Far from home, Nigerian-born prep star pursues academic and basketball dreams in Michigan - MLive.com

When Peter Nwoke remembers the last hug he shared with his mother, a smile spreads across his face. It was a hug 10 months in the making and it remains one of his favorite memories. “It was the best feeling ever,” Nwoke said. The hug happened back in 2018 when Nwoke was just 15 years old. He had just completed the long 14-hour flight home from Detroit Metro Airport to his home Lagos, Nigeria, where his sister, Roselyne, was waiting to pick him up and take him home for a three-week stay. When Nwoke’s mother, Adamma, laid eyes on her son, she rushed to him before he made it to the front door. “My mom hugged me for five-straight minutes,” Nwoke said. “I wasn’t even in the house yet.” It was the first time he had returned to his hometown since moving to the United States in 2017 to fulfill an academic scholarship he obtained at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory, a Catholic boarding school in southeast Michigan. Up until that point, it was the longest Nwoke had ever been away from ho

New US data show continued growth in college students studying online - Inside Higher Ed

New US data show continued growth in college students studying online - Inside Higher Ed

New US data show continued growth in college students studying online - Inside Higher Ed

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 12:00 AM PST

The number of college students enrolled in at least one online course -- and the proportion of all enrolled students who are studying online -- continued to rise at U.S. institutions in the 2016 academic year, newly released federal data show.

The statistics, part of a major release of provisional data on enrollments, employment and other topics from the Education Department's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, provide the most up-to-date information on enrollments in online and distance education.

The overarching story is a familiar one: even as overall enrollment in postsecondary institutions stays flat (unlike recent numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse, the federal data show enrollments staying roughly constant, not declining), online enrollments climb.

As a result, so, too, does the proportion of all students at institutions eligible to award federal financial aid who are taking at least one course at a distance, as seen in the table below.

The increased likelihood of being enrolled online is occurring at most levels and types of institutions in higher education.

Since 2014, the proportion of undergraduate students at Title IV-eligible institutions who are enrolled in at least one distance education course has risen from 27.1 percent to 30 percent in 2016, and the proportion of graduate students enrolled at least partially online has grown from 32.5 percent to 36.6 percent in 2016.

Community college students (30.9 percent) were more likely than undergraduates at four-year public institutions (29 percent) and four-year private colleges (25.6 percent) to be enrolled in at least one online course.

But more than two-thirds of the students taking at least one online course in 2016 were at public institutions, while roughly 18 percent were at private nonprofit colleges and 13 percent were at for-profit institutions. And the growth in the number of students taking at least one online course in 2016 was greater among public institutions than it was for private institutions, a change in the pattern of recent years.

Students at for-profit colleges were by far likeliest to be enrolled at a distance -- a full 57.5 percent studied at least partially online in 2016. But for-profit institutions as a sector continued to see a large overall drop in the number of students they enrolled (from about 1.54 million in 2015 to about 1.46 million in fall 2016), so the number of students enrolled online dropped, too.

Not surprisingly given that fact, for-profit institutions dominate the list of individual institutions that experienced meaningful drops in online enrollment from 2015 to 2016, led by the University of Phoenix, American Public University System and Kaplan University. Phoenix's drop was particularly stark -- more than 30,000 students.

But not all for-profit institutions had similar fates: Grand Canyon University grew by nearly 25 percent, and institutions such as Walden, Capella and Ashford Universities held steady or grew modestly.

The biggest gainers among nonprofit institutions were behemoths like Western Governors University and Arizona State University. A few, including Liberty University and Baker College, lost significant enrollments. (Note: The table below has been updated from an earlier version to correct some data.)

  Number of Students Taking at Least One Class Online, 2015 Number of Students Taking at Least One Class Online, 2016
University of Phoenix-Arizona 162,003 129,332
Western Governors University 70,504 84,289
Grand Canyon University 54,543 68,542
Liberty University 72,519 67,766
Southern New Hampshire University 56,371 63,973
Walden University 52,799 52,565
University of Maryland-University College 48,677 50,932
American Public University System 52,361 48,623
Excelsior College 43,123 41,658
Ashford University 42,046 41,343
Capella University 34,365 37,569
Kaplan University 45,268 37,431
University of Central Florida 33,034 36,107
Brigham Young University-Idaho 33,551 35,826
Ivy Tech Community College 34,103 34,811
Arizona State University-Tempe 22,809 30,989
University of Florida 28,838 30,720
Florida International University 26,341 30,126
Arizona State University 19,094 24,917
Colorado Technical University-Colorado Springs 900 24,692
Chamberlain College of Nursing-Illinois 22,114 24,284
Lone Star College System 21,811 22,873
University of South Florida-Main Campus 20,993 21,661
Columbia Southern University 20,823 21,442
University of Texas at Arlington 17,541 21,330
Full Sail University 19,939 19,273
Houston Community College 19,111 18,877
Valencia College 17,216 18,058
DeVry University-Illinois 20,458 18,015
California State University-Northridge 16,130 17,384
St Petersburg College 16,501 16,349
Texas Tech University 14,826 16,248
Ultimate Medical Academy-Tampa 12,106 16,140
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus 14,355 15,955
College of Southern Nevada 14,906 15,127
Kent State University at Kent 13,754 15,100
Florida State University 12,858 14,985
University of Houston 12,961 14,667
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 13,992 14,491
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 10,720 14,090
Ohio State University-Main Campus 11,747 13,640
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide 12,857 13,443
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus 12,242 13,411
University of North Texas 12,517 13,331
National University 12,116 13,168
Utah State University 13,360 13,122
Northern Virginia Community College 13,421 13,028
University of Arizona 9,660 12,997
Northern Arizona University 11,769 12,906
California State University-Fullerton 11,148 12,742
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 10,037 12,519
Thomas Edison State University 13,093 12,489
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 10,652 12,461
Florida Atlantic University 10,433 12,441
North Carolina State University 12,321 12,377
Ohio University-Main Campus 10,828 12,177
East Carolina University 12,011 12,133
Columbia College 9,870 12,062
San Diego State University 9,634 12,061
Broward College 10,923 11,991
Cuyahoga Community College District 12,266 11,909
Delgado Community College 4,826 11,791
Fort Hays State University 10,950 11,746
Michigan State University 9,901 11,616
Colorado State University-Global Campus 9,838 11,605
University of Nevada-Las Vegas 10,319 11,529
Florida State College at Jacksonville 11,611 11,506
Rio Salado College 12,092 11,329
Oregon State University 10,148 11,251
Northcentral University 11,029 10,916
Nova Southeastern University 12,147 10,893
Portland Community College 10,849 10,640
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis 9,807 10,597
Old Dominion University 9,343 10,484
Central Piedmont Community College 10,177 10,463
Wilmington University 12,745 10,409
Utah Valley University 9,557 10,408
Tarrant County College District 10,377 10,402
Austin Community College District 9,896 10,364
University of Alabama at Birmingham 12,371 10,301
The University of Alabama 9,658 10,242
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 7,911 10,237
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 9,914 10,200
American InterContinental University-Online 11,560 10,091
California State University-Sacramento 7,511 10,086
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 9,140 10,077
University of Utah 8,598 9,947
Saint Leo University 11,244 9,899
Central Texas College 10,354 9,775
Columbus State Community College 11,907 9,685
Hillsborough Community College 7,441 9,588
Tidewater Community College 9,989 9,573
SUNY Buffalo State 2,303 9,475
Sam Houston State University 9,278 9,456
Ball State University 8,822 9,395
Drexel University 9,878 9,384
Lamar University 9,120 9,326
Central New Mexico Community College 8,557 9,288
Coastline Community College 9,776 9,227
Wake Technical Community College 8,642 9,187
The University of Texas at El Paso 9,384 9,116
University of Oklahoma 7,617 9,104
Indiana Wesleyan University 0 9,079
The University of Texas at Austin 7,021 9,003
Weber State University 8,433 8,982
South University Savannah Online 10,781 8,954
Johns Hopkins University 8,119 8,882
Baker College 12,081 8,881
Saddleback College 8,514 8,848
Kennesaw State University 10,056 8,800
George Mason University 7,901 8,777
University of New Mexico-Main Campus 8,059 8,771
Texas Woman's University 8,787 8,761
Park University 8,352 8,754
American River College 8,383 8,731
Troy University 8,824 8,706
Texas A & M University-Commerce 8,335 8,699
University of North Carolina at Greensboro 7,395 8,644
Grantham University 11,721 8,637
Eastern Kentucky University 8,368 8,630
Salt Lake Community College 7,504 8,595
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 8,600 8,588
University of Missouri-Columbia 10,572 8,576
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale 7,672 8,568
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 7,413 8,479
San Jacinto Community College 7,961 8,475
University of Iowa 12,784 8,405
Western Kentucky University 7,687 8,395
University of South Carolina-Columbia 7,094 8,394
Richland College 5,343 8,317
Lorain County Community College 4,967 8,232
San Francisco State University 6,557 8,147
Santa Monica College 7,499 8,096
Palomar College 7,306 7,952
San Joaquin Delta College 7,474 7,941
California State University-East Bay 7,684 7,913
University of Nebraska at Omaha 7,537 7,893
Wichita State University 7,483 7,873
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona 6,298 7,871
Bellevue University 8,516 7,814
Fayetteville Technical Community College 7,520 7,789
University of Tennessee-Knoxville 6,515 7,760
Tulsa Community College 7,870 7,612
The University of West Florida 6,922 7,611
Regent University 6,010 7,554
University of Toledo 7,266 7,545
Palm Beach State College 7,399 7,536
Arkansas State University-Main Campus 6,747 7,525
West Virginia University 4,882 7,516
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth 930 7,514

Digital accessibility experts discuss how they approach the faculty role - Inside Higher Ed

Posted: 15 Mar 2017 12:00 AM PDT

The decision last week by the University of California, Berkeley, to take years' worth of video and audio lectures out of the public realm because of federal requirements on accessibility for people with disabilities was decried by many accessibility advocates. And many other universities told Inside Higher Ed this week that they would not be following suit

But Berkeley's response aside, colleges and universities must increasingly deal with the underlying issue of how to make their educational content -- more and more of which is taking digital form -- available to and usable by all.

And that's not an easy thing to ensure, given the many, diffuse players involved in the creation of instructional materials and the important principles of faculty independence and academic freedom that are deeply embedded in the content development process.

In the context of Berkeley's decision, Inside Digital Learning asked a group of digital accessibility experts how they balance the essential goal of making digital courseware accessible while respecting faculty independence and avoiding deterring professors who may already be daunted by the prospect of creating digital academic materials. Among the questions we asked them to address are:

  • Are there practices that you have found work (and don't) in assuring the creation of accessible digital materials?
  • Are there decisions to be made about what you have faculty members themselves do, versus the institution's technology specialists?
  • What issues should administrators and faculty members alike be thinking about as they navigate this terrain?


Connie Johnson, chief academic officer and provost, Colorado Technical University

At Colorado Technical University, faculty are provided the opportunity to serve as the authors of course content and often include digital tools in their classes. For example, at CTU, courses may include adaptive learning technology, simulations and virtual labs. While faculty are provided the support of curriculum designers to ensure sound instructional design and to validate accessibility, the faculty are the ultimate decision makers about the digital tools implemented in CTU courses.

CTU's philosophy is that faculty should be supported in a number of ways including training, curriculum design and the implementation of digital tools in the classroom. Equally important is student support for the technology in the classroom by providing faculty needed training in assisting students with technology issues, which allows students to focus on their coursework.

How does a faculty member sift through the many options available for digital tools, and more importantly, how does a faculty member know what might be effective in the classroom? At CTU, we strongly believe that collaboration not only of curriculum designers as mentioned previously, but of academic leaders in each college reduces the workload that is often involved in choosing and creating course content. Granted, there may be faculty who prefer to work alone, but our experience is that academic collaboration, including researching accessibility of digital tools, supports faculty embracing digital tools in online and blended courses.

Faculty culture also matters. The sizzle of a courseware product, no matter how impressive, loses its appeal when faculty culture does not embrace it. But when implementation of digital tools leverages faculty expertise and feedback during all stages, the culture shifts, and faculty move from being skeptical of technology to being advocates for it. We have trained over a thousand faculty members in adaptive learning technology over the past six years, and currently offer over 100 courses that incorporate the technology. Supporting faculty, including the provision of and guidance of accommodations, we believe, creates a culture of faculty embracing the often time consuming task of creating digital content.

Admittedly, academic administrators must embrace and be attuned to the changing educational landscape as well as the rules and regulations that are relevant for faculty and for students. With the growth of digital tools and vendors who provide these tools, the environment can be daunting.

However, the benefit of the science of learning, captured in the data from the digital tools provides faculty with information about their students and their classrooms that was simply not possible to measure without these tools. I had the opportunity to speak to CTU faculty recently who were using adaptive learning technology in the classroom and asked them if they would like to revert back to teaching and facilitating without digital tools and was met with a resounding no. The affirmation of the importance of digital tools in the classroom amplifies the administrative responsibility to support the faculty in all areas of implementation of digital learning.


Paul Krause, CEO, eCornell, associate vice provost of online learning, Cornell University

Cornell University launched eCornell over 15 years ago to support design, development and marketing of online courses that reach students around the world. At eCornell, we aim to provide online learning solutions that are accessible, usable and welcoming to people with disabilities. Courses are designed to conform with Section 508 standards and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ("WCAG") 2.0 AA published by the World Wide Web Consortium. Courses offer captioning for all videos, full-text transcripts and screen-reader compatibility.

When faculty develop courses with eCornell, they are essentially plugging into a system in which the requirements and demands for creating engaging, effective and accessible digital learning solutions are inherent in our DNA.

We've established standards, processes and platforms that leave the complexities related to course production, including accessibility requirements, in the hands of our expert staff, so our faculty can focus on their content and the creative ways it can be delivered online.

In practical terms, this means communicating and adhering to a set of standards that enable accessibility, and providing the faculty with the support they will need to meet those standards throughout every phase of our development process.   For example, we have a simple, low-cost process for adding video closed captioning.  We use standard templates within our online platform that have been tested to meet accessibility requirements.  And we provide an online help desk that solicits feedback from people with disabilities and can arrange additional support when needed.

What's worked for us:

1. Don't make accessibility a complicated and intimidating barrier for faculty to overcome. Provide expert consultation and systems that faculty can tap into to create effective and accessible online programs.

2. When designing the course experience, work from a place of possibility versus limitation.  

3. Solicit feedback from and provide support for people with disabilities to support an effective online learning experience.  


Karen M. Sorensen, accessibility advocate in distance education, and Loraine Schmitt, dean of distance education, Portland Community College

Accessibility of online courses is a shared responsibility at Portland Community College. It is shared between distance education staff, including an accessibility advocate, an alternate format technician, a part-time screen reader tester and collaboration with disability services staff and faculty. Together, work is done to proactively create accessible, online courses. With a very large online program, this is a big task, one that could not be achieved by the small distance education team alone, even with the ongoing support of disability services.

To help clarify roles, a Who's Responsible for Online Course Accessibility resource was developed. It outlines what instructors, distance education and disability services are responsible for in making online courses accessible.

The balance of responsibilities is key. The accessibility advocate trains faculty how to make and select accessible course materials while also considering what is reasonable and achievable. All online courses are reviewed for accessibility with a philosophy of "High Standards, but Easy Grading." If something in the course is not up to the WCAG 2.0 AA standards but is merely a formatting issue, such as headings or lists not formatted properly, the faculty member is pointed to online resources (http://pcc.edu/access) on how to fix the issue.

But if there are barriers that prevent a student with a disability from accessing content in the course, often caused by inaccessible 3rd party, interactive web applications or a publisher's platform, an equally effective alternative must be found or that the application or platform cannot be used.

But even this requirement is not left to the instructor alone to achieve. The distance education accessibility team puts the third-party applications and platforms through screen reader testing and other manual and automated accessibility reviews. The instructor and the vendor are invited to observe the testing. It's often the first time an instructor has witnessed someone use a screen reader on their course content, which in itself can do a lot to build the instructor's awareness of why accessibility is so important. PCC asks vendors to help develop the accessible alternative to the barrier that their product creates. (In addition, the hope is that sharing the testing with the vendor will lead them to eventually making their product more accessible.) The assistance of the college librarian for the subject area of the course and disability resources is also called upon. So the burden is not at all on the instructor alone.

Really sharing the responsibility of accessibility is what works for Portland Community College.


Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., vice provost for digital learning and student engagement; Angela Gunder, associate director, Office of Digital Learning; Dawn Hunziker, IT accessibility consultant, Disability Resources Center; University of Arizona

The proliferation of digital content and new educational technologies has challenged higher educational institutions to think differently about questions of both accessibility and equity. Given this, the University of Arizona begins its conversations about digital learning in the context of universal design for learning (UDL) with the goal of providing the highest level of access with the least amount of modification at the individual user level. The university does this by working across the institution and in concert with its Disability Resources Center (DRC) and through an IT Accessibility Team to proactively evaluate teaching and learning software products, to quickly identify content that may remain inaccessible and modify it, and to generate innovative pedagogical strategies that work from the principles of UDL.

This is more than captioning spoken or visual material – something that the university does already – it is about working from the ground up to collectively involve stakeholders in conversations about building from a position of UDL. Put simply, the University of Arizona is building a learning technologies infrastructure that faculty can use so that they are not spending their time evaluating whether or not technology A or B is based in the principles of UDL.

What does this look like on the ground? In the space of our online courses, the university has developed mechanisms for faculty to easily engage IT accessibility experts and the DRC to better understand how to create an accessible and inclusive experience for all. Within both our Office of Digital Learning, which supports our UA Online campus programs, instructional designers and technologists as well as quality assurance coordinators work with faculty to identify improvements that support UDL.

This proactive approach insures that our UA Online courses do not need to be retrofitted to particular student needs, although individual accommodations are available when necessary. Similar conversations and workshops on UDL happen across the campus through our university's Office of Instruction and Assessment. Indeed, we encourage faculty to be creative in their teaching strategies and feel strongly that innovations in teaching and/or course design can model increased learning, engagement and access for all students.

Because questions around accessibility need to be addressed just as often as security, the university commitment to UDL is also represented through our work with third-party vendors, such as publishers or classroom technology developers. Our university's dedicated IT Accessibility team addresses the accessibility of technology and provides resources  regarding accessible content and technology. This helps leverage the university's central resources to offer tools that already meet the standards of UDL.

This team collaborates across campus and works closely with faculty, instructional designers, administrators and IT personnel to make sure accessibility is part of the discussion from the beginning of any implementation of new learning technologies. In the big picture, the university IT Accessibility team members encourage innovation while collaborating to ensure that innovation is accessible and available for all participants.

No matter what the process, maintaining a culture of UDL takes active work and participation from across the campus. It demands constant vigilance in evaluating digital learning content across the life cycle of the curriculum, which also requires dedicated resources to support that vigilance. There remain many challenges, including questions of how innovation in teaching and learning may be creating opportunity but also generating new challenges for accessibility.

Furthermore, in the rapid-fire pace of curricular and course development in online education, the institution has to force itself to pause and reflect on its practices. Without doing so, we may fail to maintain the networks across the campus that are necessary to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of teaching and learning.


Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor of online learning, University of Illinois at Springfield

The faculty members who teach online at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) are committed to best practices in online learning. These include finding effective technology, appropriate pedagogy and engaging approaches to make the learning experience effective and relevant in the 21st century. As it turns out, they are also committed to making their classes accessible. This past week we held a workshop on online accessibility; it attracted three times the largest number of faculty we had seen at our previous faculty development sessions this year. 

The first key to engaging faculty members in accessibility is to explain the value of universal design in making their classes part of an environment that is effective for everyone. It goes well beyond access for the disabled. We emphasize the research that shows captioning enhances learning outcomes for all learners, not just the visually impaired. Seeing the text and being able to review the text affords clarity for difficult concepts for all students. And, it opens the door to automatic translation for students for whom English is not their first language.

Choosing the layout, colors, fonts and other aspects of the online classroom within universal design principles empowers the faculty choice as their refresh their classes. Universal design does not have to be cookie cutter; it can enable a wide array of options.

The second key is to find the most efficient way to implement effective universal design. Faculty members sincerely want to serve all of their students; they recognize that the student is the center of the teaching profession. At UIS, our instructional design/faculty development staff members are schooled in universal design. They form a close partnership with the faculty members in the colleges they serve. 

In fact, the designers all are teaching part-time or have recently taught online. They draw upon their own work to share with their partner faculty members. Approaching the topic as both busy teachers and designers themselves, the staff members share effective, but also highly efficient, ways of achieving universal design.

The process becomes far less about jumping through the accessibility hoops than it is about creating interesting and engaging learning environments that are universally accessible. By making this effort a partnership between the staff and the faculty, we collaboratively create online environments that are both supportive and credible. Working together, sharing techniques and practices, we see some of the very best work is done. 

Over time, as faculty members envision their distant students, they see an array of students both young and old; fully sighted and vision-impaired; hearing capable and hearing-impaired; native English speakers and those with English as a second (or third) language; and more. They see their course as a unique patch of a very large universally designed patchwork quilt of classes that fit together into a comfortably accessible whole.   


Sheryl Burgstahler, director, accessible technology services, University of Washington

Captioning videos is no doubt expensive if you wait until you have the daunting task of captioning 20,000 all at once.(Rewind: Imagine in the '70s when it dawned on older campuses that they needed to ramp the curbs on all of their sidewalks!)

However, creating an individual video has a cost in terms of time and possibly direct funding that far outweighs the additional time or cost of captioning it during the creation process. (Curbcuts built into the design of new sidewalks add little to the total cost.) For example, many video creators do not know that YouTube offers a video editor that allows them to improve the accuracy of the automatic captioning YouTube creates. For new videos created by a professional team, the script can be used as the first draft for the captions, minimizing the cost of captions to the production. And, of course, companies abound that will compete for your business to caption videos for a fee.

A campus just becoming aware of captioning requirements may want to first make sure directions for how to request captioning and other disability-related accommodations are clearly presented on key campus websites, and to ensure that specific requests for captioning from deaf students, faculty, staff and the public are addressed immediately. They may wish to employ a campus-wide task force to identify systematic ways to deal with an existing inventory of uncaptioned videos on public websites. This group could also identify processes for the creation of new videos. One promising practice is to use central funds coordinated by a central unit to caption public-facing videos.

The process used for this captioning service can be used to build awareness about captioning options on the part of those units receiving the service. In addition, clear policies should be set and promoted, and guidelines for captioning videos and otherwise making IT accessible to people with disabilities should be provided prominently online and shared with all campus units and support staff. Such efforts should be integrated with other efforts toward creating an inclusive campus culture that demonstrates in actions that the engagement of all students, faculty, staff and visitors is valued.

Simply removing all videos from public view could take a campus down a slippery slope. What next? Pull down all public websites and documents that are not fully accessible via a screen reader used by a person who is blind? Instead, we can use the captioning issue to reflect more broadly on practicing what we preach when we say we want our institution to be inclusive. Captions, after all, are just electronic curbcuts!

Recapping the year in digital learning - Inside Higher Ed

Posted: 12 Dec 2018 12:00 AM PST

Just like that, another year is almost over. If it's been as much of a whirlwind for you as it has for us, you're likely struggling to make sense of all that changed on the digital learning landscape this year.

Our second annual year-end recap is here to help. We gathered some of the most thoughtful observers of the field to ask these three questions:

  • What digital learning development from the past 12 months (either a specific piece of news or a trend) will we still be talking about five years from now?
  • Why is this development likely to stick around as a topic of conversation and a driver of innovation?
  • How will the conversation evolve in the coming years?

Here's what they said.

Erasmus Addae, associate vice president of distance education, Austin Community College

I think we will be talking about AI-enabled video platforms for digital learning, including streaming videos and interactive videos.

Video platforms such as OVP (online video platform), EVP (enterprise video platforms) and EdVP (education video platform) are increasingly becoming the media of choice in digital learning for performance support, user-generated content and learning scenarios. The principal deficiency of video in the past was the ability to search down to the frame level. This is now being addressed by a new generation of video solutions. The latest incarnation of bite-sized learning, known as microlearning when combined with video, is going to feature prominently in the next few years.

Of all the promises behind the next wave of video technologies, those promised by AI-enabled videos have the greatest potential to transform. Recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence will allow students to find the best instructional videos, similar to the Netflix model that finds the best movies based on subscriber preferences. AI-enabled videos have the ability to personalize learning. In the coming years, we can expect the use of AI in videos to improve student learning outcomes by leveraging student data to personalize learning.

At Austin Community College, a video platform that provides the capabilities for scenario-based learning is being used in the registered nursing program and has proven to be a rich and powerful medium to enrich the curriculum. As the technology evolves, the institution will continue to explore all the benefits of AI-enabled videos. The current conversation, as the implementation of videos in the nursing curriculum is ongoing, has been centered on accessibility: How do we make content accessible to entire audience? How do we improve the machine captioning? We'll have to answer those questions, and many others, soon.

Nicole AllenNicole Allen, director of open education, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition

Open educational resources (OER) have been around -- and gaining ground -- for more than a decade, but 2018 was a turning point in a number of ways. Governments put nearly $20 million toward expanding OER in higher education, including $8 million from New York for the second year in a row, and $10 million from the U.S. Congress.

Similar investments have generated significant returns in student savings, most recently confirmed in a North Dakota state audit that documented savings 10 to 20 times the modest original investment. Worldwide, the savings through OER for students, parents and schools have surpassed $1 billion, according to our calculations.

More From "Inside Digital Learning"

The federal government awarded $4.9 million to LibreTexts, an OER project at the University of California, Davis, aiming to create a customizable library of materials on STEM and career/technical subjects.

Next year the U.S. Department of Education will award another $4.9 million to several OER projects.

Also this year, OpenStax announced that its free, open textbooks are used at nearly half of all U.S. institutions, and at least 38 community colleges are establishing degree pathways that use OER in every course. Links between OER and equity are emerging, with a new study from the University of Georgia that found the use of OER was associated with higher grades for Pell-eligible and other traditionally underserved students. Meanwhile, OER is becoming a focal point in mainstream higher education conversations, most recently with an OER implementation summit organized by the regional higher education compacts MHEC and WICHE.

Five years from now, we will still be talking about OER -- but not in the way you might think. My prediction is that 2019 is the year when the national conversation about OER shifts from being solely about saving money to leveraging openness to make course materials better. OER has the power to unlock new ways for faculty to exercise academic freedom in the classroom, for students to meaningfully engage with their materials and for institutions to promote the success of all students.

Bob AtkinsBob Atkins, CEO, Gray Associates

There is a fundamental shift in student interest from on-ground to online programs. In 2018, inquiries for online programs have grown more than 6 percent, according to our data. Meanwhile, inquiries for on-campus programs have seen more than a 9 percent decline. We expect this trend to continue for several years as the population of potential adult learners continues to grow, and the annual number of high school graduates stays flat.

Online institutions are reaching nearly unprecedented scale: there are eight institutions with over 80,000 students enrolled, five of which have over 100,000 students. Scale should enable these institutions to invest more in marketing, analytics and teaching, which could give them a substantial advantage over smaller colleges.

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One-third of all students now enroll in at least one online course, according to the latest IPEDS data.

However, the online market appears to be brutally competitive. Four schools gained over 10,000 students each, but these gains were more than offset by enrollment declines at other predominantly online institutions. The University of Phoenix alone lost 46,000 students. Liberty, Ashford and APUS each lost over 7,000 students.

While a giant's sheer size may be an advantage relative to smaller players, they will also be attacked by other giants in a fierce and unpredictable battle for share.

Kelvin BentleyKelvin Bentley, assistant vice president for digital learning innovation, University of West Florida

California's Legislature approved Governor Jerry Brown's plan for the state to offer the country's first fully online community college this year. The goal is to provide an estimated 2.5 million Californians aged 24-34 who lack a college education a credential that will improve their social mobility within the world of work. The California Online College (COC) will initially offer only programs in medical coding, information technology and supervision in areas including retail and government.

The COC represents an evolving model of how higher education can and should shift its approach toward attempting to prepare learners who meet the expectations of their future employers. The COC's programs will be competency-based, and it will work closely with employers to define and affirm the knowledge, skills and abilities that COC learners will need to master.

More From "Inside Digital Learning"

California's plan for an online community college drew a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism as legislators weighed several proposals.

Such an approach has been embodied by several traditional brick-and-mortar community colleges, including those institutions who received TAACCT grant funds to build CBE degree pathways for learners.

The COC's approach will be tracked and studied closely over the next several years. The COC's ability to attract and credential learners will be carefully examined by different constituents both within and outside California. Within the state, California's new governor, the state Legislature, community college faculty, administrators, staff and current and prospective employers will follow initially how well the COC attracts learners. The COC will then need to demonstrate that the credentials it awards help learners obtain access to jobs.

If the COC is successful in achieving its metrics, there is potential for community colleges in and outside California to adapt and adopt its practices. In addition, such institutions can help to ensure their employer partners perceive their learners as having the competencies needed to be successful in their respective jobs.

Jill Buban, chief academic officer, Unizin

In 2018 we've seen the evolution of many digital teaching and learning tools and pedagogical practices, such as inclusive access models for digital content, scalable personalized and adaptive learning implementations, and a wider breadth of understanding surrounding learner analytics. In 2023, I predict there will be no textbooks, only digital content and courseware, and personalized and adaptive learning will be refined in such ways that all students have unique, unified learner profiles through data provided on robust learning analytics platforms.

Digital content and courseware will fully replace textbooks in order to increase access to materials and reduce costs for students. Inclusive access models provide students the ability to use course materials on or before the first day of class. This is crucial to success in all environments and for all types of students, from traditional, campus-based learners to online and blended learners to active military learners.

Pedagogically, digital content allows faculty the opportunity to flip their classrooms, increase accountability and better understand individual and class learning through content analytics and content tools.

At the institution level, inclusive access models will impact persistence and retention. The conversation around digital content will evolve to an "inclusive content package" model that includes OER, publisher and library content. Students will have inclusive access for all materials, and institutions will be able to adopt these at a low cost. This type of package will continue to allow faculty to select resources and students to have early access, with the hopes of increasing persistence toward degree completion.

The user data collected from digital content will be integrated with multiple systems to create robust learner profiles. Refined inclusive access models, personalized and adaptive learning, and learner analytics will continue to evolve to drive innovation because they impact high-priority areas in higher education for all learners. The future is digital!

Connie JohnsonConnie Johnson, chief academic officer and provost, Colorado Technical University

The year's most notable development was the increasing prominence of digital tools in classes using mobile applications. With increased use of mobile devices including tablets, education is more accessible to a larger group of students in different life stages and socioeconomic brackets. This development impacts students and faculty (online and campus) as well as vendors of digital tools.

Students will drive this innovation since we are becoming increasingly more savvy with and, in some cases, dependent upon mobile devices for information. Additionally, K-12 students are using digital tools as a normal protocol including class work and homework assignments.

Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center indicates that 95 percent of adults now have a mobile device and that digital information is an integral part of daily living.

Several facets of the conversation about mobile devices and higher education will emerge. One topic for educators will be how to design and deliver course content that engages students and achieves course outcomes using a mobile device. Pedagogy using a mobile device effectively will also need to be considered. Faculty engagement and acceptance of this new medium will also be worth discussing, as will measuring and assessing student outcomes using a different method of instructional delivery.

The ultimate question for educators in higher education is: How can we adapt to mobile technology while maintaining integrity?

Tanya JoostenTanya Joosten, director of digital learning research and development, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

Thanks to technology's ability to capture and store information about its users and our interactions with or behaviors within the technology, we have a lot of data. Moreover, education is under greater pressure to prove technology is working and worth the investment, not only in price, but also the resources to support teaching and learning with the technology. At the same time, technology companies must provide evidence of their products' efficacy or effectiveness. Therefore, the development of data-driven actions will still be discussed for years.

Everyone is currently figuring out how to use data to help us solve challenges and improve teaching and learning. In examining the popular trend reports, an array of solutions focusing on data-driven actions dominate: learning analytics, adaptive learning, artificial intelligence, evaluation of tech-based instructional interventions, learning sciences, data sciences and predictive analytics for student success in advising and teaching. Each of these areas is, in part, due to the data we have or can collect easily that can help us take appropriate action to improve education.

The conversation will be twofold, focusing on improving the data and examining the data-driven actions from a critical lens. That means efforts to identify theoretically meaningful metrics for measuring learning and technology adoption, asking important questions, identifying numerous data sources and observations, looking beyond input and output data, and contextualizing data with the help of technology. There are many concerns about the security, sharing and ownership of data and development of biased, nontransparent and nonvalid algorithms claiming predictability. Finally, there will be future discussions in great depth as to the dialectical between automation of education and areas requiring greater agency, heurism, ambiguity and authenticity.

Josh KimJosh Kim, director of digital learning initiatives, Dartmouth College

This year, serving the maximum number of students and enhancing learning experiences using technology were again at the forefront of discussions about higher education. In 2019, our Inside Higher Ed community (readers, reporters, editors and bloggers) will commit to discussing the current role and the future of academic libraries and librarians within higher education.

You are likely thinking, "That is not the question that he is supposed to answer. How do academic libraries and librarians relate to the coming year of digital learning?" You are also maybe wondering why someone outside the academic library community is calling for a yearlong conversation about academic libraries and the academic librarian profession.

The reasons for my call for Inside Higher Ed to devote the considerable resources of this community to a yearlong conversation about academic libraries comes from the hypothesis that the work that academic librarians engage in is inextricably linked to the social value generated by higher education. No issue is more important for learning, including digital learning, than the future of the academic library.

In an age of fake news and alternative facts, and of an ever-increasing concentration of information power among a handful of digital platform providers (Facebook, Amazon, Google), academic libraries serve as essential defenders of open information access, accessibility and privacy.

As a digital learning educator working outside an academic library organization, I have more questions than answers.

  • How is the role of the academic library changing as colleges and universities develop new models of teaching (including digital learning), scholarship and credentialing?
  • How are academic libraries balancing ever-greater demands on their services and their people with the realities of reduced funding?
  • How are academic libraries impacted by the broader public funding crises, demographic trends and overall economic challenges that colleges and universities are attempting to navigate?

How might we start a yearlong communitywide Inside Higher Ed conversation on the present challenges, and the future shape, of the academic library?

Katie LinderKatie Linder, research director, Oregon State University Ecampus

Over the past several years, it's been interesting to see an increase in the research on how the digital environment is impacting our brains. Most recently, I've been intrigued by the literature on digital versus traditional reading. Wolf's (2018) Reader, Come Home, for example, offers an overview of the way technology has changed the ways that we process language. As a former English major and a current online education researcher, I find it fascinating that digital tools we engage with each day are causing fundamental changes in the brain in ways that we did not -- and probably could not -- anticipate.

There is a strong trend of popular nonfiction that explores the relationship between technology, culture and cognition. From Carr's 2011 The Shallows to Greenfield's 2015 Mind Change to the more recent Bored and Brilliant (Zomorodi, 2017), I've followed along with much interest.

It turns out that the more we integrate and engage with the digital environment in our daily lives, the more our brains are evolving right alongside the technology tools that we are regularly updating and upgrading. Neither technologies nor our brains will stop evolving, so our interest in this topic is likely to continue.

We're just starting to scratch the surface of understanding how the brain is impacted by the digital environment. This may be why higher education continues to wrestle with the implementation of technologies for teaching and learning (a recent survey found that only 30 percent of instructors believe online courses can achieve student learning outcomes that are comparable to those of face-to-face courses). The efficacy question of what technology tools work and for whom is alive and well, and this is one reason why the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit has focused on efforts to help others explore the research on online learning efficacy.

Russ PoulinRuss Poulin, senior director of policy, analysis and strategic initiatives, WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies

The growth, scalability and sustainability of innovations created both excitement and anxiety in 2018. Let's start with growth.

In November, Inside Higher Ed cited a U.S. Department of Education report on distance education growth with about a third of all students taking at least one distance course. While overall higher education enrollments declined in recent years, more students take distance classes each year.

Earlier in the year, Southern New Hampshire University and Western Governors University were reported to be approaching 100,000 distance enrollments. Apparently, both have now raced past that mark.

But growth leads to scalability and sustainability problems and new solutions.

Remember when 2012 was declared the Year of the MOOC? Six years later, having seemingly abandoned their altruistic goals, MOOC companies have taken different paths, including offering traditional online master's degrees, becoming OPMs and, in Udacity's case, dropping its money-back promise and laying off employees.

In case the fully online market is being saturated, some universities were planning to add local, hands-on assistance. In February, Ohio became Western Governors University's eighth state affiliate. In November, Georgia Tech considered creating "storefronts" to serve its online students and to attract more students who want at least some face-to-face engagement.

As institutions try to find their way in the quickly evolving postsecondary landscape, scalability and sustainability of innovations will become more important. Institutions will have to decide where to invest their limited resources to have the most impact and to best serve students. To help, WCET has been entrusted with grants to work on scalability and sustainability in adaptive learning and in open textbooks.

It is no longer enough to "let a thousand flowers bloom" with educational innovations. We need to determine what works, how it fits into the institution's mission and how it can be fiscally supported.

Penny Ralston-BergPenny Ralston-Berg, senior research instructional designer, Penn State World Campus

The professionalism of instructional designers in higher education is a hot topic that will continue to evolve in the years ahead. Although instructional design has been around since World War II, there is a recent new interest or, as Trey Martindale described on a panel at the 2018 DT&L Conference, a "rediscovery" of instructional design in higher education. Yet there continue to be inconsistencies in job titles, descriptions and duties. Institutions are adding instructional designers, but in what way? And how can instructional design positions be leveraged to have the greatest impact on student learning? This is an important conversation.

In the next five years, instructional designers will have a greater presence and perceived value in the quality and success of digital learning. Institutions will turn to the ibstpi instructional designer competencies to better inform instructional designer job descriptions, professional development needs and career paths.

Better-configured teams, such as MSU Denver's Course Design Xchange (CoDeX) and its use of tokenomics, will increase efficiencies while maximizing impact.

In practice, more designers will participate in research -- collaborating with faculty to investigate teaching and learning. An Oregon State University Ecampus study confirmed that instructional designers' interest in research is not only for their own professional development and growth, but also to collaborate with faculty and further the discipline.

Professional organizations for instructional design practitioners, such as the Quality Matters IDA, will continue to grow in membership and services. Senior-level designers are actively seeking out professional learning networks and opportunities for honing their design practice. Professional development for IDs will also expand to include more offerings for experienced designers, such as being a mentor in Educause's ID2ID program. The discussion of professionalism has also left some wondering if it's time for a professional certification for instructional designers. The conversation will continue.

Ray SchroederRay Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning, University of Illinois at Springfield

This will be remembered as the year that higher education realized traditional certificates and degrees were no longer fully serving the needs of learners. Driven by advancements in technology, jobs in the workplace have begun shifting and disappearing underneath the graduates holding those jobs. Whether you call these changes the rise of the 60-year learner, lifelong learning or lifetime learning, the message is the same. No longer will one, two or three degrees suffice to support a career. No longer will occasional, continuing education sustain the learning needs spanning a career.

In June, Harvard's dean of continuing education, Hunt Lambert, hosted a symposium on the 60-year curriculum. Also in the summer, Washington University's vice provost of Continuum College, Rovy Branon, wrote about certificates supporting lifelong learning for the work force. Building in part upon the remarkable record of Georgia Tech professional education led by Nelson Baker, in April the university adopted an extraordinary vision for the future, Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Learning -- calling for the Georgia Tech Commitment to a Lifetime Education.

Looking ahead, we must envision anew the way we serve the learner. Emerging are models of a subscription approach to support lifelong students on a large, continuing scale. Among early examples of subscription is the Michigan Ross School of Business, where they offer a free lifelong subscription to selected continuing education. Some years ago, my good colleague Vickie Cook taught me a new learning practice of self-determined learning, heutagogy. In the coming years, providing lifelong career learning will evolve beyond continuing education classes into university subscriptions to an online heutagogical learning environment of robust continuous support of self-determined learners. Students will return again and again to fulfill their needs.

Dhawal Shah, founder and CEO, Class Central

MOOCs are no longer new; online degrees are even older. But the merger of these two phenomena has resulted in a new mode of learner acquisition that may point the way to a sustainable business model for MOOCs. Over the seven years since they became popular, MOOCs have worked hard to make good on the promise of educating the masses, while larger, venture-backed platforms such as Coursera seek to satisfy the demands of investors. Now, it seems, all the larger platforms, including Coursera, edX and FutureLearn, are bullish on MOOC-based degrees. Why? Because it turns out that free courses are an excellent marketing channel for reaching prospective students who will ultimately pay for full-fledged degree programs.

Here's how it works: universities offer some part of their catalog on the MOOC platforms. Some portion of these learners can be monetized at the level of a single certificate, a smaller portion at the level of a course series package and an even smaller set at the level of a full degree.

Even though it's only a tiny subset of MOOC learners who will go on to earn a degree, the cost of acquiring these learners is small as compared to what traditional online degree programs spend to find paying student customers.

To date around 15 universities have announced 40-plus MOOC-based degrees. Between 25 and 30 of these programs were announced in 2018, making it the biggest year yet for degree programs delivered via MOOC platforms. As compared to traditional online degrees, MOOC-based degrees are different in five ways. These include lower cost, a more relaxed application process, flexible course load options, the existence of stackable credentials building up to the degree and, of course, courses that are free to the public to audit. While not all MOOC-based degree programs embody all of these features, some do.

What are MOOCs good for? It's a question many have been asking over the past seven years. In 2018, we may have seen the answer to this question.

Burck SmithBurck Smith, CEO and founder, StraighterLine

Though online courses are usually priced the same or higher than face-to-face courses, the total cost of a degree is decreasing through the emergence of "pathway" programs. Typically, these programs are focused on prospective students, cost substantially less than the program itself, aren't eligible for financial aid, might have subscriptions rather than flat fee payments and are transferable as credit into a formal program. Examples include StraighterLine's "refer and return" programs, edX's Micromasters and BYU Idaho's Pathway Program.

For students, this is a less risky way to determine readiness while earning a discount. For colleges, it's a way to attract new students, increase yield and improve student outcomes.

Pathway programs typically require accredited colleges to partner with new providers, require stackability and are being embraced by the biggest accredited providers of online education -- all hot-button trends in higher education. Watch for this to be standard practice in five years.

James Wiley, principal analyst of technology, Eduventures

Over the past year, the digital learning conversation has shifted from the question of "Which specific technological components and pedagogical approaches are essential?" to "What type of environment would genuinely support it?" As evidenced in Educause, JISC in the United Kingdom and the Dutch organization SURF, there is an increasing focus on the essential functions (timetable management, collaboration, etc.) and technological principles (agility, interoperability, etc.) that digital learning requires.

This shift is significant because it leads institutions to think differently about the intersection of technology, teaching and learning. Instead of merely considering technology as an add-on, developing a digital learning ecosystem leads institutions to consider how to embed technology within their pedagogical approaches to enable the effective delivery of learning. As a result, higher education leaders have to think less about items such as open educational resources, learning management systems and learning analytics, and more about how the entirety of their technological applications help them realize their vision of digital learning at their institutions.

Over time, this way of viewing technology will support innovation in higher education, as institutions look to explore the role of technology in furthering new initiatives more holistically. Likewise, an approach such as this will expose opportunities for technology to adapt and grow to help institutions reach their strategic goals around teaching and learning.

The conversation around digital learning will not die down soon; instead, it will continue to force more profound questions about technology and its role within the institution. Over the next five years, institutions will place much greater importance on ensuring the alignment of technology, teaching and learning to enable them to provide richer educational value to their students.


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