ssinFor those of us that have or have had a teenager in the home, we realize mornings are often like dealing with cold war era Russia. Most of the time there are no words exchanged and that is usually better because when words come out, they are not often productive or positive.

My friend, Dr. Jeff Borden, has been advocating in his presentations for years that research shows middle and high school students should be starting school later based on neurological studies. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its first policy statement advocating for later school start times for high school students. “Probably the ideal start time would be 9 o’clock,” the lead author of the study, Judith Owens, said.

Based on a report in the Wall Street Journal, only about 15% of schools in the United States start after 8:30. Why?

I think it is related to two factors – a lack of a desire and motivation on faculty and administration to change and disbelief that what they are currently doing is not the right approach.

See my blogs “Time to Change…..FEAR” and “You’re Killing Me” for more rants on this topic.


One of the most recognized brands worldwide is Nike, featuring its famous Swoosh logo. The history of the logo is colorful and much insight can be gleaned from its concept and development.

ideasIn the late 60’s, Phil Knight was teaching accounting at Portland State and he approached a college student named Carolyn Davidson to do some graphic design work for him because he heard she needed money to take an oil painting class. They agreed on $2 per hour and their relationship began. After working for several years as a freelance graphics designer for Phil, he asked her in early 1971 to create a new logo for a shoe company he was starting.

She created several logos and presented them. The Swoosh was not immediately accepted and she was asked if she had others. After presenting several other designs it was decided to go with the Swoosh because they needed it immediately and Phil said, “We don’t love it but maybe it will grow on me.”

And the rest is history. The Nike Swoosh is one of the most recognizable logos in the world. And what whopping sum did Carolyn get paid? $35 for the 17.5 hours it took her to create the design options presented to Phil. Pretty good investment.

Where do we look for fresh ideas in higher education? Industry experts, benchmark studies, consultants? Maybe it is time we start looking at the customers we serve for how we should be redesigning higher education. That is only the beginning. Instead of rejecting new ideas because “we have never done it that way,” we need some of Phil’s attitude. I don’t love it but maybe it will grow on me.

As more colleges shift to online courses and exams, the potential for cheating grows. But new technology is on the rise that authenticates students’ identities with something that can’t be shared — their bodies.

Authentication: Biometrics

Colleges are using biometric authentication to leap past the days of PINs and passwords

Biometric Signature ID, a Lewisville, Texas, company, has found some success in higher education through its eponymous handwriting and gesture-based security program.

Mark Sarver, CEO of eduKan, a consortium of community colleges that offer online courses and degrees, says the group has been using biometric scanning to authenticate more than 10,000 students over the past three years. He told eCampus News that the technology has proved to be cost-effective and transparent to students.

Read the rest of this article by D. FRANK SMITH, posted June 27, 2014

In Biometrics We Trust? High-Tech Securities Spreading at Colleges


College students have depended on coffee since the emergence of formal education although I am not sure which one came first. Regardless, you can bet they have been symbiotic partners for decades. This week Starbucks announced a partnership with Arizona State University to allow employees to enroll in online bachelor degree programs.

Starbucks tuition programThis is big for several reasons. One-Starbucks is not limiting tuition reimbursement to classes that are directly applicable to their career as a barista. Two-there is a no repayment provision if the employee leaves Starbucks. For this program, freshman and sophomores will get partial tuition scholarships combined with need-based financial aid from Arizona State. During their junior and senior years, Starbucks will pick up the tab for their entire tuition.

As an educational futurist, I have predicted for a while now that we will start to see more of a melding between corporate training and formal education. The for-profit institutions have been doing this for years and, like most innovations in higher education, the not-for profits and state-funded colleges are slow to join. This is a big step forward for the new education model that relies less on eighteen year olds physically attending a campus but more on the non-traditional students. Yet, most not-for-profit and state funded institutions continue to focus their efforts on competing for the limited traditional student market. They are building new dorms, new football fields, and new cafeterias and investing almost nothing in technology-driven education.

While I don’t see personally the appeal of Starbucks’ coffee, I do applaud this bold move. So, I raise my Tall Blonde, with extra whip and a double shot of espresso to you Starbucks.

Bonus points to Starbucks for letting me order a tall blonde with no judgment! Tell me what you think of this bold move by Starbucks below.

Find out more about this program at the Starbucks website.

When it comes to ways of assessing student learning, we in higher education typically fall into a couple of tried-and-true, boring and inefficient ways methods. We tend to gravitate to the old standbys: tests, quizzes, and the occasional written assignment. But we try not to use too many of those written assignments because, heaven forbid, they do not self-grade in the LMS.

Check out the Periodic Table of Storytelling.

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Periodic Table of Storytelling
You can get this for your use. Click on the image to go to the website to order.

Harkening back to the dreaded periodic table of elements from chemistry class, this is a new spin on storytelling. One of my colleagues at Colby Community College, Dr. Michael Thompson, uses storytelling in his classes and has found it to be an effective way of determining a student’s acquisition of knowledge. When I viewed the table, I chose the Rad – Getting things past the radar element as it appealed to my penchant for trying to get things past the radar, or at least fly under it.

So, next time you are trying to assess student learning, have your student select one of the elements from the chart and write a short story about the content they are being assessed upon. Although it’s true that it will not self grade, you might be pleasantly surprised by the stories your students tell!


Last month President Obama convened over 100 college presidents and leaders of organizations, foundations and companies that service higher education. The goal was to increase the opportunities for low-income students to attend college. The 47-page report released after the meeting is rife with humor if you understand the dynamics of the changes in higher education. If you are not aware of the changes, it has all of the components of a great political gathering to “share ideas”.

Here is what the White House gives as reasons why improving access to higher education is important for low-income students:

  • The share of jobs that require postsecondary education has doubled over the last 40 years, as jobs require more skills.
  • In 1990, the U.S. ranked first in the world in four-year degree attainment among 25-34 year olds; today the U.S. ranks 12th.
  • While half of all people from high-income families have a bachelor’s degree by age 25, just 1 in 10 people from low-income families do.
  • Colleges have grown more competitive, restricting access. While the number of applicants to four-year colleges and universities has doubled since the early 1970’s, available slots have changed little.

And the interventions proposed:

  1. Connecting low-income students to colleges where they can succeed
  2. Increasing the pool of students prepared for college
  3. Reducing the inequalities in college advising and test preparation
  4. Breakthroughs in remedial education

Call me silly, but isn’t this that what community colleges do already? While the White House will not release a list of the attendees, you can see by the list of those signing commitments there are very few representatives from community colleges on the list. One explanation given is because community colleges are already doing this, the White House needed commitments from those who are not actively focused on low-income students. Again, why give the attention to those who are doing it or have them present to the group what is working in the field? Nope. Let’s have a summit and gather those with little or no experience to help set the policy and focus.

Frois Gras for Everyone

Foie Gras for Everyone

Second, the College Board – you know the group that administers the SAT test and who also runs test prep programs to help students score better on their tests – well, the College Board has agreed to provide four college application fee waivers to income sensitive students who take their test. How about the College Board waiving the cost for the test to low-income students? And if the College Board was really going to go all in, why not give low-income students the test prep for free also? Oh wait, that cuts into their profits. Low-income students don’t have the resources to pay for expensive test prep programs like wealthy kids and this in itself puts them at a disadvantage. Maybe colleges should stop using SAT tests for low-income students as part of the admission process. This is a novel idea!

And good news! Yale, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia are teaming up to send 300 low-income students back to their home communities to talk about their experience. Plus, they are going to mail 20,000 pieces of direct mail to low-income students and hold 18 sessions in cities where Ivy League applications are historically low. It’s a bit like taking foie gras to a soup kitchen and telling them this delicious meal is what they should be eating. Are these schools opening up more slots, displacing legacy students and high income, high SAT students? Yeah, that’s funny too.

More to come on this topic but please, White House, consider hosting a summit for community college presidents, faculty and students if you really want help with reaching more low-income students. Maybe the biggest laugh yet. I kill me.

In the 2000 hit movie, Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock plays a tough FBI agent named Gracie Hart that must go undercover as a contestant to stop an attack on the Miss United States Pageant. Please don’t judge me for referencing a fourteen year-old movie about beauty pageants in an academic blog; I have been in love with Sandra Bullock for years.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when Bullock’s character is asked during the interview portion of the contest, “What is the one most important thing our society needs?” to which she replies “That would be harsher punishment for parole violators.” The crowd is silent and stunned. Noting the audiences’ reaction, Hart adds, “And world peace!” The crowd cheers ecstatically at this response.

Future of EducationI read today Tony Bates’ article entitled, 2020 Vision: Outlook for Online Learning in 2014 and Way Beyond. Tony paints a picture for learning in 2020 that many of us wish would happen tomorrow. It is where education needs to go. Below are the questions he asks administrators to consider when planning for their institutions’ future:


  • what kind of campus will we need in 10 years time?
  • what proportion of course enrollments are likely to be accessed off-campus?
  • what will be the best way to accommodate more students – online learning or more buildings?
  • what kind and number of teaching spaces will we need?
  • what partnerships or strategies should we adopt to protect our enrollment base?
  • what are our strategies and policies regarding open educational resources?
  • what is our strategy for lifelong learning?
  • what financial models should we put in place to encourage innovation in teaching and to attract students?
  • how do we ensure that faculty have the skills necessary for teaching in a digital age?
  • how can we best reward innovation and high quality teaching?
  • what kind of organization and staff do we need to support faculty in their teaching?
  • how do we best protect student data and privacy (as well as our staff’s) in a digital age?

– See more at:

These are tough questions administrators should be asking and answering. Much of what Tony believes education will look like in 2020 requires some entities that are not known for their ability to be responsive to change, or even want change, to embrace a new model for teaching and learning. I applaud Tony for his vision and challenge those of us in higher education who are ready for a change to make it happen.

Hopefully those fighting change will come around to his ideas…and world peace.


image credit:

Excerpt from the article published on

Partnering with an institution can be just as valuable for a higher education institution’s growth as purchasing a service from a vendor.

Institutions should look to consortia models and other opportunities for institutional partnerships for several reasons:

1. Profit Motive While the institution supplying the service will want to cover its costs, profits do not have to be the driving factor in establishing a price…

2. Expertise Colleges and universities house a wealth of experience and knowledge….

3. Shared Risk In many smaller institutions, it may not be feasible to offer a degree program without partnering with another institution….

At eduKan, we help institutions establish their programs online. Currently, we are working with two private, non-profit liberal arts colleges to bring their programs online. The collaboration benefits the partner schools by assisting their faculty in the conversion of their courses, providing high-end learning management systems (which they simply could not afford on their own) and a 24/7/365 call center for their students. And, best of all, they don’t need to be a member of the eduKan consortium to participate.

Read the complete article here and find out how we’ve helped other schools with their initiatives for a fraction of the cost.

Net NeutralityYesterday, the Supreme Court struck down key components of the FCC’s Open Internet Rules, effectively ending Net Neutrality. So why did this not make the news? Why are online education providers not screaming? Maybe most people just don’t care, or don’t know what it means, but they sure should.

In the most simplistic terms, net neutrality means that all Internet traffic should be treated as equal. Sounds fair enough, until you look at the other side of the equation. This greatly benefits bandwidth hogs, like Netflix and YouTube, who are able (and willing) to pay higher fees to consume more Internet bandwidth in a minute than the average Joe uses in a month.

NetNeutraltyWhile Netflix can afford to pay a higher premium to be able to stream endless hours of content at the highest speeds to their subscribers, how can a consortium of community colleges in Kansas afford to deliver hours of online education to thousands of students via the Internet? They simply cannot afford to pay the same rates as the media monoliths, rendering students helpless and frustrated as they move through their online coursework at the speed of Methuselah, relegated to the bottom of the bandwidth.

Adding insult to injury, the flush for-profit education giants, like the University of Phoenix, will be able to buy more bandwidth, leaving the smaller private online institutions in the virtual dust.  If your institution has an online presence, you might want to pay close attention to this ruling and the impact it could have on your students.

This is the much anticipated, yet vastly misunderstood Web 3.0. What are your thoughts? Please share below.

bball2 data

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a common theme emerged from all the keynotes, exhibitions, and entertainment: data.  Throughout five days of walking miles through a labyrinth of exhibit halls, I observed hundreds of vendors from all over the world trying to communicate how their product gathers, processes and manipulates data.

Everything we do generates data that can be collected, analyzed and manipulated.  Working out generates data.  While some of the personal fitness items I observed simply gather and display data like heart rate, calories burned and blood pressure, more complex products process the data and make recommendations to the user. Mundane tasks, like driving, provided enough data for engineers to create a driverless car.  Using a football-sized outdoor display, participants at CES were given the opportunity to strap themselves into a driverless car, take a ride through an obstacle course and finally park, all without the need of human assistance. While it is scary to think about thousands of driverless cars going down the road, it is a fabulous display of how the car’s computer gathers, processes, and manipulates data in real time.


Now, even playing basketball creates data. One of the most innovative products at CES is a regulation-size basketball with a built-in processing unit that will analyze thousands of data points to help the basketball player perfect their shooting skills. Coaches and players can review the data and make corrections to improve performance through individualized training.  Coaches no longer need to sit through hours of bad game tapes.

So why are we afraid of data in higher education? We are good at gathering the data.  Student information systems collect and house a plethora of data. Oh, we have data.  What we don’t have, however, is access to that data.  Far too often, the data is difficult to extract from the database, or the data is presented in a format that is unintelligible to the average user.  Worse yet, some IT departments restrict access the data, making it off limits to many of the departments that could benefit from it most. And while those are real concerns, they can be resolved. The biggest challenge, once the data is in the hands administrators and faculty, is to use that data to drive change – the kind of change that impacts teaching and learning.

Data is everywhere. CES showed me how easy it is to get and some really cool things people can do with it.  If we can get it in the hands of our administrators, faculty and staff, and challenge them to use it in new and innovative ways, I think we will see some amazing results.