Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

From all the staff at NACS Inc. in Oberlin, Westlake, and Cincinnati, OH, as well as in California and Washington, D.C., have a save and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

College Grads Head to Community College

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has found that one out of every 14 people attending a community college already has a bachelor’s degree. Most of the degree holders returned to school to find a new career, particularly in the field of health care, while others are looking to upgrade job-related skills.

“There’s a lot of disciplines universities aren’t offering,” Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, associate professor of education at the University of California Los Angeles, said in an article for The Hechinger Report. “The universities aren’t keeping up.”

Instead of being a good thing for community colleges, the trend is causing some problems. Nearly 60% of community college students need to take remedial math, including college graduates returning to school, according to the Community College Research Center. Providing remedial math to more students could lead community colleges to spend more of their limited funds on supporting students who already have degrees.

“If it detracts from their ability to serve students without credentials, I think colleges might be reluctant to do it,” said Kent Phillippe, associate vice president of the AACC.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Solutions for the Phone Distraction

Research at the University of Colorado Boulder found that 75% of undergraduates at the institution reported texting during class. The study also linked in-class texting to an average drop of a half letter grade in the course.

Doug Duncan, an astronomy professor who co-authored the paper, settled on a simple solution: He asked his students if they would set aside their cellphones for a participation point for the class. The end result was the entire class voted to put down their phones for the duration of the class.

“I asked two students on their way out why they voted to put their phones on the desk,” Duncan said in a report for National Public Radio. “They said, ‘We know we aren’t supposed to use them, and this gives us a reward for doing that.’”

Larry Rosen, a research psychologist and professor emeritus at California State University, Dominguez Hills, isn’t sold on the idea that providing students an incentive is a good idea. In fact, his experiments have shown that students’ heart rates and other vital signs rise when they can’t answer their ringing phones.

Instead, Rosen recommends an interval approach to the phone distraction.

“I start by calling a tech break, where they can check their phone for one minute, every 15 minutes,” he said. “Over time, you can increase it to 20, 25. And within a couple of weeks, you can get them to go 30 minutes without needing it.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Younger Workers Expect to Use Tech

A third of workers in their 20s and 30s are more likely to use social media at work, according to research from CompTIA, an IT industry association. At the same time, 64% of the workers surveyed said social media has a negative impact on work productivity.

The problem for employers is that those younger workers want to work for companies offering the option to use telecommunications and are willing to accept a lower salary to work in that environment. In fact, 75% of the millennials in the survey said a company’s technology usage was a factor in their decision to accept a job.

“The data also suggests that younger workers are more apt to feel their employer is pushing the technology envelope, suggesting that they’re taking greater advantage of what’s being offered,” Anna Matthai, manager, research and marketing intelligence, CompTIA, said in a report for eCampus News. “As the world becomes more digital, businesses with the best technology will be in the best position to compete for and hire young workers.”

Millennials hold a high opinion of their own comfort level with technology, with 70% saying they are “cutting edge” when it comes to its usage. Interestingly, just 55% of GenX workers held the same high opinion of themselves, and only 30% of Baby Boomers surveyed agreed.

The survey also found that email is the most-used form of communication in the workplace, but newer forms, such as texting and instant messaging, are becoming more popular. Younger workers are more likely to use instant messaging, video chats, or mobile apps, and use social media for IT support.

Friday, November 20, 2015

ED Report Critical of CBE Credentialing

More than 600 colleges and universities are either in the design phase or already offer competency-based (CBE) credentials, according to a September report in Inside Higher Education. That work may be in jeopardy following the critical audit of CBE issued by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

The inspector general’s office, which works independently of ED, has raised concerns in its last two audits of the credential review process. The audit was critical of the way the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the largest regional accreditor, considered college proposals for CBE credentialing. It also questioned the level of interaction between instructors and students.

In 2014, the inspector general’s audit criticized approval of direct-assessment degrees. It also questioned the faculty’s role in CBE credentialing and worried about low-quality providers. That prompted HLC to freeze approval of degrees last year and the Department of Education to issue more guidance on CBE.

“I, along with many others, have pointed out numerous times that this particular regulation makes little sense in today’s world of emerging online, competency-based programs—and we should instead be moving toward outcomes-based judgments around institutions,” Michael B. Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, wrote in a column that appeared in CompetencyWorks. “But the friction is also entirely predictable, as competency-based education simply does not fit into the traditional value network and associated regulatory structures of higher education.”

On the heels of the critical audit, ED announced a series of executive actions aimed at strengthening the overall accreditation system. The department will make public the standards every accreditor uses to evaluate student outcomes. Accreditors will have to submit letters that are sent to colleges and universities when the institutions are put on probation and also highlight data such as student graduation rates, debt levels, and postgraduation earnings, according to a report in U.S. News & World Report.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Webinar Looks at Future of Course Materials

To find out what lies ahead for the creation and distribution of learning content, NACS commissioned an extensive research and analysis project which involved interviews with dozens of people involved in higher education instruction and administration, academic publishing, content distribution and sales, and libraries and educational technology.

The findings from that project and their implications for higher ed will be examined in a free webinar, Exploring the Future Course Content Ecosystem on Campus, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m. Eastern. The project and webinar were underwritten by the NACS Foundation.

The webinar will touch on changes in teaching and learning—as well as student access and affordability issues—that are driving the development of new kinds of course materials and in-class instructional materials. These include digital versions of textbooks, courseware that combines reading material and teaching modules, adaptive learning content, and open educational resources (OER).

As the needs of faculty and students have shifted over the years, so has the role of the campus bookstore. The webinar will discuss how stores will fit into the new course-content landscape and what strategies stores can adopt to support students’ and instructors’ success.

Presenting the webinar will be Tony Ellis, CAE, vice president, industry advancement, NACS.

Advance registration for the webinar is required. If you haven’t already set up a NACS login, you will be prompted to create one before registering.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Students Want Learning Analytics Tools

Students want the instant feedback available through learning analytics technology. In fact, 87% of the students surveyed for The Impact of Technology on College Student Study Habits said such technology can have a positive impact on their academic performance.

More than 2,600 college students participated in the survey, conducted by McGraw-Hill Education and Hanover Research. The students ranged from freshmen to Ph.D. students in a mix of majors.

“Students today have a desire for immediate and continual feedback,” said Peter Cohen, group president of U.S. Education at McGraw-Hill Education. “By using technology to deliver learning experiences that leverage those motivations, we can capitalize on an enormous opportunity to improve learning outcomes. Adaptive learning technology provides just that kind of actionable, real-time feedback, and does so in a way that’s incredibly personalized.”

Nearly 85% of the responding students said they experienced moderate or major improvements in their grades using adaptive learning technology, while 67% reported the technology made them feel better prepared for class and 57% said it helped improve study efficiency. The study also found that while 84% of students said technology helps instructors to be more effective in class, 86% felt there was still room for improvement in its use.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Working Students on Campus

A 2015 Georgetown University study found that more than 70% of college students worked while attending school over the last 25 years. The percentage of working students increased throughout the last quarter century, except for the years during and after the recession of 2008.

The study, Learning While Earning: The New Normal, reported that students work an average of 30 hours each week and 25% are working full time. It also found that educational costs have increased to the point where even a full-time work schedule is generally not enough to cover the bills.

“Today, almost every college student works, but you can’t work your way through college anymore,” Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said in a report for CNBC. “Even if you work, you have to take out loans and take on debt.”

Seven in 10 college graduates had student-loan debt in 2014 and the average amount owed was nearly $29,000, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The Georgetown research found that while 14% of working learners had student debt of more than $50,000, 22% of nonworking students carried similar obligations.

The report also pointed out that working provides hands-on experience, even when the job isn’t related to a student’s major.

“Working while one is still in school enhances the ability to meet deadlines, work under pressure, and effectively structure time blocks,” said Wendy Patrick, business ethics lecturer at San Diego State University. “It instills a sense of discipline, responsibility, structure—all elements that contribute to a successful life.”

Monday, November 16, 2015

Students Depend on Campus Store

Despite reports to the contrary, the campus store remains an important resource for course materials, according to a student panel survey conducted by OnCampus Research. The study found that 73% of the students said it was extremely important or very important to have a physical store on campus that sells course materials.

The survey also reported that 62% of students bought course materials in their campus store in the past year, compared to 27% who said they acquired course materials through the store’s website. In addition, 78% of students living on campus acquired course materials at their college store.

The survey also found 80% of community college students said a physical store on campus that sold course materials was important. The survey found that 71% purchased school supplies from the campus store, 37% bought food and beverages, and 36% picked up apparel and school-logo wear.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Apple Watch Looks Like a Hit

Apple could have another big seller on its hands. The computer giant hasn’t revealed sales figures for its Apple Watch, but the marketing research firm Canalys reported that Apple shipped more of the devices in the last 15 months than all other vendors combined.

Canalys found that Apple shipped nearly seven million Apple Watches since its debut in late April. The firm also suggested that supply problems at the launch kept shipment numbers down.

“After experiencing significant supply-chain constraints early on, Apple managed to overcome its production struggles with the Apple Watch and is building momentum going into the fourth quarter,” an analyst at Canalys said. “Shipments are steadily increasing as it has greatly expanded the watch’s channel footprint internationally.”

Canalys reported that Pebble shipped 200,000 units during the third quarter. During the same time period, Apple shipped more than 300,000 units and was the only smartwatch maker to do so.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

More Students Want Fitness Tech than Tablets

While tablets are must-have technology for some people, the devices haven’t yet reached that status with college students. A new survey shows 93.9% of students own a laptop but only 48.4% possess a tablet and 9.3% have a tablet/laptop combo.

With the holiday season approaching, does that mean tablets are high on the wish lists for the 42% of students who don’t have one? Not necessarily. The October 2015 campus survey from OnCampus Research reveals only 16.3% of all respondents said they expect to purchase a tablet in the next 12 months, while 11.6% will be seeking out a new laptop and 12.2% will buy a tablet/laptop hybrid. Those numbers, though, include students who intend to swap their current device for a brand-new model, not just first-timers.

However, the largest slice of students—20.8%—are looking to buy fitness technology in the next year while 14.9% want other types of wearable technology, such as a GoPro. About 16.7% of students already own some kind of fitness gadget, but just 6.5% have a nonfitness-related wearable.

Even though many people deem desktop computers and e-readers to be “old-school” tech and predict they’ll disappear from the market shortly, some college students don’t agree. About 33.6% of students still own a desktop and 12.3% even plan to buy a new one in the coming months. More than a quarter of students have an e-reader, with 11.4% expecting to purchase a new device this year.

OnCampus Research, part of indiCo, a division of NACS, fields surveys on different topics every month to a panel of more than 14,000 college and university students.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Online Cheating Becomes Big Business

In 2014, the market research firm Global Industry Analyst projected online education would be a $100 billion business by 2015. That value will only grow if the public begins to see online degrees as carrying the same weight as the ones earned in a traditional college classroom.

It’s also the kind of money that can bring out the cheater in some. Businesses are already cropping up that will assume students’ identities and do their coursework for them, for a fee.

“If a goal of online education proponents is to convince the public and employers that an online education is as official and prestigious as a traditional one earned in brick-and-mortar and Ivy classrooms, it’s hard to imagine anything more damaging than identity-fraud schemes in which students literally pay for grades but do no work whatsoever,” wrote Derek Newton in his report in The Atlantic. “At least with a traditional degree, the assumption is the recipient actually went to class personally.”

Newton also suspects there may be more to online cheating than Internet firms making money off people who want college credit without doing the work. He suggested that the low cost of production and the high number of students an online course can reach could be an incentive for institutions to concern themselves less with online cheating.

“In at least this way, it seems both the schools and the cheating providers have a similar economic incentive: They may both profit by having more online students,” he wrote.

Newton noted there are steps available to cut down on online impersonation. Using video technology for more direct engagement between the students and teacher is one avenue. Another would be to encourage more interaction between students themselves.

“If online college programs are ever going to compete with traditional ones, the advocates and providers should at least acknowledge the threat of online cheating and take steps to stop it—even if that means increasing costs and slowing the growth of online options,” he wrote.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Campus IT Pros See Bright Future for OER

The 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology found that 92% of responding faculty and 97% of administrators agreed that open educational resources (OER) should be used more in the classroom. Now, the informational technology pros on campus have chimed in.

The Campus Computer Survey found that 81% of responding technology officers said OER will be an important source of instructional material in the next five years. They also said that 38% of their institutions are encouraging faculty to use OER, up from 33% just a year ago.

The top priority for campus IT officials is helping faculty members integrate information technology into their lessons, according to a blog post in The Chronicle of Higher Education. However, the report also found that just 17% of campuses include instructional IT as part of the faculty review and promotion process.

“This is what IT officers think is important, but then we’ve got the continuing struggle,” said Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the survey. “Why is it that we don’t recognize the faculty members who do that as part of review and promotion?”

Providing user support and having qualified IT staff were next on the priority list, followed by network security and leveraging IT for student success.

Monday, November 9, 2015

New Measures of MOOC Success

Low completion rates remain an issue for massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, that’s not the only measure of success, according to leaders of the MOOC initiative at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.

Elke M. Leeds, associate vice president of technology-enhanced learning, and Jim Cope, executive director of distance learning, reported in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration that they found success in the MOOC initiative at KSU by looking at return on financial investment, branding, and student access.

“The new proposition shifts measures of success beyond just course completion to include measures that benefit students, faculty, and the institution,” they wrote in “MOOCs: Branding, Enrollment, and MultipleMeasures of Success.” “Students benefited through access to open educational resources, the acquisition of professional learning units at no cost, and the potential of college credit at a greatly reduced cost. Academic units benefited through a mechanism to attract students and future revenue, while the university benefited through digital impressions, branding, institutionally leveraged scalable learning environments, streamlined credit evaluations processes, and expanded digital education.”

Leeds and Cope determined that if four students enrolled in the institution’s two-year associated graduate endorsement program after taking a MOOC, their tuition would cover the production, design, and delivery costs of the MOOC. The first MOOC did much better than that, with 100 professional learning units awarded and 12 students enrolled in the endorsement program.

To evaluate the branding effect of the MOOC initiative at KSU, Leed and Cope documented more than 25,000 Twitter hashtag tweets and retweets about the program. They determined that 75% of the learners had either never heard of Kennesaw State or were largely unfamiliar with it, but all were engaged with learning materials produced by the university.

Leeds and Cope also reported that the program’s video lectures had more than 80,000 viewers, and nearly 4,000 unique viewers over a 10-month period in 2014. After just six weeks of offering MOOCs in 2015, they recorded more than 25,000 unique viewers to lectures, 28,000 streaming views, and more than 6,000 downloads of course materials.

“The traditional measures of success based on participation, retention, and completion only tell one side of the MOOC success story,” the authors wrote. “They can drive recruitment, offer cost reduction, and, in essence, become an educational product with reach far beyond that typically available to the university.”