The Strategic Surveys of Educause 2015
The vital data to make important strategic and tactical IT decisions in education can be hard to come by. Education CIOs operating on the leading edge often have to act without the benefit of history on the new technologies and requirements they are faced with. To help fill this data vacuum several groups associated with Educause shared their survey results at the annual conference in Indianapolis.
Adaptive Learning Research
There are over 40 companies active in the promising field of adaptive learning technology. In a nutshell, this educational technology offers different content to learners based on an interactive assessment of where they are in their understanding of the subject. But is it yet helping to drive student success? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation set up the Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Grant Program (ALMAP) in 2013 to better understand progress in this field. Participants shared their preliminary results at Educause 2015. ALMAP is just one of the programs implemented by the Gates Foundation in support of their goal of enabling 11 million more students to achieve career-relevant credentials by 2025.
Through ALMAP, the Gates Foundation provided grants to 17 colleges and universities to implement and track the use of adaptive learning platforms in 22 courses. Over 21,000 students and 700 instructors were involved. The study looked at three different types of comparisons.
- Lecture vs. Blended Adaptive
- Online vs. Online Adaptive
- Blended vs. Blended Adaptive
The preliminary results show positive gains. These gains are especially demonstrated in the courses that were redesigned from traditional lecture format to blended learning style or combined with online learning. Results were also strong when adaptive learning product features were combined with progress dashboards, regular quizzes and feedback, referrals to remedial content, and spaced memorization practice. Highest learning gains were experienced in the psychology courses, followed by mathematics, biology, and lastly, English courses. The full report is due out later this month.
Data to Drive Decisions: The 2015 ECAR Faculty and Student Technology Surveys
The results of two studies by the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) were presented and discussed at Educause: Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2015 and Study of Faculty and Information Technology 2015. These involved over 50,000 students and over 13,000 faculty participants from 139 institutions.
According to the panelists, the survey responses showed an over-focus by faculty on content versus student learning and interaction. A majority of students are asking for faculty to use more technology in the classroom. Faculty in general underestimates how much students use mobile devices primarily for classroom purposes, yet some faculty still ban personal devices in the classroom.
The fact that instructors are generally asking for more help recording lectures led to a discussion on how effective lecture capture really is in education. There is now available better, more interactive technology for transferring subject content, than lectures. In fact, when students learn that lectures are available in recorded format, they have been known to skip the in-person lectures and binge on the recordings, often in a group, just before finals.
Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS)
The concept of IPAS and student retention systems receives good support with both faculty and students. Surprisingly, faculty members don’t yet feel that it is important to collect extracurricular data about students, even though that data has been shown to be important in predicting of student success.
Students would like the IPAS systems to provide more personalized support, such as a dashboard to let them know exactly where they stand on their progress to their degree. One concern expressed in the session was that there is danger in labeling students “at-risk”, a term that can endure.
Great Expectations for Open Educational Resources: The 2015 Campus Computing Survey
The annual Campus Computing Survey as presented by Casey Green revealed a number of emerging trends. Over 80% of the survey participants feel that open source textbooks/Open Education Resource (OER) content “will be an important source for instructional resources in five years.” Even more overwhelmingly, 96% believe that adaptive learning technology “has great potential to improve learning outcomes for students.”
Interestingly, CIOs rate things they buy higher than things they do/provide, possibly foretelling growth in outsourcing more aspects of IT. Related to this is a growing challenge in hiring and retaining IT staff. Salaries have not stayed competitive; there are lots of open IT positions in higher education. IT budgets are being cut less, but the compounding effects of previous IT budget cuts are still being felt.
Green is sounding an alarm that too many campuses do not comply with ADA by providing resources and services for disabled users, and there are lawsuits waiting to happen. This could especially come to the forefront with the renewal of the higher education act, which expired at the end of 2013.
Showcase of Ed Tech Startups
This year exhibition floor space was set aside for 24 emerging companies under five years old, with less than
$1M in revenue, and employing under 50 employees. These young ed-tech companies of Start-Up Alley are creating new models and leveraging technology in innovative ways to address key issues in higher education including access, student success, retention, and cost.
For more about Educause 2015, see these blogs:
- How To Motivate Educators…And Everyone Else, Too
- The Significant and Often Unanticipated Benefits of Online Testing
- Insuring That The Future Needs Us: A Look Into The Educause 2015 Crystal Balls
- The Tempestuous Relationship of Education and Technology On the Educause 2015 Courting Grounds