April 18, 2013, 4:56 am
Last month the U.S. Education Department sent a message to colleges: Financial aid may be awarded based on students’ mastery of “competencies” rather than their accumulation of credits. That has major ramifications for institutions hoping to create new education models that don’t revolve around the amount of time that students spend in class.
Now one of those models has cleared a major hurdle. The Education Department has approved the eligibility of Southern New Hampshire University to receive federal financial aid for students enrolled in a new, self-paced online program called College for America, the private, nonprofit university has announced.
Southern New Hampshire bills its College for America program as “the first degree program to completely decouple from the credit hour.” Unlike the typical experience in which students advance by completing semester-long, multicredit…
December 21, 2012, 4:55 am
During the New Deal of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration hired writers to document history across the United States. The best-known effort collected oral histories of former slaves. Those interviews became the bedrock of research for decades, contributing to a reinterpretation of slavery that took place from the 1950s to the 1980s, says William G. Thomas III, a historian at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Mr. Thomas sees something similar as possible today. He and others are trying to build a movement to gather “the people’s history.” And their project could spawn a new model for massive open online courses, or MOOC’s.
Since 2010, scholars and students at Nebraska and at James Madison University have organized a series of “History Harvests”—community events where families share their artifacts and stories with students, who document and digitize them. The idea…
December 13, 2012, 7:01 pm
Martin Bean, vice chancellor of the Open U., says the new venture will have a “distinctly British” twist.
Earlier this month, one of Britain’s top newspapers noticed a glaring absence on the British education scene: MOOC’s. “U.K. universities are wary of getting on board the MOOC train,” read The Guardian’s headline. Two institutions, the Universities of Edinburgh and London, have recently signed on to offer massive open online courses via the American company Coursera. Yet in Britain, said the newspaper, “there is scarcely a whiff of the evangelism and excitement bubbling away in America, where venture capitalists and leading universities are ploughing millions” into MOOC’s.
That’s changing. Some leading British universities on Friday announced plans to offer free online courses through a new company being…
November 8, 2012, 3:01 pm
Denver — Data mining is creeping into every aspect of student life—classrooms, advising, socializing. Now it’s hitting textbooks, too.
CourseSmart, which sells digital versions of textbooks by big publishers, announced on Wednesday a new tool to help professors and others measure students’ engagement with electronic course materials.
When students use print textbooks, professors can’t track their reading. But as learning shifts online, everything students do in digital spaces can be monitored, including the intimate details of their reading habits.
Those details are what will make the new CourseSmart service tick. Say a student uses an introductory psychology e-textbook. The book will be integrated into the college’s course-management system. It will track students’ behavior: how much time they spend reading, how many pages they view, and how many notes and…
September 6, 2012, 3:11 pm
Students enrolled in a free open online course offered through edX will now have the option of getting their learning validated with a proctored final exam, under a new program announced today.
The nonprofit online-learning venture, founded by MIT and Harvard, will let students take on-site exams administered by the Pearson VUE service, which has more than 450 testing centers in more than 110 countries. Students who pass the tests will receive certificates noting that they completed a proctored exam.
Today’s news comes as academic integrity emerges as a hot topic in the movement to offer massive open online courses, known as MOOC’s. Dozens of incidents of plagiarism have been reported by students taking free courses through Coursera, a start-up company, as The Chronicle wrote last month. Another MOOC platform, Udacity, has also announced an arrangement to provide secure exams…
June 13, 2012, 4:59 pm
Behavioral nudges help people quit smoking, exercise, and vote. Can they help students finish college, too?
A start-up company is banking on just that hope, with a new service that directs nudges to the devices that students carry at all times: mobile phones.
The venture, Persistence Plus, bills itself as “the Weight Watchers of college completion.” It draws on behavioral research to deliver personalized messages to students through an iPhone app or text messages. Say, for example, a group of students has a forthcoming math test. The program will send messages to them asking when and where they plan to study for the exam, says Jill Frankfort, who co-founded the company in August 2011.
“Reminders don’t actually change behavior that much,” she explains. “But when you can help someone actually plan out their time and create a mental map of when they’re going to do a behavior,…
April 25, 2012, 1:18 pm
Milwaukee — Digital natives? The idea that students are superengaged finders of online learning materials once struck Glenda Morgan, e-learning strategist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as “a load of hooey.” Students, she figured, probably stick with the textbooks and other content they’re assigned in class.
Not quite. The preliminary results of a multiyear study of undergraduates’ online study habits, presented by Ms. Morgan at a conference on blended learning here this week, show that most students shop around for digital texts and videos beyond the boundaries of what professors assign them in class.
“It’s almost like they want to find the content by themselves,” Ms. Morgan said in an interview after her talk, which took place in a packed room at the 9th Annual Sloan Consortium Blended Learning Conference & Workshop.
It’s nothing new to…
April 17, 2012, 4:24 pm
Scottsdale, Ariz. — We’re used to personalization on the consumer Web, from book recommendations on Amazon to the news feed on Facebook.
But what will it mean for learning as colleges, too, increasingly mine data to shape the student experience? What does educational personalization look like? How finely should technologists try to parse it—down to individual learning styles? How will personalization conflict with existing regulations? And what are the risks?
Debating those questions was the focus of a panel this morning at an education innovation conference hosted by Arizona State University. Some 700 people—companies, investors, educators—are convening here over the next two days, many of them hoping to ride the surge of investment in education technology.
“We’re entering a world that is going to be so data-mined it will be unrecognizable to us in 20 years, the …