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Digital Education

Data Analytics Will Help Student Success

With technology, students have been able to empower their own education. Either it being a way to help boost their grades or attending classes despite other responsibilities or locations. The Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology hopes that all universities will take advantage of the possibilities technology can create for students. The Office of Educational Technology outlines a plan of how leaders in higher education should use technology to create “everywhere, all-the-time learning and ensure greater equity and accessibility to learning opportunities over the course of a learner’s lifetime.”

Even with the enrollment in higher education increasing over the years, technology still has the possibility of spreading access, boost retention and prepare students for the future. The Office of Educational Technology has provided design principles that could make institutions more student centered. Universities have been using predictive analytics to streamline the advising process and easily recognize struggling students. However, some schools are training students to work with data themselves, as a component of student-centered education, to prepare students for postsecondary work. At Northeastern University, students who participate in Level, a two month data analytics boot camp, work with employers on real analytics problems and leave the programs prepared to work with data.

Data can also help students towards their path to graduation, inside and outside of class. At Austin Peay State University, students use an analytics-powered course recommendation system called Degree Compass. This tool will help students choose the courses that best fit their talents and program of study for upcoming semesters. Adaptive courses that use analytics to provide real time feedback to educators have started to trend in higher education. With a more student-centered institution, there can be more of a targeted assistance towards students.

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Distance Learning Is the Solution for Rural Institutions

Digital equity is a big topic in K-12 schools, but small, rural colleges and universities have a bigger issue to tackle around technology. They have to enable students in rural colleges to enjoy the same resources and opportunities as students in urban institutions. In Anderson, S.C., Forrest College attracts students from rural areas as far as an hour’s drive away. Because of this distance, students that run into issues with transportation or sickness will miss out on class. Now, with distance learning solutions, they are able to attend class wherever they are. Students will simply Skype in and watch lectures live, or they may ask an instructor to record class sessions using lecture capture technology to be viewed later.

This is only one of the problems that is faced, and there are a number of challenges that rural colleges have, according to Randy Smith, president of the Rural Community College Alliance. They lack the large population base and resources of urban areas, which means less potential faculty members and fewer mass transit options. Faculty shortages, especially in fields such as nursing, welding and culinary arts, are a huge issue. “It takes a unique person with an advanced degree and teaching experience who wants to live in a rural area,” says Smith, who organization advocates for the country’s 589 rural and tribal colleges and their 3.4 million students.

Transportation is also a big issue for students living in areas with little or no public transportation. The majority of students will drive an average distance of 25 miles to get to class. Most rural colleges must provide fast internet connections on their campuses, and online for distance learning courses. This will allow students to the most learning opportunities and convenient access to education.

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Image from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2017/02/distance-learning-bridges-digital-divide-higher-education

Digital Course Materials is the Key to Bettering Higher Education

Higher education stakeholders believe that digital course materials are key to solving system wide problems. A survey by Pearson Education found that at least 84 percent of students, teachers and administrators said that a shift to digital could help with challenges they face. 82 percent also said that digital is the future, but only 56 percent said more than half of their institution’s courses are using some sort of digital courseware. Thomas Malek, the vice president for Channel partnerships for higher education at Pearson, says that the first step in adding more digital tools is more teaching. Instructors and administrators need to be taught about options and demand for more affordable course supplies.

“Institutions need to recognize that affordability issues are real and they cause students to fail when they can’t get course materials,” says Malek. According to NBC News, just as higher education has gotten more expensive, so have textbooks, by 1041 percent since 1977. With digital options, students could save over $100 per course. The demand is there and the students are prepared with the devices required to go digital. Pearson found that over 80 percent, of 18.6 million student in higher education, own either a laptop or a smartphone, and 50 percent own tablets.

If educators get 100 percent usage of a digital platform, there can be a tremendous impact in the amount of data that will be collected. On digital platform, it is easy to hold students accountable for their work. Faculty would be able to see what is going on with the learning in their classrooms through a homework dashboard. The data driven adaptive digital courseware has already been implemented at some universities. A study by SRI International found that adaptive courseware found cost savings and positive impacts on grades, as well as high levels of student and instructor satisfaction in two-year degree programs.

Source: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2017/01/demand-digital-courseware-higher-supply-survey-says


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The Women of the Stem Majors Offer the Solutions for Gender Imbalance

Image from EdTech Magazine

While the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field has had an astonishing 80 percent increase in jobs in the United States, the gender imbalance has left almost half the population at risk of being left behind. In a recent survey conducted by CDW Corporation, women are shown to feel uncomfortable in male-dominated classrooms, have negative experiences concerning stereotypes, as well as lacking a role model in their field.  Because of this, the women that do earn STEM degrees has hit a standstill. This survey included 150 students who have either graduated within the last five years, or plan on graduating, as well as 150 students who have already left the STEM major.

In the survey, almost half of the women stated that they had thoughts about switching from the STEM major; while one in five of current STEM students stated that they would not choose this path again. Two-thirds of those surveyed said that they struggled with their choice of major, and 48 percent said that being a woman has made it difficult for them in the STEM major.

If this trend pursues, then the technology fields will become less and less diverse, and there will be a shortage in these professions. The solution to this? To make sure that girls and young women are encouraged in STEM careers and have every opportunity to succeed. There are many ways to achieve this, but the most effective would be to offer more internship and experience opportunities equally to women, and to bring in more female role models. Mentorships are important and can show women a look into the real world and to what they can accomplish in the future. With the right resources, young women will be able to feel like they believe in the STEM field and continue down their path.

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A New Personal AI Assistant For College

Legislación Tecnologica IA by Edgarodriguezmunoz is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Personal Assistant AI’s may soon come to college campuses in order to guide students through college. AdmitHub, a startup company has raised $2.95 million dollars in order to hire more AI engineers and hire more employees to be a part of its sales team. The company plans on spreading their chatbot program throughout college campuses throughout the US and internationally.

The conversational AI will be accessible to students 24/7 to guide them through engagement and provide them with expert advising. Chatting is achieved through text messages or Facebook Messenger which not only takes the workload off counselors, but also allows them focus on students that require more attention. The AI will be able to handle monotonous tasks such as sending out reminders, supportive guidance, and answering questions.

AdmitHub is already being tested on various large college campuses including Georgia State University, West Texas A&M University, and Bowling Green State University. Through its first year of release, it was able to handle 185,000 individual messages from 3,600 unique students. Their goal of implementing a widely used method of communication makes it easy for students to understand their software. Through its simplicity, the company hopes to provide students with on-demand access to college counseling, provide insight for college admissions officers, and help counselors focus on students the require more personal attention.

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