Many colleges look to online education as the path to growth, but it is often a bumpy road. At the Higher Ed Tech summit in January, a dean from the University of Southern California told me how she avoided the potholes. Karen Gallagher, dean of the university’s Rossier School of Education, took her school’s master’s degree in teaching online with the help of 2tor, a company that builds digital teaching platforms for traditional universities. “It’s our degree,” she says, “and our faculty.” That faculty had to learn a new way to teach for online students, however, and 2tor helped with that, as well as recruiting and placing students in teacher-training positions. The company had to learn that “we are not the Wild West and we have rules,” Ms. Gallagher says. But the partnership is a…
Improving college retention and graduation rates are tops in the nation’s higher-ed “to do” list. At the Higher Ed Tech summit in January, high-school and college transcripts were touted as unexpected keys to these goals. Matthew Pittinsky, chief executive of Parchment, a digital transcript company, and a founder of Blackboard, points out that transcripts capture the strengths of relationships between particular high schools and colleges because, taken together, they record the numbers of shared students. They reveal where students applied and where they got in, and what courses successful students had in common.
At the 2012 Higher Ed Tech Summit in Las Vegas, I talked with the chief executive of the e-textbook giant CourseSmart, Sean Devine, about making digital materials easier for professors to use. The company distributes digital versions of 30,000 texts—from Pearson, Cengage, Wiley, and others—across 7,000 campuses. New versions will allow professors, within a learning-management system, to annotate book pages for students, and link pages of the book to other course elements using a drag-and-drop system. Mr. Devine also talks about his new deal to expand access within fast-growing Western Governors University.
From the 2012 Higher Ed Tech Summit in Las Vegas, I explore the innovations of the online “transfer college,” community colleges solely focused on moving students to four-year institutions. My guest, Paul Freedman, chief executive of Altius, describes how his partnership with Ivy Bridge College and Tiffin University helped them negotiate transfer agreements with 130 universities, including many public flagships, across the country. He explains the prominent role of success counselors who help students navigate the bridge between two- and four-year colleges, a bridge that has historically been blocked for many potential transfer students.
The eminent mathematician Timothy Gowers vows to do no work for Elsevier.
Elsevier, the global publishing company, is responsible for The Lancet, Cell, and about 2,000 other important journals; the iconic reference work Gray’s Anatomy, along with 20,000 other books—and one fed-up, award-winning mathematician.
Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge, who won the Fields Medal for his research, has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to work that should be much more easily available. He asked for a boycott in a blog post on January 21, and as of Monday evening, on the boycott’s Web site The Cost of Knowledge, nearly 1,900 scientists have signed up, pledging not to publish, referee, or do editorial work for any Elsevier journal.
Las Vegas—At the very start of the Higher Ed Tech Summit here this week, James Applegate threw out a challenge. Mr. Applegate, vice president for program development at the Lumina Foundation, told an overflow crowd that the United States needed 60 percent of its adults to hold high-quality degrees and credentials by the year 2025.
During the rest of the day, technology executives described programs that could improve graduation rates and learning, but won’t be able to do so for several years. They collect many points of data on what professors and students do, but can’t yet say what results in better grades and graduation rates. “We’re beginning to get lots of data on things like time of task, but we don’t have the outcomes yet to say what leads to a true learning moment. I think we are three to five years away from being about to do that,” said Troy Williams, vice president and…
[Editor's note: This story was updated with new material at 11:30AM on November 1, 2011]
MyLabs and Mastering, tutoring software packages from Pearson Education that are used in hundreds of college courses, are getting a new engine to improve their abilities to make learning personal.
The company announced today that it was replacing some of its own software with new adaptive-learning programs that adjust the course to the student. The new software, from a company called Knewton, has interactive tutors that lead students through mastery of each skill, giving short quizzes and offering additional help, such as explanatory text or videos, tailored to each student’s needs. In large classes, students get such help—or can skip concepts they know well—without asking the instructor to intervene. And instructors get constant feedback on how particular students are doing compared to…
Max Schrems, a law student in Vienna, was shocked to learn that Facebook held 1,222 pages of data about him extending back three years—when, he says, European law limits holding such data to a few months, the Associated Press reports. The company disputes any legal violations, but Mr. Schrems has started a Web site, Europe versus Facebook, to bring public attention to these contentious privacy issues.
Philadelphia—Start-up technology companies have some gripes about higher education. One is that universities routinely make it hard for the public to access basic data, like course catalogs and book prices at the campus bookstore. Another is that when trying to sell services to a college, like a Web service that allows faculty members and students to organize and share their research and online readings, companies can’t find the people who make the purchasing decisions.
Those complaints got a high-level airing Thursday at Educause, at a round-table discussion with Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. chief technology officer, who cautioned them that the gathering was not a pity party and “we are here to get things done.” Also listening was James H. Shelton III, the assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the Department of Education. University CIO’s were also in the…
Philadelphia—When Pearson, the giant education publisher, announced last week that it was launching a free, cloud-based learning management system called OpenClass, the news prompted tough questions from college technology officials. Would this system accommodate other popular software? Who would have control, Pearson or the colleges? Would it be hard to integrate the product, which will be released later this year, with a student information system?
Wednesday at Educause, the higher-education technology meeting here, Pearson began answering some of those questions—although some of the answers remained a bit vague. In an early-morning statement, it announced partnerships between OpenClass and Turnitin, the popular plagiarism-detection software, and CourseSmart, the e-textbook and digital course materials company. As for some of the other queries, The Chronicle put them to Matt…
Budget restrictions are an ever-present threat to innovation on college campuses. Learn how top technology companies are working with institutions to advance online learning as programs continue to expand on campuses across the country. This special sponsored section features resources available to help develop a successful online education program at your institution.