Will Education Innovation Move from Fringes to the Core of System?

Apr 26, 2015

Over the last decade, I have presented or chaired nearly 100 sessions at professional conferences on the themes of higher education internationalization trends and strategies with an emphasis on enrollment management, student mobility and transnational education.

Recently, I attended a conference outside my regular "conference circuit" to not only expand my perspectives and network on education technology (ed-tech or edtech), but also to learn from entrepreneurs and investors.
The ASU+GSV Summit defines itself as "the Knowledge Economy's Mecca of conversation and activism devoted to accelerating learning innovation around the world." The conference is hosted by GSV, a private equity group and Arizona State University (ASU), which is at the forefront of innovation through online education and strategic partnerships like Starbucks and now edX.

The conference exceeded my expectations in terms of scale and quality. The conference has grown from 250 to 2500 attendees in 4 years. They have clearly invested in delivering a rewarding and engaging experience for participants. The sessions ranged from high profile keynotes from Secretary Arne Duncan, Sir Richard Branson and Vinod Khosla to a series of company presentations (pitches) from entrepreneurs.

The panel discussions were not only provocative but also expansive. Given my interest in higher education, I especially enjoyed four panels hosted by 2U. The themes of the panels were:
- The Business of Higher Ed
- Brand Power Among US Higher Ed Institutions
- Do Degrees Still Matter?
- The Future of Online Ed
The overall enthusiastic tone of the conference was embedded in the power of technology to grow revenue and squeeze inefficiencies out of the system. And of course, make money for investors and entrepreneurs in the process. New York Times blog calls it to be "the must-attend event for education technology investors." And EdSurge sums it up as a "non-stop networking event. People groan about back-to-back meetings and miss most of the panels and talks." Of course, edtech wave is currently on the upswing and there will be an eventual shake-up with the survival of the fittest (Ed-tech bubble?).
In terms of participants, there were hardly any "insiders" of higher education--university leaders or faculty--at the conference. Of course, ASU as the co-organizer, had the largest representation at all levels. In future conferences, more needs to be done to cross-fertilize ideas between stakeholders of mainstream and innovative education models and services.
Also, while, there were a couple of sessions on international dimensions, there is lot more potential in not only getting international participants but also providing content and networking. There are excellent opportunities in scaling and taking some of these innovative models to global-level and likewise, bringing others to the US.
One of the my biggest take-away was that learning innovation is taking place at a much faster rate at the fringes of the education system than at the core. This innovation is truly getting accelerated by the energy of entrepreneurs are optimism of investors. The key question is will education innovation continue to be a led by outliers or will it gain traction among the mainstream stakeholders in education system? How to foster collaboration among different stakeholders to gain more acceptance of innovative mindset in education?
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

New York losing out to California in attracting international students

Apr 17, 2015

SEVP released its latest "SEVIS by the Numbers" report.  It In addition, it launched a useful tool of "Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers"--an interactive mapping tool to explore changing patterns.

Latest report provides deeper insights about the enrollment pattern in STEM programs with focus on female students. It notes that the number of faemale F & M STEM students enrolled in computer and information sciences and support services increased by 116% from 2010 to 2015. Most of this growth was contributed by enrollment growth in master's level programs.

One interesting data point illustrates that California is winning over New York in attracting international students. While California is already the largest destination in the US, in last two years, it has become even larger by adding 43,691 international students. In contrast,  New York added 18,632 international students. Even Texas, is not far from New York and enrolled16,857 students more in 2015 than 2013.  

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Six findings from latest research on MOOCs learners

Apr 3, 2015

"HarvardX and MITx: Two Years of Open Online Courses Fall 2012-Summer 2014" report is based on "one of the largest surveys of massive open online courses (MOOCs) to date: 68 courses, 1.7 million participants, 10 million participanthours, and 1.1 billion logged events."

The research has six key findings:
  1. Growth is steady in overall and multiple-course participation in HarvardX and MITx
  2. Participation initially declines in repeated courses, then stabilizes
  3. Surveys suggest that a slight majority intends to certify. Many are teachers.
  4. Participation and certification differ by curricular area
  5. Course networks reveal the centrality of large CS courses and the potential of sequenced modules
  6. Certification rates are high among those who pay $25-$250 to “ID-verify” their certificates
The report identified opportunities along following three dimensions:
  1. Identify course-level and institutional priorities for increased access
  2. Increase and formalize the flow of pedagogical innovations to and from residential courses
  3. Focus research on target populations
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Employers and Technology as the Ultimate Solution to Credentialing Barrier of MOOCs?

Mar 31, 2015

A recent report entitled “The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape” from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching responds to increasing pressure on bringing more innovation, flexibility and transparency in measuring students learning. (See definitions of The Carnegie Unit and the Credit Hour on page 8 of report. A typical three-credit course, meets for three hours per week over a fifteen-week semester.)
The study finds that in absence of an alternative, the Carnegie Unit continues to be the standard measure in the American education system. "But at best, the Carnegie Unit is a crude proxy for student learning. The U.S. education system needs more informative measures of student performance. Achieving this goal would require the development of rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability systems—difficult work, especially in the field of higher education, where educational aims are highly varied and faculty autonomy is deeply engrained."

In this context of increasing need of change and innovation in measuring student learning, employers may again emerge as the final arbitrator, as they already do it in traditional learning. The research on signaling mechanism in higher education is says that employers use education credentials as a way of filtering and sorting candidates.

Kevin Carey agrees and states in his piece "Here’s What Will Truly Change Higher Education: Online Degrees That Are Seen as Official" that "Free online courses won’t revolutionize education until there is a parallel system of free or low-fee credentials, not controlled by traditional colleges, that leads to jobs." He bases this argument on different kinds of information communicated by traditional college degrees. Degrees serve following purpose:
- Give meaning and structure to set of courses
- Provide access to graduate degrees
- Serve as a filter (sorter) for jobs

Carey adds that "Traditional college degrees are deeply inadequate tools for communicating information." This is where "information technology is poised to transform college degrees. When that happens, the economic foundations beneath the academy will truly begin to tremble."

In specific, the "The new digital credentials can solve this problem by providing exponentially more information." "Open credentialing systems allow people to control information about themselves — what they learned in college, and what they learned everywhere else — and present that data directly to employers. In a world where people increasingly interact over distances, electronically, the ability to control your online educational identity is crucial."

Carey notes that the "...failure of MOOCs to disrupt higher education has nothing to do with the quality of the courses themselves.... What they don’t offer are official college degrees, the kind that can get you a job. And that, it turns out, is mostly what college students are paying for."

Matthew Pittinsky in his article "Credentialing in Higher Education: Current Challenges and Innovative Trends" asks are information systems in educational institutions ready to capture diverse information on student learning in a scalable way? Are we enabling "...learners and graduates to use that framework to integrate their certificates and diplomas into their online identities? Students should be able to claim an electronic credential, with the associated security that makes it official....They need the ability to collect multiple credentials from their home institution and also other institutions—licenses, badges, MOOC certificates, and experiential, academic, or competency transcripts—so they can share and deliver those credentials securely online."

In sum, credentialing of MOOCs and its peer innovations of blended learning and competency-based education, face several challenges and barriers within academia, however, the solution may lie outside academia, perhaps, in acceptance of employers and enablement of technology. Change is coming and it is going to be exciting and exigent yet, uncomfortable and unpredictable in nature.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Related links:
The digital degree, The Economist

NACAC Webinar on Undergraduate International Student Retention Begins With Recruitment

Mar 27, 2015

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), association of more than 14,000 counseling and admissions professionals serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education, will be hosting a free webinar on international undergraduate student recruitment and retention. This webinar is part of the Executive Virtual Forums series in collaboration with EducationUSA.
I will be co-presenting with following experienced professionals:
  • Chunsheng Zhang, Senior Vice Provost for International Affairs, Office of International Affairs, University of North Alabama
  • Ed Bustos, Director of International Admission, Rollins College​

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015 Time: 2:00 p.m. EDT/11:00 a.m. PDT
Research demonstrates that undergraduate international student retention is related to the expectations international students develop during recruitment. Admissions officers play a critical role in what information is conveyed to students about the university/college experience, thus setting these expectations. Once on campus, international students compare their expectations with the reality of their situation. As such, admissions officers also have a role to play in how the campus-wide community is meeting the needs of this student population.

Participants will: ​
  • Be exposed to research that illustrates how retention begins with recruitment
  • Understand how to strengthen retention efforts at the recruitment stage through identifying best-fit students for your institution
  • Gain examples of good practices for improving the experiences of international students on your campus.

Presenting in India and China on Internationalization of Higher Education

Mar 8, 2015

I will be traveling back to back for conferences in India and China and presenting on the themes of student mobility, international partnerships and exchanges and the future of liberal arts education in India. 
I am chairing and organizing this workshop with presentations from:
-Dr. David Cheng, Associate Vice President, City University of Hong Kong
-Dr. Christopher Hill, Director, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
-Dr. Sabine C. Klahr, Deputy Chief Global Officer, The University of Utah
-Dr. Hiroshi Ota, Professor, Hitotsubashi University
-Ms. Angela Pok, Vice President, Taylor's University
-Dr. Sky Zheng, Director, University of Sunderland
--Dr. Rahul Choudaha

How to raise resources for campus internationalization strategies?

Mar 7, 2015

One of the recent publication from NAFSA: Association of International Educators--Developing Sustainable Resources for Internationalization--aims at providing strategies to acquire resources needed for advancing comprehensive campus internationalization efforts. The publication is very timely as there is an increasing interest among institutions to expand internationalization, but few are investing and committing the resources to the proportional level.
The authors, Dr. John K. Hudzik and Dr. Penelope J. Pynes translate their extensive experiences in leading campus internationalization by providing a practical approach of engaging campus stakeholders and acquiring resources. They advise that developing sustainable resources for internationalization can be pursed through two primary channels. First by connecting internationalization to existing resources and second, by seeking new money.

1. Connect Internationalization to Existing Resources
"Institutional resources already committed to existing programs, units, and projects fall roughly into two categories: those already committed to existing institutional programs and activity not manifestly connected to international activity, and uncommitted strategic investment pots or pools, also not manifestly connected to internationalization." (p.11)

2. Seek and Get New Money for Internationalization
"The sources of new money are numerous but fall generally into two categories: the internal reallocation of existing money or resources, and attracting additional funds from outside the campus. In reality you need an inside and an outside strategy as deliberate components of your plan for new money." (p.17)

The publication also includes a useful checklist in identifying and assessing existing resources which in turn can help in guiding the best fit approach. Overall, this is a useful resource for international education professionals seeking to advancing internationalization at their campuses.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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