• Vintage websites to virtual classrooms: an expert's guide to the evolution of higher education

    by Pearson

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    A big deal at the time

    In the early 1990s, Bill Clements highlighted students in his college classes at Norwich University on websites he built from scratch.

    “I’d post a ‘Student of the Week’ and the students really got a kick out of it,” he says. “They’d call home to their families and say ‘hey, Mom, my picture is on the Internet!’”

    It was a big deal at the time, Bill says.

    That was more than 20 years ago. Now, Bill is Vice President and Dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Norwich, overseeing the learning of the approximately 1,800 students enrolled in online programs.

    A history of service

    Founded in 1819, Norwich University is the oldest private military college in the United States and is considered the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). With a student body of approximately two-thirds in the Corps of Cadets, the school’s online population also serves a high proportion of military students.

    “Overall, I’d say the online-only degrees are 40% military students,” Bill says.

    Several of Norwich’s online programs are designed to serve military students. The Master of Arts in Diplomacy and Master of Arts in Military History, in particular, have high enrollments of military officers.

    “We get a lot of students who are military officers preparing for promotions or additional leadership roles and are looking to our online programs to bolster their professional capabilities,” Bill says.

    The university recently conducted a Gallup survey of its alumni and the results confirm what Bill has always known to be true.

    “We’ve heard from our students and alumni—military and civilian—that our online programs made it easier to earn a degree,” he says. “They graduate and get good jobs with good salaries.”

    “There’s been a positive impact on their lives as a result of their education.”

    Higher ed 3.0

    Thirty years ago this month, Bill was teaching at Temple University and finishing his doctoral degree.

    “It was a big week for me,” he recalls. “I had just signed my contract at Norwich, had a birthday, my second daughter was born, and I was defending my dissertation.”

    Bill recalls talking to a colleague also on the verge of completing his doctorate about where they might be in 30 years.

     “We knew we wanted to be in leadership positions that would allow us to be a part of the changes we knew were coming,” he says. “We didn’t know what those changes would look like, exactly, but we were eager to begin our careers.”

    That colleague went on to have a successful career in higher education and together, Bill says, they’ve seen the evolution of “higher ed 2.0.”

    “When we went through school, higher education was still ‘version 1.0.’ It was lecture halls and slides full of notes,” he explains. “Throughout my career, I’ve seen the evolution of ‘version 2.0,’ where we took that physical classroom and moved it online with little change.”

    But now, Bill says, he’s looking forward to the next 30 years and the evolution of higher ed 3.0.

    “That next version has to move beyond just replicating lectures,” he says. “We have to ask how can we make learning more effective, how do we make it more engaged, how do we make it more affordable?”

    He also believes higher education is a lifelong process.

    “You can’t just get a degree and get a job and never go to school again in today’s economy,” he says. “How is higher education going to adapt to that?”

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  • How to be a student again, this time online

    by John Sadauskas, PhD, Learning Capabilities Design Manager, Pearson

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    There are many reasons right now for why you may be looking to upskill – social lives are currently limited, you may unfortunately be out of work, or you just might be looking for ways to spend isolation productively. To help you be better positioned to excel in or re-enter the workforce, here are some tips on where to begin, and how to succeed as a student again, this time learning in an online world.

    1. Consider your goals

    You may already know what knowledge or skills you’re after, but if not, spend some time thinking about your goals. For instance, is there something that could help you improve your performance in your current role?

    Or perhaps you have your eye on a new position or a career change. To get an idea of the skills you need, read through job descriptions for roles similar to the one you want. How well do the job descriptions fit you? What would you like to be able to add to your resume in order to better align with the qualifications?

    2. Ask others for advice

    This could be a great opportunity to discuss your professional development with your manager to see what would take your work to the next level in your current role or a desired role. You could also ask current and former co-workers.

    LinkedIn is also a powerful resource for seeking information and advice in this area. For instance, you could see if anyone in your network works in a similar field or role to the one you’re interested in. If so, what credentials have they earned? What skills do they describe in their profiles? If you know them personally or through a mutual connection, see if they would be willing to answer any questions you might have.

    Once you have a good idea of your learning goals, consider the following when choosing your next steps.

    3. Find a learning option that aligns with your goals

    Most well-designed learning experiences will come out and state their intended learning objectives – essentially the knowledge and skills you’re meant to get out of the experience. You certainly don’t want to waste your time, so make sure the experience is aimed at moving you toward your learning goals.

    Next, consider the scope of the learning. Is it completely or mostly focused on what you hope to learn at the appropriate depth of detail, or is it so broad that it will only touch upon topics you’d prefer more detail on?

    Finally, think about the time commitment for the learning to ensure it would be realistic for you to complete the learning on the expected timeline.

    4. Decide whether you need a credential

    For many learning goals, it may be important to be able to share or demonstrate that you’ve completed the learning or are proficient at a skill. For example:

    • Earning a professional certification to advance in your current job
    • Pursuing a new position that requires you to hold a certain degree
    • Working toward a badge or certificate to include on your resume to demonstrate that you have skills in a certain area

    In these cases, it often makes more sense to pursue a more formal option like a training course, degree program, or studying for a standardized assessment that would provide you with a diploma, badge, certification, etc.

    However, a credential may be less important to you. It could be instead that you simply want to acquire skills and knowledge to help you do your current job better, or that you’re pursuing a topic that’s of personal interest to you. In this case, the more formal learning options mentioned above could certainly work for you, but you also might consider whether you can meet your needs with online videos, books, webinars, or other similar (potentially free!) resources.

    5. Look into free and discounted options

    Many organizations provide free learning resources on a variety of topics to their employees to encourage professional development, so it is worth looking into what your organization already has, and whether it meets your learning needs.

    Some organizations allow employees to expense all or a portion of learning costs (e.g. college tuition or enrollment in a single course). In some cases, organizations also partner with a university to provide relevant learning and training opportunities at a discounted rate.

    You may also find that there are perfectly appropriate resources for your learning goals for free. Video sites like YouTube provide detailed tutorials on how to do just about anything. Webinars on a wide variety of topics are often available at the cost of simply providing your email address to a learning provider’s mailing list (which you can later opt out of). Even some more formal online courses are available for free from sites like FutureLearn, Harvard Online, and Coursera (until May 31) and many are currently available at a discount in response to COVID-19 on sites like Udemy and Udacity.

    Not all learning goals will have free or discounted equivalents, but a little extra investigation could help you save money while meeting your learning goals.

    6. Use strategies to stay motivated

    Finally, once you’ve decided on a learning experience, it’s important to set yourself up for success with good habits and make efforts to keep yourself motivated. If you’re new to being an online student, you can find out more about that with these 5 tips to keep motivated when learning online and how to excel in online classes.

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