Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to weigh the value of college programs (Hint: It's not just about tuition costs)

You might have heard the buzz about Connecticut state university officials offering in-state tuition rates to students from New York, if they enroll certain graduate programs. If you missed it, reporter Jacqueline Rabe Thomas recently covered it for the Connecticut Mirror.

She reports that state officials are calling the initiative an "experiment" to help fill some graduate programs. But from where I sit, the decision to compete on price without first understanding why potential students are not enrolling in particular programs is risky. I'm not sure whether this is a real experiment to grow enrollments and save programs, or a temporary measure to delay their inevitable closing. So, my comments are not grounded in that knowledge.

Nevertheless, the need for a master's degree in the primary, secondary, higher, and corporate education marketplace is growing, particularly in Connecticut. This is primarily driven by the opportunity for advancement and pay increases, as well as state and local teacher requirements for advanced education.

Universities have had a modest influence over this trend. The challenge for any graduate education provider is creating the pull towards your institution. Most students will say the cost of education is high. Yet, it's clear that having a higher price does not automatically mean a program won't be competitive.

Besides reputation, universities can control the kind of program they offer, how it is delivered and managed, who they have teaching in it, and the level of support they offer their students. These factors typically have a much greater impact on competitiveness than cost.

This is why all educational institutions should be focused on the VALUE of what they offer. This should never be solely about price.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fun prizes up for grabs in our next cartoon caption contest!

Our first cartoon caption contest was a big hit with readers. We received hundreds of submissions, and it created a lot of buzz on our blog. So of course we had to do it again!

Our contributing cartoonist, Dave Blazek (creator and artist behind the "Loose Parts" cartoon strip), has drawn another clever cartoon. But he's left the punch line to you. Here's the cartoon:

Your mission is to come up with the funniest caption for this cartoon. What's going on here? Why's this guy strangling the other? What's his beef?

We'll review all the submissions, and if we decide you have the best caption, you'll win this GRAND PRIZE:

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to lead an online discussion forum: Act like a dinner party host!

Online discussion forums are an integral part of our online degree programs, and we focus on continually helping our instructors use these forums in their curriculum to improve student learning. So when I saw Cheryl Hayek's article with her clever approach to leading online discussions, I had to share it with our faculty.

She came up with a great analogy in Faculty Focus about how to lead an online discussion forum as if you were the host of a dinner party. If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to give it a gander. I think it's useful for any instructor using online discussion forums as part of his or her courses.

I had a few other thoughts for Cheryl too, which I left for her in a comment. So while you're over there reading her dinner party analogy, scroll down for the rest of my reaction.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How a great grandmother used college to reinvent herself

Priscilla Santiago, Class of 2011
There's more than one reason why Priscilla Santiago of Bridgeport, Conn., never thought she'd go to college. For one thing, she dropped out of high school at 16, after a personal trauma. She began working as a forklift driver for a pharmaceutical company, a place where she thought she'd retire. Over the years, she became a grandmother, and then a great grandmother. There was no time for school.

Then the company shut down. Without a job or high school diploma, Priscilla needed to reinvent herself to stay on her feet. She was left with no other recourse but to go back to school. What happened next was a defining moment for Priscilla. She opened up about it all in our podcast interview with her, which you can listen to here.

We won't give away all the details, but we will say Priscilla tells a must-listen-to story of adversity, perseverance, regret, hope, and most of all, inspiration. We invite you to listen in.

Thanks, Priscilla, for sharing your story.

Also, we will we post the transcript of our interview soon, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

6 new ways to improve student engagement

Improving student engagement has been top of mind for many educators over the past few years, especially in the online sector. Many institutions have focused on adding more active learning into their curriculum, increasing joint student-instructor participation in academic activities, and fostering greater collaboration between instructors and students overall.

But there are new, better ways to improve student engagement that go beyond this traditional approach. They center around creating a tighter partnership between instructors and students, in which instructors take on a mentoring role and students become more active participants in their educational journey.

This is particularly important for adult learners, who want to be able to adjust their education to what is relevant to their life, learning, and career goals (what's known as self-directed learning).

It's time to rethink our approach to improving student engagement, and focus on developing what I call an "educational partnership" between instructors and students that better meets students' learning needs and career goals.

I've put together a proposal containing what I think are the six core principles of this new model for improving student engagement. Here it is below. What do you think? What are your suggestions for increasing student engagement?

The New Student Engagement Model: Creating an Educational Partnership Between Students and Instructors

The following argument is developed specifically for online MBA programs, but might be relevant to other applicable online graduate degrees as well

Professional adults, entering the education system to retool their skills and revise their knowledge base, represent a fast-growing segment of graduate students. Typically, these learners are practitioners or managers who need to fit the education engagement into their busy professional and personal lives. To achieve a sustainable balance throughout the journey, the education endeavor must have a defined/contained load and be specific and focused on attainable learning objectives.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The importance of good timing for working adults going back to school

Good timing is crucial when it comes to many things in life. Emailing a major report to your boss just as he calls you asking about the status. Swerving to avoid a fender bender when a driver pulls out too fast from a parking lot. Making the last train home for the day, just in the nick of time. Meeting your spouse on that train. Time is indeed of the essence.

But this also holds true when it comes to going back to school as a working adult. Time, it seems, is not on your side when you have to juggle a family, a job, life -- and try to squeeze in some "me" time. But good timing can have a way of helping adult learners achieve their dreams. One case in point is Mike Simaitis, who went back to school to complete his MBA at Post University, and will be graduating this May.

He gave a bit of his story in the testimonial he wrote about his experience at Post University, and expanded on it when we interviewed him for a podcast. Today, we bring you the transcript of our interview.

You can read it below, where Mike talks about his aha! moment to go back to school, and why it was the right time for him to complete his MBA. He also offers up some advice to other working adults who are considering going back to school.

Janelle: Hi, everyone. Janelle Kozyra here for a Post University podcast. Today we are joined by Mike Simaitis, who is one of Post's current MBA students. We connected originally because he shared a story about why he's attending Post in a discussion board for one of his classes with Doug Brown, who is the Academic Program Manager for Post's online MBA program. Doug contacted Mike asking if it would be OK if we shared his testimonial on Post's blog, and he was happy to do so, so we have posted that. We also asked Mike if he'd be up for a podcast to talk more about his experience at Post, and he was happy to join us. So today we're together to talk with Mike. Mike, it's good to have you with us.

Mike: Hi. It's nice to join you. Thanks for having me.

Janelle: So let's start off, Mike, by having you tell us where you're from and where you live now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5 trends for higher education in 2012

In looking ahead through 2012, one thing's for sure: There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world of higher education. The events, issues, and trends of this year will play out in new and innovative ways.

One area in particular to watch is technology. Inside Higher Ed's Audrey Watters recently wrote about her predictions for technology in higher education, which are worth a look. As I summed up in my comment for her, though, there are several other trends we think you should be watching in 2012. They are:

1. The rise in adult learners will accelerate. Many studies continue to show the increase in working adults going back to school, a trend that will pick up speed in 2012. The ongoing need to become lifelong learners, and the increase in high-quality online delivery models will drive this, giving adult learners greater ability to balance work, school, and life's other responsibilities. All of the adult learners we've featured on our blog are living proof of this, and more will join them in 2012.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Business, career, and IT advice for professionals across the board

A few of our people have been in the news lately sharing advice for educators, business owners, public administration professionals, and CIOs alike. We wanted to round up those stories on our blog in case you missed them, and make sure their pointers came your way.

"12 Questions To Boost Your Innovation In 2012." Amy Alexander of Investors Business Daily put together a list of questions professionals should be asking themselves to determine how they can be more innovative in the new year. She turned to Don Mroz, our Provost and Dean of the School of Business, for some of his thoughts. Take a look. Anything you'd add?

"Looking for an online MPA degree? At Post University, it’s totally online." Our Master of Public Administration (MPA) Degree Program caught the attention of Government Product News' Michael Keating. He talked to Jim Nardozzi, Dean for Post College and Director of our Master of Public Administration program, about how it's structured and how public administration professionals should decide if an MPA degree is right for them. Flip over for the details.