In this interview, Rich DeMillo, who co-chaired the Commission on Creating the Next in Education, discusses the future of higher education, and points to why institutions need to expand the scope of their strategic planning initiatives to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing industry.
Beginning this August, the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) will serve as the program office and central coordinating body for institute-wide activities for Georgia Tech's Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE) report. C21U will be a hub and liaison to coordinate resources, projects, and programs for efforts related to the CNE.
The CNE report, Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education, is the result of the work of more than 50 faculty, staff, and students to envision the future Georgia Tech learning environment and the changing nature of students and the workplace. Work will begin on fulfilling many report recommendations for pilot programs and projects in the 2018-2019 academic year. The CNE Program Office will serve as the driver and primary resource for these efforts.
Exploratory work has already begun on a number of projects including the Academic Master Plan, Georgia Tech atrium, an Advising for a New Era task force, graduate certificates, and a blockchain credential project.
“We know that higher education must be responsive to the changing needs of learners of all ages and the demands of employers,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs and K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. “The CNE realization process will bring forth bold, on-demand, and real-time delivery methods, new products, and new interaction points to meet those needs earlier in life and continue long after graduation.”
CNE projects and programs may be conducted by any academic or administrative unit. Leadership for such efforts includes schools, colleges, vice-provost offices, and Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE). C21U will provide support for all of these initiatives. Rich DeMillo, executive director of C21U, will serve as executive director of the CNE Program Office.
“The university of the future will not necessarily be confined to a physical campus where one spends a few years, earns a degree, and leaves,” said DeMillo. “If fully-realized, the Georgia Tech Commitment will allow students to start, stop, and start again as personal and professional needs change. We have ideas about how to use technology-enhanced advances in learning science to make that future a reality for the next generation of Georgia Tech learners. It will be up to the Georgia Tech community to put that commitment into action."
Interested in getting involved with a CNE initiative? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are asking you to submit ideas for reimagining the educational ecosystem in 2030, and the concrete steps that can be taken in 2018 to move us toward that future.
Marissa Gonzales’ educational experience is not an uncommon one.
The School of Interactive Computing Ph.D. student grew up in California, where she attended an exclusive high school populated, more or less, by students of privilege who had the time and resources to engage with educators, devote themselves to their studies, and ultimately come out of high school with the skills necessary for academic success.
But Gonzales wasn’t like most of her classmates. It took a lot of effort on both her and her mom’s part to make her time in high school a success.
Each day, Gonzales woke up at 4:30 a.m. so that her mom could take her to school in time to make it to work early in the morning. She made it to the high school about an hour and a half early every day and then, after school, went straight to her job at a t-shirt printing shop. There, Gonzales worked evenings to earn money to help supplement her family’s income, a practice she continued when she attended the University of California, Irvine. She paid her own student loans and sent money home to help her family make ends meet.
School, she said, was like an obstacle.
“As much as I loved it, it was limiting,” she said. “I didn’t have a computer. It became a restriction. There was no way for me to catch up because I was already so far behind on access.”
Gonzales’ story can be told by millions of other Americans. For most, that’s where the story ends – an educational deficit never closed because of a lack of access and resources. For her, though, that experience has served as inspiration for her research into the benefits and pitfalls of online educational environments. Gonzales believes that online learning has potential to reach students who, like herself, had limited access to one of the fundamental components of education: time. Online learning has opened up opportunities for students to learn asynchronously from one another, allowing them to participate in courses as their schedules allow for it.
Degrees like the Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program, which has made enormous breakthroughs and turned online learning on its head, aim to broaden access to these types of students. Many in Gonzales’ position are unable to achieve similar results in traditional education. In theory, by making quality education available online, online learning could provide the same opportunity to those underserved communities.
But what are the properties of a flourishing online classroom? Why do they work? Who do they work for? And, ultimately, how can the academic community design environments that provide access to quality higher education for all?
Marissa, meet Jill
Gonzales came to Georgia Tech in 2016 to pursue her Ph.D. after graduating from Irvine with a degree in informatics, concentrating on human-computer interaction.
When she arrived, she approached Professor Ashok Goel, who had just achieved international attention for Jill Watson, an artificially intelligent teaching assistant that answered students’ questions in the online section of his Knowledge-Based AI class.
“I literally just took (Goel) aside and said, ‘Look, I’m interested in your work,’” Gonzales said. “‘I really like this concept going with the virtual TA, and I’d like to help.’”
Initially, she saw the opportunity as one to evaluate the system. How did it affect the students? Was it helping them become more engaged or helping overall grades? As she began to dig in to the project, though, she realized that there was an opportunity and a need for more.
“When we learn, there’s a lot of factors that affect how we learn or affect our feeling about learning, about the classroom, the teacher, the material,” Gonzales explained. “How much do we value the experience and how much does that value impact our overall performance? Do we feel like we’re getting something out of it? Are we learning to use specific strategies for academic improvement and reflecting on our performance?
“These are all things that go on in residential classrooms. What about online classrooms, where the sense of a learning community is perhaps obscured, and where students aren’t just working with the teaching staff, but with intelligent agents?”
Understanding Design Implications for Online Systems
As she dug, Gonzales concluded that she needed to evaluate more than just how AIs could ease the load on teaching staff, making them more available to provide additional in-depth assistance to students online. Instead, she needed to take a more holistic view about the students’ online experience.
Since she began, Gonzales has performed evaluations after each semester for both the residential and online sections of the Knowledge-Based AI class in which Jill Watson and other AIs are used.
The goal is to gain a more complete understanding of the online educational experience and how the design and implementation of these AI assistants, among other design decisions in online learning environments, can help or hurt the process of offering quality education online. Online learning, Gonzales said, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As OMSCS has shown, a quality education can be achieved beyond just a residential program. But it is important that researchers get in front of potential future challenges as online opportunities become more common.
“We have to get in front of it and understand what works and what doesn’t work before the demand becomes too great to keep up,” she said. “Ultimately, online learning should broaden access to more populations, but it’s important that we design and implement programs that provide a complete educational experience.”
In her two years at Georgia Tech, Gonzales has been awarded the Goizueta Foundation Fellowship, which is designed to help attract and promote doctoral students of Hispanic/Latino origin, and the Intel Diversity Fellowship from the Georgia Tech Focus Program.
She aims to pick her dissertation topic in the next few months and is on track to complete her degree in 2021.
Bringing together experts in education and technology, The Learning House, Inc. has announced the formation of a new Board of Advisors and has named Rich DeMillo, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), and C21U visiting scholar Jeff Selingo, as founding advisors.
The Learning House, Inc. is a company that seeks to, “helps people improve their lives through education.” “Higher education is rapidly changing and I hope to use this opportunity to continue to drive thought leadership and change in this area,” said DeMillo.
Read the full PRweb announcement, here.
Similar to e-commerce firms, online-degree programs are beginning to incorporate elements of an older-school, brick-and-mortar model.
Fall 2017 marks a full decade since the Georgia Tech College of Computing revolutionized undergraduate computing instruction with its groundbreaking Threads curriculum. In those 10 years, the world of GT Computing has changed dramatically—and for the better.
Ten years ago, computer science (CS) education trend lines were very different. Just a few years removed from the bursting of the dot.com bubble, university CS enrollments had just about hit rock bottom. In Fall 2001, the College enrolled some 1,557 computer science majors; six years later, that number had dropped by more than half to 723.
All this despite the fact that throughout the first decade of the new millennium, computers, computational technology and media, and data analysis continued to play an ever-increasing role in global society. Perhaps part of the problem was how CS was taught?
“Across the country, top computing colleges and departments and national computing organizations have recognized that undergraduate computer science curricula have become ossified, too inflexible to meet the needs of students or the requirements for individual competitiveness,” read the report, Creating Symphonic Thinking Computer Science Graduates for an Increasingly Competitive Global Environment, co-written in 2006 by then-College of Computing Dean Rich DeMillo and Distinguished Professor Merrick Furst.
Forging a new direction
“These curricula have become very good at producing a single kind of graduate – inflexible, inadaptable graduates, far from the symphonic-thinking graduates that will be leaders in the future of computing… The breadth of computing and computer science has not been successfully tapped in the design of curricula.”
Enter Threads. When it debuted in Fall 2007, this new approach to an undergraduate CS curriculum was something of a curiosity—and a risk. Georgia Tech has always prided itself on its academic rigor, and CS was no different. Some faculty worried that Threads would be perceived as “dumbing down” traditional CS instruction. In that first semester, just four students took advantage of the new curriculum. So the jury was out: Would Threads help resurrect undergraduate computing enrollments and usher in a new era of computing education?
For a start, enrollments have not just rebounded but exploded. Fall 2007 marked the low point of CS enrollments, which began to climb steadily and today are higher than ever. In Fall 2017, some 2,110 students are majoring in computer science, and that doesn’t include a few hundred more majors in the B.S. Computational Media (CM) program, as well as the rapidly growing number of students minoring in computing. Speaking of CM, in 2011 the College of Computing and Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts moved the joint program to a “threaded” curriculum.
And, in a very telling move, within a few years of Threads’ introduction, other top computing programs launched new undergraduate curricula that looked uncannily similar to what was going on at Georgia Tech.
Over the curriculum’s first 10 years, individual threads have varied in popularity. Information Internetworks has proven the most popular thread by a significant margin. In fact, about half of all CS graduates since Threads’ inception have selected it as one of their two threads.
With the advent of machine learning and AI-powered technology, the Intelligence thread has steadily risen in demand over the decade, selected by about a third of CS grads. And as the worlds of entertainment and technology have continued to converge, Media took its place as the third most popular thread at just over 30 percent.
Curricular evolution for changing student interests
In all, some 2,114 Georgia Tech students have received their B.S. CS degrees via Threads, and even that number will jump sharply in the next few years with overall enrollments growing so large.
“Threads has shown not just the value but the genuine need for curricular evolution in the face of changing student interests and industry priorities,” said Katie Raczynski, director of undergraduate advising in the College. “It also set the tone, I think, for an openness among College of Computing faculty to further innovations and improvements in our undergraduate curriculum that would not be so easy to do at other universities.”
Indeed, since Threads launched, the College of Computing has continued to provide leadership for the world in computing education.
In 2013 it announced the online M.S. in Computer Science (OMSCS) program, which has since grown to nearly 6,000 students. In 2016 it announced a first-of-its-kind online Intro to Computing course that has been used both for on-campus instruction and by free MOOC learners around the world. It’s continued to produce scholarly evidence for and best practices in CS educational innovations through the work of researchers Mark Guzdial, Barb Ericson, and Betsy DiSalvo.
Shaking things up
Though Fast Company specifically cited OMSCS as the reason for naming the College as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2017, it could easily be viewed as an honor earned by an overall body of work.
“With Threads, we showed that innovation in education can have a tremendous impact on student engagement and that we shouldn’t be afraid to examine longstanding pedagogical practices or shake them up once in a while,” said Executive Associate Dean Charles Isbell, who worked with DeMillo and Furst to design and implement Threads.
“Would our enrollments have rebounded without Threads? Probably. But we grabbed an opportunity to both move our undergraduate curriculum into the 21st century and establish a precedent that Georgia Tech is not afraid to take a risk in the name of education. That, in itself, was a gamble worth taking.”
Announced in January 2017, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Science in Analytics (OMS Analytics) is the Institute’s second at-scale degree following the groundbreaking Online Master of Science in Computer Science. During fall 2016, the learning design team at Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) was given a seemingly impossible task: Launch the program in less than a year. Here's how they made that happen.
Given the demands of employers and the evolving needs of students, one area of the higher education that’s ripe for disrupting is the transcript—and Blockchains could emerge as a viable replacement, according to Rich DeMillo.
In a changing world, technology also offers new opportunities for campus leaders, according to Deloitte and Georgia Tech study.
It has been five years since the launch of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) and on May 12, Georgia Tech and the higher education community at-large gathered to celebrate the center’s history and impact.
The C21U Anniversary Celebration was a day-long event, filled with discussion of past successes and future goals for higher education at Georgia Tech. Provost Rafael L. Bras kicked off the day with opening remarks about C21U’s role at the university and the immense industry impact of the center. Bras challenged attendees to consider the nature of change in higher education.
“Many say that higher education is a slow changing enterprise,” said Bras. “But I have always objected. I do think that higher education has always adapted to changing times, but now we must make those adjustments and evolutions much more quickly.”
Following was Rich DeMillo, executive director of C21U, who mapped the history and purpose of C21U, and provided an in-depth presentation on the five functions of the center -- research, outreach, think tank, redesign, and technology. DeMillo touched on C21U’s role as the research arm of the Office of the Provost, as well as its key contributions to the Educational Innovation Ecosystem and the Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE). Ultimately, he explained that the intention of C21U is to be a starting point for forward-looking, educational ideas at Georgia Tech.
“Sometimes it takes a garage with its own rules, to develop ideas that will bring about institutional and systemic change,” said DeMillo.
As the day progressed, participants heard from several presenters and panels of distinguished guests. Jonathan Cole, John H. Mason Professor of the University at Columbia University, was the day’s keynote presenter, a role he reprised from the launch of C21U in 2011. Cole’s lecture, “How We Ought to Change Our Great Research Universities,” provided attendees with a glimpse into the history and societal, economic, and cultural impact of the American system of higher education and a taste of Cole’s thoughts on the current state of affairs, as well as the role of universities in the educational system of the future.
“Universities should provide a trained workforce, a better-informed citizenry, and transformational discoveries for better lives of everyone,” said Cole.
The day’s panel discussions and lectures included a deep-dive into the relationship between education and research with Jonathan Cole, Rich DeMillo, Dean Zvi Galil of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, and CEO David Levin of McGraw-Hill Education. This challenging topic was facilitated by Jeff Selingo, author and visiting scholar at both C21U and Arizona State University. A Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE) panel followed with an exploration of the work of the commission and an engaging discussion of “what’s next” in higher education innovation at Georgia Tech. This panel was facilitated by CNE co-chair Bonnie Ferri of Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Participants included Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Colin Potts, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development Susan Cozzens, and Associate Dean of Georgia Tech’s School of Engineering, Larry Jacobs. A common theme in discussion throughout the day is the role and purpose of the university in a future filled with different students than those of the past.
“Do we have a clear idea of what kinds of students universities want to turn out? Do we know how to shape a class – what individuals are coming out?” said Cole.
Jeff Selingo shared the startling results of his recent research completed in partnership with C21U and Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence, “Pathways to the university presidency.” He stressed that the role of the university president is in flux and that institutions, like Georgia Tech, need to engage with these cultural forces in order to create the new type of leader needed for such roles.
“How can we create a pathway for new academic leaders – creative thinkers into the business of leadership at universities?” asked Selingo. “We must create more training programs and pathways, reform our search processes, and create better alignment within universities between our short-term goals and our long-term issues.”
Finally, the day ended with a glimpse into the future of tech-driven higher education solutions with presentations from the five winners of the OpenIDEO Higher Education Challenge. Sarah Saxton-Frump, Siya Green, Ekaterina Dovjenko, Ashwin Halgeri and Sergio Marrero pitched their ideas to attendees and painted a hopeful picture for the future of education in the United States. These innovative thinkers stressed that the issues currently plaguing universities can be fixed if university leadership, faculty, and students seek to understand the needs of today’s students and utilize technology to provide better accessibility and affordability for learners.
If you would like to get involved in the work of C21U or have further inquiries, please contact Brittany Aiello. If you would like to contribute to the Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE), please contact Cara-Joy Wong.
Matt Lisle explores how C21U is addressing higher education's "triple threat": affordability, accessibility, and achievement.
While serving as provost was once a clear steppingstone on the way to the president’s office, many deans are now moving straight into the top job, according to the report, which was issued by Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for 21st Century Universities.
A new survey of college presidents from C21U and Deloitte Education finds that these once-steadfast, once-starchy leaders now spend less time at a given institution and are under growing pressure to look for “quick wins” while they have the chance
Georgia Tech and IDEO, an international design and consulting firm, are partnering to sponsor and participate in the OpenIDEO Future of Higher Education Challenge. The global initiative was announced Nov. 15 at the White House by Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell and will run through February 2017.
According to IDEO, the OpenIDEO Challenge seeks to find solutions to “...reimagine how we prepare students — of all ages — for active civic engagement, real-world employment and career success in an ever transforming society.” It will provide faculty, staff and students with the opportunity to submit their ideas on how both Georgia Tech and the global higher education community can innovate and meet the challenges of tomorrow. On campus, Provost Rafael L. Bras and his Commission on Creating the Next in Education (CNE) will lead the Challenge.
“The Challenge is an exciting complement to the CNE as it strives to develop bold ideas that will transform the educational experience of the next generation of Georgia Tech learners,” said Bras, who is also executive vice president for Academic Affairs and the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. “It’s a great way to harness the creative and innovative minds of our own Georgia Tech community as well as those of our partners, innovators in higher education and other stakeholders.”
OpenIDEO is a branch of IDEO that utilizes human-centered and collaborative design thinking to solve the world’s toughest problems.
The Challenge’s Research Phase is now underway. The global higher education community is called to share stories and reflections, emotions, perspectives and other personal contributions related to education after high school and throughout one’s lifetime. These contributions can be shared through the OpenIDEO Challenge Portal.
A solutions-driven Ideas Phase and then a Refinement Phase — in which Georgia Tech, other challenge sponsors, and an Advisory Panel will create a short list of submitted ideas for a final presentation during the Top Ideas Phase — will follow this phase. Once these ideas are finalized in February, Georgia Tech will host a summit to explore the concepts and find ways to turn collaborative ideas into real world solutions.
Other OpenIDEO Challenge sponsors include ASU GSV Summit, Level Education from Northeastern University, USA Funds and the U.S. Department of Education.
“American college students are more diverse than ever before. The ‘new normal’ student may be a 24-year-old returning veteran, a 36-year-old single mother, a part-time student juggling work and college, or a first-generation college student. While America has some of the best colleges and universities in the world, we need to better support these students and all students. To do so we simply must innovate. I’m excited to see the ideas that this challenge will spark,” said U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell.
The Atlanta chapter of OpenIDEO, which recently completed a project to bring human-centered design to students, maintains an active relationship with Georgia Tech students. Through the OpenIDEO Challenge, Georgia Tech hopes to stimulate the world’s best out-of-the-box design thinking about the future of global postsecondary education as it seeks to define the technological university of the 21st century. For more information about the Challenge, visit the provost’s CNE website or Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) website.