All posts by Steve Kolowich

by

Ga. State’s Loss in ‘E-Reserves’ Case Might Actually Be a Win for Librarians

In May 2012 fair-use advocates celebrated a federal judge’s decision in a high-profile copyright case. The ruling was seen as a decisive victory for Georgia State University, whose librarians wanted to be able to make freely available as much copyrighted material as possible to students via its electronic reserve system.

On Friday a federal appeals court ended that celebration by reversing the judge’s decision and sending the “e-reserves” case back to the lower court for further action.

At a gla…

by

How Universities Turn Slogans Into Cash

If you want to sell a T-shirt that says “Bring the Juice”—and who among us hasn’t?—you’ll have to clear it with Robert P. Cleveland.

Mr. Cleveland is director of trademark and licensing at Ohio State University, which has owned the trademark on “Bring the Juice” since 2012, along with several dozen other words and phrases.

The Chronicle just published a poem composed entirely of college-owned trademarks. I wrote it after combing through the federal trademark database to see if I could make a lis…

by

Coursera Expands Its MOOC Certificate Program

Coursera, the online education company, announced on Wednesday that it was expanding a program that awards special certificates to students who pass multiple MOOCs.

The company unveiled the program, called Specializations, earlier this year. The idea was to create certificates that, while not supplanting traditional degrees, carry more weight than a certificate of completion from a single massive open online course.

The program, which requires learners to take Coursera’s fee-based “Signature Tra…

by

The 5 Least-Flattering Details in Report on San Jose State’s Tech Spending

San Jose State University’s spending on technology over the past year has made the campus ground zero for heated discussions about how university leaders should try to innovate—and the role faculty members should play in those decisions. And it hasn’t been pretty: Just five months ago Mohammad H. Qayoumi, the president, had to apologize for bypassing “longstanding SJSU consultation practices” in his attempt to move quickly toward his goal of “engaging SJSU with Silicon Valley.”

That was in May. …

by

The MOOC Where Everybody Learned

Some MOOC skeptics believe that the only students fit to learn in massive open online courses are those who are already well educated. Without coaching and the support system of a traditional program, the thinking goes, ill-prepared students will not learn a thing.

Not so, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The researchers analyzed data from a physics course that MIT offered on the edX platform in the summer of 2013. They found that students who had spent sign…

by

MOOC Provider Gets Into College Counseling

The providers of massive open online courses mostly cater to adults who already went to college. Now one provider, edX, is setting its sights on high-school students who are trying to get in.

The nonprofit organization just announced a raft of free, online courses for high-school students. Most of the new MOOCs cover material from Advanced Placement courses in traditional disciplines. But one course, called “The Road to Selective College Admissions,” will aim to counsel students on how to produc…

by

How Streaming Media Could Threaten the Mission of Libraries

Digital music has made it easier to buy and share recordings. But try telling that to librarians.

In March 2011, the University of Washington’s library tried to get a copy of a new recording of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, playing Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique that the library could lend to students. But the recording was available only as a digital download, and Amazon and iTunes forbid renting out digital files.

So the librarians contacted the Philharmonic to s…

by

That’s Not #Funny: Higher Ed’s Least Clever Twitter Accounts

Earlier this month, a puckish Twitter user going by the handle @ProfJeffJarvis managed to provoke two actual professors into fits of outrage.

Rurick Bradbury, the technology entrepreneur who runs the account, has been sending up the jargon of contemporary “thinkfluencers” since 2012, amassing 11,000 followers. He named the account after Jeff Jarvis, a writer and professor at the City University of New York’s journalism school, although the object of Mr. Bradbury’s satire is not necessari…

by

Can You Really Teach a MOOC in a Refugee Camp?

MOOCs_refugee_camp

Two men living in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya, would watch lecture videos and take online quizzes at a nearby United Nations compound. (InZone)

One narrative that has driven widespread interest in free online courses known as MOOCs is that they can help educate the world. But critics like to emphasize that the courses mostly draw students who already hold traditional degrees.

So when Coursera, the largest provider of MOOCs, published a blog post about how a professor had used one of its onli…

by

Feds’ Drone Regs Draw Profs’ Fire

Some professors are worried that the federal government will stifle their ability to teach and do research with unmanned flying machines.

In a letter sent to the Federal Aviation Administration last week, 30 professors argued that its recent pronouncements on drones would unreasonably restrict scholars’ ability to use the small aircraft for academic purposes, the Associated Press reports.

“To the best of our knowledge, no fatalities have resulted from academic research with model aircraft,” …