Taking full advantage of classroom tech requires districts to create a clear 'path to yes'

To make the most out of opportunities for teachers to try new ed tech and participate in training, Austin Independent School District (Texas) Technology Officer for Learning and Systems Kevin Schwartz tells EdScoop that it's essential to create a "path to yes."Having a clear pathway to approval for the use of new tools in the classroom — rather than being wary of experimentation and denying educators up front as a "department of no" — prevents educators from going around the district to use new tools "without understanding the consequences."The vetting process has helped Schwartz assist educators in the 130-school, 80,000-student district in utilizing "internet of things" devices while maintaining data privacy, equity and responsible tech use. Educators are inundated with pitches from vendors, but they need to know how to select which products work best for their specific needs. For example, technology like 3D printers can evolve so fast that they become obsolete two years after the purchase, resulting in wasted funds. Giving teachers tools to navigate the tech buying process empowers them to make better decisions. However, administrators also need to seek teachers' input along the way, finding out what they need most and matching them to the right tools.

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Online Education, Continuing Education

W. P. Carey School of Business, Televerde Foundation expand prison education program

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

The ASU W. P. Carey School of Business and Televerde Foundation have worked alongside community partners to offer a unique PATHS program for women as they transition out of prison. PATHS, an acronym for Prepare, Achieve, and Transform for Healthy Success, teaches skills in personal wellness, workplace readiness, employment strategies, mentoring, financial literacy, and lifelong learning. The program begins while the women are still incarcerated and continues through their reentry and transition back into society. "We are thrilled to expand our partnership with the ASU W. P. Carey School of Business, further empowering women through education," said Michelle Cirocco, executive director of Televerde Foundation. "Our PATHS program goes beyond just providing skills; it's about transforming lives. This expansion marks a significant step toward reducing recidivism and opening new opportunities for women from all walks of life to rewrite their narratives. It also underscores our belief in education as a crucial driver of personal growth and societal advancement. We are committed to helping these women become positive role models in their communities and building a brighter, more secure future for themselves and their families." Julia LaRosa, clinical associate professor, and Kostas Voutsas, assistant teaching professor, from the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, are two members of the W. P. Carey community who teach in the program. They focus on workplace readiness skills through college-level business fundamentals, business communication, and professional development courses. As of fall 2023, women who complete the Career PATHS coursework earning a C or better have the opportunity to turn their completed work into college credit through ASU's Universal Learner program. The associated fees are currently covered by Televerde Foundation, with future iterations also being funded by the generosity of donors through the ASU Foundation. "Turning time in prison into a college education experience is truly inspiring," says Voutsas, who teaches the Effective Communication for Career Success class. "It is a practical course that empowers students to communicate as leaders, embrace diversity and inclusion, build positive relationships, and maximize efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. It explores both verbal and nonverbal communication, cross-cultural communication, customer service, the writing process, writing mechanics, interviewing and resume techniques, as well as delivering presentations with confidence." Since the program's inception in 2020, the results have been truly remarkable. Of the 161 students who have completed the program, the recidivism rate is zero compared with the expected 40% to 60% rate. According to the Televerde Foundation, graduates' salaries are also 61% to 75% higher than their less prepared counterparts. While the quantitative outcomes are extraordinary, the qualitative impacts are equally important. Mary Montemorra, a PATHS graduate, explains, "Televerde Foundation and PATHS have given me the ability to fit into a community that once felt so far away. Remember, being sent to prison means the society you once were part of decided to remove you from its communities physically. PATHS gave that community back to me." One benefit of the Universal Learner program is the connection it helps non-traditional students form with ASU. "At W. P. Carey, we are prioritizing access in the communities we serve," says Raghu Santanam, senior associate dean for Executive Education, Corporate Partnerships, and Lifelong Learning. "Connecting PATHS to ASU as a for-credit course legitimizes the hard work these women are undertaking and makes it easier for them to transition into college in the future." Higher education is indeed more within reach for individuals involved in the justice system. As of July 1, 2023, the FAFSA Simplification Act provisions make PELL grants available to all qualified incarcerated people to further pursue post-secondary education through approved Prison Education Programs (PEPs). "A mere vision has blossomed into a sustainable program," says LaRosa. PATHS is "dedicated to aiding incarcerated women in reshaping the course of their lives and those of their families. Witnessing the transformative impact of a college education unfolding within our community is truly remarkable and the high point of my career."

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Corporate Education and Training, Online Education

Academic Partnerships Completes Acquisition of Wiley University Services

PR Newswire | January 02, 2024

Academic Partnerships (AP), a company that assists primarily regional public universities in expanding access and impact by supporting their online programs, today announced that it has successfully completed its acquisition of Wiley University Services, a line of business previously owned by Wiley (NYSE: WLY). The combined company will support over 125 colleges and universities in 40 U.S. states and internationally. "AP is in the business of transforming lives through education, and the acquisition of Wiley University Services better enables us to do just that," said Fernando Bleichmar, Chief Executive Officer of AP. "This is an exciting day as we combine our talent, capabilities, and resources to more effectively meet the growing demand for high-quality, affordable online degree programs and ensure our university partners and their students thrive." AP primarily assists regional public universities with launching and maintaining their online programs. It is committed to expanding access to high-quality, high-return on investment, affordable, and workforce-relevant online education, especially for working and adult students. Wiley University Services works with institutions to deliver career-connected education programs aimed at helping students achieve their goals. With the completion of the acquisition, the combined company will provide universities with a best-in-class partner to support them in delivering programs online so more students can access affordable education, improve their careers, and meet employer and community needs. The combined company will deliver new strategic benefits to university partners and their students, including: Additional resources to support and scale high-demand, affordable online degree programs in critical areas like nursing, teaching, business, technology, and public administration for both regional public and private nonprofit universities; Enhanced infrastructure and technology to serve a diverse student population, including working adults, through graduation; Improved opportunities across the university partner network; and Advanced technology and enhanced support services based on best practices from a combined company.

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Education Technology, Online Education, Continuing Education

2U Partners with University of Surrey to Launch 15 Online Master's Degrees

PR Newswire | February 01, 2024

2U, Inc, the company behind global online learning platform edX, today announced a new partnership with the University of Surrey to launch and support the delivery of online master's degrees and online professional certificate programs. An initial five online degree programs will welcome students in 2024, with a portfolio of at least 15 master's degrees and at least 15 professional certificate programs being delivered by 2026. This will expand access to this highly ranked UK university for students worldwide. Surrey's partnership with 2U will deliver Surrey Online Learning: an acceleration and transformation of the university's provision of online learning. 2U's expertise will help Surrey establish a scalable model and quickly expand its digital capabilities to worldwide audiences. The collaboration aligns with the university's mission to expand access to life-changing education and personal and professional success. "We're partnering with 2U and their edX platform to accelerate Surrey Online Learning provision," said Professor Tim Dunne, Provost and Senior Vice-President at the University of Surrey. "The University of Surrey has global strength in innovation and research, and is renowned for being one of the best universities in the UK for delivering excellence in teaching and employability. Through Surrey Online Learning, we will offer flexible and affordable educational pathways that are compatible with and relevant to modern careers, combining accessibility with strong student outcomes." Surrey's suite of online degrees will build on the success of its on-campus programs, with the online curriculum developed in partnership with LearningMate. The first five degrees expected to launch in 2024 will be in the areas of artificial intelligence, business, psychology, marketing, and sustainability. The professional certificate programs, which will focus on technology, healthcare, business, communications technologies, and sustainability, will provide learners with an opportunity to build and enhance critical professional skills on their way to determining if a full degree in a corresponding subject is part of their educational journey. "2U prides itself in being a digital transformation partner that can support strategic long-term thinking, accelerate innovation, and help drive positive student outcomes across new formats and modalities," said Andrew Hermalyn, President of the Degree Program Segment at 2U. "The University of Surrey has major ambitions to expand its online learning capabilities, and we are honored to be their partner to help build their online presence from the ground up." "LearningMate is honored to partner with the University of Surrey on its transformative online learning initiative in collaboration with 2U. We're excited to contribute to the development of cutting-edge online master's degrees and professional certificate programs that align with Surrey's commitment to excellence," said Prasad Mohare, Senior Vice President at LearningMate. "Our focus on innovation and accessibility will be showcased in the initial offerings. LearningMate is dedicated to supporting Surrey in expanding access to impactful, career-relevant learning opportunities in the evolving landscape of online education." Today's announcement builds on the continued demand for 2U's flexible degree partnership model, which gives universities the choice of selecting different bundles of services according to their needs.

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