Blended Learning, Cost of Education, Domestic, Education Quality, Legislation, Private education, Public education, Regulatory, Required, University & College - Written by on Monday, December 12, 2011 16:03 - 0 Comments

Heard: Obama and Duncan Challenging Colleges To Reduce Tuition

by Tsevis via Flickr under CreativeCommons

Tamar Lewin of The New York Times wrote about a private meeting last week between President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a dozen college presidents last week. Most were public institutions and two were nonprofit organizations. The theme: How to boost graduation rates and reduce the rising cost of college. Duncan has been encouraging colleges to confront these issues. The themes of technology, efficiency, reform and blended learning came up. 

“If we’re going to address the 37 million adults with some college and no degree, we can’t just tweak the existing model,” said Robert W. Mendenhall of Western Governors University, an online nonprofit university. “Mostly in higher education, technology is an add-on cost that doesn’t change the model at all. We need to fundamentally change the faculty role, and use technology to do the teaching.”

Larry D. Shinn, the president of Berea College, did not disagree. “We’re structured in a 19th-century model, but I think we all know now that blended learning, combining technology and classroom learning, can let us educate for less cost,” he said. “The question is how we get there from here.”

Participants said that everyone understood that additional financing for education would be scarce in the coming years, making it crucial to improve affordability and graduation rates through innovation, including online learning. “The key message was a challenge to us to question all our strongly held assumptions, including getting our faculty to think differently about teaching,” said Jared L. Cohon, the president of Carnegie Mellon University, which has developed online classes that provide instructors real-time information about each student’s progress. “I personally get very uncomfortable when people start talking about replacing faculty with technology,” he said, “But I do think technology can help us educate more students faster and better.” 

The Carnegie Mellon courses are now being used at many universities, including in pilot programs at the three large statewide university systems — Maryland, New York and Texas — whose presidents all attended the meeting.

Via The NYT: Obama Meets With College Leaders

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