Millennials are Impacting Higher Education

    Millennials are Impacting Higher Education - Marilyn Gardner Milton1Millennials, also known as Generation Y, have grown up in the era of technology. With the internet always at their fingertips, it’s no wonder they have adapted to learning differently than the generation that came before them. Educational institutions are beginning to take note of this however they are not adjusting quickly enough. Generation Z is only just around the corner from entering into higher education, and they will be even more plugged-in than the Millennials. So what are the Millennials doing to change higher education and what do these educational institutions need to do to adjust for the future?

    Increase in the Popularity of Master’s Degrees

    Millennials are not satisfied with just an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s degree anymore. With limited job opportunities awaiting these [people] when they finish their undergrad, many are opting to stay in school to complete a Master’s program before entering the real world.

    According to Pew Research Center, professionals with a Master’s degree are earning 23% more today than their counterparts back in 1984. In comparison, those who only hold a Bachelor’s degree have seen an increase of just less than 13%. Bottom line: if a Millennial has their goals set on earning more money in their career, they are going to be looking for a Master’s program.

    A Comfort in Online Learning

    Some may argue that today’s youngsters know more about the internet than we do. With that, there is no surprise that they find learning online to be comfortable and natural. Roughly 6.7 million students are taking at least one online class during their time in college. And that doesn’t account for all the classes they’re taking that use online portals such as Blackboard to submit work, collaborate with classmates, and even complete quizzes or exams. Millennials have helped build this switch from learning in the traditional classroom setting to online, and Generation Z will demand it.

    Flipped Classroom

    Getting Millennials to participate in the traditional classroom setting can be difficult. The flipped classroom allows the student to become the teacher, encouraging high involvement and collaboration with their classmates. According to a study performed by NYU, the retention rate of students soared to 90% when they were put in a teaching role. The flipped classroom puts students in control of their educational journey and provides a more hands-on learning perspective.


    Join the President’s Forum: “Unshackling Innovation: Regulation vs. Innovation” on November 18, 2015 Washington, D.C.

    Hosted by The Presidents’ Forum and United States Distance Learning Association,  Dr. Marilyn Gardner is working with Excelsior College, USDLA, as well as national educators and policy makers to plan the 12TH Annual Meeting of the Presidents’ Forum,  “Unshackling Innovation: Regulation vs. Innovation.”

    The Forum is being held: 

    November 18, 2015 (Wednesday) 

    8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce | Hall of Flags 

    1615 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20062

    Attendees can find the preliminary program at:


    Would you like to register?  You can do so at: http://forum.wp.excelsior.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2015/07/2015-Presidents-Forum-Registration-Form080615.pdf 

    Forum attendees will join national experts who are influencing policies in the academic and distance education arena to examine and discuss the evolving promise and policy issues associated with technology-mediated learning. Connect and interact with colleagues, providers, and technology academicians and business professionals who are grappling with defining the next steps to safeguard the institutional and academic integrity of online learning providers while redoubling efforts to reach underserved and under skilled learners.

    The Presidents’ Forum, established in 2004, is a collaboration of accredited, national, adult-serving institutions and programs which have embraced the power and potential of online education. The Mission of the Presidents’ Forum is to advance the recognition of innovative practice and excellence in online learning. This is accomplished by providing a venue for leaders in higher education and stakeholders to share their knowledge and learn from others’ best practices. You can find more information at http://www.presidentsforum.org/

    The United States Distance Learning Association was founded on the premise of creating a powerful alliance to meet the burgeoning education and training needs of learning communities via new concepts of the fusion of communication technologies with learning in broad multidiscipline applications.

    The learning communities that USDLA addresses are: pre K-12, higher education, continuing education, corporate training, military and government training, home schooling and telemedicine. In addition USDLA is also focused on national and international technology based Distance Learning

    USDLA through its mission of supporting the development and application of distance learning focuses on all legislation impacting the Distance learning community and its varied constituencies. You can find more information on USDLA at www.usdla.org.


    Education is the Next Political Battle

    The political atmosphere in our country is growing more tense and divided with each passing day. Every topic ranging from gay marriage to taxes to infrastructure funding is sent through the partisan grinder with cooperation and compromise becoming harder and harder to find as the Right and Left simply dig in their heels and refuse to make nice, even at the expense of the government (as in shutting it down for a failed cause) and the American people who expect our law-makers to actually get along and work together. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of nation-wide gay marriage, it seems as though education is the next great political battle that is going to tear our nation apart (other than taxes, foreign policy, the climate, and literally everything else).

    Starting in July, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are going to begin looking at the No Child Left Behind law and whether it should be rewritten or not. The law was actually meant to be reviews months ago but it was pulled amid conservative objections a few months ago. Now, in an attempt to calm conservatives and other outside groups that have targeted the bill, the House leaders will allow voting on the bill as well as a number of amendments that were previously dismissed. One such amendment would allow schools to keep federal money while rejecting the regulations that come along with it.

    All of this is gearing up to be another massive battle between Democrats and Republicans in congress. While it’s very likely that it won’t end up getting as divisive as the Affordable Care Act or gay marriage, there’s no denying that both sides are looking to get what they want out of this agreement. The measure is already looking at sparse democratic support (due to an overwhelming dislike of the law and the belief that it is crippling our educational system) and many republicans aren’t all that happy about it either, due to the belief that it would increase federal influence in the education system. Either way, it seems as though there is going to be some intense arguing about the law and whether it should continue; and this isn’t even taking the Common Core into account.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Children Return to School in Nepal

    The massive earthquakes in Nepal happened about 5 weeks ago, killing over 8,600 people and devastating the mountainous country. Nepal is still recovering and in need of massive amounts of aid from countries around the world, aid which is being provided. Even though the country is still reeling and trying to rebuild both infrastructure and the shattered lives of its citizens, life must go on and people must continue to rebuild and move forward. There is no clearer example of this desire to move forward and improve than that of Nepalese children finally going back to school all over the country. Even though there are still schools that need to be rebuilt, the fact that children are beginning to learn and be educated means that Nepal is now starting to look towards the future again.

    Over 32,000 classrooms and educational facilities were destroyed in Nepal during the earthquake. With the sheer amount of destruction the country sustained, rebuilding schools wasn’t a priority; hospitals, roads, and other emergency facilities were much higher on the list. The Nepalese children that are finally returning to school are going to be learning in tents and makeshift cottages and shacks until their proper schools are rebuilt (who knows how long this might take). However, even though the actual facilities are rough, an education minister in the Nepalese government made the point that the opening of schools, no matter how ramshackle they may be, is a sign that life is slowly returning to normal.

    The government and various aid organizations have built 137 temporary learning facilities for over 14,000 children across the country. Aid workers are saying that a total of 4,500 education centers are estimated to be needed to accommodate students who have been forced to move by the earthquakes; nearly a million have been severely affected by the quakes. The opening of these temporary schools is important for a variety of reasons. The first is that it helps prevent against a lost generation of children who are poorly educated and scarred from the quakes; this would’ve been terrible for Nepal’s future. It also allows the children to have a safe space that will take their minds off the stress that the quakes and being displaced has caused. School allows children to be children and at this point in time, that’s what the Nepalese children need.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    White House Announces “Let Girls Learn” Initiative

    Education levels vary around the world and heavily depend on both the wealth of a country as well as its cultures and traditions. Some cultures place a higher emphasis on the education of their children while others feel as though children should stay and work and help the family. However, even in the cultures that value education, it is frequently seen that the education of women and girls takes a much lower precedence than the education of men and boys. While this isn’t true of all societies and all countries, there is no denying the fact that women and young girls have a much harder time finding education in many parts of the world.marilyn_gardner_milton_female_education

    Why is this important? Well aside from the obvious fact that everyone deserves education, multiple sources have claimed multiple times that the education of women should be seen as much more important than it currently is. Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agrees that the educating of women isn’t only good for them, but for their countries as well. Human intelligence is split 50/50; women are just as smart as men (regardless of what tradition might say) and by keeping women uneducated, you’re literally halving the intellectual resources of your country. It’s time for these misguided and antiquated ideas of the past to disappear once and for all!

    It seems as though the White House is in strong agreement with these sentiments. The Obama administration has announced a new world-wide education initiative called “Let Girls Learn” that focuses on increasing educational access to women and young girls all across the world. With over 60 million girls, of which half are still adolescents, unable to access education, the initiative has its work cut out for it. Michelle Obama is visiting Japan and Cambodia to begin promoting the plan and that’s just the beginning. The First Lady’s office will work in coordination with the Peace Corps to focus on community-lead and supported plans that will increase the number of girls and women in school as well as helping to keep them in school. While the US does much to support female education programs abroad, this is the first time that all the efforts are going to be coordinated under a single strategy. This program is now going to be a linchpin of foreign policy and President Obama has said that if any country wants to partner with the US, they need to work on increasing the number of girls in school.

    If you’d like to learn more, the link is here.


    22 States Don’t Require Measles Vaccinations for Colleges

    Measles are back. While this might not be news to people who regularly spend time on the internet, the once eradicated disease is making a forceful comeback due to parents who refuse to get their children vaccinated against the disease (as well as a host of other diseases) thanks to debunked misinformation about vaccines causing autism. While measles might not be an issue for those who are vaccinated (obviously) or unvaccinated but older and healthy, it can actually cause death and other complications in young children who haven’t been vaccinated due to age or health reasons as well as in people with compromised immune systems. The main reason to get vaccinated for diseases like the measles is to prevent any occurrences from happening, regardless of how deadly the diseases might be.vaccine

    Measles is an incredibly infectious disease and can be spread even before symptoms show up. Did you know that 22 states allow students to go to colleges without any sort of vaccine? This is becoming a huge issue now that people are actively catching and spreading measles, especially in California. The news of measles first broke in Disneyland and now it seems to have continued to spread. Students at three California campuses — Moorepark College, California State University at Channel Islands, and California State University at Long Beach — have caught measles and are now included in the 90 people who have caught it in California so far. This is a worrisome development in the fight against a disease that was once eradicated in the United States and proof that anti-vaxers, those who are against vaccines, are actively threatening the health of our society.

    Now California is fighting back by requiring that anyone who wants to go to college in the state must be up to date on their vaccines and fully vaccinated against all of the standard diseases. The program would begin in 2017 and even that is already drawing criticism from scientists and health professionals who believe that it should’ve already been implemented. Hopefully this anti-vaccine movement is just a phase and that it will die out after parents realize that they’re being selfish by refusing to vaccinate their children; that it puts the rest of society in harms way.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Fixing Education Starts in the States, Not Washington

    There is no denying that the education system of the United States of America has been failing more and more as we continue to slide in basically every educational ranking on a global level. As our children continue to suffer and not reach their true potentials, politicians have been arguing and trying to figure out ways to fix the issue. One of the attempts to combat our slow decline in educational standards was the No Child Left Behind policy that has failed in almost every aspect and which both sides of the political spectrum are looking forward to revise in 2015. However the issue with our system isn’t a federal one, it begins at a state level and repairs should start there.

    While the once-proposed solution to our educational woes was focusing on increasing budgets and reducing the average class size, the numbers show that this approach is clearly flawed and that we’re missing something important. The US has 7,000 students drop out of high school every day and of those in prison, 65% dropped out of high school. The reason that we haven’t been able to change the path that we’re going down comes down a matter of attitude and the people who work at the schools that are currently failing. While there are obviously teachers and administrators who care and do fantastic jobs, there is clearly something toxic about the current attitudes of the educational establishment.

    There are some simple and cost effective steps that can be taken to help turn the tide that is threatening to overwhelm us. The first is to simply improve the quality of our teachers by making it more difficult to become a teacher. Colleges with the lowest SAT scores are teaching schools and that’s completely unacceptable. Certification laws mean that education schools are able to certify who they want, regardless of skill or desire. This means that those best poised to become teachers don’t want to because of the low quality in peer and education. Improving leadership is also necessary, especially seeing as how the basics to become a school principal are about as low as those for becoming a teacher. If we are able to fix our system at the top and populate it with professional and caring teachers and officials, we will see a drastic change in dropout rates and the quality of student who graduates.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Ukrainian Children Are Using the Internet to Learn at School

    As the war in eastern Ukraine continues, people are starting to focus on those who aren’t fighting and whose lives have been ruined by, depending on who you ask, Vladimir Putin and his ambitions for a new Soviet Union or Petro Poroshenko and his desire for a Ukraine that’s more integrated into the greater European economy and the EU. While most of the media focus and scrutiny has been aimed at those fighting, those commanding, and those who are not-so-subtlety influencing and arming (here’s looking at you, Vlad), people are now starting to look at how those who are living in the conflict zone are struggling to survive as winter approaches. Amongst all of the truly tragic and heartrending stories, the death of education in eastern Ukraine is easily one of the most touching as well as one of the most worrying. Just like children living in and fleeing from Syria who are called the “Lost Generation”, eastern Ukrainian children are struggling to avoid becoming a “Lost Generation” in and of themselves.

    In the struggle to continue learning in the face of all of violence, students in eastern Ukraine have been turning to something that is quickly picking up speed in the west, distance education and learning over the internet. In the rebel-held and currently besieged city of Donetsk, city officials estimate that 50 out of 150 schools have switched to distance learning and that about 45% of the city’s children (around 32,000 students) are being educated online through distance education. Another interesting tidbit of information is that most of the city’s education officials completely agree that it is the students who have been pushing for and embracing technology and distant learning in an attempt to continue their education and improve their lives. It’s as though living in a warzone has shown them the importance of educating yourself so that you can either leave a bad situation or return to help fix it.

    While classes such as maths and the sciences have proven more difficult to adapt to these new technologies and ways of learning, the children and teachers of Ukraine are making sure that the work is still getting done and is checked and graded in person, when circumstances allow. The current fighting, along with the fact that the Ukrainian government has cut all funds and support of any kind to the city since it is currently in the hands of rebel separatists, means that many of the teachers are working for free or relying on the tiny amount of money that the rebel government can actually scrape up. That being said, the current mood in the air makes it obvious that as long as the students are willing to learn, the teachers will be there to teach, regardless of pay.

    If you’d like to learn more, the link is here.


    UC Berkeley Protests Bill Maher Commencement Speech

    Bill Maher is a comedian and talk show host known for his outspoken and liberal views about a number of different topics ranging the political and economic spectrum. While he usually toes the line without insulting anyone except for the truly conservative and republican, he has inflammatory views that were eventually going to offend other groups of people. It seems as though the people he has most recently offended are other liberals and it seems as though forgiveness is going to be difficult to get; Maher recently had Ben Affleck on his show and it dissolved into a yelling match about militant Islam and extremism with Affleck calling Maher a racist for lumping all Muslims together. While this might not be too different than Maher’s usual rhetoric, the fact that he insulted everyone in the world’s second largest religion while engaging in a yelling match with a popular actor means that Maher is facing some heavy criticism, even from his own side.

    It turns out that Bill Maher angered so many people that there are now protests against his speaking engagements. Maher was recently chosen to give the commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley and is now facing student protests and a petition with over 2,000 student signatures against his speaking. While he doesn’t get called out for his comments on Muslims specifically, some of the organizers of the protests and petition are from the Muslim student body and most definitely felt hurt by his callous comments.  All of the protest and petition documents make sure to say that there is no issue with freedom of speech and Maher’s ability to engage in it. What they take issue with is his using of freedom of speech to spread and promote hate speech and intolerance; regardless of whether someone is an extremist or a moderate. Hopefully this is a wake-up call for him and he changes his ways, he’s doing no one any good by acting like he does.

    If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


    Should Fraternities and Sororities Be Banned?

    It seems as though every year brings about new stories of fraternities and sororities engaging in dangerous behavior that results in physical, emotional, and potentially fatal consequences. This month has been a truly awful one for Greek life around the country as a number of colleges and universities have punished Greek institutions by either banning them, forcing them to go co-ed, or simply suspending all Greek life on campus. Fraternities and sororities have a very mixed reputation that have both good and bad things about them and even some alumni see them in a mixed light. The questions remains whether Greek life is going to see a country-wide ban and how it might affect higher education institutions with storied history behind some of the houses.

    Sororities and fraternities are best known in the public for binge-drinking and hazing incidents that frequently send students to the hospital but that also sometimes result in death. While many sororities and fraternities have strong undercurrents of familial bonds and community service, it’s very simple to say that the majority are used as places where students can get drunk and party with each other. While Greek institutions were started off as a way to improve school life, community life, and personal life through community service and brother/sisterhood, the original messages have been corrupted and founding members wouldn’t recognize the racist, sexist, violent, and alcoholic institutions that have replaced them. Many universities hold on to Greek life for the history the houses impart and the generous alumni donations that they bring in but there eventually comes a point when you need to realize that the toxic environment that accompanies Greek life is too much. Between rapes, sexual assaults, brawls, overdoses, and deaths, it might be time to either institute a culture-wide change (perhaps taking lessons from the founding statements and the Greek houses and chapters that still believe in community service and respect for all) or ban them altogether. Either way, something needs to be done before more people get hurt.

    If you’d like to learn more, the link is here.