Week in Review

Hello everyone. So interesting news: I started teaching a course here at Penn State online and it has been an interesting experience. The course is asynchronous and the students basically have a list of homework assignments to complete each week including readings, videos, Powerpoints, and blog posts. The trick here is the onus is heavily on the student. However, the blog feature is one way I am experimenting with trying to create a sense of social presence in the course so the students feel connected with each other and can generate class conversation. So far so good and I will be sure to give updates on progress.

Update and format change

Hello everyone!

I know I have been a bit absent. The reason is I was on the West Coast at a conference and then meeting some professors to talk about some issues in education policy. The good news is our team won an award for best poster in our session and I had a great conversation with an expert about charter schools in another state (Oregon). Now I am on to my data collection for my dissertation. Busy times!

So I think a format change is in order for my blog. For the foreseeable future I am going to post once a week (let’s say Mondays for now) to describe my progress and any random thoughts I have. That way I can still provide content and share ideas, but it will be more manageable for me as I work on my dissertation.

Ok, that’s about it. Cheers and I hope all of you are well! -Bryan

Michael Horn interesting Blog Post

Declining enrollments bad news for online and blending learning? Michael Horn does not think so:

April 23, 2015

Report that says online learning growth is slowing misses big picture (originally posted here)

by Michael B. Horn

For 12 years, the Babson Survey Group in partnership with other organizations, including the Online Learning Consortium (formerly the Sloan Consortium), has done critical research into the growth of online learning in American higher education that it publishes in the report Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States. The research has been enormously helpful in understanding the actual numbers of students learning online in accredited institutions and how the institutions themselves—from the administration to faculty—view online learning.

Initially, the research arguably gave a reasonably complete view of the state of online learning in all of higher education, as it showed online learning growing rapidly with growth rates of over 20 percent in 2003, 2005, and 2009. But as of late, the research has suggested that the growth of online learning is flattening. It was 6.1 percent in the fall of 2012 and, according to the most recent report published in January 2015, 3.7 percent in the fall of 2013. Does this mean that online learning is not the disruptive innovation it was heralded to be?

I don’t think it does. As Clayton Christensen is fond of saying, God didn’t create data; humans create data to try to capture the complexity of the world around them. By its nature, data is backward looking, and most data is incapable of telling the truth. In this case, I think the flattening growth rate of online learning for credit within accredited institutions misses the bigger picture—although I do think it suggests that the pending disruption may take somewhat longer than many have forecasted in the past.

First, as the most recent report itself says, much of the reduction in the rate of growth is because one segment of higher education—for-profit four-year institutions—recorded the first-ever drop in online enrollments of 8.7 percent. For those watching the battering the for-profit universities have taken in recent years, that shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s also a somewhat special circumstance. The fact that online learning still grew illustrates that its fundamental appeal—primarily in public four-year institutions and private non-profit four-year institutions, according to the report—remains quite strong. Today’s big news that Arizona State University will offer its freshman year online for credit at a price that, at last, positions an online program from a public university as disruptive will only fuel that growth is my guess. Furthermore, according to the report, the proportion of academic leaders who say that online learning is critical to their institution’s long-term strategy is at an all-time high of 70.8 percent, and those institutions reporting that it is not a critical part of their long-term strategy has dropped to a new low of 8.6 percent.

Read the rest of the post here.