U.S.-based high school students say the website is their most influential resource when conducting college research, and 40% will lose interest in a college or university if the website is frustrating or disappointing.
The research comes from Ruffalo Noel Levitz’s E-Expectations Trend Report, an annual survey of high school students exploring their behaviors and experiences as they research prospective colleges. The 2021 edition highlights the rising importance of personalization in engaging prospective students—and the need for colleges and universities to stand out in the increasingly competitive postsecondary marketplace.
“Modern learners think and act like consumers, so it’s critical for colleges and universities to build websites, social media presences and outreach strategies that address their needs and interests,” said Peter DeVries, president and chief operating officer of Modern Campus. “Those that do will thrive. We know this because we see it in our customers every day—on average they grow annual revenue by 19% and enrollments by 14%.”
Like any customer in any industry, prospective students conducting their college research are primarily trying to understand how the institutions they are considering match their needs and expectations.
By Dan Hawthorne, Ph.D., director of industrial-organizational psychology, PAIRIN.
We’re starting to emerge from our pandemic-induced hibernation, and as we do so it’s important to look back on the past year and learn from our experiences – good and bad. In different ways, every organization had to adapt to the pandemic, whether it was moving to remote-work, accelerating digital-first initiatives, or in the case of education, shutting down schools and creating virtual classrooms.
Without in-person teaching, students have been left to create their own education path. For some this may have been a blessing, allowing them to move ahead (or look backwards) to best suit their education needs, but for others, the lack of guidance and instruction has been a hindrance. In a virtual setting it’s all too easy to hide behind the mute button, remain off video, and even complete other tasks while the class moves on.
Although we’re beginning to see the return to normalcy, there are several key takeaways we can learn from the shortcomings of remote K-12 education.
Remote Learning Shortcomings
For the most part, experts agree that remote learning was not very successful, especially for
younger students and those from lower socioeconomic statuses. Learning losses for K-12 students were examined early in the summer of 2020, and predictions were made to determine the shortcomings caused by remote learning in place of in-person study. Three scenarios were examined, including return to in-person education in Fall 2020, Jan 2021 and Fall 2021. In all three scenarios learning losses were anticipated, ranging from a three to four month loss if students received average remote learning, to a seven to eleven month loss with low quality remote instruction.
Other studies unearthed similar results. In Fall 2020, NWEA conducted Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments for 4.4 million US students from ages 8-14 in the US. The study found that students had slid in progress compared to previous years, and using 2019 as a benchmark, discovered that while students performed similarly for reading-based assessments, they dropped 5-10 percentile points in math skills. These results led to the conclusion that more students were falling behind compared to previous years.
Although remote learning is better than no learning at all, young students are in a delicate stage of life where they need to grasp more than just math, science and reading skills, but also inter-personal skills to develop healthy relationships. Remote learning does not provide the same type of space and environment to speak with peers, navigate social relationships, and better understand non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions. This lack of human exposure not only leads to under-developed social skills, but can also impact mental health.
Additional studies were undertaken during remote learning to determine the mental state and well-being of K-12 students. One report identified that 46% of teachers had seen an increase in students’ mental health issues, citing that they were expressing anxiety and depression far more often than before the pandemic. While this may be tied to external factors, the inability to escape home-life and independently create relationships and experiences certainly played a large role.
Modern Campus announces the acquisition of Presence, a campus engagement and learning platform for higher education institutions. The acquisition extends Modern Campus’s learning partners to more than 1,400 colleges and universities across North America and enables each to serve their students with a massively personalized experience throughout the “learner to earner” journey.
With a practical approach to impacting student engagement, Presence helps higher education institutions increase student engagement to power retention, graduation rates and workforce readiness. A data-focused student engagement, learning and retention platform for student affairs divisions, Presence enables higher education institutions to:
Manage and automate processes: Simplify complicated and inconsistent practices by standardizing how involvement opportunities are structured and advertised. Integrated in one platform, users can improve both operational workflows and student accessibility.
Engage more students: Meet students where they are and simplify how they find involvement opportunities to ensure effective advertisement, quick access and more direct engagement. Remove barriers to involvement, including every student with automatic profiles.
Track and collect engagement data: Measure participation both qualitatively and quantitatively. Utilize scalable data collection through mobile devices and collect survey and assessment data in a single tool.
Assess behaviors and trends: Make data-driven decisions to increase engagement, ensure retention and boost graduation rates. Synced live with student information system data, users can identify trends, compare effectiveness and identify under-involved students.
Shannon Flynn is a freelance blogger who covers education technologies, cybersecurity and IoT topics. You can follow Shannon on Muck Rack or Medium to read more of her articles.
Some educators are returning to in-person teaching as the coronavirus recedes — or plan to do so during the 2021-2022 school year. However, hybrid and virtual learning isn’t going anywhere fast, and these education methods will likely become a mainstay among primary and secondary schools in the coming years.
This new normal has a majority of parents asking schools to prioritize providing access to consistent, high-quality remote learning. Luckily, the education system can do just that by implementing interactive online whiteboards in the virtual classroom.
Here are a few of the best options for teachers and students alike.
While Limnu has been around for six years, this online whiteboard was revamped in 2018 when the online meeting app ZipSocket acquired it. This transition gave users more remote features like a canvas with no edges or boundaries. Team collaboration also allows teachers to create groups and share boards for real-time classroom discussions. A bulk editing tool and quick refresh button also add to Limnu’s impressive functionality.
Try Limnu free for 14 days or sign up for the premium plan for just $5 per month per person. Because this application can get a bit pricey, it often works best for one-on-one tutoring or smaller classrooms with fewer students.
Modern Campus, a modern learner engagement platform, today announced the acquisition of DIGARC, a provider of academic catalog and curriculum management, class and student scheduling and student pathfinder software for higher education. The acquisition enables Modern Campus to accelerate its commitment to customer success by revolutionizing learner engagement with massively personalized digital experiences.
Founded in 2001, DIGARC is committed to aiding higher education institutions to engage students through the power of a connected, integrated curriculum. Today, its catalog management software solutions are used by nearly 800 higher education institutions. DIGARC enhances the student experience, helping them better navigate degree planning, and ultimately improve retention and graduation rates.
Modern Campus will integrate its award-winning web experience platform and personalization engine with DIGARC’s comprehensive course curriculum management software. Together, they will empower higher education institutions to solve two of the biggest challenges they face today: attracting and converting prospective students, and creating a highly personalized and engaging pathway to on-time graduation. In most institutions today, accessing the course catalog – typically the first stop for prospective students after the homepage – requires navigating an often-cumbersome menu structure.
Likewise, current students often struggle to set a path to successful program completion. With DIGARC, Modern Campus Omni CMS and Personalization by Modern Campus, higher education institutions can enable a modern student catalog experience with personalized content, pathways and recommendations.
“There’s never been a more exciting time in higher education. The modern learner is a savvy consumer and their expectations of higher education institutions have changed. They expect a highly personalized, Netflix-like experience. They’re primarily focused on maximizing the return on one of the most important and largest investments they’ll make – their post-secondary education,” said Brian Kibby, chief executive officer of Modern Campus. “For colleges and universities experiencing decreased enrollment, they need every advantage available to attract, engage and graduate the modern learner on time. The combination of DIGARC and Modern Campus helps deliver this, combining a highly personalized web experience with world-class catalog navigation.”
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), 47% of all employed adults in the U.S. are women, but only 25% hold computing roles. Racial, ethnic and economic disparities also present a significant gap among STEM fields. Of the 25% of women working in tech, just 5% are Asian, while Black and Hispanic women accounted for 3% and 1%, respectively.
Diverse thinking in the workforce drives innovation by drawing from new perspectives and experiences. With fewer women pursuing degrees and careers in STEM, there is a critical need for more significant equity in the industry. Part of this inequity starts in early in life, with young girls who can’t see themselves in STEM roles. Research shows that when asked to describe a typical scientist, engineer, mathematician, or computer programmer, 30% of girls say they envision a man in these roles.
Making this change starts in schools, with accessible STEM programs, meaningful mentorship and access to technology so students can build their skills.
Nurturing STEM Skills
Creating a diverse STEM ecosystem starts in the classroom with programs that make technology accessible and fun for girls at a young age. This can and should be a unified effort with programs supported by the technology community that take place in school, removing as many barriers as possible.
Girls Who Game, an extra-curricular program for students in fourth to eighth grade that’s lead by Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Intel, is one example of how to make technology enriching, engaging and exciting. The program provides an opportunity for young girls and underserved students across North America to learn more about gaming and the use of Minecraft as a learning tool. It goes beyond tech to also build global competencies, such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
Engaging the right individuals is also important. Programs like this can provide a personalized, safe and supportive community, with women in STEM acting as coaches, mentors and role models. Students walk away with a greater self-awareness of their skills, and are empowered to continue growing in STEM.
How can we possibly even begin to show our gratitude for what our educators have endured and achieved this past year? Will flowers and a donut really do the trick? This year let’s give them something bigger – a promise to do better by them and not leave them alone in the road ahead to make up this ‘lost’ school year.
Today, more than a year into the pandemic, the conversation and concern surrounding how to address learning loss has reached critical mass. Interoperability, or the lack thereof, is playing a huge role in this emerging crisis. To explain:
Overnight, we moved from one educational and instructional modality — in-person learning — to five: remote, in-person, and hybrid learning, as well as synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Adapting to this shift meant adapting more software, more tools, and more variety in how we teach and learn. This surfaced some difficult questions.
Without interoperable data between systems — meaning, the ability for computer systems or software to share and exchange information to provide valuable and actionable insight — how can teachers effectively and efficiently guide learners? Ensure equitable education across modalities? How would district leaders truly get the full picture of each student’s academic situation to ensure learners weren’t falling behind? The answer: They can’t. At least, not if data continues to live in silos.
This might be the most significant disruption in education in generations. Without the granular insight that interoperable data affords district leaders, not only will learners continue to fall behind, but may do so at higher rates than pre-pandemic, and be at increased risk of chronic absenteeism — all of which create potential long-term impacts for students, schools, and communities.
Change Starts Here
As educators, student success is priority #1. And unfortunately, without the ability to easily and effectively connect data across systems, administrators are left using anecdotal evidence, or worse – guessing, when making crucial decisions about when and how to intervene, provide individual support, and help every student succeed. Below we’ll discuss three ways in which connected data enables district leaders to focus on what’s most important — supporting teachers; supporting students; achieving learning goals.
Support Teachers: Empowering Instruction Through Data
When I was a middle school educator, I had about 175 students on my roster. That’s a lot of kids to teach. Beyond teaching, being an instructor meant I was entrusted with truly getting to know my students, figuring out how each of them learned best, and understanding how to provide specific guidance and differentiated instruction when and where it mattered most. It was a lot to manage as an educator — even when school was still in the classroom and operating within a singular modality.
By Valerie Schreiner, chief product and marketing officer, Turnitin.
Educators faced profound disruptions over the past year, pushing them to rethink and reshape assessments—how to design them, deliver them, ensure their integrity, measure their effectiveness, and ultimately leverage them to increase learning outcomes. Turnitin has spent several years considering how to support the evolution of assessment and we’re hearing loud and clear from the schools and universities we serve that now is the time for lasting change.
Dylan Wiliam describes assessment as “the bridge between teaching and learning,” a data-rich intersection where educators understand what students have learned and gain insights into teaching efficacy. We envision assessment not as an isolated measurement of student outcomes but rather as a key component of a continuous improvement cycle, providing valuable information to educators as they refine their teaching and to students as they improve their learning.
We want to partner with institutions to reimagine assessments across all subject areas and assignment types, low-stakes and high-stakes. We’ll be there every step along the way to support assessments that are fair, consistent, accurate, and impact learning outcomes in a meaningful way.
Integrity is at the heart of Turnitin
Turnitin was founded over 20 years ago as a text similarity checking tool that helped ensure the originality of a piece of writing. We have since become a leader in academic integrity solutions and found that the majority of academic integrity issues are related to emerging skills rather than intentional acts.
Today, we work with schools and industry experts to build innovative solutions that help students learn the value of original work even as new challenges to academic integrity—such as contract cheating or text spinners—emerge. Because integrity solutions will always be at the heart of Turnitin, we acquired Unicheck and in March, announced our intent to acquire Ouriginal to expand our geographic reach and allow us to help more students find their original voices.
Along these same lines, Draft Coach, the most recent evolution of our integrity product suite puts the power of our similarity checking technology directly into the hands of students. Now, students can use our applications to assess, revise, and improve their own writing prior to submission.
Providing students with the ability to review and refine their own work becomes a moment for self-learning—opportunities for self-directed reflection are an essential part of developing original thinking skills. By building tools that empower students to do their best original work, we uphold academic integrity while guiding students down their own personal learning path.
In my 30 years of serving higher education, I have had the privilege of visiting hundreds of community colleges across the country. I have seen firsthand their level of caring and concern is second to none, and the value offered is unequaled.
The problem is, many people don’t. All too often, prospective students have a perception that going immediately to a four-year college or university, despite the costs, carries more clout or is somehow academically superior to community colleges. Many parents are often swayed into a mindset that community colleges are second best—whatever the reasons (keeping up with the proverbial “Joneses?”) and at whatever the costs (loan debt that few can afford).
The reality is that community colleges help students transform from learners to earners. To start, students with an associate’s degree earn significantly more than high school graduates, and because of their talent and training, are attractive to employers upon graduation. Further still, students transferring from two-year colleges are highly sought after by four-year universities because they can handle college level work and are more likely to graduate.
There’s so much that community colleges do—for their students, neighbors and communities—that we should celebrate, including:
Pathways: Community colleges also offer program pathways to help students translate their interests into a career, affordable—and in some cases, free—tuition.
Relevance: Community colleges have strong relationships with local industry and employers, giving graduates a leg up on finding a job immediately after graduation. This also improves the local tax base and encourages other businesses to come to town because the population is educated.
Outcomes: Given the diverse audiences served by community colleges, they deliver a healthy program mix leading to certificates, workforce credentials, associate’s degrees and even bachelor’s degrees.
Diversity: Community colleges serve a varied student population: students directly out of high school, employees interested in upskills or earning a degree, people in transition who want to augment training in their field or who want to change careers altogether, and the entrepreneurial workforce, people who want to work for themselves and need a specific skill set.
Shannon Flynn is a freelance blogger who covers education technologies, cybersecurity and IoT topics. You can follow Shannon on Muck Rack or Medium to read more of her articles.
Though tech is a requirement for today’s students, it’s not a universal luxury. The recent spotlight on tech equity has brought the issue to the forefront of public discourse, opening up an important conversation about the need for new policies.
The pandemic has only brought more attention to the growing disparity among students. Though many had access to digital resources through their school’s library, these tools disappeared when they were asked to learn from home.
An EdWeek Research Center survey helped contextualize the issue. Only 62% of education leaders in districts with poverty rates below 25% said everyone who needed home internet access had it. In those where poverty rates exceeded 75%, the rate of access was 31%.
How can district and school leaders manage the digital divide, and how does tech equity reflect a larger systemic issue?
Understanding the Hurdles Ahead
It’s difficult to argue that technology has made a negative impact on education. However, its absence presents a clear issue — one that continues to increase in proportion to the country’s poverty levels.
Almost 30 million low-income students currently depend on their school for breakfast or lunch. These same children are expected to have digital resources that fall outside their family’s budget, already strained by a pandemic economy.
With these factors at play, tech equity may seem ambitious. Parents may be engaged with other problems, and students don’t have the means to amend their situation. Furthermore, districts are contending with internal challenges.
Educators are planning to build on hard lessons from full-time remote learning, and any gaps in that strategy will soon become clear. Is total online schooling an effective teaching strategy? Will the deficit in tech equity compound into something larger?
Fortunately, there are strategies that offer a potential solution.