Looking Back at the Year in Ed Tech

Concerns about Yik Yak and analysis of MOOCs and online teaching were among the most popular stories this past year on our Wired Campus blog. Each year we run the numbers to see which items drew the most reader attention, and this year’s list highlights a continuing interest in understanding how technology — and online education, in particular — might change college as we know it.

And while massive open online courses have largely fallen out of the national headlines, three of the top 10 article…


Call for Nominations: Who Are the Top Tech Innovators in Higher Education?

Each year The Chronicle profiles key innovators who are tackling big challenges facing campuses with the help of technology. And we’re looking for your suggestions.

The goal of the project is to look across all aspects of the college world — teaching, scholarship, administration, libraries, student life, and more. That means we aren’t just looking for people with “technology” in their job titles. And we plan to profile folks at several types of colleges, not just those at big (or big-name) insti…


Virtual-Reality Lab Explores New Kinds of Immersive Learning


Photo by John T. Consoli, U. of Maryland

College Park, Md. — Standing in a virtual-reality lab at the University of Maryland here, Ramani Duraiswami passed around a standard pair of headphones.

Music played over them — but to the wearer, the source of the sound seemed to move around the room. As the music quieted down, it sounded as if it came from farther away. As it got louder on one side of the headset, it sounded as if it came from that side. “We’re able to perceive the world in all d…


How Tech Tools Can Help Professors Prepare Their Tenure Portfolios

Professors who are on the tenure track carry out every moment of their professional lives with a clock ticking  namely, the tenure clock. From the moment we’re hired and on through the process of earning tenure, we’re on the clock to assemble and submit a portfolio that consists of our best work, for a decision that seems eons away. It’s a privilege in this day and age to have a tenure-track position at all, so we can’t complain about having to make a tenure portfolio. However, there’…


Public-University Group Expands ‘Personalized Learning’ Efforts

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities is expanding its support of “personalized learning” with the help of a new $4.6-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Personalized learning” means different things to different people. It’s a buzzword, and it can be difficult to get past the hype. Depending on whom you ask, it can mean such things as data analytics, video games, or artificial-intelligence research.

For the university association, it has to do with using tec…


What Google’s New Open-Source Software Means for Artificial-Intelligence Research

Google wants the artificial-intelligence software that drives the company’s Internet searches to become the standard platform for computer-science scholars in their own experiments.

On Monday, Google announced it would turn its machine-learning software, called TensorFlow, into open-source code, so anyone can use it.

“We hope this will let the machine-learning community — everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists — exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code…


Many Colleges Now See Centers for Teaching With Technology as Part of ‘Innovation Infrastructure’

In the past few years, many colleges have expanded the scale and scope of centers that support teaching and learning with technology, as part of an effort to build a new “innovation infrastructure” for instruction.

That’s according to the results of a new survey of directors of academic-technology centers at 163 colleges and universities, released last week at the annual conference of Educause, an organization that supports technology on campuses.

One key change has been the creation of new or …


Campus Tech Leaders Report More Support for Free Educational Materials

College technology leaders appear more optimistic these days about open-source textbooks and open educational resources — teaching and learning materials that can be used at no cost.

According to the latest Campus Computing Survey of top technology officers at colleges, released on Thursday, 81 percent believe that open educational resources will be an important source for instructional material in the next five years. And 38 percent report that their institutions encourage faculty members to us…


MOOCs Are Still Rising, at Least in Numbers

When one of the first massive open online courses appeared at Stanford University, 160,000 students enrolled. It was 2011, and fewer than 10 MOOCs existed worldwide.

It has been four years since then, and according to a new report, the cumulative number of MOOCs has reached nearly 4,000.

Compiled earlier this month by Dhawal Shah, founder of the MOOC aggregator Class Central, the report summarizes data on MOOCs from the past four years. And the data show that even as the MOOC hype has started to…


New Grant Will Create Prizes for Faculty Using Digital Courseware

Orlando, Fla.— The Online Learning Consortium, in a move to encourage professors to develop and use digital courseware, will offer new prizes for faculty-led teams that advance and adopt sophisticated online courses with “a strong pedagogical focus and a sustained impact on student success in gateway courses,” the organization announced at its conference here last week.

The organization, formerly known as the Sloan Consortium, said it would award up to 10 prizes of $10,000 each to the faculty te…