eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep.
    • Work up a sweat with at-home or individual exercise activities by following workout videos on YouTube, using Fitness Apps for HIIT or strength training, or by hitting the pavement for a walk or run outside.
    • Practice relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. If you’re new to this, here are a few options to start.
    • Make time for appropriate activities that bring you happiness and joy. These might include cooking, listening to music, taking a warm bath, crafting, reading, or watching TV or movies.

    2. Maintain social connections

    For introverts and extroverts alike, the activities that are most important for promoting our well-being are inherently social, which can make this period where we are encouraged to be physically distant from our loved ones particularly difficult. It is all the more important to maintain our social connections, using technology to help us stay psychologically close.

    • Use the many different modes of communication at our fingertips – voice calls, text, social media. Video especially can make us feel closer.
    • Since interactions will not come up as naturally during this period, be more intentional about scheduling time to speak with friends and family. They will be excited to hear from you.
    • These conversations will be important opportunities to relieve stress by sharing your feelings with others. In addition, try to incorporate fun, play a game virtually or watch the same movie together.

    3. Create structure and a schedule

    Watching the news can make us feel a lack of control, which fuels stress. Control what you can and maintain as much normalcy as possible.

    • Develop a schedule and try to stick to your new routine. You can start with activities that support good eating and sleep habits, and fill in with both fun and necessary activities. Scheduling in regular opportunities for self-care can help us stick to those plans.
    • For those who are transitioning into remote work, maintaining a schedule can help ensure dedicated time for work while also protecting individual relaxation and family time.
    • Particularly for families who have young children home from school, maintaining a schedule may seem daunting. Be kind to yourself as you work through new processes and routines. Much of the benefit of the schedule comes from thoughtfully making one, not perfectly following one.

    4. Be a smart media consumer

    It is important to find a balance regarding media consumption. With situations changing quickly in a crisis, it is useful to follow the news in order to keep up-to-date. On the other hand, repeatedly viewing (often negative) news stories can increase stress and anxiety.

    Consider taking breaks from viewing the news, or schedule specific times to check the news. It can also be helpful to limit your media consumption to a few, trusted sites, which can help keep you from hearing the same information repeatedly.

    5. Seek additional help if needed

    During times such as these, it is completely normal to experience elevated levels of stress along with other negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and frustration. If these persist or worsen and begin to cause significant distress or dysfunction, seek additional help.

    More specific warning signs include:

    • Persistent anxiety, worry, insomnia, or irritability.
    • Withdrawing from appropriate social contact.
    • Persistently checking for symptoms or seeking reassurance about one’s health.
    • Abusing alcohol or drugs.
    • Experience of suicidal thoughts or actions.

    Many therapists are transitioning to providing telemedicine so you get professional support without needing to meet in person. Find a therapist from a site like Psychology Today. Those with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with treatment.

    6. Practice empathy

    We are in many ways overwhelmed with information and recommendations and it can be easy to fall into the trap of judging others for their choices. But many are having to weigh financial concerns with public health and personal safety, and making difficult decisions.

    • Hanging on to judgment and anger at others can be counter productive. It can cause our personal stress levels to elevate and can break down the social bonds that are so important to weathering crises. Try to practice empathy by considering the perspectives of others. Understanding why someone has made a different decision from you can help you be more compassionate. Loving-Kindness Meditation can also support compassion and empathy. This type of meditation involves mentally sending kindness and goodwill to others. Read more here.
    • But also, don’t let trying to practice self-care stress you out. Do the best you can and be kind to yourself and others.
    read more
  • Getting your face-to-face course online quickly

    by Thomas Yazer, Instructor Training Manager, Melissa Johnson, Manager of Instructional Design, and Christina Coffin, Manager of Instructional Design, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    Under different circumstances, creating an online course from the ground up using online learning best practices would take considerable time and effort. Given this current unprecedented situation, we understand that your immediate concern is likely simply ensuring that your face-to-face course can be converted rapidly for online delivery.

    Based on our experience working with faculty to develop and build effective online courses, we’ve developed a practical, step-by-step guide to creating a functional online course in your campus Learning Management System (LMS) – or even without an LMS.

    The guide includes:

    • An overview of online tools and LMS features that you can use to administer aspects of your on-ground course (lectures, office hours, assignments, group projects, etc.)
    • A basic online course outline and a “minimum viable online course checklist” to help you assess the readiness of your course for online delivery
    • Overviews of specific LMS functions that you can use to effectively administer your online course
    • Links to “how to” videos and documentation for specific features in Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai

    We hope you find this guide useful. Be sure to reach out to your campus Instructional Design, Instructional Technology, or Center for Teaching & Learning teams for additional resources and support.

    Get the guide


    read more
  • Deterring cheating in an online course

    by Diane Hollister

    blog image alt text

    Cheating isn’t new. Many students do it, and in many different ways. As courses move to online environments, we might wonder if the lack of the instructor in the classroom makes it more likely cheating will happen. Technology certainly changes how students cheat.

    A 2017 study by Kessler International reported that 76 percent of surveyed students said they had copied text from someone else’s assignments. Slightly more (79 percent) admitted to plagiarism from internet sources. Around 72 percent said they’d used mobile devices to cheat.

    An astonishing 42 percent of students admit to purchasing custom papers or essays online, and 28 percent have paid someone to do their online work. Sadly, many of them thought it was ok to cheat.

    Colleges and universities have implemented a variety of tactics designed to minimize cheating. They include tools such as the following.

    Clearly defining cheating and setting expectations

    This may seem elementary, but letting students know you are aware of cheating and will take it seriously can help curb cheating. If your assignment does not require the use of their phone for apps or resources, remind them to keep devices out of reach.

    Academic integrity policies

    Many colleges and universities have policies about cheating in their student code of conduct, and these are perhaps the simplest methods to deter cheating. When students break the policy, they may be dismissed from the program. It is a good idea to require students to sign an honor code statement in an initial assignment or prior to each test.

    Using proctored exams

    Many schools require students to report to campus or to official off-site testing centers for proctored exams. Proctors are typically required to check students’ IDs, enter passwords if needed, and watch them during tests. Tools like ProctorU support digital online proctoring and record the testing session for the instructor, flagging any concerns.

    Restricting IP addresses

    Some software will allow you to restrict access only to certain labs on campus. This is often done in conjunction with proctoring.

    Use a Lockdown Browser

    Require students to use a Lockdown Browser with online quizzes and tests. This is a custom setting that literally “locks down” the browser that displays the test or quiz, preventing students from copying or printing the questions or accessing any other websites or applications.

    Utilizing keystroke verification software

    Keystroke verification software, such as Keystroke DNA, is perhaps one of the most common tech-based cheater prevention methods.

    The approach is simple: Students type a short phrase, which is then analyzed by a software program. The software assesses the students’ typing speed, rhythm, and other personal characteristics to create a behavioral biometric data profile for each user. Before any work is submitted, it needs to be verified.

    Embedding text-matching software

    These are tools like Turnitin, SafeAssign, or CopyLeaks, where software is used to read an essay or paper and assess the likelihood of plagiarism.

    Variable testing

    Students tend to share old tests, use study material sharing sites to share answers and methods, etc. To prevent cheating, professors may find it useful to use question banks and randomize the questions so that students have a more difficult time in sharing answers.

    Professors should change assessments each semester or create multiple versions of tests or quizzes for a class. Include essay or explanation questions, as it makes it more obvious if an answer was copied from somewhere else. If possible, consider pooling questions so all students get similar but slightly varied test questions.

    Offer low-stakes quizzing

    It reduces the incentive to cheat because the value of each quiz is lower than that of an exam, but it still provides opportunities for assessment.

    Assign collaborative learning activities

    Use collaborative activities liberally. Consider using social media, shared documents, discussion forums, cyber cafes, video conferencing, and other types of collaborative tools to engage students with one another.

    Studies indicate collaboration in online classes increases problem-solving skills more effectively than the student who is completing all classroom activities alone. There is little motivation or ability to cheat when students are working cooperatively for a common goal.

    One study at MIT in the 1990’s forbade student collaboration in a programming class. The students collaborated anyway, and became more effective programmers. MIT determined that collaboration would be the new normal in programming classes. After all, the goal is student learning!

    If students learn better when collaborating, and collaborating reduces the chances of cheating, then increasing the collaborative activities in an online environment will lead to increased learning and decreased cheating, which is a win/win by any standard.

    Use resources already in your arsenal

    You might find it helpful to use your Learning Management System to provide links to resources like Turnitin, which can often be linked directly with assignments.

    Students think of cheating as a way to avoid learning the course material. But I tell my students that as hard as they work to avoid doing any actual learning, I will work harder to find ways to encourage and guide them to do what they should.

    There are resources out there to help me do that. Check your Learning Management System instructor resources, explore other available technology tools, read Chronicle of Higher Education articles or Learning Scientists posts, and talk to your campus instructional designers. These are all great places to find tools you can use to deter cheating in your online courses.

    read more
  • Wake Forest: Extending innovation in online programs

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    Getting the partnership right

    We’ve partnered with Wake Forest University for years. For example, we support its nationally respected online graduate program in counseling. It’s been a success for everyone — especially students, who are achieving strong academic and career outcomes.

    So, when Wake Forest’s School of Medicine sought to deliver two new, purpose-built degree programs, it was natural for them to talk to us. However, Wake Forest’s School of Medicine has distinct capabilities and priorities.

    Its entrepreneurial leaders asked us: How can we customize a partnership that reflects our internal resources and capabilities? How can we use our ability to provide funding to help launch these online programs?

    We offer multiple models for delivering our best-in-class services. Together, we built an innovative, co-investment agreement that gets the risk/reward balance right for both parties.

    The final contract promotes shared interests and alignment (like traditional revenue share agreements) but Wake Forest’s upfront contributions allow us to share the financial risk. That way, we created a shorter contract commitment that will allow us to make changes, if the market changes quickly.

    Meanwhile, Wake Forest benefits from the same comprehensive online program management services that are already working well for the University — from our strong national marketing expertise to one-on-one student coaching and support through graduation.

    Innovative curriculum to transform healthcare

    Launching this fall, these online programs are a perfect example of an institution that’s found an unmet opportunity to use its strengths and positively impact the lives of students and society. Let’s look at each one:

    • Wake Forest’s Master of Science in Clinical Research Management will empower professionals throughout the clinical research field to move research and development forward, advance health and save lives. Through an engaging, supportive and interdisciplinary online program environment, participants will learn how to select and apply relevant scientific knowledge, critically analyze research designs, help construct/lead clinical trials and improve patient care.
    • Wake Forest’s Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership will prepare a new generation to transform healthcare for the better. Graduates will be exceptionally qualified to lead their organization and improve patient outcomes. They’ll be ready to address everything from strategy to culture; change management to innovation.

    Online education is about helping more people thrive. That’s what Wake Forest is doing — and we’re excited to partner with them.

    To learn more about our customizable models, world-class expertise, and the resources we offer, contact us.

    Learn more about Wake Forest’s new online master’s programs in Clinical Research Management and Healthcare Leadership, and the other biomedical graduate programs offered by the Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts and Science.

    read more
  • Retention: Creating learning environments that engage

    by Dr. Terri Moore

    blog image alt text

    Why retention is important

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

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

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

    Beyond financial loss

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

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

    What we can do

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

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

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

    Expectations

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

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

    Student support

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

    Academic support

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

    Social support

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

    Financial support

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

    Involvement

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

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

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

    Feedback

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

    Institutional feedback

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

    Instructor feedback

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

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

    The learning-centered classroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

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

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

    How edtech can support non-traditional students

    1. Make lessons accessible to all

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Allow for mobility and class access on the fly

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

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

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

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

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

    3. Engage at your own pace

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

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

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

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

    read more
  • Creating a customer-centric culture

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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.

    read more
  • What does it take to be a super innovator?

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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.

    read more
  • You want me to use my phone in class?

    by Diane Hollister

    blog image alt text

    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.

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

    by Diane Hollister

    blog image alt text

    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.

    read more
  • Four tips for living more mindfully

    by Rebecca J. Donatelle, Emeritus, Oregon State University

    blog image alt text

    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.


    read more
  • Making data work for teachers (Episode 9)

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

    blog image alt text

    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.

    read more
  • Digital learning tools foster student engagement and success

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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.

    read more
  • MyLab Statistics Inclusive Access study documents student success

    by Miami University, Ohio

    blog image alt text

    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.

    SUCCESS STORY

    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.

    Setting

    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.

    Implementation

    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.

    Assessments

    • 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

    read more
  • Inclusive Access study tracks student access and cost savings

    by Auburn University

    blog image alt text

    Auburn University’s All Access program has saved students money and enabled first-day access to digital course materials having an impact on their retention, course grades, and overall success in college.

    SUCCESS STORY

    Inclusive Access study tracks student access and cost savings

    Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

    Key Findings

    • Pearson Inclusive Access at Auburn University (known as the All Access program) has cumulatively saved students close to a million dollars since Fall 2014.
    • Based on survey data, a projected 2,185 students who opted in to the Inclusive Access program during Spring 2017 would otherwise not have purchased course materials. It has enabled these students (over one-third of participating students) who would not have otherwise purchased the text to gain access to required texts from the start of the semester.

    Setting

    Auburn University is a public research university in Auburn, Alabama. It is a land, sea, and space grant institution and one of the largest universities in the region. Offering a choice of over 140 majors in 15 colleges and schools, it enrolls over 28,000 students, with more than 22,000 undergraduates. Seventy-seven (77%) percent of students are White, nearly 7% are Black, 3% are Hispanic, and 2% are Asian. The university boasts a freshman retention rate of over 90%, and a five-year graduation rate of nearly 73%. Auburn prides itself on its international footprint, with over 800 international students benefiting from its Accelerator Program, 500 Auburn students studying abroad, and a global faculty.

    Challenges and Goals

    In the Inclusive Access model, all students enrolled in a course receive first-day access to digital course materials, and the cost of the materials is included in the course fee. Auburn University became a pioneer of Inclusive Access for several reasons. With its history of customer service and helping faculty solve problems to improve the educational experience, the bookstore sought to provide a digital solution that would empower faculty members in a new age. The bookstore management at Auburn embraces change and transparency as critical to moving the university bookstore industry forward. In its quest to serve as a value provider and seek innovation, Assistant Director Russell Weldon explained that, “Inclusive Access became the next logical step.” Finally, the model helped further the university’s strategic mission of engaging students and increasing success and retention rates.

    Implementation

    Auburn University’s bookstore began implementing its All Access program in Fall 2014. Its primary focus was on ensuring a smooth but easily scalable implementation. The first course adoptions had no need for a student opt out, since the digital materials were only available via the All Access program. Auburn also worked to develop their own in-house management system, rather than relying on a third-party partner, to ensure that they can more easily control all aspects of the implementation. Auburn’s system menu allows for use of an access code, an eText, or a Canvas (Learning Management System) integration of a digital product. The system emails students upon course registration to inform them that they have enrolled in an All Access class and are provided an individual access code. They are also redirected to the bookstore’s website to help them understand what this term means and how they will receive their course materials.

    In March, the bookstore hosted an event with multiple publishers and digital providers for forty instructors. All of the participating instructors chose to implement All Access in the Fall semester. As Russell Weldon described, “There is an explosive amount of interest and growth. We can tell that there is something happening.”

    As a result of the careful planning and infrastructure created to manage the program, students experienced a smooth transition to All Access, as reported by history professor Dr. Daren Ray, who implemented it in Spring 2017. Students received instructions from the bookstore that explained how they would be charged for the course materials and how they could opt out of the program. According to Dr. Ray, for nearly all students, this explained the process sufficiently. The only exceptions were a few international students who experienced difficulty understanding the instructions and required assistance from the instructor to explain the opt-out process. Professor Ray uses Revel™ in his course, and transitioning to All Access was a natural next step that simplified the registration and onboarding process for his students. In addition, the cost savings of twenty dollars per unit on the program reduced student frustration regarding the cost of the multiple course materials in his course.

    There’s an explosive amount of interest and growth. We can tell that there is something happening.

    —Russell Weldon, Assistant Director, Auburn University Bookstore

    Cost Savings

    The All Access initiative at Auburn University Bookstore has translated to significant cost savings for students:

    • Students have saved an average of fifty dollars for each unit in the program compared to the new price of the unit.
    • On average, students saved just over 50% off of the lowest print option (new or used).
    • In the Spring 2017 semester alone, 6,500 students enrolled in 20 courses saved a total of $178,000. In Fall 2017, the program grew to 16,000 students enrolled in an All Access course with cost savings of $441,850.
    • Over the lifetime of the All Access program (three years), students have realized a cumulative savings of almost one million dollars ($991,227).
    • In courses that required students to purchase course materials, student opt-out rates over the past three years has been less than 1.2%, significantly lower than the national average of close to 6%.1
    • Despite the significant student cost savings, the bookstore has consistently reported a revenue from All Access sales, enabling it to continue to provide faculty with solutions that facilitate their instruction.

    The Student Experience

    The Auburn University bookstore surveyed students enrolled in courses that participated in the All Access program at the end of Spring 2017.2 Out of 6,707 students, 112 students (1.7% of students surveyed) responded to the survey, of which 92 (82%) opted in to All Access for at least one course during the Spring semester.

    Affordability

    92% of student respondents who opted in to All Access believed that the cost of digital materials in the program were a similar or better value compared to print textbooks they had purchased in the past. Student perception here is in line with the actual student cost savings reported above.

    Access

    Over one-third of students surveyed reported that they were unlikely to purchase course materials at all if they were not offered digitally via the All Access program. This translates to 2,185 students (of the 6,284 students enrolled in the program during the Spring semester) who opted in and were able to access the course materials due to All Access. These 2,185 students would likely not have had any access to course materials during the semester without the All Access program. 78% of students who opted in to All Access agreed or strongly agreed that the digital course materials were easy to access.

    Spring 2017 survey data projections

    read more
  • The education industry's new teacher: Sports

    by Robin Beck, Contributor, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    Technology is driving the sports industry, making it easier to gather player insights. Can it do the same for student performance?

    The sports industry has changed drastically in recent years with the implementation of technologies that improve player and team performance. NFL teams now use digital playbooks to enhance training and communication, the NHL is planning to introduce smart puck technology in 2019 to track movement on the ice, and most recently at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, all 32 teams used Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS), technologies that give coaches, analysts, and medical teams access to player statistics and video footage, such as player positioning data, speed, passing, and tackles. With high stakes competition in every game, coaches can rely on EPTS to help them make informed decisions. And sports coaches aren’t the only ones using technology to gain insights and drive results. Just ask a teacher.

    Teachers and coaches embrace technology

    According to a 2016 survey by Edgenuity, provider of online and blended learning services, 91% of teachers believe technology provides a greater ability for them to tailor lessons and homework assignments to the individual needs of each student.

    By implementing technology in the classroom and learning how to use new apps and platforms, teachers are able to stay on top of learner progress and provide immediate feedback that will improve performance. Teachers, like sports coaches, have to learn about the latest technologies so they’re able to build the skills and the talents of others.

    Technology affects everyone

    In 2016, FIFA invited the soccer industry to Zurich to learn more about new technologies like EPTS that would impact the game. Johannes Holzmueller, FIFA Head of Football Technology, believes the advantage of wearable technology is the amount of data people can access. His colleague Marco van Basten, FIFA’s Chief Technical Development Officer, notes that data informs players on their performance, it gives doctors insight into player health and wellbeing, and trainers can use it to recommend player substitutes.

    With innovative technology, a community of people interested in the soccer player’s abilities can work together. The collaboration and involvement look similar to the way teachers, parents, and administrators work together to do what’s best for the student. Cutting-edge technology affects an individual’s entire ecosystem.

    Keller Battey, a first grade teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, relies heavily on technology to help her track progress and personalize teaching. “Technology helps all students,” Battey says. “If a student is above grade level, I can extend a skill or a lesson and if a student is struggling then I can remediate. I know exactly how my students are performing and so do their parents. The data is all there.”

    Industry innovation

    Education companies, large and small, are listening to consumers and have focused on the benefits of providing data and analytics to help teachers and students achieve success. Pearson’s Intelligent Essay Assessor (IEA) is a prime example of a capability that meets the needs of teachers and students.

    IEA is a suite of automated essay scoring capabilities that can analyze open-ended responses from learners and then assesses the content knowledge and understanding. It uses a range of machine learning and natural language processing technologies to evaluate the content and meaning of text and feedback is immediate, allowing teachers to monitor ongoing progress at an individual and class level.

    The goal of technology here is to ensure correct evaluation and accuracy. In this year’s World Cup, the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology performed in a similar capacity.

    Technology as a supplement

    VAR was created to ensure fairness and identify any errors on the field. Video Assistant Referees work in a team of four, and each referee undergoes extensive training to support match officials in the decision making process.

    FIFA referee Mark Geiger has been a VAR since the project started in 2016 at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. He says, “When you have a critical decision in a game…they’re there to tell you ‘check complete.’ It’s the two best words for a referee to hear because now you know your decision was correct, and you’re able to go on with a lot of confidence.”

    VAR technology proved to be a controversial topic at the World Cup, and though it may undergo improvements, the technology is here to stay. At the closing news conference in Moscow, FIFA president Gianni Infantino touched on the technology at the games. “This is progress, this is better than the past,” he said. “VAR is not changing football, it is cleaning football.”

    A similar sentiment is expressed by education leaders who assure consumers and educators that technology doesn’t exist to replace teachers; it exists to support them. Tim Hudson, SVP of Learning at DreamBox, told Business Insider, “It’s important that we listen to teachers and administrators to determine the ways technology can assist them in the classroom.”

    read more
  • Breaking down the effect of affordable course materials on student success

    by Sue Poremba

    blog image alt text

    When students must choose between textbooks and food or gas money, the latter wins. But without course materials, students often find classroom success elusive.

    A student entering his or her first year of college can expect course materials to cost between 5 to 10 percent of total expenses. At the same time, student populations are changing from the traditional 18 to 22-year-old to campuses that are more diverse, including older adults and returning veterans, all with unique financial challenges. But one financial concern remains consistent: course materials are expensive are often the first college expense cut when money gets tight.

    The steep rise of textbooks

    In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a Consumer Price Index for college expenses. Between 2006 and 2016, tuition costs jumped 63 percent. Over that same period, textbook prices increased 88 percent. Covering that same time period, a study conducted by the Florida Virtual Campus revealed more than half of students spent more than $300 on books in a semester, while nearly a fifth shelled out more than $500.

    More importantly, the Florida study showed how the high cost of materials directly impacts the student’s ability to succeed. When books are too expensive, two-thirds don’t purchase them, and of those students, 37 percent earn a poor grade, while almost one-fifth end up failing. To compensate for high book costs, students are taking fewer classes or don’t register for a class they need — but that ends up extending their time in school, which costs more money. It’s an ugly, expensive cycle.

    How campuses stepped up

    Students began to complain openly about the price of textbooks. Faculty became concerned that students stopped purchasing the expensive materials. Educators at Indiana University paid attention.

    “We started pilots in 2009, working with some publishers, to make some electronic textbook content available, and we didn’t ask the students to pay,” said Stacey Morrone, associate vice president for learning technologies in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology at Indiana University. The students liked the change.

    Indiana University now works with 30 publishers who agree that the cost of e-texts will be at least 35 percent of a hard-copy edition. They have publishers who now offer their entire digital catalog at a flat rate. And importantly, the students will be able to access the e-text throughout their college career. While digital formats are optional, more faculty are buying in because, Morrone said, it ensures every student has their materials on the first day of classes. Indiana’s data shows that students who achieve A/B grades start coursework immediately and keep reading.

    The faculty benefit

    San Diego State University began its Immediate Access program in 2016 with two classes. That’s since grown to 80 classes with savings of $2 million in textbook costs, with a projection of 150 classes next year and $4 million in savings.

    James Frazee, senior academic technology officer and director of instructional services, said students at SDSU are charged for digital books and materials as a course fee, and they aren’t charged the fee until after the add/drop deadline. The majority of students said they access the materials before that deadline and felt this access helped them academically.

    “Students feel this is a good value,” Frazee said. Not only are the materials more affordable, but they deepen the level of engagement with faculty. Faculty can monitor the way the materials are used and can focus lessons around sections where it is clear students are struggling. Also, as students have access to materials immediately, faculty can conduct more frequent, low-stake assessments earlier in the semester. Having improved insight to how students are faring from day one, faculty can restructure the lesson plan that lead to improved student success.

    Digital materials go beyond affordability, said Drew Miller, senior vice president of marketing with Pearson. Digital learning platforms, like Pearson’s Revel, combine content with immersive and engaged academic experiences. It allows both students and faculty to be interactive in the education process, creating a sustainable business model for both higher education institutions and the students they serve. Students are able to access and afford the materials they need to succeed while the institutions provide a learning environment that allows options that work best for all.

    This content was sponsored by Pearson. See the original article here.


    read more
  • New report: Demand-driven education

    by Caroline Leary, Manager, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    A new report responds to The Future of Skills by exploring its implications for education systems and offers up practical solutions for higher education to more closely align with what the workforce needs.

    We are excited to share a new report by Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Pearson that explores the changing world of work and provides recommendations for shifting from the traditional route to employment to a network of pathways that is flexible, dynamic, and ultimately serves more learners.

    Released at the Horizons conference in June, Demand-Driven Education: Merging work and learning to develop the human skills that matter looks at what is required for transitioning to the third wave in postsecondary education reform – demand driven education.

    The first wave – access – was focused on getting more people to enter higher education. The second wave was focused on improving achievement – getting more students to earn degrees and certificates.

    In this third wave, the worlds of education and work will converge producing programs that ensure students are job-ready and primed for lifelong career success.

    Adapting to the needs of both the learner and the employer, “demand-driven education takes account of the emerging global economy — technology-infused, gig-oriented, industry-driven — while also striving to ensure that new graduates and lifelong learners alike have the skills required to flourish.”

    The report states, “as the future of work unfolds, what makes us human is what will make us employable.”

    While technological literacy is critical, learners need educational experiences that cultivate skills, including fluency of ideas, originality, judgment, decision-making, and active learning, all supported by collaborative academic and career paths.

    Higher education and employers are making headway in this arena with innovative programs like University of North Texas’s Career Connect and Brinker International’s Best You EDU.

    In a recent interview, Joe Deegan, co-author of the report and senior program manager at JFF, said,“although technology such as digital assessment might enable educators to make programs faster and more adaptive, the most significant change is one of mindset.”

    The future is bright. And there’s a lot of good work to do through active collaboration and partnership to create rewarding postsecondary learning experiences that are responsive to our changing world and inclusive of all learners.


    read more
  • What do Generation Z and millennials expect from technology in education?

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    Pearson study reveals Generation Z and millennials’ learning preferences

    Young people are the first to admit they can easily spend hours a day on the internet—whether it’s via a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. While they may be tech-savvy by nature, this innate connectivity poses the question of technology’s place as it relates to how Generation Z and millennials learn.

    In a recent survey of 2,558 14-40 year olds in the US, Pearson explored attitudes, preferences, and behaviors around technology in education, identifying some key similarities and differences between Gen Z and millennials.

    While 39% of Gen Z prefer learning with a teacher leading the instruction, YouTube is also their #1 preferred learning method. And 47% of them spend three hours or more a day on the video platform. On the other hand, millennials need more flexibility—they are more likely to prefer self-directed learning supported by online courses with video lectures. And while they are known for being the “plugged in” generation, it’s apparent that plenty of millennials still prefer a good old-fashioned book to learn.

    Regardless of their differences, the vast majority of both Gen Z and millennials are positive about the future of technology in education. 59% of Gen Z and 66% of millennials believe technology can transform the way college students learn in the future.

    See below for the infographic, “Meeting the Expectations of Gen Z in Higher Ed” for additional insights on Generation Z and millennials’ learning preferences.

    read more
  • 10 reasons to go digital with your course materials

    blog image alt text

    When I was a college student, there were times when I skipped out on buying a required textbook for a course. Finances were always tight, so I tried to balance my checkbook with buying actual books. Even then, textbooks weren’t cheap. Today, students are paying more and more for their higher education experience. If a university can find ways to make attending college more affordable, accessible, and “high-tech/high-touch”, well, it’s not really an option, it’s a necessity.

    Today’s technology makes it easy to distill course materials into digital formats and enhances them as a result. Colleges and universities are quickly shifting from books to bytes to improve the student experience and boost course outcomes.

    Here are 10 reasons why your university should go digital with its course materials:

    1. Affordability

    This may seem like an obvious reason to move to digital delivery of course materials. Students will end up paying less for digital course materials. From production to shipping, textbooks require a lot of costly infrastructure. Digital materials eliminate these costs and pass the savings on to students.

    2. A better experience for students with disabilities

    Unlike print books, modern eTextbooks can be accessible “out of the box.”  When eTextbooks include features such alternative text descriptions of visuals and content that can be used with assistive technology, students can start reading right away, without waiting for a disability services department to create a file.

    3. Learning analytics and digital integration

    Can you remember when a physical book connected to a digital learning system? It’s just not possible. However, with digital course materials, integration with the campus LMS/VLE is possible. Plus, with learning analytics built in, digital materials can help support at-risk learners who may need additional assistance.

    4. Recruitment

    Digital course materials might not seem like they give universities a recruitment edge, but in an increasingly competitive enrollment landscape, everything helps. Students seek modern solutions for their educational experience. For bring-your-own-device (BYOD) campuses and institutions that provide technology platforms for students, digital course materials hit the sweet spot. They create more affordances for student success and showcase a university experience that is effectively using the latest technologies.

    5. Multi-platform capability

    The ability to view course materials on a variety of devices represents a huge advantage for digital course materials. If a student needs to read a chapter while on the go, odds are, they will be able to access it on whichever device they have with them. Also, it’s a good bet that no one misses having a backpack filled with textbooks.

    6. Seamless group work

    University campuses are filled with versatile seating and project workspaces. You can’t project a textbook onto a large screen, but you can with digital course content. It’s simply a matter of either plugging in or wirelessly beaming content to a screen. It makes group work and collaboration a much easier task.

    7. Always current

    Have you ever tried to update a textbook? Editions come and go, each one costing more than the last. With digital course materials, content is as up to date as possible and it doesn’t cost students more for this “always current” content. Who wants a used book when you can have a new digital version?

    8. Instant access

    No longer do students have to search for the lowest price option or wait until after term starts. Instant access to digital materials, through programs such as Pearson Inclusive Access and others, ensures all students are ready to learn on the first day of class, not the third week. It’s as easy as logging into the university system, selecting the appropriate course, and downloading the material to a compatible device.

    9. Interactivity

    Textbooks have been surpassed in form, function, and capability. Digital course materials allow authors the opportunity to embed audio and video into their work. This makes for a much more interactive and “real” experience for students.

    10. Retention

    Anything that a college or university can do to assist students with their academic success is a good thing. Digital course materials aid and enhance an institution’s ability to improve their overall retention rates and bolster student success with all of the supportive elements in this list.

    What would you add to the list?

    Digital course materials are not the future for higher education; they’re the present. It’s only a matter of time before your institution goes digital for student success.

    This post was sponsored by Pearson as part of a higher education influencers collaboration.

    read more
  • Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the U.S. [Infographic]

    by Caroline Leary, Manager, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    In 2016, distance education enrollment continued to grow for the 14th straight year.

    This is the headline coming out of Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the United States – a recent report released by Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG).

    As stated in BSRG’s press release: “The growth of distance enrollments has been relentless,” said study co-author Julia E. Seaman, research director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “They have gone up when the economy was expanding, when the economy was shrinking, when overall enrollments were growing, and now when overall enrollments are shrinking.”

    Explore the key findings from Grade Increase in our infographic below and download the full report to dive in deeper.

     

    read more
  • Engaging Gen Z students and learners

    by Dillon Kalkhurst, Author & Contributor

    blog image alt text

    Generation Z is the youngest of the five generations, active in today’s economy. They are already the largest generation in the U.S. and will represent 40 percent of the population in 2020. In the world of higher-education, Gen Z accounts for all of the students enrolling today. Generation Z has experienced the most change in their short time on earth. Most of those changes center around technology. Gen Z is disrupting decades-long practices in our education system, forcing colleges and universities to adapt at a rapid pace or become irrelevant.

    Millennials were different and required some modifications so higher-ed has been adapting to their needs. Millennials were the first generation to come to campus, laptop in hand. Gen X may have used desktops in computer labs on campus. The Millennials forced educators to begin using technology as a teaching tool. Gen Zs were born with technology. They will never know what life was like without the internet. Gen Z learners don’t see technology as a tool, they see it as a regular part of life.

    While Millennials used three screens on average, Gen Z students frequently use up to five. Most use a smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and a tablet. These devices occupy ten hours of Gen Z’s daily activity. The constant stimulation and access to all the world’s information at their fingertips has given them an eight-second attention span and has trained their brains to expect instant gratification. Sitting in a hall or classroom listening to a lecture is Gen Z torture. Gen Z students want a chance to be part of the learning process, not a passive bystander.

    Gen Z students are much more pragmatic and skeptical than generations before. Many experienced their parents’ and friends’ families lose everything in the Great Recession. They felt intense pressure as their parents did all they could to get them into college. Because of that experience, they are very worried about college debt, and demand colleges provide a good return on their investment. A Gen Z survey from the nonprofit, College Savings Foundation showed seventy-nine percent said costs are a factor on college choice. Thirty-nine percent said high costs caused them to change their path and enroll in state schools, community colleges, or vocational and career schools.

    The financial stress continues once Gen Z students enroll. The high cost of textbooks is prohibiting some students from pursuing their choice of classes and majors. A survey of more than 22,000 college students found 49 percent reported taking fewer courses per semester, and 45 percent reported not registering for a course because of the high cost of the textbook. Sixty-four percent of students opted out of buying textbooks for the first day of class.

    I’ve seen this with my college sophomore son. He will wait as long as three weeks after a class starts before he decides whether to purchase an expensive textbook. He tells me that some professors won’t even use the book so he waits. He has even dropped classes after learning how much the textbook will cost.

    Fortunately, many professors and their institutions are saving students money by migrating to digital textbooks and course materials. Education companies like Pearson provide Pearson Inclusive Access for students that can save them upwards of 80 percent off the price of a new print textbook. Offering digital textbooks also makes it possible for students to receive their course materials the first day of class. Professors can begin teaching immediately without concern that half their students do not have required materials because they either can’t afford it or are spending time searching or borrowing to save money.

    In addition to the cost savings, digital textbooks appeal to Gen Z students because they can access course materials on the same devices they already embrace. Gen Z wants to seamlessly jump from their personal experiences to their educational experiences on-demand and do it outside the classroom anytime, anywhere. Seventy-eight percent of students prefer digital course materials. I am not surprised because they provide three Gen Z “must-haves.” Cost savings, convenience, and interactivity. Being able to scan for specific topics, or click on audio and video links keeps those eight-second attention spans engaged in the course materials.

    Professors and institutions benefit as well. Digital textbooks provide data on how students are engaging in the content. This is invaluable feedback that can help educators identify struggling students and make adjustments when needed. More than 425 colleges and universities across the country have partnered with Pearson to provide digital course materials, and they are starting to see real results in student achievement.

    The primary focus of my book is to help each generation become self-aware of their own generational preferences. When educators become self-aware, they can ignore common Millennial, and Gen Z stereotypes and embrace their unique strengths, preferences, and learning styles. Many Boomer and Gen X educators struggle with this, and it is understandable. Technology has caused Gen Z to see more changes in ten years than older generations will experience in their lifetimes.

    Change can be hard, and it can be good, especially when it helps young people grow, learn, and become successful adults. Experienced educators should do everything they can to make learning fun, interactive, and engaging for their Gen Z students. Utilizing digital course materials and other technologies that can provide that kind of experience is a step in the right direction.

    This article was originally published on Dillon Kalkhurt’s LinkedIn Pulse page and has been reposted here with permission.

     

    read more
  • Games-based learning from "content" to "creation" (Episode 8)

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

    blog image alt text

    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 1-7.  

    What initiatives are supporting teachers and students to co-create games together? In this episode of our Future Tech for Education podcast series, hear from educators, gaming companies, and researchers on the evolution of games-based learning from “content” to “creation”.

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

     

    read more
  • Student, software and teacher in "personalized learning" (Episode 7)

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

    blog image alt text

    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 1-6.  

    In episode 7 of our Future Tech for Education podcast series, we explore: What is personalized learning? What is it not? Is there an evidence base yet for personalized learning and what does the research evidence show us about the contexts where personalized learning works best? What is the role of student, software and teacher in a personalized learning context? What questions should we be asking?

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

     

    read more
  • Analysis: Why school districts need a 'Consumer Reports' for ed tech

    by Bart Epstein, CEO, Jefferson Education Accelerator

    blog image alt text

    This is the sixth in a series of essays surrounding the EdTech Efficacy Research Symposium, a gathering of 275 researchers, teachers, entrepreneurs, professors, administrators, and philanthropists to discuss the role efficacy research should play in guiding the development and implementation of education technologies. This series was produced in partnership with Pearson, a co-sponsor of the symposium co-hosted by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, Digital Promise, and the Jefferson Education Accelerator. Click through to read the firstsecondthirdfourth, and fifth pieces.

    Economists define a collective action problem as one in which a collection of people (or organizations) each have an interest in seeing an action happen, but the cost of any one of them independently taking the action is so high that no action is taken — and the problem persists.

    The world of education swirls with collective action problems. But when it comes to understanding the efficacy of education technology products and services, it’s a problem that costs schools and districts billions of dollars, countless hours, and (sadly) missed opportunities to improve outcomes for students.

    Collectively, our nation’s K-12 schools and institutions of higher education spend more than $13 billion annually on education technology. And yet we have a dearth of data to inform our understanding of which products (or categories of products) are most likely to “work” within a particular school or classroom. As a result, we purchase products that often turn out to be a poor match for the needs of our schools or students. Badly matched and improperly implemented, too many fall short of their promise of enabling better teaching — and learning.

    It’s not that the field is devoid of research. Quantifying the efficacy of ed tech is a favorite topic for a growing cadre of education researchers and academics. Most major publishers and dozens of educational technology companies conduct research in the form of case studies and, in some cases, randomized control trials that showcase the potential outcomes for their products. The What Works Clearinghouse, now entering its 15th year, sets a gold standard for educational research but provides very little context about why the same product “works” in some places but not others. And efficacy is a topic that has now come to the forefront of our policy discourse, as debates at the state and local level center on the proper interpretation of ESSA’s mercurial “evidence” requirements. Set too high a bar, and we’ll artificially contract a market laden with potential. Miss the mark, and we’ll continue to let weak outcomes serve as evidence.

    The problem is that most research only addresses a tiny part of the ed tech efficacy equation. Variability among and between school cultures, priorities, preferences, professional development, and technical factors tend to affect the outcomes associated with education technology. A district leader once put it to me this way: “a bad intervention implemented well can produce far better outcomes than a good intervention implemented poorly.”

    After all, a reading intervention might work well in a lab or school — but if teachers in your school aren’t involved in the decision-making or procurement process, they may very well reject the strategy (sometimes with good reason). The Rubik’s Cube of master scheduling can also create variability in efficacy outcomes: Do your teachers have time to devote to high-quality implementation and troubleshooting, and then to make good use of the data for instructional purposes? At its best, ed tech is about more than tech-driven instruction. It’s about the shift toward the use of more real-time data to inform instructional strategy. In some ways, matching an ed tech product with the unique environment and needs of a school or district is a lot like matching a diet to a person’s habits, lifestyle, and preferences: Implementation rules. Matching matters. We know what “works.” But we know far less about what works where, when, and why.

    Thoughtful efforts are underway to help school and district leaders understand the variables likely to shape the impact of their ed tech investments and strategies. Organizations like LEAP Innovations are doing pioneering work to better understand and document the implementation environment, creating a platform for sharing experiences, matching schools with products, and establishing a common framework to inform practice — with or without technology. Not only are they on the front lines of addressing the ed tech implementation problem, but they are also on the leading edge of a new discipline of “implementation research.”

    Implementation research is rooted in the capture of detailed descriptions of the myriad variables that undergird your school’s success — or failure — with a particular product or approach. It’s about understanding school cultures and user personas. It’s about respecting and valuing the insights and perspectives of educators. And presenting insights in ways that enable your peers to know whether they should expect similar results in their school.

    Building a body of implementation research will involve hard work on an important problem. And it’s work that no one institution — or even a small group of institutions — can do alone. The good news is that solving this rather serious problem doesn’t require a grand political compromise or major new legislation. We can address it by engaging in collective action to formalize, standardize, and share information that hundreds of thousands of educators are already collecting in informal and non-standard ways.

    The first step in understanding and documenting a multiplicity of variables across a range of implementation environments is creating a common language to describe our schools and classrooms in terms that are relevant to the implementation of education technology. We’ll need to identify the factors that may explain why the same ed tech product can thrive in your school but flop in my school. That doesn’t mean that every educator in the country needs to document their ed tech implementations and impact. It doesn’t require the development of a scary database of student or educator data. We can start small, honing our list of variables and learning, over time, what sorts of factors enable or impede expected outcomes.

    The next step is translating those variables into metadata, and creating a common, interoperable language for incorporating the insights and experiences of individuals and organizations already doing similar work. We know that there is demand for information and insights rooted in the implementation experiences and lessons of peers. If we build an accessible and consistently organized system for understanding, collecting, and sharing information, we can chip away at the collective action problem by making it easier and less expensive to capture — and share — perspectives from across the field.

    The final step is addressing accessibility to shared insights, facilitating a community of connected decision makers who work together both to call upon the system for information and to continue to make contributions to it. Think of it as a Consumer Reports for ed tech. We’ll use the data we’ve collected to hone a shared understanding of the implementation factors that matter — but we’ll also continue to rely upon lived experiences of users to inform and grow the data set. Over time, we can achieve a shared way of thinking about a complex problem that has the potential to bring decision-making out of the dark and into a well-informed, community-supported environment.

    My work with colleagues at the first-ever EdTech Efficacy Research Symposium found that a growing number of providers, organizations, and associations are already working with educators to crowdsource efficacy data. And educators across the country are already doing this work in informal but valuable ways. Bringing these efforts together and creating a more standard approach to their collection and dissemination is a critical step toward improving decision-making. My observation from both research and discussion with the field is that the effort is not only deeply needed — it also already enjoys great support. If we take collective action, we can develop a democratic approach to improving the fit between ed tech tools and the educators who use them.

    This series is produced in partnership with Pearson. The 74 originally published this article on January 2nd, 2018 and it was re-posted here with permission.

     

    read more
  • Imagine (a world of assessment without tests) (Episode 6)

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

    blog image alt text

    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 1-5

    How do we get beyond the tick-box or bubble filling exercise of exams and tests, whilst also measuring ‘progress’? In episode 6, we review ideas around ‘invisible assessment’ and question who benefits from ‘traditional’ and re-imagined forms of assessment, including games-based assessment. Can ‘tests’ be fun and should they be? How do we measure collaboration?

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

     

    read more
  • What can VR, AR & Simulation offer teaching & learning? Plus, strategies to avoid the technopanic (Episode 5)

    by Denis Hurley, Director of Future Technologies, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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 here with  episode 1,  episode 2, episode 3, and episode 4

    In the latest episode of our Future Tech in Education podcast series, we dip into the world of VR and mixed reality to uncover what high-cost, high-risk learning opportunities are being made more accessible to all by this technology.

    Plus, we wrap our co-curated mini series with practical suggestions for educators: be mindfully skeptical, resist fear, understand that you can start small and grow, and avoid technology for technology’s sake. This last one is harder than it sounds. Many new technologies wow us but do not have useful application to education. Learn how to make the most of technology.

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes. 

     

    read more
  • Language learning as the test-bunny for educational future tech (Episode 4)

    by Denis Hurley, Director of Future Technologies, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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. Watch episode 1,  episode 2, episode 3.

    Technological change is exponential, which means it will only impact our lives more and more quickly. Among the aspects of our lives undergoing change, language usage is one of the ones being altered most drastically. New technologies also create new opportunities for learning. How must we adjust and what can we take advantage of?

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

     

    read more
  • How higher education is innovating instruction (and why it needs to continue to do so)

    blog image alt text

    Digital learning and technology has a short and turbulent history as creating cultural, social, generational, and socio-economic divides. The swiftness of change in society due to technological advances has disrupted just about everything we do, but in education, the disruption is perhaps the most important to consider.

    There is a discontinuity in how education is evolving compared to the realities of career and society. Higher education attempts to be responsive to these changes, but the course corrections are often slow and/or don’t align well with the actual trajectory of the modern world. The solution is not clear-cut, but there are many ways higher education is trying to keep pace.

    Here are 5 trends that are helping higher education to align better with the actual needs of students:

    1. Online and hybrid classes have become a very popular part of the landscape at many institutions of higher education. The mix of flexibility and the infusion of technology such as video-conferencing software, cloud-based office suites such as Google’s Gsuite or Microsoft’s 365, and the use of learning management systems such as Blackboard or Desire to Learn. While the technology serves the purpose of adding flexibility and leveraging resources, the experiences students gain from working and learning in this environment align closely with the modern workplace.
    2. Digital Delivery of learning materials is the obvious evolution for higher education, and one that has been painfully slow. While the ability to deliver what we used to think of as a “textbook” as a digital resource has long been possible, many programs still rely heavily on student and faculty use of printed media. It doesn’t have to be this way, and some schools are beginning to take a hard look at the way materials are used in courses. In many cases, the switch can be easy. For instance, Pearson Education is one of the leaders in providing access to digitally delivered learning materials. The digital catalogs available for students and faculty are massive and growing every day. At this point, any move toward digital delivery is a positive one. This transition would modernize the higher ed experience and probably save students some money.
    3. Internships and outside experiential learning built into degree programs have continued to be a popular route due to the development of personal and social skills, but internships have a secondary yet powerful consequence: they also help instructors and program chairpeople stay current. There is a lot to be said for programs where internships, programming, and instruction are woven together in ways that a more traditional, sanitized, classroom experience cannot replicate.
    4. Student voice and choice is changing the landscape of post-secondary education. There is a great power in programs willing to allow for a variety of student voice and choice in the learning experience, not just for the capstone, but throughout the learning journey of the students. This seems to be far more accepted in vocational and advanced degree programs, and I’d like to see it sweep through the undergraduate experience as well.
    5. Embracing the learner, not the system, is really the key to the survival of many post-secondary programs. While the integration of learning technology, internships, diverse media delivery and student voice make for an increasingly intimate and individualized experience, it can’t survive in a vacuum. The evolution to embrace learner needs, especially when those needs run afoul of traditional practice, needs to be valued. Whether differentiated by time, place, pace, or method of delivery, individualized instruction can happen now in ways that would have been impossible or impractical even ten years ago. Not only can professors use their LMS platforms to deliver multimedia-rich learning options, but there are many options for curricula and review material already assembled and ready to use, such as Pearson’s Revel and MyLab/Mastering products.

    Disruption is the constant today, and post-secondary programs will need to continue to find ways to attend to the gap between what they deliver and what students actually need. They need to be nimble and responsive to the world they are preparing students for.

    While the familiar may have a certain nostalgia to some professors and instructors, these disruptions represent the best potential for future growth of programs, institutions, and the individuals. Unlike any other time in history, higher education faces a shift from tried and true to a constant reinvention to meet the fluid demands of both the working world and an ever-changing student body.

    This article was originally published on Dr. VonBank’s LinkedIn Pulse page and has been reposted here with permission.

    read more
  • Developing responsible and calm digital citizenship (Episode 3)

    by Denis Hurley, Director of Future Technologies, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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.

    Technology is a part of almost every aspect of our lives: buildings can be 3D printed, cars can drive themselves, and algorithms can direct our education.

    In the third episode of this series (catch episode 1 and episode 2), we explore how do we react to, interact with, and create with the tools of technology? It’s essential that we understand how these function and what the implications.

    We also look into the changing world of work and how we can best prepare.

    View on YouTube

    For more information, check out the Pearson Future Skills report.

    Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

     

    read more
  • What is AI & what has it got to do with me and my students? (Episode 2)

    by Denis Hurley, Director of Future Technologies, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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. Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes here.

    Smarter digital tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI), offer up the promise of learning that is more personalized, inclusive and flexible. Many see the benefits of AI, some are skeptical – but it’s crucial we understand what these tools can do and how they work.

    In the first episode of this series, we talked about the how to navigate the challenges and opportunities tech brings to the future of education. In episode two, we explore: What is AI and what is it not? What’s the difference between narrow AI, general AI, and super-intelligence? What type of AI is used now in education? What type do people fear? What questions might teachers want to use when thinking about AI in education?

    View on YouTube

    For more information, check out the report, Intelligence Unleashed: An argument for AI in Education.

     

    read more
  • What does future tech for education look like? (Episode 1)

    by Denis Hurley, Director of Future Technologies, Pearson

    blog image alt text

    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. Subscribe to the Future Tech for Education on iTunes.

    In our first episode of the Future Tech for Education podcast series, we put “future-forecasting” in perspective through a few useful but simple models. We talk about the history of the future and mindful skepticism, and we delve into the four foci of edtech technologies — mixed reality, data science (AI), biosyncing, and human-machine relations — and their effect on education, teaching, and learning.

    View on YouTube 

    Employ mindful skepticism. This means not accepting a new technology as inherently good or evil. But try to understand what the possibilities are. Try to understand what can it be used for; how can I make the most of this technology.

    read more
  • Generation Z: Get to know your new students

    by Pearson

    blog image alt text

    Gen Zers are the current generation to embark on their journey in higher education. They are present on your campus and in your classes, with many more enrolling every year. How well do you know them? Do you have the tools to shape these newcomers into successful and productive adults after just a few short years of schooling?

    Born between 1997 and 2015, Generation Z accounts for 26% of all the total United States population, according to a Nielsen report. They’re currently the largest living generation and have the potential to reshape how we use technology and view the workplace, so you probably should.

    Understanding what drives this generation can help you better tailor your coursework around tangible and transferable skills so students can better understand how it relates to their future. Barnes & Noble College conducted a survey of 1,300 Gen Zers, and more than 89% of respondents acknowledge that a college education is valuable.

    For them, college is seen as the pathway to a good job. The study also states that Gen Z’s top criterion in selecting a college is how it will prepare them for their chosen careers, followed by interesting coursework and professors who care about student success.

    Learning how to engage with this generation is just as important as learning what tools to use to engage them. Their comfort and trust in the online space will greatly determine how they interact with their educators. In fact, Gen Zers often prefer video content—with 85% of surveyed students reporting that they watched an online video to learn a new skill in the past week, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics.

    And they have high hopes for their post-collegiate future, too. In fact, 88% of surveyed Gen Zers reported that they were optimistic about their own personal future—more than any other generation, according to a report by Vision Critical.

    But that optimism is balanced by realistic expectations about their careers. When asked what matters most in their ideal jobs, in the same survey, they favored salary more and work-life balance less than their millennial counterparts.

    Here’s just some of what you can expect to learn more about:

    • Up-to-the-minute analysis of what’s happening in higher education
    • Illuminating insights from multigenerational surveys about Gen Z behaviors and attitudes about education
    • Eye-opening interviews and surveys about the individual experiences of hundreds of Gen Z students from Jean Twenge, author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

    In the meantime, dive deeper into the Gen-Z psyche, and read about their learning habits in the infographic, “Engage from A to Gen Z.” Learn more about this generation’s make-up, goals, and what makes them tick.

     

    read more