A weekly wrap-up from Silicon Valley on what’s making the news in higher education, EdTech, and disruptive trends

To Save Colleges, Professors Have To Learn To Love Online Education
silicon valley, innovation culture, disruptive technologies, education disruptedWhat it is: Online education presents great opportunities for colleges and universities, but also great threats. As this disruptive technology spreads, some universities will become better, and rise in stature. Others will go out of business. What will separate the winners from the losers? You might think the answer is money, to invest in new technologies. But the real key to success — and also the chief potential roadblock — is the faculty.

Why it is important: Schools that produce content, both for their own use and to sell to other schools, will do very well. Professors who create popular, moneymaking MOOCs will become the new academic stars. In contrast, colleges that become consumers of online courses created by wealthier universities will suffer, possibly even collapse. Most likely to fail are small colleges — especially private colleges with high tuition, a heavy reliance on tuition income, and a local reputation. If colleges and universities do not embrace technology-enhanced education, they are likely to see students and faculty flee to more convenient and affordable institutions.
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Ted Mitchell Wants Equity to Drive Higher-Ed Innovation
silicon valley, innovation culture, disruptive technologies, education disruptedWhat it is: As President Obama’s No. 1 authority on higher education, Mitchell has pushed the administration to experiment with new models of education including coding bootcamps, competency-based degrees and predictive analytics. He admits he is “most worried about the college-completion problem” as he shares his perspective of the federal government’s role in driving change in higher ed.

Why it is important: “We need innovation that cracks the code around providing access to high-quality, affordable education for the new college student who is more diverse, who has more needs, who in many ways is a challenge to the traditional system,” Mitchell says. He is adamant that equity should be the end goal for innovation in higher education, and says that too often that has not been the case. “We need to innovate so that the people who have too often been left behind get the good stuff first.”
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Zuckerberg and Chan Hire Education Leader to Run Philanthropic Effort
silicon valley, innovation culture, disruptive technologies, education disruptedWhat it is: Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, and Dr. Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician who is his wife, said Wednesday that they had hired James H. Shelton III, a former deputy secretary of the United States Department of Education, to oversee their efforts in education, in the latest example of former federal officials who are taking up jobs in Silicon Valley. Mr. Shelton will lead the education component of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan announced they were creating last year to focus on customizing learning for students and addressing disparities.

Why it is important: The advent of nontraditional philanthropic vehicles seems to be drawing new interest from veteran education officials. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a limited liability company, an organizational structure that enables investing and advocacy, as well as philanthropy. Richard Culatta, a former director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education and now chief innovation officer of the state of Rhode Island, said the hiring of prominent education officials like Mr. Shelton, who is also a former executive at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, could herald new approaches to learning. “There could be huge impact from nontraditional organizations in really innovating in the field,” he said.
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Reinventing School: 106 Ed Tech Startups Across Learning Management, Language Teaching, And More
silicon valley, innovation culture, disruptive technologies, education disruptedWhat it is: The ed tech industry is becoming increasingly global, with the US share of ed tech deals falling to 60% in 2015, down from 80% in 2011, as the UK, India, and China took more ed tech financings. This diversity is also seen in the range of companies working in ed tech. While MOOCs dominated early headlines, there is a wide variety in the focus and scope of today’s startups, from the very specific — such as helping college students locate cheaper textbooks — to the broad, such as revamping the entire methodology of student-teacher communication.

Why it is important: Higher education is evolving outside of traditional classrooms. Ed tech has paved the way for evolution through technologies focused on the following categories: 1) broad online learning platforms, 2) learning-management systems, 3) language learning, 4) next-gen study tools, 5) enterprise learning, 6) online-to-offline, 7) next-gen schools, and 8) tech learning.
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Lessons About Online Learning
silicon valley, innovation culture, disruptive technologies, education disruptedWhat it is: In its infancy, online learning was viewed as a more accessible alternative for students unable to commit to the traditional higher education path. But in recent years online education has been gaining more acceptance. The most recent U.S. Department of Education data from fall 2014 indicate that 5.8 million students took at least one online course, with 2.85 million of them studying exclusively online.

Why it is important: After thousands of online launches and millions of students, it is important to assess the advancement made in online learning as educators look to further enhance online learning for future students. Several factors that determine students’ academic performance and related outcomes are retention, graduation, satisfaction and commitment toward their college or university.
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silicon valley, innovation culture, disruptive technologies, education disrupted

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