August 30, 2012, 7:57 am
In early 2010 Todd Bacile started hearing from companies about a new measure they were using to help decide whom to hire: the Klout score, a number that calculates a person’s online influence based on his or her presence across various social-media networks.
So when Mr. Bacile began teaching an electronic-marketing class at Florida State University last year, he created a Klout-based project worth 10 percent of the final grade. Klout.com calculates “influence” based on a user’s level of engagement on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook. It then assigns a score on a scale of 1 to 100, with the average score being 40.
In Mr. Bacile’s class, students were expected to post interesting content and to communicate with others on social networks. The idea was that Klout scores would increase as people began responding to the students’ content. Mr. Bacile then graded…
August 22, 2012, 10:49 am
Several universities have recently tried a new model for delivering textbooks in hopes of saving students money: requiring purchase of e-textbooks and charging students a materials fee to cover the costs. A recent report on some of those pilot projects, however, shows that many students find the e-textbooks “clumsy” and prefer print.
The report is based on a survey conducted this spring of students and faculty at five universities where e-textbook projects were coordinated by Internet2, the high-speed networking group. Students praised the e-books for helping them save money but didn’t like reading on electronic devices. Many of them complained that the e-book platform was hard to navigate. In addition, most professors who responded said that they didn’t use the e-books’ collaborative features, which include the ability to share notes or create links within the text.
August 14, 2012, 5:56 pm
Rice University this year started an unusual textbook-publishing venture whose books are free to download thanks to a mix of grants and revenue from optional “add ons,” such as homework problem sets.
Although it has published only two titles—for introductory courses in physics and sociology—officials announced on Tuesday that more than 13,000 students had downloaded them in the 10 weeks they’ve been available.
The project is called OpenStax College, and it grew out of Connexions, a free Rice-based platform that allows anyone to create and publish e-textbooks.
Unlike Connexions, OpenStax invests money to create select, peer-reviewed textbooks written by professors, said Richard G. Baraniuk, OpenStax’s founder and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice. Although the textbooks are free for download, students can also buy print versions or purchase copies…
August 8, 2012, 6:35 pm
When Google+ made its debut last July, the social-networking site—which includes collaborative features such as videoconference “hangouts” and interest-based “circles” networks—was heralded as a potential boon for education technology and a possible alternative to traditional learning-management systems. But while some professors have incorporated it into their teaching, adoption appears more limited than its early fans predicted.
This week we put out a call on our social networks, including our Wired Campus Twitter feed and personal Google+ account, seeking professors who had integrated Google+ into their courses. Plenty of people spread the word, but only one professor responded with an example. That’s hardly scientific, of course, but others said they were skeptical of the claim that Google+ is changing higher education.
“Any technology has potential to be used in…
August 6, 2012, 12:01 am
An online service opening today offers a new approach to connecting students with potential employers.
The service is called Seelio (a portmanteau of “see” and “portfolio”), and it aims to simplify the postgraduate job hunt by creating a place where online student portfolios are seen by a network of companies.
Only students with a .edu e-mail address can set up portfolios on the site, and the interactive Web pages include both traditional résumés and multimedia materials including videos, photos, and papers that are relevant to the students’ work experience. But what distinguishes Seelio from existing ePortfolio sites (such as Foliotek and RCampus) is that companies can also create accounts and browse through student profiles, post jobs, and search for potential employees based on skills or relevant projects.
Seelio grew out of an earlier service offered for students at the…
August 3, 2012, 3:13 pm
University of Central Florida
A student at the University of Central Florida has been placed on academic probation for creating a Web site that tells students when a seat becomes available in a given class.
Tim Arnold, a senior at Central Florida, built the U Could Finish site this year. The site became available in June, but, within days, was blocked from accessing the university site without notice. The Office of Student Conduct then told Mr. Arnold that he had violated university policy regarding technology use, and summoned him to a hearing.
Joel Hartman, vice provost for information technologies and resources at Central Florida, said that U Could Finish violated portions of the tech policy that prohibited students from using university tools to make money (Mr. Arnold had been charging for use of his…
August 2, 2012, 7:57 pm
An online degree-granting institution called World Education University, set to open this fall, plans to try an advertiser-driven model to support its free content.
“Any Silicon Valley start-up will tell you that if you can drive enough eyeballs to your Web site, you can find ways to leverage that and monetize it,” said Scott Hines, the university’s chief executive. “We’re very transparent to students. They understand that their education is being underwritten generally through advertisers.”
Advertisers will pay for students to answer survey questions related to their products. For example, students may be asked a question like “Are you a runner?” when they log into the learning-management system. If a student checks “yes,” he or she will thereafter see ads for a certain brand of running shoes on the home page.
World Education University will also allow…
August 1, 2012, 2:04 pm
The conventional wisdom among educators that students’ attention tends to drift off after 15 minutes is wrong, according to a new study conducted with eye-tracking devices.
The study, conducted by David Rosengrant, an assistant professor of physics education at Kennesaw State University, found no pattern in when students become distracted. Instead, students’ focus waxes and wanes throughout a lecture and is strongly affected by factors such as where in the lecture hall the student is sitting.
Mr. Rosengrant did a preliminary eye-tracking study in a spring-2011 science-education class. He had student volunteers wear special glasses to track their eye-gaze patterns to determine if they were “on task,” which was defined as looking at the professor, at PowerPoint slides, or at notes, or talking to neighbors about a discussion question. Students doing anything else, such as looking at…
July 27, 2012, 3:58 pm
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have each contributed $30-million to the edX online-learning program, but a third university will provide technology instead. The University of California at Berkeley is bringing a new online platform to the project.
The nonprofit group edX is working to create courses specifically for online learning; seven of them will start this fall. The new platform, called CourseSharing, allows students to complete multiple-choice assignments online and receive automated grades and feedback as soon as they click “submit.”
CourseSharing was developed by Pieter Abbeel and Dawn Song, professors of computer science at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. student, Arjun Singh. They tested the program last spring in an artificial-intelligence course. (People can test out the technology at the class site; registration is required, but any e-mail …
July 26, 2012, 5:10 pm
Everyone can now use the iTunesU platform to deliver course material, Apple announced on Wednesday. Before, only professors at a university working with iTunesU—which collects free lectures from partner universities—could post audio and video clips, syllabi, and documents via the platform.
Typically, universities apply to form a partnership with iTunesU. After Apple verifies that the applicant is an academically accredited institution, professors can post course materials on the platform, either for public access or privately for a select group of students.
With the change, any user, regardless of affiliation, can distribute content for up to 12 different courses. The courses must be private and limited to 50 students each. Professors must use the iTunesU app, which made its debut in January, to deliver the course, but students can access the content using the PC-compatible…