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    Emerging Technologies in Distance Education -- Outstanding...
    blog entry posted September 7, 2010 by Richard E Lillie, last edited May 22, 2012, tagged research 
    18756 Views, 106 Comments
    title:
    Emerging Technologies in Distance Education -- Outstanding Resource
    intro text:

    In July, 2010 AU Press (Athabasca University, Canada) published a book that I think you will find is an excellent resource for ideas about using technology in teaching and learning.  The book entitled Emerging Technologies in Distance Education is edited by George Veletsianos.

    AU Press makes the book available for free in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format.  You may download the entire publication or selected chapters.

    This book is worth exploring.  It may not turn you into a "pro from Dover" (to draw on the line from the movie Mash).  However, it should help you better understand how to use technology when you design course materials and share them with your students.

    Enjoy.

    Rick Lillie (Cal State, San Bernardino)

    Emerging Technologies in Distance Education

    Comment

    • Robert E Jensen

      "African Students See China as a Path to a Prosperous Future," by By Ryan Brown, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 10, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/Many-Africans-Look-to-China/134246/

      In 2011, Gontse Nosi, a South African, was working for an electricity company here when he heard about an unusual opportunity—to earn a master's degree in China, paid for by the Chinese government. He applied and was accepted to a program at the Beijing University of Technology to study renewable energy. There was just one problem. The program was taught entirely in Mandarin, and Mr. Nosi didn't speak a word of it.

      So for the first year of his studies, the Chinese government arranged for him to live in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where he attended intensive language classes for 10 hours a day. And although that may seem like a winding path to a degree that Mr. Nosi could have earned at home, the added investment, he says, was worth it.

      "There are Chinese businesses in South Africa now, and South African businesses in China," he says. "Studying there will really open doors for me when I want to find a job."

      Mr. Nosi is part of a growing cadre of African students whose pursuit of an internationally recognized university degree has taken them not to Europe or the United States but to China. The country hopes to become a major destination for international students, with some 293,000 currently enrolled in its universities—more than 20,000 of them from Africa.

      The figures are small but rising rapidly: As late as 2006, African students made up only 2 percent of foreign students in China. And nearly one-third of the scholarships given by the Chinese government to foreign students now go to Africans. American colleges, by contrast, have failed to raise their enrollments from Africa, which have hovered around 36,000 since 2006, or about 5 percent of the total international-student population.

      African students are being lured to China by a free education or low tuition (around $4,500 per year), the hope of a job with one of the Chinese corporations scattered across Africa, or simply an escape from overcrowded domestic universities. Whatever their motives, African students also hold a symbolic importance for leaders both on the continent and in China itself.

      Over the past decade, China has risen to become Africa's single largest trading partner, and its stake in the continent is mushrooming. From 2003 to 2011, China's direct investment in Africa rose from $100-million to $12-billion. Like Chinese-built superhighways in Kenya or Chinese corporations mining diamonds in Zambia, drawing African students to China offers a way for the country to shore up its diplomatic and financial relationship with the continent.

      And Chinese educational investment—whether in the form of drawing African students to China, the building of Chinese-language institutes across the continent, or Chinese aid to African universities—has a special potency on a continent scarred by European colonialism. It offers a new channel of international educational opportunity for African students, one that sidesteps the West altogether.

      "Not just the universities but the country of China itself is a learning experience for students from my country," says Yilak Elu, an Ethiopian who completed a master's degree in international development at Beijing's Tsinghua University. "We go there to see how a country can develop itself quickly." A Complicated History

      Although Africans have flocked to Chinese universities in significant numbers only in the past decade, the history of diplomatic relations between Beijing and the continent is littered with attempts to recruit African students.

      In the 1960s, the Chinese government began to sponsor a small cadre of international students from new postcolonial states to foster solidarity in the so-called third world. Flush with revolution and full of newly emerging socialist states, Africa became an obvious target for this new educational exchange, and in 1961 the first group of 118 African students arrived to great fanfare in Beijing.

      The experience did not end well.

      Blindsided by racism and isolation, 96 of the original group of students returned to their home countries by the following year.

      China's Cultural Revolution also cut short those first feeble exchange programs, but when the government reinstated its scholarships for African students, in the 1970s, they began to return. In the decades that followed, African students continued to filter into China, drawn by the undeniable lure of a free education.

      The pace quickened in the mid-2000s, when the newly founded Forum on China-Africa Cooperation began to endorse the expansion of Chinese government scholarships for African students as part of its bid to improve diplomacy with the African continent. From 2000 to 2007, 12,000 African students received government scholarships to study in China. In 2009 alone, more than 4,000 African students won Chinese funds for their degrees. And as they arrived in the country, paying students began to follow.

      Many paying students come not because they are particularly drawn to China, but because they have struggled to find institutions to meet their needs in their home countries. And they often steer clear of Western universities because they are wary of the cost and the maze of immigration bureaucracy that awaits them there.

      "Whatever you pay, a degree is a degree," says Rowena Ungen, a South African student who earned her medical degree from Shandong University. "People see that, and that's why they don't want to go to England anymore."

      And visas for most African students are far easier to come by in China than in Europe, creating an added draw.

      Continued in article

      Jensen Comment
      One of the most popular languages to study on the Trinity University campus is Chinese. This in large measure is due to student perceptions that their hiring and promotion prospects might one day increase due to knowledge of the Chinese languages.

      Having said this, it must be recognized that over the last 200 years or more the global language of commerce and diplomacy evolved as English. It is the most widely taught second language around the world from Europe to Africa and Asia.

      Hence, if China wants to play a larger role in educating the world, the Chinese must consider two major strategies.

       

    • Robert E Jensen

      Educating the Masses:  Coursera doubles the number of university partners
      "MOOC Host Expands," by Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, September 19, 2012 ---
      http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/09/19/coursera-doubles-university-partnerships

      Coursera continued its ambitious expansion in the growing market for MOOC support today, announcing accords with 16 new universities to help them produce massive open online courses — more than doubling the company’s number of institutional partners and pushing its course count near 200.

      The new partners include the first liberal arts college, Wesleyan University, to leap formally into the MOOC game, as well as the first music school, the Berklee College of Music.

      Coursera also announced deals with name-brand private universities, such as Brown, Columbia, Emory and Vanderbilt Universities; some major state institutions, such as the University of Maryland System, the Ohio State University and the Universities of Florida, and California at Irvine; and several international universities, such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Universities of British Columbia, London, and Melbourne.

      The company already boasted the most courses and student registrations of any MOOC providers, having registered 1.3 million students for its courses (although far fewer have actually stuck with a course). Andrew Ng, one of its co-founders, said Coursera will probably double its university partnerships at least one more time before it stops recruiting new institutions.

      “I think we’ll wind up with at least twice the universities that we have now, but we’re not sure what the number is,” said Ng in an interview.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs and free courses, videos, and course materials from prestigious universities ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      "What You Need to Know About MOOC's," Chronicle of Higher Education, August 20, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/133475/

    • Robert E Jensen

      The Big List of 530 Free Online Courses from Top Universities (New Additions) --- Click Here
      http://www.openculture.com/2012/09/new_additions_to_our_list_of_530_free_online_courses_from_top_universities_.html

      Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs and free courses, videos, and course materials from prestigious universities ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      "What You Need to Know About MOOC's," Chronicle of Higher Education, August 20, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/133475/

      . . .

      Who are the major players?

      Several start-up companies are working with universities and professors to offer MOOC's. Meanwhile, some colleges are starting their own efforts, and some individual professors are offering their courses to the world. Right now four names are the ones to know:

      edX

      A nonprofit effort run jointly by MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley.

      Leaders of the group say they intend to slowly add other university partners over time. edX plans to freely give away the software platform it is building to offer the free courses, so that anyone can use it to run MOOC’s.

      Coursera

      A for-profit company founded by two computer-science professors from Stanford.

      The company’s model is to sign contracts with colleges that agree to use the platform to offer free courses and to get a percentage of any revenue. More than a dozen high-profile institutions, including Princeton and the U. of Virginia, have joined.

      Udacity

      Another for-profit company founded by a Stanford computer-science professor.

      The company, which works with individual professors rather than institutions, has attracted a range of well-known scholars. Unlike other providers of MOOC’s, it has said it will focus all of its courses on computer science and related fields.

      Udemy

      A for-profit platform that lets anyone set up a course.

      The company encourages its instructors to charge a small fee, with the revenue split between instructor and company. Authors themselves, more than a few of them with no academic affiliation, teach many of the courses.

      "The Future Is Now?" by Joe Hoyle, Teaching Blog, August 13, 2012 ---
      http://joehoyle-teaching.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-future-is-now.html

      Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs, MITx, and Courses from Prestigious Universities ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education and training alternatives in general ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

      Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

       

    • Robert E Jensen

      "One Business School Is Itself a Case Study in the Economics of Online Education," by Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/Case-Study-the-Economics-of/134668/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

      Distance education has been very good for the business school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. More precisely, the revenue-generating online M.B.A. program has been good for the school.

      The 11-year-old online program accounts for just over a quarter of the enrollment at UMass's Isenberg School of Management, yet revenues from the program cover about 40 percent of the school's $25-million annual budget. And that's after UMass Online, the in-house marketing agency, as well as a few other arms of the university have taken their cuts.

      The business school's experience helps to illustrate the economics of distance education and the way one college with a marketable offering is using online education to help its bottom line.

      With a total of about 4,830 undergraduate and graduate students and a faculty of 105, the Isenberg school spends an average of about $5,175 per student. The online M.B.A. program, with 1,250 students, generates about $10-million in net revenue, or about $8,000 per student. Looking at it one way, that's nearly double the per-student revenue that the school generates from all other sources of income for the rest of its enrollment, which comprises about 3,400 undergraduates, 100 full-time, on-campus M.B.A. students, and 80 doctoral candidates.

      Mark A. Fuller, the dean, says the profitability of the online program has little to do with any inherent cost savings from offering courses via technology, but quite a bit to do with the high student demand for M.B.A.'s offered by a brand-name public institution in a format and on a schedule made possible by the technology.

      The key, he says, is that it's a new educational product, for which the school commands a premium price. The online M.B.A. costs $750 per credit hour (although the business school gets only 60 percent of that), and students take 39 credits; the price equivalent for the 55-credit face-to-face M.B.A. is $482 per credit hour.

      Aside from not having the expense of providing the classroom and keeping it heated or cooled, a college doesn't necessarily save money providing a course online rather than in a classroom. In some cases, other costs associated with an online course, for technology and student support, can equal and even exceed those savings.

      But institutions do have ways to make their online classes more profitable. With no physical-space limitations, they can pack more students into the distance-education courses, so each class generates more revenue. Or they can hire part-time faculty members to teach a packaged curriculum for lower pay. They can also go cheap on the learning-management system or support services for distant students.

      The Isenberg school has a single faculty for all its courses; the online-class sizes aren't any larger than the other ones; and, with few exceptions, all professors teach a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses, including the online ones. "We try to create the same experience" for all students, Mr. Fuller says. (Most students take the M.B.A. online, but they have the option of taking some of their credits at sites in Massachusetts.)

      Mr. Fuller says the price is in line with or less expensive than that charged by other public universities offering online M.B.A.'s.

      Under this approach, he says, the entire business school participates in the online program, and the entire school benefits.

      The online business model takes into account other costs as well. Ten percent of the gross revenues goes to UMass Online, a systemwide organization that helps market online courses and provides the learning-management system that delivers them. The Amherst campus also takes a few other bites, including a charge for overhead and a payment to the provost's office for other universitywide projects.

      In the end, the Isenberg school keeps 60 percent of revenue generated by the program. Still, Mr. Fuller considers it a financial boon for the school. "It opens up new markets, particularly for high-quality students with work experience who are placebound," he says. About 20 percent of the students are doctors or other health professionals, with a good number of lawyers and engineers enrolled as well—"all the people you would expect who can't quit their job" and move to Amherst, says Mr. Fuller.

      Continued in article

       

      Jensen Comment
      There are obvious cost savings of distance education delivery that avoids the needs for land, buildings, classrooms, and dorms (although dorms generally are self-funding). However, not all distance education programs avoid such costs. For example, in the past it was common to pipe live classrooms into dorms and homes. This still entailed having classrooms.

      Faculty costs may be greater or lower for distance education relative to onsite education. Very intense distance education programs with small classes and top faculty don't necessarily save on faculty costs ---
      http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/002cpe/Dunbar2002.htm

      The fact of the matter is that distance education really offers a much wider range of alternatives from low cost to very high cost per student. Also tuition charged may vary with distance education. The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee often teaches the same course online and onsite but charges higher tuition for the online version, thereby treating the online courses as cash cows.

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education cost considerations ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/distcost.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      "One Business School Is Itself a Case Study in the Economics of Online Education," by Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/Case-Study-the-Economics-of/134668/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

      Distance education has been very good for the business school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. More precisely, the revenue-generating online M.B.A. program has been good for the school.

      The 11-year-old online program accounts for just over a quarter of the enrollment at UMass's Isenberg School of Management, yet revenues from the program cover about 40 percent of the school's $25-million annual budget. And that's after UMass Online, the in-house marketing agency, as well as a few other arms of the university have taken their cuts.

      The business school's experience helps to illustrate the economics of distance education and the way one college with a marketable offering is using online education to help its bottom line.

      With a total of about 4,830 undergraduate and graduate students and a faculty of 105, the Isenberg school spends an average of about $5,175 per student. The online M.B.A. program, with 1,250 students, generates about $10-million in net revenue, or about $8,000 per student. Looking at it one way, that's nearly double the per-student revenue that the school generates from all other sources of income for the rest of its enrollment, which comprises about 3,400 undergraduates, 100 full-time, on-campus M.B.A. students, and 80 doctoral candidates.

      Mark A. Fuller, the dean, says the profitability of the online program has little to do with any inherent cost savings from offering courses via technology, but quite a bit to do with the high student demand for M.B.A.'s offered by a brand-name public institution in a format and on a schedule made possible by the technology.

      The key, he says, is that it's a new educational product, for which the school commands a premium price. The online M.B.A. costs $750 per credit hour (although the business school gets only 60 percent of that), and students take 39 credits; the price equivalent for the 55-credit face-to-face M.B.A. is $482 per credit hour.

      Aside from not having the expense of providing the classroom and keeping it heated or cooled, a college doesn't necessarily save money providing a course online rather than in a classroom. In some cases, other costs associated with an online course, for technology and student support, can equal and even exceed those savings.

      But institutions do have ways to make their online classes more profitable. With no physical-space limitations, they can pack more students into the distance-education courses, so each class generates more revenue. Or they can hire part-time faculty members to teach a packaged curriculum for lower pay. They can also go cheap on the learning-management system or support services for distant students.

      The Isenberg school has a single faculty for all its courses; the online-class sizes aren't any larger than the other ones; and, with few exceptions, all professors teach a mix of undergraduate and graduate courses, including the online ones. "We try to create the same experience" for all students, Mr. Fuller says. (Most students take the M.B.A. online, but they have the option of taking some of their credits at sites in Massachusetts.)

      Mr. Fuller says the price is in line with or less expensive than that charged by other public universities offering online M.B.A.'s.

      Under this approach, he says, the entire business school participates in the online program, and the entire school benefits.

      The online business model takes into account other costs as well. Ten percent of the gross revenues goes to UMass Online, a systemwide organization that helps market online courses and provides the learning-management system that delivers them. The Amherst campus also takes a few other bites, including a charge for overhead and a payment to the provost's office for other universitywide projects.

      In the end, the Isenberg school keeps 60 percent of revenue generated by the program. Still, Mr. Fuller considers it a financial boon for the school. "It opens up new markets, particularly for high-quality students with work experience who are placebound," he says. About 20 percent of the students are doctors or other health professionals, with a good number of lawyers and engineers enrolled as well—"all the people you would expect who can't quit their job" and move to Amherst, says Mr. Fuller.

      Continued in article

       

      Jensen Comment
      There are obvious cost savings of distance education delivery that avoids the needs for land, buildings, classrooms, and dorms (although dorms generally are self-funding). However, not all distance education programs avoid such costs. For example, in the past it was common to pipe live classrooms into dorms and homes. This still entailed having classrooms.

      Faculty costs may be greater or lower for distance education relative to onsite education. Very intense distance education programs with small classes and top faculty don't necessarily save on faculty costs ---
      http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/002cpe/Dunbar2002.htm

      The fact of the matter is that distance education really offers a much wider range of alternatives from low cost to very high cost per student. Also tuition charged may vary with distance education. The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee often teaches the same course online and onsite but charges higher tuition for the online version, thereby treating the online courses as cash cows.

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education cost considerations ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/distcost.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      "Online Learning, Only Better," by Holly A. Bell, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/Online-Learning-Only-Better/134684/?cid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en

      I truly believe that most of my full-time, tenure-track colleagues would rather quit their jobs than teach an online course. And that's a shame, since they are exactly the people who should be helping to set standards for meaningful online education.

      My colleagues' concerns about the quality of online education could largely be overcome if more such courses were taught by talented and experienced professors known for excellence in face-to-face delivery. Some of the best learning experiences are student-centered, not faculty-centered. I realize that this requires us to let go of the idea that the three hours of weekly lectures we deliver in face-to-face courses add significant value to student learning.

      We need to get over ourselves. We have created passive students who never crack a book and don't know how to learn. Faculty members complain about lack of student motivation, yet continue to use the same methods expecting different results. A well-designed, student-centered online course can improve student learning and teach students life skills across a much broader spectrum than a face-to-face course ever could. I think every student should be required to take at least one online course as part of his or her formal education.

      Reading L. Dee Fink's book Creating Significant Learning Experiences (Jossey-Bass, 2003) inspired me to develop my first online course, in finance. I now do half of my teaching online, including courses in finance, economics, and business. While Fink's book has nothing to do with online learning, it has a lot to say about effective teaching. I was struck by how well the book's "Taxonomy of Significant Learning"—a list of six significant learning principles that he believes should be part of every course—and the idea of student-driven learning environments fit within the framework of online education. (For those who have not read the book, the six principles are foundational knowledge, application, integration, human dimension, caring, and learning how to learn.)

      Fink's book, along with my own evolution as a professor teaching both online and face-to-face courses, led me to seek out ways to bring the dynamic nature of a traditional classroom to the virtual environment. Here are some lessons I've learned along the way.

      Community can be created online. A shared sense of community arises naturally in a face-to-face class as students form study groups and friendships. In the virtual environment this is more difficult, but not impossible. My students are required to complete weekly work and are allowed, but not required, to collaborate. I have a weekly discussion board that serves as a homework forum in which students can ask questions and share resources. I let students discuss the homework and help one another for several days, and usually by Friday I post my own nudges, resources, and words of encouragement if they are moving in the right direction. By doing this as a group, students benefit from collective knowledge and the instructor's comments. They create a learning community.

      Letting the students "own" the discussion boards helps them build community. In addition to the homework forum, they must discuss a weekly question in groups of five to seven students. While I monitor the boards once or twice a day to ensure polite discussion is taking place, I stay out of it. This space belongs to students, and lets them explore ideas and perhaps even reach consensus. Discussion questions are exploratory in nature ("What are some factors that might contribute to ... ") rather than specific.

      Students need to know you are there. Students taking online courses often complain that they feel they are submitting work into a void, to some faceless professor who doesn't care about them. One solution is to humanize the instructor through videos. I start by posting an introductory video in which I cover the course's syllabus, expectations, structure, and all other information I would cover on the first day of a face-to-face class. I follow up with weekly "recap" videos in which I review key points of the previous week's material, go over any problems that students struggled with, and comment on discussion-board threads I enjoyed. These "mini lecture" videos are generally no more than 10 minutes long. The great thing about online courses is that they allow me to home in on areas where students might be having difficulty rather than the concepts they easily understand on their own. Even though the communication is one-way, students often comment on how much they enjoyed the time with the instructor.

      Students want feedback. Students complain that many online courses are designed around reading assignments, and a midterm and final exam. Until they fail the midterm, they have no idea they haven't learned the material. A weekly quiz assignment with 10 to 15 questions allows students to self-check their understanding. They enter their answers online and immediately receive their grade. They know instantly how they are doing, and I can discuss learning deficiencies in my weekly video or individually with students.

      But students will resist giving feedback. After the midterm exam in my traditional classes, I usually initiate a discussion about how the class is going and how lectures, discussions, and test reviews could be improved. I quickly learned that this doesn't work well in online classes. While students in traditional classes get to know (and hopefully trust) the professor, distance students don't have a similar opportunity. Asking them to comment in a private e-mail just doesn't work.

      I deal with the feedback problem by building a midcourse reflection into the discussion questions. I ask students to consider several questions about the course, what they've learned about their learning styles, and at least one thing they like and don't like about it. I also ask them to comment on at least one other student's reflection. In my weekly recap video I talk about any improvements I plan to make, but I also explain why I might not change something that students don't like.

      I also incorporate a private, end-of-course reflection in which I ask six questions, based on Fink's learning taxonomy. For example, "Tell me how you have learned to apply the concepts discussed in class." The purpose is to determine whether the course has touched each of the significant learning experiences.

      While many colleges are content to leave online courses to adjunct professors or distance-education divisions, the lack of participation by experienced educators truly diminishes the potential of such courses and weakens standards of consistency between traditional and online education. Don't get me wrong: On a small campus like mine, located in rural Alaska, having talented adjunct instructors who live outside our region teach online courses is a major asset. But if academic departments don't set quality or content standards to ensure parity with face-to-face classes, the student experience will be negative. A well-articulated set of standards would also take pressure off faculty members to develop online courses from scratch. If we give them a template, they can start with that and improve on it (and personalize it) over time.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education and training alternatives ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

      Bob Jensen's threads on asynchronous learning ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      "U. of South Carolina Crafts an Online Degree That Students Can Afford," by Alina Mogilyanskaya, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 23, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/U-of-South-Carolina-Crafts-an/134566/

      Mark E. Pittman is in many ways the quintessential student for the University of South Carolina's new Palmetto College. At 47, he is a former Navy man, a husband, a father of three, and the principal breadwinner in his family. More than a decade after leaving behind his studies at South Carolina, he has re-enrolled—and if all goes well, he will soon become the first person in his family to earn a bachelor's degree.

      Mr. Pittman recently began studying in the university's new Back to Carolina program, an online degree-completion option for adults who are 25 or older and previously earned at least 60 academic credits at the university. Back to Carolina is a pilot program for Palmetto College, the first offering in a much broader distance-learning effort set to begin in the fall of 2013.

      With Palmetto, the first program of its kind in the state, the university sees itself as filling a gap in the availability of affordable bachelor's degrees for South Carolinians, as well as contributing to the state's educational-attainment and work-force goals.

      More than that, the university is positioning itself to compete with for-profit institutions.

      Palmetto College will offer online bachelor's-completion programs in a variety of vocational fields, including business, criminal justice, education, and nursing, which students can pursue on their own time. It will enroll students who already hold at least 60 credits from one of the system's largely two-year "regional" colleges, a South Carolina technical college, or an out-of-state institution, and who, for whatever reason, are unable to relocate to a four-year, or "senior," campus to complete a baccalaureate degree.

      The South Carolina system has four regional colleges, and about 500 students per year transfer to one of the four senior campuses to continue toward bachelor's degrees. "How many are not able to relocate, that's a different story," says Michael D. Amiridis, the university's provost. "That's what we will be testing with the Palmetto College."

      "We always think of the dropout as someone who couldn't make it, but by far the predominant reason is that someone had economic challenges or married or needed to take a job. And so we want these people to come back to the university and to complete their bachelor's degrees," says Harris Pastides, president of the university.

      Mr. Pittman, for example, lives in Kershaw, S.C., a town of about 1,800 people. The majority of Kershaw's workers commute out of town to their jobs, and the only site of higher education there is an off-campus center of York Technical College.

      In the late 1990s, Mr. Pittman was majoring in biology at the university, first taking courses at the Lancaster campus, about a half-hour's drive from his home, and then at the main campus, in Columbia, an hour away. After two and a half years, the pressures of studying, along with those of providing for and being able to spend time with his wife and young children, became too much, and Mr. Pittman left the university for the work force.

      For the past four years he has been working at home, in order to cut out the time he spent commuting to his job at Bank of America, in Charlotte, N.C.—63 miles each way—and to spend more time with his family. Now he is also studying at home, evenings and weekends, to earn a B.A. in liberal studies, the degree that Back to Carolina is piloting this year.

      "It's certainly added to my plateful," Mr. Pittman says. "But I'm not complaining. It's a great opportunity, and I'm going to leverage it and take advantage of it as much as I can."

      Competitive Pricing

      One of the "guiding principles" of Palmetto College is that its programs are "positioned to compete with for-profit institutions," says a February progress report compiled by Huron Consulting Group, which worked with the university to develop the Palmetto College concept. By offering competitively priced online degrees backed by the resources of a large public institution and the university's brand, officials hope to attract the demographic that for-profits often claim as their main market.

      While for-profit colleges have been criticized for their low online-degree-completion rates, Mr. Amiridis anticipates that there won't be a "huge discrepancy" between the graduation rates of South Carolina's traditional campuses and those of Palmetto College. Attributing his expectation of student success to the hybrid nature of the program—the first 60 credits of study will be completed at a traditional campus and the last 60 online—he emphasizes that students will already have an academic history before enrolling in online courses.

      That history will not only prepare them to perform academically but also aid in the admissions process. "We are selective, and we're careful in the way that we select people to make sure that they have a reasonable chance of success," Mr. Amiridis says. "I view this as an ethical responsibility, quite frankly."

      Apart from distinguishing itself through this admissions standard, Palmetto College will focus on a more specific population than that of the for-profits, he says.

      "The populations that we're trying to serve, they know us. They know the University of South Carolina. In many cases they aspire to receive a degree from the University of South Carolina," Mr. Amiridis says. "We're not competing with for-profit institutions. We're not trying to take this and go nationally."

      The provost's comments parallel the marketing principle put forward by the Huron report, which states that "techniques should be used to differentiate USC from the for-profit institutions that are heavily marketed."

      The consultants' report is also explicit about Palmetto College's role, concluding that at a price of $367 per credit hour, the college will become "a significant competitor to the for-profit institutions that have recently become major players in the South Carolina higher-education marketplace."

      A study done in conjunction with Huron two years ago showed that at that sample price, Palmetto College courses for students with 60 credits would cost less than 40 percent of a comparable course offered by a for-profit in the state, Mr. Amiridis says. Ultimately, administrators decided that Palmetto tuition would be comparable to that for the system's two- and four-year campuses.

      Despite its focus on former University of South Carolina students, the new college may end up competing with for-profits more directly.

      "One of the things that's going to happen is that at some point in time, Palmetto will exhaust that population," says Bruce N. Chaloux, chief executive of the Sloan Consortium, which promotes online learning in higher education.

      While the consortium recommends that institutions engage in adult degree-completion programs those previously enrolled students who had left without degrees, Mr. Chaloux says that transplants to the state or holders of credits from other universities would also be interested.

      'Catching Fire'

      The creation of Palmetto College is also a move to leverage South Carolina's regional campuses while streamlining the university system. The four regional colleges will be consolidated under the administrative umbrella of Palmetto College, which will be led by a new chancellor. Some of the colleges' operations, like financial aid, human resources, and budget and finance will be centralized, and additional advisers will be hired to serve Palmetto students.

      No staffing cuts have been announced, although Mr. Amiridis says the move may lead to "an optimization of the staffing needs."

      Ann C. Carmichael, dean of the regional campus at Salkehatchie, says the centralization of resources and personnel will empower the university's regional colleges by allowing for "collective decision making" and leading to "more efficient use of scarce dollars."

      Palmetto College is an expansion of Palmetto Programs, an option that has allowed students at regional colleges to complete baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts or organizational leadership "synchronously," or by attending live broadcasts of lectures held on other campuses.

      "It's almost like a natural evolution of what's been happening," says Sandra J. Kelly, chair of the university's Faculty Senate. Faculty in both the senior and regional colleges have been converting courses into a synchronous online format for Palmetto Programs; those who are interested are now crafting "asynchronous classes," or ones that students can take on their own time, for Palmetto College.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education education and training alternatives ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

       

    • Robert E Jensen

      "U. of South Carolina Crafts an Online Degree That Students Can Afford," by Alina Mogilyanskaya, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 23, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/U-of-South-Carolina-Crafts-an/134566/

      Mark E. Pittman is in many ways the quintessential student for the University of South Carolina's new Palmetto College. At 47, he is a former Navy man, a husband, a father of three, and the principal breadwinner in his family. More than a decade after leaving behind his studies at South Carolina, he has re-enrolled—and if all goes well, he will soon become the first person in his family to earn a bachelor's degree.

      Mr. Pittman recently began studying in the university's new Back to Carolina program, an online degree-completion option for adults who are 25 or older and previously earned at least 60 academic credits at the university. Back to Carolina is a pilot program for Palmetto College, the first offering in a much broader distance-learning effort set to begin in the fall of 2013.

      With Palmetto, the first program of its kind in the state, the university sees itself as filling a gap in the availability of affordable bachelor's degrees for South Carolinians, as well as contributing to the state's educational-attainment and work-force goals.

      More than that, the university is positioning itself to compete with for-profit institutions.

      Palmetto College will offer online bachelor's-completion programs in a variety of vocational fields, including business, criminal justice, education, and nursing, which students can pursue on their own time. It will enroll students who already hold at least 60 credits from one of the system's largely two-year "regional" colleges, a South Carolina technical college, or an out-of-state institution, and who, for whatever reason, are unable to relocate to a four-year, or "senior," campus to complete a baccalaureate degree.

      The South Carolina system has four regional colleges, and about 500 students per year transfer to one of the four senior campuses to continue toward bachelor's degrees. "How many are not able to relocate, that's a different story," says Michael D. Amiridis, the university's provost. "That's what we will be testing with the Palmetto College."

      "We always think of the dropout as someone who couldn't make it, but by far the predominant reason is that someone had economic challenges or married or needed to take a job. And so we want these people to come back to the university and to complete their bachelor's degrees," says Harris Pastides, president of the university.

      Mr. Pittman, for example, lives in Kershaw, S.C., a town of about 1,800 people. The majority of Kershaw's workers commute out of town to their jobs, and the only site of higher education there is an off-campus center of York Technical College.

      In the late 1990s, Mr. Pittman was majoring in biology at the university, first taking courses at the Lancaster campus, about a half-hour's drive from his home, and then at the main campus, in Columbia, an hour away. After two and a half years, the pressures of studying, along with those of providing for and being able to spend time with his wife and young children, became too much, and Mr. Pittman left the university for the work force.

      For the past four years he has been working at home, in order to cut out the time he spent commuting to his job at Bank of America, in Charlotte, N.C.—63 miles each way—and to spend more time with his family. Now he is also studying at home, evenings and weekends, to earn a B.A. in liberal studies, the degree that Back to Carolina is piloting this year.

      "It's certainly added to my plateful," Mr. Pittman says. "But I'm not complaining. It's a great opportunity, and I'm going to leverage it and take advantage of it as much as I can."

      Competitive Pricing

      One of the "guiding principles" of Palmetto College is that its programs are "positioned to compete with for-profit institutions," says a February progress report compiled by Huron Consulting Group, which worked with the university to develop the Palmetto College concept. By offering competitively priced online degrees backed by the resources of a large public institution and the university's brand, officials hope to attract the demographic that for-profits often claim as their main market.

      While for-profit colleges have been criticized for their low online-degree-completion rates, Mr. Amiridis anticipates that there won't be a "huge discrepancy" between the graduation rates of South Carolina's traditional campuses and those of Palmetto College. Attributing his expectation of student success to the hybrid nature of the program—the first 60 credits of study will be completed at a traditional campus and the last 60 online—he emphasizes that students will already have an academic history before enrolling in online courses.

      That history will not only prepare them to perform academically but also aid in the admissions process. "We are selective, and we're careful in the way that we select people to make sure that they have a reasonable chance of success," Mr. Amiridis says. "I view this as an ethical responsibility, quite frankly."

      Apart from distinguishing itself through this admissions standard, Palmetto College will focus on a more specific population than that of the for-profits, he says.

      "The populations that we're trying to serve, they know us. They know the University of South Carolina. In many cases they aspire to receive a degree from the University of South Carolina," Mr. Amiridis says. "We're not competing with for-profit institutions. We're not trying to take this and go nationally."

      The provost's comments parallel the marketing principle put forward by the Huron report, which states that "techniques should be used to differentiate USC from the for-profit institutions that are heavily marketed."

      The consultants' report is also explicit about Palmetto College's role, concluding that at a price of $367 per credit hour, the college will become "a significant competitor to the for-profit institutions that have recently become major players in the South Carolina higher-education marketplace."

      A study done in conjunction with Huron two years ago showed that at that sample price, Palmetto College courses for students with 60 credits would cost less than 40 percent of a comparable course offered by a for-profit in the state, Mr. Amiridis says. Ultimately, administrators decided that Palmetto tuition would be comparable to that for the system's two- and four-year campuses.

      Despite its focus on former University of South Carolina students, the new college may end up competing with for-profits more directly.

      "One of the things that's going to happen is that at some point in time, Palmetto will exhaust that population," says Bruce N. Chaloux, chief executive of the Sloan Consortium, which promotes online learning in higher education.

      While the consortium recommends that institutions engage in adult degree-completion programs those previously enrolled students who had left without degrees, Mr. Chaloux says that transplants to the state or holders of credits from other universities would also be interested.

      'Catching Fire'

      The creation of Palmetto College is also a move to leverage South Carolina's regional campuses while streamlining the university system. The four regional colleges will be consolidated under the administrative umbrella of Palmetto College, which will be led by a new chancellor. Some of the colleges' operations, like financial aid, human resources, and budget and finance will be centralized, and additional advisers will be hired to serve Palmetto students.

      No staffing cuts have been announced, although Mr. Amiridis says the move may lead to "an optimization of the staffing needs."

      Ann C. Carmichael, dean of the regional campus at Salkehatchie, says the centralization of resources and personnel will empower the university's regional colleges by allowing for "collective decision making" and leading to "more efficient use of scarce dollars."

      Palmetto College is an expansion of Palmetto Programs, an option that has allowed students at regional colleges to complete baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts or organizational leadership "synchronously," or by attending live broadcasts of lectures held on other campuses.

      "It's almost like a natural evolution of what's been happening," says Sandra J. Kelly, chair of the university's Faculty Senate. Faculty in both the senior and regional colleges have been converting courses into a synchronous online format for Palmetto Programs; those who are interested are now crafting "asynchronous classes," or ones that students can take on their own time, for Palmetto College.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education education and training alternatives ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

       

    • Robert E Jensen

      The Wandering Path From Knowledge Portals to MOOCs

      You can read about the early knowledge portal experiment at Columbia University that offered great hopes by failed early on.
      Fathom was one of the early on initiatives to create an academic knowledge portal somewhat similar to Wikipedia, although Columbia and its prestigious university partners were taking on responsibility for content rather than users. Fathom was not a Wiki.

      Bob Jensen's threads on Fathom and Other Knowledge Portals ---
      http://www.cs.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/portals.htm
      Note that this page was written before Columbia and its partners abandoned the costly effort.

      Fathom Partners

      • Columbia University
      • London School of Economics and Political Science
      • Cambridge University Press 
      • The British Library
      • Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History
      • The New York Public Library University of Chicago
      • American Film Institute
      • RAND
      • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution



      "A Pioneer in Online Education Tries a MOOC," by Ann Kirschner, Chronicle of Higher Ed, October 1, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/A-Pioneer-in-Online-Education/134662/?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

      MOOOOOOOOC! Surely "massive open online course" has one of the ugliest acronyms of recent years, lacking the deliberate playfulness of Yahoo (Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle) or the droll shoulder shrug suggested by the word "snafu" (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up).

      I'm not a complete neophyte to online learning. Back in 1999, I led the start-up team for Fathom, one of the earliest knowledge networks, in partnership with Columbia University and other institutions here and abroad, and I'm a board member of the Apollo Group. So I was understandably curious about these MOOC's. With fond memories of a thrilling virtual trip a dozen years ago to Ephesus, Turkey, via a multimedia-rich, self-paced course created by a professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, I decided to check out a MOOC for myself.

      Coursera, a new company that offers free online courses through some of the world's best-known universities, had the widest and most impressive selection. I blocked my ears to the siren call of science fiction, poetry, and history and opted for something sober: "Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act." It's taught by the Emanuel brother who isn't the Chicago mayor or the Hollywood superagent—Ezekiel Emanuel, an M.D. and Ph.D. who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. For the next eight weeks, I was part of a noisy, active, earnest, often contentious, and usually interesting group of students. There didn't seem to be any way to gauge the number enrolled, but I learned about the students from a discussion group. There were quite a few lawyers, doctors, and other health-care professionals. Some were struggling with personal health disasters and wanted tools to predict how the health-care act would affect their futures. Some were international researchers doing comparative studies. Others were higher-education folks like me, testing the MOOC waters.

      The quality and format of the discussions were immediate disappointments. A teaching assistant provided some adult supervision, but too many of the postings were at the dismal level of most anonymous Internet comments: nasty, brutish, and long. The reliance on old-fashioned threaded message groups made it impossible to distinguish online jerks from potential geniuses. I kept wishing for a way to break the large group into small cohorts self-selected by background or interests—health-care professionals, for instance, or those particularly interested in the economics of health care. There was no way to build a discussion, no equivalent to the hush that comes over the classroom when the smart kid raises his or her hand.

      If you believe the sage's advice that we learn much from our teachers and colleagues but most of all from our students, MOOC's will be far more effective when we are able to learn from one another.

      Not surprisingly, enterprising MOOCsters are already organizing themselves outside the online classroom, using social-media tools like Google Hangouts and Facebook. In New York, students schedule meetings in Starbucks; in Katmandu, a group relies on Meetup to get together. Some course providers are facilitating external interaction: Udacity has offered Global Meetup Day with Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford University computer scientist (and Udacity co-founder) known for his course on artificial intelligence. Coursera threw a giant barbecue in Menlo Park, Calif., complete with volleyball and beanbag tossing.

      Of course, peer learning takes you only so far: At some point, somebody has to know something about the subject. Professor Emanuel was a presence only in videos, but these were uniformly excellent. The cameras caught him walking briskly around an actual lecture hall, and I liked the presence of shadowy classmates sitting in Philadelphia, as if this were happening in real time. The videos were pleasantly peppered with pop-up quizzes. No embarrassment for the wrong answer, and I was ridiculously pleased at correctly guessing that the proportion of health-care costs in the United States that goes to prescription drugs is only 10 percent. For those in a rush, watching at twice normal speed is sort of fun— don't you secretly wish you could sit through some meetings at double speed?

      I was a faithful student for a few weeks, until I fell prey to my worst undergraduate habit, procrastination—only now my excuses were far more sophisticated. I have to finish a manuscript! I have a board meeting! I have to meet my mother's new cardiologist!

      In a MOOC, nobody can hear you scream.

      I might have abandoned the charming Professor Emanuel altogether had the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's health-care program not injected the spice of real-time action into the discussion and refreshed my interest.

      Somewhere between the videos and the readings and the occasional dip into the discussion groups, I found myself actually learning. I was particularly interested in how malpractice contributes to health-care costs but was instructed by my professor that the potential savings there amounted to mere "pencil dust." And who knew about the proposed National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act of 2005, which would have reduced the number of malpractice cases, accelerated their resolution, and lowered costs by two-thirds?

      To earn a certificate, I would have had to submit several essays for a grade, and I stopped short of that (see excuses above). Essays are peer-graded, and it won't surprise anybody who has ever taught undergraduates to hear that the student evaluations can be fierce. On the discussion boards, there was considerable discussion of grade deflation, plagiarism, and cheating. Alas, academic sins do follow us into the land of MOOC's, despite a nicely written honor code. Bad behavior in any classroom, real or virtual, should be no more surprising than gambling in Casablanca. In fact, brace yourself for a breathtaking new form of voluntary identity sharing: Your fake student avatar, now available for a small fee, will take your class for you.

      Looking back, I suppose Fathom was a proto-MOOC, and I confess to some surprise that the Coursera format has evolved little beyond our pioneering effort of a decade ago. Yet when it came time to assess the course, I found myself rating it pretty highly, and concluded that aside from the format, the failings were mostly mine, for lack of focus. Like many MOOC students, I didn't completely "finish" the course. However, the final evaluations seemed mostly enthusiastic. From the comments, most of the students seemed to find the course long on substance: "comprehensive," "a good balance between the law, policy, and economics," "rich with multiple perspectives on health-policy issues."

      Now, I could have read a book or done this on my own. But you could say the same thing about most education. A course is not a book but a journey, led by an expert, and taken in the company of fellow travelers on a common quest for knowledge. My MOOC had those elements, albeit in a pretty crude form.

      You'd have to live under a rock not to know that crushing student debt, declining state support, and disruptive technologies have made it imperative to look at new models for teaching. The competitive landscape for higher education is changing every day. China recently declared the goal of bringing half a million foreign students to its shores by 2020, and is investing in programs friendly to Americans and other international students. American MOOC's may point the way to retaining the best students and faculty in the world, while adding the lively and collaborative components of technology-enhanced teaching and learning.

      It is true that nobody yet has a reasonable business plan for these courses, and there is concern over completion rates and whether colleges are "giving away the farm," as a recent MIT alumni-magazine article put it. It is not hard to anticipate the end of free and the start of the next stage: fee-based certificate programs built around MOOC's. But for now, the colleges leading those efforts are making relatively modest—and rare—investments in research and development. Their faculty members are excited about the opportunity to experiment. Let's give this explosion of pent-up innovation in higher education a chance to mature before we rush to the bottom line.

      Continued in article

      "What You Need to Know About MOOC's," Chronicle of Higher Education, August 20, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/What-You-Need-to-Know-About/133475/

      . . .

      Who are the major players?

      Several start-up companies are working with universities and professors to offer MOOC's. Meanwhile, some colleges are starting their own efforts, and some individual professors are offering their courses to the world. Right now four names are the ones to know:

      edX

      A nonprofit effort run jointly by MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley.

      Leaders of the group say they intend to slowly add other university partners over time. edX plans to freely give away the software platform it is building to offer the free courses, so that anyone can use it to run MOOC’s.

      Coursera

      A for-profit company founded by two computer-science professors from Stanford.

      The company’s model is to sign contracts with colleges that agree to use the platform to offer free courses and to get a percentage of any revenue. More than a dozen high-profile institutions, including Princeton and the U. of Virginia, have joined.

      Udacity

      Another for-profit company founded by a Stanford computer-science professor.

      The company, which works with individual professors rather than institutions, has attracted a range of well-known scholars. Unlike other providers of MOOC’s, it has said it will focus all of its courses on computer science and related fields.

      Udemy

      A for-profit platform that lets anyone set up a course.

      The company encourages its instructors to charge a small fee, with the revenue split between instructor and company. Authors themselves, more than a few of them with no academic affiliation, teach many of the courses.

      The Big List of 530 Free Online Courses from Top Universities (New Additions) --- Click Here
      http://www.openculture.com/2012/09/new_additions_to_our_list_of_530_free_online_courses_from_top_universities_.html

      "The Future Is Now?" by Joe Hoyle, Teaching Blog, August 13, 2012 ---
      http://joehoyle-teaching.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-future-is-now.html

      Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs, MITx, and Courses from Prestigious Universities ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education and training alternatives in general ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

      Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

      Bob Jensen's threads on MOOCs and other free courses, videos, tutorials, and course materials from prestigious universities ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      Bob Jensen's threads on asychronous learning ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      Update on the Roaring Online Nonprofit Western Governors University (WGU) founded in 1997 by the governors of 19 states
      A competency-based university where instructors don't assign the grades --- grades are based upon competency testing
      WGU does not admit foreign students
      WGU now has over 30,000 students from sponsoring states for this nonprofit, private university

      Western Governors University (WGU) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WGU

      Competency-Based Learning --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm#ConceptKnowledge

      The article below is about WGU-Texas which was "founded" in 2011 when Texas joined the WGU system
      "Reflections on the First Year of a New-Model University," by Mark David Milliron, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/article/Reflections-on-the-First-Year/134670/?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

      Western Governors University Texas, where I am chancellor, is not an easy institution to describe to your mother—or even your hip sister. It just doesn't fit the profile of most traditional universities, even the newer for-profit and online ones. It brings the work of a national, online, nonprofit university into a state, and it embraces a competency-based education model that is rarely found on an institutionwide level.

      Even for seasoned educators, WGU Texas feels different. And in a year that has seen flat or declining enrollments at many traditional colleges, reports critical of for-profit institutions, and continuing debate over the perils and promise of online learning, our story, and our growth, has been unique. As we hit our one-year anniversary, it's worth taking a few moments to reflect on the ups, downs, challenges, and champions of this newest state model. I'd offer three key reflections on lessons we've learned:

      Building a strong foundation. Western Governors was founded as a private, multistate online university 15 years ago by governors of Western states. Texas is only the third state model within the system, following WGU Indiana and WGU Washington. Before our opening, leaders of Western Governors took time to make sure the idea of this state university made sense for Texas. The intent was to add high-quality, affordable capacity to the state's higher-education system, particularly for adult learners, and to localize it for Texans and their employers.

      This outpost was poised to "go big" in one of the biggest of states, offering more than 50 bachelor's and master's degrees in high-demand fields in business, education, information technology, and health professions. WGU's online-learning model allows students to progress by demonstrating what they know and can do rather than by logging time in class accumulating credit hours.

      In meetings across the state, the idea of WGU Texas gained the support of the state's political, legislative, and higher-education leaders, as well as the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Association of Community Colleges. Rushing to roll out was not the goal; entering the education ecosystem with solid support of the model was.

      I came on board as chancellor in December 2011. Having served on WGU's Board of Trustees for six years, I knew the model, and having graduated from and worked for the University of Texas at Austin, I knew Texas.

      In the past six months, we have hired key staff and faculty, formed a state advisory board, opened a main office and training center in downtown Austin, launched our first wave of student outreach, begun working with employers in different metro regions, and started connecting online and on the ground with students. After absorbing WGU's 1,600 existing Texas students, WGU Texas grew by more than 60 percent in this first year, entering August 2012 with more than 3,000 students.

      In about eight weeks, we'll hold our first commencement in Austin, celebrating the graduation of more than 400 students. We're moving quickly now, but it's the firm foundation of outreach, support, and systems that served us well as we took on the next two challenges:

      Confronting conflation. WGU Texas is laser-focused on a student population that is typically underserved. We see ourselves as a good fit for adult learners who need an affordable, quality, and flexible learning model, particularly working students who want to attend full time. We are especially focused on the more than three million Texans who have some college and no credential—students like Jason Franklin, a striving adult learner in a high-demand IT field who had gone as far as he could in his career without a degree. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree through Western Governors, and is now working on a master's degree from WGU Texas.

      We'd like to help these students reach their goals and get on a solid career and lifelong-learning path.

      However, in offering a new model like ours, you quickly find the conflation problem a challenge. Some assume that you're trying to compete for the fresh-from-high-school graduates who want a campus experience. Others assume that because you're online, you must be a for-profit university. Still others put all online education programs in the same bucket, not distinguishing at all between a traditional model online and a deeply personalized, competency-based learning model.

      Fighting conflation by clearly differentiating and properly positioning our university has been essential. We've had to be clear—and to repeat often—that our approach is designed for adult learners who have some college and work experience. We're absolutely OK with telling prospective students, partner colleges, and state-policy leaders that for 18- to 20-year-olds looking to embark on their first college experience, we are probably not the right fit. In fact, first-time freshmen make up less than 5 percent of our student population.

      The for-profit conflation has been even more interesting. Many people assume that any online university is for-profit. We are not. And even when we assure them that our nonprofit status keeps us deeply committed to low tuition—we have a flat-rate, six-month-term tuition averaging less than $3,000 for full-time students, which our national parent WGU has not raised for four years—they have a hard time getting their minds around it.

      Others are sure we are nothing more than an online version of the traditional model, relying entirely on adjunct faculty. When we explain our history, learning model, and reliance on full-time faculty members who specialize in either mentoring or subject matter, it takes some time. But once people embrace the idea of a personal faculty mentor who takes a student from first contact to crossing the graduation stage, they warm quickly to the model.

      Synching with the state's needs. While forming the foundation and fighting conflation are important, I'd say the key to WGU's state-model successes is the commitment to synching with the economic, educational, and student ecosystem of the state.

      On the economic level, we've been able to work directly with employers eager to support our university, advance our competency-centered model, and hire our graduates. Educationally we have been fortunate to have smart and strategic partners that have guided our entry into the state. For example, our Finish to Go Further transfer program, in partnership with the Texas community-college association, motivates students to complete their associate degrees before transferring. This strategy supports the goal of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of significantly improving postsecondary access and success in Texas.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on assessment (including competency-based assessment) ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm

      Jensen Comment
      WGU is neither a traditional university nor a MOOC. It started as an experiment to deliver a quality education without having the 19 states have to build and/or maintain physical campuses to deliver college education to more students. Admittedly, one of the main incentives was to expand learning opportunities without paying for the enormous costs of building and maintaining campuses. WGU was mostly an outreach program for non-traditional students who for one reason or another are unable to attend onsite campuses. But the primary goal of WGU was not and still is not confined to adult education.

      WGU is not intended to take over onsite campus education alternatives. The founders of WGU are well aware that living and learning on an onsite campus brings many important components to education and maturation and socialization that WGU cannot offer online. For example, young students on campus enter a new phase of life living outside the homes and daily oversight of their parents. But the transition is less abrupt than living on the mean streets of real life. Students meet face-to-face on campus and are highly likely to become married or live with students they are attracted to on campus. Campus students can participate in athletics, music performances, theatre performances, dorm life, chapel life, etc.

      But WGU is not a MOOC where 100,000 anonymous students may be taking an online course. Instead, WGU courses are relatively small with intimate communications 24/7 with instructors and other students in most of the courses. In many ways the learning communications may be much closer online in WGU than on campus at the University of Texas where classrooms often hold hundreds of students taking a course.

      There are some types of learning that can take place in live classrooms that are almost impossible online.
      For example, an onsite case analysis class (Harvard style) takes on a life of its own that case instructors cannot anticipate before class. Students are forced to speak out in front of other students. A student's unexpected idea may change the direction of the entire case discussion for the remainder of the class. I cannot imagine teaching many Harvard Business School cases online even though there are ways to draw out innovative ideas and discussions online. Physical presence is part and parcel to teaching many HBS cases.

      Competency-based grading has advantages and disadvantages.
      Competency-based grading removes incentives to brown nose instructors for better grades. It's unforgiving for lazy and unmotivated students. But these advantages can also be disadvantages. Some students become more motivated by hoping that their instructors will reward effort as well as performance. At unexpected points in life those rewards for effort may come at critical times just before a student is apt to give up and look for a full time McJob.

      Some students are apt to become extremely bored learning about Shakespeare or Mozart. But in attempting to please instructors with added effort, the students may actually discover at some unexpected point something wonderful about Shakespeare or Mozart. Mathematics in particular is one of those subjects that can be a complete turn off until suddenly a light clicks and student discovers that math is not only interesting --- math can be easier once you hit a key point in the mathematics learning process. This definitely happened with me, and the light did not shine for me until I started a doctoral program. Quite suddenly I loved mathematics and made it the central component of my five years of full-time doctoral studies at Stanford University.

      Thus WGU and the University of Texas should not be considered competitors. They are different alternatives that have some of the same goals (such as competency in learning content) and some different goals (such as living with other students and participating in extracurricular activities).

      I wish WGU well and hope it thrives alongside the traditional state-supported campuses. WGU in some ways was a precursor to MOOC education, but WGU is not a MOOC in the sense that classes are small and can be highly interactive with other students and with instructor. In a MOOC, students have to be more motivated to learn on their own and master the material without much outside help from other students or instructors.

      There are many ways to teach and many ways to learn. WGU found its niche. There's no one-size-fits-all to living and learning.

      Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      Top Global Distance Education MBA Programs
      "EMBA ranking 2012," Financial Times, October 2012
      http://rankings.ft.com/businessschoolrankings/emba-ranking-2012

       
      Rank 2012
      3 year average
      School name
      Programme name
      Salary ($)
      Salary growth
        1 1 Kellogg / Hong Kong UST Business School Kellogg-HKUST EMBA 465,774 42
        2 2 Columbia / London Business SchoolFeatured business school EMBA-Global Americas and Europe 265,596 89
        3 3 Trium: HEC Paris / LSE / New York University: Stern Trium Global EMBA 307,992 52
        4 - Tsinghua University / Insead Tsinghua-INSEAD EMBA 287,630 57
        5 - UCLA: Anderson / National University of Singapore UCLA-NUS EMBA 250,940 77
        6 5 InseadFeatured business school Insead Global EMBA 212,586 57
        7 12 Ceibs Global EMBA 274,546 74
        8 8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton Wharton MBA for Executives 229,086 60
        9 14 Washington University: Olin Olin-Fudan EMBA 255,945 60
        10 7 University of Chicago: Booth EMBA 230,855 60
        11 - Sun Yat-sen Business School SYSBS EMBA 280,374 69
        12 - Korea University Business School EMBA 268,324 95
        12 9 IE Business SchoolFeatured business school EMBA 186,324 138
        14 18 Iese Business School GEMBA 215,027 58
        15 10 London Business SchoolFeatured business school EMBA 180,070 68
        16 10 Duke University: Fuqua Duke MBA - Global Executive 250,913 43
        17 14 CUHK Business SchoolFeatured business school EMBA 309,340 45
        18 16 Kellogg / WHU BeisheimFeatured business school Kellogg-WHU EMBA 173,684 69
        19 - Georgetown University / Esade Business School GEMBA 247,110 42
        20 16 IMD IMD EMBA 221,809 60
        21 22 ESCP EuropeFeatured business school European EMBA 153,168 77
        21 23 Arizona State University: Carey Carey / SNAI EMBA 237,672 74
        23 20 Northwestern University: Kellogg Kellogg EMBA 239,134 52
        24 24 OneMBA: CUHK/RSM/UNC/FGV São Paulo/EGADE OneMBA 184,612 54
        24 31 Warwick Business School Warwick EMBA 149,331 98
        26 24 National University of Singapore Business School Asia-Pacific EMBA 236,511 62
        27 - University of Southern California: Marshall USC-SJTU GEMBA 256,758 49
        27 20 Kellogg / York University: Schulich Kellogg-Schulich EMBA 170,828 53
        29 29 University of Toronto: Rotman Rotman One-Year EMBA 150,066 54
        30 23 New York University: Stern NYU Stern EMBA 192,874 48
        31 29 Imperial College Business SchoolFeatured business school EMBA 140,590 75
        32 24 City University: CassFeatured business school EMBA 153,329 71
        32 24 Columbia Business School EMBA 201,004 49
        34 32 University of Michigan: Ross EMBA 216,099 47
        35 - Fudan University School of Management Fudan EMBA 197,476 92
        35 28 Cornell University: Johnson Cornell EMBA 224,129 53
        35 39 Georgetown University: McDonough EMBA 190,462 67
        38 33 University of Oxford: SaïdFeatured business school EMBA 182,709 56
        39 38 UCLA: Anderson EMBA 195,783 46
        40 - ESMT - European School of Management and TechnologyFeatured business school EMBA 144,015 58
        41 35 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University EMBA 138,674 62
        41 35 Essec / Mannheim Essec & Mannheim EMBA 141,500 56
        43 36 University of Western Ontario: Ivey Ivey EMBA 190,702 51
        44 - University of California at Irvine: Merage EMBA 154,612 62
        45 48 Cornell University: Johnson/Queen's School of Business Cornell-Queen's EMBA 163,559 58
        46 - Kozminski University EMBA 152,930 62
        46 42 Rice University: Jones Rice MBA for Executives 173,565 53
        48 64 Euromed Management Euromed MBA Part Time 149,393 82
        49 44 Emory University: Goizueta Weekend EMBA 163,979 61
        50 - Antwerp Management School EMBA 175,930 53
        51 - WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)/University of Minnesota: Carlson EMBA (Global) 157,396 50
        51 45 University of Maryland: Smith Smith EMBA 176,914 43
        53 - Henley Business School Henley EMBA 148,557 65
        54 - University of Hong Kong / Fudan University School of Management HKU-Fudan IMBA 113,508 96
        54 50 University of Texas at Austin: McCombs Texas EMBA 142,770 44
        56 64 University of St Gallen EMBA HSG 136,325 51
        56 70 Ohio State University: Fisher Fisher EMBA 177,478 40
        58 58 Texas A & M University: Mays Texas A&M EMBA 182,448 51
        59 60 Vanderbilt University: Owen Vanderbilt EMBA 154,223 58
        60 - EMLyon Business School EMBA 110,467 49
        60 - University of Pretoria, Gibs Modular and Part-time MBA 190,596 58
        62 49 University of Pittsburgh: Katz EMBA Worldwide 168,087 33
        63 - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign EMBA at Illinois 139,507 46
        63 53 Temple University: Fox
    • Robert E Jensen

      "Texas MOOCs for Credit?" by Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, October 16, 2012 ---
      http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/16/u-texas-aims-use-moocs-reduce-costs-increase-completion

      So far the universities partnering with edX and Coursera on massive open online courses (MOOCs) have focused on the ideal of lowering the barriers to elite courses.

      But edX’s newest partner, the University of Texas System, has more pragmatic ambitions. It wants to use them to get more students through college more quickly and for less money.

      “We’re trying to move the MOOC model,” said Steve Mintz, executive director of the Texas system's Institute for Transformational Learning, in an interview.

      Cost and completion issues have turned the state of Texas into a proving ground for unconventional ideas such as outsourced online competency-based learning and the $10,000 bachelor’s degree. Now the University of Texas will enter MOOCs into the equation with the hope that it will make a Texas degree less expensive for some students.

      The goal is to develop MOOCs that can stand up to the scrutiny of the normal faculty approval processes at the system’s various campus, then award credit to students who pass them.

      The Texas system believes making certain “bridge” courses — low-level courses that typically count toward multiple degree pathways — available as MOOCs will make it less likely that students will be locked out of those courses on their own campuses, said Mintz, who will lead the implementation of the partnership agreement.

      “Some students tell us that they are closed out of classes because those classes are over-enrolled or aren’t being offered that semester,” he said.

      Another way MOOCs could give students a cheaper path to a Texas degree is that some universities in the system may elect to charge below market for the credits earned through massive courses, which will theoretically cost less to deliver. Access to the course would be free and open to everyone, but the universities would charge student enrolled at Texas for the opportunity to redeem their learning for credit.

      “It’s going to be up to the campuses how much to charge,” said Mintz. “And it’s conceivable that these classes would have a reduced tuition rate.”

      Universities in the Texas system may award credit for MOOCs from edX’s other partners, which currently include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley. “I’m reasonably sure that at least some of the campuses will take that option, based on conversations,” he said.

      Texas will have the opportunity to make money by awarding non-credit certificates to MOOC participants who are not enrolled in the system. A university might award a Texas-branded certificate in exchange for a “modest fee” and worthy scores on a “meaningful, proctored exam.” (edX recently signed a deal with Pearson VUE to hold such exams at Pearson’s many testing centers.)

      As part of the agreement with edX, which is a nonprofit, Texas will keep 100 percent of the profits it makes from its own MOOCs, said Mintz. The agreement also reportedly calls for a $5 million investment from the Texas system.

      Texas faculty may worry that awarding credit for über-scalable MOOCs could be the first step toward eliminating local versions of those courses — and faculty jobs with them. “We have no intention of doing that,” said Mintz.

      Professors who are inclined to distrust the university’s reassurances may take comfort in the fact that MOOCs so far have seen dropout rates that most institutions would find unacceptable. Out of 155,000 registrants for edX’s inaugural course in electrical engineering, only 7,000 earned a passing grade on the final exam.

      But for Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, poor retention in the early courses, which were built to be particularly challenging, does not mean a MOOC aimed at less well-prepared students is doomed to fail.

      “That is one of the particular exciting things about the University of Texas coming on board,” said Agarwal in an interview on Monday in Boston, where he had just given the keynote talk at a meeting of the New England Board of Higher Education.

      Continued in article

      "Online Education Is Everywhere. What’s the Next Big Thing?" by Marc Parry, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 2011 ---
      http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-education-is-everywhere-whats-the-next-big-thing/32898?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

      Bob Jensen's threads on MOOC alternatives ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      Bob Jensen's threads on the controversies on competency-based testing, evaluation, and grading ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Compentency-Based

      Competency-based Learning ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm#ECA

      Bob Jensen's threads on free courses, tutorials, videos, and course materials from prestigious universities and MOOCs ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

      Bob Jensen's threads on distance education and training alternatives ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      "Study: Little Difference in Learning in Online and In-Class Science Courses," Inside Higher Ed, October 22, 2012 ---
      http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/10/22/study-little-difference-learning-online-and-class-science-courses

      A study in Colorado has found little difference in the learning of students in online or in-person introductory science courses. The study tracked community college students who took science courses online and in traditional classes, and who then went on to four-year universities in the state. Upon transferring, the students in the two groups performed equally well. Some science faculty members have expressed skepticism about the ability of online students in science, due to the lack of group laboratory opportunities, but the programs in Colorado work with companies to provide home kits so that online students can have a lab experience.
       

       

      Jensen Comment
      Firstly, note that online courses are not necessarily mass education (MOOC) styled courses. The student-student and student-faculty interactions can be greater online than onsite. For example, my daughter's introductory chemistry class at the University of Texas had over 600 students. On the date of the final examination he'd never met her and had zero control over her final grade. On the other hand, her microbiology instructor in a graduate course at the University of Maine became her husband over 20 years ago.

      Another factor is networking. For example, Harvard Business School students meeting face-to-face in courses bond in life-long networks that may be stronger than for students who've never established networks via classes, dining halls, volley ball games, softball games, rowing on the Charles River, etc. There's more to lerning than is typically tested in competency examinations.

      My point is that there are many externalities to both onsite and online learning. And concluding that there's "little difference in learning" depends upon what you mean by learning. The SCALE experiments at the University of Illinois found that students having the same instructor tended to do slightly better than onsite students. This is partly because there are fewer logistical time wasters in online learning. The effect becomes larger for off-campus students where commuting time (as in Mexico City) can take hours going to and from campus.
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm

      Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm

    • Robert E Jensen

      Hi Amy,

      I do not know the answer to your specific question about how to submit a US News survey instrument.


      The link you provided is a scam promotional for for-profit universities ---

      http://www.businessdegreeonline.com/programs/macc-degrees/


      A better link is the U.S. News information page about online programs ---
      http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education 


      US News has been trying to rank online programs for some time but encountered resistance from virtually all for-profit universities that refused to cooperate (probably in fear of a low ranking in terms of cost and quality).


      US news did come out with an "Honor Roll" of online programs in general that does not rank the winners nor does it include any of the for-profit alternatives. There is still only an "Honor Roll" instead of overall rankings of the winners ---
      http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education


      For Business Undergraduate Programs the rankings are at
      http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/faculty-credentials-training-rankings
      Note the single line with a drop down box of criteria selections.

      Interestingly, US News avoids some of the systemic aggregation problems that I've discussed in other contexts (aggregations of net earnings components and aggregations of roll forward PPE disclosures under IFRS). The result is an "Honor Roll" that ranks the underlying components but does not aggregate across all components ---
      http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/honor-roll-rankings
      I was not familiar with Brandman University, but a search of its Website revealed that it is a non-profit private university in the Chapman University system.

      Bob Jensen's threads on systemic problems of aggregation ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

      Systemic Problem:  All Aggregations Are Arbitrary
      Systemic Problem:  All Aggregations Combine Different Measurements With Varying Accuracies
      Systemic Problem:  All Aggregations Leave Out Important Components
      Systemic Problem:  All Aggregations Ignore Complex & Synergistic Interactions of Value and Risk
      Systemic Problem:  Disaggregating of Value or Cost is Generally Arbitrary

      The US News online graduate school page is at
      http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools
      This has a link to business graduate studies.
      Note the following links:

      More About Business Schools

       

      The bottom line is that For-Profit universities are excluded from the U.S. News tables mostly because those For-Profits refuse to supply the requested data needed to be rated among the Non-Profit universities. The huge problem for For-Profit universities is that refusal to be evaluated further hurts graduates of those universities in the job market.

      Note that the respected magazine called The Economist from the U.K recently revealed its own rankings of the Top 100 Onsite Programs. The Financial Times recently came out with onsite versus EMBA global rankings.

      Top Global Oniste MBA Programs from The Economist
      "2012 Full time MBA ranking," The Economist, 2012 ---
      http://www.economist.com/whichmba/full-time-mba-ranking
      Alternate link --- http://www.economist.com/whichmba

      Top Global EMBAEducation EMBA Programs from The Financial Times ---
      "EMBA ranking 2012," Financial Times, October 2012
      http://rankings.ft.com/businessschoolrankings/emba-ranking-2012 
      There's no clear distinction between fully-online EMBA programs versus hybrid (partly online) EMBA programs.

      INote that there are other leading media rankings of the onsite MBA programs (US News, Business Week, WSJ, Financial Times, etc) ---
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#BusinessSchoolRankings

    • Robert E Jensen

      "A Sincere Question About LinkedIn," by George Williams, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2012 ---
      http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/a-sincere-question-about-linkedin/44100#disqus_thread

      Here's the reply Bob Jensen posted to the Chronicle for this article.

      Do you want your college's students to leave campus without knowledge of what is, according to Forbes Magazine, "the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today."

      Linked in may not be useful to you if you're not interested in seeking a job in a non-academic career or in seeking professional employees for your business or government agency, but that's no excuse for not letting your graduates and alumni know about this important site.

      Bob Jensen
      http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen...