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January 17, 2017

Help Needed

Creating Dialogue for Innovation Between Institutions and Industry

In November, several colleagues and I met with a group of graduate students in the humanities who were interested in exploring careers outside of academia. Our conversation spanned a number of topics related to these students’ academic and career goals, as well as Ithaka S+R’s research. One theme that emerged from this conversation was that these students were far more receptive to teaching with technology than many more-established academics are, though they still maintained a healthy skepticism. Perhaps this should…
September 9, 2016

Leading the Way in Learning Analytics

Four Considerations

Earlier this week my Ithaka S+R colleagues and I published “Student Data in the Digital Era: An Overview of Current Practices,” in which we review how institutions of higher education are currently using student data, and some of the practical and ethical challenges they face in doing so. As we conducted research for this report, part of our Responsible Use of Student Data in Higher Education project with Stanford University, we heard recurring concerns about the growing role…
July 29, 2016

Developing a Research Agenda for Ed-Tech

Last week, the Jefferson Education Accelerator, an ed-tech incubator at University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, announced its plans to launch a large-scale project to research the “barriers that keep companies and their customers from conducting and using efficacy research when creating or buying ed-tech products.” In a Chronicle article announcing the project, Bart Epstein, CEO and managing director of Jefferson Education Accelerator, explains there exists little research that explores the efficacy of ed-tech tools in a…
March 21, 2016

Higher Ed Themes of SXSWedu

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend SXSWedu, an education conference in Austin, Texas, focused on cutting edge practices and technology. I spent most of my time in Austin attending higher education panels and exhibits, and came away feeling that three major themes dominated this gathering of those at the vanguard of the field. The continually advancing field of student data analytics Several well-attended panels focused on how digital information about students and their behaviors could be used…
February 29, 2016

Overcoming Institutional Barriers to Innovation

Lessons from Ithaka S+R’s Case Studies

Last week, Ithaka S+R released a report on the findings of its first Higher Ed Insights survey. The survey collected the opinions of 96 higher education experts on the state of undergraduate education, and ways to make it more effective and affordable. One of the most interesting findings was that a high percentage of respondents identified institutional culture or structures as the most substantial barriers to innovation. While this finding struck me as interesting, it did not surprise me.
January 6, 2016

Mismatch Theory and the Missing Role of the Institution

At this point, any frequent consumer of higher education news is well aware of the controversial remarks Justice Antonin Scalia made during oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Many are also likely familiar with the subsequent debates about affirmative action and “mismatched students” that these remarks provoked. In speculating whether black students preferentially admitted to UT Austin might be better off attending “a slower-track school where they do well,” Justice Scalia prompted numerous articles,…
November 12, 2015

Is Changing the Application Process Enough to Improve Access to Selective Colleges?

No, But It’s a Start

Last month, a consortium of 83 selective public and private universities unveiled a plan to build a new college application system. The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success plans to develop a “free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of applying to college.” The most notable part of this platform would be its “virtual locker,” a portfolio in which students could store different types of content—from creative work, to class projects, to teacher recommendations—beginning in ninth…
October 16, 2015

Learning with MOOCs II

Conference Review (October 2-3, 2015)

A couple of weeks ago I attended “Learning with MOOCs: II,” a conference at Teacher’s College at Columbia University (the conference was the second of its type; the first, which I was unable to attend was held at MIT in October of 2014). In many ways, Learning with MOOCS II seemed a well-timed follow up to an Inside Higher Ed article written by Candace Thille, John Mitchell, and Mitchell Stevens published in late September. In this article, Thille,…
October 1, 2015

Reducing the Pell Graduation Gap: What Works?

Two weeks ago, the New York Times published its second annual “College Access Index,” which measures socioeconomic diversity and accessibility at America’s highest performing colleges and universities. Adjusting its methodology from last year, the 2015 College Access Index incorporated each institution’s average Pell Grant recipient graduation rate into its score (a new addition), along with the institution’s Pell enrollment rate and net price for low income students (both of which were used in the index’s 2014 iteration). Last…
August 14, 2015

Shifting Policy to Support the “Typical” College Student

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times’ Education Life section published a series of articles dedicated solely to incoming college freshmen. With advice on how to navigate the dining hall, when to move into one’s dorm, and how to manage helicopter parents, the articles imagined the typical college student as an 18-year-old who was entering a four year institution straight from high school, living on campus, and whose primary concerns centered just as much on making friends…
July 1, 2015

Promising Directions for K-12 and Community College Partnerships

My colleague Derek Wu recently wrote about dual enrollment programs and the promise they hold for improving outcomes, especially for underserved students. These programs, which allow students to earn college credits while still enrolled in high school, are just one of many forms that partnerships between K-12 systems and postsecondary institutions can take. Two and four-year postsecondary institutions across the nation have created partnerships with local K-12 districts, sharing resources, aligning curricula, and coordinating support services in order to…