Educational Technology

April 30, 2013

Frequent, Low-Stakes Grading: Assessment for Communication, Confidence

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:40 am

By: Scott Warnock, Faculty Focus

I offer the strategy/philosophy of frequent, low-stakes (FLS) grading: simple course evaluation methods that allow you to provide students with many grades so that an individual grade doesn’t mean much. FLS grading can work in any course but is especially useful online, as it provides grade transparency for students and creates a steady information flow in an environment in which student-teacher communication is crucial to success. FLS grading can have several advantages:

It creates dialogue. Frequent grades can establish a productive student-teacher conversation, and students have an ongoing answer to the question, “How am I doing?”

It builds confidence. Students have many opportunities to succeed, and there is a consistent, predictable, open evaluation structure.

It increases motivation. FLS grading fits into students’ conceptions—and, perhaps, expectations—of assessment and evaluation: This is the culture they grew up in!

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Philadelphia School District To Launch Online Learning

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

by CBS Philadelphia

School Districtof Philadelphia is launching a new online educational program for the upcoming school year. The new initiative, called Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA), will offer online learning for students in grades 6 – 12, starting in time for the 2013-2014 school year. The District says the new online system will encourage flexibility and innovation and reflect students’ needs. Additionally, PVA will accommodate multiple learning abilities and styles and will allow students to earn a diploma from home at their own pace with drop-in learning centers also available to them. “We are hopeful PVA will provide students in Philadelphia an innovative and competitive educational option” said Pedro Ramos, Chairman of the School Reform Commission.

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An Instant Path to an Online Army

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:30 am


Computer science researchers have been trying to build systems that summon online workers on demand and produce immediate results. Much initial work has focused on completing tasks for people with disabilities, because that is where the need is great. For example, a blind person may need to identify the contents of a can from a kitchen cupboard right now, not later. A deaf college student may want to follow the give-and-take of a seminar discussion as it unfolds in the classroom, and not wait to read a transcript the next day. VizWiz, a free iPhone app developed by Jeffrey P. Bigham of the University of Rochester and colleagues in its Human Computer Interaction program, gives real-time help to blind users. VizWiz users take a photograph as best as they can — it may take several tries before the desired object is properly framed — and then record one question about it (“What is on the label of the can?”). Besides needing help identifying food labels, they may want to know the denomination of paper currency, say, or whether a baby’s head shows signs of a rash.

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April 29, 2013

A.I. software automates grading

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:40 am

By David Hernandez, Daily Aztec

EdX, a nonprofit venture established by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently unveiled software that uses artificial intelligence to grade written assignments and tests, according to The New York Times. After an instructor grades 100 essays or essay questions, the system uses machine-learning techniques to base its grading on the professor’s evaluations. San Diego State English and comparative literature professor Joanna Brooks is opposed to the idea. “We want students to create original, creative essays,” Brooks said. “A robot-grading machine can’t encourage students to become innovative.” But electrical engineer and president of EdX Anant Agarwal is convinced the software is an advantageous device because, instead of waiting for grades, it allows students to take tests and write essays repeatedly, improving the quality of their answers.

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Samsung Demos a Tablet Controlled by Your Brain

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

By Susan Young, Technology Review

One day, we may be able to check e-mail or call a friend without ever touching a screen or even speaking to a disembodied helper. Samsung is researching how to bring mind control to its mobile devices with the hope of developing ways for people with mobility impairments to connect to the world. The ultimate goal of the project, say researchers in the company’s Emerging Technology Lab, is to broaden the ways in which all people can interact with devices. In collaboration with Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Dallas, Samsung researchers are testing how people can use their thoughts to launch an application, select a contact, select a song from a playlist, or power up or down a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

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A Smarter Algorithm Could Cut Energy Use in Data Centers by 35 Percent

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:30 am

By David Talbot, Technology Review

Storing video and other files more intelligently reduces the demand on servers in a data center. New research suggests that data centers could significantly cut their electricity usage simply by storing fewer copies of files, especially videos. For now the work is theoretical, but over the next year, researchers at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and MIT plan to test the idea, with an eye to eventually commercializing the technology. It could be implemented as software within existing facilities. “This approach is a very promising way to improve the efficiency of data centers,” says Emina Soljanin, a researcher at Bell Labs who participated in the work. “It is not a panacea, but it is significant, and there is no particular reason that it couldn’t be commercialized fairly quickly.”

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April 28, 2013

Georgia Tech Announces Summer Online Courses

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:34 am

Patrice Miles, Georgia Tech Professional Education

Wondering how to get ahead academically while still having a great summer? For the first time, Georgia Tech’s undergraduates now have access to a select slate of for-credit summer courses online. Offered in a variety of disciplines, these online courses are designed to give students the flexibility to experience Georgia Tech wherever they are. Registration for summer semester is open now, but courses are expected to fill up fast. The new online course offerings are part of the larger movement to define Georgia Tech as the preeminent technological research university of the 21st century. “As students seek more paths to complete their degree programs, we’re eager to help in any way we can,” said Nelson Baker, dean of Georgia Tech Professional Education.

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Udacity and SJSU Plus Program

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:33 am

by Udacity

Udacity is pleased to offer a select number of online courses in partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU). Students who enroll and successfully complete these courses will receive college credit from SJSU. Each class costs $150 and credit earned is transferable within the California State University (CSU) system and to most US colleges and universities*.

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Online classes likely to become more common

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:29 am

By Lisa Singleton-Rickman, The TimesDaily

Alabama educators have long known that online classes provide experience and preparation students need for life after high school, either for college or the workforce. But the state has never done much more than suggest schools implement them in the curriculum, until now. Under the state’s new diploma requirements, which go into effect this fall and begin with incoming ninth-graders, there’s a required college and career preparedness course that incorporates computer applications. Though Alabama schools have discretion as to how to implement that part of the career preparedness course, online classes will likely become more commonplace, according to Alabama Department of Education officials.,204816

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April 27, 2013

No classes needed: Southern New Hampshire University emphasizes skills

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

by Amy Scott, Marketplace

What if you could get a degree from a college with no classes, no instructors and no grades? It sounds like an ad on late-night TV. Recently, the online College for America got a big boost from the federal government. Its students will be able to receive federal student aid. “What that really means, is that for the first time federal financial aid dollars will support actual learning as opposed to how long somebody sat at a desk,” says Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, the nonprofit school that created College for America. Instead of racking up a certain number of credit hours for an associate degree, students at College for America have to master 120 “competencies,” from quantitative reasoning to writing and communication.

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UK MOOC ‘develops community spirit’

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:32 am

by UK Virtual College

Despite some teething problems, the University of Edinburgh has garnered positive results from its decision to create a virtual learning environment using massive open online course (MOOC) platform provider Coursera. Initially, the move led to a number of hiccups, but the university soon found that groups of engaged students began to emerge. Many of these individuals took to interactive forums and social media platforms to discuss subjects such as artificial intelligence, astrobiology, critical thinking, e-learning, digital cultures, philosophy and equine nutrition with fellow pupils. “There was a very engaged group that began forming a community before the course even started,” Jeremy Knox, a PHD student and instructor on the university’s E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC, told the Times’ higher education supplement. He added: “They were using social media to meet each other and were very happy with the idea of self-directing their study. They got it.”

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New Essay-Grading Software Would Be Beneficial To University

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:30 am

by Molly Block, Tx State University Star

Texas State officials should implement new essay-grading software embraced by big-name universities across the nation to help relieve stress for students and free up busy schedules for professors. According to an April 4 New York Times article, a non-profit enterprise by the name of edX is releasing a new essay-grading software to be available for free online. The new software will give instant feedback on essays and will allow students the option to rewrite essays or short-answer questions for a better score.

According to the same article, professors are required to grade 100 essays or essay questions to help the software prepare for grading papers with a variety of techniques. Next, the system uses several techniques to automatically grade a variety of essays, delivering a response almost immediately. The software will then provide the student with either a letter grade or numerical rank in addition to helpful feedback, depending on the scoring system created by the professor.

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April 26, 2013

Colleges may offer online courses for high school students

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:40 am

By REENA SINGH, Watertown Times

Area high school students soon may have the opportunity to take online courses through private colleges for credit. Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services officials are discussing with upstate and Central New York colleges the possibility of offering high schoolers blended and online courses — which could start as early as this summer. “What we’re trying to figure out is how a student can walk away with the college’s transcript,” said Dawn D. Ludovici, Jefferson-Lewis BOCES assistant superintendent. “Technology is really the seed that started the conversion. The capability of providing coursework online reduces the proximity problem we have when working with colleges.” A blended course would incorporate online courses and classroom time, whether at the college or at the student’s high school, Mrs. Ludovici said.

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2013 e-Learning Revolution Infographic

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:36 am

by Jeffrey Roth, Interactyx

Do we have an e-Learning revolution on our hands?  It may be a little heavy-handed to call the current trends to leverage online technology to enhance learning and training programs a ‘revolution’. But, there are strong indicators that we can evaluate today to see that e-Learning tactics are continuing to grow. That growth looks like it will continue. The real revolution is how it is effecting organizations and everyday people due to increased adoption and the reduction of the total costs of e-Learning systems, like learning management systems (LMSs), which allow for more solutions to be readily available. According to the folks over at who put together the infographic below, the 2013 statistics on e-learning usage is quite impressive.

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Proposed university would grant degrees without holding classes

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:30 am

By Melissa Simon, Daily Sundial

Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) proposed a new bill suggesting a fourth university system in California, which would be called the New University of California. The new system, as explained in AB 1306, would be an addition to the three systems already in place: University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges (CCC). The New University of California, according to the text of the bill, will not provide instruction “and the mission of the university shall be limited to issuing college credit and baccalaureate and associate degrees to any person capable of passing the examinations administered by the university.”

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April 25, 2013

How tests help online learners stay on task

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:40 am

by Joan Phaup, Questionmark

Online courses offer a flexible and increasingly popular way for people to learn. But what about the many distractions that can cause a student’s mind to wander off the subject at hand? According to a team of Harvard University researchers, administering short tests to students watching video lectures can decrease mind-wandering, increase note-taking and improve retention. Interpolated memory tests reduce mind wandering and improve learning of online lectures, a paper by Harvard Postdoctoral Fellow Karl K. Szpunar, Research Assistant Novall Y. Khan and Psychology Professor Daniel L. Schacter, was published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the U.S. The team conducted two experiments in which they interspersed online lectures with memory tests and found that such tests can: help students pay more sustained attention to lecture content encourage task-relevant note-taking improve learning reduce students’ anxiety about final tests. “Here we provide evidence that points toward a solution for the difficulty that students frequently report in sustaining attention to online lectures over extended periods,” the researchers say.

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The Real Future of College: Cheaper, But Not All Online

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

by Daniel Luzer, Washington Monthly

So much of the talk of higher education reformers lately concerns the coming of all online universities. Harder, Better, Faster, Cheaper, right? But colleges are about real people and real people often, well, don’t really want to spend college in front of a computer in their apartments. Students still want to go to real college. And that’s why Vance Fried, professor of entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University, explains that college is going to get radically cheaper in coming years, but not because everyone’s taking courses online. They’ll still be living and dorms and going to frat parties.

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Expansion proposed for virtual education in Florida

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:30 am

by Jennifer Sans, Florida International University Student Media

Students and professors are showing apprehension toward rapidly expanding virtual education. The House of Representatives is pushing a proposal for one state university to be Florida’s “preeminent research institution” that will establish a “fully online arm,” according to The Miami Herald. The University has an online education branch that allows students to take courses and receive full degrees in select areas of study. Students and professors question, however, the expansion of academic programs such as FIU Online. “Students need to be really self motivated in order to succeed in online courses,” said Patricia Bishop, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

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April 24, 2013

Online Education Is Steadily Substituting Physical

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:39 am

by  Pooja Thakkar, Technology-Digital

The point at which online higher education becomes mainstream is no longer in some fuzzy hypothetical future; It is here and envelops the physical classrooms already. In just 30 days, the largest school system in the U.S. started offering credit for online courses, a major university began awarding degrees without any class time required, and scores of public universities are moving their courses online. The Secretary of Education in the next president’s office will need an entire department dedicated to this phenomenon.

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Online learning’s tough? Try online teaching!

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

By Larry Wilson, SGV Tribune

I read with interest our newspapers’ story last week saying many of America’s university professors don’t consider online courses real college material. Here’s the lead to Staff Writer Beau Yarbrough’s story: “Professors teaching hundreds or thousands of students online has been all the buzz in academic circles, but the professors who teach those courses say they shouldn’t be worth college credit. That’s the big finding in a study published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “The magazine surveyed 103 professors who teach what are known as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, in February. The courses are sometimes taken by thousands of students at one time, on subjects ranging from basic English literature courses to engineering.”

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Q&A: Extending (And Ending) Support for Windows XP

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:30 am

By J.D. BIERSDORFER, Gadgetwise

What is “extended support” for Microsoft Windows XP and do I need to worry when it’s supposed to stop next year?

Microsoft has a defined period of time for things like help-line calls, warranty claims and security updates for the hardware and software it sells. This period of time is called the Support Lifecycle Policy and is supposed to give customers a firm idea of how long they can expect Microsoft to provide services for a product before the company considers it obsolete. Microsoft’s current policy states that its Windows operating systems will each receive a total of 10 years of support. The first five of those years are “mainstream,” in which that version of Windows still has all the telephone support options available (including some free help by phone along with paid technical-support calls), security updates and some development work for requested features and design improvements.

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