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Articles: Classroom

Plagiarism is a widespread problem, and with anytime, anywhere internet access, it only seems to get worse. As part of a study published last summer by The Pew Research Center and the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than half of 1,055 college presidents surveyed said they had seen a rise in plagiarism in the last 10 years. (Just 2 percent thought that it had decreased.)

Harvard President Drew Faust (left) and MIT President Susan Hockfield announce edX.

At the beginning of the 21st century, MIT began a bold, pioneering experiment in bringing higher learning to the masses. Originally intended for students traveling abroad to keep up with their studies, the OpenCourseWare Project enabled anyone to access the OCW site and read course materials from more than 2,000 MIT classes. While there was no interaction with faculty and no grades or credit given for doing any of the work, it opened the door to a variety of possibilities for online learning.

As college acceptance letters began popping up in mailboxes across the country this year, incoming students were left once again with the daunting task of choosing the right school. While cost has always been a consideration, more students than ever before are now considering it as a key factor—not only in terms of which school to attend, but whether they go to college at all.

Strategic Learning Alternative Techniques (SALT) Center at the University of Arizona:

A dozen strategic learning specialists are assigned to individual students, whom they meet with weekly and coach on everything from time management to self-advocacy. SALT students get help figuring out how and to whom to disclose their learning disability, and how to approach professors and talk to them. Research has shown that students with learning disabilities need to develop self-determination skills. Students begin work on self-advocacy right away.

Students who learn differently will be the focus of two events at UBTech 2012, June 11 to 13 in Las Vegas. Temple Grandin, autism advocate and professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, will speak on education, technology, and how we relate to the world around us in the opening keynote. In a later session, Dana Reinecke, an assistant professor and department chair in the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges (N.Y.), will present on using technology to reach college students with special needs.

Student Caitlin Smith of Adelphi U gets a helping hand from Susan Spencer Farinacci, executive director of the Learning Disabilities Program there.

At first glance, the sprawling University of Arizona and University of Connecticut campuses might not have much in common with Adelphi University and Curry College, smaller private institutions in the suburbs of New York City and Boston, respectively. But all of these schools have built robust programs for undergraduates with learning disabilities (LD), distinguishing themselves in the process.

They’re among an expanding number of institutions working closely with students who decades ago might have struggled to graduate—or not made it to college at all.

Recently, McGraw-Hill Higher Education issued a white paper, “The Tipping Point in Development Education” stating that adaptive learning technology in higher education can bridge remedial education gaps.

The report noted that technology-enabled developmental education programs that are designed specifically for underprepared students entering or returning to college can improve educational and other outcomes. These benefits can include increased retention and completion rates, a more accelerated and efficient process for students bound for college, and greater affordability.

Big Bend Community College (Wash.)



  • Using: Mediasite by Sonic Foundry


  • Started using lecture capture: 2007


  • Classes: Pre-college level math and English

California Community Colleges



  • Using: Blackboard Collaborate


  • Started using lecture capture: 2002 (upgrades in 2005 and 2012)


  • Classes: Basic skills (including ESL,tutoring, and writing labs)

Students enrolled in remedial courses at Holmes Community College seem to be sticking it out in those courses, and the use of lecture capture may well be a big factor in why. Photo: Courtney Lange / Holmes Community College Staff Writer/Photographer

Boosting success for students in remedial education is crucial, particularly given the readiness gap seen at some community colleges. A recent report from McGraw-Hill Higher Education showed that despite receiving a high school diploma, at least 75 percent of first-year students at community colleges aren’t college-ready. And the number of students dropping out during their first year of college continues to rise. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including financial difficulties.

flowers

The 20-year-old “bubble era” of rapid expansion and leveraged prosperity in American colleges may have been a novelty; it did not, however, fund or build much that now seems original. Too bad, because there is a difference between movements or institutions (as there is for poets and scientists) that are original, truly springing from fresh inspiration, and those that are merely novel, highly derived forms growing from already familiar soils. The Great Recession continues a residual perplexity like a weather front hovering upon the shoreline.

Here we are at a coffee shop in South Boston, commiserating over the latest higher education buzz. Boston, a place that hosts 50 colleges and universities, is the kind of college town that often drives national higher learning megatrends. The talk here is about President Obama taking aim at at student debt load, gainful employment, and health care.  For Obama, “The question isn’t how we can afford to focus on healthcare. The question is how we can afford not to…because in order to fix our economic crisis and rebuild our middle class, we need to fix our healthcare system, too.”

Apps for Education

iPad

On January 19, Apple held a much-hyped education event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City where the company revealed its move into the textbook distribution market with the release of the iBooks 2 and iBooks Author apps.

Notable for its higher ed implications, iBooks Author is available as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create iBooks textbooks and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. Education technology experts weigh in on how this could change how professors disseminate information.

artist painting

Futurist Richard Florida moved the needle with his book The Rise of the Creative Class (Basic Books, 2002)—establishing creativity as a 21st century learning and earning skill, and a driving force of economic growth, jobs creation, and cultural enrichment in today’s competitive global society.

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