A Top Proponent of Higher-Ed Disruption Moves to Put His Theories Into Practice


Michael B. Horn

After years of preaching “disruptive innovation” for higher education, one of the most visible proponents of the theory is going to try a little disrupting of his own. Michael B. Horn, a co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, stepped down on Friday as director of its education program to begin working more directly with companies in the education market.

Mr. Horn will also become principal consultant with Entangled Solutions, an arm of a San Fr…


Measuring Academic Skills and ‘Grit’ to Help Identify At-Risk Students

With the help of a grant of nearly $2 million, Excelsior College wants to use analytics to identify at-risk students.

The private nonprofit institution, in Albany, N.Y., was one of 17 recipients of a First in the World Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the college announced on Wednesday. It plans to use the grant money to fund an open-source assessment tool that colleges will eventually be able to use free of charge.

Called the Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills,


How Video Games Are Becoming University-Approved Sports

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 5.08.17 PM

Andrew Higley, U. of Cincinnati

When 800 video gamers arrived at the University of Cincinnati’s basketball arena on Saturday morning, 8,000 feet of extension cords and 11,000 feet of Ethernet cables awaited them. Check-in was at 9 a.m., and they had a lot to carry: laptops, desktops, TV monitors, GameCube controllers. They set up beneath the championship banners and retired jerseys hanging on the walls.

During the two-day tournament, held by the university’s League of Legends club, teams from …


Can Online Education Help Refugees Earn Degrees?

When refugees want to enter higher education, they often lack the paperwork.

To enroll in conventional universities, students need to submit the kind of documentation — like passports and previous education records — that many refugees do not have. And even when refugees are able to provide the required documentation, tuition is often out of their price range.

But in the past few months, some online universities have been reaching out to those students, telling refugees that they don’t have to…


How Student Video Presentations Can Build Community in an Online Course

It may sound pretty routine to convert a course to an online format, but doing so presents many unexpected challenges and can even challenge a professor’s assumptions about the nature of academic coursework.

Giving a timed test, for instance, is something that’s almost trivial in a face-to-face course but approaches impossibility in an asynchronous online course. How do you give a timed test when you don’t have fixed meeting times? (There are ways to do this, but they are almost all creepy.)…


Academic Social Network Hopes to Change the Culture of Peer Review

An academic social network has added a tool it hopes will shake up the system of peer review.

The network is called, and it has grown to more than 25 million registered participants, who use it mainly to post their published papers in order to help others find them (and, it’s hoped, cite them). The site’s new tool, called Sessions, lets researchers post papers that are still in progress, and invite colleagues to comment on them so the papers can be improved before being submitted …


What the Results of a Survey of Coursera Students Mean for Online Learning

When Coursera, Udacity, and edX started up within four months of one another, in 2012, The New York Times declared it the year of the MOOC. Now that the clamor is dying down, researchers are gauging what actually has developed in terms of massive open online courses.

A report released this week draws on a survey of Coursera students to look at their motivations and what kinds of educational and career results they are seeing. Published in the Harvard Business Review, it is the first study of Cou…


UMUC Plans to Create a Company to Help Colleges Harness Big Data

The Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved the University of Maryland University College’s request to create a for-profit business-intelligence company. The new company will offer data-analysis technology and services to universities across the country, and the revenue will go toward the university’s endowment.

The company, called HelioCampus, will provide two main services: the technology to combine and analyze a university’s data, as well as analysts to help administrators understand w…


In Online Courses, Students Learn More by Doing Than by Watching

When students enroll in MOOCs, they almost always watch a series of video lectures. But just watching videos — without also engaging interactively — is an ineffective way to learn, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The study, “Learning Is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing Is Better Than Watching for Learning From a MOOC,” looked at a generally available course, offered through the Georgia Institute of Technology, called “Introduction to Psychology as a Science.” Some …


Penn State Starts Network for Entrepreneurs With Focus on Online Learning

Education-technology companies are hot these days. So are online programs by universities. Pennsylvania State University hopes to tap into both trends with a new effort to turn its campus into an innovation hub for ed-tech companies.

The effort is called the EdTech Network, and officials hope it will spark entrepreneurship around the campus geared toward improving services for online students, said Craig D. Weidemann, the university’s vice provost for online education. That could help Penn State…