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Leaders in Professional, Continuing and Online Education

In reflection of my reading or movie choices, I just now realized that my genre of movies centers around how society must survive in the future.  There is a clear adversary and the inhabitants of the future city have an opportunity for freedom from tyranny.  It’s a struggle for potential utopia or the choice of dystopia whether it be The Hunger Games, Ready Player One, Minority Report, Blade Runner or Back to Future II. Our cities are becoming smarter because they are more technology integrated. Our homes and buildings are becoming smarter, as they being built with more sensors, ways of communication and technology to self-manage. As a result of smarter infrastructures and new technologies, will the citizens be smarter? In review of many of these mentioned movies, I was struck with the question…What role did the college or university play in the future?

Click here to read the whitepaper, Overdue Urban Solutions: Smarter Houses and Buildings. 

Welcome to the fourth installment in our monthly public policy primer, Policy Matters. Each issue has the latest updates and actionable items in public policy for adult and nontraditional education stakeholders. 

Major Updates
Other Reads

Despite the increase in distracted drivers, the number of accidents has declined. While a number of factors may be at play, better technology and engineering are certainly having an impact. While accidents have declined, fatalities from large vehicles, vehicles to pedestrians and vehicles to pedal-pedestrians has increased. Will the self-driving vehicle help improve safety? To what extent could new technologies reduce the 6 million accidents annually in the U.S.? Thirty percent of city congestion is caused by motorists searching for parking spaces. Many of these inefficiencies can be reduced or eliminated through better technologies, ride sharing, micromobility and alternative forms of transportation. Transportation will be a key element of the smart city. Higher education has many opportunities as cities in the U.S. and the world reinvent for a new economy.

 

Read more in the Smart Cities and Transportation, and the Impact on Higher Education white paper. 

By SmartBrief Editors

This post is produced in partnership with UPCEA.

The desire to advance in a career field or life in general is not enough for individuals who are ready to learn more and better their circumstances. Disparity exists when it comes to post-secondary education, including traditional college, certification programs and other forms of professional learning. From the hunger divide on college campuses nationwide, to the prohibitive cost of advanced learning and lack of financial education, not all opportunity is created equal. 

An understanding of what potential students face is imperative if marketers want to engage them and ultimately help them succeed. Here is a look at some of the biggest economic factors challenging potential professional learners — and how marketers can fill the void. 

 

Job-School Balance

The economic toll of working full-time while paying for advanced classes can often prohibit individuals from graduating or participating in continuing education programming. Yet, working a full-time job while balancing a full course load is a challenge more students face today than ever before. A Georgetown University study reports that more than three fourths of graduate students, and approximately 40% of undergraduates, work at least 30 hours a week while attending school. About 25% of working learners are simultaneously attending full-time college while holding down a full-time job. Marketers should increasingly offer flexibility in scheduling and course length — from accelerated to longer time frames — to better accommodate professional learners who are doing double duty.

 

Other Financial Constraints

A 2018 US Government Accountability Office report states that there are nearly 2 million “at-risk” college students who are low-income, first-generation, or are raising children of their own. These students are trying to make ends meet in terms of college tuition and living expenses. Further complication matters is that within the past decade, there has been a downward trend in financial literacy. According to InvestmentNews, 78% of financial advisors strongly agree that financial literacy is a concern in the United States. After home mortgages, student loans are the second highest household liability and the most common form of consumer debt to become delinquent. 

Unfortunately, as vital as financial literacy is, there is a gross lack of programming available to students. Financial education just isn’t part of the curriculum these days. In fact, only five states require a high school level, standalone personal finance course. Consumers are not prepared to make big financial decisions, as policy makers and educators have placed such a low importance on financial literacy. Marketers stand to benefit from policies that emphasize financial literacy, as young as middle and high school, and should lead the way with clear financial explanation and assistance programs of their own. 

 

Food Insecurity

College students have many concerns and plenty to balance when it comes to navigating classes and working part-time or full-time jobs. Roughly one third of students are also dealing with some form of food insecurity, too. While the amount of food insecure Americans overall is around 13 percent, research from Temple University found that 50% of students at over 100 colleges can not afford balanced meals. Even more shocking, 35% of students are regularly skipping meals due to the cost of food. Food banks on college campuses have been the primary method for addressing this hunger divide but a new industry-led focus on prevention is beginning to surface as emphasis is being placed on qualifying students for food stamps and other benefits when needed. Marketers should get behind programs and policies that identify, educate and feed students to combat the negative health and academic effects of food insecurity.

The challenges for individuals pursuing post-secondary education and professional learning opportunities is great. Navigating food insecurity, juggling the cost of schooling while working full-time and lack of financial education are among the contributing obstacles. While inequality and economic barriers are present in education, identifying and examining this disparity is the first step in eliciting change.

As chair of the UPCEA Membership committee, I am pleased to share some exciting news. If you are like my team at the University of Washington, you have more people who could benefit from your institution’s UPCEA membership than you have roster slots. For us, that has meant a constant rotation of staff through a limited number of roster positions and almost no ability to offer professionals in other parts of our institution direct access to UPCEA resources.
I am delighted to announce that UPCEA is now able to offer unlimited roster positions through your institutional membership!
This means that your whole team can be on the roster and that you now have plenty of room to add professionals from across your institution. Those in institutional marketing, online learning, other CE units in your institution, operations, and innovation can gain benefit to direct access to UPCEA resources. To add a colleague to your membership roster, please share this link.
This enhancement to your institutional membership is a direct result of feedback from many institutions over a number of years. We are excited that technological system upgrades and processes are now in place to accommodate this longstanding request and to bring even more value for your UPCEA membership.
Sincerely,
Rovy Branon, Ph.D.
Vice Provost, Continuum College
University of Washington
2019-2020 UPCEA Membership Committee Chair and UPCEA President-Elect

Nowhere is artificial intelligence more prominent or controversial in education than in personalized learning.

Computer driven adaptive learning has been around for decades; in its most basic form it is simply the computer program branching the learning path based upon responses the student makes. Some learners may be best served by materials delivered in a different format, for example case studies rather than theoretical study. Others may need refresher learning for underpinning skills, principles, and theories upon which more advanced learning is built. Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) has enabled this kind of learning program for half a century and more. I recall working with others in the 1970’s as we programed simple lessons that would quiz students and branch their learning path based on right answers as well as wrong answers. Simple coding in the PLATO TUTOR language would allow programmers to branch to different review or new materials based upon which answer was selected.

More sophisticated adaptive learning programs that have been developed recently aggregate much more data from the learner to better adapt the learning path. These data can include stored prior learning experiences and performances; student self-expressed preferences in modes of delivery; analytical prediction of likelihood of success for the individual student through different modes of delivery; and much more. For the past half dozen years, Khan Academy has developed and enhanced their flow of learning model. These and other like programs can more finely and accurately identify and address gaps in learning. Coupled with effective support modules, they can fill in the gaps on an individualized basis. “Particularly in high-enrollment classes, adaptive learning can provide tailored support and guidance to all students,” says this primer from EDUCAUSE. Adaptive learning has effectively been used by many publishers for their online homework and supplementary materials. 

Adaptive learning, while it has provided an important step forward in helping to assure that all learners get the material that they need to achieve learning outcomes, has fallen short in cultivating full engagement with the individual student. That’s where personalized learning takes the next step.  It is defined by the Glossary for Education Reform as:

The term personalized learning, or personalization, refers to a diverse variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic-support strategies that are intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students. Personalized learning is generally seen as an alternative to so-called “one-size-fits-all” approaches to schooling in which teachers may, for example, provide all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same assignments, and the same assessments with little variation or modification from student to student.

This takes student-centered learning to the next level. It goes beyond simply responding to requests from students. Instead, students become part of the process of defining the learning outcomes, pedagogy, and practices of the learning experience. Until recently, it has not seemed feasible to meet student needs in this way. To customize learning for each of 30 or 40 students in a class, monitor their individual progress, and provide meaningful feedback just is too time consuming.

Now, machine learning can synthesize the huge volume of data needed to more fully deliver student-centered learning. It can assemble the background; take input from the individual learner regarding their self-determined needs and expectations; identify learning deficits and needs; and produce and present the learning path to best accomplish those goals.

In this case, the role of the faculty member shifts from directly delivering materials and grading based on a single syllabus to advising, assisting, and assessing personalized learning that meets the needs of both the individual and the prescribed outcomes of the program. Certainly, this is a change for the faculty member. It is no longer administering a “one-size-fits-all” class. Instead it is a much more personal, individualized mentoring of each of the students while AI assembles the learning stack for each student.

Have you incorporated any of the adaptive learning tools in your classes? Are you preparing for the next step of personalized learning? Are you preparing your faculty colleagues for this process?

This article originally appeared in Inside Higher Ed’s Inside Digital Learning Blog.