Page 46 - Campus Technology, May/June 2018
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C-Level View
As for technology’s role, it is an affor- dance and a means by which universities can better reach their audiences and at the very least engage with them in new ways. Still, there are huge challenges pressing universities. The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the is- sues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.
CT: Are these mounting challenges go- ing to cause more and more divisions among institutions?
Long: Probably. We’re already starting to see partitioning between universities that are more successful at navigating these wa- ters and others that are finding enrollments dropping and, in some cases, having ques- tions about their ability to sustain at all.
CT: What are a few of the more specific areas in which institutions may find it dif- ficult to navigate?
Long: Just from a very high level view, I’d include on that list: big data and the increas- ing sophistication of algorithms, with the associated benefits and risks; artificial intel- ligence with all its implications for good ... and for peril; and perhaps most important, new applications and practices that support how we recognize learning.
CT: The first two seem like challenges that have come about relatively recently. But what’s new and challenging about ways to recognize learning?
Long: The entire landscape for assess-
ing and recognizing learning is changing. Internally, it’s very important now that the institution thoroughly understand the pro- cesses of how we recognize learning; exter- nally we need to learn how to convey those processes that will help others see the value of the university in contributing to the growth of workers and citizens. Our practices re- lated to all this should become increasingly transparent, and more measurable.
CT: Where might institutions focus their work, as they try to recognize learning in ways that will keep them relevant for the future? On faculty? On administrative systems?
Long: Speaking in practical terms, I think the overarching question might be: How do we understand what happens in the uni- versity environment and communicate that to the broader public with clarity, transpar- ency and openness? (Let me make a quick distinction here. Transparency is seeing clearly what’s going on behind the cur- tains. Openness is sharing what is going on, but not necessarily simply a direct, un- adorned snapshot of it.)
So, we have to be able to change and stop doing some things, and to stay relevant and focus our efforts on being ever more transparent.
A statement of one of the areas in which we need greater transparency is: How do faculty go about assessing and judging what students have learned? Along with
that, can we develop better communications about what students are learning?
Note, I don’t mean to imply that there is any sort of crisis in the professoriate. The actual challenge to recognizing learning is that our organizational structure for enabling faculty to do what they do well is increas- ingly impinging on their capability to do it.
We need to do a better job of showing not just what the student can think about, but what the student can do. What can
the student produce as a consequence of their time spent on a particular course or in a particular classroom? Use of rubrics can help us put more transparency into our as- sessment of student work — rather than re- lying on the old, more opaque letter grades. Students also need to learn how to translate their academic experiences into relevant business value for a prospective employer.
An important place for developing openness is the contribution of the institution to the surrounding economic and social community.
We have seen over the past several de-

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