Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What Will Higher Education Look Like 5, 10 or 20 Years from Now?

What Will Higher Education Look Like 5, 10 or 20 Years From Now?by Donna Fuscaldo, Good Call: https://www.goodcall.com/education/future-of-higher-education/

Free college, online-driven education and aligning skills with in-demand jobs are just some of the ways college may change in the future.

After all, with student loan debt in the trillions, college graduates unprepared for entry-level positions and many people dropping out before earning a degree, it’s become clear that something has to be done to address higher education’s problems.

That’s not to say change isn’t already happening. Approaches to tackling the outsized student debt and better preparing students for the rigors of the real world are underway. But what will emerge from the fruits of these labors depends on who you talk to.

With that in mind, GoodCall spoke with experts across the higher education landscape to get a sense of what college will look like in five, ten and twenty years. In some cases, they agreed,  while at other times their visions were very different. But one thing is for sure - twenty years from now, higher education won’t going to look the same as it does today.

More Focus on ROI

Students and families will focus more on college return on investment, affordability and student loan debt

Change takes time. And for higher education, there won’t be a complete revolution in five years. However, there should be a lot of progress, whether it’s in how students evaluate schools or how the student debt crisis is handled. Take shopping for college, for starters. During the next five years, students and families are expected to become more savvy shoppers, weighing attributes that historically haven’t been considered when deciding on what school to attend or what kinds of degrees to pursue.

“For 300-plus years, we evaluated the quality by the square footage of the library or what exclusivity it has,” says Carol D’Amico, executive vice president of National Engagement and Philanthropy with USA Funds, the non-profit focused on increasing access to higher education. “The quality of the consumer experience has not been part of the equation.”

Over the next five years, D’Amico sees a shift happening, where potential students will weigh college return on investment, including the outcomes of the past students, job prospects upon graduation and the overall college experience more seriously than whether a school has a state-of-the-art gym. Similar to how people get real-person reviews of restaurants, doctors and other services, the same diligence will be applied to shopping for college.

Becoming more discerning shoppers is also expected to help with the student loan debt crisis. After all, students will know upfront that spending $100,000 for a particular degree may not be worthwhile based on the outcomes of the students before them.

During this election season, much has been discussed about the cost of a college education and the more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders extolled the benefits of free college, while politicians have been putting forth bills to help students with their mounting debt. That progress is only going to continue during the next five years, although it remains to be seen what dent it will make in the overall problem (or whether free college will become a reality.

“We’ve seen real improvement on college affordability in the last five years,” says Natalia Abrams, executive director at StudentDebtCrisis.org, the non-profit focused on changing the way we pay for college. “I’m hopeful that we will have free college and completely debt-free college, and we will see a strengthening of consumer protections on the loan servicers’ side and a streamlining of repayment programs.” Abrams also expects more of a crackdown on the cost of college during the next five years in which state funding will be tied to certain limits on what schools can charge for tuition.

Blending the Traditional and the Technological

Internet will play bigger role in learning

While the debate rages on about the need for a traditional college degree, progress will continue to be made in marrying a traditional college education with online classes. The Internet is increasingly becoming a tool for colleges and universities around the country who see the value it can bring.

“About 50 percent of all private colleges have some kind of online program,” says David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. “A vast majority are blended courses that utilize online education opportunities, but the brick and mortar continues to be there.”

According to Warren, while the Internet will increasingly play a larger role in how college students learn, schools will maintain a tight connection between the online world and their physical campuses and communities. What’s more, over time Warren sees an increase in one-on-one learning with faculty members and the flexibility of how the courses are offered.

Still, that doesn’t mean the blending of these two mediums will be easy sailing. According to Avi Flombaum, dean of Flatiron School, the New York-based coding school, the challenge will be in making sure schools are creating programs that truly reflect how people learn. “Learning is social and knowledge is almost always transferred from person to person,” says Flombaum.

“In the future, the idea of community should be built into every digital learning experience - students across the world supporting each other, content improving the more people use it. And then, that should seamlessly transition into the offline experience in the form of co-learning, similar to today’s co-working spaces, where we know people thrive,” Flombaum says.

But online learning won’t be the only driver of change to higher education. Decreased funding on the part of states could create more debt for low-income students attending public 4-year schools. This, in turn, could drive students to look for cheaper alternatives. One that may emerge as a big player, says Dr. Katherine Bihr, Vice President of Programs & Education at the Tiger Woods Foundation, is community colleges, which will increasingly come up with models that include offering bachelor’s degrees.

What’s more, as families look to curb the cost of a college degree, high school can become more important in fighting student debt. “I can envision a movement towards dual enrollment between secondary school and college, where students can take college courses receiving credit satisfying high school graduation requirements and eliminating the need to take general education courses,” says Bihr.

Greater Accountability

Schools will be more accountable to students and graduates

For decades, colleges and universities have focused on churning out graduates that are well-rounded individuals. But increasingly they are dropping the ball when it comes to giving employers graduates with the skills needed to succeed. That has prompted employers to spend money training their new hires – or looking outside the pool of college graduates for qualified workers.

As a result, in the next few years, experts expect colleges and universities to be more accountable to what they are teaching their students. There will be greater collaboration with corporations to ensure students are gaining the correct skills for the in-demand jobs. There will always be a time and place to analyze Thoreau, but a lot of focus will also be placed on communications and technical skills.

“Employers are finally signaling that what they are getting is just not good enough,” says D’Amico of USA Funds. “Only about 11 percent of employers think that higher education is doing a good job.” According to D’Amico, there are an increasing number of startups that are emerging to close the gap between what employers say they want from graduates and what they are getting from the experience.

Whether or not in twenty years’ time we get to the point where college is free or debt-free is still up for debate. But it is clear that if we do nothing, tough times are ahead - not only for college students but the nation at large.

“If things proceed according to the status quo, we are likely to see a path that we’ve seen in the past almost fifteen years,” says Robbie Hiltonsmith, senior policy analyst at think tank Demos.  “The cost of tuition goes up even more, and we will likely see increasing amounts of student debt, which will be a damper on their financial future. We pretend that certain paths are an inevitable result of economic forces beyond our control, but in reality through policy, we have a say in what the future can look like.”

Expert Commentary

We spoke to 8 experts from various parts of the higher education world, and compiled their thoughts on the future of higher education in this report.

Donna Fuscaldo

Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist hailing out of Long Island, New York. She has also written for Bankrate.com, Glassdoor.com, SigFig.com, FoxBusiness.com, Business Insider, Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal.

Choosing a PhD Subject: A Well-Chosen Doctoral Thesis Will Have a Focus That Can be Explored in the Appropriate Time and Built On in the Future

PhDby Harriet Swain, Times Higher Education: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/choosing-a-phd-subject/210079.article 

Choosing a PhD topic is never easy, but that doesn't mean you should make things more difficult than they need to be. "Choose something manageable," advises Philip Cunliffe, a third-year history PhD student at King's College, London. 

Gina Wisker, head of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Brighton University, says you need to define a gap in knowledge - and one that can be questioned, explored, researched and written about in the time available to you.

"Set some boundaries," she advises. "Don't try to ask everything related to your topic in every way." Instead, you need to focus on your area of work, know how to defend your choice of a particular subject and explain why you are using the methodology you have selected. She says you need to be aware of current and established theories related to the topic so that you can situate your own work and ensure that it makes a contribution.

Cunliffe observes that doing a PhD is one of the few times in your life when you have uninterrupted time for study. "At an early stage in your career it is very unlikely that you will write a theoretical masterpiece," he warns. "It is better to stamp your name on a body of empirical research that people haven't done before." But you have to be interested in the topic. "You are going to do this for three or four years and it can get terribly boring if you aren't interested it in," warns James Hartley, research professor in psychology at Keele University.

You then have to find someone else who is interested in it, too. For science graduates, this will probably be a case of joining a team of people working in a similar area. For those in the arts and social sciences it will be a matter of identifying a suitable supervisor.

Hartley says it can also be useful to think about topics that spark general interest. If you do pick something that taps into the Zeitgeist, your findings are more likely to be noticed. 

Patrick Dunleavy, professor of political science and public policy at the London School of Economics and author of Authoring a PhD, says your choice of topic should be continually updated to keep pace with your findings. "It isn't just a question of defining a PhD topic," he says. "It's a question of configuring it.” He warns that problems arise when people fail to answer the question they have posed.

Another common problem is ensuring originality. Dunleavy says that you have to think carefully about what the key value-added components of your thesis will be. In a standard eight-chapter PhD, with 10,000 words per chapter, you will usually need an introduction, a conclusion and perhaps a chapter on methods, leaving five chapters in which to concentrate on original work. “Pick up an idea, take it for a walk and put it down somewhere else. You are moving it around and seeing a new application," he says.

On the other hand, you will need at some point to go out on a limb. "If you want to do original work, you need to understand that you don't understand something and that the rest of the world doesn't either," Dunleavy says.

He advises focusing yourself by reading and discussing things with everyone from your peer group to your partner. "It is very important to articulate what you are trying to do," he says. Your thesis will be cited in your CV for years to come so it is essential to get the topic and title right. Achieve this, and it could set the pattern for the rest of your career. 

Further information
  • Authoring a PhD: How to Plan, Write and Finish a Doctoral Thesis or Dissertation, by Patrick Dunleavy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
  • The Postgraduate Research Handbook by Gina Wisker, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001

Friday, July 1, 2016

Three Substitutes for Logic

I think Therefor I amby Jon Rappoport, Guest, Waking Times: http://www.wakingtimes.com/2016/06/28/three-substitutes-logic/ 

Since logic is no longer taught as a required subject in schools, the door is open to all sorts of bizarre reactions to the presence of information.

Here are three favorites: 

One: grab the headline or the title of an article, make up your mind about how you “feel,” and ignore everything else. 

Two: Actually read the article until you find a piece of information that appeals to you for any reason; latch on to it, and run with it in any direction. In all cases, the direction will have nothing to do with the intent of the article. 

Three: From the moment you begin to read the headline of the article, be in a state of “free association.” Take any word or sentence and connect it to an arbitrary thought or feeling, associate that thought with yet another arbitrary thought … and keep going until you become tired or bored.

You might be surprised at how many people use these three “methods of analysis.” The very idea that the author of the article is making a central point doesn’t really register. And certainly, the notion that the author is providing evidence for the central point and reasoning his way from A to B to C is alien.

A college liberal education? These days it could be imparted in a matter of weeks, simply by hammering a small set of values into students’ skulls - along with requisite guilt and fear at the prospect of wandering off the reservation.

Logic as a subject is viewed with grave suspicion, as if it might involuntarily take a person down the wrong track and dump him in a politically incorrect ditch - a fate to be avoided at all costs. Therefore, the practice of rational debate is on the way out. Too risky. Besides, the preferred method of dealing with opponents is screaming at them, shoving them off stage, and whining about “being triggered.”

If you think obtaining what’s called a liberal college education is vastly overrated (and absurdly expensive), you’re right. Learning logic, instead, would be a good start down a different road. And an analysis of the principle of “greatest good for the greatest number” would be very, very useful - since it underpins so much of values-centered education these days.

What does greatest good mean, specifically? How would it be achieved? Who would implement it? How would the implementation affect individual freedom? Wrestling with these questions would open up whole new territories of insight.

As I’ve mentioned in past articles, when I taught a few basics of logic to middle-school students, the clutter in their minds receded. They found the ability to follow a line of thought - for the first time, they recognized there was such a thing as a connected flow of reasoning from A to B to C to D. The lights went on.

The world may be sinking into deeper levels of know-nothing non-rationality, but that’s not a good excuse for trailing along down into the swamp. It should be a wake-up call to go the other way. No matter what anyone says, it’s not a crime to be smarter than other people. 

About the Author

Jon Rappoport is the author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine (to read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From The Matrix, click here).

How to Write an Experiment Protocol

A guide to writing an experiment protocol: https://bridger-jones.com/2016/07/01/how-to-write-an-experiment-protocol/
When you have designed your experiment, you must  present it in a formal protocol.
Your experiment protocol should read easily and should not contain complex information or language. Correct spelling and grammar make documents easy to understand and is indicative of professionalism and attention to detail.

At the end of the protocol the reader should have a clear picture of the purpose of the experiment, the materials needed, the methods to be used, the controls and the methods of interpretation.

The components of an experiment protocol 

Purpose: This is a concise statement of what question you are trying to answer and what hypothesis you will test. 

Materials: List all important items needed to carry out the experiment. This list need not be long or exhaustive, but it should include the essentials. Use bullet points or a table to make the list clear. 

  • How will you set up your experiment?
  • How many experimental groups will you have?
  • How will you measure the effect you wish to study?
  • How long will the experiment last?
These and any other methods should be stated or referenced so that a reader has all the information they need to be able to replicate your experiment and verify your results. 

Controls: Specify the control treatment. Think about the variables to be manipulated. Your control needs to be held under conditions which are not affected by the tested variable. 

Data interpretation: What will be done with the data once it is collected? Data must be organised and summarised so that the scientist and other researchers can determine if the hypothesis has been proved true or false. Results are usually shown in figures such as tables and graphs. Statistical analyses are often carried out to compare manipulated and controlled groups. 

References: Any published works such as journals, books, and websites cited in your protocol should be listed in the reference section so that anyone can refer to that work.

Keep your protocol less than 2 pages long.
Microsoft Word experiment protocol template
Download your protocol sample template