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Higher Education Tag

For Some Students, #DeleteFacebook Is Not Really an Option

I entered my junior year of high school without a Facebook account. But a few months later, that changed. My AP English Language teacher had been using a Facebook group for our class to answer students’ questions after hours. She never told anyone in my class they had to create a Facebook account, but I felt like by not having one, I was missing out on valuable information and conversations. In light of the recent uproar over Facebook’s snafu with Cambridge Analytica, a number of people have pledged to #DeleteFacebook. But for some students whose class assignments and discussions are tied to the social network, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Once upon a time, educators like Sarah Jackson—the aforementioned teacher—found Facebook to be a handy tool for class. Years later, she explains to me that one reason she found it convenient was that it was more efficient than email. Over email, she was limited to answering a student’s question individually, when there was a chance that there were other students with the same question. The Facebook group let students with the same question see the question and answer at the same time. She also liked posting links to articles, and enjoyed seeing students do so too. Jackson now teaches at Zurich International in Switzerland. She stayed with her Facebook group method her first two years of teaching there, but stopped once the school started using Google Classroom. She felt like having both would be redudant. She says if she was still using Facebook groups, she doesn’t think the recent news about the company would bother her. She explains that the quizzes that can gather someone’s data usually show up on personal feeds, not on group pages. Even before the latest Facebook controversy, students like AnnaLee Barclay had plenty of reasons to get off the platform. She says when she was a junior at the University of San Diego, she left Facebook because she wanted a mental health break. Someone she went to high school with had passed away, and she was seeing sad content on her newsfeed. At the same time, she says the political climate was starting to be frustrating. “I was trying to be more aware of what I was allowing into my brain,” says Barclay, who graduated in 2016. However, her absence from Facebook only lasted about two to three months. It was difficult for her to stay in the loop about fundraisers and meetings that her university would hold. She was in the school’s outdoor adventures club that used Facebook to keep members posted. Then there were academic reasons. She had small classes, and while a lot of people knew each other by name, she didn’t necessarily have their phone numbers. Facebook ultimately provided the most convenient way for her to get in touch. If she missed a class or wanted clarity on an assignment, she was used to going on Facebook, searching a classmate’s name and then mesaging them. Leslie Adame, a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, says she’s...

Can a New Approach to Information Literacy Reduce Digital Polarization?

The internet doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but it should—to give users the skills to separate truth from falsehood so they can distinguish between propaganda and the indisputable and confirmable. And colleges should be the place leading students through this reference book. That’s the argument of Michael Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver, and it isn’t just some “hot take” designed to be provocative. He actually wrote the manual. And he has already convinced more than a dozen colleges to adopt it (and more than 100 college libraries to prominently link to it). Recently, he’s started research in an effort to prove that it works (and can help preserve American democracy). Plenty of people are talking about the importance of information literacy these days, and many educational institutions see it as part of their mission. And yet it’s more complicated than it seems. Earlier this month researcher danah boyd gave a provocative keynote speech at SXSW EDU arguing that media-literacy efforts at colleges are “backfiring,” turning out graduates that are good at questioning everything, and selectively believing what their gut tells them is true. In fact, boyd worries that this feeling of not knowing what to believe can draw students into extremist websites, which promise clear answers. Caulfield has noticed some of the same issues among students he’s worked with. “A lot of people are worried that students are just these gullible rubes believing everything,” he said, but that’s not what he typically sees. In a recent blog post, he described a student who dismissed the right-leaning Breitbart News because it is funded by the Mercers hoping to use it to influence political debate, and was equally dismissive of The Washington Post because it is owned by Jeff Bezos, who has given money to Democrats. Those situations are hardly equivalent, he says, but can make it easy for information consumers to simply throw up their hands. “Without feeling empowered to sort fiction on the web a lot of students are merely cynical and believe they can’t trust anything,” said Caulfield in an interview with EdSurge. “Our hope is by giving students the tools to evaluate this stuff quickly that we’ll take a chunk out of some of the cynicism.” “You can get focused so much on the agenda and the supposed agenda of people telling you things,” he adds, “that you lose a lot of the gradations of true and false.” That’s where Caulfield’s manual comes in. Its purpose is to instill in students “a habit of fact checking, and get people to build more complex models of the world than they currently have.” He stresses that the goal is not to just establish that some experts are always right and others wrong, but to give students the tools to judge information on a case-by-case basis. Infotrap Ahead It’s easier than ever to for a misleading lie to spread online. It happened to me just a few weeks ago. There it was in my social media feed, an article from Sports...

How Should Colleges Approach Student Success When Different Definitions Abound?

At the most recent convening of Achieving the Dream, a non-profit focused on community college student success, president and CEO Karen Stout asked eight of the organization’s student scholars what completion means to them. Completion. It’s a word that’s used a lot when people discuss student success, Stout says. Andstudents view the word in a different way than administrators. But first, a primer on student success: it’s a phrase that usually encompasses the departments, advisors, programs, tools, approaches, apps and software a school offers students to help them thrive as they work towards their educational goals. Students aren’t thinking about completion “based on a simulation of degrees or credentials,” Stout claims. Instead, they’re thinking about getting the skills and competencies they’ll need for their next step, be it starting a career or continuing their education. Colleges in Achieving the Dream’s network track students from fall to fall and spring to spring, but for students retention is often about tomorrow. “Every student is coming and defining success differently,” says Stout. For one of the students Stout spoke to at the event, success may be as straightforward as “being able to make sure that she has the ability to get to class every day.” Take Amanda Rodriguez, a senior accounting major at the University of Houston. She thinks what defines student success is being able to build the foundation to accomplish a life goal. That life goal doesn’t necessarily have to be related to work. For instance, someone’s can be to travel the world—- but a career can help her achieve it. Ben Alemu , a senior studying biochemistry and cell biology with a minor in education studies at the University of California San Diego (and a former EdSurge Independent Contributor), also doesn’t define student success as fully academic. He views it as setting a personal goal that’s more actionable, such as for one’s career. Because these different definitions of student success abound, Stout says conversations with an academic advisor that “span beyond just building a schedule” are important. As for advising technology tools, she believes that if they’re well-designed, they give students a real-time picture of how they’re progressing against their stated goals. This article is part of an upcoming EdSurge Guide exploring innovations in student success, publishing March 26. The guide is sponsored by Salesforce.org, which had no influence on this story. Career resources also important, Stout says. She referenced her time as president of Montgomery County Community College, which uses Career Coach—a tool that lets the school’s students see job demands and salaries in Montgomery County and nearby localities. “That type of information was really important for students to have at the front end of their experience at the college,” Stout explains. She says that too many students, especially those in community college who haven’t picked their majors, are taking classes that may not transfer or count toward their degree. And in the process, they’re using up their financial aid. She believes that all higher education institutions, particularly community colleges, have an obligation to make sure first semester...

Collaborative Higher Ed Partnerships Are the Key to Student Success

As the labor market becomes increasingly dependent on skilled workers who have at least some education beyond high school—whether that means an associate or bachelor’s degree, or a professional credential—student success in college is as important as it has ever been. Regrettably, though, large numbers of students in the United States do not have access to higher education opportunities. Many cannot afford the high cost of college; others do not know how to apply for college or what their educational opportunities are post-high school. Still others do not even consider college an option in the first place. Large numbers of students in the United States do not have access to higher education opportunities. The education community’s ability to help more students succeed in college depends on partnerships—among the K-12 school system, higher education institutions, policymakers, and philanthropic and education-focused organizations—that develop collaborative, systematic solutions to the perennial challenges students face.It is also true that the obstacles to achieve success do not disappear once students apply, are accepted, and then enroll in higher education. The fact is that for as many as half of college-going students—especially those who are the first in their families to go to college and those who come from low-income families—the prospect of success and graduating with a credential is fragile. Any seemingly minor set-back, like a flat tire or brief illness, can shatter a student’s ability to persist in college. This fragility is not a result of a lack of effort or desire. Instead, when students are already stressed—whether it be financially or by the lack of a support system that can help them navigate the challenging journey of higher education—certain obstacles become difficult to overcome. This article is part of an upcoming EdSurge Guide exploring innovations in student success, publishing March 26. The guide is sponsored by Salesforce.org, which had no influence on this story. Affordable College The high cost of college is arguably the largest barrier to college success. This is compounded by the lack of awareness about financial aid options and how to access them. In fact, increasing students’ and families’ understanding of the financial aid universe is key to helping them know what kinds of aid exist, what they are eligible for, and how to access it—particularly for applicants whose families have little to no experience with higher education. A family at graduation. Photo Credit: College Success ArizonaHigher education institutions, for example, can work with middle and high school advisers to explain the various options available from federal and state aid programs, individual institutions, and other sources. They can also work with advisers to explain cost-effective pathways to a certificate or degree completion to include an associate degree from a community college and credit transfers to four-year institutions. Partnerships can involve a variety of organizations with a stake in higher education and student success. My own organization, College Success Arizona, partners with other groups across the state—like Helios Education Foundation, College Depot and Arizona GEAR UP—to provide scholarships, intensive advisory services, and real-time interventions to students who might not...

#DLNchat: How Can Video Best Support Learning and Instruction?

With smartphone cameras in so many pockets, for many of us, creating videos has become as common as watching them. But not everyone has the same access to streaming or producing video content. So when we bring video into the learning process, how can we best utilize it to support learning and instruction for all? This past Tuesday, March 13 the #DLNchat community got together to discuss, quote some Richard Mayer and, of course, share some videos. Many in the #DLNchat community felt strongly that the use of video should be considered a complement to other mechanisms of learning and not strictly as a substitute for lecture or content delivery. As Ryan Straight said, “Everything should be considered complementary. Everything. (Corrolary: unilateral instruction is never enough.)” Everything should be considered complementary. Everything. (Corrolary: unilateral instruction is never enough.) #DLNchat https://t.co/xOIP80iWKW — Prof Straight (@RyanStraight) March 13, 2018 We heard about a lot different uses for video, such as peer-to-peer information sharing, dynamic complements to static information, options for multimodal learning, demonstrations of student knowledge and as a tool for student-faculty interaction. While those working in online classes and face-to-face classes leaned more heavily on some uses than others, everyone agreed the methods above could be applied in some capacity. Partly because making video has become easier, faculty, students and instructional designers can consider its use for a variety of impact. Cali Morisson reminded us, “The magic comes in not simply taking a lecture and making it a video, it comes in making content relevant for students, no matter its format. Video can be engaging or dreadful…” So what kind of design process should drive video production for learning? And is any of that “Hollywood glitz” necessary to make instructional videos engaging? #DLNchat #A1 The magic comes in not simply taking a lecture and making it a video, it comes in making content relevant for students, no matter its format. #Video can be engaging or dreadful...

Are You Still There? How a ‘Netflix’ Model For Advising Lost Its Luster

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The “Netflix for education” analogy has become somewhat of a cliché for edtech companies using student data to recommend anything from courses to textbooks. The pitch is simple: Why waste time choosing, or leave it to chance of whether a human advisor will understand your unique situation, when an algorithm can tell what you want based on your academic history? That idea relies on a technology known as predictive analytics, a statistical model that analyzes past data to make estimations about some future event or trend. In higher ed, that data often includes student grades, test scores, attendance and, in some cases, even demographics. Located about 50 miles north of Nashville, Austin Peay State University in Tennessee has a downhome and cozy feel, sprawling with red brick buildings and some offices that look more like cottages. Yet the campus has gained a techie reputation as one of the birthplaces for predictive analytics in education through a tool dubbed Degree Compass. Officials at the college, which has just over 10,000 undergraduate students, built the platform to recommend courses based on how well students did in previous ones. At first, Degree Compass was met with fanfare and praise—and data to back it up. Overall student graduation rates rose from 31 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2014, for example. But today, the tool’s hype has died down, and campus officials and students say it hasn’t lived up to all of its promise. Graduation rates haven’t budged much since 2014, and retention recently dropped to below the point it was when the tool was introduced. Now, a college that helped pioneer predictive analytics is finding the technology’s limitations. Degree Compass was the brainchild of mathematician and former professor Tristan Denley. While working at Austin Peay, and later serving as the institution’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, Denley noticed a problem: students struggled to find the right courses or degree path to take. And without choosing a focus early, many would take courses they didn’t need, reinforcing achievement gaps and delays in college completion. The situation occurred more frequently for first-generation students, and Denley attributed the issue to an “information problem.” Essentially students whose parents went to college were more likely to find the resources they need to choose degree paths, stick to them and discover career options related to their field of study. So, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Denley built Degree Compass in 2011 as a way to alleviate that problem by suggesting what courses students should take. (Disclosure: The Gates Foundation supports projects at EdSurge.) The system links with the campus degree audit system to help steer students to courses that satisfy their degree requirements, and, using a student’s grade history, applies predictive modeling to estimate which course the student might perform best in. Students see their best options through a university website, which displays recommendations using a star-rating system similar to Netflix. The program was intended not only to help students perform better in individual courses, but also...

VR Could Bring a New Era of Immersive Learning. But Ethical and Technical Challenges Remain.

Some educators tout the immersive power of VR technology, pointing to examples like an app that simulates what it was like to walk on either side of Germany’s Berlin Wall in the 1980s. But what does it mean to teach in an immersive format? What can this technology do that couldn't be done before? And how might it change a professor's approach to teaching, or should it? Last week we sat down with two guests—Maya Georgieva, director of digital learning at The New School in New York City, and Rob Kadel, assistant director of research at Georgia Tech Center for 21st Century Universities—for a live video townhall, streamed from the SXSW EDU conference in Austin. It was part of our video town hall series called EdSurge LIVE. More than 100 people tuned in, with questions such as how to make VR accessible for students with disabilities and how to avoid motion sickness when using the technology. Watch the complete conversation, or read highlights from below. The transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity. [embedded content]Maya, you gave a talk here at the SXSW EDU conference yesterday about the future of VR in education. In a nutshell, what is your take on where things are going with VR these days? Georgieva: The main theme of my talk was, “Welcome to the Age of Experiences.” I think everything with technology thus far has been moderated on some screen, whether it's the big screen the desktop screen or the mobile screen. But now we have this new medium, which is immersive—it's mixed reality and augmented reality and virtual reality. It's no longer thinking about typing something, it's about actually entering the space, and experiencing it, similar to the way you experience the physical world. We've been talking about how to get [VR tools] into education, but they haven't made their way to education. I think this is now an opportunity for us to [give students] a front row seat to s a historic event or a scientific phenomenon, observe it up close, and experience what it is to connect and see something from somebody else's shoes. Could you quickly share one example you mentioned yesterday, involving the fall of the Berlin Wall? Georgieva: I was born in Bulgaria on the other side of the Berlin Wall. I was in my early teens when this event took place. And I wouldn't be here if that event didn't take place. It has had a huge impact on my life. That said, for a long time I've been trying to tell that story in various different ways—whether it's to my young niece or my colleagues. And we now how a whole generation of students for whom this is just kind of like an event in the past—It's abstract. So now through this VR experience the Berlin Wall, you can [put on a headset] and walk the wall, with a kind of searchlight. You can kind of try to search for those who are trespassing, which of course you know that so many people were...

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