WBEZ | online education http://www.wbez.org/tags/online-education Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The online college that's helping undocumented students http://www.wbez.org/news/online-college-thats-helping-undocumented-students-113496 <p><div id="res449988979" previewtitle="Laptop computer handing out a diploma"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Laptop computer handing out a diploma" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/19/online-diploma2_slide-d94cec3a012f6d1de8a50673e694c98dc4b07acd-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 359px; width: 540px;" title="Laptop computer handing out a diploma. (LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><div><div>Federal law does not prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in college, but it does something nearly as effective, banning them from receiving government aid. In recent years, though, some undocumented students have stumbled upon a little-known, non-profit, online university that doesn&#39;t charge tuition and doesn&#39;t care about students&#39; legal status.</div></div></div><p>University of the People certainly got the attention of Miguel Angel Cruz. The 27-year-old entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico a decade ago. He settled near Tampa, Fla. where he now shares a small trailer with his father. Cruz learned English and earned his GED.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4661902832_d0e84343dc_b.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="(flickr/Dream Activist)" />But his dream of going to college was just that, a dream, because of the high cost. Then, he started searching online.</p><p>&quot;I was Googling, not for free but for cheaper universities, and I found the <a href="http://uopeople.edu/" target="_blank">University of the People</a>,&quot; Cruz says.</p><p>He had never heard of the school but had nothing to lose, except the $50 non-refundable admission fee he paid to enroll in the school&#39;s business administration course. A similar course at the University of South Florida, near his home, would have cost close to $1,100.</p><p>Cruz is precisely the kind of student Shai Reshef says he set out to help when he founded University of the People six years ago.</p><p>&quot;We have students from 170 countries,&quot; Reshef says. &quot;We have refugees, survivors of the earthquake in Haiti, the genocide in Rwanda. But about a quarter of our U.S. students are undocumented.&quot;</p><p>Reshef, an Israeli-born entrepreneur, made millions from several for-profit, online education ventures in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He says the idea for creating a tuition-free, online university came to him after spending time in several underdeveloped countries where most people have little or no access to higher education. Today, University of the People has 2500 students enrolled. Half are in the U.S.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">To our friends in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SouthAfrica?src=hash">#SouthAfrica</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/UoPeople">@UoPeople</a> is the solution! The 1st <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nonprofit?src=hash">#nonprofit</a>, tuiton-free, accredited, online university. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FeesMustFall?src=hash">#FeesMustFall</a></p>&mdash; UoPeople (@UoPeople) <a href="https://twitter.com/UoPeople/status/657171478425792512">October 22, 2015</a></blockquote><p>But what exactly are these students getting? Is this online school a realistic option for students facing so many hardships, poverty, and in the case of undocumented students, deportation? And what about the quality of the school&#39;s courses and instructors?</p><p>These were some of the questions that the Distance Education Accrediting Commission looked into during its three-year review of University of the People. In 2014, DEAC gave the school its &quot;stamp of approval.&quot;</p><p>The school has vowed to remain tuition-free, but students do pay $100 for every end-of-course exam &mdash; to help support its $1 million budget.</p><p>&quot;A four-year bachelor&#39;s degree will cost $4000 in total,&quot; Reshef says. &quot;For those who don&#39;t have the money, we offer scholarships.&quot;</p><p>Reshef says a quarter of the school&#39;s students don&#39;t pay anything at all, thanks to those scholarships, which are funded by companies including Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Intel.</p><p>The school&#39;s academic credibility has also gotten a huge boost from partnerships forged with New York University; University of California, Berkeley; Yale and Oxford.</p><p>Education experts have praised University of the People&#39;s surprisingly high retention rate of 75 percent, but what Jamie Merisotis of the Lumina Foundation says he likes most is that the school was built precisely to serve poor students living in difficult circumstances.</p><p>Merisotis, author of the book&nbsp;America Needs Talent, says many of the undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are young and talented but have no access to a higher education.</p><p>&quot;Post-secondary education is the key to integrating them into our society and taking them out of the shadows,&quot; Merisotis says.</p><p>&quot;Even if you kick them out of the country,&quot; Reshef says, with a good education &quot;they will be much more desired wherever they go. So it&#39;s a win-win situation for everyone.&quot;</p><p>As for Miguel Angel Cruz, he says he&#39;s on-track to earn a bachelor&#39;s degree in business administration in another year or two. But he&#39;s not waiting to put what he&#39;s learned into practice. He&#39;s now the manager of the tiny trailer park where he lives.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/10/26/449279730/the-online-college-thats-helping-undocumented-students?ft=nprml&amp;f=449279730" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/online-college-thats-helping-undocumented-students-113496 As migrants pour in, Germany launches online university for them http://www.wbez.org/news/migrants-pour-germany-launches-online-university-them-113386 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kashif%20Kazmi%2C%20a%2021-year-old%20asylum-seeker%20from%20Pakistan%2C%20has%20begun%20studying%20for%20a%20business%20degree..jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Kashif Kazmi, a 21-year-old asylum-seeker from Pakistan, has begun studying for a business degree. (Courtesy of Kashif Kazmi)" />In May, 21-year-old Kashif Kazmi fled his hometown of Parachinar in northwest Pakistan. As part of the country&#39;s Shiite minority, Kazmi was targeted by the Pakistani Taliban. The rest of his family are still there.</p><p>&quot;I really miss my family, my friends who are there,&quot; Kazmi says. &quot;Because my sisters, my father is old-aged and he cannot cope with the situation, I had no other option. And I&#39;m so homesick.&quot;</p><p>Kazmi wants to give his sisters a better life. He hopes one day to bring them to Germany. For him, this means pursuing higher education, something he says he was denied back home: &quot;They don&#39;t want us to be educated. They want us to be ignorant.&quot;</p><p>Kazmi arrived in Berlin at the end of July and is already speaking some German. Having traveled through nine countries to get here, he has overcome many barriers. But as an asylum-seeker, he is not permitted to attend a local university because he doesn&#39;t have the requisite paperwork and status.</p><p>This is about to change.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kiron2.JPG" style="height: 357px; width: 620px;" title="Kiron University, geared to refugees and displaced people, offers two years of online study toward a bachelor's degree. Students complete the degree at partner universities. (Via Kiron University)" /></div><p>Markus Kressler pulls up a virtual seminar on mechanical engineering, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, on his laptop. The 25-year-old is a co-founder of&nbsp;<a href="https://kiron.university/">Kiron University</a>, a Berlin-based program for refugees that taps into open-source online lectures from other universities.</p><div id="res448980554" previewtitle="Kiron University, geared to refugees and displaced people, offers two years of online study toward a bachelor's degree. Students complete the degree at partner universities."><div data-crop-type="">Kiron University students take courses online for the first two years, working toward a bachelor&#39;s degree while they apply for asylum and acquire the paperwork and qualifications needed to enter a partner university, local to where they are, to complete the degree.</div></div><p>&quot;Basically, everyone can already log into these courses,&quot; Kressler says. &quot;What we do is we just take these courses, bundle them into degree programs and make cooperation with real universities so that they also recognize these courses in order to really get a degree in the end.&quot;</p><p><strong>Partner Universities</strong></p><p>Kressler says Kiron is already partnering with 30 universities throughout Europe and in Africa, and currently is in talks with U.S. Ivy League institutions. He says the partnership is attractive to established universities.</p><p>&quot;Every kind of university has about 30 to 50 percent free seats in the third year because so many students quit,&quot; he says. In Europe, it&#39;s customary to earn a bachelor&#39;s in three years. Kiron students simply fill these empty seats.</p><p>The program may also benefit the German economy. Currently, Kiron offers degrees in fields including computer science, engineering, business and architecture &mdash; all areas in which there is a skills shortage in the German labor market.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kiron%20screenshot.JPG" style="height: 315px; width: 540px;" title="Screenshot of Kiron University About page. (kiron.university)" /></div><p>The university is starting its pilot semester this month with 1,000 students. The interest is far greater, but Kiron requires investment.</p><p>&quot;As a start-up, you always need to create the proof of concept to show everyone that it really works,&quot; Kressler says. &quot;If you start an online university for refugees, it takes three or four years in order to see if the students can actually go into the job market.&quot;</p><p>Kiron University says each student will cost it $400 a year, which it hopes to finance with crowdfunding and sponsorship.</p><p>Kazmi is among the first group of students starting at Kiron this week. He&#39;s excited, he says, &quot;because Nelson Mandela [said] that education is the real weapon to change the world. So I believe in education, because it&#39;s a journey from darkness into light.&quot;</p><p>He has signed up for a degree in business. It&#39;s not science, his first love.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s my zeal and zest,&quot; he says of science. But for now, Kiron doesn&#39;t offer science degrees. Kazmi does find inspiration in his heroes Isaac Newton, who survived the English Civil War and narrowly escaped the Great Plague, and Albert Einstein, who fled Nazi Germany.</p><p>But he&#39;s pragmatic and says the business course will give him the skills to help others.</p><p>He&#39;d like to work in humanitarian aid. &quot;Today I am a refugee,&quot; Kazmi says, &quot;but tomorrow, I hope so, I will be in the position to be able to support others.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/10/16/447586502/as-migrants-pour-in-germany-launches-online-university-for-them?ft=nprml&amp;f=447586502" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/migrants-pour-germany-launches-online-university-them-113386 Budget squeeze in Chicago schools pushes some classes online http://www.wbez.org/news/budget-squeeze-chicago-schools-pushes-some-classes-online-108158 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dyett.jpg" title="Students denounce the shift to online classes at Dyett High School. Local School Council members say they were told their budget was not large enough to pay for teachers for courses in art, music, Spanish or physical education. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div><p>Members of the Local School Council at Dyett High School say their principal has advised them he can&rsquo;t pay for enough teachers with the budget he was issued from Chicago Public Schools.<br /><br />That means many classes&mdash;including art, music, Spanish, social studies, and even gym&mdash; will be online.<br /><br />&ldquo;I signed up for a public school to be taught by a teacher, not by a computer,&rdquo; said senior Diamond McCullough, who joined others in denouncing the online offerings. &ldquo;For Spanish, I could barely get Spanish from a teacher right there. So it&rsquo;s gonna be harder trying to get Spanish from a computer,&rdquo; McCullough said.<br /><br />Local school council member Steven Guy says a new budgeting system the district is using might give principals more autonomy, but he said that matters little when the total bestowed on schools is inadequate.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like me, giving you a car with a quarter tank of gas, telling you it&rsquo;s your job to drive to St. Louis and back. And if you can&rsquo;t do it, then it&rsquo;s your fault,&rdquo; said Guy.<br /><br />CPS could not immediately confirm the changes at Dyett.<br /><br />Dyett&rsquo;s budget problems are compounded because the school is being phased out&mdash;essentially a long, slow school closing. This year, it will only have juniors and seniors. LSC members said they expected to lose four or five teachers due to the fact the school is shrinking. Instead, they are losing 13.<br /><br />Students, parents and community activists from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization made their statements outside nearby Overton Elementary School, one of 50 schools the Chicago Board of Education voted to shutter in a historic school closings vote in May.<br /><br />A number of Overton parents said they still had not given up on the idea that the school should remain open. In the most recent round of state standardized tests, Overton, which is now shuttered and half empty, outscored the receiving school students are being sent to, Mollison.<br /><br />In a written opinion last spring,&nbsp; the judge who heard testimony on Overton&rsquo;s closing called attention to the fact that Mollison did not seem to perform much better than Overton.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is tantamount, using a food metaphor, to the promise of an omelet with a crisp waffle,&rdquo; wrote Carl McCormick. &ldquo;Then what is delivered are broken eggs, whose contents are oozing out and a burnt pancake.&rdquo;<br /><br />A number of Overton parents said they still did not know where their children would attend school on August 26.<br /><br />Many of the students gathered for the press conference had seen both their grammar school and their high school shuttered for poor performance.</p></p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/budget-squeeze-chicago-schools-pushes-some-classes-online-108158 MOOCs? Distance learning? Technology's impact on higher education http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/moocs-distance-learning-technologys-impact-higher-education-104022 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_ap667092808394.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Peter Struck, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania records a lecture (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)" /></div><p>This past summer I traveled to South Africa to lecture at a number of private and state universities. South Africa has 23 institutions of higher education, which offer a full range of majors and curricula. And while these schools offer their students a traditional classroom experience, each of these institutions also offers its students some distance learning options. Depending on college and the major requirements, a student is able to take all, a large portion or at least some of their core classes online.</p><p>The various methods of distance learning include the old fashioned &ldquo;snail mail&rdquo; correspondence school method: Students do a series of written assignments and mail them to an instructor, who corrects and grades them. There are also telecast lectures, interactive broadcasts that allow students to interrupt a lecture to ask a question or request more detailed information. Finally, there are computer-based classes that offer either one-to-one experiences or MOOCs &mdash;&nbsp;massive open online courses &mdash; that operate on a virtual classroom and chat room model.</p><p>South African schools have invested so heavily in distance-learning methods for both practical and pedagogic reasons. South Africa needs to educate its growing population in order to maintain its relatively new status as a democratic nation. Distance learning reaches more potential students at a much more affordable price.</p><p>In American education, cost is nearing a tipping point. Post 9/11, nearly all universities have dramatically increased their tuition and most state schools have experienced a significant diminishment of government support; some state schools have been forced to more than double tuition since 2001. Both parents and students are looking for ways to diminish the overall cost of a university education.</p><p>One plan widely discussed in the halls of academia is to reduce the on campus university experience from four to three years without radically changing the course load &mdash; students would be in residence for three years and be charged three years of tuition. While in residence, besides taking face-to-face classes, they would also fit in one year of virtual classes at their convenience at no extra charge. These virtual classes would usually be required courses not in a student&rsquo;s major.&nbsp;The primary argument for this plan is that it gets students through school at a faster pace and at a lesser cost without sacrificing their overall learning experience.&nbsp;</p><p>I&rsquo;m not sure this curriculum&nbsp;telescoping will really work. But, like South Africa, we&rsquo;ve got to learn how to be more creative and experimental. Just as South Africa needs to educate its youth to service and maintain its democratic form of government, <em>so do we!</em></p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/moocs-distance-learning-technologys-impact-higher-education-104022