Category Archives: Higher Ed

3 Schools Investing in Online Education and Finding Success

When you think of the online education space, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford come to mind. With systems like Coursera, edX, and OpenCourseWare,  these schools, along with a number of other big name ones have made a name for themselves as innovators and industry leaders. But the Ivy Leagues aren’t the only ones bringing something to the table in this burgeoning new frontier–other, lesser well-known schools have been working just as hard investing their resources in creating quality online education programs and have found success in doing so. Below are three of these schools.

Southern New Hampshire University

If there is one school that has benefited the most from investing in online education, it’s Southern New Hampshire University. Nestled up in Manchester, NH, SNHU’s Center for Online and Continuing Education has helped it become the largest online degree provider in New England. Paul LeBlanc, the university president, helped transform the school’s once tiny online program since coming on board in 2003. The school now has 10,600 students enrolled across 120 undergraduate and graduate programs, ranging from a social media MBA to a creative writing BA.

Originally founded in 1932, the school was, and still is based on a brick-and-mortar campus. After launching the online program, enrollment has soared and the percentage of first year undergraduates returning for a second year has nearly doubled since 2008 from 35% to 69%. Revenue is up to $74 million from $10 million in 2007. Here’s the kicker–the school has built one of the most successful online degree programs as a non profit institution.

Earlier this year, Fast Company ranked SNHU among the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies. So what’s next for the school? They aim to be the nation’s largest online degree provider by 2014. They’re continually looking for new opportunities to expand their programs and have found two potential partners to team up with, setting the path for a bright future.

Westfield State University

Located in the densely packed higher education capital that is Massachusetts, Westfield is part of the state’s public university system. Among the state’s public schools, none have invested as much into the online space and have gained as much recognition as Westfield. The school recently earned a spot on the US News Honor Roll for online university programs and for good reason. They boast the number one ranking for faculty credentials and training and earn top marks in student services and technology and in student engagement and assessment.

Washington State University

Located on the West Coast in Pullman, Washington, WSU is also a public state university. It made last year’s list of the top 10 best online BSBA programs on TheBestColleges.org, a ranking based on reputation, accreditation, student satisfaction, and cost. It holds many accolades, including accreditation by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – International (AACSB), the world’s most respected business program accrediting entity and has been repeatedly noted among the top 60 as a Tier 1 school on the U.S. News and World Report. WSU has one of the nation’s most robust online business administration programs, despite only launching in 2010, with majors in  Accounting, Management and Operations, and Management Information Systems.

These schools have set the bar for online education by creating quality programs and finding success. With an ever growing amount of students deciding to take classes on the web instead of spending more time and money on a campus-based education, other schools must follow their example and invest in online programs like these or become obsolete.

This Week in Online Learning: Udacity Counts For Credit, Bloggers Start A New University, And More

Another week in the world of online learning, another multitude of changes, new players and new ventures.  Less than a month ago we were wondering if online courses would ever be able to offer their students legitimate credentials, and now two of the biggest MOOC providers have found a way that might work — and won’t put older educational giants like Pearson out of a job.  Keep reading to find out how!

A First for Udacity: a U.S. University Will Accept Transfer Credit for One of Its Courses by Katherine Mangan of The Chronicle of Higher Education

Colorado State University’s Global Campus says it will accept transfer credit from Udacity’s Intro to Computer Science course.  Students must show a certificate of accomplishment from Udacity and pass a proctored exam issued by Pearson VUE, at a cost of $89 — we probably don’t need to point out that this is MUCH cheaper than any in-person class at a US university.  A possible game changer?  We think so — while learning for learning’s sake is awesome, being able to use that new knowledge to get a job is even better.

MOOCing On Site by Steve Kolowich of Inside Higher Ed

Trends spread quickly in edtech land.  Just a couple of months behind Udacity, edX (MOOC provider of MIT, Harvard and UC Berkeley) has announced a partnership with Pearson to give in-person proctored tests for their classes.  The tests will hopefully weed out cheaters and allow passing students to earn credits for their online classes at bricks-and mortar schools, just like at Udacity and Colorado State.  No word yet on whether Coursera will jump on the Pearson bandwagon…

Marginal Revolution launch an online university by Alex Hern of NewStatesman

Voracious learners will get a new option for economics education October 1, when Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, authors of the hugely popular economics blog Marginal Revolution, start the first class at their brand-new Marginal Revolution University.   The bloggers, who are professors at George Mason University, laid out their plans in a post on their site — short videos, tests and quizzes to measure progress, and no payment required. It’s interesting to see an online learning program focusing on one specific subject when most newcomers to the online learning space are trying to tackle everything.  Marginal Revolution already has a niche and a following, so let’s hope their university works as well as their blog.

That’s the news this week.  Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments or tweet @Smarterer.

This Week in Online Learning: Which Classes to Take, Learnist’s New Video App, and More

Gee, doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we were talking about Codecademy teaching Python?  Seems like old news now.  As usual, the world of online learning is moving at a breakneck pace and it’s all we can do just to keep the names of the startups straight.  But all this change is a good thing — it means we’re making a difference in people’s lives. Here’s this week’s news, ranging from the newest educational video app to an extensive report on the current state of online education.

EdSurge Nabs $400K From Washington Post, NewSchools To Be A Resource For All Things EdTech by Rip Empson at TechCrunch

We’ve long sung the praises of EdSurge here in the Smarterer office — it’s an excellent place to get reliable and extensive edtech news, reviews and analysis.  Plus, its newsletter actually reads like a human wrote it.  While it’s received support in the past from bigwigs like Bill Gates, EdSurge needed more funds to continue and expand its existing coverage.  They got it!  This article from TechCrunch gives a great overview of why EdSurge exists, what it’s doing differently and why you should care.

Grockit steps beyond test prep: Learnist brings social learning to iPhone and iPad by Devindra Hardawar at VentureBeat

From providers of online SAT prep comes an app that may be the Pinterest of online learning.  Learnist has thousands of videos created by experts and professional teachers — but also allows you to create a learning map to plan your approach to a topic, take assessments to make sure you’ve got the material down, and make your own videos to help others.  Now they have an app for iPhone and iPad.  VentureBeat says it’s easy and fun to get lost in the videos, so here’s to hoping Learnist can hold its own against video competitors like Khan Academy and Knowmia.

 Plan Your Free Education at Lifehacker U: Fall Semester 2012 by Alan Henry at Lifehacker

It’s that time of year again — if you’re a student, you’re heading back to school, and if you want to be a student now’s the time to sign up for online classes.  The problem is, there are just SO many options.  How do you narrow them all down?  Lucky for us, Lifehacker has put together an awesome guide to the best courses available this fall, from programming to poetry.  Each entry includes the professor, a description of the class and a handy link so you can sign up immediately if one of the classes really appeals to you.

The future of education in Africa is mobile by Steve Vosloo at BBC Future

How do we extend the opportunities of online education to parts of the world where computers are scarce, illiteracy is scarily high, and great teachers are hard to come by? In sub-Saharan Africa, nonprofits are trying to reach students on their cell phones, through reading programs, social networks and even mobile tutoring.  They’re banking on the premise that even when students can’t get access to a real classroom or a physical book, cell phones can provide a pocket-sized source for constant learning.  Pretty cool to see how nontraditional education is evolving around the world.

Schools Open Doors To New E-Learning Rules, Ideas at Education Week

There’s a ton going on in online learning, and these roundups don’t even begin to cover the magnitude of the changes happening every day.  But there are some fundamental questions that we have to keep returning to — What’s the best way to assess how well all these new products and methods are working?  How do we keep providers accountable? And how are we going to pay for all this? Education Week tries to answer some of those questions in a 16-page supplement that covers topics like the trendy flipped classroom and state legislation on online learning.  It’s a well-reported must-read on the biggest issues facing K-12 online education, and has relevance for all online learners.

That’s the news this week!  Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments or tweet @Smarterer.

This Week in Online Learning and Jobs — New MindSnacks, the Future of MOOCs, and More

It’s a brave new world for online learning and Ed 2.0, and the landscape is changing all the time.  Our political landscape is close to a huge change, too — we’re electing our next leader in just a few short months.  What’s next?  Who knows, but from the nation’s priorities to new apps to the future of college credit, read on for this week’s biggest news in jobs and online ed.

Americans Want Next President to Prioritize Jobs, Corruption via Gallup

The next presidential election is right around the corner, and Gallup did this poll to find out which issues are most important to us as a country.  Creating jobs and reducing corruption in the federal government came in first, while affordable education, the environment and increasing taxes on the wealthy ranked much lower.  Supporters of both the major candidates agreed on the top two issues.

Codecademy expands into server side languages with Python support for its “millions” of users via Design & Dev

As an avid learner of new skills, you may have come across Codecademy, one of the more popular code-teaching sites.  There you would have found access only to JavaScript, HTML, jQuery and CSS — until now.  Due to high demand, you can now learn popular server side languages like Python, which offer much greater possibilities than the other languages  Check it out and start learning something new!

MindSnacks Nabs $6.5M From Sequoia To Bring Fun Educational Games To Your Mobile Device via TechCrunch

MindSnacks, the accelerator known for their hugely popular language-learning apps, has raised a boatload of money and is excited about using it to expand and enhance their app repertoire.  They plan to develop apps for other subjects, such as math and geography, for use both in and out of the classroom.  They’re also gathering data on how their users learn to make the apps smarter and more adaptive — apps that understand what you’re struggling with and how to help you.  Pretty cool, right?

The Online Pecking Order via Inside Higher Ed

MOOCs, MOOCs, MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses from the most prestigious universities seem to be the only thing anyone can talk about in the online education world today.  But what about the colleges that have already carved out a profitable space for themselves online?  How can they stay in business when Harvard is the competition?  Maybe by becoming the middleman and helping students turn MOOCs into legitimate college credits.  Being able to earn college credit for your skills and knowledge, no matter where you learned them?  That could have huge implications for our current educational system.

That’s the news this week.  Did we miss something?  Let us know in the comments or tweet @Smarterer.