All posts by Josh Fischman


Ed Tech Podcast: Turning a Traditional Master’s Program Into an Online Success

photo of Karen Gallagher

Karen Gallagher

Many colleges look to online education as the path to growth, but it is often a bumpy road. At the Higher Ed Tech summit in January, a dean from the University of Southern California told me how she avoided the potholes. Karen Gallagher, dean of the university’s Rossier School of Education, took her school’s master’s degree in teaching online with the help of 2tor, a company that builds digital teaching platforms for traditional universities. “It’s our degree,” she says, “and o…


Ed Tech Podcast: Keys to College Success Hidden in High-School Transcripts

photo of Matthew Pittinsky

Matthew Pittinsky

Improving college retention and graduation rates are tops in the nation’s higher-ed “to do” list. At the Higher Ed Tech summit in January, high-school and college transcripts were touted as unexpected keys to these goals. Matthew Pittinsky, chief executive of Parchment, a digital transcript company, and a founder of Blackboard, points out that transcripts capture the strengths of relationships between particular high schools and colleges because, taken together, they record t…


Ed Tech Podcast: Big E-Textbook Companies Try to Make Things Easier for Faculty

photo of Sean Devine

Sean Devine

At the 2012 Higher Ed Tech Summit in Las Vegas, I talked with the chief executive of the e-textbook giant CourseSmart, Sean Devine, about making digital materials easier for professors to use. The company distributes digital versions of 30,000 texts—from Pearson, Cengage, Wiley, and others—across 7,000 campuses. New versions will allow professors, within a learning-management system, to annotate book pages for students, and link pages of the book to other course elements using a…


Ed Tech Podcast: A New Kind of Institution—the ‘Transfer College’

Photo of Paul Freedman

Paul Freedman

From the 2012 Higher Ed Tech Summit in Las Vegas, I explore the innovations of the online “transfer college,” community colleges solely focused on moving students to four-year institutions. My guest, Paul Freedman, chief executive of Altius, describes how his partnership with Ivy Bridge College and Tiffin University helped them negotiate transfer agreements with 130 universities, including many public flagships, across the country. He explains the prominent role of success counsel…


Elsevier Publishing Boycott Gathers Steam Among Academics

The eminent mathematician Timothy Gowers vows to do no work for Elsevier.

Elsevier, the global publishing company, is responsible for The Lancet, Cell, and about 2,000 other important journals; the iconic reference work Gray’s Anatomy, along with 20,000 other books—and one fed-up, award-winning mathematician.

Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge, who won the Fields Medal for his research, has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to w…


Technology Is at Least 3 Years Away From Improving Student Success

Las Vegas—At the very start of the Higher Ed Tech Summit here this week, James Applegate threw out a challenge. Mr. Applegate, vice president for program development at the Lumina Foundation, told an overflow crowd that the United States needed 60 percent of its adults to hold high-quality degrees and credentials by the year 2025.

During the rest of the day, technology executives described programs that could improve graduation rates and learning, but won’t be able to do so for several years. T…


Popular Pearson Courseware Revamps by Offering ‘Adaptive Learning’

[Editor's note: This story was updated with new material at 11:30AM on November 1, 2011]

MyLabs and Mastering, tutoring software packages from Pearson Education that are used in hundreds of college courses, are getting a new engine to improve their abilities to make learning personal.

The company announced today that it was replacing some of its own software with new adaptive-learning programs that adjust the course to the student. The new software, from a company called Knewton, has interactive…


QuickWire: Law Student Says Facebook Violates Europe’s Privacy Laws

Max Schrems, a law student in Vienna, was shocked to learn that Facebook held 1,222 pages of data about him extending back three years—when, he says, European law limits holding such data to a few months, the Associated Press reports. The company disputes any legal violations, but Mr. Schrems has started a Web site, Europe versus Facebook, to bring public attention to these contentious privacy issues.


Start-Up Companies Tell White House Tech Chief of Struggles With Colleges

Philadelphia—Start-up technology companies have some gripes about higher education. One is that universities routinely make it hard for the public to access basic data, like course catalogs and book prices at the campus bookstore. Another is that when trying to sell services to a college, like a Web service that allows faculty members and students to organize and share their research and online readings, companies can’t find the people who make the purchasing decisions.

Those complaints got a hi…


Pearson Answers Pointed Questions About Its New Course System, OpenClass

Philadelphia—When Pearson, the giant education publisher, announced last week that it was launching a free, cloud-based learning management system called OpenClass, the news prompted tough questions from college technology officials. Would this system accommodate other popular software? Who would have control, Pearson or the colleges? Would it be hard to integrate the product, which will be released later this year, with a student information system?

Wednesday at Educause, the higher-education t…