All posts by Casey Fabris

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Silicon Valley Innovation: Stanford Law Student Crowdsources Her Graduation Speech

Though higher education is constantly changing, commencement ceremonies have largely stayed the same. A graduating student at Stanford Law School is trying to change that.

Marta F. Belcher is crowdsourcing the speech she will give next month at the law school’s precommencement diploma ceremony, offering her classmates an opportunity to share in crafting that final message.

The point of a student commencement speaker, Ms. Belcher said, is to have someone who can speak to the student experience. B…

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Want to Make Your Course ‘Gameful’? A Michigan Professor’s Tool Could Help

What if the classroom were more like a video game?

Barry J. Fishman, a professor of information and education at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, would like to help you find out. Mr. Fishman has borrowed elements of gaming to develop GradeCraft, a learning-management system that lets instructors organize their courses in a “gameful” way.

The system lets students choose their own path through a course, selecting the assignments that interest and challenge them. At its heart is a tool, ca…

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A MOOC Hopes to Sink Its Teeth Into a New Audience: TV Fans

Vampires are everywhere these days — books, television shows, movies. And now, a MOOC.

The University of California at Irvine plans to offer a four-week MOOC based on the FX television series The Strain, which follows the spread of a disease with the “hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.” The course, “Fight or Die: The Science Behind FX’s The Strain,” will be hosted on Instructure’s MOOC platform Canvas Network.

Three Irvine faculty members will teach the course, which will focu…

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Another Use for Yik Yak on Campus? Cheating on Exams

YikYakAnswers

With new technologies come new ways to cheat. Yik Yak, the anonymous, location-based app that has been a hotbed of cyberbullying on college campuses, is also the newest tool for students seeking to cheat on exams.

J. Scott Christianson, an assistant teaching professor in the department of management at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has been monitoring Yik Yak recently to see what students are talking about.

When he was on the app, he saw several yaks about an exam. It looked as if a s…

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What Is Being Learned From MOOCs? New Report Takes Stock

The hype around the free online courses called MOOCs has drawn millions of students, who are all essentially part of a teaching experiment of unprecedented scale. These days, researchers are increasingly checking in on that experiment.

A new report, released on Thursday, seeks to answer the question “Where is research on massive open online courses headed?”

The report is the work of the MOOC Research Initiative, funded with more than $800,000 in grant support by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundati…

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Tools That Limit Distraction May Raise Student Performance in Online Classes

For students taking courses online, the endless distractions of the Internet can be a hindrance to success. But using software to limit those diversions can make a big difference.

That’s the takeaway from a new study, which found that limiting distractions can help students perform better and also improve course completion.

A paper describing the study, “Can Behavioral Tools Improve Online Student Outcomes? Experimental Evidence From a Massive Open Online Course,” was published by the Cornell Hi…

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How Social Media Helps Students Adapt to College

For today’s students, social media isn’t just a diversion. It’s a support system.

That’s the key finding of a paper exploring the role that Facebook plays in helping students adjust to campus life. Collin M. Ruud, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented the paper, “Social Networking and Social Support: Does It Play a Role in College Social Integration?,” on Sunday at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting.

Mr. Ruud ha…

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Blogs Aren’t Better Than Journal Assignments. They’re Just Different.

Although some instructors are phasing out journal-keeping assignments in favor of a class blog, a study has found that blogs are not inherently better instructional tools.

Drew Foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, recently said so in a paper, “Private Journals Versus Public Blogs: The Impact of Peer Readership on Low-Stakes Reflective Writing,” published in Teaching Sociology.

With all the hype about blogging, Mr. Foster decided to give it a try i…

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New Offering From Noodle Will Help Colleges Build Online Programs

The education site Noodle is putting a new twist on helping colleges create online degree and certificate programs with its creation of Noodle Partners, announced on Wednesday.

Noodle Partners, the brainchild of the Princeton Review founder John Katzman, is an enabler — a company that helps colleges build online-education programs. Several other companies provide similar services, one of them being 2U, also founded by Mr. Katzman.

But Noodle Partners is different from other enablers, said Jodi…

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Who’s Taking MOOCs? Teachers

In free online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teachers are increasingly the students. A study by the two universities has found that teachers are enrolling in their MOOCs in high numbers.

The study examines data from some one million MOOC students who enrolled in courses at edX, the nonprofit learning platform started by Harvard and MIT. Some one-fifth of participants answered a survey about their background in teaching, and 39 percent of th…