All posts by Angela Chen


Florida State U. Instructor Grades Students Based on ‘Klout’ Scores

In early 2010 Todd Bacile started hearing from companies about a new measure they were using to help decide whom to hire: the Klout score, a number that calculates a person’s online influence based on his or her presence across various social-media networks.

So when Mr. Bacile began teaching an electronic-marketing class at Florida State University last year, he created a Klout-based project worth 10 percent of the final grade. calculates “influence” based on a user’s level of engageme…


Students Find E-Textbooks ‘Clumsy’ and Don’t Use Their Interactive Features

Several universities have recently tried a new model for delivering textbooks in hopes of saving students money: requiring purchase of e-textbooks and charging students a materials fee to cover the costs. A recent report on some of those pilot projects, however, shows that many students find the e-textbooks “clumsy” and prefer print.

The report is based on a survey conducted this spring of students and faculty at five universities where e-textbook projects were coordinated by Internet2, the high…


Rice U. Hopes Mix of Grants and ‘Add Ons’ Will Support Free Textbooks

Rice University this year started an unusual textbook-publishing venture whose books are free to download thanks to a mix of grants and revenue from optional “add ons,” such as homework problem sets.

Although it has published only two titles—for introductory courses in physics and sociology—officials announced on Tuesday that more than 13,000 students had downloaded them in the 10 weeks they’ve been available.

The project is called OpenStax College, and it grew out of Connexions, a free Rice-bas…


Google+ in the Classroom, One Year Later

When Google+ made its debut last July, the social-networking site—which includes collaborative features such as videoconference “hangouts” and interest-based “circles” networks—was heralded as a potential boon for education technology and a possible alternative to traditional learning-management systems. But while some professors have incorporated it into their teaching, adoption appears more limited than its early fans predicted.

This week we put out a call on our social networks, including our…


Web Site Brings Student Portfolios and Companies Together

An online service opening today offers a new approach to connecting students with potential employers.

The service is called Seelio (a portmanteau of “see” and “portfolio”), and it aims to simplify the postgraduate job hunt by creating a place where online student portfolios are seen by a network of companies.

Only students with a .edu e-mail address can set up portfolios on the site, and the interactive Web pages include both traditional résumés and multimedia materials including videos, phot…


Student Is Punished for Creating Class-Registration Web Site

University of Central Florida

A student at the University of Central Florida has been placed on academic probation for creating a Web site that tells students when a seat becomes available in a given class.

Tim Arnold, a senior at Central Florida, built the U Could Finish site this year. The site became available in June, but, within days, was blocked from accessing the university site without notice. The Office of Student Conduct then told Mr. Arnold that he had violated university policy regar…


At New Online University, Advertisers Will Underwrite Free Degrees

An online degree-granting institution called World Education University, set to open this fall, plans to try an advertiser-driven model to support its free content.

“Any Silicon Valley start-up will tell you that if you can drive enough eyeballs to your Web site, you can find ways to leverage that and monetize it,” said Scott Hines, the university’s chief executive. “We’re very transparent to students. They understand that their education is being underwritten generally through advertisers.”



Eye-Tracking Study Finds Students’ Attentiveness Depends on Location, Location, Location

The conventional wisdom among educators that students’ attention tends to drift off after 15 minutes is wrong, according to a new study conducted with eye-tracking devices.

The study, conducted by David Rosengrant, an assistant professor of physics education at Kennesaw State University, found no pattern in when students become distracted. Instead, students’ focus waxes and wanes throughout a lecture and is strongly affected by factors such as where in the lecture hall the student is sitting.



Berkeley Contributes Online-Learning Platform to edX

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have each contributed $30-million to the edX online-learning program, but a third university will provide technology instead. The University of California at Berkeley is bringing a new online platform to the project.

The nonprofit group edX is working to create courses specifically for online learning; seven of them will start this fall. The new platform, called CourseSharing, allows students to complete multiple-choice assignments…


New Policy Lets Anyone Post Materials on iTunesU

Everyone can now use the iTunesU platform to deliver course material, Apple announced on Wednesday. Before, only professors at a university working with iTunesU—which collects free lectures from partner universities—could post audio and video clips, syllabi, and documents via the platform.

Typically, universities apply to form a partnership with iTunesU. After Apple verifies that the applicant is an academically accredited institution, professors can post course materials on the platform, either…