China bans students from enrolling in foreign online colleges
China’s Ministry of Education will no longer recognize online degrees from overseas colleges. This announcement significantly impacts Chinese students enrolled at foreign colleges who were studying online in their home country. Affected students are searching for exemptions or ways to attend their foreign institutions in person. Some look forward to more in-person international exchanges, but others believe that the Chinese government’s understanding of online education lacks nuance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese students were temporarily allowed to enroll in online international degree programs, but before COVID-19, the Chinese Ministry of Education had never recognized online distance learning. How will this Chinese policy impact higher education institutions in the United States? Source: Inside Higher Ed
How Should Government Regulate AI? We Asked a Robot
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) has recently skyrocketed. Dustin Haisler, the chief innovation officer for e.Republic, asked ChatGPT a few questions about how AI should be regulated. ChatGPT said that state and local agencies struggle with budget constraints, a lack of resources, and adaptation to changing circumstances. It also said that some of the most important emergent technologies government leaders need to pay attention to are AI, blockchain, and virtual reality. ChatGPT said that state and local leaders need to regulate AI by implementing regulations that balance the need to promote the use of AI while protecting the public and ensuring that AI systems are used responsibly. In your opinion, how should the government regulate AI? Source: GovTech
Governors Address Broadband Issues in State of States 2023
New governors across the nation recently gave their first State of the State address in 2023. Although many discussed policy priorities, economic realities, and forming their cabinets, another common theme was broadband issues. Governors discussed the millions of dollars that will be invested to bolster connectivity for residents and businesses. Along with broadband, governors discussed technology in general, innovation, and cybersecurity. If you are interested in reading more about what governors said in their State of the State addresses, see the original article for a state-by-state breakdown. Source: Governing
Advocates urge NC-SARA to add more consumer protections for online students
Several higher education groups and policy advocates want the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) to put more consumer protections into its policies. NC-SARA is responsible for an interstate distance learning pact. When it was founded in 2013, its goal was to ease regulatory burdens for online institutions operating across state lines. It is a powerful organization with every state except California as a member. In the Fall 2021 semester, around 4.2 million students were enrolled in online programs that were members of the organization. Many complain that NC-SARA leaves students vulnerable to predatory colleges because of their low bar for consumer protections. NC-SARA called on stakeholders to propose policy changes by early February. What policies could NC-SARA change or implement to ensure their students’ information is protected? Source: Higher Ed Dive
Time Is Running Out for Colleges to Spend COVID-19 Relief Funds
Institutions have until June 30 to allocate grant money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The HEERF was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and originally was for spacing out students in classrooms and providing students and faculty with the necessary technology to participate in remote learning. Many institutions continue to use HEERF to fortify their remote and hybrid learning infrastructure, but time is running out to use those funds. Investments in classroom modernization, collaboration tools, wireless access, cybersecurity tools, and professional development are examples of what institutions can use their HEERF for. Has your institution spent all its Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund? Source: EdTech Magazine
Education Department to review rules for online program providers
The Education Department plans to increase oversight of the outside contractors that institutions use to help run online programs. Critics have accused online program management companies (OPMS) of aggressive recruiting practices and questioned the legality of the OPMs’ business practices. Others believe that they have helped expand online offerings in postsecondary education. Some OPMs and institutions have an agreement for the company to receive a portion of the programs’ tuition revenue. Federal law prohibits higher education institutions from giving money to individuals or entities based on enrollment or financial aid, but third parties are exempt from this ban if they provide a bundled set of services. Do you believe that this is an overreach of the department’s authority or needed oversight for online program providers? Source: Inside Higher Ed
University Innovation Alliance Project to Address High DFW Rates in Gateway Courses
The University Innovation Alliance (UIA) has announced a new project aimed at diagnosing and addressing high drop, withdraw, or fail (DWF) rates in gateway courses. They are focusing particularly on students of color and those from low-income backgrounds. The UIA is a national consortium of public research universities dedicated to increasing the number of diverse college graduates across the country. The pandemic exacerbated the achievement gap for underserved individuals, and the UIA hopes to identify courses with the highest DFW rates that are a huge barrier for many students. Students who are struggling in those courses can retake the courses at a lower cost and with a small incentive grant. Institutions will provide supplemental instruction, group tutoring, and academic coaches to help ensure students are successful in their second attempt. This project plans to benefit more than 170,000 students of color and 130,000 students from low-income backgrounds. Source: Campus Technology
Northern Essex CC Provides Free Digital Textbooks, Materials
Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence and Haverhill will offer their students access to digital textbooks, courseware, and materials for free. This expands the free open-source materials they began offering students in 2014. Seven colleges in Massachusetts were selected to participate in the Digital Textbook and Materials pilot program. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education approved a million-dollar grant to make this program possible. It reduces student textbook costs but also empowers faculty to create their own educational materials. The coordinator of instructional technology at Northern Essex estimates that free and low-cost course materials have saved around 19,000 students $2 million on textbooks since 2014. Source: GovTech
How ChatGPT promotes equity in college admissions
ChatGPT recently went viral as students began using it to write essays for them. Although ChatGPT hasn’t gotten the best reputation, there are actually a lot of great factors about it. One of its many talents is helping promote equity in education. Incorporating digital learning tools may help bridge the widening education gap in under-resourced schools. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 89 percent of Black 8th-grade students were not proficient in writing. Affordable and accessible AI writing models could help prepare students to write college admissions essays. Although AI writing models like ChatGPT can help students cheat, they can also increase accessibility by developing reasoning skills in disengaged students, detecting weaknesses in students’ reasoning, and engaging students in dialogue. How do you think AI writing models can increase accessibility? Source: Fast Company
Promoting Access to Diverse Learning Opportunities through Open Resources, Equity, and Accessibility
Open education resources (OERs) offer more equitable and accessible learning experiences by tailoring the unique needs of students. OERs can enhance accessibility by creating policies informed by best practices and collaboration between entities. Forty-five percent of students in one course stated that they read more content than normal when their instructors used OERs. When using OERs to make courses more accessible, keep in mind the importance of hyperlinks, videos, and formatting. Descriptive hyperlinks are a great way to promote accessibility for users because they improve the user experience by informing the reader what content is covered and where the links go. Next, videos must have captioning or transcripts and be no longer than 15-20 minutes. Lastly, consistent and clear formatting is vital for accessibility. Use one font and one size within a document, avoid using all-caps and italics, and use headings to help guide your document creation. OERS are inherently equitably because they provide access to learning opportunities and resources for all learners. Source: Faculty Focus
A new report reveals that discrimination and financially instability are two major barriers for Black students to complete their higher education studies, which also leads researchers to possible ways to address higher education inequities based on an understanding of the issues they must address.
Higher education scholars call for a need for the education sector to do more to protect LGBTQ+ students and youth, especially at this time when so many new laws and policies are rolling out that restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
As inflation rises and more students struggle financially to make it through their education, more higher education institutions are creating emergency aid programs to help students with those immediate needs.
Higher education institutions collaborate on the development of a new tool aimed at measuring DEI efforts within colleges and universities.
Revisions to the new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies waters down the language used to describe African American history, removing words such as ‘systemic’ and ‘oppression’ in what appears to be a political move.
The pandemic spotlighted many forms of inequality for students attending higher education, including specific barriers that low-income students often face.
Prison officials continue to be slow to allow technology training in prisons, even 50 years after initial proposals for coding programs.
If you get a chance to see the lineup of Oscar Nominated Shorts 2023 that is currently playing in select theaters and on some campuses. The Shorts TV’s website includes a way to see where it is playing near you.
This is a great line-up and I highly recommend you go see them. The great things about shorts is that some stories fit the constrained timeframe very well. A few years ago, there was a set of nominees that left everyone depressed upon completing the screening. Luckily, this year’s slate has a nice mix of films tackling very serious issues and some that are more fun. Here’s a quick summary:
Hope that you can enjoy these like we did.
-Russ Poulin, WCET