Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

March 31, 2015

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

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
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March 27, 2015

NACAC Webinar on Undergraduate International Student Retention Begins With Recruitment

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.
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March 08, 2015

Presenting in India and China on Internationalization of Higher Education

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
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March 07, 2015

How to raise resources for campus internationalization strategies?

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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March 01, 2015

Pearson--lessons in strategy and change from a global education company

A recent story in the Fortune magazine traces the transformation of Pearson from a traditional publishing house to a global education company poised for an digital learning era. The attention-grabbing headline "Everybody hates Pearson" leads the reader into an insightful story of opportunities and challenges faced by Pearson in the pursuit of its strategic choice of focusing on "data-driven education." Here is a timeline of the major milestones in Pearson's history.

Pearson north america and emergin markets

Pearson in its recently released annual report notes that "Pearson’s strategy centres on a significant and exciting long-term opportunity: the sustained and growing global demand for greater access, achievement and affordability in education." It adds that "Pearson stands at the intersection of new technology (with its ability to engage, personalise, diagnose and scale) and new, more effective, ways of teaching." In 2015, five priorities will guide Pearson's work:
  1. A business model focused on helping more people achieve better learning outcomes: efficacy is now at the centre of our business model and a major part of how we create value.
  2. New digital products: launching new digital products to meet demand for better learning outcomes.
  3. A more focused company: more modular and scalable products, deployed on a smaller number of global platforms.
  4. A more consistently high performing culture: a series of actions, including changing how we recruit, appraise and reward our employees.
  5. A strong and trusted brand: build Pearson as a global education brand, focused on educational impact and learning outcomes, and being open and transparent in holding ourselves to account in achieving these goals.
Pearsons strategy of combining digital, teaching and scale
The annual report notes "In 2014, we completed the major restructuring and product investment programme, initiated in 2013, designed to accelerate Pearson’s shift towards significant growth opportunities in digital, services and fast-growing economies." Given below are the priority products by different segments:
Bringing focus to a large, complex, changing and global British company of $7.5 billion revenue (60% from North America) is challenging to say the least. The transformational process has tested patience and commitment of the organization to its core strategy. Many are watching Pearson closely as they get directly or indirectly impacted by its strategic choices and size. One thing is clear, it will be an interesting and insightful story of strategy and change in education services.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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