Category: Blog

Higher Education is Getting Digital

Source: WISE ed.review  http://www.wise-qatar.org/higher-education-getting-digital-eric-stoller

There has been “digital” in higher education for a very long time. From the earliest computers to the beginnings of the internet, higher education has always found ways to use technology to capitalize on the power, scale, and efficiency of digital.

When I was an undergraduate student at university, email was an emerging digital technology. It was an exciting time to be a student. Staff were able to scale their interactions with students and students were able to build digital connections with their campus communities. Email was an exciting technology that fundamentally changed how people communicated around the globe.
Fast forward to the present and we’re still talking about digital in higher education. Numerous technologies have given universities new ways to enhance teaching, learning, and the student experience.
Technologies like big data, OER, learning analytics, augmented/virtual reality, social media, machine learning, bots/messaging, next generation learning environments, blockchain and the cloud are all part of today’s higher education technology mix.
Opportunities
What are the emerging opportunities that run in parallel with all of these new technologies?
First and foremost is the ability for universities to scale the student experience to a larger, more distributed group of learners. Enhanced mobile connectivity and social media allow academics and administrators to connect with campus communities anytime anywhere in educationally relevant ways.
Additionally, as more and more learner data is collected, learner analytics can be used to create individualized pathways for student success. Knowing more about each individual student’s academic journey leads universities to create a more bespoke learner experience.
New technologies can also make a higher education credential more secure. For example, MIT’s new digital diploma uses blockchain technology to ensure the legitimacy of a degree. This brings new benefit to the institution, the student, and to any potential future employer.
Risks
With great power comes great responsibility. In our ever-connected world, the importance of data security is paramount. Universities are gathering vast amounts of data in order to make processes more efficient, scale online learning, and engage in hyper-focused recruitment. All of this data requires a lot of security and institutional commitment to data protection and utilization schemes.
The more digitally connected we become, the more vulnerable we are to manipulation. The recent use of social networks to influence political outcomes has taught us that social media are powerful tools for connectivity and learning. The university experience is no longer just about a brick-and-mortar-based learner journey. Learning how to critically navigate and analyze digital content and networks has become an absolute necessity.
Student Success
Everything that a university does with digital is eventually about student success. Any and all digital university processes will eventually benefit students. While some, like learning analytics, are more direct, there are many ways that universities can use digital to benefit students.
Benefitting All Learners
My favorite aspect of how higher education is getting digital is the fact that technology creates more overall access for learners. Online learning environments allow distributed learners the opportunity to access the best that higher education has to offer regardless of locale.
In addition, the accessibility of virtual learning environments, student information systems, library content repositories, and app-driven content is a game-changer for students with disabilities. Driven by universal design principles, universities are creating courses content that is readily accessible for all students.
Digital Capabilities
Our digital capabilities matter. Digital represents core aspects of institutional efficiency and access, enhanced critical thinking and career development. Higher education continues to get digital on a daily basis.

EU to prioritise deeper HE cooperation and mobility

Source:  University World News http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20171124074223184 

European leaders and the European Commission have backed proposals to step up higher education mobility and exchanges and create a network of European universities with integrated study programmes and curricula that enable students to study abroad.

The plans signal a new era in which education and culture will be put high on the European Union’s agenda after years of being a low priority, according to the European University Association.

European heads of state or government, meeting at an informal summit at Gothenburg in Sweden on 17 November, supported the measures to deepen higher education cooperation and agreed to:

 

  • Promote mutual recognition of upper secondary education diplomas and the development of new curricula allowing for exchanges across European high school systems.
  • Promote multilingualism by aiming at all students speaking at least two additional European languages.
  • Launch a reflection on the ‘Future of Learning’ to respond to future trends and the digital revolution, including artificial intelligence.
  • Promote the mobility and participation of students in cultural activities through a ‘European Student Card’.

They had met to discuss the social dimension of Europe, including education and culture and responses to the challenges of digitalisation, future skills demands and the rise of ‘fake’ news, xenophobia and extremism.

That the discussion of education and culture was the first debate under the European Leaders’ Agenda signalled that education and culture are being given a higher priority than in the past.

Following the meeting, European Council President Donald Tusk said they had constructive discussion about eight ideas, which “were suggested not by Brussels, not by the institutions, but by member states”.

“One example is to make the Erasmus programme more inclusive, so that an increasing number of Europeans benefit from getting to know each other’s cultures, while living and studying in another EU country.

“The second example is the European Student Card, which started out as a cooperation between France and Italy. It was later expanded to cover Germany and Ireland. Now the idea is to extend the geographical scope of this initiative and to offer cardholders access to cultural sites and activities across Europe.”

Tusk said that during the meeting “we established political support for these ideas” and “will make sure that this support is included in the conclusions of the European Council”. The financial aspect of the plans will have to be reflected in the next multi-annual budget discussion.

…Continue at University World News http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20171124074223184 

 

 

How Artificial Intelligence Can Change Higher Education | Smithsonian

Sebastian Thrun, winner of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for education takes is redefining the modern classroom

Source: How Artificial Intelligence Can Change Higher Education | People & Places | Smithsonian

(…) Now, most MOOCs consist essentially of lectures posted on the Internet—“very boring and uninspirational,” Thrun says. He compares the situation to the dawn of any medium, such as film. “The first full feature movies were recordings of the physical play, end to end. They hadn’t even realized you could make gaps and cut the movie afterwards.” Udacity is rewriting the script: Rather than a talking head, there’s Thrun’s hand, writing on a whiteboard (“The hand came along by accident,” he says, “but people loved it”); rather than a quiz a week later, the lesson is peppered with on-the-spot problem-solving. What sets Udacity apart from traditional educational institutions—and from its online predecessors—is this emphasis on identifying and solving problems. “I firmly believe that learning occurs when people think and work,” Thrun says. Udacity’s website says, “It’s not about grades. It’s about mastery.” One satisfied student wrote that Udacity had defined the difference between putting a university course online and creating an online university course.

Read more at Smithsoinanmag

Poverty will continue to significantly hinder further grad rate increases

Source: educationdive.com http://www.educationdive.com/news/poverty-will-continue-to-significantly-hinder-further-grad-rate-increases/508035/

Poverty remains a significant hurdle to achievement for many students, and while those struggles have gained more attention in recent years, they are still far from being solved. California, for example, has over 200,000 students considered homeless under federal standards, and that population has risen 20% since 2014.

Families facing poverty are unlikely to have the same resources — like books, broadband internet and access to some extracurricular services or activities — that enable success among students from more affluent families or communities. And many may have home situations that combine several households in a single dwelling or parents who are incarcerated, which isn’t conducive to concentration or learning. Add on the likelihood of food insecurity and the situation then demands that the effects of hunger on student engagement be taken into consideration.

To address these issues, schools can start by reaching out to the local community for food drives and assistance with volunteer programming. But administrators must also engage lawmakers to drive home the needs that they’re seeing in their schools and make the case for additional supports.

(...continue at source)

5 Strategies to Thwart Cyberattacks in Higher Education

Source: http://www.centerdigitaled.com/higher-ed/5-Strategies-to-Thwart-Cyberattacks-in-Higher-Education.html   (Center for Digital Education & Converge)

Of all the IT challenges in higher education, cybersecurity is at the top of the list. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated and targeted, phishing emails are more difficult to detect. End users are increasingly clicking on phishing links and discarding warnings designed to help protect them. The risks of providing credentials to nefarious hackers can be catastrophic for the individual and for your enterprise. While corporate cyberattacks have been in the headlines, academic institutions possess a treasure trove of important data, identities, sensitive financial information, Social Security numbers and private research.

Today, there are many defensive software and hardware tools available to thwart cyberattacks, but equally important are having strategies to create effective communications, information and awareness. These strategies can cost little — or are free — but can yield impressive dividends and create a proactive first line of defense. End users can become confident in protecting themselves and their data from aggressive phishing, spamming, and ransomware attacks.

While end users are beginning to recognize the dangers of cyberattacks, many do not fully understand security risk, how to protect themselves from data theft, and how to spot phishing attacks. To protect your institution, it’s important to change your campus cybersecurity culture to ensure people are safe, informed, and secure. Having an effective communications and awareness program is an important first step. How do you start?

(…continue at source)

 

The GUNI network and the Responsible Research and Innovation

The GUNI Network (Global University Network for Innovation) is working hard on bringing universities together with the rest of the stakeholders involved on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  As stated in their website, “The Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi) is an international network created in 1999 and supported by the UNESCO, the United Nations University (UNU) and the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), which hosts its secretariat and presidency.”

Among their many activities, last September conference brought together universities, governments, cities and public and social agencies from different countries.  Knowledge, ideas, experiences and expectations around the challenges involved with the SDGs where shared and discussed.  Obviously, this is the way to go: making sure that the Sustainable Development Goals are not only a mere declaration but are translated into concrete actions, by the actors involved, in every part of the world and with the implication of the Higher Education institutions.

More than 200 HE institutions are already members of GUNI.  Of course, the stronger the network gets, the more effectively will it fulfill its goals, so I would suggest every university to join and work actively in its projects.  Actions are needed and we are already late.

Poland: Experts call for radical changes in higher education

Source: Experts call for radical changes in higher education – University World News

‘Suboptimal’ is the key word used as a panel of European experts of the Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility describe the present state of higher education in Poland.
The Peer Review of Poland’s Higher Education and Science Systemreport, prepared by the panel, has been a point of departure in the process of drafting a new law regulating the sector of science and higher education in Poland.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the report’s recommendations has not been included in the proposed new law, announced last Tuesday in Krakow.
The report was prepared at the request of Jaroslaw Gowin, deputy prime minister and minister of science and higher education.
The experts diagnosed several key challenges facing Polish higher education:

  • Underfunding (not a surprise);
  • Fragmentation of the higher education system (too many small, narrow specialised institutions);
  • Lack of diversity of institutional missions;
  • System of quality assurance and evaluation of higher education and research insufficiently aligned with international standards; and
  • The fact that a large part of Poland’s research, development and innovation capacity is outside of universities.

In order to enhance the diversification and profiling of higher education institutions, the panel of experts proposed to strengthen a group of research-intensive universities and clearly distinguish them from a robust and dynamic vocational higher education sector.  (…)

Growing demand for higher education puts affirmative action in the spotlight — World Education Blog

By Michaela Martin and Alexandra Waldhorn, IIEP-UNESCO and Taya Louise Owens, GEM Report UNESCO Affirmative action in higher education is a controversial topic for many. On the one hand, some believe strongly that it is the route to equitable access in tertiary education; others believe it can amount to unfair discrimination. The latest policy paper, […]

via Growing demand for higher education puts affirmative action in the spotlight — World Education Blog

How can colleges amend unsustainable business models? | Education Dive

A new report recommends drastic transformations to remain competitive.

It surveys higher education stakeholders about the future of the industry, with many agreeing that the current business model may be “unsustainable.”

The consensus reflects the reality of dwindling public support, rising tuition rates and reduced public funding — at the same time schools must figure out how to balance technological advancement with traditional values to stay relevant.

Source: How can colleges amend unsustainable business models? | Education Dive