All posts tagged higher ed tech

Technology, Data Mining Will Change Higher Ed


Western Governors University has been somewhat of a sensational success story in higher education. The no-frills provider of online education offers degrees in only four areas — Education, Business, Information Technology, and Health Professions — is growing its enrollment by about 30 percent per year, and has kept its tuition — $6,000 — the same for four consecutive years.

How? By emphasizing productivity, and utilizing technology in classes. “If we can increase productivity, there is more learning for less money. It’s a very simple equation,” said Robert Mendenhall, the university president at a forum called Charting the Future of Higher Education, held Thursday September 15th in Washington. Western Governors is very disciplined about matching each prospective student with an admission counselor, and they create an online relationship. Ongoing students have online relationships with mentors. And much of the learning takes place in student online communities.

Mendenhall said his university is just scratching the surface of the potential of technology in higher education. “We’re only going to have a meaningful impact if we inspire others to try new methods in higher education. Others will find better ways to use technology than we have.”

Speaking of technology, A. Craig Powell, CEO of ConnectEDU, spoke about his growing database of high school and middle-school students, and their talents, desires, and accomplishments. Kevin Carey, policy director of Education Sector, also a panelist at the event,  believes ConnectEDU will profoundly change college admission in coming years by directly matching students to colleges that are the best fits for them.

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The New Higher Ed Model

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Higher education is about to undergo a profound shift to a new more-open style with many competitors and options, even more than there are right now. The traditional style of higher education – residential four-year bachelor-degree oriented campuses – will hang on, but increasingly wane as the predominant model of higher education.

The College of 2020 is grounded in the ideas that will contribute to that shift, ideas we first expressed two years ago in the report The College of 2020: Students. But first, let’s set the stage.

 Why is it happening now?

 The answers can be divided into three primary categories:

Technological – We have become used to the idea, as consumers, of having almost instant access to just about any information we need, via a smart phone, a laptop, an iPad, a GPS, a Kindle, and numerous other devices. The power, speed and agility of such devices will only increase with time. And so will our ability to do more with them. The quality of video and audio, and the connectivity of such devices will also grow, and the acceptance of them as the “new normal” will grow, too. This is one new way that colleges will offer classes (if they are not doing so already). Future students will expect no less.

Cultural – Our society is evolving into one that prizes convenience and speed, above almost all other virtues. If I can save time and get a similar experience, why wouldn’t I go the easiest possible route. Faced with making a transaction in person or online, how many people any more opt to do something in person? Such opportunities make us more efficient, and for most of us, being more efficient increases the quality of our lives. Businesses, governments, even our families and alliances of friends are constantly looking for ways to make interactions more efficient. Given that, how much patience is the average student going to have for a college that insists that one size fits all – that you must come to our campus, pay our price, and sit in our classroom and learn in our way, or you can’t get what you want. Consumers have come too far and been conditioned too much to look for efficiencies to accept those conditions. They will look for a provider of education that works to meet their schedule, rather than adapting their lives to meet a college’s schedule.

Financial – The tuition in the California State University system has more than doubled for in-state students just since 2007! Nearly every state (46) had a shortfall in funding this year for higher education. Most public universities responded with large tuition increases. This severe recession has turned most of us into bargain hunters, or at least consumers who question the prices we have been paying. We wonder if there are other options that cost less. There are such options in higher education – they are just waiting to be invented, or discovered.

 This just begins to scratch the surface. Welcome to the discussion. We’ll have a lot more to say about all of these themes and more. Tune in often.