May 13, 2013, 11:00 am
Isolated. Too exclusive. Antisocial.
That’s how Brian Whitmer, a founder of Instructure, describes the education-technology sector, particularly the space occupied by developers of learning-management systems like Instructure’s Canvas. “It’s become clear that ed tech does not have the type of ecosystem that other sectors have,” he said. “It’s hampering innovation. We need to fix that.”
To call attention to that problem, Instructure and other learning-management-system providers, including Blackboard and Desire2Learn, are offering cash rewards to encourage the creation of apps using the Learning Tools Interoperability standard, or LTI.
Similar to Facebook apps, LTI apps focus on a specific function that may be missing from a larger platform—a better way to track grades, for example—while taking advantage of the platform’s existing features, like basic log-in…
April 22, 2013, 6:02 pm
Pearson, the publishing and education giant, announced on Monday that it had acquired Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based assessment system created by three Harvard University educators.
The acquisition is the latest move by the company to extend its reach into college classrooms beyond just textbooks.
In the past two years, Pearson has spent more than $1-billion acquiring and investing in education companies. In 2011 the company released OpenClass, a cloud-based learning-management system. Last year it acquired EmbanetCompass, a company that provides online-learning services to nonprofit universities.
Pearson was interested in Learning Catalytics because of its ability to provide instant feedback to instructors as well as to help students engage more effectively with peers, said Paul Corey, Pearson’s president for science, business, and technology.
“We were attracted to its…
April 17, 2013, 4:05 pm
Imagine more than 1,000 nurses learning how to use defibrillators at once, each delivering shocks to a single patient. If a patient dies, the instructor is immediately told which nurse failed, and the nurse then tries again, but with more assistance.
It’s not a process patients would want in the real world, but it’s one example of what can be done virtually with a new online-learning portal called Smart Sparrow, said Dror Ben-Naim, the start-up company’s founder.
Smart Sparrow, which was officially launched on Tuesday at the Education Innovation Summit, in Scottsdale, Ariz., is an online-learning platform that allows anyone to create what Mr. Ben-Naim calls adaptive content. “The stress is on anyone,” he said.
Mr. Ben-Naim compared the portal to Adobe Creative Suite. Instead of an array of tools allowing users to produce creative content, Smart Sparrow provides tools …
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…
April 8, 2013, 4:57 am
Philadelphia — Massive open online courses have gained renown among academics for their impressive enrollment figures and, conversely, their unimpressive completion rates.
What accounts for the high attrition in MOOCs, and what does it mean? Coursera and data researchers at several partner universities of the MOOC provider have begun trying to answer those questions by learning more about why students wash out of MOOCs—and what instructors and course designers could do to stem the tide.
Some of that research was on display over the weekend at Coursera’s first-ever partners’ conference, where MOOC professors, instructional designers, and various invited guests spent two days talking shop.
The data so far are preliminary. But the company believes that the low completion rates in its early courses should not be read—as many critics have done—as an indictment of the MOOC…
March 28, 2013, 3:23 pm
Four seniors at Carnegie Mellon University who grew tired of scouring their backpacks to find their student-ID cards every time they wanted a bite to eat have found a new way to pay: their fingerprints.
“We carry around these little slabs of plastic,” says Kelly Lau-Kee. “You really shouldn’t have to carry anything on you that could be lost or stolen anymore. You should be able to pay or ID yourself just by being yourself.”
That’s the idea behind PayTango, which was created by Ms. Lau-Kee and three classmates, and is already in use at several locations on the Carnegie Mellon campus.
The first time students use the system, they swipe the card they would like to match to their fingerprints, type in their phone number, and touch their fingers to a pad to register the print. The system works with any card that uses a magnetic strip, including debit cards, gift cards, and…
March 14, 2013, 5:30 pm
A good grade in a class or a degree on a wall can’t always tell the whole story of what a student has learned. A journalism degree denotes that a student graduated from a journalism program, but not necessarily that she excels at finding sources through social media, for example.
Now, after two years of development, Mozilla has released Open Badges 1.0, free software that allows for a new way to recognize learning: digital badges.
Similar to Boy Scout badges that represent pitching a tent or riding a horse, the digital badges denote specific skills that employers might look for, like community service, social networking, or experience with HTML. Some professors at institutions such as Indiana University at Bloomington and Purdue University have already been experimenting with badges, awarding them to students for class participation or for mastering certain sections of a course.
March 11, 2013, 2:52 pm
Universities and foundations have poured more than $100-million into creating open-education materials. But according to David Wiley, an open-education advocate for 15 years, faculty members and administrators have been slow to use the resources as alternatives to expensive textbooks.
“It’s frustrating to watch these resources keep getting created, and then watch nobody use them and watch students get no benefit,” he said.
So Mr. Wiley helped found Lumen Learning, a new company that will offer guidance and support to institutions looking to use those resources. One of the company’s goals is to collaborate with colleges to develop an associate degree in business administration that can be completed entirely with free open-education materials.
Colleges following what the company calls the Textbook Zero model would offer a section using open-education alternatives for every…