All posts by Steve Kolowich

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What’s in an Ed-Tech Name? Here’s All U Need 2Gnō

The name of the company was 2gnōME.

2gnōME is pronounced “to know me,” according to the company’s website (although in my head it sounds more like a vinyl recording of some actual word playing in reverse). It is a pun on the word “gnōme,” which means “thought” in Greek. There’s a “2” in the mix as well because we live in The Future now.

The company’s product is a “feedback platform with novel methodologies that assess ‘soft’ skills and qualities, based on situations and behavior,” according to i…

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Would Graduate School Work Better if You Never Graduated From It?

Learning continues long after college ends. What if being enrolled in college was also a lifelong condition?

That is how Christian Terwiesch, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, thinks graduate business programs might work in the future.

He and a colleague, Karl T. Ulrich, vice dean of innovation at Wharton, have published a paper on how the ascent of short video lectures—the kind popularized by massive open online courses and Khan Academy—might change the cost an…

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Can MOOCs Help Professors Teach Traditional Courses More Efficiently?

Using free online materials such as massive open online courses in traditional classes can help colleges teach more efficiently without harming students, according to a long-awaited report from Ithaka S+R, an education-technology nonprofit group, and the University System of Maryland.

However, the report notes practical barriers that might make it difficult for professors to incorporate MOOCs or similar materials into their classes without incurring other costs. Those costs might limit any gains…

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U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement

[Updated (7/8/2014, 2:53 p.m.) with news of a post on the controversy by the MOOC instructor.]

The University of Zurich says it has cleared up the bizarre case of the MOOC that went missing. But the university is offering few clarifying details to the public, which has been left to piece together theories from the university’s statements and from cryptic tweets by the course’s professor about an unspecified experiment he might have been trying to conduct.

As I reported this morning, the content …

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In a MOOC Mystery, a Course Suddenly Vanishes

[Update (7/8/2014, 2:47 p.m.): See a new post on this topic: "U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement."]

A massive open online course on making sense of massive open online courses caused massive confusion when the course content was suddenly deleted and the professor started writing cryptic things on Twitter.

The MOOC, called “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was taught by Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a lecturer at the University of Zurich. Offered through C…

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5 Things Researchers Have Discovered About MOOCs

In December 2013 a group of academics gathered during a Texas snowstorm and began the second phase of a discussion about massive open online courses. They were not terribly impressed by the hype the courses had received in the popular media, and they had set out to create a better body of literature about MOOCs—albeit a less sensational one.

The MOOC Research Initiative, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, had given many of those academics research grants to study what was going on in…

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Coursera Chief: Reach of Teaching Will Define Great Universities

In October 1993, in his first major speech as president of Yale University, Richard C. Levin talked about the importance of Yale’s becoming a “world university.” Great universities have a responsibility to drive global change, he said, and they achieve that primarily by nurturing future leaders and world-changing research inside their walled gardens.

This spring, after two decades at the helm of Yale, Mr. Levin took a job as chief executive of Coursera, the online-education company. His views on…

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4 Universities Band Together to Share and Protect Digital Resources

The online-education boom has made technology vendors powerful. So powerful, in fact, that some university officials say it’s getting harder and harder to update their technology without placing themselves under the sway of outside companies.

Now four major research universities are trying to promote strength in numbers. They are creating a consortium, called Unizin, that they hope will help member institutions innovate on their own terms.

“Unizin is a strategic move by universities to assert …

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Will MOOCs Undermine Top Business Schools, or Help Them?

Massive open online courses are not currently cannibalizing tuition-based programs at top business schools, according to an enthusiastic report from the University of Pennsylvania. Rather, MOOCs could become a recruiting tool for tapping new pools of potential students.

Business schools that offer MOOCs should also figure out how to charge the many students who sign up for the online courses without intending to complete them, write the authors of the report.

The report looks at data and survey …

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Middlebury Faculty Seeks to Cut Ties With Online-Education Company

The faculty at Middlebury College last week took a stand against the Vermont institution’s partnership with K12, an online-education company that has been helping the college turn its reputation as a language-instruction mecca into a business venture.

The professors voted, 95 to 16, to end the relationship with the company.

“The business practices of K12 Inc. are at odds with the integrity, reputation, and educational mission of the college,” wrote Paula Schwartz, a professor of French, in her r…