Around the Web: It’s All in the Details

After a flurry of announcements from institutions and professors about big new commitments to digital learning, a series of recent stories focus on the nuances that make general principles work.
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At Inside Higher Ed, Ryan Craig (a partner at University Ventures Fund) points out that the real game-changer might be not digital learning per se, but rather how technology enables competency-based learning, which insists on mastery, regardless of how much time it takes to get there. Faculty Focus suggests ways to inject rigor into peer-driven learning, including the opportunity for students to assess which tasks they’ll do best as a group and which tasks most require solitary reflection. Another recent post discusses how to structure self-assessment procedures so as to promote student self-honesty and thus the opportunity for real improvement. Eduwonk notes that educators could learn something from the N.F.L., whose teams design plays by using a nationwide compendium of ideas and universal, evidence-backed analyses of what works and what doesn’t. The first of three reports from a multi-year analysis of community colleges suggests that while many 2-year students have the kinds of programs—such as study-skills classes and orientations for new students—that have the greatest impact on their students’ graduation rates, few colleges make these programs mandatory, a simple step that could yield big results. In a helpful variation on the perennial complaint that today’s students are hard to engage because they think of themselves as consumers, Robert Talbot discusses the difference between renting and owning one’s education. Also at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jacques Berlinerblau argues that mentoring should be understood as a profound philosophical principle, not a tally of office hours held. An increasing number of social justice initiatives have college students thinking through the pragmatics of good works.

At the k-12 level, Bill Tucker looks at the implications of the current push to revolutionize school assessment through technology (The Quick & the Ed), while in Education Week America, Learning Forward director Stephanie Hirsch reflects on what it will take to implement the new Common Core State Standards, which emphasize students’ close reading of course texts. Meanwhile, some states are trying to figure out how to implement standards that encourage creative thinking.

Also, President Obama’s new agenda for higher education has been stirring up controversy: Tenured Radical and Kevin Carey take sides in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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