Open education September 11, 2017

Curt Bonk Talks about Open Education


Open education really breaks into two forms: open courses and open resources.  Open courses are the MOOCs hosted on Coursera, EdX, and elsewhere. Open courses allow higher education to advance its fundamental mandate of serving the public good by making its faculty expertise freely available to the world. By contrast, open resources are free material from the outside world that higher education pulls into its teaching. 

graduate students August 30, 2017

Friendship as a Teaching Strategy for Graduate Students


As graduate students, we find that developing friendships with professors results in increased learning and performance. In such an environment, one is not afraid to reveal weaknesses or academic shortcomings, and it erases (or minimizes) any insecurity that could result from unequal content authority. We feel secure in asking questions, expressing frustrations, and asserting intellect. Therefore, friendship plays an essential role in the struggle for knowledge.

instruction July 28, 2017

Differentiating Instruction in an Online Classroom


Diversity is becoming common in our college classrooms. Not just diversity of race and ethnicity, but diversity of developmental levels and cognitive abilities. With our students’ diverse skills and experiences, faculty members find themselves teaching varied groups of students within one course. This raises the problem of finding a way to reach all groups. One answer, differentiated instruction, involves providing personalized learning for each group with content and processes that align with each student’s needs.

The Surprising Benefits of e-Textbooks May 17, 2017

The (Surprising) Benefits of e-Textbooks: A Study


In recent years, the soaring cost of college textbooks has added a new and significant financial burden to the rising costs of tuition for students. In the face of this reality, many students simply forgo textbook purchases. One study found that fewer than half of students purchase textbooks for their courses. Against this backdrop, the open textbook movement is making textbooks available to students for free. Dr. Andrew Feldstein, professor of marketing in the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business, Virginia State University, along with four colleagues, conducted a year-long pilot study during which 991 students in nine core courses in the VSU business school replaced traditional textbooks with openly licensed books and other digital content.The goal was to determine if there were benefits to using the free texts, and if so what they were.

The Research Process and Its Relevance to the Culture of Assessment March 20, 2017

The Research Process and Its Relevance to the Culture of Assessment


As higher education evolves, so too does the importance of assessing learning. New regulations, financial constraints, and accrediting agencies are stressing that colleges and universities should strengthen assessment organizationally. However, when assessment is discussed in large faculty forums, the concept often, strangely, becomes very foreign to them. Here is where understanding and employing the process of research can very helpful in completing such tasks.

Historically, the process of research is associated with tenure, publications, and the doctoral process. Through the passage of time, research is now a balanced undertaking between gaining content knowledge and the process one goes through creating new knowledge. In breaking the traditional mold, it appears that having an understanding of the process of research may also help institutions in another area. This article examines the usefulness and paralleling of the research process and its application to institutional and academic assessments.

Building a Pathway to Cultural Competence Through Academic Service Learning March 20, 2017

Building a Pathway to Cultural Competence Through Academic Service Learning


As colleges and universities seek to prepare students for professional careers in a diverse, global society, the attainment of cultural competence is an essential capacity that can no longer be overlooked. Cultural competence involves the awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to engage and collaborate meaningfully across differences through interactions that are characterized by mutuality, reciprocity, and respect. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), for example, has recognized the importance of global competence as part of a coherent approach to general education requirements. The AAC&U’s General Education Maps and Markers initiative emphasizes global engagement and the enhancement of cultural awareness that promotes the potential for students’ active citizenship and greater career fulfillment.

Service learning provides an important bridge to cultural competence in the undergraduate experience. Yet it is often viewed as a co-curricular activity, to be pursued outside the classroom and at the student’s own initiative. By contrast, course-based, academic service learning is a form of experiential education that takes place in credit-bearing courses guided by faculty. It is part of the academic curriculum in which structured activities in the community give rise to reflective activities, such as in journals, discussions, and papers. Such curricula can have significant diversity-related outcomes, such as increased understanding of social stratification, privilege, and the impact of differential access to opportunity.

Core Curriculum Improves Academic Rigor, Identity, and Retention March 20, 2017

Core Curriculum Improves Academic Rigor, Identity, and Retention


Concordia University Irvine recently adopted a core curriculum as a way to increase academic rigor, strengthen the university’s identity, and improve student retention. In May, the university graduated its first students to experience the core. In an interview with Academic Leader, Scott Ashmon, director of the core curriculum, explained the core’s design, implementation, and outcomes.

Paired courses

The core uses an interdisciplinary approach to “help students cultivate an understanding of comprehensive knowledge, and what we came up with was to pair certain courses,” Ashmon says. “The reason that that’s helpful is because you don’t have to go to certain departments and disciplines and say, ‘Can we borrow your faculty to create and staff some other course that is nondisciplinary?’ Rather, we can say, ‘We want disciplinary courses because we want students to be able to think in disciplined ways.’ That’s the ideal. It’s also easier to get departments and disciplines engaging in this kind of conversation if they can do it from within their disciplines.”

Concerning Competency-Based Education March 20, 2017

Concerning Competency-Based Education


Competency-based education (CBE) is currently touted as an important innovation in higher education that has the potential to disrupt the traditional model and to radically transform the way students receive a postsecondary education. CBE is characterized by an individualized approach to education in which students learn at their own pace and demonstrate the attainment of predetermined competencies, typically through performance assessments. CBE is a system that challenges the course-sequenced, credit-based college degree program that has been criticized for high cost, inefficiency, and failing to prepare students for job placement. In recent years, CBE proponents have cited numerous advantages to this approach including the benefits of self-directed learning, flexibility (“anytime, anywhere” learning), and a focus on experiential learning through real-world activities.