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Articles: Teaching & Learning

It’s hard to follow higher education news these days without seeing a reference to MOOCs. The online learning platforms from edX, Coursera, Udacity, and others were launched to great fanfare over the last two years. Proponents praise them for their potential to change education, while critics chalk them up as more hype than hope.

A teachable moment is something all good educators welcome. It is a critical time during which learning about a particular topic or idea becomes easiest. The Fossil Free divestment campaign at post secondary institutions across North America provides superb teachable moments for educators.

Remedial programs across the country are getting overhauled by educators and lawmakers hoping to keep more two- and four-year college students on track for graduation.

The changes come as research shows that while many community college students are made to take—and pay for—at least one remedial course before they start compiling credits, those who take the courses are more likely to leave school without earning a diploma.

Pearson Education President Dave Daniels bristles when he hears the word “outsourcing” used to describe contracts colleges and universities sign with outside vendors to develop online curriculum.

“The word ‘outsource’ to me is real pejorative,” Daniels says. “It sounds like the school is saying, ‘Here, take it and bring it back to us.’ When it really is a collaboration. People think there’s this big, bad for-profit giant coming and taking over.”

Although the in-house work in preparing traditional classes to be taught online can be overwhelming, the vast majority of colleges and universities do not to use third-party vendors for online course development. Ottawa University, based in Kansas but with locations across the country, has its own curriculum design studio, says Brian Messer, vice president of online.

At the height of allergy season, Forbes projected a $14.7 billion profit margin for over-the-counter allergy medications alone. Over the past year, the American public got a rare look into the alleged unethical and deceitful business, hygiene, medical, and pharmacy practices at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts.

These days there’s a lot of attention on delivering content and services to the second, third, and now fourth screens - laptops, cell phones and tablets. One of these services is mass notification, or Emergency Alert System (EAS) messaging. While reaching all of these new screens provides extensive coverage, skipping the original first screen, the television, leaves a gaping hole in the plan.

Higher ed institutions driving courses online to meet increasing demand sometimes need outside help in developing or designing their digital curriculum. Of more than 2,000 colleges and universities with online programs, about 10 percent have used third-party vendors for any course development, estimates Richard Garrett, vice president and principal analyst for online higher education at the consulting firm Eduventures.

In old-school lecture halls, the rooms would be outfitted with a single projector in the back and a single screen in the front, while large numbers of students quietly listened as the professor spoke. But as the standard lecture experience has become dated, the audiovisual needs of classrooms have evolved to support group study and collaborative, team-based learning. Mark Valenti, president and CEO of The Sextant Group, an audiovisual consulting firm, puts it this way: “We’re basically seeing the beginning of the end of the lecture hall.”

In any endeavor, it is prudent to begin with the end in mind. This strategy proved to be successful throughout my business career, which culminated in a position as a managing director at Merrill Lynch. When I turned my attention to business education, I decided to once again start at the end.

According to Henry J. Neeman, director of the OU Supercomputer Center for Education & Research (OSCER) at Oklahoma University, schools will want to investigate guidelines for their own future HPC platforms. His own institution is seeing ROI from HPC as high as 700 percent from its supercomputer named Boomer.

From where he sits, the keys to a successful HPC platform include:

Imagine thinking thousands of thoughts at the same time. What if each thought was one piece of a really big problem—a problem now solvable in hours or days rather than years because of this simultaneous thought process? That’s what high-performance computing (HPC) does.

Sharing information on the go is second nature to today’s college student. That reality is pushing higher ed leaders to leverage that connectivity to build a more interactive learning environment. Smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and other mobile devices offer flexibility in extending the learning space beyond the classroom and getting students more engaged.