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Professor Says Facebook Can Help Informal Learning

Who says Facebook is always a distraction? A new study suggests that if engaged in online debate, college students can use the popular social network to learn and develop a variety of skills.

In a paper released on Monday, Christine Greenhow, an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, argues that using informal social-media settings to carry on debates about science can help students refine their argumentative skills, increase their scientific literacy, and supplement lear…

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Researchers Complain About Changes in Amazon Tool Used for Surveys

This week Amazon changed the terms for a service that has become a standard tool in social-science research, and many scholars are complaining that it will mean higher costs to conduct surveys.

The service is called Mechanical Turk, and it is a marketplace that connects people on the Internet looking for paid piecework with anyone who has a small task and is willing to pay someone to do it. The concept is known as crowd-work, and many researchers have used it to pay strangers small amounts …

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Universities Ban Smart Watches During Finals

Some Australian universities warned students this month not to wear wristwatches during final exams, amid concerns that increasingly popular wearable technology, like the Apple Watch, could foster cheating.

La Trobe University, in Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, both issued warnings at the start of their final-exam periods that students would have to remove their watches before testing began. The University of New South Wales required students to put all wristwatches…

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Art Schools Go MOOC, With a New Online Platform

A new company is jumping into MOOCs, but with a focus on teaching free courses in the arts.

The new virtual art school, called Kadenze, has already teamed up with programs at 18 institutions, including Stanford and Princeton Universities, to create a digital platform designed for arts courses. According to a company co-founder, Perry R. Cook, an emeritus professor at Princeton, the platform will be “multimedia rich” and allow students to create online portfolios, upload music files and scanned a…

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Students in Free Courses Study, but Not as Much as Most Students Do

Most students in free online courses don’t spend as much time doing classwork as do traditional college students, but they do log a significant number of hours, according to a new survey of more than 4,500 MOOC students by Class Central, a website that reviews free courses.

More than 55 percent of the students surveyed said they studied two to five hours per week, and 22 percent said they spent six to 10 hours per week studying.

How does that compare with traditional college students? About 43 p…

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Coding Boot Camps Are on the Rise

The unaccredited education programs known as coding boot camps are proliferating, and gaining more students. This year the number of graduates from such programs is expected to hit 16,000, up from 6,740 in 2014, according to a recent survey by Course Report, a business that focuses on the sector.

At the boot camps, which are not affiliated with colleges or universities and which offer in-person instruction, students can work and study programming for 10 hours a day — or more — for months at …

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Can Digital Badges Help Encourage Professors to Take Teaching Workshops?

A few colleges are trying a new incentive to get professors to participate in professional-development workshops: digital badges.

The idea of offering badges has become popular in education-technology circles in the past few years, in most cases as an alternative to a traditional college diploma, or even as a different way of giving grades in courses. The goal is to create an easy way for people to show employers they have attained a given skill. After all, who ever looks at a college transcript…

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Amid Fast Change, Group Seems Slow to Enhance Colleges’ Control of Online Courses

Last spring a group of university leaders announced a bold, new project intended to help colleges gain more control of their online course platforms, as they increasingly turned to providers like Coursera or edX. A year later some observers are wondering what the group has actually accomplished, and where the consortium is headed.

In June 2014, amid growing concern that outside companies were exerting too much influence on the branding and shaping of universities’ online course offerings, four…

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Journalism Center Experiments With Delivering Campus News on Yik Yak

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.41.56 PMYik Yak, the anonymous social-media app, is perhaps best known for spreading rumors and bullying on many campuses. But journalism students at the University of Florida are experimenting with using the platform to deliver news updates, in what the project’s leaders say could become a model for other colleges.

Over the past few months, students at the university’s Innovation News Center have been developing and adding content to a news feed, called “Swamp Juice,” for people on or near the camp…

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An Increasingly Popular Job Perk: Online Education

Southern New Hampshire University has become the latest institution to team up with a major employer to make online courses a benefit of employment.

A partnership between Southern New Hampshire and Anthem Inc., a health-insurance company, will allow some 55,000 Anthem employees to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees through the university’s College for America, a competency-based assessment program.

The announcement is one of several recent deals between a college and a corporation that will ex…