It’s that time again – let’s take a look at 2020’s Top 10 Frontiers blog posts based on views by you, our readers!
Thank you for your support of WCET Frontiers through your subscriptions, comments, sharing, and guest authoring! 2020 was a challenge for us all, but we hope our posts provided you with assistance, explanations, and promising practices to help you with getting through each day.
Before We Announce the “Winners…”
Before we get to the Top 10, I’d like to feature some posts that didn’t quite make the “most read” list, but were nonetheless important topics discussed by our guest authors and staff.
This year we faced huge changes to our way of life, both professionally and personally. Many of our blog posts focused on these changes, starting with our “What’s Next” series, which looked at practical tips for surviving the shift to remote learning, the use of open educational resources (OER) and the role of open education during the pandemic, and innovative ways our member institutions responded and communicated with their campus community members (we’re looking at you Cowboy Joe). The “Fall and Beyond” series took the next step, and we considered the future of higher education in an age of COVID-19 and other disasters. We highlighted work from the Every Learner Everywhere Network on national surveys about the reactions and resilience of students and faculty in the wake of the pandemic and their outstanding initiative, The Equity Equation. In October we featured a three-post series on Academic Integrity, focused on threats to academic integrity, contract cheating, and cheating syndicates. We had so many amazing posts this year that we hope helped you with practical advice and considerations (I really wanted to include all of them in this list!).
Without further ado, our review of the Top 10!
1. Final Federal Regulations for State Authorization Released! – 11/4/2019, 6,021 views
Our most read post from 2020 was actually posted in 2019! Cheryl Dowd and Dan Silverman from the WCET State Authorization Network (SAN) reviewed the release of the “long awaited” 2019 Final Federal Regulations “Student Assistance General Provisions, The Secretary’s Recognition of Accrediting Agencies, The Secretary’s Recognition Procedures for State Agencies.” Based on the proposed regulations released in June 2019, these rules were a result of consensus through the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking process. This post, the first of two, reviewed state authorization related regulations, the guidance WCET and SAN asked of the Department of Education during the public comment period, any responses received to our public comment, and implications for institutions upon implementation.
2. Breaking news: U.S. Department of Education Guidance for interruptions of study related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – 3/5/2020, 4,530 views
Cheryl authored the number two post on our list as well when she wrote about the guidance from the Department of Education to address compliance with Title IV of the Higher Education Act for institutions whose activities were impacted by COVID-19. The article reviewed compliance flexibilities put in place to accommodate students so they could continue with their education as much as was possible. Cheryl also included information on the resources WCET curated regarding COVID-19.
3. Professional Licensure Student Disclosures – It’s the One-Month Warning, with No Time-outs Remaining – 5/29/2020, 3,913 views
Well, Cheryl was apparently quite the prolific author this year for Frontiers!
In her sports themed post on professional licensure disclosures, Cheryl provided the one-month warning for the implementation of state authorization and processional licensure disclosure regulations. The new regulations were effective July 1, 2020, and this post plus the new handbook from SAN and author Shari Miller were great playbooks and diagrams to help institutions ensure compliance.
4. Interpreting what is Required for “Regular and Substantive Interaction” – 9/30/2016, 3,516 views
To be honest, I would have been surprised if this post had not been on this list. A frequent flyer on our top read posts, this article from 2016 was written by Russ Poulin and Van Davis. The piece is a primer on interpreting the rules which require courses to include “regular and substantive interaction” between instructors and students. The article contains resources, the origin story for the phrase “regular and substantive interaction,” the main players interested in this topic, and the elements that add-up to regular and substantive interaction. Russ and Van also reviewed the impact of these rules on financial aid and laid out our further work in this area.
They weren’t lying about the additional work on this topic that Russ and Van wanted to do, just here on Frontiers we have several additional posts related to this topic, including some that are featured below.
5. New Regulations Review #1: Regular & Substantive Interaction – 4/3/2020, 2,539 views
At first, we thought this might be an April Fool’s Day joke, but it really wasn’t! This post from Van Davis reviewed the last set of regulations from the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking process, which were released for public comment on April 1st. This first post reviewed regular and substantive interaction and the second post (number 7 in this list) focused on changes to the definition of credit hour, changes in the calculation of correspondence education eligibility for Title IV financial aid programs, and proposed changes to defining a week of instruction for calculating an academic year.
6. Surprise! Newly Released Final Regulations – 8/26/2020, 2,387 views
The new regulations, mentioned above and below, were released in April for public comment and the final versions were released in late August 2020. This post from Van Davis reviewed re-definitions of distance education, regular and substantive interaction, clock and credit hours, academic year and week of instructional time, and direct assessment/CBE type programs.
7. New Regulations Review #2: Credit Hour, Title IV Eligibility, & What Exactly is a Week? – 4/6/2020, 2,095 views
See number five above… This post focused on the regulations from the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking process, which were released for public comment on April 1, 2020. In this second post, Van Davis reviewed changes to the definition of credit hour, changes in the calculation of correspondence education eligibility for Title IV financial aid programs, and proposed changes to defining a week of instruction for calculating an academic year.
8. Licensure Research & Disclosures: Stakeholder Engagement Tips – 2/5/2020, 2,051 views
Based on work completed by several WCET SAN workgroups on designated topic areas, this post provided ideas for communicating with stakeholders about such research and disclosures. The post also reviewed the importance of the topic and how to work within your institutional culture to showcase that importance. Finally, the article advised on getting your “foot in the door” to have a meeting, and how to prepare for stakeholder meetings.
9. Keeping Accessibility in Mind During the COVID-19 Conversion of Courses – 3/24/2020, 1,757 views
Cyndi Rowland, Executive Director of WebAIM, reminded us of the importance of keeping accessibility in mind even when courses are delivered using different modalities, as they were due to the pandemic. Learning materials were often inaccessible, applications selected to help facilitate learning were not usable by all, and materials caused issues as well (many were scanned or made without accessibility principles in mind). Cyndi provided great starting points for faculty and staff on how to make sure learning content was usable by all learners.
10. New Regulations #3: Direct Assessment and Competency-Based Education – 4/13/2020, 1,745 views
Our final post in the list was the third and final post analyzing the proposed rules based on the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking Process, which were released April 1, 2020. This post, again from Van Davis, reviewed the proposed changes to direct assessment and competency-based education programs.
Thank you for reviewing our Top 10 blog posts of 2020 with us! Like I said before, we appreciate your support of Frontiers and look forward to sharing more promising practices and information next year!