Students and campus-security officials alike are increasingly
turning to mobile apps to report incidents and disseminate
emergency information—in part because students are "mobile-device
driven," as one university police chief puts it, and in part
because those devices incorporate features, like GPS and cameras,
that can come in handy when reporting a problem. Now Blackboard,
the course-management heavyweight, is setting up a partnership that
will incorporate an app called In Case of Crisis into the
Blackboard mobile app, Mosaic. According to a news
release, the enhancement can store up-to-date emergency
information on the mobile device, so the information is available
even if the device loses contact with wireless and cellular
networks. Colleges will also be able to send emergency alerts to
the devices, and students and other users will be able to report
New Orleans — At almost any gathering of academic
publishers or librarians, you'll hear someone float the
idea—sometimes phrased as a question—that the model for publishing
scholarly monographs is broken. Two sets of ideas aired at the
Association of American University Presses' annual meeting, held
here this week, don't say the model is damaged beyond repair. But
the proposals, both from groups outside the university-press
community, suggest that it needs to be retrofitted, at the least.
One possible approach came from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,
and the other from a task force on scholarly communications run
jointly by the Association of American Universities and the
Association of Research Libraries. Both raised the question of how
to better subsidize the digital publication of scholarly
monographs, and both included the notion that faculty authors' home
institutions might do...
In December 2013 a group of academics
gathered during a Texas snowstorm and began the second phase of
a discussion about massive open online courses. They were not
terribly impressed by the hype the courses had received in the
popular media, and they had set out to create a better body of
literature about MOOCs—albeit a less sensational one. The MOOC Research Initiative, backed
by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, had given many of those
academics research grants to study what was going on in the online
courses. Now the organization has posted preliminary findings from
some of those research projects. The findings have not yet been
peer-reviewed and should not be generalized, but they do represent
some of the most rigorous analysis to date on MOOCs. Following is a
synopsis of the more interesting findings. For wonkier
interpretations of the data, you can find the researchers’...
New Orleans — Nothing gladdens a publisher's heart more
than hearing readers say they still like to buy books—and printed
books at that. At the Association of American University Presses'
annual meeting, which wrapped up here this week, a panel of
scholars talked about how much of their work was still print-based
even as chatter at the conference focused on e-books, metadata, and
new ideas about how to make it easier to publish monographs
digitally. The panel included associate and assistant professors as
well as graduate students in the humanities and social sciences.
They work with PDFs and e-books but made it clear they are still
attached to the hold-it-in-your-hand, mark-it-up-with-a-pencil
reading experience. "I am a person who needs to write in books,"
Campbell, a graduate student in Latin American studies at Rice
University. Ditto with articles: "I do prefer to...
Donald J. Boudreaux’s five-minute
video lecture on the evolution of human prosperity—complete
with slick animation, studio lighting, and killer graphics—looks
seamless. Making it, he says, was anything but. “It was hard,” says
Mr. Boudreaux, an economics professor at George Mason University.
“There were a lot of takes.” In all, he spent two full days filming
the four lectures that compose his new course, “Everyday
Economics.” The result—produced by a professional film studio in
San Francisco—is undeniably chic. In the winding path online
education has taken, it marks a turn toward video lectures so
short, scrumptious, and simple they can stand alone, and perhaps
even go viral. “For this type of material, let’s face it, we’re
competing with BuzzFeed,” says Alex Tabarrok, a fellow professor at
George Mason and co-founder of Marginal Revolution University,...
Carnegie Mellon University's receiving a grant to study MOOCs is no
surprise. But the source's identity is bound to raise eyebrows.
Google announced on Tuesday that it would give Carnegie Mellon
$300,000 in each of the next two years through the Google Focused
Research Award program. Google can fund the research for a third
year at the same price if it chooses. The university’s research
will focus on “data driven” approaches to research on massive open
online courses, including “techniques for automatically analyzing
and providing feedback on student work,” according to a news
release. The goal, it said, is to develop platforms intelligent
enough to mimic the traditional classroom experience. “Unless the
MOOCs pay attention to how people actually learn, they will not be
able to improve effectiveness, and will end up as just a passing
fad,” said Justine Cassell, associate...
First came the mouse,
then touch-screen technology. And if Silicon-Valley-based zSpace
has its way, the next leap in human-computer interaction will look
like something out of your local IMAX Theater. The company calls it
“immersive exploration.” In real terms, zSpace’s eponymous flagship
product is a tablet-software...
Way back in 1978, Frenchy in Grease was unceremoniously
dubbed a beauty-school
dropout. But what if she took a MOOC today on midcentury
follicular art? Might we call her a beauty-school “collector”? What
about a beauty-school “bystander”? Maybe, thanks to a new
quantitative study of MOOC engagement released on Wednesday by
Cornell and Stanford Universities. After tracking the behavior
patterns of more than 300,000 students enrolled in Stanford-based
Coursera courses, the authors created a “taxonomy of engagement” to
differentiate between different types of MOOC participants. In this
new paradigm there are five broad types of MOOC students.
Viewers “watch lectures, handing in few if any assignments."
Solvers “hand in assignments for a grade, viewing few if any
lectures.” All-Rounders “balance the watching of lectures
with the handing in of assignments.”...
In October 1993, in his
first major speech as president of Yale University, Richard C.
Levin talked about the importance of Yale's becoming a “world
university.” Great universities have a responsibility to drive
global change, he said, and they achieve that primarily by
nurturing future leaders and world-changing research inside their
walled gardens. This spring, after two decades at the helm of Yale,
Mr. Levin took
a job as chief executive of Coursera, the online-education
company. His views on the responsibilities of the “world
university” have not changed, but for a crucial detail: The great
universities of the 21st century will not just teach an exclusive
subset of the ruling class; they will teach everybody. “In 10 or 20
years, when we judge the great universities, it will not just be on
their research but on the reach of their teaching,” Mr. Levin told
The Chronicle ...
Stanford University, whose students gave us the modern search engine, the modern
company, and the modern method of money transfer, is
finally tackling a native challenge: commencement. At graduation
ceremonies over the past weekend, eight departments at the
university used a web-based service that allows students to record
their names before commencement for the benefit of whoever reads
aloud the list of graduates. Dubbed NameCoach, the start-up was
founded last year by students at—where else?—Stanford. Universities
using the service send a link to graduates, who are directed to a
web page where they can record their names as they want them
pronounced. Nervous deans can then review them at their leisure.
Praveen Shanbhag, who graduated from Stanford this year with a
doctorate in philosophy, thought of the idea for NameCoach after a
particularly brutal reading of his sister�...