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�...
Duke University Press alerted users on Tuesday that its website had
suffered a “security incident.” In an email blast to people with
site accounts, the publisher said that usernames and encrypted
passwords had been exposed as a result of the breach but that no
financial information had been compromised. According to a
spokeswoman, the press learned of the breach on May 29 and had been
working with the university’s Office of Information Technology in
the weeks since then to gauge the extent of the damage. “We needed
to ensure that no information had been used inappropriately and
wanted to make sure everything was secure,” said Laura Sell, the
press's publicity and advertising manager. The publisher advised
those using the same password for other sites to change it
immediately. An spokeswoman for the Association of American
University Presses said she could not recall a...
Google “straight turkey,” and you will find references to the
Dardanelles (a Turkish strait), Wild Turkey brand whiskey, and a
recent soccer match between the United States and, you guessed it,
Turkey. You will not encounter the defunct Los Angeles-based art
magazine by the same name—at least not yet. Next weekend
East of Borneo,
an art magazine founded and funded by the California Institute of
the Arts, will host the fourth in a
series of Wikipedia edit-a-thons intended to enhance Los Angeles’s art history
by gathering local art enthusiasts and teaching them how to create
and edit Wikipedia articles. In the past three sessions, volunteers
have produced 38 new Wikipedia entries related to the local arts
scene. The CalArts edit-a-thons are just the latest example of
academe’s warming attitude toward the world’s sixth-most-popular
website.East of Borneo's executive editor,...
Picture this: You’re seated across the table from your
organic-chemistry tutor. She presents you with a particularly tough
problem. Exasperated, you force a thin half-smile. The tutor reads
your facial cues, senses your frustration, and offers reassurance.
Now imagine this: Your tutor is a
camera-equipped computer capable of reading, analyzing,
and reacting to your emotions. The concept is called affect-aware
cyberlearning, and it isn’t entirely new. Sidney D’Mello, an
assistant professor of computer science and psychology at the
University of Notre Dame, has been testing such automated
tutoring “agents” for about a decade with his team at the
university's Emotive Computing Lab. But recent research has allowed
them to refine their algorithms, and it has revealed new
insights into what teaching strategies induce learning.
One of those insights? Confused students learn ...
A federal appeals court on Tuesday largely
upheld a district court's ruling in favor of the HathiTrust
Digital Library in a copyright-infringement lawsuit brought against
it by the Authors Guild. On Wednesday the guild released a
statement in response to the ruling, calling it a "narrow
fair-use decision" that "was not a total victory for either side."
The group did not say what its next legal move might be or whether
it had decided to mount another appeal. That could depend in part
on the next developments in another high-profile lawsuit, also
brought by the guild, over Google's mass scanning of books. In
April the authors' group
appealed a district-court judge's 2013 ruling
that Google's book digitizing constituted fair use. "The related
case against Google will come before the court next," the guild
said in Wednesday's statement. "We continue to believe that it is