Art Fridrich is the first Director of Distance Education at Virginia State University, where he’s charged with bringing courses and programs from the classroom to the online environment. Art also works with faculty members to change the in-class experience for students. Prior to his role at VSU, he spent over 30 years in higher education as a consultant, administrator and technologist with over 70 colleges and universities in the US and abroad.
The rise of “free” content is shaping higher education and news journalism in similar ways, and not always for the better. :: Writers concerned with the future of higher education … Continue reading
But the comparison to the music and news industries tends to understate the degree to which individual learners are restricted from seeking out and assembling educational experiences according to their own criteria. Whereas consumers of music and journalism are free to make up their own minds as to what constitutes good value, what constitutes “educated” is defined by social conventions, regulatory and loan systems, and, of course, employers. Determinations of what constitutes good value in education can’t be made unilaterally. New and more flexible forms of credentials will continue to become more widely accepted, but the processes of disintermediation and unbundling will unfold far more slowly than in other sectors.
Then . . . MOOCs happened. Suddenly, this public demonstration of an institution’s instructional practices became front page news. Not merely local news or industry news (e.g. The Chronicle), but the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Atlantic. Now university presidents paid attention. They recognized that MOOCs could be one of the most potent forms of marketing for their institutions — for better or for worse. While they may not have shown much interest in online learning previously, Presidents of elite universities moved quickly to take part in this “me-too” public relations strategy. The investments made in these courses climbed quickly. Videographers, make-up artists, lighting crews and even actors started receiving invitations to the campus to help create a professional look and feel.
There is no end to the topics worth debating: rising costs in higher education (and who’s to blame), identity politics, the “adjunctification” of academic labor, and rising calls for accountability, to name but a few. The role of educational technology is now a frequent focus.
As more opportunities and solutions get thrust in front of academic leaders, they need to combine an understanding of instructional value with a sensitivity towards how these different opportunities will or won’t succeed within the institutional setting.
“It’s time to get creative about how and what we learn.” A talk from the impossibly young Rainesford Alexandra.
Great moments like these in the history of university rankings underscore the importance of an institution’s overall reputation on everything it does, what Brewer et al refer to as the “halo effect”. But it also points to the emphasis placed on research productivity: high-ranking institutions are those with faculty who have won the most rewards and captured the greatest volume of external research funds.
Dr. Michelle R. Weise is a Senior Research Fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute specializing in disruptive innovation in higher education. She co-authored a book with Clayton M. Christensen about how online competency-based education will revolutionize … Continue reading
Kevin Carey is an American higher education writer and policy analyst. He is serving as Director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization … Continue reading
Founded in 2009, University of the People (“UoPeople”) holds the distinction of being the first tuition-free, non-profit online university. To date, UoPeople has admitted more than 2000 students from over 150 countries, including the … Continue reading
One of the key characteristics that distinguishes faster growing, more scalable, and increasingly high-quality online universities (described in “The Growing Chasm”) is the systematic use of knowledge about what works in online instruction and what doesn’t. This handful of US institutions tend to capture more data about student learning, learn from it, and act on it.
A chasm is beginning to appear between institutions of higher education that offer online programs. It’s a divide created by the different strategies taken for designing, sourcing and managing online education programs.
A small number of institutions in the U.S. have adopted methods for producing and supporting online courses that have the potential, if not the liklihood, to improve learning outcomes, increase the speed with the institution improves the quality of teaching and learning, increase value (quality/cost) and, possibly, reconfigure the deeply embedded hierarchy that frames higher education.