Posts by Jeff Young
November 8, 2012, 06:31 PM ET
Denver — Educause held its first business competition this week, bringing a dose of American Idol to its annual conference here. Leaders of 10 education-technology start-ups had eight minutes each to pitch their business plans in front of an audience, get grilled by a panel of venture capitalists, and then face a popular vote online. The big prize: marketing help from Educause and Google. The start-ups' chief executives, most of them in their 20s and 30s, talked fast, and when asked by the expert panel what their biggest obstacles were or how they could succeed when others had failed, most answered in slick sound bites that had clearly been rehearsed. Their mission was to clearly state a problem in higher education they were trying to solve, and then show how their tool would do it. That might sound simple, but one member of the expert panel, John Cammack, of Cammack Associates, said...Read More
October 25, 2011, 12:32 PM ET
August 25, 2011, 03:32 PM ET
October 4, 2010, 06:32 PM ET
Today McGraw-Hill Education announced that it has bought a lecture-capture company called Tegrity Inc, putting the textbook publisher squarely in the education-software business. Officials say they made the move because of the importance of "user-generated content" as textbooks go digital.
McGraw-Hill had already been working closely with Tegrity—through a formal partnership that began in 2007. Last year the publisher started selling a series of textbooks called McGraw-Hill Connect, which integrates the Tegrity lecture-capture software with electronic versions of popular titles.
Tegrity, based in Santa Clara, Calif., says it has about 200 college customers. The companies would not reveal the cost of the sale or other details.
"Students place a high degree of value in the content the instructor offers—what's being presented in class, that's what's going to be on the exam," said...Read More
August 24, 2010, 11:41 AM ET
Why do students have to pay for college textbooks? Couldn't the reading material be considered part of the college infrastructure paid for by officials as part of tuition, like classroom buildings and course-management systems?
Virginia State University is experimenting with that idea this fall, with a new effort to give free e-textbooks to students in its business school for eight core courses. The university recently negotiated a deal with upstart publisher Flat World Knowledge that treats buying e-books like buying campuswide software—with the institution paying a small per-student fee. The university plans to formally announce the deal Tuesday.
Student complaints about the high cost of traditional textbooks drove the university to try the giveaway. "For our accounting books senior year, there's nothing under $250," said Mirta Martin, dean of the Virginia State University business...Read More
August 16, 2010, 05:07 PM ET
When caught turning in papers with passages lifted straight from Wikipedia, some students say they didn't realize that was against the rules. Should colleges do more to explain plagiarism and academic integrity?
A series of articles in The New York Times this month highlights the prevalence of student plagiarism on campuses and the cluelessness of some of today's college students when it comes to academic-citation practices.
"At the University of Maryland, a student reprimanded for copying from Wikipedia in a paper on the Great Depression said he thought its entries—unsigned and collectively written—did not need to be credited since they counted, essentially, as common knowledge," said one of the articles.
Tracy Mitrano, director of information-technology policy at Cornell University, said in an interview this week that she is hearing a growing interest among college administrators...Read More
August 9, 2010, 12:00 PM ET
'Place-based colleges' are good for parties, but are becoming less crucial for learning thanks to the Internet, said the Microsoft founder Bill Gates at a conference on Friday.
"Five years from now on the Web for free you'll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university," he argued at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, Calif. "College, except for the parties, needs to be less place-based."
An attendee captured the remarks with a shaky hand-held camera and posted the clip on YouTube.
"After all, what are we trying to do? We're trying to take education that today the tuition is, say, $50,000 a year so over four years—a $200,000 education—that is increasingly hard to get because there's less money for it because it's not there, and we're trying to provide it to every kid who wants it," Mr. Gates said. "And only technology can...Read More
August 5, 2010, 05:57 PM ET
Google Wave may have had more fans on campuses than it did anywhere else, but those academic enthusiasts weren't enough to keep the free service afloat. Google announced yesterday that it will stop development of Wave, its experimental next-generation e-mail system that blended instant messaging, video chat, document sharing, and other tools in one platform.
Several college professors had been trying out Google Wave with their courses, and some saw it as a possible replacement for learning-management systems like Blackboard. At first the service was only open to those who snagged an invitation from an existing user, and last year at the annual conference of Educause, professors stood in line at a packed Google presentation to get their free invites. Google only officially opened the service to all comers in May.
Just today, a session on how to use Google Wave was scheduled at a...Read More
August 2, 2010, 03:43 PM ET
A 23-year-old recent graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says he was interviewed by federal investigators about whether he or other computer hackers helped the Army analyst accused of leaking U.S. military documents to the WikiLeaks Web site.
The MIT alum talked to The Boston Globe on the condition that his name not be published. He said he exchanged e-mail messages with the Army analyst, Bradley Manning, but he denied being part of the large leak of documents about the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Adrian Lamo, the computer expert who tipped off federal authorities to Mr. Manning's possible role in the leaks, told CNN that two MIT students confided to him that they helped Mr. Manning encrypt documents so they would not be traceable by authorities.Read More
July 26, 2010, 03:26 PM ET
While many students turn to YouTube when looking for help with their homework, it can be hard to find good-quality educational clips there, according to two professors who did a preliminary analysis of several video search engines.
The two researchers, Jeffrey R. Bell, a professor of biological sciences at California State University at Chico, and Jim Bidlack, a biology professor at University of Central Oklahoma, entered scientific terms into several video search engines and analyzed the top 20 results from each one to compare their relevance and educational usefulness. Students were also shown some of the resulting videos and asked to rate their effectiveness at explaining the concept involved.
The professors found that YouTube favored videos made by students as class projects, perhaps because those videos attracted more comments than professionally made ones, said Mr. Bell in an...Read More