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College Adaption towards the Networked Age

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Students are distracted more than ever in the classroom. They have emails to check, Facebook to browse, and to be very honest they just aren’t captivated in the classroom anymore. Students used to be much more respectful of the professor behind the podium, now they’re riddled with social media. Although Joshua Cooper Ramo believes that this isn’t because of the advancement of technology, but the shift in attitude towards college and authority figures in general. He is the author of No Visible Horizon in which comes from the time he was a stunt pilot. Some would say that from that experience he loves zooming out to get an aerial view of problems.

He argues in his newest book, The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, that we’re in a time of change as significant and disruptive as the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution. Old Power centers are becoming less important than the new digital monsters like Facebook and Google, and computer algorithms are doing things that even their designers can’t predict.

He believes leaders today are making continual mistakes by assuming what worked in the old system, can work in this new networked era.

Simply as an example, we used to be what our resumes said we were, however now it’s who you are connected to. He believes in order to engaged students, the system must change. University and college leaders must take the reins and create a new system to accommodate for this fast-paced network era.

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Online Education is Now a Global Market


When teaching online first started in colleges, people mused that competition for college students would one day be global. A student would be able to sit down at a computer and take a course literally from anywhere. This may have seemed crazy at the time, however now it’s become a reality. A global competition for higher education is here, and some of the more famous universities were the last to get into the act.

Although MOOC’s feel somewhat similar to an entire different entity to a University, educators actually believe that online learning does not explicitly mean just MOOC’s. There is a broad range of digital opportunities besides MOOC’s.

Although, not all universities believe that converting to online learning is a good thing. Specifically, universities that are deemed higher levels of education, don’t have to worry about their traditional schooling to be affected. They own a certain level of significance and awarded for their traditional education. They have a certain reputation that will help their traditional way of educating to thrive and be consistent. However, schools that are lower or middle-level tiers are more nervous. They don’t necessarily want to take away from the traditional aspect.

They now have to put more effort into this digital side in order to run with the pack, will the traditional side suffer? This all depends on the university and the course of actions they put in. However, this stigma can make universities falter in putting more resources into online learning as they are still attempting to make themselves known among the bigger schools.

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Faculty on the Fence About Providing Computing Devices to Students

20160928facultysupport4devicesSome colleges have the wonderful service of providing laptops or a tablet for students who don’t have access to one, or who have simply forgot theirs. It is a service that students value and use quite often. But in a recent survey by Campus Technology’s Teaching with Tech survey, about a quarter of the faculty (23 percent) support the institution providing devices to their students. 30 percent like the idea of having devices available, but only for those who reserve it. Still, the majority of instructors are favoring the idea of providing devices to an extent, making the overall count of those in favor, to 85 percent. A third of the instructors (33 percent) are leaning more towards the “bring your own device” model or BYOD; while another third (34 percent) will go with this approach with some uncertainties. While this may be an issues at colleges and universities that require a computer device in class, there are those that do not have to worry, as six in ten, or 56 percent of colleges or universities do not require students to bring a laptop or another computing device with them to class.

Another survey was done regarding a student’s access to internet. On average, according to Campus Technology’s research, about 82 percent of students have access to internet at home. It was found though, that 69 percent of faculty believe that between 51 and 100 percent of students have access to the internet. They have the presumption that students in college or a university are able to use the campus resources to get their school work done.

According to a professor from a New York college, this is not sufficient for those students who do not have internet access. He suggests that institutions should start including an “internet access package” along with the tuition.

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Half of Online Students Prefer this Route Over a Physical Campus.

A new study done by Learning House and Aslanian Market Research focused on students in online courses found that 50 percent of them would rather not attend classes on a physical campus.

The study was done in Spring of 2016 with 1,500 students who had either recently graduated, were currently enrolled or planned to enroll in the next year in a fully online higher education degree, certificate or license program; it found that while online courses were an only option for half of the students, 90 percent of them who had previously taken on-campus courses said that they preferred online courses or found them just as good.

According to Learning House’s Chief Academic Officer, David Clinefelter, 3.5 million students are working towards their degree online and that academic institution cannot afford to lose these students.

An important finding in this study is that most online students are unaware of the different pathways they can take during the college careers, such as micro-degrees or boot camps. They are more informed on the traditional college degree routes and templates, and only a third of the students were aware of the principles of competency-based education. Other findings include:

  • Among the factors that go into choosing an online route, tuition was found to be number one
  • The age for online students is decreasing as the average age for undergraduates this year was 29 for undergraduates and 33 for graduate students. That is done from 36 and 37 in 2014
  • About ¾ of students picked a school that had a physical campus within 100 miles of their home, with 32 percent of students stating that they planned on visiting the campus at least once a year, and 44 percent stating that they planned on visiting more frequently.
  • Computer science and IT has raised in popularity for graduate students with 20 percent choosing it – this drops education in the rankings, which dropped from 22 percent in 2014, to 14 percent this year.

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Gamification Champions

Organization change theory believes there are individuals, “champions”, who push an organization past its comfort zone into new territory. Champions may be faced with a challenge that they don’t know how to solve, but will say, “We’ll figure it out”.

On college campuses, IT champions can help educators embrace gamification. Supports of gamification believe it offers just as many benefits for college students as K-12 students. Well-designed games boost student engagement, build critical thinking skills by requiring students to plan and strategize, and clarify abstract concepts that may be hard to grasp from reading and lecture alone. For students currently in an online course, gaming provides opportunities for collaboration and teamwork.

Despire these benefits, faculty who are new to gamification may be hesitant to jump in. Professors might ask questions about where to start or how to ensure games deliver educational benefit. This is an opportunity for IT professionals (campus champions) to identify potential academic partners.



Edwin Lindsay, a teaching assistant professor in North Carolina State University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, noticed students in his Introduction to Sports Management course lacked realistic expectations of future career paths. Lindsay partnered with NCU’s Distance Education & Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) to develop a gamification module. Lindsay and Stephen Bader, a business and technology applications specialist, created a Moodle plugin that lets students pursue one of 10 career paths by winning points within 14 skill sets. The game helps students identify skills they need to develop and related courses they can take to enhance those skills.

Linsay did not intentionally become a gamification champion, he eventually became one. His successful partnership with DELTA inspired gamification courses in NCSU’s horticulture department.

Champions Lead The Way

Champions help organizations thrive by understanding and sharing a vision: How have other institutions successfully brought gamification to the classroom? What benefits can it offer students in specific disciplines? How can a faculty/IT partnership pay off outside the classroom?

Champions are facilitators when colleagues are hesitant to embrace new technology, champions help them navigate unfamiliar territory. After faculty member or department rolls out gamification, champions help stakeholders extract lessons learned and help improve the process to make the transition easier.

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