Fair Use and Online Learning

August 27, 2015

The world of online learning presents some unpleasant surprises when it comes to sharing materials. Recently, a university librarian from a selective private institution told me a story that put a nice point on this issue. One of the university’s schools had recently launched a collaborative online degree with peer institutions. Faculty members teaching in the program contacted the library to ask for help with making course materials available to the online students. When the librarians explained to them that they could not legally put any article or book that they wanted onto the site, the faculty became quite perturbed and stopped working with the library staff and simply posted their own articles for the online students.

 

Faculty are accustomed to thinking that everything they want their students to use for a course is covered by fair use. Fair use is the legal doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted materials, including for educational purposes, without seeking the author’s permission or paying a licensing fee. Unfortunately, many faculty don’t realize that uses that would qualify as fair use when materials are shared with students who are on the physical campus, may not qualify as fair use if the materials are shared with individuals from all over the world who enroll in an online course.

 

In the typical classroom, a faculty member may feel secure in handing out a limited number of copies of an article because it is clearly for educational purposes. That same faculty member who is teaching an online course that is available to a wide audience, not simply the students on his home campus, may be in violation of copyright law by distributing digital copies of the same materials.

 

Complicating the matter further, many colleges and universities no longer indemnify individual faculty members who are sued for copyright infringement. Without this institutional indemnification, faculty are on their own for legal expenses.

 

Many libraries have gone to great lengths to produce guidelines for faculty to help them understand what is and is not permissible. The librarians are also eager to help faculty secure the permissions they need to use materials for online courses. This is a new and complicated world for faculty, but librarians have studied this problem carefully and are well informed about what is possible. 

 

And libraries are eager to lend a hand. For example, Dartmouth College Library and the University of Maryland’s University College have each developed extensive guides to copyright issues and make clear that librarians stand ready to help faculty secure the permissions they need. Even if such detailed guides are not available, library staff can often help in determining what can and cannot be used in online courses. 

 

Libraries are not the only places to offer assistance. The Office of General Counsel or offices of teaching and learning can also provide valuable assistance. The Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University has also issued guidelines to help faculty gain access to the materials they need for their online courses.

 

The important point to remember is that the fair use guidelines that are used to determine what materials can be used on the local campus do not automatically transfer to online courses offered to the consumer public. To many faculty, these rules seem bureaucratic, but librarians can help navigate the terrain that faculty are not accustomed to dealing with. And, by becoming comfortable with copyright provisions themselves, faculty can ensure that their online students access the same level of resources that on-campus students enjoy. 

 

Deanna Marcum

Deanna.Marcum@ithaka.org

212-500-2337

Add vCard

Improving Instruction at Scale

August 26, 2015

In 2008, John Immerwahr described an “iron triangle” constraining colleges and universities, in which cost, quality, and access exist in an “unbreakable reciprocal relationship, such that any change in one will inevitably impact the others.” According to this logic, making a college or university more accessible or trying to increase the quality of instruction would necessarily drive up institutional costs. Conversely, reducing expenditures would inevitably make an institution less accessible and undermine the quality of the education that a student could receive there. 

 

For twenty years, the University of Central Florida (UCF), a public university of nearly 61,000 students in Orlando, has sought to break this iron triangle by reducing cost, improving quality, and enhancing access simultaneously. With a 144 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment, a graduation rate approaching 70 percent, close institutional attention to teaching and learning, and tuition and fees of just over $6,000 per year, it has arguably succeeded. 

 

In a new Ithaka S+R case study, “Breaking the Iron Triangle at the University of Central Florida,” Jessie Brown and I describe two strategies UCF has employed to improve and scale instruction. 

 

First, it has strategically developed its own resources—through satellite campuses, online instruction, and rigorous faculty development—to extend its internal instructional capacity. For the past twenty years, UCF has supplemented its network of physical campuses with a vast, virtual extension of its instructional reach through technology. Now, nearly 78 percent of all UCF students take online or hybrid courses and 38 percent of all credits are earned online. To ensure the quality of online and blended instruction, Online@UCF is grounded in a robust training and support program in instructional design. 

 

Second, it has partnered with other institutions in the region to develop and integrate its external instructional capacity. Through DirectConnect to UCF, UCF guarantees admission to all associate’s degree graduates of Daytona State College, Eastern Florida State College, Lake-Sumter College, Valencia College, and Seminole State College. DirectConnect to UCF goes far beyond the admission guarantee, however: administrators, staff, and faculty at UCF and its partners have worked closely to improve and coordinate instruction and advising, as well. More than half of UCF students transferred there after earning an associate’s degree elsewhere, and the majority of those transfers are from DirectConnect to UCF partners.  The graduation rate of transfer students is virtually the same as that of students who start at UCF.

 

UCF’s efforts to break the iron triangle are notable for their emphasis on instructional quality and faculty development. This approach requires patience and long-term thinking.  It takes years to engage a critical mass of participating faculty, to build their capacity, and to see their efforts affect large numbers of students and bring more faculty into the fold. At the root of this transformation has been an attempt to change culture among its own faculty and staff and among those at its partner institutions. The gestation for this sort of change has been long, but the results are substantial and deeply engrained. 

Martin Kurzweil

Martin.Kurzweil@ithaka.org

212-500-2394

Add vCard

Tags

                 

Breaking the Iron Triangle at the University of Central Florida

Published August 26, 2015

Jessie Brown, Martin Kurzweil

Copy the Below Code and paste in your site:

Is it possible for a university to improve the quality of instruction and increase access while simultaneously holding down costs, or, in other words, to break what John Immerwahr termed "the iron triangle"?

 

With a 144 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment, a graduation rate approaching 70 percent, close institutional attention to teaching and learning, and tuition and fees of just over $6,000 per year, the University of Central Florida (UCF) has arguably succeeded. 

 

In this case study, we show the strategies UCF has employed over the past 20 years to extend its reach and impact so dramatically. While increasing the number of hybrid and online courses it offers, UCF has invested in both instructional design and rigorous faculty development. At the same time, UCF has partnered with other institutions in the region to develop and integrate its external instructional capacity.

 

UCF has taken a decidedly long-term approach to change the culture among its own faculty and staff as well as among those at its partner institutions. The gestation for this sort of change has been long, but the results are substantial and deeply engrained.

 

Copy the Below Code and paste in your site:

Expertise

Tags

                 

Want to receive Ithaka S+R email updates?

Sign up

  • Required*

    Read our privacy policy here:
    http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/privacy.jsp

Thank you.

You will be hearing from us shortly

Survey Administration Best Practices: First Steps

August 25, 2015

Since 2000, Ithaka S+R has run the US Faculty Survey, which tracks the evolution of faculty members’ research and teaching practices against the backdrop of increasing digital resources and other systemic changes in higher education. Starting in 2012, Ithaka S+R has offered colleges and universities the opportunity to field the faculty survey, and a newly added student survey, at their individual institutions to gain better insight into the perceptions of their faculty members and students. More than 70 local faculty and student surveys have been fielded thus far and have enhanced Ithaka S+R’s expertise in higher education survey administration.

 

Over the next few months, I will be writing a series of blog posts about the survey administration process and ways to ultimately increase survey completion rates. Ithaka S+R is often queried about our survey administration practices, and this series of blog posts will explore both our experience in fielding surveys and current research from email marketers.

 

The first steps in convincing someone to complete your survey involve making sure that the email invitation you have sent is both received and opened. Considering the overwhelming amount of email that so many of us receive on a daily basis, doing so is not an easy task, but crafting an enticing subject line and selecting an appropriate signatory can mean the difference between garnering valuable survey responses and your invitation getting deleted.

 

 

To increase the response rate to your survey, you need to maximize the number of emails that are received and opened by your participants. The number of participants who click on the survey link, start the survey, and complete the survey, are all dependent upon these first two steps.

 

 

Above all else, the most important factor in crafting an effective subject line is understanding your audience. Recommendations regarding survey administration vary across organizations and industries and thus should always be considered in the context of both the sender and the recipient.

 

The signatory matters

 

Choosing the right person from whom the survey email invitation comes is crucial to ensuring that the recipient will open the email. The signatory should be someone that the recipient will recognize immediately.

 

Most survey platforms will allow you to customize the signatory when distributing survey invitations, enabling you to make the message appear to come from whomever is most appropriate.

 

For the Ithaka S+R local surveys, in some cases, the chief academic officer, library director, faculty senate chair, or other campus-level representative can effectively reach the broadest possible group. In other cases, a more personal note from a dean or department chair is more effective. The key is to make sure that whomever you pick as the signatory is someone that the recipients know and trust.

 

Ithaka S+R has found that varying the signatory across the email invitation and subsequent reminders is also an effective way to increase email open rates.

 

Choose the right words

 

Certain words in email subject lines have been shown to increase email open rates.

 

In 2013, MailChimp, an email marketing service provider, analyzed approximately 24 billion email subject lines composed of approximately 22,000 distinct words to determine which words were most effective in boosting email open rates.  

 

The findings showed that words that imply time sensitivity, including “important”, “urgent”, and “alert” resulted in higher open rates, as did using the words “announcement” or “invitation.” Personalizing the subject line also was shown to increase open rates, especially when the both the recipient’s first and last name were included in the subject line.

 

Ithaka S+R advocates using differing subject line text across invitations and reminders, as different language entices different individuals to open an email; varying the subject line text across different communications enables us to reach a wide range of faculty members and students.

 

Avoid being marked as spam

 

Certain words like “free”, “click here”, and “opportunity” may trigger a spam filter, causing your email to land in a recipient’s junk folder. Using excessive capitalization and exclamation points can also lead to your email being categorized as spam.

 

Other words may not trigger a spam filter, but may cause recipients to ignore your email. Some words common in survey email invitations like “reminder” or using promotional, sales-related phrasing may lead to a decreased open rate.

 

Additionally, prior to sending email invitations and reminders, Ithaka S+R asks each institution to whitelist our IP addresses. This allows our emails to bypass all spam filter rules and arrive in participants’ inboxes.

 

Subject line length may not matter

 

Much research has been performed to determine whether there is a relationship between the number of characters in an email subject and the frequency with which the recipient opens the message. Ithaka S+R has not noted any relationship between the two and research has been mixed on this topic.

 

Mailer Mailer, an email marketing and newsletter service provider, advocates for using 4-15 characters and found a slight correlation between the subject length and open rate, while Adestra, a digital marketing technology solution provider, found that using longer subject lines, especially in business to consumer messaging, leads to higher open rates.

 

In February 2015, Return Path, a global data solutions provider, analyzed over 9 million emails from more than 3,000 senders to determine how the length of the subject line affects the average open rate. While they found that subject lines of 61 to 70 characters had the highest average read rate at 17%, these findings were not statistically significant and the differences were small and random at the aggregate level.

 

Bottom line: When deciding on a subject line, you should start with your audience in mind and consider what will catch their attention and entice them to open your message.  Know what language does and does not speak to them.  Focus on conveying the value of your message to the recipient and encourage the recipient to take action.

 

Increased response rates often lead to more diverse, representative perspectives from respondents and lend validity to survey results. Before a respondent even starts taking the survey, he/she needs to have received the email invitation and opened it; these first communications with a respondent are of upmost importance to the final response rate.

 

In my next blog post, I’ll focus on how Ithaka S+R and its partner institutions have crafted email invitations and reminders to encourage respondents to click on local survey links and how these strategies can be broadly applied to survey administration.

Making a Place for Curricular Transformation at the University of Technology Sydney

Published August 17, 2015

Nancy Fried Foster, Christine Mulhern

Copy the Below Code and paste in your site:

Over the past eight years, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has undergone a remarkable transition, from a tired campus that housed an unsung technical institute to a major presence in Australia’s largest city where learning and research draw the attention of students, the higher education community, industry, and the public. 

 

In “Making a Place for Curricular Transformation at the University of Technology Sydney,” authors Nancy Fried Foster and Christine Mulhern unpack the process through which UTS transformed its physical campus and its pedagogical approach in tandem, undertaking a billion dollar construction project that was shaped by significant curricular change. 

 

The accomplishment of this organization-wide, comprehensive transformation was made possible by leaders with a coherent vision who created the conditions that enabled staff to make the vision concrete from the bottom up. Relatively small experiments in instructional redesign gave both leadership and staff the confidence and know-how to scale up. In a relatively short period, the entire institution has been remade with an emphasis on active, career-focused learning.

 

While most of our case studies focus on institutions and students in the U.S., innovative approaches to post-secondary instruction and organizational change span borders. There is much to learn from UTS’s example—in Australia, the U.S., and the rest of the world.   

 

Copy the Below Code and paste in your site:

Expertise

Tags

        

Want to receive Ithaka S+R email updates?

Sign up

  • Required*

    Read our privacy policy here:
    http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/privacy.jsp

Thank you.

You will be hearing from us shortly

Instruction Shapes Construction at the University of Technology Sydney

August 17, 2015

Over the past eight years, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has undergone a remarkable transition, from a tired campus that housed an unsung technical institute to a major presence in Australia’s largest city where learning and research draw the attention of students, the higher education community, industry, and the public.

 

In our latest case study, “Making a Place for Curricular Transformation at the University of Technology Sydney,” authors Nancy Fried Foster and Christine Mulhern unpack the process through which UTS transformed its physical campus and its pedagogical approach in tandem. 

 

Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building at UTS, photo by Andrew Worssam

 

At the same time that it was implementing a highly interactive, practice-based learning approach across the institution, UTS undertook a billion-dollar construction project, building seven new technology-enhanced buildings and renovating many others to support overall growth as well as the curricular and pedagogic change. The new and refurbished spaces are designed specifically to support student learning through group work, flipped classes, and other new approaches. These spaces also advance the pedagogical changes by making it harder to default to large-scale lectures.

 

The accomplishment of this organization-wide, comprehensive transformation was made possible by leaders with a coherent vision who created the conditions that enabled staff to make the vision concrete from the bottom up. Relatively small experiments in instructional redesign gave both leadership and staff the confidence and know-how to scale up. In a relatively short period, the entire institution has been remade with an emphasis on active, career-focused learning.

 

While most of our case studies focus on institutions and students in the U.S., innovative approaches to post-secondary instruction and organizational change span borders. There is much to learn from UTS’s example—in Australia, the U.S., and the rest of the world.   

Martin Kurzweil

Martin.Kurzweil@ithaka.org

212-500-2394

Add vCard

Tags

        

Shifting Policy to Support the “Typical” College Student

August 14, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times’ Education Life section published a series of articles dedicated solely to incoming college freshmen. With advice on how to navigate the dining hall, when to move into one’s dorm, and how to manage helicopter parents, the articles imagined the typical college student as an 18-year-old who was entering a four year institution straight from high school, living on campus, and whose primary concerns centered just as much on making friends as they did on identifying a viable career path. 

 

These articles in the New York Times are filled with useful advice and insights (and probably well-matched to the publication’s readership), but their conceptualization of the typical college student is hardly representative of the contemporary degree-seeker. As numerous articles and analyses have shown, only about 30% of college students are full-time, residential, are under the age of 24, and are in college for the first time.  The other 70% fit into the category of “nontraditional” college students (or what the Lumina foundation calls “21st century students”): they are over the age of 24, commute to campus, work part-time or full-time, are financially independent, or have children.  Some enter college with only a GED, while others are reentry students with an assemblage of credits from various institutions. Many of these students are low-income, the first in their families to attend college, or come from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.  

 

While making college affordable for students of all backgrounds has emerged as an important policy issue (especially in the upcoming election), corresponding conversations about quality and completion have only begun to reimagine the “typical” college students as nontraditional, and only sometimes address the particular situational challenges that these students must often overcome. For example, President Obama’s free community college plan, though bold and laudable, has been criticized for its failure to address some of the other barriers to access and completion that community college students—nearly 90% of whom are nontraditional—face in addition to financial constraints. Commentators have argued that a more comprehensive community college plan should provide resources for expanded advising and support services, as well as provisions to help students with work and family demands (such as childcare and increased flexibility of scheduling). Additionally, many financial aid policies remain tailored towards traditional students, and the federal aid system can be difficult to navigate for students who are financially independent, returning to school, or enrolled less than half-time.  

 

Recent proposals, such as Hillary Clinton’s New College Compact, may signal a shift—or at least an expansion—in the way that policymakers conceive of the typical college student and the supports these students need to earn a degree. Notably, Clinton’s proposed expansion of initiatives like TRIO and Gear Up as well as her planned grants to colleges that provide child care, emergency financial aid, and student support programs recognize the situational barriers that nontraditional students face in completing their degrees. Additionally, recent moves by the Education Department to consider the expansion of federal aid to distance learning programs and innovative career pathways like coding boot camps, also included in Clinton’s proposal, may open up opportunities for students who, because of competing life demands and financial constraints, would be better served by flexible learning options. 

 

To make college more affordable, increase quality, and boost rates of completion, policymakers must understand that today’s “typical” college students are from traditional and engage with post-secondary education and career preparation in ways that differ markedly from the New York Times’ imagined residential, 18-year-old freshmen. 

Jessie Brown

Jessie.Brown@ithaka.org

212- 500-2391

Add vCard

The Organizational Structure of Academic Libraries

August 10, 2015

Ithaka S+R is launching a new research project to examine how organizational structure affects the academic library's capacity for effective decision-making on major strategic issues. My interest in this topic draws from Ithaka S+R’s experiences helping more than 75 academic libraries survey their own faculty members and students as well as our other library consultations. Through these projects, it is clear that some libraries are better positioned to act on the research they conduct and the evidence they gather than are others. I have come to wonder what role cultural and structural dynamics play in this dynamic.  

"Major strategic issues" may seem like a curious category.  It is meant to encompass some of the largest systematic issues facing academic libraries today. Recognizing that these issues vary to some degree from library to library, I expect we will address common issues such as:

 

  • The provision and preservation of collections in an increasingly digital environment
  • The digital infrastructure and systems that support operations and users, from collections, to access, to discovery
  • The services needed by STEM fields
  • Building and sustaining collaborations and partnerships

 

Many libraries have an uneven experience in defining their major strategic issues, let alone making effective decisions about how to move forward on them. In this project, we will tackle how organizational structure contributes to, and limits, effective organizational decision-making. 

 

Organizational structure is too often represented by nothing more than the hierarchical "org chart." Libraries manage across and around these official structures through the use of committees, task forces, working groups, and other vehicles, which are no less important than the hierarchical structure. This project will also give attention to the other forms of influence and social networks, both inside and beyond the library, that touch on its decision-making.  

 

The research for this project will consist of interviews with current and recently retired library directors from academic libraries, which will provide one important perspective on these issues. I expect to complete research in September and to publish findings in the fall.  I welcome advice and pointers on these topics as we conduct this project.

 

Productivity and Student Success

August 10, 2015

There is an unstated subtext to the growing calls for colleges and universities to lower their costs. When colleges and universities are asked to lower their costs, what they are really being asked to do is lower their costs without decreasing quality. There is no other way to square cost concerns with the other major demand on higher education: to increase completion rates. When we talk about costs, what we’re actually talking about is productivity—increasing output for the same or lower cost.

 

As a general matter, the relationship between higher education costs and quality runs in the other direction. More spending—passed through to students and their families as costs—yields better outcomes. Changes in productivity—or differential productivity across institutions—complicate the picture by allowing dollars spent in some contexts to go farther than dollars spent in other contexts. 

 

For years, productivity in higher education has changed relatively little. Yet three of the most promising student success initiatives in American higher education are also cost-effective. They’re productivity strategies.

 

Fixing leaks in the graduation pipeline. A number of institutions have used analysis of their students’ data to anticipate and address potential obstacles to student progression toward a degree. For example, by mining its student data, Georgia State University has identified micro-barriers that trip students up, such as temporary financial shortfalls and prerequisites that students retake multiple times. It has piloted solutions to those barriers—like small conditional grants and early advising interventions—and scaled them up if successful. Doing this has dramatically increased its retention and graduation rates—the latter has improved from 32 percent to 54 percent in a decade. Smoothing the path to graduation has saved students money and preserved tuition for Georgia State that would otherwise have been lost if a student dropped out. It has made the investments students and the state make in Georgia State far more productive.  

 

Teaching with technology. Incorporating technology into instruction—through adaptive homework, flipped classrooms, active learning tools, and other means—offers previously unrealized opportunities for personalized feedback, student engagement, and progress monitoring and intervention. It provides all of this at an exceptionally low marginal cost for each additional student. Twenty years ago, the University of Central Florida began training faculty how to integrate technology into their courses. Now, nearly 78 percent of UCF students take courses in online or blended formats every year. Learning outcomes in online courses at UCF are about the same as those in face-to-face courses, and the outcomes in blended courses are better. Because of the lower marginal cost of these courses, UCF has nearly doubled its undergraduate enrollment—from 21,519 to 52,539—for at least $300 million less than it would have cost to do so with face-to-face courses. Although it is the least expensive research university in Florida, with tuition and fees of around $6,000, it has the third-highest graduation rate, at nearly 70 percent.

 

Smoothing the path between associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. UCF is also leading the way on the third productivity strategy: creating meaningful 2+2 options. Through DirectConnect to UCF, students at area two-year colleges, such as Valencia College, can automatically transfer to UCF with third-year status after earning their associate’s degree. Many states have transfer agreements. What makes DirectConnect special is the engagement between UCF and its partners to streamline the transition, instructionally and logistically. For example, at an annual Access Summit, faculty and staff from the DirectConnect partners gather for a full day of work on aligning policy, curriculum, and advising. Through this partnership, students can earn a bachelor’s degree for several thousand dollars less than it would cost to spend four-years at UCF. The state colleges, like Valencia, have increased the rate of associate degree attainment, in part because of the value proposition of a direct transfer to UCF. And UCF has ensured that it receives better prepared and, ultimately, more successful transfer students— the graduation rate for transfer students is only two points lower than that of students who start at UCF.

 

These strategies embody a different relationship between costs and outcomes than traditional approaches to higher education—they change productivity. With pressure mounting to improve both costs and outcomes, we can expect more colleges and universities to pursue them.

Danielle Cooper

Danielle Cooper is an analyst at Ithaka S+R in the Libraries and Scholarly Communication program, where she utilizes her combined expertise as professional librarian and library ethnographer towards helping organizations understand and improve their information-based spaces and services. Prior to joining Ithaka S+R Danielle worked as a librarian at Ryerson University Library and Archives and at George Brown College Library and Learning Commons. She is also a co-founding editor of Feral Feminisms, an online open-access academic journal. 

 

Danielle holds a bachelors in art history and a masters of information from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a PhD in gender, feminist and women’s studies at York University. Danielle’s dissertation is entitled “Personal Touches, Public Legacies: An Ethnography of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Libraries and Archives." Her academic research is featured in a variety of publications including: Archival Science, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader, and Left History

 

Connect

Danielle.Cooper@ithaka.org

646-884-5930

Add vCard

More Info