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Amid Fast Change, Group Seems Slow to Enhance Colleges’ Control of Online Courses

Last spring a group of university leaders announced a bold, new project intended to help colleges gain more control of their online course platforms, as they increasingly turned to providers like Coursera or edX. A year later some observers are wondering what the group has actually accomplished, and where the consortium is headed.

In June 2014, amid growing concern that outside companies were exerting too much influence on the branding and shaping of universities’ online course offerings, four…

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Journalism Center Experiments With Delivering Campus News on Yik Yak

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 4.41.56 PMYik Yak, the anonymous social-media app, is perhaps best known for spreading rumors and bullying on many campuses. But journalism students at the University of Florida are experimenting with using the platform to deliver news updates, in what the project’s leaders say could become a model for other colleges.

Over the past few months, students at the university’s Innovation News Center have been developing and adding content to a news feed, called “Swamp Juice,” for people on or near the camp…

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An Increasingly Popular Job Perk: Online Education

Southern New Hampshire University has become the latest institution to team up with a major employer to make online courses a benefit of employment.

A partnership between Southern New Hampshire and Anthem Inc., a health-insurance company, will allow some 55,000 Anthem employees to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees through the university’s College for America, a competency-based assessment program.

The announcement is one of several recent deals between a college and a corporation that will ex…

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What Does ‘Personalized Learning’ Look Like? Video Series Aims to Go Beyond Hype

An education blog whose authors believe there’s too much hype around “personalized learning” technology has posted a series of video case studies about the trend, hoping to help get beyond overheated rhetoric.

The result is an unusual look at five colleges trying high-tech classroom experiments and wrestling with how new teaching methods change the role of students and teachers.

The videos were produced by the education-technology blog e-Literate, with the support of a $350,000 grant from the B…

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When Your Online Course Is Put Up for Adoption

Jennifer V. Ebbeler always knew that somebody else would end up teaching her online Roman-history course. But that didn’t make giving it up any easier.

Ms. Ebbeler spent nearly two years building an online version of “Introduction to Ancient Rome” with a team of designers at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is an associate professor of classics. Most of the heavy lifting came during the last academic year, when one of her colleagues taught the course to hundreds of undergraduates…

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Silicon Valley Innovation: Stanford Law Student Crowdsources Her Graduation Speech

Though higher education is constantly changing, commencement ceremonies have largely stayed the same. A graduating student at Stanford Law School is trying to change that.

Marta F. Belcher is crowdsourcing the speech she will give next month at the law school’s precommencement diploma ceremony, offering her classmates an opportunity to share in crafting that final message.

The point of a student commencement speaker, Ms. Belcher said, is to have someone who can speak to the student experience. B…

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Want to Make Your Course ‘Gameful’? A Michigan Professor’s Tool Could Help

What if the classroom were more like a video game?

Barry J. Fishman, a professor of information and education at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, would like to help you find out. Mr. Fishman has borrowed elements of gaming to develop GradeCraft, a learning-management system that lets instructors organize their courses in a “gameful” way.

The system lets students choose their own path through a course, selecting the assignments that interest and challenge them. At its heart is a tool, ca…

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A MOOC Hopes to Sink Its Teeth Into a New Audience: TV Fans

Vampires are everywhere these days — books, television shows, movies. And now, a MOOC.

The University of California at Irvine plans to offer a four-week MOOC based on the FX television series The Strain, which follows the spread of a disease with the “hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.” The course, “Fight or Die: The Science Behind FX’s The Strain,” will be hosted on Instructure’s MOOC platform Canvas Network.

Three Irvine faculty members will teach the course, which will focu…

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New Consortium’s Mission: Improve Liberal-Arts Teaching Online

Four liberal-arts colleges on Monday formed a consortium to share information about their experiments with online education, and more members may soon join in.

The focus is not on bringing down the cost of education, but on improving online-teaching projects — whether all-online or hybrid courses — by sharing experiences and collaborating.

The premise is that liberal-arts institutions have goals and methods for going online that are different from those of research institutions. “There’s a ste…

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Berkeley to Stop Adding Lecture Videos to YouTube, Citing Budget Cuts

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Since well before MOOCs emerged, the University of California at Berkeley has been giving away recordings of its lectures on YouTube and iTunesU. In fact, Berkeley has become one of the most-generous distributors of free lectures on the web, adding some 4,500 hours of video per year.

But that web channel, webcast.berkeley.edu, will soon stop adding fresh content. Last month officials announced that, because of budget cuts, the university will no longer offer new lecture recordings to the public…