[ed. The basic arguments in this post were covered here at e-Literate in 2015 and in The Chronicle more recently. The data has been updated into a new post based on recent news events.]
Last month the nonprofit advocacy group Achieving the Dream announced a new initiative to fund 38 community colleges who are willing to build entire programs with open educational resources. While this is a noble effort aimed at reducing financial barriers for students to get two-year degrees, the group perpetuated the same myth that has plagued higher education for years.
The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an Associate’s degree.
In the Washington Post’s coverage, they add this description.
A community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year.
Are they right? Do community college textbooks cost “about $1,300 per year,” and is there a chance to help them save this amount? The short answer is no. Community college students actually spend just over half this amount — approximately $700 per year — despite the rising list prices of textbooks. Continue reading
Posted in Higher Education, Notable Posts, Openness
Tagged $1300, Achieving the Dream, College Board, Community College, Course Materials, digital textbooks, NACS, National Association of College Stores, Textbook
In 2012 the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) put out a new report on usage and perceptions of open educational resources (OER) usage in higher education. Covered in this blog post, the 2012 report was really a combination of three separate surveys of academic leaders and faculty. In 2014 BSRG put out a new survey of faculty relating to OER, covered in this post, that I considered a significant milestone by providing actual data from a dedicated national survey to back up and clarify what many had assumed regarding OER. That report, however, was a one-off report, but the Hewlett Foundation and Pearson subsequently agreed to fund three annual longitudinal studies starting with the 2016 report released today. Per the press release:
Key findings from the report include:
- Faculty awareness of OER has increased, with 25% of faculty reporting that they were “Aware” or “Very Aware” of open educational resources, up from 20% last year.
- Only 5.3% of courses are using open textbooks (includes public domain and Creative Commons licensed).
- Large enrollment introductory undergraduate courses have adopted openly licensed OpenStax College textbooks at twice the rate (10%) as openly licensed textbooks among all courses.
- The most common factor cited by faculty when selecting educational resources was the cost to the students. After cost, the next most common was the comprehensiveness of the resource, followed by how easy it was to find.
- There is a serious disconnect between how many faculty consider a factor in selecting educational resources and how satisfied they are with the state of that factor. Faculty are least satisfied with the cost of textbooks, yet that is the most commonly listed factor for why they select resources.
- The barriers to adopting OER most often cited by faculty are that “there are not enough resources for my subject” (49%), it is “too hard to find what I need” (48%) and “there is no comprehensive catalog of resources” (45%).
Both Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education covered this release and included additional interviews with co-author Jeff Seaman. Continue reading
Posted in Higher Education, Notable Posts, Openness
Tagged Babson Survey Research Group, Growing the Curriculum, Hewlett Foundation, Jeff Seaman, OER, Open Educational Resources, Opening the Curriculum, Pearson, survey, Teaching Resources
At this year’s BbWorld16 users conference, Blackboard’s new executive team demonstrated their ability to deliver a much tighter, more coherent message of what they are learning from talking to customers and what the focus of the company will be in the next few years. The “1 Learn, 2 Experiences (Original and Ultra), and 3 Deployments (Self-Hosted, Managed-Hosted, and SaaS)” meme is an example. Words are easy to come by, however, and Blackboard leadership needs to back up their claims, particularly with the Learn LMS and particularly with the long-delayed Learn Ultra.
Michael described the challenges that Blackboard and its new CEO Bill Ballhaus face back in January, with this comment about Learn Ultra [emphasis added]:
Prove that Ultra is real: While there are customers who will not be quick to move off of 9.x (for a variety of reasons), nobody believes that the current platform represents a compelling future for digital learning environments. It is long in the tooth. But schools evaluating LMSs have largely discounted Ultra because they don’t think it’s real and they’re not convinced that it ever will be. Now that the product is a year late, they have increased reason to be skeptical. We have heard that there are schools piloting Ultra, but I am not aware of any public information about how these pilots are going or even which schools are participating. Blackboard needs to ship Ultra and trot out some customers who are willing to speak publicly about their experiences with it. If they fail, they will not get a do-over.
While this inaccurate claim came from the previous executive team, and while I have heard nothing but positive reviews from Blackboard staff about the new CEO, this does not mean that previous claims are irrelevant. And the issue is not what Blackboard told us at e-Literate, it is more what they have told or not told the higher education (and K-12) communities. Continue reading
Leading into BbWorld16, Blackboard’s annual users conference in the air conditioned bunker of The Venetian in Las Vegas, the company announced that they were partnering with IBM.
Blackboard Inc. and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a collaborative agreement for IBM to manage Blackboard’s datacenters and cloud infrastructure. The two companies will also work together to develop innovative educational solutions, taking advantage of IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology and Blackboard’s broad capabilities suite.
Under the agreement, IBM will manage much of Blackboard’s technology infrastructure, including the company’s 28 global data centers and its existing public cloud footprint. IBM will also provide support for Blackboard’s expanding use of the public cloud. Blackboard will leverage IBM’s expertise and software to offer customers some of the most flexible, reliable, security-rich and resilient environments available.
What the initial press release did not capture, and what has become quite apparent at BbWorld16, is that this is really a three-way partnership between Blackboard, IBM, and Amazon (for Amazon Web Services, or AWS). Peter George, Blackboard’s SVP of Products, noted this critical distinction in his blog post “Partnering with AWS and IBM for cloud services and infrastructure management”. Continue reading
Phil and I are pleased to share our first animated explainer on personalized learning:
If it feels like a commercial that could have been produced by a textbook publisher or ed tech vendor, that is entirely intentional. We hope that they will actively promote this video (and the successor that we will be publishing in the next couple of weeks). We are giving them tools they will (hopefully) want to use that move the focus away from product bells and whistles and toward teaching challenges. This attempt at jujitsu is worth some unpacking.