All posts by Jeffrey R. Young

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Readers’ Definitions of Ed-Tech Buzzwords: Confusion and Skepticism Continue

Professors, administrators, and ed-tech vendors don’t always speak the same language when it comes to talking about experimental approaches to teaching and research. Terms like “flipped classroom” and “digital humanities” get thrown around a lot these days, but different people often mean different things by them. And some people still don’t know what they mean, despite their buzzword status.

To get a sense of the buzzword landscape, we asked Chronicle readers to give their definitions of four e…

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As Coursera Evolves, Colleges Stay On and Investors Buy In

Three years ago everyone was talking about Coursera, which had begun partnering with some of the world’s most elite colleges to offer free courses. There was overheated hype, as pundits speculated that it could be a magic bullet to bring down college costs. And there were tough questions, as people wondered what the goal was for partner colleges, and how the Silicon Valley company could make enough revenue on free courses to survive.

Today the MOOC hype has dissipated, but the company’s leader…

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Pioneer of Ed-Tech Innovation Says He’s Frustrated by Disruptors’ Narrative

George Siemens is a key innovator in higher education, having coined the term “MOOC” and worked to study the effectiveness of online learning. So it’s no surprise that he was invited to a recent closed-door gathering at the White House to discuss “innovation and quality in higher education.”

Though he isn’t able to divulge details of what transpired, he wrote about the meeting on his blog, in a post filled with strong feelings about some of what he heard there. The post uses such words as “stu…

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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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What Does ‘Personalized Learning’ Look Like? Video Series Aims to Go Beyond Hype

An education blog whose authors believe there’s too much hype around “personalized learning” technology has posted a series of video case studies about the trend, hoping to help get beyond overheated rhetoric.

The result is an unusual look at five colleges trying high-tech classroom experiments and wrestling with how new teaching methods change the role of students and teachers.

The videos were produced by the education-technology blog e-Literate, with the support of a $350,000 grant from the B…

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New Consortium’s Mission: Improve Liberal-Arts Teaching Online

Four liberal-arts colleges on Monday formed a consortium to share information about their experiments with online education, and more members may soon join in.

The focus is not on bringing down the cost of education, but on improving online-teaching projects — whether all-online or hybrid courses — by sharing experiences and collaborating.

The premise is that liberal-arts institutions have goals and methods for going online that are different from those of research institutions. “There’s a ste…

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Berkeley to Stop Adding Lecture Videos to YouTube, Citing Budget Cuts

Screenshot 2015-05-07 17.30.39

Since well before MOOCs emerged, the University of California at Berkeley has been giving away recordings of its lectures on YouTube and iTunesU. In fact, Berkeley has become one of the most-generous distributors of free lectures on the web, adding some 4,500 hours of video per year.

But that web channel, webcast.berkeley.edu, will soon stop adding fresh content. Last month officials announced that, because of budget cuts, the university will no longer offer new lecture recordings to the public…

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5 Ed-Tech Ideas Face The Chronicle’s Version of ‘Shark Tank’

In the TV series Shark Tank, entrepreneurs with budding companies pitch their ideas to a panel of investors who ask probing questions and then decide whether to back the proposals. The Chronicle adopted a modified version of the format during a session at the South by Southwest Edu conference in March, with a panel of experts weighing in on five new products or ideas to fix pressing problems in higher education.

True, our panel didn’t have any money to invest. But the session was fast-paced an…

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Wearable Teaching? College to Experiment With Apple Watch as Learning Tool

Even before the Apple Watch was released, professors and pundits began speculating on whether it and other wearable devices might play a role in college classrooms. On Monday researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus announced that they would be among the first to test the device’s usefulness in the classroom.

The experiment will begin this summer, with eight Apple Watches the university purchased for the project. Penn State plans to expand the research to more students in the f…

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Understanding the New Higher-Ed Landscape: Chronicle Sessions at SXSWedu

Big challenges face higher education these days, and plenty of talk about new models and approaches. At this year’s South by Southwest education conference, in Austin, Tex., The Chronicle is organizing a morning of sessions to share some of the trends and challenges we’re seeing, and we invite audience members to share their big ideas.

As part of the event, we’re borrowing a page from the TV show Shark Tank. We’re inviting several academic and start-up leaders to make a three-minute pitch abou…