Daily News Roundup, March 19, 2013

Perspectives: News You Can Use
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Some of the News Fit to Print

ABOUT HIGHER ED

BEYOND THE CREDIT HOUR
The U.S. Department of Education has endorsed competency-based education with the release today of a letter that encourages interested colleges to seek federal approval for degree programs that do not rely on the credit hour to measure student learning. Department officials also said Monday that they will give a green light soon to Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America, which would be the first to attempt the “direct assessment” of learning – meaning no link to the credit hour – and also be eligible for participation in federal financial aid programs. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

THE GREAT AID GAP
Certificates are the fastest-growing form of postsecondary credential, a recent Georgetown study said, prized by employers for equipping workers with skills in high demand. Last year, the nation’s colleges awarded one million such certificates — more than triple the 300,000 awarded in 1994 and more than one-fifth of all postsecondary credentials awarded last year. But as certificates grow in number and importance, many educators are calling attention to what they see as an overlooked problem in the nation’s efforts to upgrade workers’ skills and deal with soaring higher-education costs: Federal financial aid goes overwhelmingly to students in traditional degree programs, while little goes to the many students in noncredit certificate programs who may need it more. As many employers complain of difficulty finding applicants with the proper skills, many educators and economists say the government should make it easier for students to take certificate programs. The article is in The New York Times.

A MASSIVELY BAD IDEA
Rob Jenkins writes in the The Chronicle of Higher Education's On Hiring blog: According to a recent article in the Chronicle, a state senator in California has sponsored a bill that would establish “a statewide platform through which students who have trouble getting into certain low-level, high-demand classes could take approved online courses offered by providers outside the state’s higher-education system.” In other words, students at California’s public colleges who are unable to enroll in regular classes due to overcrowding will instead be steered into MOOCs, or massive open online courses. That strikes me as a massively bad idea.

WHO OWNS A MOOC?
Faculty union officials in California worry professors who agree to teach free online classes could undermine faculty intellectual property rights and collective bargaining agreements. The union for faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz said earlier this month it could seek a new round of collective bargaining after several professors agreed to teach classes on Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of popular massive open online classes, or MOOCs. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.

ABOUT K-12

ED TECH PD FOCUSES ON STUDENT LEARNING
To help teachers integrate technology more effectively into their teaching, professional development around educational technology should be a higher priority for schools and districts, experts say, and it needs to be ongoing and collaborative. Most importantly, they say, professional development on educational technology should focus, with razor-sharp attention, on what students need to learn, rather than on how to use a specific device. The article is in Education Week.

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