National Readiness Report: A Look at COVID-19’s Impact on Learner Readiness and How Institutions Can Improve Student Success

PITTSBURGH, PA – It goes without saying that the COIVD-19 pandemic has impacted higher education and students across the globe. But to what degree? And how can institutions respond to the shifts in learning? SmarterServices recently published data that reveals both individual and technical skills have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the degree to which learner readiness has changed over the past ten years. Learner readiness has seen statistically significant changes and institutions may need to reevaluate their programming to improve student success.

Data on how COVID-19 has impacted learner readiness comes out of the National Readiness Report, published by SmarterServices. The report provides measures of central tendency for learner traits such as life factors and individual attributes as well as several skill sets, including on-screen reading rate and recall, technical competency, learning management system competency, general technical knowledge, and keyboarding rate and accuracy.

The attributes and skills are measured by the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator, which has been taken by over 6 million learners from over one thousand institutions. Through the National Readiness Report, institutions can compare the performance of their students to those of other students nationally. This year’s report reviews multiple comparisons of readiness levels within several demographic categories, a four-year comparison to determine the impact of the pandemic on learner readiness, and specifically how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted learner readiness over the quarantine period.…Read More

Mental health tops education leaders’ post-pandemic priorities

Education leaders are beginning to move on from COVID-related safety measures, and are instead focusing on managing mental health and violence on campus, according to a new report from Rave Mobile Safety.

Rave’s report,  2022 Crisis Communication and Safety in Education Survey, surveyed more than 400 K-12 employees and more than 380 higher education staffers.

The past two years of COVID-19 restrictions have been a challenging time for students, staff, faculty and parents/guardians. Campus leaders are concerned about how the lingering effects of the pandemic will impact school communities going forward, especially if the right resources and safety measures are not put in place.…Read More

It’s time to focus on learning experience design

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that understanding the whole student matters. Since March of 2020, billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of person hours have been spent enabling remote learning access, rolling out strategic student supports—particularly around mental health—and providing emergency aid for students struggling with basic needs.

All the while, the committed educators focused on meeting this moment embraced a clear truth: Maslow trumps Bloom on learning journeys. Whether its early learning, K-12, higher education, or job training, we have been forcefully reminded by COVID to focus on the whole student experience if we want our learners to begin, continue, and succeed on their pathways to and through education.

Even pre-pandemic, a holistic student supports approach was becoming an essential feature of student success initiatives, particularly as the focus on student completion took hold over the last decade. However, much of this work has been anchored in strategic outreach and advising reform. With what we’ve learned and lived through over the last two years in rethinking instruction and student support with learner experiences at the center, we are now challenged to embrace this perspective in a more fulsome and integrative way in the learning process itself. Put simply: now is the time for learning experience designers.…Read More

3 financial literacy tips students can use now

While moving into adulthood, teens are faced with a number of paths. Empowering students to select which path works best for them and determine how to best financially plan for the future are key to ensuring that some of their first adult decisions set them on a trajectory toward success.

While research shows a positive connection between higher education and economic status, it’s important to recognize that the traditional route to higher education does not work for every student. However, it is critical that every student have access to information that will help them plan for whatever path they choose.

Opting for traditional higher education can prove challenging for many due to the rising costs. Since the 1970s, college costs in the U.S. have tripled. Today, private school costs an average of $30,000+ per year while public college costs $22,000+ per year, according to U.S. News & World Report.…Read More

Using VR to radically improve learning outcomes

“When will I ever use this?”

Math students have been asking educators this very question for decades. And yet, it has long been reported by Brookings (Loveless, 2008) and others like the Algebra Project (Moses, 2001) that Algebra I is the gatekeeper to higher level math classes, higher education success, and careers in the technical fields. It is a commonly-held belief that algebraic concepts are directly related to critical thinking skills. So, what is the disconnect?

We have hovered our proverbial mouse over the 21st century now for two decades. Yet, our education system and structure had shown little to no trace of modernization. Bells rang, people moved. An agrarian calendar is used to let our students “off” for the summer to help with…wait, for what? …Read More

TeachingBooks Resources Available to 24 Million Readers with New Statewide Library Systems Added in 2021

CLEVELAND – February 3, 2022TeachingBooks, an online database of supplemental resources that enrich children’s and young adult books, had a busy year in 2021. In addition to being acquired by OverDrive in October, TeachingBooks announced the signing of four new statewide licenses and one territory license in 2021. TeachingBooks also was awarded the “Common Sense Selection for Learning” as a best-in-class resource for both students and educators.

With the addition of the new licenses, more than 24 million readers at over 55,000 schools, public libraries and higher education institutions can now access TeachingBooks’ curated educational materials. TeachingBooks deepens the learning experience by “bringing books to life” through their database of over 270,000 digital resources, including author interviews, video book trailers, discussion questions and literary games.

The five new licenses signed in 2021 represent more than 7,300 institutions and 2.6 million students. These library systems include:…Read More

Cost remains the top barrier to higher education

The cost of college, including the expense of living and the cost of tuition and course materials, is the biggest barrier to post-secondary education for students.

Not surprisingly, current, future and students who dropped out say “free college” would have the single biggest impact on them finishing or returning to post-secondary education, according to the Barriers to Post-Secondary Education Report from Cengage Group, a global education technology company.

The company surveyed more than 1,600 current college students, recent high school graduates and students who have dropped out of post-secondary education to better understand their education barriers and what would have the biggest impact on them completing their education.…Read More

It’s beyond time to showcase all postsecondary education paths

COVID-19 has caused a marked shift in attitudes toward higher education, particularly among high school students who are rethinking their options as they look ahead to a future career path that remains in flux due to the pandemic’s impact on the workforce and economy. While exacerbated over the past year, this was a trend we were seeing in the United States even before our nation went under lockdown.

Data from ECMC Group’s Question The Quo surveys fielded throughout the pandemic show more than half of students are open to something other than four-year college and the majority want to forge their own educational path.

In addition, while more than half of teens believe they can be successful with education they can complete in three years or less, a majority feel uninformed when it comes to their options, with 63 percent wanting their high school to provide more information about the variety of postsecondary education routes. Parents are also looking for options that stray from the four-year path, according to a recent Gallup poll.…Read More

The role of no-code in back-to-school safety

The next challenge for educators as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is safely returning to in-person learning. After over a year of forced shutdowns and adoption of an online workforce and remote learning, the logistics of safely returning to in-person learning are overwhelming. The challenge is even greater with the Delta variant of COVID-19 becoming more prolific, and K-12 districts, colleges, and universities are racing against the clock to figure out what their approach will be this coming fall.

Whether schools opt for a phased approach, stay with hybrid learning or proceed with fully in-person classes, the goal is the same: to safely, quickly and efficiently return to school. Further, higher education institutions have to be cognizant of their impact on the larger community. Colleges and universities are a hub–with thousands traveling to and from campus each year, mingling, cohabitating and more, what happens within an academic institution may reach far beyond the campus.

So what can be done to help leaders navigate these challenges? Enter no-code. The past year has highlighted the need for agility and the ability to adapt when change and disruption happens – which, as we know, is a constant. The adoption of no-code processes is vital to empowering organizations to adapt with change.…Read More

The future is all about durable skills

The price of a college degree continues to creep higher across the country. But has the value of that degree kept pace? Students expect their investment in college to pay off in the form of meaningful employment. However, according to new data, both recent grads and HR managers believe that the absence of durable skills–including people skills–training in higher education offers an opportunity for colleges and universities to partner with students and employers in closing a critical skills gap. 

A new report from Mursion, From Skill to Instinct: How Higher Education Can Bridge the Gap Between Classroom and Career, found that while the hard, technical skills ingrained throughout traditional academia are critical to career success, these skills may not be enough to stand out in a highly competitive job market.

In fact, the data revealed that 44 percent of HR professionals would hire an applicant with strong durable skills, such as superior people skills, over an applicant with superior hard skills.…Read More