Category Archives: Distance Education


Many Colleges Now See Centers for Teaching With Technology as Part of ‘Innovation Infrastructure’

In the past few years, many colleges have expanded the scale and scope of centers that support teaching and learning with technology, as part of an effort to build a new “innovation infrastructure” for instruction.

That’s according to the results of a new survey of directors of academic-technology centers at 163 colleges and universities, released last week at the annual conference of Educause, an organization that supports technology on campuses.

One key change has been the creation of new or …


MOOCs Are Still Rising, at Least in Numbers

When one of the first massive open online courses appeared at Stanford University, 160,000 students enrolled. It was 2011, and fewer than 10 MOOCs existed worldwide.

It has been four years since then, and according to a new report, the cumulative number of MOOCs has reached nearly 4,000.

Compiled earlier this month by Dhawal Shah, founder of the MOOC aggregator Class Central, the report summarizes data on MOOCs from the past four years. And the data show that even as the MOOC hype has started to…


New Grant Will Create Prizes for Faculty Using Digital Courseware

Orlando, Fla.— The Online Learning Consortium, in a move to encourage professors to develop and use digital courseware, will offer new prizes for faculty-led teams that advance and adopt sophisticated online courses with “a strong pedagogical focus and a sustained impact on student success in gateway courses,” the organization announced at its conference here last week.

The organization, formerly known as the Sloan Consortium, said it would award up to 10 prizes of $10,000 each to the faculty te…


A Top Proponent of Higher-Ed Disruption Moves to Put His Theories Into Practice


Michael B. Horn

After years of preaching “disruptive innovation” for higher education, one of the most visible proponents of the theory is going to try a little disrupting of his own. Michael B. Horn, a co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, stepped down on Friday as director of its education program to begin working more directly with companies in the education market.

Mr. Horn will also become principal consultant with Entangled Solutions, an arm of a San Fr…


Can Online Education Help Refugees Earn Degrees?

When refugees want to enter higher education, they often lack the paperwork.

To enroll in conventional universities, students need to submit the kind of documentation — like passports and previous education records — that many refugees do not have. And even when refugees are able to provide the required documentation, tuition is often out of their price range.

But in the past few months, some online universities have been reaching out to those students, telling refugees that they don’t have to…


What the Results of a Survey of Coursera Students Mean for Online Learning

When Coursera, Udacity, and edX started up within four months of one another, in 2012, The New York Times declared it the year of the MOOC. Now that the clamor is dying down, researchers are gauging what actually has developed in terms of massive open online courses.

A report released this week draws on a survey of Coursera students to look at their motivations and what kinds of educational and career results they are seeing. Published in the Harvard Business Review, it is the first study of Cou…


In Online Courses, Students Learn More by Doing Than by Watching

When students enroll in MOOCs, they almost always watch a series of video lectures. But just watching videos — without also engaging interactively — is an ineffective way to learn, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The study, “Learning Is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing Is Better Than Watching for Learning From a MOOC,” looked at a generally available course, offered through the Georgia Institute of Technology, called “Introduction to Psychology as a Science.” Some …


Penn State Starts Network for Entrepreneurs With Focus on Online Learning

Education-technology companies are hot these days. So are online programs by universities. Pennsylvania State University hopes to tap into both trends with a new effort to turn its campus into an innovation hub for ed-tech companies.

The effort is called the EdTech Network, and officials hope it will spark entrepreneurship around the campus geared toward improving services for online students, said Craig D. Weidemann, the university’s vice provost for online education. That could help Penn State…


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…


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…