Top EdSurge Higher Education Stories of 2023

Higher Education

Top EdSurge Higher Education Stories of 2023

By Rebecca Koenig     Jan 3, 2024

Top EdSurge Higher Education Stories of 2023

Let the countdown commence! We’re bringing you a roundup of the higher ed stories EdSurge published in 2023 that were most popular with you, our readers.

As these headlines show, college is in flux. Administrators, professors and students are rethinking nearly everything about how higher education works. It starts with the very basics — like whether it even makes sense anymore to measure learning in credit hours — and builds up to future-facing conundrums about how to handle the sudden ubiquity of artificially intelligent tools. Should colleges still wait for students to apply, or proactively admit qualified candidates? Should calculus be taught differently in the 21st century? Should traditional institutions function more like online mega-universities?

Our stories don’t always contain neat answers to these big questions. But they do offer insights from the smart people who are trying to solve these riddles.

Thanks for reading, and happy new year.

10. The Power of Microcredentials and America’s Higher Education Dilemma

By Mordecai I. Brownlee

Teacher Photo / Shutterstock

Microcredentials are incremental qualifications that demonstrate skills, knowledge or experience in a specific subject area or capability. Can these innovative credentials offer an alternative to traditional degrees, diplomas and grades, to help meet student and employer demand for skills?

9. As AI Chatbots Rise, More Educators Look to Oral Exams — With High-Tech Twist

By Jeffrey R. Young

fizkes / Shutterstock

The introduction of ChatGPT has educators looking for alternatives to assigning essays. One idea that has bubbled up is to bring back oral exams. But even fans of the approach admit a major drawback: They’re time-consuming, and take a lot out of educators. Can oral exams be delivered at the scale needed for today’s class sizes?

8. What If We Measured Learning Through Skills Gained, Not Time Spent in the Classroom?

By Rebecca Koenig

smolaw / Shutterstock

Influential institutions are throwing their weight behind bringing competency-based education to high school and college. Can emphasizing educational outcomes, like skills, more than processes, like credit hours, allow schools and colleges to embrace nuances of learning that the steady tick, tick, tick of a clock cannot?

7. The Math Revolution You Haven’t Heard About

By Daniel Mollenkamp

Photo courtesy of the Harvard University Department of Mathematics.

College professors are pushing calculus past its traditional limits to help more students succeed in advanced math. Take a peek inside a week-long training at Harvard University, where two dozen college educators from around the country sat through lectures on pedagogy, the finer points of math and how to apply it to actual biological problems, all with the goal of yanking calculus instruction into the 21st century by teaching students through the use of real-world problems.

6. Harvard and MIT Launch Nonprofit to Increase College Access

By Jeffrey R. Young

A new nonprofit named Axim Collaborative, focused on serving learners that higher education has historically left behind, was founded by $800 million derived from a controversial decision by the two universities in 2021 to sell their edX online learning platform to 2U. We looked at what the new group plans to do with that windfall.

5. The Realities of Working as a College Adjunct Professor

By Christina Berke

Joy Ned / Shutterstock

In this essay, an adjunct professor reflects that “I’ve realized higher ed institutions do not value my time, skills or experience. It’s not that different from being a wage worker — long hours that are not compensated and work that is not appreciated.” Yet she believes the work that she does is essential and should be compensated as such.

4. A Free Online University Has Grown to 126,000 Students. What Can It Teach Traditional Colleges?

By Jeffrey R. Young

AI Generated Image / Shutterstock

The University of the People has found a way to keep going and growing — with a basic model of giving away courses but requiring fees for taking the final assessments, and offering financial aid for those who can’t afford to do even that. It has also come up with plenty of clever ways to keep costs low, such as relying on free or low-cost open educational resources rather than costly commercial textbooks. Should more colleges adopt the methods of this free university?

3. Does ‘Flipped Learning’ Work? A New Analysis Dives Into the Research

By Jeffrey R. Young

Mimi Thian / Unsplash

A far-reaching meta-analysis looked at flipped learning, an approach that has become more popular since the pandemic that asks students to watch lecture videos at home so that class time can be used for active learning. Does it really work?

2. As Enrollment Lags, Colleges Send Acceptances to Students Who Haven't Applied

By Emma Davis

Nelson Marques / Shutterstock

Colleges around the country are using streamlined admissions practices to combat the ongoing problem of low student enrollment. One is called direct admission, where institutions set a threshold for who gets in and then proactively reach out to those who meet the bar, typically sending personalized information to the potential students about what they need to do to claim their place on campus. Here’s what happened when the Common App experimented with the strategy on a large scale.

1. Girls Rule in School. Where Does That Leave Boys?

By Rebecca Koenig

patat / Shutterstock

College began as a nearly all-male world, and that long trickled down through the education system. Then, 50 years ago, the U.S. government prohibited discrimination in education on the basis of sex. Now, women earn more than 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees. It’s evidence that “in the space of just a few decades, girls and women have not just caught up with boys and men in the classroom — they have blown right past them,” writes researcher Richard V. Reeves. What does that mean for men in higher ed today?

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