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  • Not all students intend to complete a MOOC

    MOOC critics are concerned about low overall completion rates, but these rates are typically evaluated without accounting for student intentions. A study by Justin Reich of Harvard University found that, on average among survey respondents, 22 percent of students who intended to complete a course earned a certificate, compared with 6 percent of students who intended to browse a course. Efforts to personalize MOOCs based on self-reported intentions should be conducted with care: many students who do not intend to complete a MOOC do so, and most who do intend to complete a MOOC are not successful. This study, based on survey and log data from nine HarvardX courses, investigates how completion and attrition rates differ based on students' self-reported intentions about course participation.

  • Leadership in Higher Education

    A study by Shay Leslie Davis of Pepperdine University.

    Administrators and teachers need positive leadership qualities to build relationships with students and colleagues and better understand how to effectively lead when working with collegiate populations. Learning communities push team building and relationships, as well as encourage individuals to collectively work towards a common goal. Transformational leadership brings teams together to co-construct, learn and reflect on visions and goals. Being clear on the vision at hand, collaborating with their team and reflecting on the value of outcome are all elements essential for a leader in guiding their organization through changing times. Interpersonal communication, creative thinking and technology are other strengths that need to be considered. Interviewing those who work in the university system, the authors identified these effective leadership qualities and characteristics: Vision and Cooperation, Leading by Example, Observing and Reflecting, Building Relationships, Facilitating and Empowering, Humor and Happiness.

  • MOOC to raise the scale and quality of Indian Higher Education

    A report by Prof. B N Jain et al. for the Federation Of India Chamber Of Commerce & Industry.
    The Indian education system remains constrained by the lack of infrastructure, faculty shortage and quality, and cannot support the needs of its large, distributed and diverse audience. MOOCs have the potential to play a transformative role, as they address the issues on Quality, Affordability, Scalability, Inclusion and Employability. The report recommends a Blended MOOC model using MOOC & SPOC to access quality content in the online platform and incorporate face to face instructor support at various physical centers across the country. This format will overcome the problem of faculty shortages that is considered to be the main reason for the inferior quality of education. The Indian education sector has grown from 8.4M students in the year 2000 to 28M in 2012 and is expected to grow to 50M by year 2030. More than brick and mortar infrastructure, online platforms and ICT tools take education to millions of students, offering the opportunity to learn from leading faculty at elite institutions.

  • MIT's strategies to transform education

    A report by the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education.

    The MIT community finds new ways to lower the barriers to access education without compromising quality and values. It recommends creating new spaces for students by simultaneously transforming its pedagogy and extending its impact to the world. MIT explores mechanisms to test proficiency for awarding transfer credit for edX classes. In an effort to merge MIT and MITx courses, pilot programs are introduced that encourage residential students to leave campus and gain real-world experience by interacting with MITx learners and MITx learners are given the opportunity to visit the MIT campus. MIT plans to partner with other universities and organizations to build financially sustainable "micro-institutions" that would provide certification for professional and executive education courses. MITx has developed the concept of XSeries, in which a student earns a certificate for passing a series of courses in a specific subject. While encouraging thorough understanding of a concept, courses are also split into smaller modules. An effective mechanism to curate the contents would allow students and educators to identify and utilize the modules that best meet their needs.

  • Remedial Education - Gateway or Barrier to Higher Education

    A Brookings report by Bridget Terry Long.

    Students, who do not pass academic placement tests or demonstrate sufficient readiness for postsecondary study, are placed into remedial or developmental courses. While the aim of remedial courses is to provide academically underprepared students with the skills they need to succeed in college and in the labor market, being placed into the courses also has important implications for a student's higher-education prospects. Students are forced to pay college-level prices for high school-level courses. Longer time spent in remedial courses, with no credits for the postsecondary degree does not encourage students to persist and graduate from college. Only 10 percent of students assigned to the lowest levels of math remediation complete a college-level math course.
    This report offers three key recommendations for better addressing the academic preparation problem with the hope of improving rates of college success.

    1. Improve placement in college remediation classes. Improving how students' academic preparation levels are assessed is the first step in better tailoring supports for their needs. Better assessment is also necessary to reduce the number of students who are incorrectly placed into remediation due an opaque process or bad testing day.

    2. Provide better college remediation services. By using technology, support services, and innovative pedagogies, remediation programs could do a much better and faster job in helping to prepare students for future success with college level material. Combining basic skill attainment with college-level coursework and using learning technology are better practices to address students' academic needs.

    3. Adopt measures to prevent the need for remediation. Students are encouraged to take college readiness assessments in high school so that they can use this early information to make better course selections and avoid remediation altogether. Working to better align curricula and strengthen links between K–12 and higher education could also improve the likelihood that students are academically prepared for college.

  • Empowering Women through Education

    The report, Education transforms lives is commissioned by UNESCO in 2013.

    Educating girls can save millions of lives, as educated women are better informed about diseases and aware of hygiene and nutrition. A mother, who knows the adverse effects of malnutrition, will ensure that her children receive the best nutrients to help them prevent or fight off ill health. Basic education improves the lives of millions by providing a secure job and guarding against poverty. Girls and young women who are educated have greater awareness of their rights, and greater confidence and freedom to overcome discrimination. Ensuring that girls stay in school is one of the most effective ways of averting child marriage and early birth.
    • Primary education to women has achieved 66% reduction in mothers dying during childbirth.
    • 2.1 million children under 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in girls' education.
    • In sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 70% of the world's HIV infections, 91% of literate women know that HIV is not transmitted by sharing food, compared with 72% of those who are not literate.
    • In Honduras, the chances of children being stunted – short for their age – is 54% if they are born to mothers with less than primary education, falling to 33% for those born to mothers with primary education, and to 10% if they are born to mothers with at least secondary education.
    • In Pakistan, working women with good literacy skills earn 95% more than women with weak literacy skills.
    • In Angola, the fertility rate of a woman with no education is 7.8 children, compared 2.5 children for a woman with secondary education.
    • In Ethiopia, 32% of girls with less than primary education were married before the age of 15, compared with less than 9% of those with secondary education.

  • A Guide to Quality in Online Learning

    A report by the Academic Partnerships (AP), USA

    The Quality Matters Program, based in the USA, has established national benchmarks for online courses and provided rubrics to measure various aspects of quality. Ensuring that faculty and students have knowledge on services and processes of the course, increases the efficiency of the learning process. Availability of adequate assistance for facilitation of learning, seamless integration of technology and multimedia applications are essential in online education. Examination or assessment security and authenticity is an important consideration in quality online learning. Institutional quality assurance structures and processes are important, but they should not be followed as an exercise in compliance for accountability, but as a process of learning and self-improvement that really improves quality. Quality enhancement will take place only when the lessons from evaluation are reflected in the next offering of the course.

  • The role of companies in education

    A report by the Shared Value Initiative.

    The private sector can play a greater role in improving education at large scale, when they are in the pursuit of shared value. Companies can increase profitability and strengthen long-term competitiveness by identifying and addressing the challenges in education. The market for educational products and services is predicted to grow by nearly 50 percent from $4.4 trillion in 2012 to $6.2 trillion by 2017. The basis of competition in educational products and services is shifting to favor companies that create the greatest value for society, turning their R&D departments into laboratories for improving educational outcomes for citizens. Technology and education companies are beginning to compete based on the success of the students they serve. Companies that face a lack of skilled workers can create shared value by engaging with education systems to foster the diverse skills that the labor market demands and that are essential for the development of human potential. Companies can reduce the skills gap in a large scale by building regional collaborative with education institutions, governments and nonprofits. In Latin America, this type of collaboration formed the New Employment Opportunities (NEO) Initiative, when Walmart, Caterpillar, Microsoft, CEMEX, and McDonalds joined with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to train one million youth and the Caribbean by 2022. By launching large-scale training programs NEO will solve the dual crises of unemployment and shortage of skilled workers.

  • The rise of ELearning in Africa

    The report is released at the annual eLearning Africa conference held at Namibia on June 2014.

    ELearning, the combination of education and technology is clearly seen as the powerful driver for growth in Africa. The major challenges for ELearning in Africa are good communications and connectivity. Following are a selection of eLearning news stories from across the continent, that reflect the growth of ICT.
    • The American University of Nigeria, situated in the conflict-riven North-East, opened a multimedia library containing the largest e-book collection in all Africa.
    • A vast number of Sahrawi refugees have been living in South-Western Algeria ever since Morocco occupied Western Sahara in 1975-6. The settlements have no internet, but now RESF (educational networks without borders) has found a way to connect them with the outside world – through video diaries shared between schoolchildren across the region, in the Canaries, Senegal and Algeria.
    • A group of 225 students have been equipped with smartphones and tablets and sent out to map the rugged terrains of Rwanda digitally. It’s as much a social as a scientific project: this new generation of investigative cartographers is hoping to record and analyse data on wildfires, water quality and deforestation.
    • In Kenya, Wikipedia began trialing an SMS short code service – allowing users to send requests for pages, which are then delivered by text message to even the most basic handset. Also, the Government is setting up free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, and the matatus (public minibuses) of Nairobi have onboard Internet and TV entertainment.
    • Edutainment is on the rise in Tanzania. The Femina HIP initiative teaches young people about HIV through magazines, TV, radio and road shows. A social enterprise, Ubongo is creating localised educational broadcasting to overcome the disadvantages inherent in the Western educational model.
    • In South Africa, a small group of technicians have found a way to grow the Internet from the bottom up, using the unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. Wi-Fi, commonly used to connect over short distances, can be extended over a few kilometers through portable routers. These “daisy chains” of routers can be used to create local networks at the grassroots level.
    • East Africa is set to be the scene of trials using drones to extend the Internet into unconnected rural areas.

  • Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all

    The report is commissioned by UNESCO as part of its Education for All Global Monitoring Report.
    © UNESCO 2014

    The report Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all makes it clear that the goal of achieving education for all by 2015, as was envisioned by 164 countries at the World Education Forum in 2000, cannot be achieved. It urges the governments to set clear, measurable targets and accelerate progress because education transforms lives. It reduces poverty and boosts jobs growth. It improves people’s chances of a healthier life. It raises people's social awareness.
    But a lack of attention to education quality and a failure to teach the marginalized have contributed to a learning crisis. Worldwide, 250 million children are not learning even basic literacy and numeracy skills. One requirement to solve this crisis is to have teachers who are trained, motivated and enjoy teaching, who can identify and support weak learners, and who are backed by well managed, adequately funded education systems.
    The report identifies the 10 most important teaching reforms that policy-makers should adopt to achieve equitable learning for all.

    • Countries need to activate policies to address the vast shortfall in teachers.
    • The best candidates should be attracted to teaching.
    • Teachers must be receive ongoing training, so they can meet the learning needs of all children.
    • Teacher educators and mentors must be well-trained, and have knowledge and experience of real classroom challenges.
    • The best teachers must be deployed to the areas where they are most needed.
    • The career and pay structure must be competitive, so the best teachers can be hired and retained.
    • Governments should improve governance policies to address the problems of teacher misconduct such as absenteeism, tutoring their students privately and violence in schools.
    • Teachers must be equipped with inclusive and flexible curriculum strategies designed to meet the learning needs of children from disadvantaged groups.
    • Classroom-based assessments should be developed to identify and help students at risk of not learning.
    • Countries should invest in collecting and analysing annual data about teachers and education programs.

    To end the learning crisis, all countries have to ensure that every child has access to a well-trained and motivated teacher.


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