Ohio Governor Urged To Support New Classroom Technologies
Also Implored To Expand Summer School and Online Courses
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. John Kasich is being urged to support new technologies and innovative teaching styles in college classrooms across Ohio, to boost student advising and internship opportunities and to extend more college courses into the summers as he writes his next higher education budget.
Those were among recommendations brought to Kasich and Ohio’s higher education leaders last month through an initiative studying ways to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of a college education in the state. The project was led by former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee and Chancellor John Carey, in collaboration with the university’s Center for Higher Education Enterprise.
Kasich and Carey held meetings as the Republican governor prepares to introduce the first twoyear operating budget of his second term in the coming weeks. It will be unveiled in the wake of Democratic President Barack Obama’s sweeping, multibillion-dollar proposal this week to make some higher education free, as high school is, in order to boost weak U.S. wages and promote workforce skills that are in demand.
Ohio’s months-long quality and value effort included six listening tours and consultation with higher education and business leaders, students, faculty and outside experts, including Daniel Greenstein, a leading voice in digital information advances in higher education, and the postsecondary success team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Several recommendations that emerged from of the project involved the expanded use of technology.
Noting that almost 10 percent of Ohio’s post-secondary students are pursuing a degree exclusively online, project leaders recommended that Ohio invest in technologies that can advance learning over the computer or through some hybrid of online and classroom lessons.
The study further recommended state involvement in developing online competency-based degree and certificate programs that would substitute for traditional degrees earned by taking college courses. The group’s report calls this “an innovative way for nontraditional students who are also working, raising children, etc. to earn a degree.”
It continues: “(Such degrees) would be more efficient, more effective, and fairer in that they reward learning that takes place outside the classroom.”
Hand-in-hand with that recommendation, the group urged “reinventing” the student academic advising structure at Ohio’s colleges and universities so that it’s more data-driven. It also would like to see official standards for the role of professional school counselors adopted in Ohio high schools.
The idea would be for advisers in both high schools and colleges to more closely monitor student progress through online tools in order to help them select the courses needed to complete a degree and qualify for an available job.
“What we find is the students harmed most by student debt go for a couple years without completing a degree,” Carey said.
“They rack up a lot of debt and have nothing to show for it.”
Carey said improving guidance on completing degrees — begun last year, or many years ago — can save money for students and schools, as well as helping prepare Ohioans for jobs.
The report envisions creation of regional organizations comprising representatives of K-12 schools, colleges and universities, businesses and communities that would steer students toward the specialized training needs of Ohio’s labor force, both through degree programs and more internship opportunities. The report says this need is particularly acute in Ohio’s rural areas.
Expanding college course offerings into the summers is another idea the group recommended, although it acknowledges a number of hurdles, including the costs of year-round building maintenance, the lost time for faculty research, and the fact that federal financial aid is typically disbursed between August and May.
One idea that’s been contemplated is to use state-based financial aid to cover the summer months not reached by federal aid.