Classroom Technology Opinion

Powering the Real Revolution in Higher Education

By Tom Vander Ark — December 14, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

We’ve heard a lot about Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) -- the breakout trend of the year -- but it’s still a fringe
concept feeding what

Clayton Christensen

calls non-consumption. The real story is how the diverse web of nearly 5,000 institutions (broadly speaking) of higher learning in the U.S. are responding
to cost pressure, calls for higher completion rates and better job preparation, and student demands for relevance.

The answer is that they are adopting blended learning strategies at a remarkable rate. Less visible than MOOC-joining press releases, efforts to flip
courses, blend departments, and expand online learning options are underway on most campuses. Like K-12 schools, universities have figured out that they
can leverage talent with technology, extend their reach, and control their costs

The Sloan Consortium says that in 2011 nearly one-third of all students in
higher education were taking at least one online course. Sloan C conferences, like the meeting last July in Milwaukee, are opportunities for faculty members to share
flipped classroom and blended department strategies.

To find out how universities are powering the shift to digital learning I called Fred Singer, CEO, Echo360, a Washington
DC company working with more 10 percent of U.S. institutions and serving more than one million students worldwide. Differentiating the platform from
learning management systems (LMS), Singer calls Echo an “active learning platform” designed to improve and extend the core offering of a university
powering flipped and interactive classroom, providing online learning options, and supporting virtual office hours and study groups.

“We’re trying to find ways to get that basic level content out to students without using valuable professor and classroom time to do it,” said Dr. Laura
Berry, North Arkansas College about flipped classroom strategies. Echo360 give instructors like Dr. Berry the ability to monitor individual student
engagement and participation.

“I’ve proven that students learn better in a flipped classroom compared to a traditional lecture-based classroom,” said Dr. Russel Mumper, UNC.

Universities are struggling with large classes and looking for ways to economically improvement in engagement. The

University of Michigan studied the interactive classroom

and found their participation rates among students going up from 3 percent to over 65 percent using some of Echo’s Active Learning Interactive Classroom
Tools. (Echo recently acquired LectureTools from Dr. Perry.)

Echo360 has even stronger penetration in Australia and the U.K. The University of Birmingham has seen improved test scores and completion rates with 84
percent of students reporting that the ability to study online and in class improved their understanding.

MOOCs are an interesting development because the are free and a number of leading institutions have jumped on board, that that doesn’t improve delivery of
existing courses. Because most MOOC courses don’t offer credit, that doesn’t help students that want or need credit toward a degree.

The core product of the university is the tuition-paying on-campus student. Platforms like Echo360 give faculty members and administrators a new set of
possibilities for extending their reach, improving outcomes, and controlling costs. That’s a trend that the 100 million students attending universities
worldwide could benefit from by the end of the decade.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Online Student Engagement?
How is your district doing with online student engagement?
Classroom Technology The Future of Blended Learning: What Educators Need to Know
More than two-thirds of educators expect their use of blended learning to increase during the 2021-22 school year.
8 min read
onsr edtech blended
Classroom Technology Why School Districts Are Unprepared for COVID-19 Disruptions, Again
Bad state policy, misplaced optimism, and a focus on full-time virtual schools left districts scrambling to educate quarantined students.
11 min read
onsr edtech hybrid
Classroom Technology Opinion Some Teachers Are New to Laptop Integration. Here’s How to Manage It
Let students help set expectations and make sure both you and they know how to use the tools are just a couple suggestions educators offer.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."