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Higher Ed News
Updated: 25 min 11 sec ago

A technology to improve STEM retention?

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:00am

Colorado State University (CSU) and the McGraw-Hill Education Learning Science Research Council will partner on a new academic research project designed to use learning analytics and educational data mining to improve student retention in STEM courses.

This new research initiative, announced at SXSWedu, will investigate the use of advanced techniques in learning analytics and educational data mining to reduce the Drop-Fail-Withdraw (DFW) rates in STEM gateway courses.

Unsuccessful course completion in these gateway courses is often associated with significantly lower retention and graduation rates. CSU researchers said they are hopeful the data to come from the partnership will inform other courses and faculty insight.

“Learning analytics is developing quickly as an area of academic research, and we want to use this type of research to solve strategic challenges at the university,” said Patrick Burns, CIO, Colorado State University. “We hope to discover new techniques for solving the persistent challenge of high attrition rates in STEM gateway courses. We expect that the research will also benefit other courses and allow faculty to access data and insights in novel ways for enhancing teaching effectiveness.”

Dave Johnson, Director of Research and Analytics for Colorado State University Online, which has been leading CSU’s learning analytics research, said: “Through our collaboration with McGraw-Hill Education, we are looking at how we can provide instructors with actionable, data-driven insights that will allow them to help students, at all levels, successfully complete their courses. We are already starting to see some exciting results and look forward to incorporating our findings in new practical applications.”

The research study is focusing initially on testing and validating predictive models for course completion. The predictive model will be combined with a set of interactive insights for advanced diagnostics and intervention. These patterns can serve as early indicators as to which students will most likely complete a course and which ones are in danger of failing--and ultimately help instructors identify at-risk students that they can work with more closely to ensure course completion. Preliminary results from the research project are expected in the first half of this year.

“The mission of our Learning Science Research Council is to promote further research and exploration into the science of how students learn to help inform the continued growth and refinement of technology-supported learning in the years to come,” said David Levin, president and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education. “We are seeking a wide range of collaborations with institutions like Colorado State University to deepen our collective understanding of how to effectively use technology to improve learning outcomes. We want to make our researchers and extensive resources available to test new theories and content in real-world educational settings – to solve real-world education problems.”

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Is writing education vital to emerging technology?

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:00am

In an age of technological advancement, it’s easy to feel obsolete. I feel confident that education will always be needed; but, occasionally I wonder if writing education has value in a computer-driven world.

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The dark side of higher ed’s ePortfolios-what really happened

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 1:00am

Pre-dating the widespread use of blogs and personal websites, the 1990s era ePortfolio inspired storytelling about lifelong learning and everything that entails: formal schooling, personal reflection, career planning, presentations of evidence to assist in life transitions, and snapshots of abilities and character. This generalized use–the ability to do many things reasonably well–made the ePortfolio a likely candidate for long-term survival.

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University discovers how to bring expensive on-campus resources to online students

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 1:00am

How do we provide near-ubiquitous access when students are geographically dispersed, use different types of computer platforms, and don’t have access to campus computer labs? Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), or the creation of a virtual desktop for students that houses key applications without having them installed on their computer, seemed like the solution.

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18 fundraising sites for millions in campus donations

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 1:00am

Figures like $2 million, $300,000, $10 million, and $900,000, abounded in a recent Washington Post story that revealed how small liberal arts schools are turning to the relatively new-ish startup concept of fundraising sites for alumni and student program donations—all through Washington D.C.-based crowdfunding website GiveCampus.com.

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Want an inclusive student experience? Yes, there’s a campus app for that

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 1:00am

How can modern institutions implement strategies that support student engagement, retention and success, especially for low-income and minority students? How can they ensure students have access to the personal resources they need to succeed? And, how can they promote an inclusive student experience that makes every student feel like they belong?

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Brace yourselves: AI is set to explode in higher ed in the next 4 years

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 1:00am

A new report predicts that artificial intelligence (AI) in the U.S. education sector will grow 47.5 percent through 2021.

The report, Artificial Intelligence Market in the U.S. Education Sector 2017-2021, is based on in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts.

One of the major trends surrounding AI and education is AI-powered educational games. Because games have the potential to engage students while teaching them challenging education concepts in an engaging manner, vendors are incorporating AI features into games to enhance their interactivity.

Educational games that include adaptive learning features give students frequent and timely suggestions for a guided learning experience.

Machine learning technologies in the AI field are designed in such a manner that they can interact directly with students without any human intervention, according to the report, and such technologies are capable of teaching varied subjects, such as mathematics, languages, physics, law, and medicine.

They are different from traditional computer-aided instruction systems owing to their ability to interpret complex human responses while simultaneously teaching. This system can analyze student learning patterns and they can adjust their content focus and feedback.

The growth of AI in the academic world leads to the need for new policies and guidelines.

And as noted in the annual Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition, as academic and research libraries begin to uncover ways in which AI can improve patron services, research processes, and learner outcomes, there is a need to develop guidelines informed by research to ensure ethical use of student data.

AI hasn't gone mainstream quite yet, but many forward-thinking institutions are exploring how its basics can enhance their offerings and operations. This type of exploration could be buoyed by AI's predicted rise.

Because AI can be very user-centric, it helps deliver relevant answers and feedback to students in any number of situations. It also can personalize a student's learning lifecycle, including academic information and job applications.

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3 ways new-to-online students can thrive with virtual learning

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 1:00am

Digital learning opportunities are widely available and abundant today. From MOOCs to digital study aids to virtual tutoring, there are many ways for students to hone their academic skills while still maintaining flexibility in their schedules. An added bonus? They can often do this from the comfort and convenience of their own computer, smartphone, or other electronic device.

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The 3 biggest Twitter problems for educators—and how to overcome them

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 1:00am

Despite clear advantages to advancing digital literacy, schools often experience considerable roadblocks to implementing digital literacy initiatives. Interestingly, accessibility often isn’t the biggest factor blocking this process—more often than not, it comes down to a teacher’s own comfort with social media.

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Are campus bookstores the key to online and digital learning success?

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 1:00am

They still sell t-shirts for proud parents and coffee mugs with catchy slogans, but college bookstores are also going through a renaissance of sorts, using technology-supported measures to become an integral cornerstone of campus life.

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4 reasons why mobile is making unprecedented gains in student recruiting

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 1:00am

Universities around the world rely heavily on traditional marketing strategies—direct mail, college fairs, physical ads in public transit, billboards, campus visits and other antiquated best practices—to attract candidates to their programs. Despite the advent of the internet, big data and the mobile revolution, higher ed recruiting has remained unchanged for decades.

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Debunked: 8 online learning myths that need to disappear

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 1:00am

As online learning continues to grow as an increasingly viable option for postsecondary and continuing education (at least 5.8 million US students are enrolled in at least one online course), especially as non-traditional students are becoming the norm, there still exists a universal unfamiliarity with online learning that has led to the proliferation of several myths or misconceptions about this popular mode of learning.

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Future-looking college course blends data with classic field of study

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 1:00am

Tableau, a provider of visual analytics, announced the availability of a new Tableau for Teaching curriculum, Introduction to Data Journalism. The course focuses on the importance of data literacy in media and is available to instructors for free through the Tableau for Teaching program.

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Students reveal 5 things they love about their institution’s CBE programs

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 1:00am

Competency-based education (CBE) offers tons of potential for both students and faculty--and while faculty are sometimes hesitant to redesign courses, the majority of students embrace the opportunity to accelerate learning and meet career goals.

CBE projects are on the rise at public, private, two-year and four-year institutions. CBE gives students the opportunity to use their life experiences and skills to further their education and advance their job potential.

Now, new research details how three different institutions have developed CBE programs by supporting both students and faculty.

During its work with various institutions, Western Governors University (WGU) has helped schools and faculty develop CBE programs.

Three schools--Sinclair Community College in Ohio, Broward College in Florida, and Austin Community College in Texas--have worked with WGU to develop their CBE programs since 2013 after received a U.S. Department of Education grant.

Though each school's CBE program is different, they all based their programs on five design principles:
1. Degree or certificate reflects robust and valid competencies.
2. Students are able to learn at a variable pace and are supported in their learning.
3. Effective learning resources are available anytime and are reusable.
4. The process for mapping competencies to courses, learning outcomes, and assessments is explicit.
5. Assessments are secure and reliable.

Sinclair Community College (SCC) had a strong distance learning program, but needed to adjust courses as it developed its CBE program. Faculty worked in teams with an instructional designer to go through development steps and reviews. Faculty used a set of statewide competencies to guide course development and learning outcomes, while also developing compehensive course outlines, necessary learning resources, and assessments.

SCC's faculty dealt with teaching both face-to-face and CBE courses and juggled the time constraints of the CBE courses, which required facult to respond to CBE students in 24 hours and review course assessments within 48 hours.

Faculty at Austin Community College developed courses with help from a course development team. They defined high-level competencies and learning ourcomes. Faculty reported that CBE gave them new ways of teaching and helped them communicate course content more clearly. One faculty member adapted all of his face-to-face classes to the CBE format after he realied the format would benefit in-class students.

When Broward College implemented a CBE computer system specialist program, it had to create the distance education infrastructure to support the fully online program. BC's five-step process for adapting existing courses to a CBE model included content and assessment creation by teams and reviews of course outlines and learning objectives. Faculty said the CBE program's flexibility helped remote students continue their learning, such as students who were in the military and deployed during the semester.

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How 6 thriving institutions are leveraging alternative credentials for student success

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 1:00am

As higher education evolves, so, too, do the paths to degrees. And attaining a degree often involves alternative credentials including MOOCs, micro-credentialing or badges, or non-credit certificate programs.

But as these options expand and evolve, higher-education institutions must meet the ever-present challenge of treating these experiential learning experiences as credit-bearing.

One question remains: How can institutions qualify alternative credentials as forms of knowledge and apply them to, or include them in, the curriculum for a quality degree program?

To explore these changes and implications, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and The Presidents’ Forum partnered with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) to conduct a study examining the state of alternative credentials at adult learning institutions.

The main research question is: How are alternative credentials defined and used at adult learning institutions in the United States?

OLC used a multiple case study approach offering in-depth information about the state of alternative credentials at six adult-friendly institutions in the U.S.

Through a cross-study analysis, five themes emerged, including: competency-based education (CBE), prior learning assessment (PLA), alternative credentials, the importance of reliable data, and traditional vs. non-traditional learning.

The findings are presented in “Alternative Credentials in Higher Education: PLA 2.0,” a 30-page report authored by Dr. Jill Buban, senior director of research & innovation at OLC. The study offers insights into how alternative credentials are defined and used at adult learning institutions.

For example, the report's analysis of SUNY Empire State College, one of the six participating institutions, includes discussions on data, prior learning assessment, and credentialing.

Data: Data collection and dissemination is a challenge for the college. The many systems the college uses to identify, track, and validate prior learning, combined with the number of functional offices that interact with student records during the degree program planning process, makes analysis of prior learning sources on a consistent basis problematic.

Prior Learning Assessment: Students can elect to have their knowledge of a subject area evaluated through the individualized prior learning assessment process, but they are not awarded credit simply by providing evidence of an experience; they must demonstrate that there is college-level learning contained within the experience.

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Texas A&M launches new VR-enabled virtual tour system

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 1:00am

Texas A&M University has just launched a new VR-enabled virtual tour powered by concept3D Inc's Xplorer Virtual Tour, the new industry standard for creating immersive virtual experiences.

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Students: University technology not meeting our needs–here’s why

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 1:00am

According to a new report, thanks to a lack of digital options and tedious online protocols part of many campus technology initiatives, students say they study less and think less of their university.

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8 questions to ask when developing a cloud strategy

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 1:00am

Today, confidence in cloud providers to deliver the highest levels of security and reliability led us to migrate all of our remaining colo (colocation) customers into Amazon Web Services (AWS). In most cases, those conversations were generally an enthusiastic “It’s a no-brainer, let’s go!” “Let’s go!” quickly turns to questions of what, when, who, how, and why. There are a myriad of valid approaches to adopting cloud, ranging from tactical reasons to full-on, strategic “all in” approaches. Giving consideration to strategic questions can help provide a framework for the decision-making that follows.

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6 improvement trends spreading like fire across all colleges and universities

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 1:00am

Just like 2016’s improvement trends, academic program creation and evaluation is top-of-mind with institutions. However, this year colleges and universities are looking to diversify their program portfolios, either through offering online or blended learning offerings, through offering micro-credentials, or by placing their bets on emerging programs.

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OER adoption spreads in California

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 1:00am

To bridge the gap between OER and traditional learning materials, the California State University (CSU) system and VitalSource Technologies LLC® announced a collaboration designed to increase the adoption and use of OER.

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