Category Archives: Teaching

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A New Department Marks the Rise of a Discipline: ‘Computational Media’

Pixar movies, interactive video games, smartphone applications—all are forms of computational media, the marriage of computer science to the arts and humanities. Signaling a deeper investment in that fast-growing if slippery field, the University of California at Santa Cruz announced the creation on Monday of what it called the first computational-media department ever.

“There’s always been, in the heart of computing, a concern with human communication and media,” said Noah Wardrip-Fruin, …

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For Bill on Disabled Access to Online Teaching Materials, the Devil’s in the Details

As smart classrooms become the norm on more campuses and online courses proliferate, some observers worry that the digital revolution will leave students with disabilities behind. But a bill under consideration in the U.S. Congress, the Technology, Equality, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505), would deal with that concern by creating accessibility guidelines for electronic materials used or assigned by college professors and administrators.

While the bill, known as t…

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Time for the New Fall Season—for TV, and for MOOCs

Eric FonerThe new fall television season gets under way this week, and newspapers are full of roundups of the hottest new shows. It’s also the season for a new lineup of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, and in recent days several colleges have touted new offerings boasting star professors or popular subject matter.

Despite a host of questions about the staying power of MOOCs as a trend, more free megacourses are starting this month than ever before, with 328 new offerings, according to Class Central…

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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…

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Apple Watch: Coming to a Classroom Near You?

applewatchWearable technology has entered the mainstream. The Apple Watch, announced on Tuesday, ushers in the possibility that, one day soon, campuses across the country will contend with students who are literally attached to their gadgets.

“These wearable technologies will become like appendages,” said B.J. Fogg, a consulting professor at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab. “To remove those capabilities will be like tying one hand behind your back.”

While the prospect …

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Why Students Should Own Their Educational Data

ToddRoseDesigning a textbook or lecture with the average student in mind may sound logical. But L. Todd Rose, who teaches educational neuroscience at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, argues that doing so means that the lesson is designed for nobody.

In a TEDx talk last summer, the professor explained that most learners have a “jagged profile” of traits when it comes to learning. One student might have an affinity for science but have below-average reading skills. Yet standard teach…

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Why This Professor Is Encouraging Facebook Use in His Classroom

Facebook and academe aren’t exactly friends. Over the years, the social-media company has been the source of ethically questionable research, the purveyor of uncomfortable teacher-student interactions, and, of course, the consummate classroom distraction, scourge of lecture halls the world over.

At least on that last note, however, one researcher says higher education has unfairly maligned the social-media behemoth. Kevin D. Dougherty, an associate professor of sociology at Baylor University, ha…

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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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Academics Continue Flirting With a Former Foe: Wikipedia

Google “straight turkey,” and you will find references to the Dardanelles (a Turkish strait), Wild Turkey brand whiskey, and a recent soccer match between the United States and, you guessed it, Turkey.

You will not encounter the defunct Los Angeles-based art magazine by the same name—at least not yet.

Next weekend East of Borneo, an art magazine founded and funded by the California Institute of the Arts, will host the fourth in a series of Wikipedia edit-a-thons intended to enhance Los Angeles…

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Your Cybertutor Wants to Confuse You—for Your Own Good

Picture this: You’re seated across the table from your organic-chemistry tutor. She presents you with a particularly tough problem. Exasperated, you force a thin half-smile. The tutor reads your facial cues, senses your frustration, and offers reassurance.

Now imagine this: Your tutor is a camera-equipped computer capable of reading, analyzing, and reacting to your emotions.

The concept is called affect-aware cyberlearning, and it isn’t entirely new. Sidney D’Mello, an assistant professor of…