As institutions of higher education enter an era of increasing accountability where the measurement of enrollments, research grants, endowments and other revenue sources are essential and expected reporting measures; professional, continuing and online (PCO) education units are also faced with similar accountability metrics as they plan for their own operations. From February to May 2018, 370 UPCEA members were invited to participate in a salary, staffing and structure survey and 175 participated.

The first of many reports and briefings to be released shows that while revenue per employee (RPE) across the membership increased (from $277,917 in $2014 to $311,111 in 2018), RPE decreased among larger institutions (over $15M of gross revenues) and increased among smaller ($5M or less) or medium sized institutions (between $5.1M and $15M). Many factors could help explain this, such as large institutions being early adopters and now there is more competition. If the number of programs and providers increases faster than demand growth, then it is likely that these shifts would occur. Other hypotheses could also include greater efficiencies and the presence of strategic outsource partners and others.

Click here to read the Revenue Per Employee briefing. 


As we notified you of a few weeks ago, the Department of Education is seeking to delay the implementation of regulations relating to State authorization that are to go into effect June 1 of this year. The main reasons for the delay were concerns around disclosure issues and student residence for distance education programs and how those students and institutions may interact with states during a complaint process. The Department has asked for input on this delay, and has provided a deadline of June 11th for input.

Click here to read more and submit a formal comment.

UPCEA joined with ACE and 32 other organizations to thank Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and other representatives who supported H.Res. 774, thanking them for taking action to provide a permanent solution for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The resolution uses a House rule known as “Queen of the Hill” to hold votes on four different immigration bills, several of which include a long-term fix for Dreamers.

Click here to read the full letter.

The US Department of Education has released its yearly dataset The Condition of Education 2018. The report covers all levels of education measured through key indicators, including not only higher education, but K-12 as well. The congressionally mandated report is provided to Congress to each year to inform policy making to show trends and the most up to date statistics. Many in our community and association look to these datasets, although the collection methods and data shown are in need of some structural changes based on today’s student, it is a good broad view of where the US education system currently stands.

Click here to read the full report.

Online: Trending Now #132

One of the challenges we face in teaching online is bringing “reality” into our classes. The potential of virtual reality and augmented reality in online courses is enormous. Especially in online learning, these technologies promise to enable us to bring the laboratory, geography, cultures, and communities to reality for those who are not on campus. The possibilities are powerful. These technologies take the distance out of distance learning:

With the advanced technologies, computers and tablets, more opportunities have been revealed. And now, VR is letting people to actually experience historical places or planets like it’s never done before. For educators, VR offers a chance to free students from the confines of school desks, exams, chairs and rote memorization, this helps to improve their learning, via active presence and experience.  

An important step has been taken to advance the potential of producing VR and AR projects and modules for higher education. Amazon has put a stake in the future with the release of Sumerian – VR/AR development tool that is platform agnostic. This is software as a service, so institutions need only pay for the hours they use it rather than purchasing a large license. And, much of it is drag and drop with simplified coding. 

As educational theorist John Dewey established long ago, effective learning is experiential (Dewey, 1938) — and VR provides a direct method by which that can be realized. VR technology is still evolving and moving more into mainstream, particularly with mobile technology, buts its effectiveness in regular classrooms and with online students is still being realized. As with simulation technology, many difficult and “risky” training experiences (such as those in medical and military practice) can be learned virtually through VR. That means that the cost of the training can be lessened, along with the potential risk of actual situations. Additionally, students can experience places and situations in the world they could not otherwise experience, and enrich their learning experience as a result. In regular classrooms, however, which are bound to text-driven curricula and test-driven outcomes, it will take longer to integrate VR and, ultimately, it will take longer for us to become more aware of the technology’s effectiveness in the learning process overall.

The field of VR and AR is developing so rapidly that the Director of Quality Matters, Deb Adair, says, “We don’t even know what we don’t know yet,”… Quality Matters, a consortium of institutions and publishers that places quantitative measures on online learning methods and products. Still, she said, VR and AR are on QM’s radar, and the experience of going through the motions in the classroom would be helpful. 

Emerging digital technologies such as AR are now being considered in complex, subtle and thoughtful ways by teachers.  While considering the technology, pedagogy and content influencing their choices, teachers are also considering the contexts in which they are working. These considerations are helping teachers to make choices other than just PowerPoint when it comes to the inclusion of technologies in their teaching practice. 

Now is the time ask ourselves when do we plan to become AR/VR developers? What areas of our curriculum are best served by virtual or augmented reality. How can we leads our peers in this area? And, where is this leading?

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning  – no advertising, no spam!

Ray Schroeder
National Council for Online Education


I am an accidental instructional designer. After finishing an MFA in Writing, I took a student employee position at another university as I worked on a second master’s degree, unsure of what to do next. I was an ELearning Content Developer, converting documents into full-fledged course sites. In the next few months, an amazing team of mentors helped grow me into an instructional design position. At the time, I didn’t realize there was a profession that could merge so many of my interests: teaching and curriculum design, technology, graphic design, writing. It felt–and still feels–like a natural fit.

But catching up with the field was a challenge. There were so many key terms to master, learning theories to absorb, design approaches to implement. I relied heavily on web resources, professional organizations, conferences, and professional development. If you are a new (or accidental!) instructional designer, check out these resources that were helpful to me early on. You’re also welcome to share your own in the comments!

Professional Organizations

University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA): Since I’m writing this blog post for UPCEA’s eDesign Collaborative, it will be no surprise to hear that this organization was been a fantastic resource for me as a new instructional designer. There are so many ways to get involved (at the level of commitment you have time for)!

Early on, I submitted a proposal to write an article for the UPCEA Unbound publication, titled “Meeting the Accessibility Needs of Adult Learners in Online Courses” (2016). Based on the article, I received a scholarship to present at the 2017 Central Region Conference, won the Best in Show Presentation for the region, and was invited to present at the 2018 UPCEA Annual Conference. And all in my first year or so as an ID!

Since then, I’ve maintained my relationship with UPCEA in more behind-the-scenes ways, reading the Online: Trending Now blog, lurking on CORe discussions (get updates sent to your e-mail!), hanging out on Online Administration Network calls, participating on the Central Region conference proposal selection committee, and now writing for the eDesign Collaborative.

Quality Matters (QM): With this framework in hand, I felt like I could do anything. Quality Matters is a research-based set of standards for quality in online learning helped me set priorities in course development and approach faculty about difficult development topics early on. In addition to the annotated rubric, membership in Quality Matters came with access to the Research Library and a phenomenal database of Articles and Resources.

And that’s just a drop in the pond. QM hosts regional and national conferences, sponsors research, and provides affordable professional development. I’ve found it to be a kind and energizing group, welcoming to instructional design newcomers.


Internal Conferences: My former university offered an internal teaching and learning conference each year. If your institution has one, get involved! You might attend the first year and then offer to join the conference committee or put in a proposal the next year.

Regional Conferences: I was fortunate to be able to attend the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison early on. Meeting peer instructional designers and seeing so many innovations in online learning was not just educational, but also motivating. If you’re currently a student, there is often a registration discount. If there is a conference that is close and affordable, try to get there and spend a few days immersed in the field.

Professional Development

Internal Professional Development: See what kinds of professional development your institution offers. This could take the form of technical or software training, workshops or roundtables through the center for teaching and learning, or even human resources training opportunities on topics like diversity and inclusion and leadership. I’ve found that a little of each of those adds up to holistic support for all kinds of instructional design tasks.

Affordable Credentials: Although I have a terminal degree, I still felt that it was important to devote time to coursework that would award me a credential, as proof to my employer and the faculty members I partnered with (and myself!) that I was qualified for the role. First, I completed the Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design online through the University of Wisconsin-Stout in one academic year, taking just one course at a time. Then, I sought the non-credit Online Teaching Certificate online through Rutgers University. If the institution you’re working for has a tuition reimbursement program, put it to good use!

Digital Resources

Blogs: Although textbooks provide a structured approach, I appreciated reading more personal accounts from instructional designers. Faculty Focus is updated constantly, and contains personal and timely posts from a diverse group of writers.

You might also be interested in my department’s current faculty-facing blog, Northwestern University School of Professional Studies Distance Learning. Learning Designers and Instructional Technologists update the blog weekly with posts about best practices in online learning, tech tips, debriefs from local and national conferences, and monthly webinar recordings. I particularly like focusing on individual course components, like resource annotations and pre-course surveys. Check out my posts.

News: To keep up with the latest excitement–innovation and controversies alike–I still like to read Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. They have helped me develop a dimensional view of the complexities of higher education institutions more generally, and they frequently address online and adult learning more specifically.


There’s no right way to learn everything there is to learn about instructional design. (I know there are lots of great ID podcasts out there, but I prefer to read rather than listen!) Flex those metacognitive skills and spend some time exploring resources on your own. You never know what you’ll stumble across that turns out to be relevant in your next course development.

Note: None of the resources mentioned here have provided paid endorsement in any way.

About the Author

Krissy Wilson is a Learning Designer in the School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University, where she collaborates with faculty as an advocate for curricular excellence, innovation in design and technology, universal design for learning, and superior student engagement and experience.

Date/Time: Thursday, May 24th from 2:30-3 p.m. ET
Topic: Mother Knows Best? Sharing best resources for keeping on the pulse of latest ID trends and news
Registration Link

The eDesign Exchange is an ongoing series of informal, online meetups where members of the eDesign Collaborative can dialogue and brainstorm about a wide variety of relative topics, build connections with other members of the community, and learn from one another through idea-sharing, problem-solving, and collaborating on best practices.

Online: Trending Now #131

The General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union is going into effect on May 25.  If you are not aware of GDPR, now is the time to get up to speed on this European Union policy that may reshape data privacy and security around the world. The EU has greatly expanded the privacy rights of their citizens and put tighter controls on what data may be retained and used. And, that, of course impacts universities who have EU citizens as students, particularly distance learning programs:

It is tempting to believe that American institutions that enroll EU residents in the US are entirely exempt from compliance with the GDPR. This would certainly be true for EU residents who initiate their admission application process from outside the EU, but most EU applicants start the admissions process from their home countries and obtain visas to enter the US after gaining admission to eligible programs. In theory, active student recruitment campaigns targeting EU residents could subject the data collected from such students, whether via automated or non-automated means, to compliance requirements under the GDPR…. The GDPR took years to be adopted, and it is safe to assume that it will take years before its real impact and practical compliance requirements become fully settled.

So, what should you have done by now.  The UK Training Journal sets out a process for preparing for the May 25thdate:

  • Audit your existing data. What current data do you hold? From names and email addresses, to health information or web browsing information, know what you’re working with.
  • Map the existing flow of personal data through supply chains. Know where data is going and how it’s being dealt with.
  • Hire a data protection officer. If you process data on a large scale or have more than 250 employees, you’re going to need one.
  • Create a GDPR team. Include individuals with IT and legal expertise, and a representative from every team that handles data.
  • Carry out gap analysis. Look at where the problem areas are and how you can fix them to become GDPR compliant.
  • Invest and prioritise. Being GDPR compliant is a business cost, plain and simple.
  • Document everything. Aside from being compliant, you need to prove you are compliant. Keep records of when data was gathered and how explicit consent was given.
  • Be prepared for a breach. Under GDPR all business are required to report a data breach within 72 hours of becoming aware of one. Be aware of the effect a data breach could have on your customers and your business, and understand the impact of a breach before it even happens with regular data privacy impact assessments. Get a crisis plan in place now.   

Webster University has prepared a succinct graphic to help staff step through a data privacy assurance process when the GDPR is in force. It may be up to you to create awareness across your campus of the new requirements.  Some institutions are considering implementing the GDPR standards for all students and employees rather than segment populations for special treatment.  In any case, it is in the best interests of all if word is spread about the requirements of the new rules.

For further information, EDUCAUSE has created a meta-site on GDPR. 

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in MOOCs, emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices in continuing and professional higher education and share them with you through Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning  – no advertising, no spam!

Ray Schroeder
National Council for Online Education

What do beer, weed, and college have in common? It seems like an obvious answer, but for continuing educators, it means opportunity. With changing legislation, advances in sciences and more resources to establish small businesses, like the micro-brewery industry, the cannabis industry could also grow (no pun intended) and be fertile ground (pun intended) for institutions of higher education. While legislation is positive on the state level, legalization nationwide, as well as in Canada, still has hurdles to overcome. Although the microbrewery and cannabis industries have many major differences, there may also be similarities. This article primarily focuses on the microbrewery industry asking that readers look for examples and insight as to possible opportunities around cannabis. To do so, we must first understand the microbrewery industry and its roots.

Click here to download the full report.