Wednesday Linkpile: An Omnibus of Online-Education Observations

Wednesday Linkpile: An Omnibus of Online-Education Observations

By: Sylvia Smith on September 7, 2011

Wednesday Linkpile compiles, for your information and delight, links to noteworthy news articles pertaining to all things online and higher-educational.

  • Student testing is soon to face a test of its own. "In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores," reads the headline of a September 3, 2011 New York Times article. "Some backers ... say standardized tests, the most widely used measure of student performance, don’t capture the breadth of skills that computers can help develop. But they also concede that for now there is no better way to gauge the educational value of expensive technology investments."
  • A September 6, 2011 article offers a pessimistic take on the current educational-technology vogue: The 'Shock Doctrine' comes to your neighborhood classroom." "Some background: The Times piece follows a recent Education Week report showing that as U.S. school systems are laying off teachers, letting schoolhouses crumble, and increasing class sizes, high-tech firms are hitting the public-subsidy jackpot thanks to corporate 'reformers'' successful push for more 'data-driven' standardized tests ... and more technology in the classrooms. Essentially, as the overall spending pie for public schools is shrinking, the piece of the pie for high-tech companies -- who make big campaign contributions to education policymakers -- is getting much bigger, while the piece of the pie for traditional education (teachers, school infrastructure, text books, etc.) is getting smaller."
  • As many college students return to campus, many graduates find themselves grappling with the financial realities of post-collegiate life. "A Degree in Hand, But What For?," asks the headline to a September 6, 2011 Huffington Post article. "Life after college -- millions of college seniors are look forward to it [sic]. But are they really prepared for what lies ahead? Paying back student loans, looking for a job and beginning a new chapter in life. My professors always gave us speeches: 'You are the future,' 'you will stand out because of that piece of paper you worked so hard for,' 'looking for a job will be easy because you're the minority.' If we both know how hard I worked for this degree, why can't I get a job? Were my professors selling me a dream or telling me this so I don't think about the amount of money my education cost?"
  • And pay back loans they will -- for a long time to come. "Student debt reaches $1 trillion," reports a September 6, 2011 article in The Ticker (the student newspaper of Baruch College). "The total student debt of our country is quickly approaching a staggering $1 trillion, and according to The College Board, on average, a student is about $27,650 in debt from taking out student loans. Many college students fall into the trap of borrowing large amounts with hopes that their future job will compensate them enough to repay their loans."
  • A September 6, 2011 Atlantic article offers advice on "How For-Profit Colleges Can Save Themselves -- and Higher Education." "So what's next for proprietary colleges and universities? If I knew that, I'd be raking it in with the short sellers rather than taking the bus to work every day. But it seems as though the for-profits would be wise to take a cue from other corporations that have reinvented themselves in the face of economic and political challenges. In particular, they may have a lot to learn from companies that evolved from producing and selling goods directly to consumers to providing services and expertise to other organizations."
  • "Online Classes: Survey Reveals Data on Quality," reads the headline to a September 6, 2011 Thinking Clearly Daily News article. "The survey on the quality of online classes and courses revealed that 29 percent of the respondents consider that the classroom courses and online courses are equivalent. Among the college presidents, 51 percent said that the quality of online and classroom courses were the same. The survey also found that many adults were unaware about the online degree programs."
  • Meanwhile, The Great Disruption continues apace. "Colleges Look for the Next Higher Education Model, reports a September 6, 2011 U.S. News and World Report article. "When online education was introduced at colleges and universities across the country, the popularity of these programs quickly swelled. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, about 39% of students who graduated from college in the past decade took at least one online class. Additionally, a majority of surveyed college presidents believe that this trend will not slow down any time soon."
  • It looks like some big names are getting into the distance-learning game. "Yale pushes online frontier," reads the headline to a September 26, 2011 Yale Daily News article. "For the first time this summer, Yale Summer Session offered three online courses, two of them for Yale credit, in which students watched recorded lectures and joined live discussion sections with their professors and online classmates via video chat. With 'uniformly positive' feedback from students and faculty, the University is now looking to expand this summer’s program for next summer, though Yale Summer Session Dean William Whobrey said there are no plans to use the technology during the academic year."
  • And some not-so-big names are also in the mix. "Online course offerings explode for Utah students, reports a September 5, 2011 Salt Lake Tribune article. "In a whirlwind of activity, school districts throughout the state have joined together in recent months to offer more online classes, partly to avoid losing money under provisions of a new state law. The Salt Lake City School District has led the charge, working with districts and charter schools to help hook their students up with online offerings this year. And seven other districts -- Davis, Granite, Jordan, Murray, Nebo, Park City and Tooele -- have formed a second consortium, that grew out of the first, to offer online classes to students in their districts. Other districts also have their own offerings, some new and some ongoing." 

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