Mature student champion says colleges need to change the way they teach

Marie Cini began her career in the 1980s, when the small college she worked for made an effort to attract more active adult students. Upon meeting them, she realized how the university was designed for 18-year-olds who had nothing else to do but study.

“When our mature students came, other than giving them evening classes and a few offices that would be open until seven on Monday evenings, there was no support,” she says. “And that sent me on a mission.”

This assignment took her to the University of Maryland University College, an institution specializing in serving older students, and she has been regarded as one of the foremost thought leaders in the field of student education. adults. She has just transitioned from provost to senior scholar in academic innovation, tasked with researching big new ideas in learning and experimental endeavors in teaching and student success.

We recently caught up with Cini for an in-depth discussion of tools (like OER) that help mature students, and how the latest technology (like AI) could advance the needle.

The conversation was part of our Interview series with opinion leaders on the future of education. Below is a edited and condensed version of the conversation, or watch the full interview.

EdSurge: With all the changes we’re seeing and the news coming in, what’s the biggest challenge facing higher education right now?

Cini: From my perspective, the biggest challenge really is bringing a combination of high quality education to students how they need it, where and when they need it, and creating the best learning experience. . We kind of assume that higher education is what it has been for years, and we just bring it to new people. But we really need to change the learning experience. A lot of people here are working on this, but we haven’t resolved it yet. There are a lot of little experiments going on, but I think you’re going to see a lot more coming together.

This conference attracts many venture capitalists and companies in the education sector. And yet, when you go to a campus, there is a lot of skepticism about the corporatization of higher education. How do you see this balance, and how do you struggle with it yourself?

First of all, I just have to say I love the fact that you said, “So you’re going to a college campus.” I think we need to get to a point where we start to separate the campus experience as a college from higher education and learning. In fact, I no longer go to banks. I don’t go to malls. That’s not to say that there won’t be students who actually go to a college campus. But how can we really take the learning, the great learning, out of the simple physical place and bring it to where the students are actually? We really need to rethink higher education.

The second part of this question is how do we do this in a way that is good for our students? And it has to start with the students. I will come back to the learning experience. We need teachers more than ever. We need professors who can design good learning experiences with good content, but then we need to partner with the best people who solve some problems that universities might not be able to solve on their own. University presidents and leaders now need to think about how to bring all of this together. But you have to start with the experience you want for the student. And then the rest is not easy but at least you have a clear path.

One of the things you looked at is OER, or Open Education Resources, which is moving away from business textbooks and looking for openly licensed (often free) materials online. How is this factored into your focus on mature students?

About 40 percent of our students either didn’t buy the textbook, or bought really outdated textbooks, or maybe shared a textbook with someone. And so, if you see that as an access issue, our students didn’t have access to any kind of good learning material.

The catch with OER, however, is that some people think that these free materials aren’t as good as the published textbooks. What do you say to teachers or others who doubt it could be that good?

The first thing I would ask them is, “Why would you believe that textbooks from publishers would necessarily be of a higher standard than OER, which is organized by professors?” It’s not just a walk through Wikipedia. The faculty created them. They put them in the open space under license, and other professors added them. Do not view this as poorly done documents. These are videos and all kinds of learning simulations. There are a lot of really good things going on there.

Remind people how important the OER effort is at UMUC.

We have 85,000 students worldwide and over a thousand courses. And we’ve gone from publisher’s manuals to all OER in three years. It was huge.

So it’s not just a few pilot experiences. Do you do OER in a thousand courses?

We went big. Part of the problem when you’re that big is that if you only do it for some of the students, it’s really unfair for the others. We therefore wanted to give this possibility to all the students to have the material on site. At the same time, we are counting how much we are saving for students and we have saved up to about $ 19 million for students.

Shifting gears a bit, I heard that your role is changing at UMUC and that you are taking on a new role where you will be examining next-gen ideas like AI and business analytics. learning. What type of project will you do when you move away from the day-to-day provost function and more and more in this role?

Yes, I will be moving from Provost to Senior Fellow for Academic Innovation. It’s just the ability to think big. I was provost for five years, it was wonderful. We have done a lot of good things for the students. But my real passion is how to serve mature students on a large scale in a way we’ve never thought of before?

Let me give you an example. A few years ago I had one of these personal assistants at home. You could call it Google Home or Amazon Echo, you know, a few of them. And the more I use it, the more I realize just how important it will become to how we interact with our world. Very quickly, in fact. So it’s not just about ordering things from a company. You can control the lights, you can control the front doors and sensors, and you can call a Lyft or an Uber. And I keep thinking, “Well, wouldn’t it be great if I’m a mature student and I’m at home trying to work on things, wouldn’t it be great if I had an assistant who could be my tutor who could help me register for future courses? This could log me in to talk to a live person while I’m cooking dinner, for example.

So I think we in higher education really have to start thinking in three to five years that anything can really happen.

What do you think are the main concerns raised by this technology? Privacy comes to mind.

Yes. Confidentiality is one of them. And I don’t want to give the impression that it’s all about the technology. I do not. One of the things that I think universities need to do a better job of is to think about their learning model. What do they think is the best way for students to learn, given what they want results to be for their students? At UMUC, we actually created our learning model, which is based on experiential education. A kind of combination of problem-based learning and project-based learning. And once you know how you think students go through a learning cycle, then you can bring in the technology that will support them. But you can’t just bring in the technology and hope it all works together.

How did you get into this job?

I’m going to go back to 1983. I was working at a small college north of Pittsburgh, and I fell into it because it was a small college that was trying to reinvent itself because it didn’t have so many boarding school students – sort of like what we’re going through now. And so they got down to working with returning women. It was funny back then; we didn’t think the men were going back to school. We just thought women were doing it. So there were these groups of returning women, and I started working with returning adult students. And, in fact, there were also men. And I realized our whole college was built around the 18 year old who would live on campus [with] Mom and dad pay the bills.

When our mature students came, other than giving them evening classes and a few offices that would be open until seven on Monday evenings, there was no support. We realized that it didn’t work at all for mature students. And that sent me on a mission. Also in my career there is this model, a pivotal moment where, if I work in an institution and we’ve gone as far as we can serve mature students, that’s when I start to think : “I really want to go somewhere now where I can serve them even more. And at a level where I can better influence their life.

Source link

About Annie Baxley

Check Also

Mold By-Product Causes Expanded Dog Food Recall – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio

The United States Food and Drug Administration has extended a previously announced dog food recall …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *