The new NMC Horizon Report for higher education is out

The 2017 New Media Consotrium Horizon Report on higher education has just appeared.  It’s free to download and read, and also to remix and brood upon.  There’s also a video and infographic.

I’d like to summarize some of its findings here.  Where does Horizon see higher ed and technology headed in the next five years?

In full disclosure, I’m on the advisory board, and have been for, oh, a decade or so.  I’m one of about 70-odd members, so despite my energetic participation on the development wiki, the report does not map precisely onto my thoughts.  That’s how a Delphi process works.

So let’s begin.  The report, like pre-Caesarian Gaul, is broken into three parts: trends accelerating technology adoption, challenges, and emerging technologies.

Horizon Report higher education 2017 cover

Trends accelerating technology adoption  These are divided by impact timeline.

Long-Term Trends (five or more years): “Advancing Cultures of Innovation,” including initiatives supporting experimentation and entrepreneurship. “Deeper Learning Approaches” considers practices of pushing learners towards mastery levels of learning, including active, project-based, and inquiry-based learning.

Mid-Term Trends (three to five years): “Growing Focus on Measuring Learning,” meaning improved and expanded assessment, using big data and data analytics, along with better visualization tools. “Redesigning Learning Spaces” combines new learning spaces with thoughtful use of technologies, both mobile and space-based.

Short-Term Trends (one to two years): “Blended Learning Designs” carries blended/hybrid learning further forward than it already is.

The affordances blended learning offers are now well understood…  The current focus of this trend has shifted to understanding how applications of digital modes of teaching are impacting students.

“Collaborative Learning” combines learner-centric education and technology to boost group learning.

Challenges These are broken down by difficulty.

Solvable Challenges (“Those that we understand and know how to solve”): “Improving Digital Literacy” appears at this level because the topic is vital, and also widely discussed and explored.  The challenge is how best to implement it. “Integrating Formal and Informal Learning” refers to the enormous and growing amount of non-formal educational material now available, and how best to connect it to formal education, especially in terms of assessment (see above), and scale.

Difficult Challenges (“Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive”):  “Achievement Gap” refers to “significant issues of access and equity persist among students from low income, minority, single-parent families, and other disadvantaged groups”, and notes college completion problems. “Advancing Digital Equity” concerns the digital divide.

Wicked Challenges (“Those that are complex to even define, much less address”)  “Managing Knowledge Obsolescence” combines information overload with the institutional challenge of selecting and maintaining technology. “Rethinking the Roles of Educators” addresses how many of the preceding and following trends are changing what teachers do and expectations thereof.

Emerging technologies Delphi process discussion covered a lot of ground.  Here’s a sample of the tech we addressed:

Horizon Report's technologies list

But we had to pick six.  Like accelerants above, these are divided by time to impact.

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less –  adaptive learning technologies, which include personalized learning, have the attention of CIOs and publishers.  Mobile learning has been an issue in the United States for some time, and longer, everywhere else, but we’re still working on how best to implement it.

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years – the internet of things is clearly growing as a technological-business-governmental movement, while educational uses are still developing. The next-generation learning management system (LMS) appears for the first time on Horizon, and considers what the next generation LMS could become, especially in light of the NGDLE current.

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years -artificial intelligence uses in higher education are at the tentative, exploratory phase, for now.  Natural user interfaces are the mouse and keyboard’s successors, from voice to haptics.

General thoughts: the report has a nice look back over recent years, checking on trends that repeat, persist, or disappear.  For example,

Challenges, 2012-2017

There are plenty of examples for each of the eighteen trends, and a body of references.  Don’t miss the top ten trends list in the executive summary, which is a new thing.

I like the way the report turned its gaze backwards to consider previous work.  However, there needs to be a process of honing Horizon report practice by learning from past successes and misses.

One criticism of print-based and print-like documents addressing the digital world is that they don’t embody their subjects.  Horizon Reports run into this, being each, ultimately, a single pdf.  I’d like to see a report that uses some of the technologies it describes.  For instance, a mobile version that was actually designed to take advantage of the handheld world’s accordances, or a report using automation in some way (Horizon Twitter bot? automated references?), or a document that adapted itself to particular readers.  Surely there are 360 degree views of new learning spaces.

Overall, this is a good entry in the Horizon series.  The trends are vital for higher education, and the document fine fodder for provoking conversations.

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The Future Trends Forum town hall meeting, where the guest is your fine selves

This week the Future Trends Forum turns one.  In response, we’re celebrating by holding a community gathering, a virtual town hall meeting.  This Thursday, February 16th, the special guests are… you all.

Everyone who has participated – all nearly 60 guests, and roughly 1,400 participants so far – is invited to think, talk, listen, and video about where the project is, and where it should go next.  A bunch of those guests plan on checking in.  If you haven’t been to the Forum before, consider yourself doubly invited.  If you don’t know much about the Forum, click here for info and tons of recordings.

forum-holiday-session-sam-with-hood

As someone living actively in Vermont, I know how actual town hall meetings really work.  So here’s the plan.

I will put forth some questions and topics.  For example, these are in my mind:

  • New guests to invite
  • Old guests to bring back
  • What do you get out of the Forum?
  • Outreach and communication: how’s it going so far? (think this blog, Twitter, Storified tweets, email blasts, Slack, Facebook streams)
  • Would people like more formal presentations?
  • Should I do more or fewer FTTE research updates?
  • Any suggestions for live shows?
  • How about a podcast (audio only) publication?
  • Are there themes we should emphasize?
forum-holiday-maya-glasses

Maya, both stylish and ahead of the tech curve.

I’m also curious about the bigger picture, of what it means to co-create a video-based conversational community in the 21st century.

At the same time everyone‘s invited to take the stage to offer thoughts and recommendations.  I won’t present; consider me a moderator.

We record the whole thing, as ever, and start exploring how to apply suggestions at once.

We’re also soliciting your thoughts ahead of time.  So use the comment box below, or tweet with #FTTE to front-load the meeting.

If you’d like more information about how the Forum works, check this page and/or feel completely free to ask on Thursday.

Here’s the link again: http://events.shindig.com/event/ftf-anniversary.

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Paying the Price: family matters, academic success, and financial aid

Let’s continue with our reading of Sara Goldrick-Rab’s Paying the Price.  It’s a powerful, meticulously researched, and vital book for anyone interested in American education.  (Click here to find all posts and discussion on the reading so far)

Paying the Price, resting on my laptopsIn this post I’ll discuss the next two chapters, 6 and 7, “Family Matters” and “Making the Grade.”  I’ll outline their contents, then  ask some discussion questions.

To participate, you can leave thoughts and your own questions as comments below.  You can also write in our reading’s Google Doc.  And if that’s not enough, you can also join the Twitter conversation by using the hashtag #payingtheprice.

For more information about this reading, check the posts about the book so far under this tag.  We’re about halfway in as of this week.

6: Family Matters

Before we proceed, I wanted to offer a quick observation.  Paying the Price focuses on students we normally don’t discuss in higher education.  She’s not dwelling on learners from professional families who head off to distant and elite colleges, where they find themselves in an atmosphere of detached contemplation.  That’s the world of William Deresiewicz or Julie Lythcott-Haims, of Yale and Stanford.  Paying the Price is about the rest of us.  The majority of learners, the bulk of America’s higher ed experience.

Back to chapter 6.  Here Goldrick-Rab dives more deeply into connections between students, their families, and financial aid.  She leads off with a big claim, one that educators aren’t really taking seriously, I think: “the increasing costs of higher education are creating changes in family life.” (Kindle location 2835)  That is, women are having fewer children, and those later in life, in part due to their higher education experience.  And, obviously, the escalating cost of higher ed, born by a growing proportion of the population, has large effects on family finances.

Goldrick-Rab really focuses on the reverse, how changing family situations alter the higher education experience.  She returns to her earlier theme about flat or declining wages for all but the wealthiest, pointing out increasing financialization (mortgages, car notes, credit cards, student loans) as playing a major role in how families survive and strategize (a theme I’ve been harping on for a decade).  She also reminds us of how parenting has changed, with growing numbers of children growing up in single-family households – a topic familiar to those of us who read Robert Putnam’s Our Kids – and how class drives the number of parents (the wealthier the family, the more likely there are two parents; also the reverse).

How do the poorest students far, then, given the economic straits and often challenged families?  These learners devote significant time and money to supporting their families.  They care for ailing parents, mind younger siblings, and ship their financial aid back home.

For Ian’s family, sharing resources was a matter of survival.  When he became a college student, the practice continued.  Ian shared the limited funds he had – obtained from grants, loans, and work – with his mother and brothers. (3042)

Rarely do discussions about the challenges facing college students recognize the possibility that money might need to flow from the student to the parent or to other relatives… (3111)

These parents sometimes resist helping their children pay for college, or even help them through the process (3276).  Those families are the opposite of helicopter parents (2974).  Goldrick-Rab is at times scathing on this point:

Ian Williams, for example, learned how to share with his brothers and sisters in a way many of his college professors and administrators likely did not.  He shared his food. (3029)

This sharing draws on family and cultural traditions, as the chapter explains.  But it can also backfire academically, as at least one study found such students likelier to work more hours and less likely to complete their studies. (3165)  It can also cause problems for campus administrators, who find spending money on “noneducational expenses” to be “misuse, even fraud”. (3243)  And yet families view their poor students who work hard at school as successful – and therefore expected to support their family members. (3282)

7: Making the Grade
Continue reading

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When I Consider How My Light is Spent

Today I turn 50 years old.

There’s nothing particularly special about this milestone.  It doesn’t represent a new legal status, like turning 65 or 18.  I don’t obtain or lose any special abilities.  AARP did ramp up their mailing campaign, and the local bank welcomed me to the disturbingly cheerful New Horizons Club.  There isn’t much more to it.  Just another birthday, one more tick of the chronometer, from 49 to 50.

bryan-and-50-signBut the symbolism is a killer.

It means I’ve lived for half of a century.  A half century… I was born in 1967, and just typing that sentence plunges me into a spiral of memory, history, and nostalgia.  I was born in New York City during a Johnson administration, and reached my half-century in Vermont while Trump starts his reign.  I have experienced the first tentative years of the internet and now inhabit the first years of the world-spanning internet of things.

I grew up expecting my life and everyone else’s to be incinerated in global thermonuclear war.  As a kid I was reading more books than anyone around me, was often bullied, usually shy.  Then I got older, fell in love, become a professor, had children, saw the 20th century somehow give way to the 21st, and –

But I’ll pull back from that reflective abyss for now.  Maybe I’ll head back there in posts to come.  For now, I want to look forward, and personally.  I normally don’t get this self-descriptive here, but it’s a special occasion.  I want to peer ahead with eyes wide open.  Which isn’t easy.

Let me start off by asking: how much time have I got left on Earth?  And what should I do with it?

We can be cold and consider the statistics.  One Berkeley demographer thinks American men born in 1967 tend to expire around age 67, neatly enough. The World Bank agrees, at least for American males born in 1960. Index Mundi is more generous, putting my average expiration date at just past 74 years.  The American Centers for Disease Control is relatively cautious, determining that white males born in 1960 die around 67.4 years of age, while those decanted in 1970 expire at 68.  Taken together these demographic data give me a window of under two decades, roughly.

My father and I.

My father and I.  I didn’t inherit his skinniness gene.

These are all statistical models, of course, averages and medians, subjected to the whims and vagaries of individual health, genetics, access to medical care, lifestyle, and accident.  Some of these work in my favor.  My parents are living in their 80s, which is good for my chances.  My physician thinks I’m doing well, especially with the non-caffeine, non-alcohol thing, and getting a serious amount of exercise: also good.

However, my BMI is high (35).  I don’t see that as entirely doomful since BMI comes in for a lot of criticism, and my “extra” pounds are almost completely due to lifting weights for the past 33 years (I can only bench 280 now, alas; personal record is 320).  But neither higher weight not expanded muscle mass bode well for longevity.

More worrisome is my work schedule.  I work about 70 hours in a given week.  I don’t ever take vacations.  Between work, homesteading, and caring for my family, I rarely get enough sleep. This is not a good strategy for a long lifespan.

Some studies show personal relationships as crucial for a happy long life, and I am fortunate to have a rich world of friends.  However, I rarely see them in person.  Consider this a test of how effective virtual connections can be.

Health care is a mixed bag at the present.  I can access the American medical system, meaning advanced treatments of various kinds.  Yet this can be problematic, depending on what happens to our business and to the American health care system in this age of political and economic…. tension, for lack of a better word.  I also do some things potentially detrimental to my health, like traveling a great deal (by plane, but, worse, by car) and enjoying axes, chainsaws, and sledgehammers.

There are other factors that influence my likely mortality, as we futurists know.  Wild cards can enter play, like sudden technological advances (for my personal good or ill), or the outbreak of civil war or the onset of plague.  Trends do develop, such as incremental improvements to health care treatments and better telepresence (for staying in touch with friends).  Lifespans may simply extend.

Altarpiece detail from Valetta's St. John's Co-cathedral.

Altarpiece detail from Valetta’s St. John’s Co-cathedral.  Note the many skulls.

Taken together, let’s say I’m most likely to meet my doom around age 70-75.  Erring on the side of dismal lethality, that gives me a couple of decades to go for living and productive work.  Maybe a little more, maybe a little less, depending on how policies and incidents shake out.  Maybe a little less, depending on when biology decides to assert itself and throw my time into clinics instead of work.  If there are more years, they are a bonus, but I shouldn’t count of them.

Please don’t imagine I’m gazing ahead solely with a chilly analytical demeanor.  Death haunts me, more each day.  I brood about deaths that terrify, like several cases of lingering, agonizing disintegration deep in the toils of hospitals.  Or of two friends who each lost the ability to read in their last years, which strikes me as almost incomprehensibly terrible.  Conversely, I can’t shake some demises that appeal to me, like a friend’s father who died surrounded by his beloved books.

Last year my own father came very, very close to death.  Without going into too much detail, his heart blew a gasket, essentially, and 21st century medicine alone brought him back.  In the hospital, surrounded and penetrated multiply by machines, his face was literally gray.  I’ve seen dead human bodies before, and he seemed perilously close to them.  At one point he had a tube running from his side and into the very muscle of his heart.  A specialist ran a cord through the tube and was able to adjust tissue position by tugging minutely on it.  I can still see my father’s face, ashen and horrified, as he felt his very heart being prodded around his chest’s interior.  I spent two weeks with him in the hospital, and it’s trivial – unavoidable – to imagine myself in his place.

These images of death’s approach and inescapable triumph return to my mind’s eye daily, now, as a memento mori.  Keep living, Bryan, they urge me.  You haven’t got much time left.  Do more.  Do even more still.

It’s time for an appropriate musical interlude, courtesy of Brian Lamb:

So, confronting mortality in various shapes, what should I do in this time remaining to me?

Some people recommend focusing one’s last years on what gives us pleasure.  That means connecting and reconnecting with friends and loved ones, taking time for what delights us, ensuring some level of creature comforts.  Planning and emptying a bucket list.  Savoring sweet things while one still can.

All of that sounds very sweet indeed.  I enjoy hearing friends my age and older talk about the pleasures they take in life, and of relishing retirement. I envy them, of course.   I burn vermillion with the desire to have a portion of the hours they now possess.  But at the same time I am still consumed with the desire to do more.  I still want to change the world.   Continue reading

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Vermont governor Scott’s historic broadband mistake

Vermont’s new governor has given his first budget address. It is, among other things, bad news for our state’s broadband situation.

Our internet speeds tend to be low, which is typical for a rural American state. For several years Montpelier led a drive to raise broadband rates, funding multiple projects, but that petered out recently, leaving Vermont a patchwork of several broadband oases, some satellite-powered zones, and some speeds so slow as to fall below the FCC’s definition of “broadband.” Cellphone coverage is a connectivity option in parts of the U.S., but is a rare option here, given spotty coverage and, all too often, scant bars.

Improving rural broadband became a state election issue late in 2016. Candidate Sue Minter urged a general improvement. Then-candidate Phil Scott disagreed, arguing that it was too expensive and difficult a challenge for a financially challenged state to address.

Now as newly installed governor, Scott held fast to this belief, as shown in his 2017 budget address.

The speech’s theme was for general financial probity and restraint. No funds are to be increased for any crying need, from Lake Champlain cleanup to mitigating the opiate crisis. There is no room for investing in improving our state’s low bandwidth.

There is one exception to this point: a call for funds to be spent improving broadband speeds and technology in public schools: “With additional investments in innovation, modernization, and distance learning in our K-through-12 system, I hope to inspire fresh thinking in our classrooms, fund technology and training for school districts, and connect every school in Vermont with high-speed Internet access,” Scott said.

Low speeds cramp business development, disincentivize new businesses from investing in Vermont, and fail to attract young people who increasingly rely on broadband for most aspects of life.

This connects to specific curricular fields: “To promote more interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – as well as traditional trades – I’ve proposed grants to support coding camps, and boost Career Technical Education programs,” Scott said.

This is a fine idea. Yet given that Gov. Scott also urged schools to cut spending, it’s not clear that boards will be able to fund that technological request. Aside from this measure, Vermont will continue to languish with lame broadband speeds.

Scott’s logic is that trimming or holding state spending steady will keep taxes from increasing, which will in turn encourage business growth, which then improves the state’s overall economy, including tax revenues. Unfortunately, this will not elicit internet connection improvements, as we now know that the market has stalled out across the state in providing better speeds. Indeed, weak broadband will harm our economy, as I’ve argued before, since low speeds cramp business development, disincentivize new businesses from investing in Vermont, and fail to attract young people who increasingly rely on broadband for most aspects of life.

We know from many examples worldwide that improving broadband boosts economic performance. Higher speeds give businesses access to more customers. They open the way for providing new services and goods. Start-ups often rely on high-speed internet to launch and grow.

Vermont’s broadband situation goes beyond the economy. High-speed access is vital for education, allowing students access to rich media content and to audio- and video-conference discussions with instructors and other learners. Faster speeds give us greater opportunities for sharing media about Vermont, such as photos and video of our gorgeous landscape and rich way of life, which encourages tourism. At the same time, broadband is a quality of life issue, as we increasingly use bandwidth-intensive applications to entertain ourselves and to stay in touch with friends and family.

Unfortunately, the Scott administration has chosen to refuse this positive path forward. The governor’s speech tells us that he has made peace with our problematic bandwidth, that he sees no need for internet-fueled growth in economics, education or life. He apparently would have us sit out the digital revolution, losing a fine possibility to restart Vermont’s economic engine. As our state’s demographics age, the governor is unwilling to invest in attracting young people, even though he spoke to a drop in our working age population in this very speech. Scott would like to “turn … Vermont into an education destination for families,” but without investing in the required infrastructure.

Some, like Bill “Spaceman” Lee, argue that Vermont should resist the distractions of an always-on digital existence. They see our state as a refuge from shallow entertainment, fake news and digital exhaustion. This argument doesn’t actually apply to us. To begin with, Vermont’s speeds are so low, connections so spotty, and actual use of technology relatively rare, that we are not in danger of losing our connection to the natural world anytime soon. Moreover, neither the governor nor his administration has made this kind of cultural argument. Instead, the decision to not invest in broadband is, as far as we can discern, a financial one.

That decision will be seen as a historic mistake. I urge Gov. Scott to reconsider. We need to invest in broadband, especially for Vermont’s small towns. If he truly wants to grow our economy, this is a no-brainer. Failing to boost our connection to the world – to the future – will end up costing us dearly.

(republished from VTDigger)

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Digital literacy and anti-authoritarian politics

A deep political divide is starting to open up in digital literacy discussions.  It’s not a new chasm, but a very old one, given fresh contours by new technology and practices.

gatekeeper_oceanyamahaIt’s a split between those who think people should assume the power to make decisions about information and media, and those who prefer to build up authorities to help us cope with the digital world.  On the one side, lower-case-d democrats; on the others, neo-gatekeepers.

The democrats argue that people should and can make their own decisions.  They draw on the heritage of information and, before that, media literacies, movements which sought to empower readers (and viewers, and listeners, and browsers, and…).  Some of them, like Jesse Walker, point out that fake news isn’t new.

when I hear the phrase fake news, I think of the Eleanor Clubs. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of those: It’s been seven decades since anyone was abuzz about them, and even then they were as fictional as the pope’s endorsement of Donald Trump or that photo of a bare-chested, gay Mike Pence. But in the early 1940s, quite a few people believed in them. They were even investigated by the FBI.

The clubs—named for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a vocal supporter of civil rights—were supposedly a subversive network of black servants working to overturn the racial caste system, so that one day whites would work for blacks instead of the other way around…

Read on for the whole story.

We can learn from the past, realizing that people learned to set aside bad media in favor of better. We can also learn lessons from recent uses of digital media, as Howard Rheingold’s excellent Net.Smart demonstrates.  As Walker points out, the new digital technology powering the fake news flood also makes it easier to debunk the stuff.

This may be the first time in human history when a whispering campaign can come with footnotes. Rumors are undeniably resilient, but they are far easier to trace, track, and debunk now than they were when Franklin Roosevelt or Al Smith was running for president.

The bad news is that Facebook is filled with bullshit. The good news is that we now have amped-up, networked bullshit detectors. No discussion of “fake news” will get anywhere unless it takes both of those facts into account.

A good example of this approach comes from publisher Tim O’Reilly, who recently published an article on how he vets news online.  It’s very useful, actually, listing a series of practical tips, from looking for references to checking out other links on the same topic.  (Interestingly, at no point does he mention information literacy, digital literacy, media literacy, or libraries.)

gatekeeper_kalle-gustafssonCritics of this democratic approach point to the flood of fake news, sometimes arguing that it helped shape the Brexit and US presidential votes.  Either users can’t be trusted to know and use digital literacies, or enough of us are illiterate enough to turn the bad stories viral.  Until the population as a whole practices solidly skeptical digital literacy, Macedonian click farms will prey on our understanding.  Without authorities, we might organize and act politically.

Hence the neo-gatekeepers.  We can see them at work in new projects to detect or block fake news.  In December Facebook deployed flagging tools to American users.  Facebook is also working with some French companies and the French state to generate some mechanism for keeping le pays de Zuckerberg free of fakery, at least for election news.  In addition Facebook set up a German version:

stories reported as fake by users will be sent to Correctiv, a nonprofit news organization based in Berlin. If an item is deemed false, it will be marked as “disputed,” along with a justification for the label, and the site will warn users before they share it. Disputed items will also show up lower in Facebook’s algorithmically determined News Feed.

For its part Google is developing some kind of fact-checking in France. They’re relying on a nonprofits named First Draft News.

These efforts seem to combine human intervention with data analytics, the latter a rising source of authority in our time.

proponot_logoOther entities are seeking the authoritative position.  Propornot, a site dedicated to identifying what its creators see as dangerously pro-Russian content, launched right after the November election, complete with a blacklist.   The Washington Post, possibly seeking to maintain its authority in a world where the digital seems to be eating the newspaper, pushed Propornot hard, without vetting it too closely, it seems.

These neo-gatekeeper moves have elicited some pushback, even parody.  One criticism, to which I am very sympathetic, is that these gatekeepers are often bad at their jobs.  For instance, flawed or simply bad science stories are far too commonplace, especially around health issues. Rose Eveleth points this out in a recent podcast, arguing that ill-(in)formed science stories from fairly reputable stories can inform some bad, even dangerous decisions. Continue reading

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Indiana college to close

Another American campus has decided to close up.  Saint Joseph’s College , a private, Catholic liberal arts institution in northwestern Indiana, will “suspend all activities” after this academic year.

The official announcement explains this in terms of finances, saying the college will:

suspend all activities on the Rensselaer Campus for the 2017-18 academic year, while the College evaluates how to reposition itself in a highly challenging Higher Education marketplace.

That’s an end for 200 faculty and staff, along with 904 students.

…Despite our best efforts, we were not able to escape the financial challenges that many tuition-dependent smaller universities have faced over the past several years. These challenges include fierce competition for students, the rapid rate of technological development, increased and evolving federal regulations, among others.

Apparently that financial challenge is around $100 million.

St. Joseph's College front page

The front page today, advertising off-campus next steps.

The current president took the job in 2016, and recently said he was blindsided by just how bad the college’s finances turned out to be.

“I don’t think that anybody was really aware — until time elapsed here — of the magnitude of the issues that the college faces. Some of it is built-in: it’s debt, it’s deferred maintenance, those kind of things that every college has to deal with it. And then the rest of it has to deal with enrollment and fundraising, so I would say that no, I did not have a complete picture of it…”

Ouch.

The official announcement describes a host of “transition” steps, including teaching some students at another campus, providing online learning for others, and transfer deals with other campuses, such as Purdue.

I’m not sure if the technology argument (“the rapid rate of technological development”) refers to competition from on-line providers, or from challenges the college sees (saw) itself having in maintaining technological infrastructure (including people).  I wonder which explanation most accurately describes the story.

That phrase about federal regulations (“increased and evolving federal regulations”) apparently points to college fears of losing their accreditation, partly for financial reasons.  There were also quality concerns, it seems:

concerns related to resources, planning and institutional effectiveness; quality, resources and support of teaching and learning; as well as evaluation and improvement of teaching and learning…

Much of this story fits the pattern we’ve seen across American higher education: fewer students enrolling in academia.  Few students wanting to study in a rural location or at a smaller institution.  Fewer students existing, period, in the midwest (and the northeast, and certain states in other regions).  It isn’t good for the optics of liberal arts institutions, nor for Catholic schools.

Is Saint Joseph’s an outlier, or a canary in the proverbial coal mine?

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