Edubytes: Emerging trends in higher education
Welcome to the Edubytes newsletter, featuring articles that focus on innovations in teaching and learning in higher education.

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In this issue:

1. Inclusive Learning
2. Innovative Frameworks
3. Open Learning
4. UBC Community

Inclusive Learning

Universities make way for the “non-traditional” student

University Affairs looks at programs across Canadian universities that are supporting “non-traditional” students, which “can include virtually any student demographic that has previously been undeserved by, or underrepresented, in the university sector.” Among the programs profiled are Dalhousie University’s Black Student Advising Centre, University of Calgary’s Aboriginal Student Access Program, and Ryerson University’s Spanning the Gaps. “Rather than trying to fit these diverse student populations into a one-size-fits-all approach to postsecondary education,” the article says, “these university instructors and staff are looking for different avenues and opportunities to engage in teaching and learning, and new pathways into the postsecondary system.”

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Building a culture of accessibility in higher educationThis EDUCAUSE Review article by Sean Moriarty, Chief Technology Officer at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and chair of the SUNY Council of CIOs, looks at accessibility in higher education and how to best implement accessible practices system-wide. The article says that collaboration across campus and across the SUNY system has been crucial and points to a number of key resources from other universities that SUNY Oswego has used in implementing its IT strategic plan.

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Innovative Frameworks

Why is innovation in teaching in HE so difficult? 4. Integrating online and distance learning into the mainstream In the final post in a four-part series, Tony Bates looks at the challenge of integrating online and classroom teaching. “The real issue lies with faculty and especially departments moving to blended or hybrid learning that do not understand the need for learning design or the needs of students who are not on campus all the time,” Bates writes. “I believe that we will need new models for designing blended and hybrid courses, even though distance education has some sound principles that can guide such design.” He points to Contact North’s Pockets of Innovation, which has case studies on post-secondary instructors adopting innovative uses of online learning and new technologies into their teaching.

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The rocky road of using data to drive student success

California State University has implemented a pilot project that uses predictive analytics to forecast student performance in courses with high failure rates. The project is part of the university’s initiative to increase graduation rates and eliminate equity gaps for underrepresented minorities. The pilot involves looking at data through the learning management system, which the university’s Academic Technology Services refers to as ‘live data.’ “If you're going to try to improve student retention, that's where you need to catch them in their learning process—not after the course is over,” says Kathy Fernandes, senior director for Learning Design and Technologies. This article looks at the challenges and lessons learned from the pilot project.

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‘My class is different!’

Kara McWilliams, an impact research scientist at Macmillan Learning, advocates for ed tech research to be collaborative and communicated in ways that are relevant and actionable to educators. “Many instructors are not reading the growing body of efficacy literature because they can’t relate to it, McWilliams writes. “Instructors need reliable and relevant evidence to make well-informed decisions about whether to use educational technology, which tools to adopt and how to implement them.”

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Open Learning

The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics

This article, published in the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, reports on a large-scale study (21,822 students) on the impact of using open educational resources (OERs). In addition to improving affordability, the study found that OERs improve course grades, completion, attainment gap concerns, and learning. The authors state that “these findings contribute to a broadening perception of the value of OERs and their relevance to the great challenges facing higher education today.”

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UBC Community

University of British Columbia: Recognizing open in promotion and tenure

This article looks at how the Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver advocated for the inclusion of open educational resources to be included in the language of tenure and promotion for teaching-stream faculty. The article discusses how the change, which was made last year, “is paving the way for other institutions and demonstrating a strong commitment to open education … More importantly, students will directly benefit from the greater commitment to open educational practices.”

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Open Dialogues: Using augmented reality to enhance learning

In collaboration with UBC students and the Emerging Media Lab, UBC geography professor Siobhán McPhee has developed an augmented reality app to enrich student learning. The app takes students through an urban history tour of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods following the influence of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th century. “Educational technologies allow the instructor and the student to have more of an ownership of their own learning,” says McPhee. “I really believe in combining the idea of active learning and experiential learning.”

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Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
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