Online teacher education is growing rapidly, according to an analysis published by USA Today. The newspaper found that four large universities (three of them for-profit) have become the largest teacher education institutions in the country, measured by degrees awarded. In the top spot is the University of Phoenix Online, which awarded 5,976 education degrees in 2011, up from 72 a decade before. The top four institutions awarded 1 in 16 bachelor's degree and post-graduate certificates in education in 2011, and 1 in 11 master's and doctoral degrees.
Higher One, a student payment processing service, on Tuesday announced its purchase of Campus Labs, a software company focused on student affairs. Higher One is a publicly traded company that currently dominates the market for debit cards colleges use to disburse financial aid to students, a business that has at times been controversial. The purchase of Campus Labs marks an expansion by the company into a new area.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency, has ordered GoDaddy.com to take four university-branded Web domains out of the hands of a cyber-squatter who was allegedly using the sites to scam students out of cash. Mark "Omar" Quevillon, a resident of Cambridge, Mass., registered the domains Brandeis.me, Tufts.me, UVM.me and Babson.me in an alleged attempt to "sell" access to personalized apps to students, according to WIPO. But the websites have nothing to do with Babson College, the University of Vermont, and Tufts and Brandeis Universities. And so the universities jointly filed a complaint with WIPO, saying that Quevillon has been using their trademarked brands to confuse students and make a quick buck. Although WIPO is not a court, it is empowered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to resolve domain disputes and has the cooperation of domain registrants such as GoDaddy.com. Zick Rubin, a lawyer for the universities, said he does not know how much Quevillon is believed to have made from the scam. The phony websites are still live, but Rubin says GoDaddy.com has been instructed to take them down by Aug. 12 unless Quevillon fights the ruling.
The Pew Research Center today released a survey of academics, entrepreneurs, I.T. workers and various other "experts and stakeholders" that was designed to glean whether colleges and universities are likely to undergo significant changes by the year 2020.
The survey's 1,021 respondents were asked to choose which of the following scenarios is more likely to come true in the next seven and a half years: a) Not much will have changed, aside from the proliferation of certain mobile and classroom technologies, and "most universities will mostly require in-person, on-campus attendance of students most of the time at courses featuring a lot of traditional lectures" and assessment methods; or b) Self-paced learning, online "hybrid" courses will have become par for the course at most universities, and assessment will have shifted to "more individually oriented outcomes and capacities that are relevant to subject mastery."
Sixty percent of respondents predicted that the latter is more likely to be true, and 39 percent endorsed the former, more conservative prospectus. (The remaining 1 percent did not respond to the question.) The survey, administered by Pew's Internet & American Life Project in concert with Elon University, framed the questions as a stark dichotomy in order to provoke strong responses. But it noted that respondents revealed many shades of gray in their qualified responses, and that "a significant number of survey participants said the true outcome will encompass portions of both scenarios."
The sample was admittedly nonrandom, and purposefully sought out self-identifying "futurists," "entrepreneurs" and "advocates," among other experts.
The University of California at Berkeley is joining edX, which was recently formed by Harvard University at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer MOOCs, or massively open online courses. The Berkeley announcement comes a week after Coursera, another provider of MOOCs by elite universities, announced a major expansion. In the announcement from edX, the three members are now referred to as the "X Universities." In a statement explaining the choice of edX, Robert J. Birgeneau, the chancellor at Berkeley, specifically noted the nonprofit model at edX. "We are committed to excellence in online education with the dual goals of distributing higher education more broadly and enriching the quality of campus-based education. We share the vision of MIT and Harvard leadership and believe that collaborating with the not-for-profit model of edX is the best way to do this," he said.
A distance learning group is raising an alarm about a change to Pell Grants in a Senate appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 that, if signed into law, could cut the need-based grants for students taking online classes. A provision in the bill, which would increase the overall Pell Grant next year, would stop allowing students taking online classes to claim room and board expenses, as well as "miscellaneous personal expenses," as part of their cost of living when applying for Pell Grants.
Currently, Pell Grants take all forms of expenses into account for all students, whether they're commuters, residential students or enrolled in online or distance learning programs. Students would still be able to use those expenses when applying for student loans or other forms of financial aid. "It is hard to understand why the cost for a student’s living expenses are not allowable if the student takes online courses, but would be allowable if that same student were to commute to campus to take the same courses in a classroom," wrote Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.