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My Point of View: Dan Krane, Ph.D

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Thu,11/16/2017-10:08

As chair of the Ohio Faculty Council, vice president of Wright State University faculty and professor of biological sciences, Dr. Krane is taking the lead in Ohio to reduce costs of learning materials, support faculty teaching and improve student outcomes.

 

In addition to his teaching duties as Professor of Biological Sciences at Wright State University, Dr. Dan Krane has a resume that includes serving as Vice President of the school’s faculty, Chair of the Ohio Faculty Council and is also regularly called upon as a speaker and expert witness in the area of forensic DNA profiling. In this month’s My Point of View interview, Dr. Krane shares why he thinks higher education now needs to be more inclusive — in a more engaging and responsive way — and why it also needs to provide courseware that’s available to all.

 

As a first generation college graduate, Dr. Dan Krane is on a very personal mission. “I feel, to a large extent, that I’m something of an evangelist,” he confesses. “I’ve learned from that very personal perspective the kind of change the college experience can have, not just to the person receiving that degree, but to those around them — and even to the communities where they live and work,” he says.

 

But with that mission to get many more students to enjoy the benefits of a college education, he warns there are a number of challenges that can stand in the way of that opportunity. “High on the list is affordability, and deeply connected to that issue is the cost of textbooks,” he says.

 

Citing research that textbooks can account for a quarter of the expense associated with attending a state university, Krane is critical of the kind of apathy that has led to the current spiraling costs of learning materials. “The tragedy is that even where we’ve succeeded in winning the battle that can bring that student to college, we’re just not doing a good enough job to properly support him or her,” he says. “I think there’s been a lingering historical — almost cultural inertia that the college system should only provide a limited amount of opportunities — and that we need to weed perspective graduates out as opposed to develop more of them. But the world has changed, and now there’s a desperate need for more people with a college education. As institutions of higher education, we’ve not been particularly nimble or responsive in changing that mindset, and the rising cost of textbooks is just one of those things that’s preventing our students’ success. We can’t still be in the business of selling information. We need to be in the business of teaching students how to use that information.”

 

REMOVING THE BARRIERS

Spurred by the Ohio Task Force on Affordability & Efficiency in Higher Education, the state budget proposal that incentivizes higher education institutions to reduce the average textbook burden of $1,200 per student, Dr. Krane has been a driver and program leader in the Ohio Faculty Council, representing the faculty interests of all public four-year institutions in the state. On his own campus at Wright State University, Dr. Krane brought together a group of university administers, faculty, department chairs and students, meeting throughout the summer to develop a list of 16 different initiatives that might each reduce the cost of students’ course materials. “It was pretty clear to us that out of all those ideas, the largest impact could come from Inclusive Access — where we clearly understood there would be an opportunity to reduce the cost of textbooks for our students to the order of 50 percent,” he says.

 

Using a course fee model, students would pay a deeply discounted fee for all educational resources associated with their course. The course materials would then be made available, either directly through the LMS or the Wright State University Bookstore — before the first day of class. Utilizing four of the proposals, including the Inclusive Access pilot, Krane estimates the savings to Wright State students will be between $2-3 million per year. “If those same resolutions were instituted statewide in our 23 two-year schools and 14 four-year institutions, the annual savings to students in Ohio in as little as five years, would be in the order of $300 million a year,” he explains. That savings could annually provide college access to on the order of an additional 10-20,000 students who otherwise wouldn’t have the benefits of a college education.

 

NEW WAYS OF LEARNING

Making access to the classroom more affordable, Krane also wants to improve student course completion and graduation rates, and has also been working with the Barnes & Noble Education LoudCloud team on a pilot program that can improve student retention — even among his most at-risk students. “From my experience in teaching, I’ve realized I could predict, with 90 percent accuracy, the final grade of students in my class, based on the results of the first exam they took, but I also knew there was relatively little I could do to help those who were on a path to failure,” he says. Despite available initiatives such as additional tutoring or academic advisors, it became unacceptable to Krane that he would lose sometimes as much as a third of his class, and once a student withdrew from the course, he or she usually did not come back. “With the analytics we’ve been experimenting with LoudCloud, this year, we can for the first-time take steps to help students succeed even before they have a poor performance on an exam to drag down their grade and, even better, before they even start the course.”

 

Providing special recitation sessions with an extra two hours of instruction per week, Krane has been able to give his students “just-in-time” support and, as issues come up in class, he says he is now better placed to help students move past them. “It’s particularly important because they’re getting the support and insights they need as they need it,” he says, “and what’s remarkable is that those students participating in these special recitations are now performing at a level that is comparable to the very least at-risk students.”

 

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Complete Learning Solutions - More Choice, Better Engagement

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Wed,11/01/2017-16:42

For a generation of students brought up in a culture of unlimited choices, it is expected that personalized preferences would extend to how they want to learn. Yet the widespread adoption of those preferences into the classroom has been slower than expected. Research from the Educause Center for Applied Research ten years ago predicted that students use of technology would be more ‘evolutionary than revolutionary,’ and a decade later, that seems to be the case with the learning landscape now less about traditional versus technology, and all about creating greater choice.

 

LEARNING ACROSS PLATFORMS

Although educators and institutions have been able to provide today’s students with a variety of different learning platforms, the college class built around the textbook has been difficult to replace as James Mulrooney, Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at Central Connecticut State University, explains. “The book is an essential component for the course. If students want to do well, the book is absolutely required, and the various formats and cost-saving options increase the likelihood that the majority of students will have the book for the course," he says, adding, "The availability of lower cost options such as digital or book rentals, opens the door for me to have greater flexibility to choose the best possible text for my course.”

 

However, ed tech has helped develop powerful new additions to the learning landscape and, having pioneered textbook rentals, used books, and buy back and price matching programs, Barnes & Noble College has also invested in looking hard at other learning platforms. Powered by its research into how Generation Z learn, Barnes & Noble College discovered more about the student preference for combining both the tried and tested along with the latest learning technology. “We found that while they’re very independent and technologically savvy, today’s students value face-to-face interaction and collaboration. Learning for them is one continuous, multifaceted, completely integrated experience – connecting their social, academic and professional interests,” explains Vice President and CMO at Barnes & Noble College, Lisa Malat.

 

Those kinds of discoveries have led to partnerships with content providers such as XanEdu to developing a fully interactive open resource platform in Courseware. In addition to valuing the content the platform provided for her students, Donya Waugh, who adopted Courseware for her students at Cuyahoga Community College, valued the way she could adapt the OER Courseware to her individual teaching style. "I liked the flexibility of being able to move chapters around, re-ordering the content to the way I like to teach the course. It gave my students resources for every chapter of the course book – quizzes and videos along with content that I could add myself," she says.

 

Across the board, the Barnes & Noble College research indicates students responding positively to learning tools, like Courseware, but it’s not just students who find value in these newer ways of learning. In a recent SurveyMonkey survey of a few hundred parents of students in grades K-12, more than 75 percent indicated that educational technology has a positive influence on their children’s learning. The biggest benefits parents stated: it’s engaging and interactive, two characteristics the current generation of students also value as extremely important.

 

EMPOWERING THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE

There are advantages in adopting technology for instructors too. Over 345,000 faculty have joined the Barnes & Noble College digital community to benefit from easier adoption of course materials through FacultyEnlight, while the analytics offered with Courseware can help teachers identify students who may be falling behind and help provide them with a more engaging, and ultimately more successful, learning experience.

 

Even as greater options technology options are being offered by an increasing number of college campuses, access to a higher education itself can prove challenging to many students. It’s why Barnes & Noble College includes in its complete learning solutions initiatives like First Day, empowering students who might otherwise have to wait for college loans, with the course materials they need right at the first day of class.