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

The Evolution of Online Education

What it is: The range of topics offered in the world of online learning is rapidly diversifying, with more and more experts throwing their hat in the ring, and some of the best minds across sectors helping the world learn at warp speed. The most exciting aspect is what is happening behind the scenes – the global explosion, specifically around creativity fueled by unprecedented access to world-class experts and skill-based education.

Why it is important: Learning by doing is the way forward, and by extension the new model for a teacher is an experienced expert – a ‘doer’. The online education industry is increasingly placing an emphasis on the experience of the teacher, not in years at the front of the room teaching, but rather as experience living the subject matter as a world-class expert. Doers are the new teachers.
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When Your Dream School Accepts You (But Only Online)

What it is: Students who do not quite make the cut for traditional admission can take their first two years of classes online or at a community college for a 25% discount in tuition. They can start taking classes on college campuses, such as University of Florida and University of Colorado, only after they earn 60 credits, and start as juniors. This combination of online and offline education is new, but gaining in popularity.

Why it is important: There are several reasons that online classes are particularly attractive to today’s colleges. For one, they have the potential to drastically increase revenue to institutions facing lower traditional enrollment. Second, a professor can design a curriculum once, and her university can run it again and again, with minimal updates, into the far future. Three, the number of students is not limited to those who can physically move to your campus and attend classes, or dependent on the availability of a professor. Anyone, anywhere, can take classes at any time.
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Why Higher Education Needs to Be More Future-Focused

What it is: 
As the threat of MOOCs and for-profit education fades, so too does the sense of urgency that drives innovation. Yet anyone who thinks that a decade from now higher education will look much as it does today is sadly mistaken. A host of trends, such as students accumulating credits from multiple universities and students acquiring learning experiences outside of a college or university, are already well underway that spell the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Why it is important: These developments have profound revenue consequences, even as demands for more robust student services and mandated administrative responsibilities also increase. There are palliatives. Institutions aggressively pursue international students. Many schools are rapidly expanding their online master’s degree offerings. The wealthiest, most prestigious institutions are best positioned to adapt to shifting circumstances by expanding development efforts, increasing funded research, and leveraging their brand. Most institutions, in contrast, face severe challenges as they seek to tap new revenue streams.
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5 Ways Adaptive Learning Has Changed

What it is: In three years, adaptive learning has evolved from an ill-defined concept in higher ed to a key category of education technology, with the mot significant change since 2012: the development of new adaptive technology features to meet institutional needs. Researchers at consulting firm Tyton Partners analyzed the adaptive learning landscape; conducted interviews with higher ed leaders from 20-plus institutions about their experiences with adaptive learning; and surveyed 35 vendors with adaptive products in market — and compared their findings with a similar study the firm performed in 2012.

Why it is important: Tyton Partners identified five themes that characterize the evolution, ranked from 1 (changed little since 2012) to 5 (changed significantly since 2012): 1) While institutions have more experience with learning through product pilots, the path to broader implementation is uncertain; 2) Applications of adaptive learning technology are expanding; 3) The role of faculty is changing with the emergence of “adaptive teaching”; 4) Adaptive learning is a relevant option for competency-based education, but only in specific use cases; and 5) Adaptive products are building new feature sets in response to institutional demand.
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Can AI Fix Education? We Asked Bill Gates

What it is: The rise of smartphones has transformed the way students communicate and entertain themselves. But the classrooms they spend so much of their time in remain stubbornly resistant to transformation. One one hand, technology has long had a home in classrooms. But for most schools, the approach to teaching remains stubbornly one-size-fits-all: a single teacher delivering the same message to a group of about 30 students, regardless of their individual progress.

Why it is important: Bill Gates is working to change all that. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has invested more than $240 million to date in a developing field known as “personalized learning.” It’s a diffuse set of initiatives, led mostly by private companies, to develop software that creates individual lesson plans for students based on their performance, coaching them through trouble spots until they have mastered the subject at hand. Teachers still play a central role in the classroom, but they do less lecturing and more one-on-one coaching.
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Business MOOC Maker Udacity Is Embracing Blended Campus/Online Learning

What it is: Udacity’s mix of bricks and clicks marks what many academic leaders, and edtech executives, see as the future of business education. The Silicon Valley edtech group is opening a bricks-and-mortar study locations, starting with New York, Los Angeles, and California. Sessions will be led by top Udacity graduates, who can earn up to $11,000 a month, Udacity estimates.

Why it is important: Many top schools have embraced blended learning. Forced to innovate, some are running credible blended versions of their flagship MBA programs, such as IE Business School. Warwick Business School, and Kelley School of Business. Mooc platforms burst onto the scene a few years ago in barnstorming fashion, gathering millions of users, and promising wide-spread disruption of the traditional university model. But schools have fought back, embracing digital innovation and partnering with the disruptors.
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