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Study Abroad – UK, Italy and Spain Host 32% of US Students

From the Institute of International Education November 2013

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Colleges Keep Track of HS Students’ Social Media Mentions

At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., admissions officers are still talking about the high school senior who attended a campus information session last year for prospective students. Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.

“Perhaps she hadn’t realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions.”

“It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that,” Scott A. Meiklejohn, Bowdoin’s dean of admissions and financial aid, told me last week. The college ultimately denied the student admission, he said, because her academic record wasn’t competitive. But had her credentials been better, those indiscreet posts could have scuttled her chances.

“We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” Mr. Meiklejohn said.

As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects. In fact, new research from Kaplan Test Prep, the service owned by the Washington Post Company, suggests that online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing.

Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31 percent said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects.

“Students’ social media and digital footprint can sometimes play a role in the admissions process,” says Christine Brown, the executive director of K-12 and college prep programs at Kaplan Test Prep. “It’s something that is becoming more ubiquitous and less looked down upon.”

In the business realm, employers now vet the online reputations of job candidates as a matter of course. Given the impulsiveness of typical teenagers, however — not to mention the already fraught nature of college acceptances and rejections — the idea that admissions officers would covertly nose around the social media posts of prospective students seems more chilling.

There is some reason for concern. Ms. Brown says that most colleges don’t have formal policies about admissions officers supplementing students’ files with their own online research. If colleges find seemingly troubling material online, they may not necessarily notify the applicants involved.

“To me, it’s a huge problem,” said Bradley S. Shear, a lawyer specializing in social medialaw. For one thing, Mr. Shear told me, colleges might erroneously identify the account of a person with the same name as a prospective student — or even mistake an impostor’s account — as belonging to the applicant, potentially leading to unfair treatment. “Often,” he added, “false and misleading content online is taken as fact.”

These kinds of concerns prompted me last week to email 20 colleges and universities — small and large, private and public, East Coast and West Coast — to ask about their practices. Then I called admissions officials at 10 schools who agreed to interviews.

Each official told me that it was not routine practice at his or her institution for admissions officers to use Google searches on applicants or to peruse their social media posts. Most said their school received so many applications to review — with essays, recommendations and, often, supplemental portfolios — that staff members wouldn’t be able to do extra research online. A few also felt that online investigations might lead to unfair or inconsistent treatment.

“As students’ use of social media is growing, there’s a whole variety of ways that college admissions officers can use it,” Beth A. Wiser, the director of admissions at the University of Vermont, told me. “We have chosen to not use it as part of the process in making admissions decisions.”

Other admissions officials said they did not formally prohibit the practice. In fact, they said, admissions officers did look at online material about applicants on an ad hoc basis. Sometimes prospective students themselves ask an admissions office to look at blogs or videos they have posted; on other occasions, an admissions official might look up an obscure award or event mentioned by an applicant, for purposes of elucidation.

“Last year, we watched some animation videos and we followed media stories about an applicant who was involved in a political cause,” says Will Hummel, an admissions officer at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. But those were rare instances, he says, and the supplemental material didn’t significantly affect the students’ admissions prospects.

Admissions officials also said they had occasionally rejected applicants, or revoked their acceptances, because of online materials. Often, these officials said, a college may learn about a potential problem from an outside source, such as a high school counselor or a graduate, prompting it to look into the matter.

Last year, an undergraduate at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., who had befriended a prospective student on Facebook, notified the admissions office because he noticed that the applicant had posted offensive comments about one of his high school teachers.

“We thought, this is not the kind of person we want in our community,” Angel B. Perez, Pitzer’s dean of admission and financial aid, told me. With about 4,200 applications annually for a first-year class of 250 students, the school can afford to be selective. “We didn’t admit the student,” Mr. Perez said.

But colleges vary in their transparency. While Pitzer doesn’t contact students if their social media activities precluded admission to the school, Colgate University does notify students if they are eliminated from the applicant pool for any reason other than being uncompetitive candidates.

“We should be transparent with applicants,” says Gary L. Ross, Colgate’s dean of admission. He once called a student, to whom Colgate had already offered acceptance, to check whether an alcohol-related incident that was reported online was indeed true. (It was, and Colgate rescinded the offer of admission.)

“We will always ask if there is something we didn’t understand,” Mr. Ross said.

In an effort to help high school students avoid self-sabotage online, guidance counselors are tutoring them in scrubbing their digital identities. At Brookline High School in Massachusetts, juniors are taught to delete alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses. One junior’s original email address was “bleedingjesus,” said Lenny Libenzon, the school’s guidance department chairman. That changed.

“They imagine admissions officers are old professors,” he said. “But we tell them a lot of admissions officers are very young and technology-savvy.”

Likewise, high school students seem to be growing more shrewd, changing their searchable names on Facebook or untagging themselves in pictures to obscure their digital footprints during the college admission process.

“We know that some students maintain two Facebook accounts,” says Wes K. Waggoner, the dean of undergraduate admission at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

For their part, high school seniors say that sanitizing social media accounts doesn’t seem qualitatively different than the efforts they already make to present the most appealing versions of themselves to colleges. While Megan Heck, 17, a senior at East Lansing High School in Michigan, told me that she was not amending any of her posts as she applied early to colleges this month, many of her peers around the country were.

“If you’ve got stuff online you don’t want colleges to see,” Ms. Heck said, “deleting it is kind of like joining two more clubs senior year to list on your application to try to make you seem more like the person they want at their schools.”

John-Patrick Thomas (Picture)
Written by NATASHA SINGER
Published: November 9, 2013, New York Times
They Loved Your GPA Then Saw Your Tweets

Funding Your Education? Student Loans Are Only One Method

Student Loans? Cash-Crunched Students Get Creative to Attend College
Courtesy of: OnlineColleges.com

Educause ECAR Student & Technology Research Study 2013

Educause 2013 (ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology)

ECAR_2013

People Driving the (R)evolution in #HigherEd; Not Technology

unit4-business-software-squarelogo-1372242144321Published October 18, 2013 by Unit4, Written by Ms. Sally Ellis

I’ve just read a report by the OBHE (Observatory on Borderless Higher Education) highlighting how it thinks things will have changed by 2020, and it’s not quite as dramatic as some of the other predictions I’ve seen, and have even been made by my colleagues!

We constantly hear how technology is redefining the shape of HE, but instead of conforming to this popular view, the report states that its people that are driving the change, NOT technology. In many respects this is a fair assessment as technology supports the demands of students, academics and administrative staff helping them to work better, faster and more flexibly. And it’s their demands that are driving technology to evolve. This is something we know at UNIT4 because we’ve been working in partnership with some of the world’s top universities to understand their demands and create software that goes over and above what institutions have come to expect. Both universities we worked with acted as early adopters of the software and the Research Costing and Pricing solution we developed to meet the needs of modern HEIs is now readily available.

UNIT4 attended the Educause event in Anaheim this week, and the word on everyone’s lips was change. People are READY for change, and ready for the software and technology that can bring it about. So, whilst I agree in part with the OBHE that people drive change, without the technology that has been created and innovated by research and development teams people wouldn’t be able to force through the transformations they want.

I readily subscribe to the view that academic provision and accreditation are unbundling too; the rise of MOOCs are starting to change people’s perceptions of study- how and when you can do it. Unbundling will allow more students from diverse backgrounds across the world easy access to education, which will be a fantastic change.

It’s an interesting point that the globalisation of HE will slow down, but again it makes sense – it can only keep growing for so long until the sector become saturated. I think however, that we will continue to see a rise in global partnerships between institutions themselves and between businesses and institutions. Businesses will help to play a more central role in education as the competitive jobs market continues. Companies will influence the shape of certain courses, creating students who can fit the roles they need to fill, and in turn making sure more graduates are in work.

The three R’s; Paper, Pencil and Google Apps for Edu ??

Reposted from EdTech Digest October 8, 2013; written by Rob May CEO of Backupify

More than seven million K-12 students throughout the country use Google Apps for Edu and they aren’t alone. Seventy-two of the top 100 Universities (according to U.S. News & World Report) use Google Apps too – including seven of the eight Ivy League institutions.  The service is quickly gaining traction as connectivity increasingly becomes an essential part of everyday learning.  Students and teachers can easily collaborate in real time through a web application, and the vast majority are already familiar with the Google platform, meaning adoption is fairly seamless. The service is also compelling for IT departments working on tight budgets with limited infrastructure resources.

While the influx of Google Apps in the education sector provides huge opportunities for collaboration and cost-cutting, this new era also comes with its own set of challenges – specifically around holding student-related data in the cloud. For example, Gmail accounts help students easily work together but they can also introduce cyber bullying. Google Docs is a simple way to share an assignment but new excuses now arise in the form of “I swear I did it, Google must have lost it.”

The fact of the matter is that data stored in SaaS services like Google Apps for Education is not fully protected. Forty-seven percent of SaaS data loss is a result of end-user deletion (something Google cannot recover). Many teachers and IT admins at schools that are adopting Google Apps, however, are unaware of the limitations that Google has around data backup. Although Google is one of the safest productivity suites in the world, it does not protect against user error (e.g., a student overwriting or deleting an important assignment in Google Docs)

While enterprise organizations are also faced with new IT challenges related to backing up the cloud, schools, in particular, have their own unique set of hurdles to overcome, including:

Massive amounts of personal student data. As teachers use Google Apps in their classroom day to day, they begin to accumulate massive amounts of data – much of it personal student-related information. With this kind of data saved in cloud services, schools can face a long list of regulatory requirements (depending on the state) that call for strong efforts to meet compliance. Schools stress the importance of privacy but Google does not always guarantee it.

Cyber bullying. Statistics show that about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. Google Apps for Edu can unfortunately be another avenue for students to bully one another – a problem that is already a challenge for many schools. Schools therefore must have a quick and easy way to recover emails and documents that might be used for reference in legal cases around bullying – even if they were deleted from Google.

Loss of control. IT managers give up the reins a bit when they move to the cloud through Google Apps for Edu. They may feel a loss of control since they no longer have to maintain on-premise physical hardware and keep track of bundles of software updates. Using cloud-to-cloud backup provides a fix for IT managers who want to ensure they have the last say on all the data in the cloud. Creating a second copy allows these professionals to rest assured that they will have any data they need, when they need it, without relying on Google

Taking data to the cloud can be a scary transition in any industry and the education sector is no different. As more and more schools implement Google Apps for Education, it is more important than ever to determine what supporting technologies are necessary to make the transition a smooth one. There are many resources available to newbies jumping into the world of Google Apps, including education technology associations, LinkedIn Groups or even the Google Education Summit. Cloud-to-cloud backup is just one of the many technologies that can help schools ensure that their data in the cloud is protected – and make students leave the “Google Ate My Homework” excuse at home.

Rob May is the CEO of Backupify, makers of Backupify for Education, a leading cloud-to-cloud backup solution allowing schools to retain control over their critical data, prevent data loss and adhere to data compliance requirements. Write to: rob@backupify.com

 

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