Public-University Group Expands ‘Personalized Learning’ Efforts

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities is expanding its support of “personalized learning” with the help of a new $4.6-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Personalized learning” means different things to different people. It’s a buzzword, and it can be difficult to get past the hype. Depending on whom you ask, it can mean such things as data analytics, video games, or artificial-intelligence research.

For the university association, it has to do with using tec…


What Google’s New Open-Source Software Means for Artificial-Intelligence Research

Google wants the artificial-intelligence software that drives the company’s Internet searches to become the standard platform for computer-science scholars in their own experiments.

On Monday, Google announced it would turn its machine-learning software, called TensorFlow, into open-source code, so anyone can use it.

“We hope this will let the machine-learning community — everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists — exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code…


Many Colleges Now See Centers for Teaching With Technology as Part of ‘Innovation Infrastructure’

In the past few years, many colleges have expanded the scale and scope of centers that support teaching and learning with technology, as part of an effort to build a new “innovation infrastructure” for instruction.

That’s according to the results of a new survey of directors of academic-technology centers at 163 colleges and universities, released last week at the annual conference of Educause, an organization that supports technology on campuses.

One key change has been the creation of new or …


Campus Tech Leaders Report More Support for Free Educational Materials

College technology leaders appear more optimistic these days about open-source textbooks and open educational resources — teaching and learning materials that can be used at no cost.

According to the latest Campus Computing Survey of top technology officers at colleges, released on Thursday, 81 percent believe that open educational resources will be an important source for instructional material in the next five years. And 38 percent report that their institutions encourage faculty members to us…


MOOCs Are Still Rising, at Least in Numbers

When one of the first massive open online courses appeared at Stanford University, 160,000 students enrolled. It was 2011, and fewer than 10 MOOCs existed worldwide.

It has been four years since then, and according to a new report, the cumulative number of MOOCs has reached nearly 4,000.

Compiled earlier this month by Dhawal Shah, founder of the MOOC aggregator Class Central, the report summarizes data on MOOCs from the past four years. And the data show that even as the MOOC hype has started to…


New Grant Will Create Prizes for Faculty Using Digital Courseware

Orlando, Fla.— The Online Learning Consortium, in a move to encourage professors to develop and use digital courseware, will offer new prizes for faculty-led teams that advance and adopt sophisticated online courses with “a strong pedagogical focus and a sustained impact on student success in gateway courses,” the organization announced at its conference here last week.

The organization, formerly known as the Sloan Consortium, said it would award up to 10 prizes of $10,000 each to the faculty te…


University-Run Boot Camps Offer Students Marketable Skills — but Not Course Credit


Northeastern U. plans to offer a boot-camp-style program called Level at a space in downtown Boston. (Adam Glanzman, Northeastern U.)

Level, a venture that offers students courses in data analytics, has a motto of sorts. It’s written in large letters across the program’s website: “Real skills. Real experience. Two months.”

The motto sounds a lot like the boot-camp style of education offered by companies like General Assembly. But Level, a product of Northeastern University, is neither a private …


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

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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 …