Online university courses might be creating new challenges for the very students they are meant to help, a new study finds.

Many non-traditional students turn to, and are recruited for, online degree programs on the promise of greater flexibility and lower fees. But research released by the Brookings Institution last week suggests online courses provide the worst academic outcomes for the students who most need extra support. Looking at the for-profit DeVry University’s enrollment and performance data, Eric Bettinger and Susanna Loeb of Stanford University report that students who took an online class received grades 0.44 points worse on a 4.0 grade point average scale compared to traditional students who took the same class in person. That means the online course takers would receive a C on average, whereas the traditional student would receive a B-minus on average.

Typing on a laptop.

This disparity was sharpest for the lowest-performing students, whose online course grades were 0.5 points worse on average. Online classes also increased students’ risk of dropping out of school by about 9 percent, the authors reported. That means students already struggling with their grades or at risk of dropping out are likely to face steeper risks in an online setting.

“While online courses may have the potential to differentiate coursework to meet the needs of students with weaker incoming skills, current online courses, in fact, do an even worse job of meeting the needs of these students than do traditional in-person courses,” the authors write.

The authors note that DeVry’s online courses are modeled almost exactly after the traditional university classes. That means this study’s results are not only specific to DeVry, but to online courses that choose to mimic customary approaches to education, rather than take a different approach better tailored to the medium.


Hannibal High dual-credit program expands to include juniors; online, summer courses added

The first big leap in Hannibal High School’s (HHS) Dual Credit program is poised to offer classes during summer for the first time, preparing more students for the college experience while they receive higher-education credits at a reduced rate.

The first big leap in Hannibal High School’s (HHS) Dual Credit program is poised to offer classes during summer for the first time, preparing more students for the college experience while they receive higher-education credits at a reduced rate.

Assistant Superintendent Darin Powell said college dual-credit courses have been available for about 15 years to seniors, but this is the first time the opportunity has opened up for juniors. And for the first time, summer and online courses are offered through partnerships with Hannibal-LaGrange University (HLGU) and Moberly Area Community College (MACC), at a rate of rate of $70 to $80 per credit hour — compared to figures that can range from $300 to $1,200 per credit hour in a traditional college setting, Powell said.

He said the new online classes offer a great way to prepare for online classes and assignments in college, and juniors can earn between 24 to 36 college credits before they graduate from HHS — stretching parents’ college budgets and allowing students the chance to complete general education requirements before pursuing studies tied to their chosen major. Powell said he anticipated seeing more students graduating from college in three years, coupled with the potential for more students to pursue advanced degrees due to increased financial opportunity.

“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” he said.

At Hannibal-LaGrange University, officials said they are excited to offer expanded summer courses — providing several benefits to high school students who enroll.

“Students who take advantage of our summer online course receive the benefit of focusing on one or two classes at a time versus taking them along with their high school course load,” said Kayla McBride, Assistant Director of Graduate and Online Programs. “The courses are offered in an eight-week format allowing the student to earn college credit in a shorter amount of time.”

Carolyn Carpenter, Director of Public Relations, said the new course format can help students and their parents through an often hectic chapter in their lives.

Image result for online, summer courses

“We truly enjoy the opportunity to offer college courses to area high school juniors and seniors,” she said. “We are thankful so many have taken advantage of the summer online classes. Getting a few classes knocked out during the summer definitely helps ease the stress on the student and possibly the parents as well.”

Powell encouraged parents to contact the Hannibal High School Booster Club if they need financial assistance. Scholarships are available, and HHS Guidance Director JoAnn McCollum said a couple students used the scholarships this summer.

On Friday, June 23, Junior Alec Mundle logged onto a desktop computer at HHS, preparing for an upcoming mid-term exam in front of his College Algebra professor at HLGU. He said he planned to enter the medical field and he looked forward to the chance to get a jump on general education credits amid a lengthy course of study. The online experience is new for Mundle, but he said he enjoys the format.

“So far, it’s been nice to work at my own pace and not be rushed, or I can speed up when I’m going through parts I already know,” he said. He said he plans on taking another online course next year.

Senior Grace McIntosh was also taking her first Dual Credit course online through MACC — American History to 1865. So far, McIntosh is about half-way through. She said Professor Kristine Zauke regularly keeps in contact with her regarding the calendar of assignments and providing feedback. She happily noted that Zauke rescheduled her mid-term exam so she could attend a summer camp. McIntosh said the online layout gives her greater access to the textbook and related information.

“I feel like I learn knowledge more easily, just because I have an actual online book to read. We have books in history class in school, but sometimes when you’re lecturing students, they don’t get the full experience — they don’t get all the information,” she said. “With it being online, I can see everything, and I can go back and check things and use it when I’m writing my responses.”

McCollum said she felt excited about these new educational opportunities for a high school students who are focused on success.

“We really have good kids here, and it’s great that they can take these classes and have these opportunities to compete with others,” she said.

Teaching Online Courses To Develop Your Practice And Grow Your Business

As providers of online CLE, we spend a lot of time thinking about effective teaching and the difference between online programming and brick-and-mortar CLE providers. Obviously one key distinction is that at a live CLE program, both instructor and students are in the same room, with the attendant networking potential that entails.

However, there are limits on how far CLE held in person (and not recorded) can reach. Online providers may reach more jurisdictions and can position a presenter as a national thought leader in a practice area, especially in niche areas such as cannabis law or rapidly developing areas like cybersecurity and privacy law. This is especially true because the work involved in preparing a course requires attorneys to dig deeper than their usual practice to fully explore an area of law. When we ask our faculty to discuss some of the reasons they teach CLE, two main themes emerge: professional development and the opportunity to give back to the legal community.

To the first point, James Gatto, co-team leader of Sheppard Mullin’s Digital Media, Social Media and Games Industry team (think video games), told us that “the preparation required to teach effectively requires me to focus on the materials in a more detailed way.” Marilyn Haft, a solo practitioner in entertainment law, agreed: “Teaching CLE courses also keeps me on my toes because it forces me to keep up to date on the law and new business developments in my area of the law, which is always and rapidly changing.”

Smart man holding telephone with world social media network connection

Jennifer Friedman, Managing Director of the Center for Legal Services at My Sisters’ Place, feels that teaching “makes the material fresh to me again,” and reflects that “preparing and giving a presentation forces me to think critically about my approach to a problem or an issue.” Dominick DiSabatino thinks that “CLE is a fantastic way to get up to speed quickly and efficiently on a particular area of the law,” and Karla Gilbride remarked that more generally, “it’s a good way to work on my presentation skills.”

Teaching is also a way for faculty to feel engaged with their community—similar to pro bono work. Karla says, “I see sharing my knowledge through CLE programs as another way of giving back”—a phrase that comes up a lot. Marilyn enjoys sharing “knowledge with others and especially younger people,” and Cory Morris teaches “to learn, to help others and to collaborate with other lawyers.”

When CLE programs are recorded and then offered on-demand, the opportunity to engage with viewers can last for years. If well-developed written materials are included, attorneys can reference them on an ongoing basis. And, once instructors have established themselves as an authority on a subject, they often receive questions from viewers long after the program is filmed. This can lead to new relationships, including referrals—a unique opportunity to combine one’s skills as an attorney and engagement with the broader legal world.

And as Dominick reminded us, it’s also “a great opportunity for free snacks”—whatever your business goals.


Wichita Public Library Begins Learning Circles Program For Online Classes

Ten Learning Circles are planned from now through November on topics such as fake news, the art of poetry, superheroes and how to make a website.

The idea is to get a group of 10 to 15 people together to take an online course and talk about it along the way to completion.

Library Director Cynthia Berner says this shared experience keeps people motivated to actually finish an online class.

“The curriculum has been vetted; it comes from experts,” Berner says. “What the library will be doing is bringing a facilitator to the Learning Circle and our staff will actually be learning together right with the other participants.”

Most of the Learning Circles will be held at the Central Library in downtown Wichita.

“The advantage of the Learning Circle is people come together in the same physical space so we will be doing these first ten courses in our libraries,” Berner says.

Some sessions are once a week while others meet consecutively for several weeks.

Berner says if there’s enough interest in the program, they could offer the Learning Circles in other places in the community through the library’s laptop learning program in the future.

“So taking online learning, which tends to be visual, and then collaborating together with your peers to talk about that in conversation embraces the concept of the blended learning and we really believe that the students will take more from the courses than they would if they were just doing it individually at home,” she says.

Berner says the Wichita Public Library is one of just ten public libraries nationwide that was invited by an organization called Peer 2 Peer University to participate in the Learning Circles project.


Secrets of Preparing for JEE In Short Amount of Time

JEE Examination is one of the biggest and the most life changing examinations of your life. A significant part of your major career decisions are going to be influenced by this examination. So, if you’re really looking out to fare well in JEE mains, there are a couple of tips which you need to follow. Yes. These tips will effectively help you to crack the examination without having to prepare much. You can get your JEE mains done even with a month’s time in hand. Wondering how to do that? Here are some easy and effective guidelines that’ll surely help you in this regard.


Come up with a proper time table

Yes. Having a proper time table is highly essential to fare well in your examinations. Without a proper time table you will never be able to plan your schedule and figure out how and when to work out on different subjects. Choose the different subjects and allot a specific time-frame for them according to your strengths and weaknesses. Once you do this, you will be automatically better prepared for the examination. The final month of JEE is indeed very crucial for every student and you need proper and consistent preparation for the same. In order to do that, make sure that your time table is practically prepared without any timetables or routines which you cannot complete.

Work on your key concepts

This is something which you need to do in order to improve your knowledge on the necessary subjects. Try to highlight the key topics of mathematics, chemistry and physics. Not every topic carries the same level of marks. Or instance, the theory or Section A part of your physics will have 80% marks while the practical will have only 20% weightage. So, highlight tactfully, so that you end up stressing on those topics better that are likely to fetch you more marks. Practice those topics more that are likely to fetch you more marks.

Solve papers of previous years

In order to improve your time and efficiency regarding each and every subject, you will have to make it a point to solve all the papers of your previous years. As you do this, not only are you improving your hold over the subject, but you’re also getting to understand and grasp the subject better. Make it a point to practice the previous years’ paper under a specific and stringent deadline so that you get to prepare yourself better for the main examination.

Avoid every kind of distraction

This is the key to fare well in any and every kind of examination. So, when it’s JEE mains, things are likely to get tad more serious. In order to fare well in, your, JEE mains examination; make it a point to avoid any and everything that distracts you. Distractions are likely to come every time you make an attempt to study. However, you need to make it a point to avoid these distractions and give your full concentration to the subject. Unless you do that, faring well, will never be possible. Your friends and social network will always be where it was. However, if you waste your precious time indulging in something else, your rank is likely to be affected in this regard.

A final note of advice

Well, on a final note, you should always ensure that none of your days are wasted. Take your breaks, but do everything according to the routine. Concentrate on your subjects and avoid distractions to fare better and higher ranks even in a short and stringent timeline. These guidelines will surely help you fare better.

Free community college and King’s challenges: The 10 most-read Education Dive stories of 2015

With plans for free community college to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s decision to step down and the “Christmas miracle” signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015 saw no shortage of headline-grabbing education stories. In addition to breaking down the industry’s top news and trends, this year saw Education Dive examine the challenges facing incoming education secretary John King, discuss the MOOC revolution with Coursera’s head of business development, and detail changes in the College Board’s approach to standardized testing.

With 2016 fast approaching, take a look back at the year’s 10 most-read Education Dive stories. And be sure to keep an eye on the site: We’ve got plenty more in store for the new year!

  • 5 pros and cons of Obama’s free community college plan:Those on both sides of the aisle have found plenty to debate in ‘America’s College Promise.’
  • These 10 trends are shaping the future of education: Innovation in the space likely won’t create an all-new landscape, but it will be markedly different.
  • Sixth-grader’s 70-day suspension lands mandatory training for Ohio educators: A Columbus middle school’s entire staff has been ordered to receive special training to help them recognize behavioral disabilities.
  • 8 major challenges acting ed secretary John King will face in 2016: The stakes will be high for K-12 and higher ed in the wake of Arne Duncan’s exit.
  • Special ed changes likely in final months of Obama admin: The site offers the public a variety of resources, including testing information, related to the state’s districts and schools in a convenient, one-stop online shop.
  • 9 ed tech developments to note from SXSWedu 2015: If you couldn’t be in Austin or just didn’t have time to see everything on display, here are nine innovations that caught our attention.
  • 8 K-12 tech tools to watch in 2015: From digital textbook innovations to platforms that simplify STEM teaching and learning, here are some of the classroom tools we have our eyes on this year.
  • How the College Board changed its standardized testing approach: David Coleman detailed the company’s four rules at the NYT Schools For Tomorrow Conference.
  • UIUC, Coursera partner to offer iMBA, a $20,000 graduate degree: The first all-MOOC graduate degree is expected to launch in 2016.
  • Coursera’s Stiglitz: MOOC revolution is just beginning [SXSWedu 2015]: We caught up with the massive open online course provider’s head of business development to talk credentialing, JetBlue, and the format’s continuing potential for disruption.

Tennessee schools find STEM success with Learning Blade

Dive Brief:

  • In Tennessee, students using a new online tool called Learning Blade are reportedly 37% more likely to consider a STEM career after engaging with the program.
  • The software is designed to address the STEM “skills gap,” eSchoolNews reports, and to better equip students to enter professions that require advanced knowledge of science and engineering.
  • Middle school students are targeted in particular because if they start to become interested in STEM fields early, they’re likely to sustain that interest throughout high school.

Dive Insight:

This isn’t the first time STEM learning has targeted middle schoolers. In California, the Los Alisos School District partnered with Project Lead the Way, an initiative that offers cookie-cutter STEM curriculum and intensive teacher training. Today, five out of the district’s six middle schools are reportedly STEM-focused.

Recently, the growth of STEM learning in the classroom has been helped along by Congressional and public support. A recent survey from Horizon Media’s WHY Group showed 75% of Americans think “science is [now] cool in a way that it wasn’t 10 years ago” and that 65% believed learning to code was more important than learning a foreign language.

The STEM Education Act of 2015, which passed in February 2015, made computer science eligible for federal grants and dollars intended to support STEM education. It also mandated heightened availability of training for STEM educators.

Udacity’s Nanodegrees Offer Opportunity to ‘Skill-Up’


Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun and his 140-person team continue to re-imagine massive open online courses (MOOCs) with Nanodegrees aimed at teaching millions of people in-demand tech skills.

After four years of online courses that showed poor completion rates, Udacity says it has perfected a low-cost, scalable vocational training model that can give millions of people the opportunity to earn technical skills in short time.

Several Udacity students who completed Nanodegrees got the jobs they were aiming for, including Ms. Kelly Marchisio, a 25-year old customer service representative at Google who took Udacity’s ‘Full stack developer” Nanodegree and now is a software engineer at the tech giant.

Nanodegrees are often developed in association with tech companies and on high-demand skills like mobile programming, web programming and data analysis. When students complete their courses, they are awarded a Nanodegree certification, a skills certification that Google, AT&T and Facebook, among other firms, acknowledge.

Nanodegrees help individuals boost their skills or help them break through in competitive industries. Udacity’s goal is to double the world’s GDP through up-skilling, Thrun has said.

“We can’t turn you into a Nobel laureate,” Mr. Thrun told the New York Times. “But what we can do is something like upskilling — you’re a smart person, but the skills you have are inadequate for the current job market, or don’t let you get the job you aspire to have. We can help you get those skills.”

Udacity counts over 10,000 students enrolled in Nanodegrees with the majority already being college graduates looking to improve their career or change their path at a low cost. The structure of Nanodegrees, and the fact that they’re focused and concise, seems to appeal to these kinds of students. Jeannie Hornung, Udacity’s spokeswoman, says:

“You only spend 15 hours a week when you are available. You can trade your TV time for coding.”

While MOOCs were initially touted as a threat to elite universities, Udacity’s Thrun considered his digital school as a fast-track channel of intensely structured lessons for high-in-demand vocational skills that would get people jobs. For Thrun, lifelong education is a must in a tech-driven, constantly advancing world:

“It’s a mistake to think that a single college education can carry you for a lifetime,” he said. “To keep pace with change, your education has to be done throughout your life,” he told the New York Times.

Marcia Linn, professor of education at University of California, Berkeley, says the extremely focused Nanodegrees are aimed too narrowly. She says:

“[Y]ou train people exactly to get the job that is currently available, but not skills to learn something new. When they get to the workplace they don’t have the ability to get the next level job. That’s where a college education is really an advantage. You are getting a diverse set of courses.”

Udacity’s new slogan — ‘Be in demand’ — reflects how timely and relevant Nanodegrees are:

“You can learn for your own sake, and that’s fine, but if you come to Udacity you learn because you want someone else to understand what you learned.”

Study Finds Active Participation in MOOCs Boosts Completion Rate


A new report that analyzes student data from massive open online courses (MOOCs) suggests that instead of being simply offered information, student learn best through experiences and doing things for themselves.

The study, “Learning is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing is Better than Watching for Learning from a MOOC,” explores the interactive activities included in MOOCs and compares them to the learning benefits provided through videos and text of such courses.  Findings suggest that those students who participate in the activities learn more than those who only watch the videos and listen to the lectures.  Researchers estimate that the effects of learning by doing are 6 times that of watching more videos or reading more text.

The online course “Introduction to Psychology as a Science” was used for the study and offered at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  While some of the students in the course opted to take part on a traditional level by watching video lectures, others chose to participate in a different version that allowed them to make use of interactive materials made available by Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative.

Each student was assigned 11 weekly quizzes and a final exam.  The results found that those who took part in the traditional class earned an average of 57% on the final exam in comparison to an average of 66% earned by the students who chose the interactive version of the course.  When a student completed an interactive activity, results showed they learned 6 times as much as those who only read or watched videos.

Researchers also compared course dropout and retention rates because MOOCs have a history of retention issues.  Students who participated in the interactive course were found to be 30% more likely to complete the course and final exam than were those who took the traditional path.  Participation in weekly quizzes was also found to be higher among the interactive course students.

Researchers concluded that additional study is needed, and further research would involve not only what type of learning activities were used for the course, but how much time was spent on each.

“While many MOOCs do include questions and some online and offline homework assignments, some have argued that a key limitation of many online courses is that they lack sufficiently rich, well-supported activities with adaptive scaffolding for learning by doing [cf., 33, 18].  Our results support the view that video lectures may add limited value for student learning and that providing more interactive activities will better enhance student learning outcomes.”

MIT Launches Blended Supply Chain Management MicroMaster’s


MIT’s free online courses will now count toward a graduate degree after the leading university has decided to allow students taking blended online and campus courses to earn a MicroMaster’s credential after passing an exam. At an estimated cost of $1,500, the for-credit pilot program applies to the Supply Chain Management degree offered by the university.

Students doing one semester of classes online and one semester on campus can earn a Supply Chain Management Master’s degree. The blended learning program is currently available on an experimental basis. Students who do well during their online semester will be able to take an exam and apply for the on-campus second semester. For students getting into the school’s on-campus course, the fee is $33,000, 50% the cost of the year-long program.

“The new MicroMaster’s is an important modular credential for the digital age, and promises to serve as academic currency in a continuous, lifelong learning world,” Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor and CEO of edX, said in a statement. “It also affords an evolutionary path for universities in the face of mounting prices.”

Students who want to earn academic credit will have to pay about $150 for each of the program’s five courses and a fee to take the end-of-semester wrap-up exam. Students doing well will be then invited to apply for the on-campus ‘traditional’ degree and complete the other half of their credential by attending on-campus classes.

MIT’s approach to for-credit online courses and candidate selection is unique in that it downplays the importance of past academic performance and standardized tests.

“This approach basically inverts the traditional admissions process,” MIT President Rafael Reif said as it targets “people outside that familiar circle, [that] can be hard to break in.”

The idea is that students who want to earn a Master’s degree can prove their eagerness and determination early on, MIT President L. Rafael Reif says.

“Anyone who wants to be here now has a shot to be here. They have a chance to prove in advance that they can do the work.”

The plan is to get about 40 students to matriculate from the online courses into the campus program.

“We produce 40 students a year, and they say that’s a drop in the bucket; we need thousands,” said Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics.

MIT is not the first or the only university to combine online and campus education. Arizona State University has recently launched freshman courses students can complete at no cost. The students have the opportunity to pay for course credit at approximately $200 per credit hour upon the successful completion of the course.

At Georgia Tech, students can undertake a Computer Science Master’s degree free online, but must apply through Georgia Tech’s traditional application process and pay about $7,000 for the Master’s degree credentials.