May 8, 2013, 3:52 pm
The University of California at Berkeley has reached a settlement with Disability Rights Advocates in what the group is calling a “landmark agreement” to improve access to textbooks, course readers, and library materials for students with print-related disabilities.
Disability Rights Advocates represented three Berkeley students who said they had difficulty getting access to the materials they needed for class. The group, which is a nonprofit disability-rights legal center, approached the university last year on behalf of the students, proposing settlement negotiations that could resolve the issues and avoid a lawsuit. The negotiations, which took more than a year, led to several new accommodations, said Paul Hippolitus, director of the university’s Disabled Students Program, who called them overdue.
Over the past four years, the program struggled to keep up with a 115-percent…
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 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 3, 2013, 12:43 pm
Karen Head, a guest blogger for Wired Campus, is an assistant professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and director of the institute’s Communication Center. She reports periodically on her group’s efforts to develop and offer a massive open online course in freshman composition.
Because I grew up in a military family, the expression “boots on the ground” always informs how I look at the planning and execution of a project. No matter the situation, I believe an accurate assessment of resources and personnel is paramount to success. Like many instructors who have agreed to teach MOOCs (I’m currently working with colleagues to develop a massive open online course in freshman composition at Georgia Tech), I was eager to explore the possibilities. But in recent weeks I’ve begun to feel naïve, and even at times misled,…
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…
February 21, 2013, 4:28 pm
Low-cost online courses could allow a more-diverse group of students to try college, but a new study suggests that such courses could also widen achievement gaps among students in different demographic groups.
The study, which is described in a working paper titled “Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas,” was conducted by Columbia University’s Community College Research Center. The researchers examined 500,000 courses taken by more than 40,000 community- and technical-college students in Washington State. They found that students in demographic groups whose members typically struggle in traditional classrooms are finding their troubles exacerbated in online courses.
The study found that all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree. However, some…