Worthy of Note: April 2016
This issue of Worthy of Note
focuses on six of ETC’s 10 Critical Issues in Educational Technology —data, technology security, bandwidth, emerging technologies, instructional innovations, and policy and compliance.
- New Data Reveals 10 Stunning Facts on National Attainment Rates
- eCampusNews, April 11, 2016, Meris Stansbury
- An annual report by the Lumina Foundation uses Census data to track certificate and degree attainment in all 50 states. Overall postsecondary attainment is at 45.3 percent nationally, far short of the 2025 goal of 60 percent of Americans holding a postsecondary credential. Some of the highlights include:
- Of Americans ages 25 to 64 who have a postsecondary degree, nearly 9 percent have earned an associate degree, 20 percent have earned a bachelor’s degree, and 11.5 percent have earned graduate or professional degrees.
- By 2014, an estimated 26 percent of working-age Americans have earned a high school diploma or equivalent but no further education, and 21.5 percent reported some college experience, but no degree.
- While 59 percent of Americans believe education beyond high school is available to anyone, only 24 percent think it is affordable.
- Security Researchers Warn of Server Attacking Ransomware
- Computer Weekly, March 30, 2016, Warwick Ashford
- Ransomware and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks are the most common security attacks. The new ransomware, Samas, has hit the healthcare industry, holding hospital servers for ransom. “Samas compromises servers by exploiting known vulnerabilities in unpatched versions of the JBoss application server software identified using the Jexboss open-source network-scanning tool.” It then encrypts the files until a ransom is paid in bitcoin. One of the best ways to protect yourself against ransomware is to have backups of important files.
- 7 Things You Need to Know About eRate Changes
- eSchool News, March 25, 2016, Stephen Noonoo
- A lot of new funding is available (over $5 billion for new projects) for eRate. But with new forms and new data requirements, the eRate application process is more challenging than ever. More data gathering, a new application system, and other changes make the funding application’s April 29 deadline too soon for comfort. The deadline could be extended, but it would not be wise to rely on the possibility of more time. Start the application process early.
- Report: 41 Percent of Schools Are Under-Connected
- eSchool News, April 7, 2016, Laura Devaney
- Although many states have put greater emphasis on digital learning, the 2016 Broadband Progress Report shows that 41 percent of schools have not met the minimum recommendation of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. This article summarizes the report and notes some of the progress and challenges facing states and educational leaders.
- The Top 10 School IT Leader Concerns
- eSchool News, April 7, 2016, Stephen Noonoo
- The annual IT leadership survey report by CoSN was released during CoSN’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. The top concerns of IT school leadership included broadband, digital instructional materials, student data privacy, open educational resources, online productivity tools and student devices. The remaining issues were about the people who fill technology positions in education. The path to IT leadership differs between men and women; IT leadership positions show very little racial diversity. The majority of IT leaders have some advanced education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Even so, the demographics of IT staff are changing. As many as one-third of IT leaders plan to retire in the next six years. Other concerns mentioned include budget restraints, lack of resources, and silos that hamper effective collaboration.
- More Americans Flocking to Sun Belt Metro Areas
- Governing, March 24, 2016, Mike Maciag
- Census data from the past two years suggest that more Americans are moving to the Sun Belt to get away from the snowy winters. Florida has eight of the top 10 metro areas with the highest net migration increases. While the article isn’t about technology, the impact for technology infrastructure and schools must be considered in future planning. The article provides a helpful chart that shows the state and metropolitan area growth rates, with some of the highest net migrations in SREB states.
- Campuses Beware: Four Types of Bandwidth Sucking Apps
- eCampus News, March 29, 2016, Bruce Miller
- When students, faculty, and staff have multiple devices competing with classroom and operational technology needs, institutions need to be careful about applications that create challenges to providing adequate bandwidth.
- Streaming videos can take up over half of bandwidth traffic (Netfilx, YouTube, Apple Music, Pandora). Cloud backups that run often without user knowledge are the next culprit (iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, iOS). VPN use can circumvent firewalls and be a security risk (Hotspot Shield, Ultrasurf, OpenVPN). Social applications with students constantly uploading photos and statuses can be a real drain on educational resources needed for the classroom (Instagram, Facebook Tumblr).
- How Personal APIs Help Students Design Their University
- EdSurge, March 25, 2016, Andrew Rikard
- Faculty, technologists, CIOs, start-up founders and students met at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, at the Indie Ed Tech to build prototypes for student-centered APIs (application program interfaces). This event allows people to collaborate together, brainstorm and come up with creative tools to help design the university they attend. They used design-thinking principles to break down barriers between students, tool builders and decision-makers. Instead of a top-down approach, allowing students to forge their own tools gave them ownership and the ability to negotiate with the university on their terms.
- Know CPR? New App Sends Alerts When Someone Nearby Needs It
- Governing, March 2016, Ted Newcombe
- Immediate CPR for sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple the chance of survival, but the problem is getting someone close by that knows CPR. Pulse Point can help locate someone trained in CPR. “A mobile phone application alerts users to emergency calls to the local fire department. If the user is in the immediate vicinity of the emergency and has CPR training, they can choose to help the patient.” The tool can also help pinpoint the location of AED devices to jump start the heart.
- 7 Online Learning Trends for 2016
- eCampusNews, April 7, 2016, Andrew Barbour
- Online education has evolved over the years — moving from the novelty that gave nontraditional students more options to a more scalable, affordable alternative to an option that can be more effective than traditional education. New online tools can create an instructional experience more personalized and engaging to students. Of the many tools and trends, seven show the most potential for positive impact on learning. 1. Blended learning is the sweet spot – showing more promise across different disciplines than traditional or online. 2. Video is King – making the flipped classroom feasible by providing lecture capture from faculty as well as from publishers. 3. Interactivity, not talking heads – passive activities (yes, even videos) are not as effective for learning as an active learning experience. 4. Mobile is a Must – content must be accessible in iOS and Android formats because students want anytime access, not just at home or at the library. 5. Identity Verification and Cheating – even beyond cheating, massive identity fraud in Title IV has focused a lot of attention on program integrity and the validity of degrees awarded in online programs. 6. Auto-grading – beyond objective tests, EdX has been improving an essay auto-grader released in 2013 and WebAssign has an auto-grader for open ended questions in the STEM disciplines. 7. Open, Intuitive Platforms – Using LTI integration, LMSs can take advantage of the plethora of content, apps, and services available through other sources.
Policy and Compliance
- The Trouble With Learning Management
- EdSurge, April 8, 2016, Adam Finkelstein and Mike Goudzwaard
- With learning management systems (LMS), postsecondary institutions only use about 20 percent of the features. While there are options for interactivity, many of the defaults get in the way, and teachers are not versed in the use of the features. Migrating to a new LMS is painful and time consuming. A LearningOS (operating system) may be the solution with basics of rosters and analytics, with open integration via LTI to plugins and tools that students and teachers want and will use.
- Your Course Accessibility Checklist
- Campus Technology, March 30, 2016, David Raths
- Rutgers University is working to make all of its distance learning websites, online courses and traditional courses more accessible. Rutgers staff advises that in the research phase of an accessibility plan, meet with experts across the campus from libraries, IT, disability services, and classroom support, and consider accessibility as an academic standard. In the development phase, provide a required reading list of accessibility resources and ensure that an accessibility statement is in every syllabus. In the design phase, pay attention to navigation of the course and be sure to include captions for video content. Be sure that exams are accessible. In the implementation phase, communicate with students up front to let them know they should see someone in disability services if they have a disability.
- George Mason University conducts accessibility auditing and developed a six-week Online Course Development Institute to ensure that courses are accessible when developed. One of the biggest issues early in the process was that videos were not captioned. Now they offer this as a free service to their faculty.
- Reciprocity and Online Education
- Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2016, Phil Hill and Russ Poulin
- In response to a recent article criticizing the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement for online education, authors countered the argument that New York online students would suffer and New York would be ceding its authority to other states. They argue that “consistently applied regulations are good for consumer choice and protection.” SARA provides consistent review standards, a uniform way to deal with physical presence triggers, consistency in dealing with student complaints, and oftentimes better regulatory oversight since some states have no real protection for in-state students who enroll in out-of-state colleges.
- States Start Making Colleges Work for Funding
- Governing, April 2016, Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
- According to Complete College America, more than 20 states have some form of performance-based funding for higher education. The measures of performance vary greatly — from student enrollments to credit-hour completions to graduation rates. But the more innovative measures are based on student satisfaction rates, job placements, licensure or certifications, or program accreditation. Measuring effectiveness on higher education based on the value it adds can improve performance. The concern with this is the equity of institutions that have lower or no admission standards (accept all students regardless of SAT scores) versus the output of institutions with the highest admission requirements.
- Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, December 2015
- 2016 National Education Technology Plan
- By setting a national vision and plan for learning enhanced by technology, the National Education Technology Plan builds on the work of leading education researchers and other education stakeholders. This plan includes examples of transformation enabled by effective use of technology. Major sections of the plan include:
- Learning:Engaging and empowering learning through technology
- Teaching: Teaching with technology
- Leadership: Creating a culture and conditions for innovation and change
- Assessment: Measuring for learning
- Infrastructure: Enabling access and effective use
- Why the New Education Law is a Game-Changer
- Governing , January 1, 2016, John Bridgeland and Peter Orszag
- Over the next four years, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act could shift $2 billion of federal funds to proven programs that graduate students ready for college and careers. It could also be used to fund compilation of evidence on what actually works in education. The act focuses on innovation, replicating and scaling evidence-based solutions, and effective use of data for accountability.
Prepared by Wanda Barker, director of SREB’s Educational Technology Cooperative Wanda.Barker@SREB.org.