NEXT: Students and Parents Weigh the Advantages of Higher Education

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Fri,04/07/2017-10:50

During the presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, college freshman Albert Wu momentarily stole the attention from the participating candidates. Standing behind the CNN on-air anchors with a poster reading “Student Debt Sucks,” Wu included his Venmo account on the sign, inviting viewers to support his tuition via the money-transfer app. The stunt worked, raising more than $400 toward Wu’s tuition. But its ultimate impact was no doubt broader, casting a spotlight on the rising costs of college and students’ concern toward paying for it.


According to the Value of College, a study released by Barnes & Noble College and Money, nearly two-thirds of students said they eliminated certain schools from consideration due to cost, while only half of parents said cost was a determining factor. “Today’s students are very cost conscious when it comes to selecting a college,” said Lisa Malat, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Barnes & Noble College.


From dorm rooms to debate halls, the question takes center stage: Is college tuition worth it? Do rising higher-education costs — and the challenge of paying for it — constitute a conversation or a crisis?



In the United States, the total outstanding student loan debt is $1.2 trillion, the second-highest level of consumer debt behind mortgages. Nearly 70 percent of college graduates leave school with some financial liability. Still, a recent Gallup-Purdue poll of 30,000 national alumni found despite mounting debt, 77 percent agreed that their educations were worth the cost. Even in the face of rising tuition costs and falling wages for college graduates over the past several years, a college degree is still a sound investment, according to a new Federal Reserve Bank of New York study.


Here’s why:


A college degree is still mandatory for many jobs. 


By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, with 35 percent requiring at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots report from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.




Out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million went to workers with at least some college education. Some 8.4 million went to workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher. The report also reveals that employment of workers with a high school diploma or less only grew by 80,000 jobs during the economic recovery. “The modern economy continues to leave Americans without a college education behind,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and lead author of the report. In 2016, for the first time, workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher comprise a larger proportion of the workforce (36 percent) than those with a high school diploma or less (34 percent).


The bottom line is that for many industries — such as education, accounting, engineering, and finance — a college degree is non-negotiable. And, for those who plan to enter fields where a graduate or professional degree is required, it is an absolute prerequisite.



College graduates earn higher incomes throughout their lifetimes. 


“Higher education has never mattered so much, to so many, as a means of social mobility, an engine of our economy, and a defender of our democracy,” stated Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. Statistics have long found that college graduates out earn those without a college degree — and that they continue to earn higher salaries throughout their lives.


And that’s across many fields. Median earnings of college graduates are higher than median earnings of high school graduates for 80 majors analyzed by the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution. This is true for entry level, mid-career and end-of-career. College graduates can expect to earn $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetimes, according to New York Federal Reserve researchers, and the income gap between the highest-paid college majors and the lowest paid is more than $3 million.

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NEXT: Faculty Soften OER Skepticism

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Wed,04/05/2017-09:54

As research demonstrates the benefits to student outcomes, faculty are opening up to learning technologies such as OER courseware.


Advancements in learning technologies have come a long way from the PDFs and early eBooks of just a decade ago, but despite the significant advances in the range and delivery of course materials, and compelling evidence as to its value, some skepticism remains. Last month, Inside Higher Ed presented a webinar sponsored by Barnes & Noble College to uncover what is behind the doubts surrounding learning technology, particularly when early results have shown promise in improving learning outcomes and increasing access, while measurably lowering student costs.



Based on the results of the 2016 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology, Doug Lederman, Editor of Inside Higher Ed and moderator of the webinar, offered some reasons behind the lingering skepticism among college educators. “Part of it is, perhaps, an antipathy to change and some very realistic worries about the future of their jobs and of the enterprise,” he pointed out, while indicating the positive trend that faculty tend to have more favorable views on technology the more familiar they become with using it.


The Inside Higher Ed survey also pointed to some recurring academic concerns educators have concerning the quality of online education technology, which has been reflected in each of the last five years the publication has been conducting the report. In the case of online learning, for example, more faculty believe that for-credit online courses do not produce comparable outcomes to in-class teaching, while those who actually taught online classes held a more positive view. In addition, 63 percent of technology administrators found online learning to be of equal quality. “Faculty do seem hesitant to veer from traditional texts, with their heavily cited peer-reviewed journals,” agreed Lynn Nagle, an instructor at Penn State Altoona, and one of the guest contributors to the webinar, “but finding some good low-cost, high quality, user-friendly texts takes time to sift through, and many, perhaps, are also hesitant to pick up courseware because of the belief that there’s also a learning curve,” she added.


Nagle is also convinced that faculty are more acutely aware of the cost concerns of their students than anyone had previously thought. “In a controlled market, where publishing houses are retiring editions every three years — and forcing the purchase of new, expensive updates — it means instructors are very cognizant and are trying to move away from that model,” she said. “They also acknowledge the many resources available to them through OER.”


“Getting faculty to adopt more OER resources isn’t one challenge, it’s an ecological problem — even when there’s good preliminary evidence that providing a cheaper text to students provides an opportunity to balance finances,” suggested Dave Johnson, Director of Research and Analytics at Colorado State University. “Universities tend to be conservative in their pedagogy, in the way that they teach and deliver knowledge and skills — and conservative in their structures and governance — so change initiatives have to take a multi-pronged approach,” Johnson said. “You have to really align all those interests to make any change or progress in any way.”


But there’s also another perspective to adoption of technology as Debra Volzer, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships for Barnes & Noble Education, highlighting the need and importance of training. “Oftentimes faculty don’t have access to professional development and training,” she said, “and it’s that training piece, along with ensuring that you have the correct technology infrastructure to ensure you can meet the students” needs, that will really support an increase in the use of open educational resources,” she explained.


Volzer also pointed out there is another important voice to be heard in the education technology debate. “The perspective we’re missing is that of the student,” she said. “There’s going to be an expectation, coming to college from learning environments where you see K-12 investing a lot of time and energy incorporating technology and social media usage in the classroom — so there’s really going to be a very big disconnect there once those students enter into college,” she explained.



Despite its slow beginnings, there’s a growing acknowledgement in the academic world of the overwhelming benefits of technology in the lecture hall. In the Inside Higher Ed survey, 70 percent of instructors polled stated that use of OER has improved student outcomes. Both Nagle and Johnson said their institutions are beginning to create OER resources across several pilot programs, including OER Courseware, and in early initiatives at CSU, Johnson reported significant cost savings, particularly with expensive STEM course materials. “If we can drive those costs down, and get instructors using OER as a trusted source of content, then that’s one of the issues where we can really help the students in those courses,” he said.


Article reposted from Barnes & Noble College NEXT.

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