Friday, January 25, 2013

Staying on Top of Developments in Higher Education

I start most days by checking email and reading/scanning various newsletters.  I work from what I like to think is a holistic, almost intuitive sense of direction, and that seems to require immersion in information.  I wish I did a better job of retaining specific sources and details, but at this point in my life I’m going to roll with my strengths and not worry too much about my deficits.  (That’s a shout-out to all my strengths-based leadership friends!)

I realize that most people lack the time to invest that I do in exploring ideas, whether through reading online newsletters, networking, or otherwise pursuing new developments.  I hope to provide a brief series of posts, here, to capture a few key elements, as I think they might relate to administrators at branch campuses or other small public and private institutions.

I recommend that anyone interested in emerging change subscribe to at least two online resources that I check out every day.  The first is Inside Higher Ed, which I find more valuable to administrators than The Chronicle of Higher Education, although I do subscribe to it, as well. 

You can check out Inside Higher Ed at, and subscriptions to the Daily Update are free.  Inside Higher Ed also supports some useful groups on LinkedIn, and the Update includes a number of interesting bloggers.  My favorite blog is called “Confessions of a Community College Dean.

Just today, the Update had an interesting story on MOOCs and one that covers a recent study suggesting that there is very little connection between what an institution spends on students and the quality of the education they receive.  There also is an interview with Randy Best, CEO of Academic Partnerships, which just announced a new initiative, called MOOC2Degree.  It is an interesting new idea for awarding credit and attracting students to enroll in online degree programs.

Academic Partnerships is a company that works with public universities to create and market relatively large online programs.  I worked with them, when I was at Ohio University, and, although the partnership was challenging to manage, it also was instructive and successful in attractive several thousand students to our online RN to BSN program.  Randy is innovative, entertaining, and frequently controversial.  The Q and A definitely helps explain the MOOC2Degree initiative.

The second resource is the “Professional, Continuing and Online Education Update by UPCEA,” which is at  It typically provides links to three articles, usually related to online learning.  Some of them can be quite thought-provoking, such as one today, titled, “The End of the University as We Know It,” by Nathan Harden, for the American Interest.  It is long, but makes an interesting argument.  (The particular piece is at

Anyone who hopes to understand and compete effectively in the emerging new world of higher education needs to invest at least a little time in studying trends.  I hope this blog is of help to those in the branch campus world, which can be part of a thoughtful institutional strategy, but also will be challenged to adapt to the educational and potential financial advantages of online options.

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