Higher education

How a University Took on the Textbook Industry

HOUSTON — On the third floor of a bank building near Rice University, the future of higher education is being written. Or at least, edited. Perched in lime green desk chairs, dozens of employees of OpenStax work here to transform physics, calculus and psychology materials into digital textbooks that students can study at no cost. …

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How Switching to the Cloud is Streamlining One School’s Data Security System

In 2015, a surprise visit from Vice President Mike Pence put Oral Roberts University’s IT security under a powerful microscope. But the Secret Service was so impressed, they commended the school. “When the secret service compliments you, it makes everybody feel good, right?” says Mike Mathews, VP of Innovation and Technology at the university. “But …

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U-Nest Raises $2 Million to Enhance Its App to Help Parents Save for College

Garrett Gilbertson’s daughter is only 5 years old, but he’s already thinking about how to spare her the same financial stress he faced after graduate school. The Pepperdine University alum’s student loan payments came on top of raising her and running an online security company. While researching options for his daughter, Gilbertson learned through a …

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Universities need funding, but they also need a rethink of their role in society

There are good reasons to increase funding to higher education in Ireland, but increased rankings should not be one of them, writes Elaine Burke. “Academics all over the world should weep for the destruction of the concept of the university that has occurred in so many places, which has led to little less than the …

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How Tech Companies Are Selling Colleges on Mass Data Collection

CHICAGO—Big Data will save you. Versions of that sales pitch echoed through the cavernous exhibit hall this week at one of the largest trade shows for tech companies selling to colleges. Though each of the more than 275 companies exhibiting here at the annual meeting of Educause claimed a unique spin, the typical refrain mixed …

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At Educause, a Push to Monitor Student Data is Met with Concerns About Privacy and Equity

CHICAGO — Colleges are increasingly using Big Data to monitor students, control their access to information and set them on learning paths they may not have chosen, argues Chris Gilliard, a professor at Macomb Community College, who says the practices add up to “digital redlining.” “I don’t think education is a predictive task,” said Gilliard, …

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A New College Program Inspired by Coding Bootcamps, Informed by Liberal Arts

Liberal-arts colleges have long told students that they can major in whatever they want and still go on to a solid, and even lucrative, profession. After all, plenty of English majors become lawyers and doctors. But that hasn’t been as true for digital tech fields like coding, says Kristen Eshleman, director of digital innovation initiatives …

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Storefront Advising Programs Bring Free College Counseling Into Low-Income Communities

HOUSTON — Colorful college pennants line the walls in a small room at a public library branch in the city’s Near Northside. At a table with stacks of flyers advertising scholarships, a family confers quietly with a counselor. Students come here from miles around to meet—first-come, first-served—with advisers for help navigating all things higher education, …

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Can a Sitcom Teach Philosophy? Meet a Scholar Advising ‘The Good Place’

NBC’s ‘The Good Place’ attempts to build a comedy around the topic of moral philosophy. But can a network sitcom accurately teach concepts like existentialism and the works of Plato and Kant? To try to get their facts straight, the show’s creators invited philosophy scholars into the writers’ room for the show. One of them …

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In DC, Teachers Run the Jail. It’s Turning Inmates Into Students.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jerard Briscoe is away at school. Or at least, that’s what he tells his kids. It’s a plausible story. He studies for GED math exams. He reads e-books and takes courses using a tablet computer. He even wears a uniform: an orange jumpsuit and white Velcro sneakers. “If you’re at college, you …

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Colleges Need to Build Digital Quads to Support Social Learning for Online Students

The act of talking with others—having social debates and conversations—is key to human learning, and this “social learning” has now become an important tenet of teaching and learning. Yet we tend to overlook how ingrained social learning is in our institutions, especially in higher education—how purposefully college campuses are designed to maximize the accidental run-ins …

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MOOC Pioneer Coursera Tries a New Push: Selling Courseware to Colleges

Coursera started with a mission to give the general public free access to courses from expensive colleges. Now it is selling all the course content developed for those free courses to colleges that want to use the materials in their own campus programs. The company, which was started by two Stanford University professors in 2012 …

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