May 16, 2013, 4:56 am
For all the star power harnessed by massive-open-online-course providers, Yale University has been a notable absence. While many of its elite peers scrambled to get out ahead of the MOOC wave, Yale bided its time.
That’s about to change. Yale announced on Wednesday that it would soon offer MOOCs through Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based company.
Yale plans to offer four courses beginning in January, focusing on constitutional law, financial markets, morality, and Roman architecture.
The move was a long time coming. Yale, which in 2007 became among the first institutions to make its course content available free on the Web with its Open Yale Courses lecture series, has taken a distinctly deliberate approach to MOOCs. Last fall it convened a faculty committee to recommend a broad online agenda that would encompass MOOCs as well as other forms of online teaching.
May 13, 2013, 11:00 am
Isolated. Too exclusive. Antisocial.
That’s how Brian Whitmer, a founder of Instructure, describes the education-technology sector, particularly the space occupied by developers of learning-management systems like Instructure’s Canvas. “It’s become clear that ed tech does not have the type of ecosystem that other sectors have,” he said. “It’s hampering innovation. We need to fix that.”
To call attention to that problem, Instructure and other learning-management-system providers, including Blackboard and Desire2Learn, are offering cash rewards to encourage the creation of apps using the Learning Tools Interoperability standard, or LTI.
Similar to Facebook apps, LTI apps focus on a specific function that may be missing from a larger platform—a better way to track grades, for example—while taking advantage of the platform’s existing features, like basic log-in…
May 8, 2013, 3:52 pm
The University of California at Berkeley has reached a settlement with Disability Rights Advocates in what the group is calling a “landmark agreement” to improve access to textbooks, course readers, and library materials for students with print-related disabilities.
Disability Rights Advocates represented three Berkeley students who said they had difficulty getting access to the materials they needed for class. The group, which is a nonprofit disability-rights legal center, approached the university last year on behalf of the students, proposing settlement negotiations that could resolve the issues and avoid a lawsuit. The negotiations, which took more than a year, led to several new accommodations, said Paul Hippolitus, director of the university’s Disabled Students Program, who called them overdue.
Over the past four years, the program struggled to keep up with a 115-percent…
May 2, 2013, 1:03 pm
In a few weeks, Bernard Bull, assistant vice president for academics at Concordia University Wisconsin, will ask participants in his new course to cheat.
There’s a caveat, though. They’ll have to disclose to the rest of the class exactly how they cheated. “Of course, if the assignment is to cheat, then you’re not really cheating,” Mr. Bull admitted.
The assignment will be one unit in his new massive open online course, “Understanding Cheating in Online Courses,” which begins on Monday through the Canvas MOOC platform, run by Instructure, a course-management company. The eight-week course will explore the vocabulary, psychology, and mechanics of what he calls “successful cheating” in online learning.
Mr. Bull said he had been studying issues of cyberethics since the start of the last decade. When he began teaching, he noticed how often student cheating came up in…
May 1, 2013, 4:55 am
Coursera, the massive-open-online-course provider, announced on Wednesday that it was expanding into teacher education.
The company said it would offer MOOCs taught by instructors in graduate programs at the Universities of California at Irvine, Virginia, and Washington; at the Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt Universities; and at some nonaffiliated organizations that train teachers.
The move marked a shift for the year-old company, which previously had focused on the traditional university curriculum. The new offerings will include practical courses—sample title, “Surviving Your Rookie Year of Teaching: Three Key Ideas and High Leverage Techniques,” from the nonprofit Match Education—as well as more-theoretical material, such as a course unit on early-childhood development from the University of Virginia.
Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, said the company saw the…
April 26, 2013, 4:55 am
Many students stay away from online courses in subjects they deem especially difficult or interesting, according to a study released this month by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The finding comes just as many highly selective colleges are embracing online learning and as massive open online courses are gaining popularity and standing.
A report on the study, “Choosing Between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Community College Student Voices,” focuses on why students opt to take some courses online but others face to face. “Because they serve a lot of students who work and have kids, community colleges feel they need to offer more and more online courses to meet their demands,” said Shanna Smith Jaggars, the report’s author and the center’s assistant director. “But we looked at, What is the extent of that demand?”
The research, …
April 25, 2013, 1:36 pm
Scottsdale, Ariz. — A German course-platform company, looking to help kick-start the MOOC movement in Europe, is inviting professors and others interested in creating and offering massive open online courses to compete in its contest for a chance to win one of 10 MOOC Production Fellowships—and with it, a prize of 25,000 euros.
Applicants have until April 30 to apply. Iversity, the Berlin-based company sponsoring the fellowships, will hold online voting for the finalists through May 23.
Stifterverband, a German nonprofit association that promotes university-industry collaborations and innovation, is putting up the money, a total of 250,000 euros, or about $325,000.
The 10 winners, to be selected by a jury, will be invited to Berlin in late June for a two-day symposium where they can share ideas with one another on ways to present their courses.
“We want to create a…
April 23, 2013, 5:00 am
The Smithsonian Institution has signed a deal with Internet2 that could make it easier for colleges to connect with digital content in museums on the National Mall.
The new partnership, to be formally announced this morning at Internet2′s member meeting, will also bring high-speed Internet connections to some of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and a technology-demonstration area in the institution’s Arts and Industry Building, which is currently being renovated. Internet2 is a nonprofit group that provides superfast network connections to some 220 college and university members.
Some individual colleges have already traded digital content with the Smithsonian. But the new partnership will make it easier for other colleges to do so as well without having to negotiate separate agreements with the cultural institution.
Shelton Waggener, senior vice president of Internet2, said in an…
April 22, 2013, 6:02 pm
Pearson, the publishing and education giant, announced on Monday that it had acquired Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based assessment system created by three Harvard University educators.
The acquisition is the latest move by the company to extend its reach into college classrooms beyond just textbooks.
In the past two years, Pearson has spent more than $1-billion acquiring and investing in education companies. In 2011 the company released OpenClass, a cloud-based learning-management system. Last year it acquired EmbanetCompass, a company that provides online-learning services to nonprofit universities.
Pearson was interested in Learning Catalytics because of its ability to provide instant feedback to instructors as well as to help students engage more effectively with peers, said Paul Corey, Pearson’s president for science, business, and technology.
“We were attracted to its…