As Higher Ed Gamma Approaches its 10th Anniversary | Inside Higher Ed

Since its launch in 2013, this blog’s mission has been to reimagine every facet of higher education.  

  • How to make college more accessible and affordable.
  • How to bring more students to success, especially in the most demanding fields of study, and better prepare graduates for post-college life.
  • How to improve our pedagogies and modes of assessment.

This blog has explored innovative ways of redesigning the curriculum and reimagining the student experience and looked at alternatives to the credit hour, the 15-week semester, gen ed and distribution requirements, and the standard lecture, seminar, and laboratory courses.

We’ve also examined higher education’s demographic, financial, and political challenges and its flashpoints — academic freedom, free speech on campus, Greek life, intercollegiate athletics, and student activism – from the perspective of history.

No topic, no matter how controversial, has been out of bounds, whether this involves disparities in college preparation, the outsized success of Asian American students, college affordability, critical race theory, social-emotional and culturally-responsive education, the future of tenure, reparations, or higher education’s highly stratified landscape.

Not surprisingly, Higher Ed Gamma has paid particular attention to my own areas of research: the tangled transition to adulthood, gender gaps, history education, and the humanities’ prospects.  

As a historian, I am particularly interested in how and why American higher education differs from its foreign counterparts, how and why it has changed over time, and what lessons we can draw from this history, whether about technology’s impact or the dynamics of institutional change.

As a former director of a teaching center (at Columbia) and of educational innovation for a university system (the University of Texas System), I’ve been especially interested in how to draw upon the learning sciences to improve course and instructional design, and how to use new educational technologies, including interactive courseware and apps and personalized, adaptive tools, to enhance learning and build student skills.

I’ve been especially interested in evaluating the potential of new educational models: skills and outcomes-driven competency-based models, earn-learn and coop models, guided pathways, integrated degree verticals, military crosswalks, and stackable credentials, among others.

In addition, this blog has made a special commitment to reviewing landmark academic books and reporting on the innovative practices at various colleges and universities that haven’t received a fraction of the attention they deserve.

If any single theme can be said to run through this blog’s disparate posts, it’s my belief that colleges need to innovate if these institutions are to successfully meet the needs of the new student majority of commuters, working adults, family caregivers, first-gen students from lower-income backgrounds, and English language learners, and address today’s challenges of access, affordability, credit transfer, degree attainment, engagement, equity, and financial sustainability.  

At a moment when disrupters propose faster, cheaper routes into the workforce, call for alternatives to traditional college degrees, and try to implement new educational models that involve new delivery modalities and staffing models, I believe that we need to reaffirm a commitment to a richer, more robust, well-rounded college education supplemented by a wealth of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.  This is an education that:

  •  Is developmental, transformational, and equitable.
  • Is interactive, actively engaging, experiential, skills-focused, and project-based.
  • Emphasizes regular, substantive feedback from practicing scholars.
  • Seeks to educate the whole student, not just cognitively, but that promotes maturation across multiple dimensions: emotional, ethical, interpersonal, and social.
  • Provides wrap-around supports that are financial and psychological as well as academic and seeks to make college truly a community of inquiry and a community of care.
  • Embeds career preparation across the undergraduate experience and does much more to develop the communication, analytic, and data skills and cultural competencies that a 21st century education ought to provide.

Such a vision may seem like a fool’s errand in today’s financially strained, highly politicized and intensely polarized environment. …

News Read More: As Higher Ed Gamma Approaches its 10th Anniversary | Inside Higher Ed

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