Category Archives: Teaching


Tech-Enabled Alternatives Must Be Part of Education Reform, Report Says

David Bergeron, far right, leads a panel discussion on competency-based education at the Center for American Progress on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013.

David A. Bergeron (right) of the Center for American Progress leads a panel discussion on competency-based education, which he notes is an idea that dates back decades. (Photo by Megan O’Neil)

Washington — The U.S. Education Department must experiment with alternative models, such as stackable credentials and competency-based programs, as part of broader reforms of the nation’s postsecondary-education system, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Center for American Progress.



From a Million MOOC Users, a Few Early Research Results

Preliminary results of a study of 16 massive open online courses offered through the University of Pennsylvania show that only a small percentage of people who start the courses finish them—and that, on average, only half of those who register for the courses even watch the first lecture.

The study, conducted by the university’s Graduate School of Education, is reviewing data from about a million users of the courses, which Penn offered on the Coursera platform, from June 2012 to June 2013. Two …


QuickWire: Davidson College and edX to Offer AP Teaching Modules

Davidson College has teamed up with the College Board and edX, the nonprofit provider of massive open online courses, to create online teaching modules for high-school students taking Advanced Placement courses in calculus, macroeconomics, and physics, The New York Times reported. Davidson faculty members and teachers at high schools near the college, the article said, are using College Board data to determine what AP topics high-school students have the most trouble with, and then designing vi…


Academics to Udacity Founder: Told Ya

In a new magazine profile of Sebastian Thrun, the Udacity founder calls his company’s massive open online courses a “lousy product” to use for educating underprepared college students. That assertion has prompted a chorus of I-told-you-sos from his critics in academe.

In interviews for the Fast Company profile, Mr. Thrun reflected on the discouraging results of an experiment at San Jose State University in which instructors used Udacity’s online platform to teach mathematics. Some of the stude…


Bill Would Require Instructional Technology to Be Accessible to All

Legislation introduced on Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives would require colleges either to make instructional technology accessible to disabled students or to provide them with equivalent, alternative resources.

Rep. Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican and senior member of the House education committee, said his bill would ensure that disabled students were given equal treatment as technology plays a larger and larger role in instruction. The bill is called the Technology, Equality, an…


QuickWire: ‘Flipping’ Classrooms May Not Make Much Difference

In preliminary research, professors at Harvey Mudd College haven’t found that students learn more or more easily in so-called flipped courses than in traditional classes, USA Today reports. In flipped courses, students watch professors’ lectures online before coming to class, then spend the class period in discussions or activities that reinforce and advance the lecture material.

Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation gave four professors at the college in Claremont, Calif., a three-…


Learning Will Become Personalized and Spontaneous, Game Expert Says


Jane McGonigal foresees an “extreme-learning IT environment.” (Chronicle photograph)

Anaheim, Calif.Jane McGonigal, a game designer and game researcher, says technology will intensify the personalization of the student experience in the coming years.

Speaking here at the Educause conference, Ms. McGonigal described a new environment ”where you can learn anytime, anyplace, and it is full of play and collaboration.”

The game expert is best known for trumpeting gaming as a tool for solving educa…


Harvard Business School Will Venture Into Online Teaching

The famously cloistered Harvard Business School will soon offer online courses, although it has not quite decided how.

The business school, known as HBS, is currently developing online courses that it will market under the banner HBX. The news, first reported by Bloomberg, comes as a number of prestigious business schools, notably Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, have begun offering MOOCs on business and finance.

Harvard Unive…


QuickWire: Faculty Leaders Caution Against Profit Motive in Online Ed

As technology companies have increasingly eyed higher education as ripe for “disruption,” faculty leaders have been wary of entrepreneurs’ gaining a toehold on campuses.

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, a coalition of faculty advocacy groups, has articulated many of those concerns in a report released on Wednesday. The report warns administrators and politicians not to take the private companies at face value when it comes to their promises of increasing access to higher educatio…


Desire2Learn Enters MOOC Market as It Updates Its Platform

The course-management company Desire2Learn unveiled a MOOC-enabled version of its online-learning platform on Tuesday, joining two competitors, Blackboard and Instructure, in entering the market for massive open online courses.

John Baker, Desire2Learn’s president and chief executive, said the company’s online-learning suite was now an all-encompassing platform that integrated online assets commonly used for classroom instruction as well as the new MOOC platform, called Desire2Learn Open Course…