education's digital future

community colleges

Some owners of private colleges turn a tidy profit by going nonprofit

After a recent government crackdown on the multibillion-dollar career-training industry, stricter limits on student aid and devastating publicity about students hobbled by debt and useless credentials, some for-profit schools simply shut down.

But a few others have moved to drop out of the for-profit business altogether, in favor of a more traditional approach to running a higher education institution.

And the nonprofit sector, it turns out, can still be quite profitable.

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Professors question traditional four-year residential college model

Oe of the greatest presumptions in U.S. higher education is that a traditional undergraduate degree, earned in four years while living on or near campus, is a good way to prepare young people to get a job and become well-rounded thinkers, at least according to Mitchell Stevens.

Stevens, a Stanford University education professor, argues that large, prestigious universities like his are too slow to adjust to changing times.

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Disrupting the college experience: Q&A with Stanford professors Mitchell Stevens and Michael Kirst

In "Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education," (link is external) co-editors Mitchell Stevens, associate professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Michael Kirst, Stanford professor emeritus, argue that Americans need to rethink their understanding of learning after high school. The dream of the four-year residential campus is not a realizable one for many, they say, and "it may not even be a good idea."

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MOOCs Could Help 2-Year Colleges and Their Students, Says Bill Gates

Community colleges have generally cast a wary eye toward massive open online courses, or MOOCs. But a relatively new model, which "flips" homework and classwork by incorporating outsourced lectures, could help struggling students and make colleges more efficient, Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told a packed gathering of community-college leaders here on Wednesday.

Young College, Familiar Problem

Since it became Indiana’s statewide two-year college system in 2005, Ivy Tech Community College’s enrollment has grown by more than 60,000 students. Along the way the college has been called a national model for statewide efficiency and received praise for close ties to employers.

During that time Ivy Tech has also developed serious financial problems.

Outsourced lectures raise concerns about academic freedom

Students at Massachusetts Bay Community College this year got a rare opportunity to take a computer-science course designed and taught online by some of the top professors in the field.

The 17 students in a programming course at MassBay's Wellesley Hills campus watched recorded lectures and completed online homework assignments created by professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and offered as a massive open online course through edX, a nonprofit MOOC vendor co-founded by MIT.

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Which new ideas to use

SAN FRANCISCO -- Some community colleges are exploring ways to use massive open online courses and open educational resources in their curriculums, but plenty are skeptical. Those are among the findings of a new survey of distance education officials at community colleges, released here on Monday. The survey was conducted by the Instructional Technology Council and was released at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges.

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