May 21, 2013, 3:07 pm
Fifteen more universities have agreed to offer free massive open online courses through edX, a nonprofit provider of MOOCs founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, more than doubling its membership, from 12 to 27.
Tuesday’s announcement came as the group celebrated its first anniversary and as its leaders said it was bringing in revenue and was on track to financial sustainability.
The new partners are five institutions in the United States, including Cornell University and Davidson College, as well as six in Asia, three in Europe, and one in Australia.
edX defines itself as a nonprofit alternative to Coursera and other for-profit companies that are working with colleges and professors to deliver MOOCs. Leaders of edX stressed in their latest announcement that, unlike those efforts, edX aims to help colleges use technology to rethink campus…
May 21, 2013, 4:59 am
Robert Ghrist teaching at the U. of Pennsylvania. (Kelsh Wilson Design)
Robert Ghrist, a professor of mathematics and electrical and systems engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, knows that wielding vast networks on behalf of nonuniversity benefactors can be tricky business.
Mr. Ghrist specializes in applied topology, an abstract math field. In practice, topological math can help someone harness huge collections of sensory inputs—like those collected by cellphones, for example—to model large environments and solve problems.
The Department of Defense has enlisted Mr. Ghrist to do research along those lines. The Penn professor knows he has little power over how the Pentagon might use his insights. But he says that no longer bothers him.
“I have long ago dealt with the issue of: What if some…
May 16, 2013, 4:56 am
For all the star power harnessed by massive-open-online-course providers, Yale University has been a notable absence. While many of its elite peers scrambled to get out ahead of the MOOC wave, Yale bided its time.
That’s about to change. Yale announced on Wednesday that it would soon offer MOOCs through Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based company.
Yale plans to offer four courses beginning in January, focusing on constitutional law, financial markets, morality, and Roman architecture.
The move was a long time coming. Yale, which in 2007 became among the first institutions to make its course content available free on the Web with its Open Yale Courses lecture series, has taken a distinctly deliberate approach to MOOCs. Last fall it convened a faculty committee to recommend a broad online agenda that would encompass MOOCs as well as other forms of online teaching.
May 2, 2013, 1:03 pm
In a few weeks, Bernard Bull, assistant vice president for academics at Concordia University Wisconsin, will ask participants in his new course to cheat.
There’s a caveat, though. They’ll have to disclose to the rest of the class exactly how they cheated. “Of course, if the assignment is to cheat, then you’re not really cheating,” Mr. Bull admitted.
The assignment will be one unit in his new massive open online course, “Understanding Cheating in Online Courses,” which begins on Monday through the Canvas MOOC platform, run by Instructure, a course-management company. The eight-week course will explore the vocabulary, psychology, and mechanics of what he calls “successful cheating” in online learning.
Mr. Bull said he had been studying issues of cyberethics since the start of the last decade. When he began teaching, he noticed how often student cheating came up in…
May 1, 2013, 4:55 am
Coursera, the massive-open-online-course provider, announced on Wednesday that it was expanding into teacher education.
The company said it would offer MOOCs taught by instructors in graduate programs at the Universities of California at Irvine, Virginia, and Washington; at the Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt Universities; and at some nonaffiliated organizations that train teachers.
The move marked a shift for the year-old company, which previously had focused on the traditional university curriculum. The new offerings will include practical courses—sample title, “Surviving Your Rookie Year of Teaching: Three Key Ideas and High Leverage Techniques,” from the nonprofit Match Education—as well as more-theoretical material, such as a course unit on early-childhood development from the University of Virginia.
Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, said the company saw the…
April 26, 2013, 4:55 am
Many students stay away from online courses in subjects they deem especially difficult or interesting, according to a study released this month by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The finding comes just as many highly selective colleges are embracing online learning and as massive open online courses are gaining popularity and standing.
A report on the study, “Choosing Between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Community College Student Voices,” focuses on why students opt to take some courses online but others face to face. “Because they serve a lot of students who work and have kids, community colleges feel they need to offer more and more online courses to meet their demands,” said Shanna Smith Jaggars, the report’s author and the center’s assistant director. “But we looked at, What is the extent of that demand?”
The research, …
April 25, 2013, 1:36 pm
Scottsdale, Ariz. — A German course-platform company, looking to help kick-start the MOOC movement in Europe, is inviting professors and others interested in creating and offering massive open online courses to compete in its contest for a chance to win one of 10 MOOC Production Fellowships—and with it, a prize of 25,000 euros.
Applicants have until April 30 to apply. Iversity, the Berlin-based company sponsoring the fellowships, will hold online voting for the finalists through May 23.
Stifterverband, a German nonprofit association that promotes university-industry collaborations and innovation, is putting up the money, a total of 250,000 euros, or about $325,000.
The 10 winners, to be selected by a jury, will be invited to Berlin in late June for a two-day symposium where they can share ideas with one another on ways to present their courses.
“We want to create a…
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…
April 16, 2013, 3:31 pm
Students in Ghana using NovoEd at an internet cafe.
The field of massive-open-online-course providers is becoming crowded. That’s even more so at Stanford University, where Udacity and Coursera, two of the largest providers, got their start.
Now there’s a new platform to add to the list. NovoEd, which officially opened on Monday, will begin offering seven courses to the public next week, as well as 10 private courses for Stanford students.
Amin Saberi, a Stanford professor and the start-up company’s founder and chief executive, said there’s a key difference between NovoEd and existing MOOC options: peer interaction.
“With this transition from brick-and-mortar classes to online learning, you shouldn’t lose the social, collaborative aspects of learning,” Mr. Saberi said. “It should be able…
April 10, 2013, 3:34 pm
San Jose State University plans to widen its relationship with edX, the nonprofit provider of massive open online courses, and the California State University system is encouraging similar experiments on 11 other campuses.
The moves were announced on Wednesday, just two semesters after San Jose State began a pilot project with edX to improve teaching and learning in its own classrooms. The university will incorporate three to five new edX courses into its local curriculum next fall, including courses in the humanities and social sciences.
San Jose State last fall used material from an edX course, “Circuits & Electronics,” as part of a “flipped classroom” experiment in its own introductory course in electrical engineering. The university offered three versions of the course: two conventional face-to-face sections and one “blended” section, in which students watched edX…