We often hear the argument in higher education that our students need to be better writers. Arguments range from students being able to communicate ideas more clearly, to being able to analyze texts in more detail. However a new infographic produces another reason why writing is so important. Higher rates of pay. Generally better writers get paid better wages according to the linked infographic below from dailyinfographic.com. With arguments stating better writing can develop communication skills and better analytical skills, this just notice in pay change may be a result of a broader and more detailed skill development overall.
The above infographic was created by Dailyinfographic.com. Please check out their site for great visual data on great topics.
If you are not familiar with the Horizon Report, it is a report on new trends, challenges and technologies in education. The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE work together to output this report every year. They follow trending strategies, technologies, and even challenges in the education sector. Not only is the report a wealth of information, but these two groups provide a forecast about which trends or technologies will be upon us and how far away they are from appearing in our educational institutions.
Below is a brief over view of the trends that were identified in the report. These trends are often looked at as future trends, but often times they are considered future trends because we are seeing the changes occur in our educational environments already. It is important to keep that in mind as we read these trends and evaluate our own institution. Identified with each key trend below are examples of what the great teaching community here at the University of Lethbridge is already doing to address some of these trends.
An experimental online program is available for students at Southern Hampshire University. The university is experimenting with a “competencies” based model that sees students showing their mastery of certain competencies before moving on to the next challenge or competency. The example given in the article by Marc Parry from The Chronicle has a student proving they can use “logic, reasoning and analysis to address a business problem.”
Although this is an innovative step in education reform, assessing student competencies is something that currently occurs in the typical “seat hour” degree completion. Students must prove their competency via projects, exams, essays, or presentations and more. The real power of this model lies in the fact that “seat hours” are not the determining factor. This model could truly allow students to become competent with a skill or skill set in an amount of time that is suitable to the student’s learning ability and life situation. It truly makes learning a skill about the learning and not about the time to complete.
In the article Parry refers to an anomaly that has US state law makers, the white house, and even some private foundations, with a common goal to graduate more students, to do so in more timely manner, and to keep the costs for students lower. The alignment of goals has made funding projects(like the one at Southern Hampshire University) a possibility as the needs for education reform at the political level seem to be bending to accommodate these experiments. In the case of Southern Hampshire University not only was funding needed to get the courses built and optimized for a competency based model, but the ability to award funding to students for non-credit hour courses was also granted. So although funding is a key issue in helping these experimental programs get off the ground, it seems that funding agents need to align goals and strategies with those in the political game to tear down other barriers to education; in this case financial concerns.
This alignment seems to be a good thing for education reform, and education funding, but what about the ideas that are not aligned? Are these ideas ruled out? They are not nessecarily ruled out, but the ones with funding, and that are aligned with political education reforms may get more of the spotlight, causing other reforms or projects to be overshadowed.
What do you think about a competency based program of studies? Are there areas on campus that you could see competency base programs succeed?