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George Mehaffy

The Single Most Important Experiment in Higher Education - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic - 0 views

    "The Single Most Important Experiment in Higher Education
    By Jordan Weissmann

    Jul 18 2012, 8:00 AM ET 130

    Online education platform Coursera wants to drag elite education into the 21st century. Now, it's getting buy-in from the academy. 615_Harvard_Student_Online_Computers_Reuters.jpg

    As of yesterday, a year-old startup may well have become the most important experiment yet aimed at remaking higher education for the Internet age.

    At the very least, it became the biggest.

    A dozen major universities announced that they would begin providing content to Coursera, an innovative platform that makes interactive college classes available to the public free on the web. Next fall, it will offer at least 100 massive open online courses -- otherwise known as MOOCs*-- designed by professors from schools such as Princeton, CalTech, and Duke that will be capable of delivering lessons to more than 100,000 students at a time.

    Founded by Stanford computer scientists Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera is one of a handful of efforts aimed at using the web's cost savings to bring Ivy League-quality courses to the masses. Its peers include the joint Harvard-MIT project edX and Udacity, a free online university created by Google executive and former Stanford professor Sebstian Thrun. (Another high-profile startup, Minerva, is attempting to create an actual "online Ivy" that students will pay to attend.)

    But the deals Coursera announced Tuesday may well prove to be an inflection point for online education, a sector that has traditionally been dominated by for-profit colleges known mostly for their noxious recruitment practices and poor results. That's because the new partnerships represent an embrace of web-based learning from across the top tier of U.S. universities. And where the elite colleges go, so goes the rest of academia.

    Coursera has previously teamed with Stanford, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan to offer 43 courses,
Jen Domagal-Goldman

At UNT-Dallas, Consultants Propose a Reinvention - Administration - The Chronicle of Hi... - 1 views

    At the U. of North Texas at Dallas, 'disruptive innovation' raises hopes and fears The University of North Texas at Dallas was conceived 10 years ago as a public institution along tried-and-true lines-a comprehensive metropolitan university meant to serve a diverse student population and to improve the economic outlook of a part of the city that prosperity has left behind.
Jolanda Westerhof

The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak - 1 views

    In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today. While General Electric remains an industrial giant, the U.S. Leather Company, American Cotton Oil, and others have long since disappeared into bankruptcy or consolidation.
Jolanda Westerhof

University builds 'course recommendation engine' to steer students toward completion | ... - 0 views

    Completing assignments and sitting through exams can be stressful. But when it comes to being graded the waiting is often the hardest part. This is perhaps most true at the end of a semester, as students wait for their instructors to reduce months of work into a series of letter grades that will stay on the books forever.

    But at Austin Peay State University, students do not have to wait for the end of a semester to learn their grade averages. Thanks to a new technology, pioneered by the university's provost, they do not even have to wait for the semester to start.

    Tristan Denley, the provost, has built software, called Degree Compass, that analyzes an individual student's academic record, along with the past grades of hundreds of Austin Peay State students in various courses, and predicts how well a particular student is likely to do in a particular course long before the first day of class. (That includes first-year students; the software draws on their high school transcripts and standardized test scores.)
Jolanda Westerhof

Q&A: Khan Academy Creator Talks About K-12 Innovation - 1 views

    Salman Khan, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School, was working as a hedge fund manager when he began posting videos on YouTube six years ago to tutor young family members in math. That led to the 2008 creation of the Khan Academy, a nonprofit organization that has built a free, online collection of thousands of digital lessons (nearly 3,000 of them created by Mr. Khan himself) and exercises in subjects ranging from algebra to microeconomics. Education Week Staff Writer Lesli A. Maxwell recently interviewed Mr. Kahn about the evolution of the academy and its potential for changing K-12 education.
George Mehaffy

How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture - Teaching - The Chron... - 0 views

    The Chronicle of Higher Education
    February 19, 2012
    How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture

    By Dan Berrett

    Andrew P. Martin loves it when his lectures break out in chaos.

    It happens frequently, when he asks the 80 students in his evolutionary-biology class at the University of Colorado at Boulder to work in small groups to solve a problem, or when he asks them to persuade one another that the answer they arrived at before class is correct.

    When they start working together, his students rarely stay in their seats, which are bolted to the floor. Instead they gather in the hallway or in the aisles, or spill toward the front of the room, where the professor typically stands.

    Mr. Martin, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, drops in on the discussions, asking and answering questions, and hearing where students are stumped. "Students are effectively educating each other," he says of the din that overtakes his room. "It means they're in control, and not me."
    Enlarge Image How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture 2

    Benjamin Rasmussen for The Chronicle

    Students discuss the relationship between finches' beak sizes and survival rates during Andrew Martin's evolutionary-biology class at the U. of Colorado at Boulder.

    Such moments of chaos are embraced by advocates of a teaching technique called "flipping." As its name suggests, flipping describes the inversion of expectations in the traditional college lecture. It takes many forms, including interactive engagement, just-in-time teaching (in which students respond to Web-based questions before class, and the professor uses this feedback to inform his or her teaching), and peer instruction.

    But the techniques all share the same underlying imperative: Students cannot passively receive material in class, which is one reason some students dislike flipping. Instead they gather the information largely outside of class, by reading, watching recorded lectures, or list
George Mehaffy

Using Big Data to Predict Online Student Success | Inside Higher Ed - 1 views

    "Big Data's Arrival
    February 1, 2012 - 3:00am
    Paul Fain

    New students are more likely to drop out of online colleges if they take full courseloads than if they enroll part time, according to findings from a research project that is challenging conventional wisdom about student success.

    But perhaps more important than that potentially game-changing nugget, researchers said, is how the project has chipped away at skepticism in higher education about the power of "big data."

    Researchers have created a database that measures 33 variables for the online coursework of 640,000 students - a whopping 3 million course-level records. While the work is far from complete, the variables help track student performance and retention across a broad range of demographic factors. The data can show what works at a specific type of institution, and what doesn't.

    That sort of predictive analytics has long been embraced by corporations, but not so much by the academy.

    The ongoing data-mining effort, which was kicked off last year with a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is being led by WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

    Project Participants

    American Public University System

    Community College System of Colorado

    Rio Salado College

    University of Hawaii System

    University of Illinois-Springfield

    University of Phoenix

    A broad range of institutions (see factbox) are participating. Six major for-profits, research universities and community colleges -- the sort of group that doesn't always play nice -- are sharing the vault of information and tips on how to put the data to work.

    "Having the University of Phoenix and American Public University, it's huge," said Dan Huston, coordinator of strategic systems at Rio Salado College, a participant.

    According to early findings from the research, at-risk students do better if they ease into online education with a small number of courses, which flies in the face of widely-he
George Mehaffy

Sebastian Thrun Resigns from Stanford to Launch Udacity - 0 views

    "Sebastian Thrun Resigns from Stanford to Launch Udacity
    Written by Sue Gee
    Monday, 23 January 2012 16:07

    Professor Sebastian Thrun has given up his Stanford position to start Udacity - an online educational venture. Udacity's first two free courses are Building a Search Engine and Programming a Robotic Car.

    Attendees at this year's DLD (Digital Life,Design) , Conference being held in Munich, Germany and livestreamed around the world, were probably expecting to hear Sebastian Thrun say something of Google's Driverless Car project, but instead that was only covered in the session introduction. (See video below for the full presentation.)


    Instead Thrun's talk, University 2.0, was devoted to the idea of online education, in particular the experiences and consequences of delivering the Online AI class.

    As Thrun also explains on his homepage:

    One of the most amazing things I've ever done in my life is to teach a class to 160,000 students. In the Fall of 2011, Peter Norvig and I decided to offer our class "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" to the world online, free of charge.

    We spent endless nights recording ourselves on video, and interacting with tens of thousands of students. Volunteer students translated some of our classes into over 40 languages; and in the end we graduated over 23,000 students from 190 countries. In fact, Peter and I taught more students AI, than all AI professors in the world combined.

    This one class had more educational impact than my entire career.

    Speaking at DLD12, Thrun gave other interesting contrasts between the real-world class and the online one: there were more online students from the small country of Lithuania there on all the courses at Stanford combined and while no Standford student had a perfect score on the course, 248 online students scored 100% - i.e completed the assignments and exam question without a single wrong answer.

    Something that I don't think he should be as proud about i
George Mehaffy

Udacity and the future of online universities | Felix Salmon - 0 views

    "Udacity and the future of online universities
    By Felix Salmon
    January 23, 2012

    The most exciting (but also, in a small way, slightly depressing) presentation at DLD this year came from Sebastian Thrun, of Stanford and Google. Or formerly of Stanford, anyway.

    Thrun told the story of his Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class, which ran from October to December last year. It started as a way of putting his Stanford course online - he was going to teach the whole thing, for free, to anybody in the world who wanted it. With quizzes and grades and a final certificate, in parallel with the in-person course he was giving his Stanford undergrad students. He sent out one email to announce the class, and from that one email there was ultimately an enrollment of 160,000 students. Thrun scrambled to put together a website which could scale and support that enrollment, and succeeded spectacularly well.

    Just a couple of datapoints from Thrun's talk: there were more students in his course from Lithuania alone than there are students at Stanford altogether. There were students in Afghanistan, exfiltrating war zones to grab an hour of connectivity to finish the homework assignments. There were single mothers keeping the faith and staying with the course even as their families were being hit by tragedy. And when it finished, thousands of students around the world were educated and inspired. Some 248 of them, in total, got a perfect score: they never got a single question wrong, over the entire course of the class. All 248 took the course online; not one was enrolled at Stanford.

    Thrun was eloquent on the subject of how he realized that he had been running "weeder" classes, designed to be tough and make students fail and make himself, the professor, look good. Going forwards, he said, he wanted to learn from Khan Academy and build courses designed to make as many students as possible succeed - by revisiting classes and tests as many times as necessary u
George Mehaffy

The Great Unbundling of the University - Alan Jacobs - Technology - The Atlantic - 0 views

    "Alan Jacobs - Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College. He blogs at

    The Great Unbundling of the University
    By Alan Jacobs

    Jan 23 2012, 2:14 PM ET 14

    The bundle of knowledge and certification that have long-defined higher education is coming apart, but what happens now?
    Felix Salmon tells the story of how Sebastian Thrum was so overwhelmed by the success of his online Introduction at Artificial Intelligence course -- 160,000 students enrolled! -- that he decided to quit teaching at Stanford and start his own online university, where he'll begin by teaching the people who sign up how to build a search engine.

    Well, how cool is this?

    There are about a thousand things I could say about this development, but let's boil it down to the essentials. For a long time now, universities have flourished by offering a bundled package of knowledge and credentialing. People attended university in order to learn stuff that they couldn't learn elsewhere -- because the experts weren't elsewhere -- and to be certified by those experts as having actually learned said stuff. The bundle has been a culturally powerful one.

    But now: unbundling. Clearly, many universities have come, or are coming, to the conclusion that their primary product is the credentialing, and that they can give knowledge away either as a public service or as brand consolidation (choose your interpretation according to your level of cynicism). Those 160,000 students may have learned a great deal about artificial intelligence, and the successful ones received a "statement of accomplishment ... sent via e-mail and signed by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig." But in announcing the course the instructors were careful to note that the "statement of accomplishment ... will not be issued by Stanford University."

    The big question for universities going forward is this: Can control of credentialing last for long without control of knowledge? If a great many people learn
George Mehaffy

Invisible Gorillas Are Everywhere - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 0 views

    "January 23, 2012
    Invisible Gorillas Are Everywhere

    By William Pannapacker

    By now most everyone has heard about an experiment that goes something like this: Students dressed in black or white bounce a ball back and forth, and observers are asked to keep track of the bounces to team members in white shirts. While that's happening, another student dressed in a gorilla suit wanders into their midst, looks around, thumps his chest, then walks off, apparently unseen by most observers because they were so focused on the bouncing ball. Voilà: attention blindness.

    The invisible-gorilla experiment is featured in Cathy Davidson's new book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking, 2011). Davidson is a founder of a nearly 7,000-member organization called Hastac, or the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, that was started in 2002 to promote the use of digital technology in academe. It is closely affiliated with the digital humanities and reflects that movement's emphasis on collaboration among academics, technologists, publishers, and librarians. Last month I attended Hastac's fifth conference, held at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

    Davidson's keynote lecture emphasized that many of our educational practices are not supported by what we know about human cognition. At one point, she asked members of the audience to answer a question: "What three things do students need to know in this century?" Without further prompting, everyone started writing down answers, as if taking a test. While we listed familiar concepts such as "information literacy" and "creativity," no one questioned the process of working silently and alone. And noticing that invisible gorilla was the real point of the exercise.

    Most of us are, presumably, the products of compulsory educational practices that were developed during the Industrial Revolution. And the way most of us teach is a relic of the s
George Mehaffy

Tenured Professor Departs Stanford U., Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start... - 1 views

    "Tenured Professor Departs Stanford U., Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up

    January 23, 2012, 4:53 pm

    By Nick DeSantis

    The Stanford University professor who taught an online artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his tenured position to aim for an even bigger audience.

    Sebastian Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he has departed the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital - Life - Design conference in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.

    During his talk, Mr. Thrun explored the origins of his popular online course at Stanford, which initially featured videos produced with nothing more than "a camera, a pen and a napkin." Despite the low production quality, many of the 200 Stanford students taking the course in the classroom flocked to the videos because they could absorb the lectures at their own pace. Eventually, the 200 students taking the course in person dwindled to a group of 30. Meanwhile, the course's popularity exploded online, drawing students from around the world. The experience taught the professor that he could craft a course with the interactive tools of the Web that recreated the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring, he said.

    Mr. Thrun told the crowd his move was motivated in part by teaching practices that evolved too slowly to be effective. During the era when universities were born, "the lecture was the most effective way to convey information. We had the industrialization, we had the invention of celluloid, of digitial media, and, miraculously, professors today teach exactly the same way they taught a thousand years ago," he said.

    He concluded by telling the crowd that he couldn't continue teaching in a traditional setting. "Having done this, I can't teach at Stanford again," he said.

    One o
George Mehaffy

Do Cities Need Universities to Survive? - Jobs & Economy - The Atlantic Cities - 0 views

    "Do Cities Need Universities to Survive?

    Nate Berg
    Jan 13, 2012

    Do Cities Need Universities to Survive? Courtesy: UCLA


    The so-called "town and gown" relationship between cities and universities has become increasingly important in recent years. As universities contribute more and more to the local economy through research, reputation and building, they're seen not only as educational and cultural institutions, but economic development tools. But how much should cities rely on universities?

    This essentially was the question posed to four university professors at a panel discussion in Los Angeles. Hosted by Zocalo Public Square and moderated by The Chronicle for Higher Education editor Jeff Selingo, the event asked whether universities can save cities.

    "We really can't believe that universities can save cities," said Gene Block, chancellor at the University of California Los Angeles. He argues that even though universities contribute to a city's culture and economy, they can't be fully relied upon to solve major foundational problems should they arise.

    And so far they haven't, according to Rice University President David Leebron.

    "I don't really see it so much as a question of whether universities can save cities. Cities generically aren't really in any danger," Leebron said. "The real question, I think, is can universities make our cities more competitive, and more competitive on a global scale?"

    Leebron said universities can play a major role in helping cities provide jobs and education that attract people and businesses from all over the world.

    "That's both in terms of what they can contribute to the economic advancement of the city, but also importantly what the universities contribute to the quality of life in the city and the quality of governance in the city," Leebron said.

    Arizona State University President Michael Crow said that universities will continue to be a part of ensurin
George Mehaffy

Montgomery College follows remedial math revolution | Inside Higher Ed - 0 views

    "Letting Go of Lecture
    December 23, 2011 - 3:00am
    Paul Fain

    ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The remedial math class at Montgomery College thrums with the sounds of clicking keyboards and low murmurs. Students pack the room and stare intently at computer terminals.

    Missing, however, is the voice of a professor lecturing to the class. This modular classroom is a computer lab, not a lecture hall. There is no podium or other central spot for a professor. Several instructors are here, however, hovering around the room and helping students one at a time. Their role looks more like that of tutors than professors.

    Welcome to the "emporium" approach to remedial mathematics, a major change in teaching style.

    Remedial math is perhaps the biggest stumbling block in higher education. Roughly 60 percent of incoming community college students are unprepared for college-level work, typically in math and English, and place into developmental courses (the preferred term among academics).

    Success rates are the worst for math, and only a small portion of remedial math students ever complete a single college-level math course. Many get frustrated at their lack of progress and drop out, a major impediment in the push to get more Americans into and out of higher education with a credential.

    "The issue of remedial math is the key for the completion agenda," says Louis Soares, director of the postsecondary education program at the Center for American Progress.

    The problem was severe even at Montgomery College, which is widely considered to be a top two-year institution. Prior to the college's developmental math redesign, which went into effect this year, about half of the students who needed remedial math placed into the lowest levels of the developmental program. Of that group, just 15 percent successfully completed a college-level math course within 3.5 years of entry, according to college officials.

    Those numbers are hardly unusual in higher education, experts say. They may even be
George Mehaffy

Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 0 views

    "Pearson and Google Jump Into Learning Management With a New, Free System
    October 13, 2011, 10:25 am
    By Josh Fischman

    One of the world's biggest education publishers has joined with one of the most dominant and iconic software companies on the planet to bring colleges a new-and free-learning-management system with the hopes of upending services that affect just about every instructor, student, and college in the country.

    Today Pearson, the publishing and learning technology group, has teamed up with the software giant Google to launch OpenClass, a free LMS that combines standard course-management tools with advanced social networking and community-building, and an open architecture that allows instructors to import whatever material they want, from e-books to YouTube videos. The program will launch through Google Apps for Education, a very popular e-mail, calendar, and document-sharing service that has more than 1,000 higher-education customers, and it will be hosted by Pearson with the intent of freeing institutions from the burden of providing resources to run it. It enters a market that has been dominated by costly institution-anchored services like Blackboard, and open-source but labor-intensive systems like Moodle.

    "Anytime Pearson and Google are used in the same sentence, it's going to get people's attention," says Don Smithmier, chief executive and founder of Sophia, another community-based learning system that is backed by Capella Education, the corporation behind the online educator Capella University. "I believe the world will be shifting away from a classic LMS approach defined by the institution. Openness and social education is a very powerful idea."

    Though nobody expects Pearson to take over the marketplace-Blackboard, Moodle and a few others had over 80 percent of it last year, according to the Campus Computing Survey, and Blackboard officials argue that OpenClass can't integrate with university systems the way their product
George Mehaffy

Quick Takes: August 3, 2011 - Inside Higher Ed - 0 views

    "Apollo Buys Company Known for Remedial Ed Tools

    The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, on Tuesday announced that it was purchasing Carnegie Learning, which has created adaptive learning tools that have been particularly successful in teaching remedial mathematics. The company is a spinoff of research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University. Apollo will pay $75 million to buy the company and another $21 million to Carnegie Mellon for related technology rights that it still owns. "
George Mehaffy

The Ticker - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 0 views

    "Prior-Learning Assessment Confers a Semester's Worth of Credits, Study Finds

    September 7, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Students who earned academic credit based on assessments of prior learning outside of college received an average of 17.6 credits, according to a research brief released on Wednesday by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. The brief, which draws on data for 62,475 adult students at 48 colleges and universities, described students who received credits for prior learning as being 2½ times as likely to graduate as those who did not earn such credits. Students typically earn prior-learning-assessment credits for on-the-job training, as well as work, volunteer, and military experience."
George Mehaffy

Quick Takes: May 16, 2011 - Inside Higher Ed - 0 views

    "Public Holds Mixed Views of Higher Ed

    A majority of Americans (57 percent) believe that the higher education system in the country fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend, according to a survey released Sunday by the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of those polled said that college is too expensive for most Americans. But among Americans who are college graduates, 86 percent said that college had been a good investment for them personally. Pew also released a survey, in conjunction with The Chronicle of Higher Education, of college presidents. (Inside Higher Ed released a survey of college presidents in March.)

    The Pew survey is the latest to find public ambivalence about higher education -- with majorities seeing the importance of a college education, but much skepticism about college pricing and access. A survey by Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education last year found that a majority of Americans believe that colleges mainly care about their own bottom lines instead of making sure that students have a good educational experience. But the survey also found that a majority of Americans believe a college education is essential for success."
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