Online: Trending Now #142

Teaching adults is not the same as teaching children; done well, it affords the adults a level of autonomy, even including the opportunity to determine and direct their learning.

Regrettably, we still find university instructors who teach their students as if they were in 19th or 20th century elementary or high school classrooms.  They slavishly follow fact-filled text books, offer tedious objective quizzes to drill the facts into student minds (ignoring that the answers are just a click away), and never climb a Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy pyramid or Depth of Knowledge chart) beyond “recall/reproduction” or “remembering and understanding.” 

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Pyramid

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License by nist6dh


Yet, research shows us that as we seek to build deeper knowledge in this digital age, we should strive to climb the taxonomy pyramid to encourage students to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.  In this way we build higher order learning that affords adaptability and flexibility. Educational theorist Malcolm Knowles proposed four principles of andragogy (the teaching of adults). 

  1. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.
  2. Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for the learning activities.
  3. Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.
  4. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.


The next step in working with motivated, adult learners is heutagogy:  “a student-centric teaching and learning strategy where the learning is determined by the learner.” As we apply heutagogical principles, we encourage self-directed learning. In doing so it might seem that we are giving up the job of teaching, but instead we are enabling our learners to define their needs and outcomes:

Of course, one of the hallmarks of self-directed learning is that it requires instructors to turn control of the learning experience over to the learners themselves. While this may mean less planning on the part of the instructor, it also often means more time working with learners individually to establish their goals, or else creating a wider range of content so that learners can choose what to study.

A few ways to encourage self-directed learning include:

  • Letting learners set their own completion dates for assignments.
  • Allowing learners multiple completion attempts.
  • Having learners design their own course projects.
  • Organizing modules so that learners can start with whatever interests them most.


By letting go of rigid control of the learning, we respect our adult professionals to build and direct their own learning. Our role becomes one of encouragement and support including such techniques as Socratic questioning to help the students refine their learning experience.

This approach is uniquely applicable to the field of professional continuing education.  It is how we will most effectively teach professionals.

Self-directed learning respects the motivation and competency of professionals seeking to improve and expand their knowledge and skills.  It is especially effective online, using the plethora of Web-based resources and tools to enlighten and update the areas of study.  We should encourage our faculty members and instructional designers to consider these effective approaches to teaching the adult, motivated and professional students.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices, 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 Founding Director
National Council for Online Education

Society has jeered Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1994 or roughly being between 22 and 37 years of age) for their differences, as opposed to appreciating their unique qualities and strengths.  Many entered the economy after earning their bachelor’s degree only to find the economy in a recession and Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) choosing to postpone retirement.  As a result, under or unemployment breached 40%.  Given the promise of success after graduating and that the debt  they incurred would be well worth the investment, would Millennials issue an economic or political payback to higher education institutions?  Figure 1 shows that there may be some animosity toward higher education or that elements of the bachelor’s degree need to change, as the value of the bachelor’s degree appears to be losing value, especially among Millennials who experienced the heart of the 2008 recession.

Millennials will seize power by 2020.  They currently outnumber Baby Boomers[1] overall and have recently passed them in terms of numbers in the workforce.[2]  Millennials are now becoming managers in roles that are critical to professional, continuing and online education units.  They will become directors or managers of human resources, training and talent retention.  They will also be unit managers, managing teams of engineers, nurses and analysts and will have decision-making authority as to training and continuing education.  In fact, in a recent UPCEA survey, 35% of Millennials employed full-time have that authority, managing teams or controlling a budget for education.

With the perceived value of the bachelor’s degree in potential decline, will this open up new alternatives to learning?  Will higher education improve the bachelor’s degree or over time, will Millennials begin to favor alternative credentials to meet employee needs?  Figure 2 shows that Millennial managers are certainly more open to new ways of learning and as a result, this finding could be a foundation for PCO units to build upon as they re-engineer or re-design their bachelor’s degree programs.  The figure shows that Millennials are more likely to support alternative credentials as compared to their predecessors in Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) and Baby Boomers.

Additional research reports and future presentations and webinars on UPCEA’s Survey of Generational Managers will also show greater support for MOOCs, badges and certificates.


[2] Pew Research 2018

Google made its first substantial foray into postsecondary education in January, with the creation of a new online certificate program aimed at people who are interested in working in entry-level IT support roles.

Necessity was a key motivator for the technology giant, which like most has struggled to find enough IT hires and also is seeking to diversify its work force. And many observers say the move by such a powerful player in the economy is an intriguing sign of what could happen if big employers in high-demand industries increasingly take a hands-on role in postsecondary education and training.

In its first five months, more than 40,000 learners enrolled in the Google certificate program, with 1,200 completing.

“It’s a whole new marketplace, and it’s driven by the employers and the students,” said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “These companies for the most part don’t want to get into education. They’re going to do it because it needs to be done.”

Read the full article. 

An academic institution’s digital badging initiative is getting off the ground and students are “earning” badges, or micro-credentials, but are they actually providing value to the student toward his or her future career? Many academic institutions are going through this evolution process in deciding to certify learning through credentialing, otherwise known as digital badging to help combat the ensuing skills gap and to provide the value of a degree to learners.  

Parth Detroja, bestselling author of Swipe to Unlock says,

There is a fundamental disconnect with what is being taught in the classroom and what one really needs to know to be a contributing member of the modern workforce–especially in the tech industry. Working at companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM, I’ve learned that you don’t need to know how to code to succeed in tech. There is a big difference between being able to write code and being ‘technical.’ Being able to write good code is a valuable skill necessary to be a software engineer. Being ‘technical’ however is a vital skill for everyone which lets you make informed decisions—both personal and professional—by understanding how the technology you use every day actually works. Unfortunately, technologically informed graduates isn’t a metric considered by U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings.” 

According to a report by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), one in five institutions now offers digital badges, but as educators tinker with micro-credentialing, digital badging initiatives at educational institutions can prove worthless to students due to seven common mistakes.


Read the full story here.

UPCEA recently commented on the vast undertaking of the rulemaking committee that was proposed by the Department of Education. We find that the proposed depth and breadth of the topics, and the amount of time provided to the committee, coupled with the complexity of those topics and the limited amount of seats at the table to be substantial. We believe this undertaking may be too weighty to truly seeking solutions to these complicated issues. A lack of consensus, as the Department knows, will default to the Department’s rewriting of the rules. Our first major recommendation would be that you break apart many or all of these 12 major issues into their own negotiated rulemaking committees, to provide the proper expertise, and deep analysis, time, and conversations that these complex and sensitive issues require.

Placing careful attention on protecting students from predatory practices should be the goal of many of the changes that are being considered, combined with protecting institutional autonomy and encouraging educational access and quality.

Read our full comments here.

According to the U.S. Census, there are approximately 326 million people in the United States. In 2016, there were approximately 74 million Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. At their peak, there was as many as 79 million in the U.S. To put things in perspective, Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1994, number approximately 71 million. While life expectancy is now 78.7 years of age on average, the impact on our healthcare systems are expected to be immense. Currently, and while this number will accelerate over time, approximately 3.5 million Baby Boomers are retiring annually. The UPCEA Center for Research and Strategy estimates further that 33 million Boomers will be retired and 36 million will still be in the workforce by 2020. The remaining two million, unfortunately, will pass away. In the short-run, a million boomers will die each year, and this number will increase as boomers get older. In fact, we estimate that approximately 5 million Boomers will be employed in 2030 and 49 million will be retired.

People are born and people will die, but healthcare will continue to grow over the next two decades and be resilient to major economic downturns. Healthcare will change to accommodate our aging population, as well as meet the needs of aging Gen X’ers and Millennials. New technologies, payment systems, emerging and changing demographics, politics, changing policies, and many other factors will continue to fuel employment in the healthcare industry. Even wearable technologies and the vast amounts of data being stored will also fuel and change employment in the healthcare sector.

For traditional higher education, degrees will need to evolve as demands change. For professional and continuing education, the evolution of new degrees will certainly be an opportunity, but the creation of “bridge” credentials also can be promising as professionals will require new learning to become more secure in their jobs. The data that follows shows where the growth will be in the next decade as a percentage and by volume of new jobs.

Click here to read the full report. 

In his recent book Thank You for Being Late, Thomas Friedman analyzes why the world seems to be accelerating away from us at a remarkable pace. His explanation: Humans are adaptable, but no generation has experienced technology, globalization and climate change at the rate we are seeing. As an example, Friedman suggests that if advances in microchips had instead occurred in cars, today’s successor to the 1970s VW “Bug” would cost 4 cents and have a top speed of 300,000 miles per hour.

The book’s title comes from a remark Friedman shared with a friend who was tardy for their meeting. The extra minutes gave the author time to actually think before diving into yet another in a string of interviews. Sometimes being late is a good thing.

I believe that’s the case for higher education. Being late to the world of online learning has positioned universities to take advantage of technology that’s now far less expensive than when originally conceived in the 1990s. All one has to do is compare the array of applications and devices for mobile learning available today with concepts like performance support and clunky, unfriendly software such as learning management systems. Performance support was about providing workers information at the moment they needed it.

Twenty years ago, companies were investing millions of dollars in trying to define, build and tag knowledge and map it to a worker’s needs. Now, a high school student with a smartphone can get a contextually suitable result from a search engine of their choice, or even by posting a question to their preferred social network.

Higher education has begun to embrace the fluidity of learning and the realization that someone in the workplace isn’t the sum of their experiences leading up to a given situation. Instead, more and more colleges and universities realize that learning isn’t necessarily all the things along the way we did to prepare ourselves for a job, but the ability to access the resources in the moment to solve problems.

A neophyte on the job can have the ability to perform at the same level as a veteran if the rookie knows how to immediately access contextual information via technology. Just-in-time learning and tacit knowledge that was so elusive even 20 years ago is more accessible than ever before, and this access to on-demand know-how bridges the boundary between companies and higher education.

“By providing world-class, affordable credentials ranging from open-access courses to certificates to degrees, we enable our students to enrich their careers,” said Huntington Lambert, dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education. “… now is the time for higher education to maximize our practical and creative capabilities … as we continue to transform into an information-based global economy.”

The practical and creative capabilities Lambert speaks of are a model of shared know-how, at the precise time in your career that you need it. Even today, companies still try to create “systems” for taking know-how from workers and putting learning into a knowledge base, instead of drawing on a fluid network of people who respond as they are queried for help.

“This leads to increased potential for economic mobility and equips citizens with the tools they need,” believes Lambert.

Universities need leverage this accidental circumstance and leverage learning technology and competency development to provide more personalized adaptive experiences to bridge the theoretical and practical aspects of education. Because institutions of higher education have access to a treasure trove of expertise and data, I believe there is huge potential for higher education to support companies more directly in developing their workforce. Instead of corporations and universities developing employees and students in two separate silos, there needs to be a fluidity of learning that mirrors how workers and students want to learn. I encourage Deans and Directors of Extended and Continuing Education to make those strategic connections with corporate learning leaders.


Lee Maxey is Founder and CEO of MindMax. Lee has led MindMax since its founding in 2009, providing technology-enabled marketing solutions to accelerate enrollments for universities. Lee takes pride in building long-lasting relationships with MindMax’s university partners and building a culture focused on results aligned with client specific needs. MindMax provides strategic guidance, proven processes, and the latest digital tools to optimize online marketing and enrollment operations for university-affiliated continuing and professional education organizations. We are a trusted advisor to many of the nation’s top universities, and have transformed hundreds of online programs, impacting over 1 million students.

Online: Trending Now #141 

Securing networking, empowering dissemination of credentials by students; blockchain opens the doors to large-scale change in higher education.

Much has been made of blockchain since it first enabled Bitcoin. Blockchain is a distributed ledger platform that has facilitated anonymous transfer of funds and much more. There are public and private blockchains that are becoming increasingly important in situations where secure transfer of information, individualized communication, and a scalable architecture are desired. If you are new to the topic, here’s a two-minute primer:

MIT and SNHU are among the institutions that have begun distributing their degree and certificate credentials via blockchain. Most notably, blockchain has the potential to enable students to essentially build their own transcripts by assembling badges and similar credentials from MOOCs, traditional college credit transcripts, and verified internship/fellowship assessments into a connected assemblage of credentials to present to employers. This changes the control of assembly and dissemination of credentials from the Registrar’s Office to the student who can take what s/he wants from the Registrar and supplement it with credentials from other sources to create a new, more complete version of a transcript. For example, a computer science student from a state university might supplement a transcript with validation links to MOOCs taken from Harvard, MIT, Northwestern, etc. The blockchain entries can include more information than a traditional transcript – adding details about the material covered, projects submitted by the individual student, etc.

Further implications for higher education are enormous. For example, Don and Alex Tapscott recently described some areas of research in EDUCAUSE Review:

  • Identity and Student Records: How we identify students; protect their privacy; measure, record, and credential their accomplishments; and keep these records secure
  • New Pedagogy: How we customize teaching to each student and create new models of learning
  • Costs (Student Debt): How we value and fund education and reward students for the quality of their work
  • The Meta-University: How we design entirely new models of higher education so that former MIT President Chuck Vest’s dream can become a reality

And, much more research is now underway on possibilities in higher education. We will see applications across the higher education enterprise emerge in the coming weeks, months and years.  Predictions abound, the Wall Street Journal lists five areas where they see innovation in higher education using blockchain; and earlier this year, EAB pointed to half a dozen.

As always with technology startups, there will be many failures, but also successes. For most of us, it is important to follow the developments closely; new products and applications are coming out at a torrid pace. Consider practices in your area that require additional security, or individualized treatment; they may be good candidates for blockchain treatment.

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices, 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
Founding Director
National Council for Online Education

UPCEA, along with ACE and 20 other higher education groups sent comments to the Department of Education (ED) on the department’s proposal to rescind existing Gainful Employment regulations. 

We oppose the Department’s proposal to rescind, instead of revise, the existing gainful employment regulations, and do not believe that simply replacing them with additional disclosures on the College Scorecard at some point in the future serves the interests of students, institutions, or the public. While data and transparency are useful tools and have the potential to improve the higher education marketplace, they are not a substitute for the sanctions provided by the gainful employment rule.

Read the full letter. 

Multimedia Dev

In effort to widen the scope and learn more about several campus instructional design units, we will be engaging in virtual ThinkTanks. These will be two hour events where we get to know a new university team and have a working session together.

Oregon State University Ecampus provides full service instructional design for faculty developing online courses, including multimedia development. Join us for a showcase of recent projects including interactive video, Learning Glass video, 3-D scanning and animation, and our award-winning 3-D microscope that allows students to manipulate microscope controls and see the results with actual slide photography. Following the showcase will be a panel discussion with this creative team, focusing on technologies used, design processes, and storyboarding media projects. In a one-hour working session, we’ll share strategies for project planning including best practices on storyboarding. Finally, we will wrap up with time for Q&A and sharing key takeaways.

Why OSU: Oregon State University’s Ecampus is a premier west coast higher education online team, with over 70 department employees. They recently earned a top 10 ranking in online bachelor’s programs for the fourth straight year from U.S. News & World Report, and have more than 50 degree programs. They are a full production shop and have been a leader in multimedia design.

September 21, 2018 Agenda:
10-10:30am- School Tour & Lightning Round (to showcase unique design)
10:30-11am – Panel Discussion
11-11:45am – Working Session
11:45am-12pm – Wrap-up

All times are listed in Pacific time zone.


Learn more and register here.