Alternative Credentials, Scaled Degrees, and the New Higher Ed Matthew Effect | Learning Innovation - Inside Higher Ed

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Alternative Credentials, Scaled Degrees, and the New Higher Ed Matthew Effect | Learning Innovation - Inside Higher EdAlternative Credentials, Scaled Degrees, and the New Higher Ed Matthew Effect | Learning Innovation - Inside Higher EdPosted: 10 Aug 2020 01:44 PM PDT HBS Online saw a 650 percent increase in enrollment between April and June compared to the same period in 2019…Online degrees offered by the Gies College of Business, including an iMBA priced under $22,000 offered in partnership with online learning platform Coursera, have seen record applications this year, Elliott said. Applications have particularly increased among women. More than 2,500 applications have so far been submitted to the iMBA program starting this fall -- a 35 percent increase from August 2019.Since mid-March, more than 18 million registered users have joined Coursera, a more than 400 percent increase from the same time period last year. Enrollments in India increased by 1,044 percent, followed by Italy at…

Why College Is Never Coming Back - Forbes

Why College Is Never Coming Back - Forbes


Why College Is Never Coming Back - Forbes

Posted: 21 Jul 2020 06:00 AM PDT

Here's some great news: one of America's most broken industries is finally being exposed as a sham. And make no mistake, the end of college as we know it is a great thing.

It's great for families, who'll save money and take on less debt putting kids through school. It's great for kids, who'll no longer be lured into the socialist indoctrination centers that many American campuses have become. And as I'll show you, it's great for investors, who stand to make a killing on the companies that'll disrupt college for good.

But Stephen, how can you be against education?! I love learning, but I hate what college has become. As recently as 1980, you could get a four-year bachelor's degree at a public school for less than $10,000. These days, it'll cost you $40,000 at a minimum, $140,000 for a private school, or well over $250,000 for a top school.

College costs have ballooned beyond all reason. They've risen even faster than healthcare costs, which is really saying something. Kids are burying themselves in debt—$1.6 trillion at last count—in order to attend college.

When I wrote about this last year, I had little hope things would change anytime soon. Why? It's a tough sell to convince an 18-year-old kid not to attend the four-year party all his friends are going to, especially when the US government is financing it through student loans.

But a Lightning Bolt of Disruption Just Fried the Business Model of College

Mark my words: coronavirus will be remembered for transforming college forever. The virus has forced practically every college to move their courses online for the next semester. So instead of living on campus and walking to lectures, kids will be sitting in their bedrooms watching professors on Zoom calls.

This is FAR more disruptive than most folks realize. College is about much more than just the learning. There's the education, and then you have the experience. The learning part has barely changed in a century. Kids still sit in 60-year-old lecture halls listening to professors.

But now, the "experience" has been stripped away. Do you think teenagers will be willing to mortgage their futures in order to watch college lecture videos on the internet?

This Is the End of College as We Know It

Right now, millions of kids are questioning what they're paying tens of thousands of dollars for. NOBODY is willing to pay $30,000/year to watch lecturers on Zoom calls. In fact, tuitions are already falling.

New data shows colleges reopening "online only" this Fall have slashed costs by $9,000, on average. How many kids will jump at the chance to save themselves tens of thousands of dollars in tuition with online learning? My prediction: millions.

In fact, by slashing tuitions for online courses, schools have permanently changed the perception of what college is worth.

Here's My Prediction for How the Disruption of College Will Play Out

Millions of American kids will soon be able to complete degrees­—fully online—for way less than the cost of traditional college. But they won't just be enrolling in Ohio State or University of Florida's "online classes."

With learning shifting onto the internet, there's nothing stopping nimble disruptors from offering real college degrees at much cheaper prices.

2U (TWOU) runs online classes for 73 of the world's best colleges including Yale, Cambridge, Georgetown, and NYU. It's only a matter of time before online disruptors like 2U or Coursera start offering their own degree courses.

For example, they could hire world-class professors to create online courses for, say, $200,000/year. Each professor might teach 250 students per school year, which works out to roughly $800 per student. Tack on the cost of running the online course, plus a profit for the college, and you could probably charge each student $3,000/year.

These courses would carry the same qualification as any regular college. Yet, tuitions could be slashed by 70–80%. Right now, every US state has a couple of big schools and dozens of little ones. And they're essentially all teaching the same material in a slightly different way.

I Expect Online Disruptors Will Put Many of the 4,000 "Middle-of-the-Road" US Colleges Out of Business

Top schools like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford will always attract elite kids and command huge tuitions. They are disruption proof. But the thousands of schools that sell "standard issue" degrees for tens of thousands of dollars are in for a rude awakening.

Think of them as the new department stores. You know how unspecialized, middle of the road retailers like Macy's M and Sears are dying off? Nimble online schools will do to traditional colleges what Amazon AMZN did to department stores.

This is a change every American kid should be cheering for.

Get my report "The Great Disruptors: 3 Breakthrough Stocks Set to Double Your Money". These stocks will hand you 100% gains as they disrupt whole industries. Get your free copy here.

Is It Time to Seriously Consider an Online School for Your Child? - HowStuffWorks

Posted: 21 Jul 2020 04:00 PM PDT

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Online learning has been available for decades to K-12 schoolchildren and various levels of post-secondary students. Sometimes called online school, distance learning and more recently, virtual learning, the correct term is "online learning," according to Peter Robertson, president of Laurel Springs School, a leading online K-12 private school, which has offered an online curricula since 1994.

Colleges, too, have been big players in the online education game. The University of Phoenix began offering bachelor's and master's courses online in 1989 and by 2003, 40,000 instructors were teaching 150,000 online courses with the Blackboard Learning System. By the fall of 2018, nearly 7 million students were enrolled in some type of distance education course at a degree-granting postsecondary institution, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Fast-forward to spring 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and schools and universities across the country were forced to switch to online learning — with varying degrees of success. Many will return to online schooling when they open in the fall, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the U.S. The necessary move has prompted questions about online education and whether it can offer the level of experience available from face-to-face classes. Laurel Springs School reported seeing a drastic increase in inquiries since the coronavirus crisis began.

Still other districts plan to open their schools with face-to-face learning in the fall, and that has parents nervous and considering online academies as safer alternatives. So what should parents and students look for if they're considering an online learning program?

Types of Online Learning Programs

When it comes to online education, you have a variety of options from which to choose. Online learning isn't the same as home schooling, although it can take place at home. An online program provides a directed curriculum to students, in one of three general approaches: supplemental, hybrid or fully online.

  • The supplemental approach is when a student takes a one-time course for additional credit or learning.
  • Hybrid models mix online and face-to-face instruction.
  • A fully online approach is when a student is learning completely virtually.

You can also choose between public K-12 online schools (typically free) and private K-12 online schools (typically tuition-based). Within each of these, you can break it down even further. There are online public charter schools and even online schools associated with colleges or universities that provide challenging curricula that allow students to earn college credits while in high school. Stanford Online High School is one example.

Like brick-and-mortar schools, not all online schools are created equal. Public schools must follow state guidelines so they may have fewer course options. Some charter schools — while still free like public school — may offer broader curricula and more nontraditional teaching methods, writes Christine Sarikas on Prep Scholar. Private schools aren't mandated by the state so they can focus their curricula on things like STEM or religion, though they may or may not be accredited.

"Schools should have well-regarded regional accreditations that offer a true independent, high-quality, third-party assessment of the systems, curriculum and processes within each school they evaluate and monitor," Alex Schroeder, M.Ed., dean of faculty at Laurel Springs, says via email.

Finding the right online learning program means matching your family's needs, beliefs and budget. Of course, considering your child's learning style is also critical.

Which Kinds of Learners Do Best?

Online learning can be beneficial for children in all grades, given they have the proper support, Schroeder says. Younger students need more guidance and support from parents in structuring and accessing their learning throughout the day.

"All students will develop greater skills as independent learners and gain a better understanding of their unique needs and how they can structure their time to optimize their personal learning experience," Schroeder says. "As they get older, students will have gained greater independence as learners as a benefit of their experience online.

"We would not recommend online learning to anyone who does not have the proper home support or anyone who struggles to independently monitor their learning and learning environment."

Because some students are more independent than others, you should consider whether a synchronous (occurring at the same time) or asynchronous (not at the same time) model will be the best fit for your child. Not all online schools provide both options.

Michaela Schieffer, college counselor and scholarship coach with college admissions consulting firm Moon Prep, cautions that parents of online students will naturally need to be more hands-on and serve as de facto guidance counselors. You'll also need to be vigilant and understand that you'll have to create more structure at home.

Even if you put in the extra effort to help your students succeed, how will an online academy affect your child's chances of getting into college?

How Colleges Perceive Online Secondary Schools

Under normal circumstances, colleges aren't impressed with online schools, but it's because of social concerns — not academic ones — Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-founder, Spark Admissions, says. She notes that students of online learning often face an uphill climb as colleges worry about social and emotional development and lack of leadership opportunities.

However, Rubin says that in situations where schools were forced to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students shouldn't expect to be at a disadvantage compared to students whose in-person education continued. It's not yet clear, however, whether college admissions departments will view students differently who attended schools that aggressively continued remote learning and offered letter grades versus schools that minimized curriculum and switched to pass/fail grading systems.

Even if you're super-concerned about your children falling behind during the pandemic, Rubin says she does not recommend changing schools — or choosing a private online school — if the brick-and-mortar school they're already attending is going virtual this fall. One reason is that transferring may affect their credits and education path. Once their school resumes in-person classes, their path could appear unstable if they transfer back.

How Can Virtual Students Stay Social and Relevant?

Online learning programs don't have to be isolated programs, even when using an asynchronous model for instruction. For example, Laurel Springs offers a number of virtual and in-person socialization opportunities for students in all age groups, and students have access to more than 30 academic clubs, virtual field trips, special events and a social network that allows them to connect with peers. The school hosts celebrations and graduation, and it offers service-learning trips abroad. In terms of hands-on coursework, Laurel Springs students can complete virtual labs, kitchen labs or labs that require kits.

"Regardless of the materials required, Laurel Springs always provides a list of necessary course materials with ample time for students to secure the required items," explains Leigh Tillman, M.Ed., dean of curriculum.

Rubin suggests that any students learning virtually get involved in community service activities, showcase their compassion and desire to help others by undertaking a project or working on a leadership program.

"There are a huge variety of other things students can do to stand out in the application process," she says. The point is that colleges will want to know how a student spends their time — and that also goes for during the COVID-19 crisis. That might even mean taking more classes. Students can take free open courseware through EdX or Coursera, which can then be highlighted on college applications to help develop a student's "academic narrative."

"There are still so many things students can do to stand out during this time," says Rubin. "They really need to think outside the box."

Schieffer recommends spending time prepping for standardized tests and researching external scholarships, which can be used at any college.

"Turn it into a family event," she says. "Parents need to be vigilant on checking for those big registration dates like standardized testing." It's never too early to get started. Even freshman can start building a list of fellowships they plan to apply to later. Parents can get into the virtual action by watching webinars to get a good handle on their student's academic future.

Texas college students weigh the value of online classes - The Texas Tribune

Posted: 06 Jul 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Sarah Ramos has spent her summer anxiously awaiting a fall return to Texas A&M's campus at College Station. She is hoping for some normalcy after she and her classmates were abruptly forced off campus last semester and into Zoom-based classes for the remainder of the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But as Texas scrambles to address a soaring number of COVID-19 cases, Ramos is worried her upcoming course load could once again be moved online. That's just not the college experience she's looking for. So now, Ramos says she's considering withdrawing from A&M for the fall and delaying her upcoming graduation.

"I do want to return to school, but the likelihood of that is teetering right now," said Ramos, who's working at a grocery store over the summer to save up for tuition. "I want the best education possible, and I really don't think that I can get that online. I can't get that from a screen."

Texas universities are finalizing their fall reopening plans as August approaches. The state's major public universities are generally all offering some in-person classes, though most schools have moved sizable portions of the fall course schedule online or are offering classes in a hybrid format. A&M is planning on conducting at least 50% of classes online-only, while UT will move almost one-third of its 11,000 courses online.

These plans also paint a picture of significantly-altered campus life, with spaced out dining halls, capacity caps on classrooms and mask mandates for students and faculty in some schools.

But while school will look different, the tuition rates for many of Texas' largest universities, including UT-Austin, University of Houston, University of North Texas and Texas Tech, will stay the same.

Now Ramos, and many other students across Texas who are weighing their plans for the fall semester, are asking themselves: will it still be worth it?

This summer, nearly all Texas universities went completely online and schools including UT-Austin and Baylor offered reduced tuition while several others waived fees for campus services like parking.

Campus leaders, hammered by financial losses from the pandemic and anxious to keep enrollment up, defended their decisions to maintain normal tuition rates for fall classes that are both online and in-person.

"UT represents one of the very best values in higher education in the country," UT-Austin interim President Jay Hartzell said last week in a press conference, noting that administrators "have been working really hard to ensure we deliver online courses at high quality and ideally make the class just as valuable as it would have been face to face."

Acknowledging some resistance to going virtual, UT System board members in a meeting cited surveys that have shown many students said they will pause their education if universities go completely online.

Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said that while around 20% of the university's entry-level courses in the fall will be online, tuition will not be decreased. Of all fall courses, only about 30% will be online, a spokesperson for Schovanec said.

Like many others, the school can't afford to discount classes, because instructors are paid the same regardless. Schovanec said more than 65% of the university's expenses are directly related to compensating faculty and other personnel.

"There's a misunderstanding that online classes are cheaper," Schovanec said. "When people write to me and say 'Hey, I'm not getting face to face instruction, give me a tuition reduction,' it's inconsistent with the reality of our budget."

Lawsuits

The question of student value in the fall is poised to become a legal battle. Already more than 150 lawsuits have been filed across the country from students seeking reimbursement for tuition and fees from last spring.

When the pandemic forced universities to vacate their campuses in March, students lost access to campus labs, technology, transportation, athletics, library services, dining halls and more.

Baylor University was no exception. After it closed its doors, some students who lost access to those student-funded services wanted refunds for their steep tuition rates and campus fees.

Baylor, which received around $10.7 million in federal funding to offset emergency aid and refunds for students, promised students credits for unused meal plans and dining dollars, but insisted online learning did not necessitate refunds on tuition and campus fees.

But that wasn't enough for students like Allison King, a rising sophomore at Baylor, who filed a class-action lawsuit in early June seeking prorated refunds for tuition and fees like a $90 payment for mandatory chapel sessions. Another Baylor student, Nabor Camarena, filed a similar lawsuit at the same time.

"In any other business, if you get paid all the money and then cut the services you're providing, we would call that profiting from a pandemic," said Roy Willey, the attorney representing King. "The sacrifice here is on the part of the students that are paying for this."

Baylor is the first in Texas to be sued for tuition-related grievances following the pandemic.

The university said in a statement that it stands by its decisions made in an "unprecedented time for our country and all of higher education."

Other universities have already shelled out millions in refunds for unused services like meal plans and campus housing from last spring. While some of these losses were offset by federal funding designated by the CARES Act, much of it had to be covered by the institutions' own budgets, leaving universities under financial strain as they worked to refund hundreds of students and award emergency aid.

Living expenses

The partial shift to online also has more students and parents worried about paying for college housing.

Ann Marie Hicks, who lives in Austin, will have two daughters in college this fall. With a combination of online and in-person courses, Hicks' eldest daughter Allison, a rising senior at the University of North Texas, will only have to be in Denton for 26 days out of the entire semester.

While minimizing contact with campus is a relief in some ways, setting up living arrangements in a different city is a financial headache, Hicks said. The house Allison is planning on moving into with her partner to avoid crowded student apartments will be more than $900 in rent per month, plus additional utilities and maintenance fees. Hicks is having a hard time rationalizing the cost.

"It's frustrating," Hicks said. "And I'm mindful that there are many families under more constraints than we are."

The same goes for Gaby Alvarez, a rising junior studying journalism at UT-Austin. She's worried about contracting COVID-19 on campus – but she's also worried about getting stuck with her lease, which she signed back in October.

As of now, Alvarez said she only has one in-person class, which isn't a compelling enough reason to justify the $880 monthly rent she pays for an apartment near campus. Originally from Ganado, where she's been quarantining with her elderly grandparents, she said she'd prefer to stay home if she could get out of her lease and move to all online classes.

"This is such a hard situation with a lot of moving parts," Alvarez said. "And going back (to school) is not worth it to me, financially and health-wise."

But the promise of the campus experience, however diluted, is a major draw for some students.

Hicks' younger daughter Annabelle, an incoming freshman at Trinity University in San Antonio, is a theater major and is trying to take as many in-person classes as she can. Annabelle also deals with learning impediments like dyslexia, which she said makes online learning harder and in-person instruction valuable.

"Reading and communicating are already difficult face to face, but when I'm doing it through a screen it becomes even worse," Annabelle said. "If I'm taking the risk of being on-campus anyway, what's the point of taking classes online?"

Jorge Cantu, an international graduate student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is also watching the situation carefully. He splits his time between the U.S. and Mexico and if his classes were to be moved online, he'd remain in Mexico to save money on rent.

But he'd miss being on campus and would lose out on using the thousands of books in the university library or other research resources to finish out his thesis.

There was no refund for fees at his university during the spring closures, including the library fee, which doesn't seem fair to him if he's unable to use those services.

"I think that's one of the things that pisses people off the most," he said. "We're getting charged for fees that we're not actually going to take advantage of."

Disclosure: University of Texas at Austin, University of North Texas, Texas Tech, University of Houston and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporcate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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