Social and Economic Mobility for California’s Stranded Workers

Governor Brown’s 2018 budget includes a proposal to create a new community college—distinct from California’s existing 114 community colleges by being fully online—aimed at improving the economic outlooks of our state’s “stranded workers.” This population is generally considered to be adults aged 25-34 who have graduated from high school but have not completed a postsecondary degree.

Increasing education is a winning strategy for expanding skill sets and bolstering students’ economic outlooks. Online coursework may offer flexibility to navigate some of the obstacles faced by stranded workers if the right supports are in place. This brief takes a closer look at California’s stranded workers, highlighting ways a fully online community college could increase their economic and social mobility.

To learn more about California’s 2.5 million stranded workers, we examined population characteristics statewide and regionally, looking into their employment status, occupations, family structures, and the kinds of economic hardships they face.

  • Key findings include:
  • 54% of stranded workers are employed full-time
  • Half of women who are stranded workers have dependent children
  • 25% of stranded workers don’t have health insurance
  • More than half (58%) earn less than $25,000 annually.

Download the brief.


The Multi-Billion Dollar Industry That Makes Its Living From Your Data

In the ocean ecosystem, plankton is the raw material that fuels an entire food chain. These tiny organisms on their own aren’t that remarkable, but en masse, they have a huge impact on the world.

Here on dry land, the massive volume of content and meta data we produce fuels a marketing research industry that is worth nearly $50 billion. Every instant message, page click, and step you take now produces a data point that can be used to build a detailed profile of who you are.


The coarse-grained demographics and contact information of yesteryear seems quaint compared to today’s sophisticated data collection battleground. In the past, marketers would make judgement calls on your likely income and family structure based on where you lived, and you’d receive “targeted” mail and calls from telemarketers. Loyalty programs and the emergence of web analytics pushed things a little further.

Today, the steady march of technological advancement has created a vast data collection empire that measures every aspect of your digital life and, increasingly, your offline life as well. Facebook alone uses nearly one hundred data points to target ads to you – everything from your marital status to whether you’ve been on vacation lately or not. Telecoms have access to extremely detailed information on your location. Apple has biometric data.

Also watching your every move are web trackers. “Cookie-syncing” is one of the sneaky ways advertisers can follow you around the internet. Basically, cookie-syncing allows third parties to share browsing information at such a large scale that even the NSA “piggybacks” off them for surveillance purposes.

The recent sales growth of smart speakers will only increase the breadth of data companies collect and analyze. Amazon and Google have both filed patents for technology that would essentially allow them to mine audio recordings for keywords. Advertisers could potentially target you with diapers before your family and friends even know you’re expecting a baby.


While web trackers and companies like Apple and Google are collecting a lot of personal and behavioral data, it’s the whales of the data ecosystem – data brokers – who are creating increasingly detailed profiles on almost everyone.

Data brokers trade on the privacy of consumers and operate in the shadows.

– Senator Al Franken (D-Minn)

The goal of data brokers, such as Experian or Acxiom, is to siphon up as much personal data as possible and apply it to profiles. This data comes from a wide variety of sources. Your purchases, financial history, internet activity, and even psychographic attributes are mixed with information from public records to create a robust dossier. Digital profiles are then sorted into one of thousands of categories to help optimize advertising efforts.


According to Pew Research, 91% of Americans “agree” or “strongly agree” that people have lost control over how personal information is collected and used.

Though optimizing clickthroughs is a big business, companies are increasingly moving beyond advertising to extract value from their growing data pipeline. Amalgamated data is increasingly being viewed as a clever way to assess risk in the decision-making process (e.g. hiring, insurance, loan or housing applications), and the stakes for consumers are going up in the process.

For example, a man may feel comfortable sharing their HIV status on Grindr (for practical reasons), but may not want that information going to a third party. (Unfortunately, that really happened.)

In 2015, Facebook filed a patent for a service that would help insurance companies vet people based on the credit ratings of their social network.


Below the surface of our screens, our digital profiles continue to take shape.

Measures like adjusting website privacy controls and clearing cookies are a good start, but that’s only a fraction of the data companies are collecting. Not only do data brokers make it hard to officially opt out, their partnerships with corporations and advanced data collection methods cast such a wide net, that it’s almost impossible to exclude individual people.

Data brokers have operated with very little scrutiny or oversight, but that may be changing. Under intense public and governmental pressure, Facebook recently cut ties with data brokers. For a company that has bullishly pursued monetization of user data at every turn, the move is a sign that the public sentiment is changing.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

How’s YOUR Data?

Below’s infographic shows how YOUR data is collected and used.  Shouldn’t you OWN YOUR DATA? 


Pearson/UPCEA: What #HigherEd Needs to Know About the State of Alternative Credentials

As the workplace evolves, job candidates are eager to demonstrate what they know – and what they can do– to prospective employers.

That’s why workers are increasingly turning to alternative credentials like digital badges, certificates and microcredentials to highlight their professional value.

Here are six things higher education needs to know about the state of these popular new educational offerings from a new report from Pearson and UPCEA.


Transfer Students: A sizable source of Undergraduate Prospects

Can blockchain unleash the value in Community Colleges

As many enrollment officials are well aware, transfer students often face lukewarm reception on four-year campuses. They sometimes struggle to get answers to basic enrollment questions and are too frequently the last in line for course registration. These unfortunate realities signal a lingering misconception that transfer students are somehow less desirable than students who originate their educational journeys at four-year institutions.

Our research indicates, however, that four-year schools should actively recruit and embrace transfer students—the great wealth of them. Four million community college students that intend to transfer to four-year institutions fall out of the transfer pipeline each year. This number is particularly troubling in light of recent, pervasive institutional struggles to meet enrollment and net tuition revenue goals.

Fortunately, we have found that enrollment managers can increase campus enthusiasm for serving transfer students by communicating their contributions on four-year campuses.

Differentiated undergraduate enrollments

The population growth that once fueled enrollment is gone for the foreseeable future. The number of high school graduates dropped between 2010 and 2014, increasing competition for prospective undergraduate enrollments. Although growth rates have since rebounded, they will proceed at a slower rate. Institutions must look to non-traditional student segments to differentiate enrollment sources and meet enrollment goals.

Community Colleges: A sizable source of undergraduate prospects

Transfer Student Graphic_3

As shown above, 12.4 million undergraduate students are enrolled at community colleges; of these, nearly six million indicate intent to transfer to a four-year college or university—more than double the size of prospective first-time, full-time students looking to enroll at four-year institutions.

Bolstered tuition revenues

A combination of increasingly cost-conscious consumers, demographic shifts, and declines in public funding make meeting tuition revenue targets both more difficult and more important than ever before. As a result, many institutions are struggling to maintain the tuition revenue growth rates required for financial sustainability.

Many universities mistakenly perceive community college transfer students as disproportionately low-income and in need of greater financial support. But a comparison of two- and four-year entering cohorts reveals that transfer students have:

  • Stable family incomes: Community college transfer students are primarily middle income, with 21 percent falling within the highest income quartile.
  • Outsized revenue potential: Transfer students tend to yield higher tuition revenue per capita and are often less price-sensitive than first-time, full-time students given the money saved by first enrolling at a community college.

Increased campus diversity

Four-year institutions have long-held commitments to diversity and access, but demographic trends only intensify four-year access concerns: the fastest-growing student segments are most likely to enroll in a community college. African American and Hispanic students, for example, are more likely to attend a two-year institution than other racial and ethnic groups. Universities may need to increase their investments in community college transfer to achieve equal access to a four-year education for all student segments.

African American and Hispanic students more likely to attend a community college

Race and ethnic percentages at two- and four-year institutions, 2013

Transfer STudent Graphic 2

Supported student success

Administrators across higher education have been calling student success a “top priority” for years, but pressures to improve success are growing. Community college transfer students, especially those with associate’s degrees, have already demonstrated persistence. As illustrated below, a transfer student is more likely to graduate than a peer who started at the four-year institution. High transfer completion rates ensure both a steady tuition stream as well as continued access to government funding in an increasingly performance-based environment.

Six-year graduation rates by class and sector, 2000-2010

Transfer Student Graphic

Transfer students from community colleges have already begun their college experience and, for most, any remedial work has been completed at the two-year institution. Investments by four-year institutions in the preparation and pathing of community college students to a four-year degree will only further improve their likelihood to succeed.

To gain competitive advantage as “transfer-friendly,” four-year institutions must promulgate awareness across university communities that transfer students are valuable—even vital—to the future of their schools: Transfer students enrich campus life with a more diverse and persistent student population that can also bolster enrollment and net tuition revenue metrics.

#Blockchain in brief: Ways it can transform #HigherEd

new report from the European Commission sets out eight different scenarios for the application of blockchain technologies in education administration. In this blog post, the IT Forum explores the potential for some of these scenarios to disrupt status quo models for colleges and universities in North America.

by Danielle Yardy

Despite the hype, blockchain’s transactional speeds are still far too slow for global financial management. Bitcoin currently operates at just 0.01% of the efficiency of Visa for transaction clearance—and it uses 35 times as much energy to do so. But for slower transactional environments like higher education, the potential applications are diverse. In blockchain technologies, each “block” in a given “chain” represents a timestamped transaction relating to an asset with real-world value. Blocks cannot be changed, and are stored in perpetuity.


For colleges and universities, this technology presents various opportunities to transform the way that educational value is both recorded and transmitted. Here are six we think could make a stir soon:

1. Using a blockchain for automatic recognition and transfer of credits

What it looks like: Educational institutions award credits for completed courses on a custom blockchain built specifically for those credits. Implementation would require a credit standard, a custom blockchain, and sufficient community agreement to ensure immutability.

Why it matters: The decline in first-time, first-year student enrollments is having a real financial impact on a number of institutions across the United States and focusing on transfer students (a pool of prospects twice as large) has become an important strategy for many. But credit articulation presents a real challenge for institutions bringing in students from community colleges. While setting standardized articulation requirements across the nation presents a high hurdle, blockchain-supported initiatives may hold great promise for university and city education systems looking to streamline educational mobility in their communities.

2. Blockchains for tracking intellectual property and rewarding use and re-use of that property

What it looks like: Educators and researchers use blockchain to announce the publication of educational resources and record references used. Copyright is notarized at the date of publication and later re-use can be tracked for impact assessments.

Why it matters: Despite increasing demand for academic research to break out of the ivory tower (including mandates for publicly-funded projects), current citation tracking and research is severely limited by the intermediary role played by the journal industry. If researchers were able to publish openly and accurately assess the use of their resources, the access-prohibitive costs of academic book and journal publications could be circumvented, whether for research- or teaching-oriented outputs. Accurately tracking the sharing of knowledge without restrictions has transformative potential for open-education models.

3. Using verified sovereign identities for student identification within educational organizations

What it looks like: Students receive certification for their identity upon admission, which they use to identify themselves to any other areas of the institution without further need for storing personal data again.

Why it matters: The data footprint of higher education institutions is enormous. With FERPA regulations as well as local and international requirements for the storage and distribution of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), maintaining this data in various institutional silos magnifies the risk associated with a data breach. Using sovereign identities to limit the proliferation of personal data promotes better data hygiene and data lifecycle management and could realize significant efficiency gains at the institutional level.

4. Using a blockchain as a lifelong learning passport

What it looks like: Individuals store evidence of learning amassed from various sources, with verification of receipt/completion stored to a personal blockchain. This digital identity would allow users to upload their educational claims and submit them to providers for verification.

Why it matters: Changes in educational delivery methodologies are accelerating. Educational institutions and private businesses partner with online course delivery giants to extend the reach of their educational services and priorities. Traditional educational routes are increasingly less normal and in this expanding world of providers, the need for verifiable credentials from a number of sources is growing. Producing a form of digitally “verifiable CVs” would limit credential fraud, and significantly reduce organizational workload in credential verification.

5. Using blockchains to permanently secure certificates

What it looks like: Institutions replace public key certification infrastructures with digital signatures to permanently authenticate issued certificates. The open source solution Blockcerts already enables signed certificates to be posted to a blockchain and supports the verification of those certificates by third parties. Institutions and graduates must secure the physical or digital certificates, but the capacity for verification becomes eternal.

Why it matters: When an institution issues official transcripts, obtaining copies can be expensive and burdensome for graduates. But student-owned digital transcripts put the power of secure verification in the hands of learners, eliminating the need for lengthy and costly transcripts to further their professional or educational pursuits. An early mover, Central New Mexico Community College, debuted digital diplomas on the blockchain in December of 2017.

6. Using blockchains to verify multi-step accreditation

What it looks like: Verification by accreditation organizations that is stamped to the same blockchain as certificates marks a two-step authentication: Not only was the certificate issued by the stated institution at the given time, but at that same time, the institution was accredited by the signatory organization.

Why it matters:  As different accreditors recognize different forms of credentials and a growing diversity of educational providers issue credentials, checking the ‘pedigree’ of a qualification can be laborious. Turning a certification verification process from a multi-stage research effort into a single-click process will automate many thousands of labor hours for organizations and institutions.

While the use of blockchain technology is nascent in higher education, continued developments and their applications demand CIOs’ attention. To realize its full potential in education, open implementations will be crucial. Undoubtedly, vendors will attempt to establish proprietary platforms to protect their interests and CIOs must raise awareness of the limits of such partnerships among campus leadership before these developments proceed too far. Blockchain offers an opportunity to transform the administration of higher education from the inside. Institutions must be at the forefront of these endeavors to ensure they are effective.

#studentforceits all about the platform

4 Things Experts Want You to Know About #Blockchain in #HigherEd

The electronic ledger software holds a lot of potential for university data.

Though cryptocurrencies like bitcoin seem to have an uncertain future, the same can’t be said about blockchain, the electronic ledger and database technology used to store them.

At universities, blockchain is poised to help in aspects of data management, credentialing and research. From boosting security to enhancing access, the e-ledger tool has a lot of possibility.

Here are four ways experts think blockchain has a place in higher education:

1. All Learning Experiences Become Trackable

The higher education experience is different for every student and experts believe that blockchain could create a better way to track it. With students transferring from other institutions and with the rise of micro credentials, Phil Komarny, vice president of innovation at Salesforce and former chief digital officer at the University of Texas, tells EdSurge that blockchain could allow students to keep all of their credentials in one place and truly “own” their proof of learning.

EAB, an educational research board that specializes in data, reports in a blog that using blockchain for credentials could entice students from community colleges to transfer to universities because their educational experience would be automatically recognized.

2. Students’ Credentials Could Be More Accessible

With a blockchain record of their education, students are able to package informal and formal learning experiences to share with prospective employers.

“Until now, institutions have been the primary owner of transcripts and educational records,” says Veronica Diaz, director of professional learning at EDUCAUSE, in an EdTech article. “Blockchain affords the ability for students to display, assemble and augment learning experiences in a way that’s more appealing to employers.”

Generally, students will want to track their education in blockchain because they understand its ability to help tell employers exactly what they’ve learned, Aparna Krishnan, a University of California, Berkeley student and head of the Blockchain at Berkeley student group, tells EdSurge.

Roberto Santana, advisor to product and strategy at BitDegree, tells EdSurge that blockchain will also make it harder for students to list fraudulent credentials when applying for jobs.

3. More Secure Data Creates Opportunities

Komarny tells EdTech that blockchain can ease data management by adding security, and in turn, create more possibilities and empower innovation.

“Part of blockchain’s benefit is it creates this trust that’s layered into what we do,” he says in the article. “That gives us the ability to think differently about all policies and procedures. You start to look at the constraints that have been put in place because of the way the architecture was. We’re really changing the story.”

4. Researchers Could Boost Open Education

Blockchain can drive innovation for university researchers as well. EAB reports that if researchers use blockchain to announce the publication of educational resources, they can notarize copyright at the date of publication and later track reuse of materials.

This process would make the published research more readily available by cutting out the intermediary — often academic books and journal publications — and its costs for viewing the research, EAB notes.

“Accurately tracking the sharing of knowledge without restrictions has transformative potential for open-education models,” reports EAB.

All in all, blockchain allows students, educators, administrators and researchers to explore new possibilities.

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