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April 27, 2015, 03:01 PM ET

Wearable Teaching? College to Experiment With Apple Watch as Learning Tool

Even before the Apple Watch was released, professors and pundits began speculating on whether it and other wearable devices might play a role in college classrooms. On Monday researchers at Pennsylvania State University's main campus announced that they would be among the first to test the device’s usefulness in the classroom. The experiment will begin this summer, with eight Apple Watches the university purchased for the project. Penn State plans to expand the research to more students in the fall. We caught up with Kyle Bowen, director of education-technology services at Penn State, to hear more about the project, and his thoughts on the possible role of wearables in teaching and learning. Following is an edited version of the conversation. Q. I understand a professor there will be experimenting with Apple Watch to measure student learning this fall. Can you briefly describe that... Read More

April 23, 2015, 04:55 AM ET

Tools That Limit Distraction May Raise Student Performance in Online Classes

For students taking courses online, the endless distractions of the Internet can be a hindrance to success. But using software to limit those diversions can make a big difference. That's the takeaway from a new study, which found that limiting distractions can help students perform better and also improve course completion. A paper describing the study, "Can Behavioral Tools Improve Online Student Outcomes? Experimental Evidence From a Massive Open Online Course," was published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute this month. Richard W. Patterson, the author of the paper and a doctoral candidate in policy analysis and management at the university, says online courses and degree programs can provide opportunities for students who may not otherwise have access to higher education, but distraction and procrastination throw up barriers to their success. Mr. Patterson, who... Read More

April 19, 2015, 03:15 PM ET

How Social Media Helps Students Adapt to College

For today's students, social media isn't just a diversion. It's a support system. That's the key finding of a paper exploring the role that Facebook plays in helping students adjust to campus life. Collin M. Ruud, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented the paper, "Social Networking and Social Support: Does It Play a Role in College Social Integration?," on Sunday at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting. Mr. Ruud has been observing the effects of social media for years. He was an assistant residence-hall manager when social-networking sites first started to take off, and he was immediately interested in how they might affect student development. For his recent research, Mr. Ruud conducted online surveys, collecting 159 responses from undergraduates at an unnamed flagship university in the Midwest. He... Read More

April 13, 2015, 02:00 PM ET

Blogs Aren't Better Than Journal Assignments. They're Just Different.

Although some instructors are phasing out journal-keeping assignments in favor of a class blog, a study has found that blogs are not inherently better instructional tools. Drew Foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, recently said so in a paper, "Private Journals Versus Public Blogs: The Impact of Peer Readership on Low-Stakes Reflective Writing," published in Teaching Sociology. With all the hype about blogging, Mr. Foster decided to give it a try in an introduction-to-sociology course he was teaching. He was surprised to find that the quality of the students' writing was better than what he'd seen in private journals he'd graded as a teaching assistant in another intro course. That got him thinking about the differences between the two media, so he decided to do some research. He compared more than 2,000 blog posts and journal entries... Read More

April 8, 2015, 01:00 PM ET

New Offering From Noodle Will Help Colleges Build Online Programs

The education site Noodle is putting a new twist on helping colleges create online degree and certificate programs with its creation of Noodle Partners, announced on Wednesday. Noodle Partners, the brainchild of the Princeton Review founder John Katzman, is an enabler -- a company that helps colleges build online-education programs. Several other companies provide similar services, one of them being 2U, also founded by Mr. Katzman. But Noodle Partners is different from other enablers, said Jodi Rothstein, the company's chief product officer . It helps colleges to assemble, rather than build, platforms, collaborating with a variety of vendors to develop online-education programs, Ms. Rothstein said.   She sees room in the marketplace for both Noodle Partners and 2U. With existing enablers, it's "all or nothing," Ms. Rothstein said, but with Noodle Partners, colleges can pick and ... Read More

April 2, 2015, 04:55 AM ET

Who's Taking MOOCs? Teachers

In free online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teachers are increasingly the students. A study by the two universities has found that teachers are enrolling in their MOOCs in high numbers. The study examines data from some one million MOOC students who enrolled in courses at edX, the nonprofit learning platform started by Harvard and MIT. Some one-fifth of participants answered a survey about their background in teaching, and 39 percent of them said they were current or former teachers. Justin Reich, a research fellow at HarvardX, the university's online arm, says he was surprised by the number of teachers who take MOOCs. "It's the kind of thing that makes sense in retrospect, but it was novel information in the sense that not a lot of people were saying, 'Hey, as we're planning and designing these things, we really need to think...

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March 30, 2015, 04:55 AM ET

Northeastern U. Will Open Education 'Hub' in Silicon Valley Company

Like many colleges these days, Northeastern University is building an outpost in Silicon Valley. But the university touts its unusual approach, opening an education "hub" within a high-tech company. The university will offer courses in the San Jose offices of Integrated Device Technology, which manufactures semiconductors. The outpost will offer a master's program in engineering management and two certificate programs, one in data science and the other in technology-project management. The Silicon Valley location is part of Northeastern's Global Network program, which already has campuses in Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle. In Silicon Valley there's significant demand for people with skills in technology and data science, so the university decided to create a more-focused program than the ones it has in its other locations, says Philomena V. Mantella, senior vice president and chief... Read More

March 24, 2015, 04:51 AM ET

Online or In-Person? One College Lets Students Switch Back and Forth

When you register for a course, you often have a choice: in-person or online. But at Peirce College, you don't have to pick one or the other. All students will soon get access to both formats in the same course. Peirce, a college in Philadelphia that caters specifically to adult learners, plans to allow its students to switch back and forth between attending class in person or online, based on which is more convenient for them on a given week. The flexible delivery model will be offered in certain programs this fall and it will be extended to the college’s entire curriculum by September of 2016. The initiative is part of the college’s 2015-2018 strategic plan. Last year the college ran a pilot program to see how students would respond to the new flexibility, and the results were promising, said Stephanie Donovan, assistant professor and faculty chair for health programs. Students ... Read More

March 20, 2015, 04:55 AM ET

U. of New Haven and Upstart Coding School Team Up on Master's Program

A new breed of for-profit coding schools has emerged in recent years, largely as a skills-focused alternative to traditional higher education. Now one of them has joined forces with a traditional university to build a master's program. The University of New Haven has teamed up with Galvanize, one of those upstart coding schools, to create GalvanizeU, a 12-month master’s program in data science based in San Francisco. The program will allow students to both take courses and work alongside industry players. The inaugural class will begin coursework next week. Jim Deters, chief executive of Galvanize, said he wanted to build a new type of skills-based school. He knew a lot about the skills important to the tech world, but he didn’t know much about the world of education. When the company started gSchool, an unaccredited program, in January 2013, Mr. Deters said he realized there were... Read More

March 19, 2015, 04:55 AM ET

LinkedIn Expands Efforts to Help Colleges Keep in Touch With Students and Alumni

LinkedIn is doing more these days to attract college students, and to work with colleges to use the website to get better data on what their students do after graduation. The social-networking company announced on Wednesday a new feature that allows college students and graduates to add their college affiliation to the education section of their profile by clicking a button on the college's website or in an email from the college. When they do that, public information from their profile, such as where they live and work and what they do, is then compiled into college-specific metrics. The metrics, which are accessible via LinkedIn, allow users to see what a college's alumni are up to. Those statistics are not new, but the new button could increase the number of students who take part, which could bring more data to the colleges and to LinkedIn. At the University of California at San... Read More