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Digital Education

Stanford Chief Wants Higher Ed to Be ‘Affordable, Accessible, Adaptable’

In an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, written by Jenifer Howard, the president of Stanford University shares his views on the accessibility of higher education.

In a keynote talk on “Information Technology and the Future of Teaching and Learning,” the Stanford president, John L. Hennessy, sketched out ways in which technology could be used to provide affordable, accessible, and adaptable education.

Mr. Hennessy said that Massive open online courses “are not the answer, at least not the only answer.” He also went on to say that hybrid and flipped-classroom models are effective in some settings and that we need to develop adaptive courses to help students learn faster and better, potentially saving time, money and reducing student stress.

There are several challenges that online learning needs to overcome. It needs to help students learn better and provide a customized experience, he said. “In a live classroom, a good instructor can see what works and what doesn’t.” but it might be possible to accomplish the same using real time data analytics on how students are engaging what the material.

Mr. Hennessy also mentions the machine driven hype of the 1960’s with a vision that high quality technology would solve all our problems. “it turns out that human learning is really complex.”

For more information on this topic visit the link above.

Technology Is Opening Doors to College Courses


High school students often have the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. In Santa Clara, California the Santa Clara Unified School District and Mission Community College have collaborated to create the Mission Middle College education program that hopes to reach students with disabilities through technology. Students in the program may have print and learning disabilities that impede their ability to easily read and comprehend grade-level text and complex curricula in print.

The program offers students the opportunity to learn how to choose the reading technologies for their learning needs, and then find the reading assignments in digital accessible format, such as DAISY text and DAISY audio. The Daisy Consortium helps develop inclusive publishing ecosystem for everybody, including persons with disabilities through promoting reading systems to ensure the best possible reading experience with eyes, ears, and fingers.

Jennifer Lang-Jolliff, the Program Coordinator at Mission Middle College, believes the program provides the instruction, tools, and resources to rise to the challenge of learning rigorous curriculum. The high expectations and the e-literacy services available to students helped to shift their views of the students’ personal view of themselves personally and academically.

The students at Mission Middle College with print disabilities (including visual impairments, physical disabilities, and severe learning disabilities) are empowered to find the right assistive technology, computer software application, or device to help them achieve academically. Before enrolling in the program many of the students felt stuck and considered dropping out of school. Through technology, students with disabilities have access to the readings their courses require. Programs similar to Mission Middle College help make sure every student graduates from high school and is college and career ready.

For more information on this topic please visit the link below.

Source: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/05/technology-gives-students-with-disabilities-access-to-college-courses/

Why Blogging Is Key to the Future of Higher Ed


Photo credit to Prasan

At Virginia Commonwealth University, nearly 30,000 students were encouraged to start blogging about their schoolwork. It was a way to incorporate social media, something that almost all college students are fond of, with education.

Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for learning innovation and student success, said that this “catastrophic success…does not do justice to his real vision for both VCU and higher education.” He wants to change the direction, definition and purpose of concepts like online education and curriculum.

VCU worked with a vendor to set up a WordPress installation that would allow students to communicate with each other and their teachers as well as do their work online. Campbell explains how these blogs can act as an e-Portfolio. Since it is public, any other staff and faculty will be able to access it and view students’ work.

One example of using blogging for coursework was when students were asked to go out and take pictures of plants, post them on their blogs and add tags to them. This helped when biology students were studying botany.

Campbell referred to this as a catastrophic success in spite of the few disadvantages that the web can pose, such as poor connectivity. There can also be a low limit of how many students can sign up for the blog.

Nonetheless, Campbell said that VCU should look past the technological challenges and focus on the potential that this approach can have. This is just a work in progress, and could help advocates understand that a culture of a university should be more about content and course delivery.

For more information on this topic visit the link below.

Source: http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2015/05/27/Why-Blogging-Is-Key-to-the-Future-of-Higher-Ed.aspx?Page=3

Tracking and Improving Student Learning

Professors everywhere always want to make sure that the students they are teaching are actually learning. Thanks to this blog and the work of David A. Wood Jr, there is a way to track your work, along with students, to figure out what changes need to be made in order to improve your ways of teaching. What is this magical tool that is being used to do all of this?

The answer is: Microsoft Excel.


Mr. Wood Jr. is a professor and former dean of performance excellence at San Antonio College. He has been using Excel data to “inform his instruction and achieve better learning outcomes for his students.” He was not limited to other tools that could have been used, but he realized that Excel is one of the easiest and best to use for his intentions. By creating his own spreadsheet to manage the data he needs to improve his own learning outcomes for the students in his class.

Woods even stated that the basic approach taken on has increased scores on tests by five to ten points. What is even more important is the types of questions that are being asked by the students in class. The questions suggest their level of understanding and more about the topics being covered. To truly see the formulas and get an understanding of how a single spreadsheet has been able to improve his years worth of work, click on the link above.

The Power of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is well known social media site widely used by colleges and students everywhere. In an article on The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding LinkedIn’s latest big move, people everywhere can get a better idea of how much it has grown and how useful it really is. LinkedIn announced that it would spend $1.5 billion to buy Lynda.com, a provider of consumer-focused online courses. This will be huge step for LinkedIn and can make it even better, but lets not forget what it already provides for its users.


LinkedIn already offers its users college rankings, university pages and multiple tools for all 350 members to crowd source tips and advice on where to go to college or what courses to take. What will happen once LinkedIn makes this purchase? Many say different things, but all are very positive.Some say that this is a sharp reminder to colleges that if they don’t push forward in helping students as well as the alumni with career transitions, there are others, such as LinkedIn, that will be there to help them fill that void.

The fact that people today are starting to think of credentials in a different way helps LinkedIn even more. For example, there’s a move to upgrade academic transcripts to make them a more valuable record for employers. In other words, put them into a machine. Mathew Pittinsky, a founder of both Blackboard and Parchment, even says that the more records that are “machine readable” the better.

LinkedIn happens to be sitting on a “gold mine of data” with a specific set of job skills that are needed for careers in specific cities. So colleges should engage with the company and get their students involved. LinkedIn isn’t here to take over colleges, it is here to work them and the ones under their roof. But to truly get a better understanding of what LinkedIn’s intentions are and what it is capable of, visit the site above and see what the future of LinkedIn has in store.