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Dear colleges and universities of the world.   I will soon be sending you money.  

Daughter #1 will land on your campus in 2015. Daughter #2 in 2017.  

Who should I make the check out to?

While I am not clear what influence I will be able to exert on either daughter’s higher education choice, I am clear on what I will be looking for.

On the campus tours to come I hope to gather the following information.

Gateway Courses:   

How does your institution approach gateway courses. Particularly introductory courses in STEM fields that are necessary to do well in if the student is going to graduate with a STEM major. Daughter #1 is thinking about going into medicine. Will her introductory biology, chemistry, and statistics courses be characterized by an active learning approach, one personalized to her learning needs and responsive to her learning abilities?  

What I don’t want to see is large lecture classes where the students listen, take notes, and then are evaluated solely by high-stakes exams. I’d like to see gateway courses that feel and act like seminars, with faculty that will get to know my daughters as individuals.   

So on campus tours I plan to ask about what investments have been made into the gateway classes. If faculty and learning designers are working together? What courses are blended and flipped? If the students can watch lectures before coming to class?  If class time is spent actively or passively? I’ll ask to see the gateway courses in action.


As a tuition paying parent in the years 2015 to 2021 I will wanting to see the data. Or at least I’ll be asking about how the school plans to use data to improve learning on campus.

How many Dads are asking about analytics on campus tours? Probably not too many today, but our numbers will be expanding.

We will want to know what sort of feedback the students get during the course.  If they have early warning signs they are not doing well in a class. Or if they are given opportunities and options to improve their performance.   We will want to know how the faculty collect and utilize data to improve their courses. We will want some assurance that our tuition dollar is being spent wisely, and that educational decisions are supported by evidence.

Adaptive Learning:

As an edtech Dad I believe in the power of adaptive learning. What does adaptive learning mean to me? At the most basic level what I want is for my kids to have options.  

In the higher ed context, these options have everything to do with structures that support career and life path choices.  

What I don’t want is for my kid not to be able to go into a STEM field because she was weeded out of an entry level STEM class. I don’t believe that the best doctors are the best organic chemistry students, or the best physical therapists will necessarily excel at calculus.  

So I am looking to a combination of adaptive learning platforms and instructors to create learning environments that enable my kids to succeed. I believe that through a combination of in-person teaching and advanced adaptive learning platforms that my kids (and your kids) can demonstrate mastery of difficult subjects.

What edtech questions will you have as you accompany your offspring on college visits?

Is there any evidence that edtech is emerging as a differentiator in college choice?

Will other edtech curious parents be joining me on the campus tours?

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