Innovative Practices that Work!

Technology has driven change in many ways.  It can be seen within the dynamic of the household, the manner in which people participate in the community, and it also has had a very profound impact on the manner in which we educate and train the future leaders of our society.  These changes, shifts in roles, manners of relation have greatly increased the responsibility of the university to provide a more “with-it” and “student-centered” approach to education and has greatly reinforced the drastic need for pedagogical change.  “Colleges and universities are confronting new types of students—younger and more technology-driven, as well as older and more career-driven. They are confronting unprecedented competition, aggressive accountability demands and a view of operating in a global context” (Fullan & Scott, 2010, p. 1).  Universities must find innovative ways to further meet the needs of the student while setting themselves apart from the old and the common.

Innovation comes from the ability to consciously consider multiple perspectives while looking for answers and solutions to relatively new and foreign ideas.  “Without the ability to see value in what others say, and without the capacity to think about issues within a futures context, there will be few truly innovative approaches that emerge to ensure that people, organizations, and communities remain vital and sustainable” (Marx, 2006, p. 151).

Portland State University, took quite seriously the changes in technology and the need for shifts in pedagogical styles within their university.  As a preemptive effort, Portland U began addressing technology needs from the beginning—understanding that the “student” has a much different role today, then he/she did twenty years ago.

According to Newbaker (2012) today’s college student is quite different than the student of twenty years ago. “54 percent of adult learners are age 25-29…34 percent of adult learners are 40 and over” (para. 3).  These full-time students represent a majority that have time constraints such as families, careers, and other limiting factors that impede their ability to attend schools during regular hours.  They want an education that is streamlined, efficient, accommodating to the time pressures and constraints that they must face on a daily basis.

Portland University’s accredited online program addresses the needs of the growing majority of student; a student that is unlike those of the past. According to Portland State University (2017), “The strength of our online degree programs is a big reason why U.S. News and World Report named us one of America’s top 10 most innovative universities” (para. 2).  The success of Portland can be replicated through a strong accreditation process that strongly monitors its inputs.  Professors with strong experience, refined and accredited programs, and flexibility have helped to maintain the rigor of its programs while addressing the individual needs of its students.

“Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)” (Portland State University, 2017, para. 2).  Manning (2014) suggests that accreditation has always served the innovation of the institution.  I chose Portland State because it has become a strong hybrid between the sterile education that traditional universities provide and the loose and immeasurable education the MOOCs offer.  If other schools want to see the successes of Portland U in their own universities, they need only do two things.  1. Follow an accreditation process that strictly enforces the processes, educational methods, and solvency of the university. 2. Plan for a program that specifically caters to the needs of its population.

Portland State            Computer Hall


Fullan, M., Scott, G. (11/2010). Turnaround Leadership for Higher Education, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781118570302/

Manning, S. (2014). Launching new institutions: Solving the chicken-or-egg problem in American higher education. Retrieved from http://www.aei.org/publication/launching-new-institutions-solving-chicken-egg-problem-american-higher-education.

Marx, G. (2006). Future Focused Leadership, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/MBS1526230/

Newbaker, P. (2012). More than onethird of college students are over 25. Retrieved from http://www.studentclearinghouse.org/about/media_center/press_releases/files/release_2012-04-19.pdf

Portland State University. (2017). Portland State PSU Online | Welcome. Retrieved May 23, 2017, from https://www.pdx.edu/psu-online/




3 thoughts on “Innovative Practices that Work!

  1. Laura Tuttle says:

    Hi Zach! You are absolutely correct…. it all comes down to meeting the requirements for accreditation, yet so many do not understand what this means. While many administrators and their assistance often view the accreditation process as a pain, it is important to understand how important it is for schools to be accredited. For students it is the difference between earning a degree that is recognized by an employer, and whether or not the school is eligible to receive federal student financial aid (Understanding accreditation, 2016). In fact, students and professionals who are considering employment within an institution of higher education should most certainly keep an eye out for some of the red flags which hint at hush-hush problems schools may have with becoming accredited. For example, Understanding Accreditation (2016) says we should watch for red flags such as these:

    Students are not eligible for federal financial aid.
    There is evidence of numerous student complaints about educational quality.
    Credits are awarded for very little work.
    The “accrediting agency” for the institution is not listed as a recognized agency by the Department of Education
    The institution has a name that is very similar to a well-known college or university.

    Understanding accreditation. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.collegesanddegrees.com/accreditation

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura Martin says:

    Hi Zach,

    I was intrigued by Portland University’s approach to hybrid education.Marx (2006) warns that, “without the capacity to think about issues within a futures context, there will be few truly innovative approaches that emerge to ensure that people, organizations, and communities remain vital and sustainable” (p. 151). Portland University has done a truly innovative thing by helping the shifting population access their desired degree. I most specifically enjoyed watching the video at the beginning that outlined how the program specifically works. Use tools like Google Hangouts to interact face-to-face (via screen) with classmates and professors is powerful! This eliminates the anonymity and isolation often associated with online learning. I know when I went out to Concordia for my Master’s degree graduation, I was saddened to think, “I wonder if any members of my cohort are here.” In that program, I knew colleagues by their writing and by their tiny thumbnail picture. I have appreciated how this doctorate program have given me more hands-on opportunities to know colleagues. After all, relationships are a key part of learning. Portland U’s innovation is putting the relationships back into online learning.

    Thanks for sharing your post!
    Laura Martin

    Marx, G. (2006). Future Focused Leadership, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/MBS1526230/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alyssa Lehl says:

    Zach, I really enjoyed your post on Portland State University. I, too, at one point and time was a student at Portland State. However, while PSU has addressed many technological and pedagogical issues and has made great strides in developing an excellent program and curriculum there are some real issues students’ face that may be a barrier to becoming a student at PSU.
    PSU has once again approved an 8.4 percent tuition hike to cover rising cost and a growing student population (OPB, 2017). PSU has implemented a freshman learning community program similar to Georgia State University and that requires housing space that runs at a premium. The urban area of Portland, Oregon has one of the highest housing costs in the country and there appears no end to those rent increases. Overall costs are rising also, and Portland State’s aging housing complexes face issues with deterioration, overcrowding and lack of space, not to mention other pre-1978 building issues including presence of lead in the buildings (PSU Housing Safety, 2017). Classroom buildings and other infrastructure are deteriorating as PSU faces continual budget shortfalls.
    Resolution of these types of issues plus the growing student population is necessary. PSU has an excellent program and continues to embrace technology to enhance its offerings. However, in order to develop a sustainable, resilient program PSU must, as Bowen (2013) states, “address complex issues of “sustainability” (for example, how users of new offerings, including users on campuses other than the “home campus,” can be sure that the offerings will continue to exist and even to be improved over time” (p. xvi). Re-architecting some of the delivery processes may also alleviate some of the other infrastructural issues that PSU experiences, possibly reduce the cost of tuition as its student population grows as well as assist in decreasing the budget shortfall.
    Bowen, W. G. (2013). Higher education in the digital age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
    Manning, R. (2017, May 25). Oregon commission reverses course, approves tuition hikes for UO and PSU. Retrieved May 25, 2017, from Oregon Public Broadcasting: http://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-portland-state-tuition-hike-approve-commission/
    University, P. S. (2017). Housing lead safety. Retrieved May 25, 2017, from Portland State University: Enrollment Management & student affairs: https://www.pdx.edu/housing/housing-lead-safety

    Liked by 1 person

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