Higher Ed 2016: Agenda

September 16–17, 2016 • Tempe, Arizona

Friday, September 16

Innovation and the Future of Higher Education
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

In many industries, innovation is the engine that pushes businesses toward success, but colleges and universities haven’t changed much in centuries. What are some universities doing to change the academic experience for students and break down the barriers between departments, for example, making courses in science and engineering more attractive to more students? And how can students use these experiences to solve real-world problems? This session will examine how schools geared to global grand challenges can heighten student engagement, as well as how the growing intersection of digital and on-campus courses can change the student experience.​

  • Erica Muhl, University of Southern California
  • David Neidorf, Deep Springs College
  • Sethuraman Panchanathan, Arizona State University
  • Kyle Squires, Arizona State University
  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association (moderator)

Analyze This: Using Data to Improve Student Success
2:30 – 3:45 p.m.

More colleges and universities are using information about students’ backgrounds and past experiences to stop bad academic habits before they begin. It’s called predictive analytics, and its potential has higher-education reformers excited. By looking at trends among students with similar characteristics, some colleges have steered students toward positive behaviors like declaring a major early, meeting with mentors, or going online to look at homework material. But data-privacy experts and skeptics say data breaches and unclear intentions could color this fast-moving trend. Learn about the ethics, possible gains and past pitfalls of predictive analytics.

  • Frederick Corey, Arizona State University
  • Brenda Leong, Future of Privacy Forum
  • Mark Milliron, Civitas Learning
  • Carrie Wells, Baltimore Sun (moderator)

Command Performance: Outcomes-Based Funding and Student Success
4:00 – 5:15 p.m.

A majority of states have created some type of performance-based model that provides public colleges and universities with extra dollars for showing better results, like graduating more students. To some, these policies force colleges to make sure they are getting the most out of taxpayers’ dollars. To critics, the outcomes-based approach encourages administrators to enroll fewer low-income or first-generation students, as those pupils are less likely to graduate and might hurt the school’s finances. What does the evidence show about these arguments? How might these policies affect students and universities today?

  • Eileen Klein, Arizona Board of Regents
  • Dustin Weeden, National Conference of State Legislatures (Organization)
  • Alia Wong, The Atlantic (moderator)

Dinner and Keynote: Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University
6:30 p.m.

Michael Crow  is guiding the transformation of ASU into one of the nation’s leading public metropolitan research universities, an institution that seeks to combine the highest levels of academic excellence, inclusiveness to a broad demographic, and maximum societal impact — a model he terms the “New American University.” Crow was recently named one of “America’s Ten Most Innovative College Presidents” by Washington Monthly magazine, which said “his ideas are getting lots of attention from a higher ed community that’s always looking for ways to get more degrees in the hands of less-advantaged students.”

Saturday, September 17

8:30 a.m.

Top 10 Higher Ed Stories You Should Be Covering This Year
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

From the presidential election to racial tensions on college campuses, recent developments could change the nature of higher education for years to come. Inside Higher Ed Co-Founder and Editor Scott Jaschik shares his insights on these two topics, along with other topics journalists should track this fall.

  • Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed

Borrowing Trouble? Income Share Agreements, Loan Forgiveness & Refinancing
10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

Few news articles about student financial aid omit the staggering fact that total student loan debt for former college-goers stands at $1.3 trillion. While the U.S. Department of Education has aggressively enrolled more borrowers into repayment plans that are based on how much they earn, millions of people remain either in default or near it. As a result, several efforts — both private and public — have emerged to potentially help students manage their college loans. Learn about investors paying for college expenses in exchange for a share of the student’s future income; the federal government forgiving debt of students who attended for-profit colleges; and the rise of a new kind of private lender encouraging borrowers to refinance their loans at purportedly low interest rates.

  • Debbie Cochrane, The Institute for College Access & Success
  • Brianna McGurran, NerdWallet
  • Miguel Palacios, Vanderbilt University
  • Joshua Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal (moderator)

What Reporters Need to Know About Competency-Based Education
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

For years, advocates of competency-based education — awarding students college credits based on the skills and knowledge they demonstrate rather than the time spent in a classroom — have argued that the approach will enable more students to earn degrees and make college more affordable. But will this approach to education, which some say has largely centered on skills development, undermine colleges’ commitments to providing students with a broader base of knowledge? As competency-based education develops more momentum among politicians and administrators, what questions should journalists be asking?

  • Laurie Dodge, Competency-Based Education Network (Organization)
  • Corrine Gordon, Northern Arizona University
  • Matthew Soldner, American Institutes for Research
  • Michael Stratford, Politico (moderator)

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Building Better Stories: Ideas for Covering Innovation
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

In this workshop led by veteran higher education reporters, journalists brainstorm story ideas and share their reporting tips and advice with one another.

First in the Family: What Works for First-Generation College Students
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.

For students who are the first in their families to attend college, navigating higher education can be particularly challenging, in part because they can’t turn to their families for guidance from experience. But some programs are starting to work with families before students even apply to college, offering information and support to help the students succeed once they enroll. How might such programs, in addition to other ways of supporting first-generation students, help them better adapt to college?

  • Audree Hernandez, College Advising Corps
  • Maureen Hoyler, Council for Opportunity in Education (Organization)
  • Ricardo Nieland Jr., Arizona State University
  • Alejandro Perilla, Arizona State University American Dream Academy
  • Andrew Theen, The Oregonian (moderator) (Organization)

If you are a working journalist and need financial assistance to attend Higher Ed 2016, you may be eligible to receive a travel scholarship that could cover most or all of your travel-related expenses.