Summer 2008 NEJHE: Digital Technologies Bringing Profound Change to Higher Education

BOSTON—Digital technology is transforming colleges, students and learning according to the Summer 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Higher Education (NEJHE).

The Summer 2008 issue, published in July, features a “Going Digital” forum with articles examining today’s “Digital Natives,” the role of Web 2.0 technologies in teaching, admissions and student services, and new ways that digital technologies have allowed institutions to disseminate content.

The issue also explores how state policy changes can increase the rate of student success at community colleges, the unique benefits of studying on a small campus and the importance of enriching summer experiences for secondary school students.

The Summer 2008 issue includes the following articles:

Opening Universities in a Digital Era · John Palfrey, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for the Internet & Society and Urs Gasser, a Berkman Center faculty fellow, urge higher education to embrace the changes the digital era promises. The co-authors of the forthcoming book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, explain how institutions can take advantage of the opportunities this new era provides by making scholarship freely accessible online in formats today’s students understand, teaching students the skills to sort through the torrents of digital information to which they have access and supporting future innovations.

Using Social Media to Teach Social Media · Howard Rheingold, who teaches digital journalism at Stanford University and virtual community/social media at the University of California Berkeley, describes the “Social Media Virtual Classroom” a project that addresses how social media can foster civic engagement and the importance of teaching literacy in participatory media.

Admissions Tools at a Crossroads: Technology Versus the Timeless · Newbury College dean of admissions and vice president of enrollment Salvadore Liberto explains how institutions can use new media to reach out to new students.

Technology Streamlines and Improves Recruitment-and Institutional Performance · North Shore Community College Vice President Janice Forsstrom describes the college’s fully integrated “technological village,” that provides seamless interaction for learning, teaching and administration.

The OpenCourseWare Story: New England Roots, Global Reach · Stephen Carson, external relations director at MIT OpenCourseWare, writes about the worldwide OpenCourseWare movement that traces its beginnings to New England where in 2000, MIT set the wheels in motion for its groundbreaking project making nearly its entire curriculum online and fully accessible.

Additional articles in this issue explore:

Achieving the Dream: State Policy Changes for Community College · Jobs for the Future program director Michael Collins and higher education consultant and Brown University doctoral candidate Lara K. Couturier explain how community colleges can increase successful outcomes for students who have historically faced significant barriers to pursuing higher education, including students of color and low-income students.

Common Placement Standards: A Strategy for Student Success · Jobs for the Future program director Michael Collins discusses how standardizing assessment instruments can increase student success.

When Less Is More: The Role of Small (Really Small) Colleges in Today’s Educational Marketplace · Slipping through the cracks is not an option for students at a small college. Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross outlines the value of personal attention and other benefits that are more likely to be seen on a small college campuses than at their larger counterparts.

Stemming Summer Learning Loss · Much of the “achievement gap” afflicting education today stems from unequal opportunities for summer learning, according to Nellie Mae Education Foundation President and CEO Nicholas C. Donohue and Miller-Midzik Research Associates President Beth Miller. “Children from families with financial resources receive the additional learning provided by camp, travel, lessons and other activities during the summer months,” write Donohue and Miller. In contrast, they note, “Far too many New England children lack the resources to access these opportunities . . . and as result suffer from what we refer to as ‘summer learning loss.'” The authors examine the importance of summertime enrichment activities, as well as ways colleges and universities can address the problem of summer learning loss.

Summer Reading for Educators · NEBHE Interim President Michael K. Thomas urges educators not to ignore the importance of key 21st century skills, including information literacy, media literacy and ICT (information, communication and technology) literacy.

Higher Ed Responds to the Digital Generation · NEBHE Chair and Massachusetts state Sen. Joan Menard looks at ways in which digital technology enhances the learning experience, but also warns that not everyone has access to these important resources.

Editor’s Memo · Having the digital world at their fingertips inspires and empowers students, but there is also a downside. Acting NEJHE editor John Brady explains how the digital wave can undermine the academic and social promise of the classroom.

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