January 04, 2016

Mapping the New Education Landscape

A new education landscape is emerging. Colleges are changing how they operate and how they teach, under pressure from lawmakers, parents, and students to respond to new economic realities.

And new players are emerging—start-ups backed by record Silicon Valley investment, deep-pocketed foundations set on reform, and academic outsiders using platforms that let anyone teach courses. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Re:Learning project provides stories and analysis about this change moment for learning.

As colleges tailor residences to the needs of first-year students, architects find that what works best isn’t what students say they want.

PathwayConnect, a yearlong program created by Brigham Young University-Idaho, has graduated nearly 24,000 students by cutting marketing costs, stacking credentials, and mixing online classes with real-world meetups. What can other colleges learn from the endeavor?

Here’s what we know about that question — and several others that have sprung up in the wake of the university’s surprising purchase of the for-profit institution.

Apprenticeships are no longer an alternative to the college path but a supplement that prepares students for careers while they earn a degree.

The career-focused programs were initially pitched as the antithesis of traditional colleges. But now several boot camps are discovering the value of a more direct connection to universities, and vice versa.

Jim Shelton, now heading up the education portfolio at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, isn’t giving any details yet. But in this podcast, he emphasizes the value of bringing learning scientists together with educators to improve learning and increase equality.

Is delivering video courses and short quizzes all it takes to develop knowledge and skills?

Sarah Short, who has taught some 44,000 students over a half-century at Syracuse University, wants to see more classroom interaction.

Investors in a Silicon Valley company called Rafter pulled the plug on it on Friday, and its college customers are now in what one described as "crisis-management mode."

MOOCs may have been overhyped, but their impact is far from over, says Simon Nelson, of the online-learning provider FutureLearn. And traditional colleges have a huge opportunity if they’re just willing to think a little differently.

Gordon Jones, who moved to Idaho after experience at Harvard and in business, explains how to avoid the "immunological rejection response" to change and why to take more responsibility for what happens to graduates.

In a Re:Learning podcast, The Chronicle talks with Joshua Cooper Ramo, who points to a shift in attitudes toward college and authority figures in general.

Developers of a "credentials registry" unveil a prototype of the tool. And six more colleges joined the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge.

Colleges that have contracts with the online retailer stand to profit by pocketing 2 percent of every purchase delivered.

Shane Mauss, a stand-up comic who likes picking professors’ brains, has become an unlikely but engaging science educator.

A study of more than 900 colleges by Blackboard hints at the potential of harnessing data from learning-management systems as "a real-time indicator of student engagement."

Academics and tech-company officials met earlier this year to hash out approaches for the ethical treatment of information collected via learning-management systems, online courseware, and other electronic sources.

The hype has faded for the massive courses, and their leading commercial proponents have moved on to other gigs. But they’ve left a legacy of the transformative potential of online technology in teaching.

Michael Wesch, an associate professor of anthropology at Kansas State University, joins his students for an unusual tour of their lives beyond the classroom.

A Chronicle reporter sits down with three generations of ed-tech insiders, including a founder of Western Governors University and the father-daughter team behind a new adult-education platform.

The approach, in use in a variety of subjects, is said to engage students in new ways and allow them to demonstrate their understanding of the material.

The leader of the Turing School of Software & Design says its mission is to promote social justice and help diversify computing fields.

Only 6.6 percent of faculty members are "very aware" of open educational resources, a survey found, and many say they can’t find such materials, although their use in introductory courses is ticking up.

Jefferson Education, an incubator affiliated with the University of Virginia, has enlisted more than 100 educators, entrepreneurs, and experts to examine why neither companies nor their customers tend to rigorously evaluate their products.

A professor of chemical engineering and a communications professional have teamed up to teach an innovative course at the California Institute of Technology.

Coursera’s Daphne Koller discusses plans for the future of a format that some thought would never last this long.

Hal Plotkin, a longtime supporter of open educational resources, says efforts like the Zero Textbook Cost degree could save students billions of dollars.

Researchers ponder the finding that at community colleges, online classes result in lower grades but more completed degrees.

More and more colleges have moved their learning-management software to "the cloud." What they don’t realize is that it’s all on the same cloud.

Institutions collect startling amounts of information on students. Do the students have a right to know how it's being used, and should they be able to opt out?

The evidence is largely anecdotal, and the research is inconclusive, but many professors say reading online clearly hampers students’ ability to take in what they study.

As distance learning goes mainstream, colleges are rethinking how they train faculty members.

Decades after colleges embraced courses that students could take at their own pace, the trend is toward synchrony once again.

A recent report attempts to determine whether the teaching technique actually helps students learn better than traditional methods do. Because of methodological challenges, the results are inconclusive.

Evolving virtual-reality technology holds great promise for higher education, reports A.J. Kelton, director of emerging and instructional technology at Montclair State University. 

William Wendt, who teaches online and hybrid courses at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, says, "You have to go with the modern world, and things change."

Some start-ups may well burn out, but at least two areas are still growing: career services and learning analytics.

Believe it or not, he says, traditional institutions have a long history of innovation. His university's project on the future of higher education intends to continue that trend.

Professors are still skeptical of online education, but they’re more involved in it than ever.

The move by the publishing giant caused a ruckus on social media.

In an interview, the Stanford professor also shares some of her latest ideas about how to help students push forward when they have setbacks.

USA Funds is increasingly a player — to some, a suspect one — in efforts aimed at helping students make strong connections between college and their career.

We asked readers whom they'd like us to interview on our weekly podcast. Tell us your favorite.

In a new podcast, a prominent critic of education technology deconstructs what she calls the "Silicon Valley narrative."

Oregon State University is among colleges that are redesigning arena classrooms and bringing higher production values to how they use them, to help keep students engaged.

Put aside your sense of irony. Here are some thoughtful ways to use technology to advance personalized learning.

The celebrity businessman and ed-tech mentor says education "is a mess." He hopes to help turn it around with investments in start-ups and sharp criticism of bloated administration, glitzy facilities, and "easy money" in student loans.

Battushig Myanganbayar enrolled at MIT after crushing one of its first massive open online courses. And he has some ideas about how they could make a real difference in the developing world.

Three teaching experts offer color commentary on a classroom scene, and discuss the pros and cons of this enduring teaching format.

A Norwegian professor posts videos on the platform, even though it deletes them after 24 hours.

Mentorship tools and college-to-career services dominated the buzz at a gathering of ed-tech companies, investors, and educators.

A recent report from MIT about online education argues that the right way to use technology is to help professors do what they already do, but better.

Christine Ortiz explains how her radical project was sparked by interdisciplinary body-armor research and some time spent on a technology-free retreat.

The new program, for online classes at Thomas Edison State University, follows the model devised by Starbucks but goes further.

The economics blogger and George Mason University professor says the distinction between universities and non-university educators is "crumbling." Just look at his Marginal Revolution University.

A website called Library Genesis, apparently a sister site to the notorious Sci-Hub, has ripped off thousands of university-press titles.

Jaime Casap represents one of the country’s most powerful tech companies. He’s also a voice for minority students from poor families.

Product marketers are on the far end of a game of telephone that often starts with research findings that are both nuanced and provisional.

Khan Academy has become a force. Its founder, Salman Khan, talks about his vision for the future, and what he thinks the college of tomorrow should look like.

MOOC sequences that lead to certificates can also be the ticket into some master’s programs. Educators say that’s one way of easing barriers and cutting costs for students.

For the second year in a row, innovators with very different notions of how to improve higher education brought us their pitches. Here’s how they fared.

Several contestants in The Chronicle’s 2015 "Shark Tank: Edu Edition" have made progress in developing their ideas over the past year.

The education landscape is changing. On The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Re:Learning podcast, you’ll meet the renegade teachers, ed-tech entrepreneurs, and longtime educators shaping the future of college. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.

This is part of our broader coverage of the future of education. For updates, follow the Re:Learning project on Twitter, Facebook, and iTunes.

Understanding the needs, interests, and technical proficiency of faculty members before jumping into features and solutions is an important way to improve the process.

Should colleges be worried about this mammoth new education player? The Chronicle spoke with Michael Korcuska, LinkedIn’s vice president of management for learning, who says no.

Hot topics at the gathering, an offshoot of the South by Southwest festival, centered on how technology is changing the college experience, and what that means for students, professors, and administrators.

Professors shouldn’t be so resistant to technology-driven change, says Michael Staton, an entrepreneur. They stand to benefit from it.

Procurement is a dirty word that most academics don’t like to talk about. But if we want better products, we have to get better at choosing them.

Pretty much everybody agrees that grades are not an effective measure of learning. So what are they good for, and what might be better?

The numbers can be misleading, and the real question is whether the costs are still hurting vulnerable students’ chances to succeed.

Candace Thille says colleges shouldn’t let proprietary “black boxes” control the future of personalized learning.

The new online-technologies commons will help faculty members find tools to use in their classrooms, and yield insights on which lead to positive student outcomes.

Academics are increasingly turning to renegade websites like Sci-Hub to view subscriber-only articles free. The trend is putting librarians in an awkward position.

Colleges have the capacity to create a valuable new public tool.

But advocates for adjunct faculty members worry it could become an additional burden for instructors who already carry a heavy load.

One student's perspective: "It’s Thursday night and you have two big homeworks due Friday. Your friends are going out. You’re just like, I just want to finish this, I don’t really care how this gets done."

At next month's conference, we will again borrow a page from the TV show Shark Tank with a return of our "Shark Tank: Edu Edition."

Administrators at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and Hampshire College reflect on the challenges of shaking up the standard system.

Colleges should start thinking of data about students as data that in some way belongs to the students. Let them make the call about sharing it.

Christine Ortiz, a dean of graduate education, envisions a new kind of college, built from scratch for today’s needs and with today’s technology.

Stanford University sees such integration as a way to bring in students who are drawn to the arts but feel that they need computing skills for their careers.

The Chronicle spoke with three experts about ways colleges can use technology to reduce instructional costs.

Student-acquisition costs are lower and retention rates are higher for institutions that team up with companies to give tuition discounts to workers.

The effort’s successes and failures hold lessons for other colleges interested in transformation from within.

The MOOC provider Udacity pledges that graduates of its four most marketable courses will earn a job in their field within six months of completing the program.

At a vast consumer electronics show last week, student entrepreneurs matched their corporate counterparts in pitching products for teaching. Whether any of them catches on is anyone’s guess.

By looking at who comes from where, geographers can explore gender imbalance, achievement, and even motivation in open online courses.

Data about how students learn could open new vistas in education, if only instructors can figure out how to use it.

Proprietary institutions were easy to track and regulate. The new companies are something else entirely.

Tell us what you want our reporters to explore in a coming story.


We asked readers which questions they're curious for us to research in a future story for Re:Learning. Tell us your favorite.