A lot of my focus is covering colleges. Before COVID-19 swept across the globe, it was easy to see college life, which happened in busy classrooms and spacious libraries and lush campus quads. Now with campuses temporarily closed due to the health emergency, the activity of professors and students has shifted online. And that makes it hard to know just what is going on right now in higher education—and in so much of American life.
How many students just can’t get to online classrooms because they lack technology or Wi-Fi access? What other economic hardships are students and professors facing due to the crisis? Are people staying healthy?
For the weekly EdSurge Podcast that I produce and co-host, we’re trying to create a space where people can share their stories, and at least hear each other during this time of social distancing.
If you’re teaching a class online for the first time, suddenly taking your courses digital or helping lead an institution through this crisis, we hope you’ll share a short one- or two-minute anecdote or observation about how that is going. What does it look and feel like to live through this time in higher education? Just open the voice memo app on a smartphone, record a short message and email it to jryoung@gmail<dot>com. Please do keep it short, and share a moment that surprised or challenged you. We’ll compile some of them for a future episode of our weekly podcast.
There’s an explosion of podcasts these days, including plenty on education. But there aren’t too many strongly-produced weekly shows focusing on the intersection of education and technology. So we’re trying to fill that gap with the EdSurge Podcast, which I produce and co-host.
We try not to lead with the tech—in fact, we think of it as a place to tell stories about how education is changing, and about big questions faced by educators in their work and how those are often tied up in big questions about the role of education in American life. It’s a fertile and fascinating space.
We’re doing more to get the word out these days. We’ll be on stage for our first live taping of an episode at the SXSWedu festival in March. And my college alumni magazine did a nice piece recently about the show.
The intersection of technology and education is big news in China these days. Families spend huge portions of their incomes on extra learning for their children, including online tutoring.
EdSurge sent me to Beijing for a week to cover the annual conference Global Education Technology Summit, thanks to our new partnership with the Chinese media company that puts on the conference, JMDedu.
What’s it like to jump from a 50-year-old media organization to a 5-year-old Web pub that describes itself as “scrappy”? I’m about to find out.
I’ve joined EdSurge as a senior editor, to help expand its coverage of higher education. Big challenges ahead, and I’m excited for that, though I’ll miss my colleagues at The Chronicle of Higher Education, who had become like family over the years.
Update: We’re still small, but we’re getting out there. A couple of my EdSurge articles have run in Slate—one on coding bootcamps and another on microcredentials. And I’m co-hosting our weekly podcast and a monthly video forum called EdSurge Live, in addition to writing news and feature articles.
Many people have an outdated view of teaching — believing that only high-level experts should teach at the college level or that only career teachers should offer instruction in schools. But teaching is now happening fast and informally online, and today anyone can teach using free tools to make courses. And a shadow learning economy has emerged online that students are increasingly turning to. Teaching is becoming a 21st century skill for all of us.
For-profit tutoring companies are targeting students with online ads these days, and the message is tempting. Why spend so long studying, the ads say, when paid tutors or study guides can help you get better grades with less work? One ad for Studypool, an Uber for tutoring that is one of many new for-profit study-help sites, shows a split screen of two photographs. On one side, a student sits in a library, under the caption “Didn’t ask Studypool”; on the other side, two students lie on the beach in bikinis, with the caption “Asked Studypool.” Students are buying it, sometimes paying hundreds of dollars a year in the search to better their grades.
We’ve just launched a new project at The Chronicle of Higher Education to track what we’re calling the New Education Landscape. Colleges are changing how they operate and how they teach, under pressure from lawmakers, parents, and students to respond to new economic realities. And new players are emerging—start-ups backed by record Silicon Valley investment, deep-pocketed foundations set on reform, and academic outsiders using platforms that let anyone teach courses.
I’m leading this ReLearning effort and writing a column for it — my first piece attempts to explain a big-data trend called “learning analytics” and explore how it might change the role of the professor. But the best part is that Re:Learning has a strong roster of other contributors, mainly ace Chronicle reporter Goldie Blumenstyk, as well as op-eds from key thought leaders.
We’re trying to make these pieces accessible and lively — inspired by NPR’s Planet Money. And we’re also trying to build a community of readers — hoping to be a digital hub for people at colleges as well as folks at ed-tech companies and foundations to talk to each other — and get past the hypers versus haters debates that often go on around these topics to talk about how to help real students succeed.
I presented at SXSWedu in Austin on the quiet rise of teaching marketplaces and what they mean for the future of education. This gave me a chance to share some fresh thoughts about how teaching is changing as market forces come to higher education in a new way. The Ithaka blog picked it up, as well as a blog mention here.
Sebastian Thrun wasn’t wearing pants when he recorded the intro video for his first free online course. | The academics who coined the term MOOC can’t stand the style of courses that the acronym is now applied to. | People have been claiming that technology would automate eduction for decades (largely without much success). Those are just a few of the many details I learned researching a short e-book about Massive Open Online Courses. It blends stories and analysis of how free blockbuster online courses could change colleges as we know them. It’s now available on Amazon, published by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
I focus on six basic questions:
* What Is a MOOC?
* Where Did MOOCs Come From?
* What Is the Business Model?
* Will MOOCs Change Campus Teaching?
* Why Do Some Educators Object to Free Courses?
* Do MOOCs Work?
I argue that MOOCs are not just another passing fad, but the free courses have touched off a battle over what the future of higher education should look like.
* Review by Sir John Daniel, author of Mega-Schools, Technology and Teachers: “his thoughtful commentary on the frenzied phenomenon of MOOCs remains highly relevant to decision makers grappling with its implications for their institutions.”
* Blog post by Langdon Winner: “An excellent, brief discussion of a variety of programs and projects in MOOC development currently underway. “