Category Archives: Teaching


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…


QuickWire: Harvard and MIT Release Scrubbed MOOC Data

“De-identified” records of more than a million people who took part in the first year of massive open online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been released to researchers, the two institutions said on Friday.

The institutions said the records had been “subjected to a careful process of de-identification: removing personally identifiable information, using best practices including aggregation, anonymization via random identifiers, and blurri…


New Grants Will Help Journalism Programs Engage With Communities

The Online News Association has announced the first round of journalism programs to receive $35,000 “microgrants” as part of its 2014 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. The challenge is a collaboration among the association, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Democracy Fund.

The money will be used to test live-news experiments designed to engage local communities and to re…


New Syllabus Archive Opens the ‘Curricular Black Box’

Course syllabi are a potentially valuable source of information for teaching and scholarship. Their contents could shed light on the evolution of fields (How has Foucault’s popularity changed over time?) or help professors develop new courses (What are best practices for teaching digital humanities?). But gathering and sharing syllabi can be a messy business. Privacy concerns, legal uncertainty, fragmented and inconsistent sharing practices—all present challenges.

A group of scholars is taking a…


QuickWire: A Booming Business Based on Plagiarism has conducted a “research study” of its own effectiveness in discouraging plagiarism, and perhaps not surprisingly it reported on Wednesday that it’s doing a great job.

“Colleges and universities using Turnitin reduced unoriginal writing by 39 percent over the course of the study,” the company said. The report is vague, however, about whether there was a lot of plagiarism to start with, or just a little. All it says for sure is that there’s less now.

What’s more interesting is that …


Texas Rolls Out an ‘Affordable Baccalaureate’ Degree

Two years after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called on the state’s colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees that would cost students no more than $10,000 each, two institutions rolled out a joint bachelor-of-applied-science program last month that they say can be completed in three years for not much more than the governor’s target amount.

The initiative, called the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program, is being offered jointly by South Texas College and Texas A&M University at Commerce, and was assem…


6 Technologies Will Change Colleges in Coming Years, Experts Say

A panel of 56 experts on six continents has come up with a list of a half-dozen technologies that “will be most important to teaching, learning, or creative inquiry within the next five years.” The two most imminent, panel members said, are the integration of social media into every aspect of college life and the blending of online, hybrid, and collaborative learning with face-to-face instruction.

The six technologies and the changes they’re expected to bring are detailed in “NMC Horizon Report…


Open Course Library Sees Little Use in Washington’s Community Colleges

Washington State’s ambitious effort to make free or low-cost course materials available for 42 popular classes at its 34 community colleges isn’t making much progress because only a small fraction of the courses used the materials, according to a report released on Thursday by an arm of the National Association of College Stores.

The report is based on a survey of community-college stores that drew responses from 25 of the campuses. Only nine said that any materials from the state’s Open Course …


Open Textbooks Could Help Students Financially and Academically

As the price of college textbooks continues to increase, more students are opting to skip the books even if their grades suffer, a survey conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group has found. In a report released on Monday, the group said open textbooks—written by faculty members, peer-reviewed, and available free online—could help make textbooks affordable again.

For the report, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market,” more than 2,000 students at 156 college campuses in 33 states were su…


Nurse Program Reimagines Diagnostic Training for Online Students

When officials at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing opted in 2009 to move portions of its master’s program for nurse practitioners online, they did so with a purpose.

“We are really trying to reach students who want to go that next step in patient care and accountability and responsibility, but don’t have access to an education system nearby or the time,” Christine L. Colella, a nurse practitioner and director of the program, says of the distance-education format. ”We are really …