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Kate Rushton contributed a startling idea to the Future of Higher Education Challenge  #FutureHigherEd:  Suppose you were studying Environmental Justice.  You might attend lectures, read some books, pore over a few case studies…or you might want to actually talk to someone who was affected by, say,  the Flint, Michigan water crisis or the events following the Fukushima tsunami:

If I was studying it today, instead of reading about Exxon Valdez or Brent Spa, maybe I could learn from the perspective of the people involved in current issues around the world today e.g. the conflict between the Sami and Britain’s Beowulf Mining over an iron ore mining project in the north of Sweden from the perspective of the Sami, other locals, the Swedish government, Beowulf Mining and shareholders in the company, and buyers of iron ore.

That’s the idea behind the Human Library.  What if we could create a platform that would allow learners to easily host events involving people that would otherwise be difficult to assemble.  In Kate’s terms, “What if we could borrow people instead of books?”  It turns out there is a way to do this on a limited scale. Human Library UK is an international movement to facilitate conversations.

The Human Library is an international equalities movement that challenges prejudice and discrimination through social contact. It uses the language and mechanism of a library to facilitate respectful conversations that can positively change people’s attitudes and behaviours towards members of our communities who are at risk of exclusion and marginalisation.

It’s an idea that applies to many different conversations.  Wouldn’t it be great for computer scientists studying cyber security to assemble key players in the discovery, capture and containment of the Morris Worm, widely believed to be the first broad cyber attack on the Internet? How might a small liberal arts college host a classroom discussion with participants from around the world? The 1981 collapse of a walkway at the Kansas City Hyatt Hotel is often used as a case study for ethics classes, but many of the stakeholders (victims, engineers, construction personnel, government officials) are still living.How about  engaging in a dialog with them?

If this appeals to you, visit the openIDEO Challenge website and add your thoughts.

ideo-challenge

Reimagine the Future of Higher Education

Georgia Tech, USA Funds, Global Silicon Valley, Northeastern University, the US Department of Education, and  the international design firm IDEO are partnering to sponsor the OpenIDEO Future of Higher Education Challenge. The global initiative was announced Nov. 15 at the White House by Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell and will run through February 2017.

Read the full news release.

Get involved in the Challenge and share your vision!

The Challenge’s Research Phase is now underway. Share stories and reflections, emotions, perspectives and other personal contributions related to education after high school and throughout one’s lifetime. These contributions can be shared through the OpenIDEO Challenge Portal.

Postsecondary education is one of the best investments a person can make, serving as a gateway to social mobility and economic opportunity. This year, U.S. public high schools recorded a graduation rate of 83.2 percent, the highest number ever in recorded history. As these students transition into the American workforce, they’re likely to have four job changes in less than 10 years. Of those jobs, two billion will disappear by 2030—that’s approximately 50 percent of employment opportunities today. Learners are more diverse, because the country is more diverse.  They are also older, because as old jobs disappear, people return to school. They do not always live and work near a college campus, so access to quality education is not guaranteed.  Even if education is accessible, many find themselves priced out of a learning experience by tuition increases that outpace inflation by a factor of four.

There are dozens of shifts in the academic and economic landscapes happening all at once. Designing an adaptive postsecondary system that supports lifelong learning will be more critical than ever before.

The people and unmet needs behind these numbers inspire a huge opportunity for redesigning the post-secondary learning experience. Traditional colleges and universities, new  providers of education, emerging learning communities, families, students, employers, civic institutions all seem to be poised at a pivotal moment for innovation.  How might we prepare students – of all ages –  for active civic engagement, real-world employment, and career success in an ever transforming economic ecosystem?

With your help during this Future of Higher Education Challenge, maybe we can find a way to work together to design new ways in which we might better support learners to evolve with the needs of tomorrow. Let’s explore ideas that cut across cultures, income levels, and sectors as we envision a system that supports innovative models and empowers a broad set of learners.

Check back as I summarize some of these ideas, and feel free to add your comments and perspectives here and at the OpenIDEO Challenge Site.

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This bearded fellow is Bryan Alexander, who runs a wonderful future-oriented blog about higher education.  Bryan has been conducting a read-along of Revolution in Higher Education. As he was approaching the last chapter, he sent me a note asking me to be interviewed on his new Future Trends Forum,   On February 16, I spent an intense hour with Bryan and a pile of viewers discussing topics ranging from access and affordability to the nature of innovation in colleges and universities.  It was an interesting (and not entirely accidental) contrast to a similar interview that Bryan had conducted a week before with Audrey Watters, who more or less savaged the very notion that higher education could be doing a better job.

An edited version of that interview along with Bryan’s notes is located here.  The YouTube video is embedded below.  I encourage you to follow Bryan’s entire FTF series.

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Josh Goodman from Harvard’s Kennedy School will be giving a seminar January 7 on Georgia Tech’s Online Masters Degree in Computer Science  at Stanford University’s Center for Education and Policy Analysis.

Tilte: Can MOOCs Increase Access to Education? Evidence from a Large New Computer Science Degree Program

Summary: Though MOOCs and online technology have generated excitement about their potential to increase access to education, most existing research has focused on comparisons of student performance across online and in-person formats. We provide the first evidence on the impact of online education on the amount of education pursued. Georgia Tech’s Online M.S. in Computer Science is the first model combining the inexpensive nature of MOOCs with a degree program from a highly-ranked institution, a price-quality pairing that has not been seen before. A regression discontinuity design around an admissions threshold shows that access to this low cost, high quality option substantially increases the amount of formal education pursued, with demand driven largely by mid-career Americans for whom in-person options are not appealing. Our estimates suggest that, by satisfying previously unmet demand for mid-career training, this single program will boost annual production of American computer science master’s degrees by eight percent.

SmartMoney's "payback" survey of 50 t

With the price of higher education rising much faster than inflation, many students and families find themselves struggling to pay for college, or looking for ways to reduce or offset the costs. Author and colleague Jeff Selingo is Visiting Scholar at Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities.  Jeff and I recently sat down with Rick Clark to answer the question “Is College worth it?”This series of 14 videos is designed to help, with expert advice and creative ways for meeting this challenge, beginning with the question: “Is College Worth It?”

 

Videos available here.

 

 

 

Mark Guzdial comments on a recent Slate article reporting results of a metastudy that (1) claims to show that deliberate practice does not account for acquisition of expertise, and (2) that the only other source must be innate factors like genetics. It would be an important finding if true, but Guzdial points out some critical flaws:

The bottom-line is that the [Slate] study did not test [the 10,000 Rule] question. They tested a weak form of the “10,000 hour rule” (that it’s just “practice,” not “deliberate practice”) and found it wanting. But their explanation, that it’s genetics, is not supported by their evidence.

Computing Education Research Blog

A recent article in Slate (see here) suggests that practice may not lead to expertise, that the “10,000 hour rule” is wrong. The “10,000 hour rule” was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers (see excerpt here), but really comes from an important paper by K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues, “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.” Ericsson claimed that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice results in expert-level performance.

The Slate article is based mostly on a new meta-analysis (see here) by Macnamara, Hambrick (also a co-author on the Slate article), and Oswald which reviewed and combined studies on expertise. They found that practice always was positively correlated with better performance, but did not explain all of (or even most of) the difference in expertise between study participants. The Slate article authors suggest, then, that deliberate practice is not…

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We have talked many times about the demise of colleges, comparing higher education to other industries that believed they could resist the advance of technology.  Borders book stores, Blockbuster Video, and a whole raft of local newspapers are just the easiest examples of revered enterprises that simply went out of business. From this discussion comes an interesting essay by C21U visiting scholar Michael Haggans, who argues that campuses close all the time. Sometimes it is temporary:

Whether by snow and ice, wind, fire, flood, civil disorder or bankruptcy, you may be certain that your campus will be closed. It is just a matter of when and how long the closure will last. Even a brief closing provides a glimpse of higher education without the comfortable assumption of shared space and time – the familiar functionality of a campus.

Sometimes, institutions–like the dozens of colleges and universities near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor–not only survive catastrophe against all odds but are the only place where communities can gather and rebuild. Sometimes they close forever:

‘Forever’ is an unstated part of every institution’s mission statement. Over the last century, hundreds have winked in and out of existence. [Westminster’s Ray Brown maintains the most comprehensive list.] A few such as Antioch College have been well known, their demise widely reported. Most are long forgotten. They close and disappear through merger, acquisition by for-profit consortiums, and from simple bankruptcy.

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