All posts by Jake New


Instructure Offers Bounty for New Educational Apps

Isolated.  Too exclusive. Antisocial.

That’s how Brian Whitmer, a founder of Instructure, describes the education-technology sector, particularly the space occupied by developers of learning-management systems like Instructure’s Canvas. “It’s become clear that ed tech does not have the type of ecosystem that other sectors have,” he said. “It’s hampering innovation. We need to fix that.”

To call attention to that problem, Instructure and other learning-management-system providers, including Black…


In Settlement With Disabilities Group, Berkeley Will Improve Access to Course Materials

The University of California at Berkeley has reached a settlement with Disability Rights Advocates in what the group is calling a “landmark agreement” to improve access to textbooks, course readers, and library materials for students with print-related disabilities.

Disability Rights Advocates represented three Berkeley students who said they had difficulty getting access to the materials they needed for class. The group, which is a nonprofit disability-rights legal center, approached the univer…


MOOC Teaches How to Cheat in Online Courses, With Eye to Prevention

In a few weeks, Bernard Bull, assistant vice president for academics at Concordia University Wisconsin, will ask participants in his new course to cheat.

There’s a caveat, though. They’ll have to disclose to the rest of the class exactly how they cheated. “Of course, if the assignment is to cheat, then you’re not really cheating,” Mr. Bull admitted.

The assignment will be one unit in his new massive open online course, “Understanding Cheating in Online Courses,” which begins on Monday through th…


Start-Up Companies Help Colleges Use Social Networks to Connect With Alumni

Today’s alumni may not always take the time to update their alma maters when they move to a different city or get a new job, but they’re likely to keep their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles current.

That’s the premise behind several recently formed companies that are using the Internet, particularly social networking, to help colleges and universities reach out to their alumni.

“As you advance through your career, you’ll get promoted or switch jobs,” said Brent Grinna, chief executive officer of …


Pearson Acquires Learning Catalytics, a Cloud-Based Assessment System

Pearson, the publishing and education giant, announced on Monday that it had acquired Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based assessment system created by three Harvard University educators.

The acquisition is the latest move by the company to extend its reach into college classrooms beyond just textbooks.

In the past two years, Pearson has spent more than $1-billion acquiring and investing in education companies. In 2011 the company released OpenClass, a cloud-based learning-management system. Last …


Online-Learning Portal Allows Educators to Create Adaptive Content

Imagine more than 1,000 nurses learning how to use defibrillators at once, each delivering shocks to a single patient. If a patient dies, the instructor is immediately told which nurse failed, and the nurse then tries again, but with more assistance.

It’s not a process patients would want in the real world, but it’s one example of what can be done virtually with a new online-learning portal called Smart Sparrow, said Dror Ben-Naim, the start-up company’s founder.

Smart Sparrow, which was officia…


New MOOC Provider Says It Fosters Peer Interaction

Students in Ghana using NovoEd at an internet cafe.

Students in Ghana using NovoEd at an internet cafe.

The field of massive-open-online-course providers is becoming crowded. That’s even more so at Stanford University, where Udacity and Coursera, two of the largest providers, got their start.

Now there’s a new platform to add to the list. NovoEd, which officially opened on Monday, will begin offering seven courses to the public next week, as well as 10 private courses for Stanford students.

Amin Saberi, a Stanford professor and the start-up compa…


Edwin Mellen Press Threatens to Sue Society for Scholarly Publishing

The Society for Scholarly Publishing has removed two blog posts about a legal battle between a scholarly publisher and a librarian after a lawyer representing the publisher threatened to sue the society.

The posts were written by Rick Anderson, a librarian at the University of Utah, for The Scholarly Kitchen, a blog published by the society, which is a nonprofit organization of publishers, printers, librarians, and editors. In the posts, Mr. Anderson discussed a lawsuit filed by Edwin Mellen Pre…


Carnegie Mellon U. Students Use Fingerprint Scans, Not ID Cards, for Payment

Four seniors at Carnegie Mellon University who grew tired of scouring their backpacks to find their student-ID cards every time they wanted a bite to eat have found a new way to pay: their fingerprints.

“We carry around these little slabs of plastic,” says Kelly Lau-Kee. “You really shouldn’t have to carry anything on you that could be lost or stolen anymore. You should be able to pay or ID yourself just by being yourself.”

That’s the idea behind PayTango, which was created by Ms. Lau-Kee and …


Journal’s Editorial Board Resigns in Protest of Publisher’s Policy Toward Authors

[Updated (3/27/2013, 12:46 p.m.) with reaction from Taylor & Francis Group.]

The editor and the entire editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration have resigned in response to a conflict with the journal’s publisher over an author agreement that they say is “too restrictive and out of step with the expectations of authors.”

The licensing terms set by the publisher, Taylor & Francis Group, were scaring away potential authors, the editor who resigned, Damon Jaggars, told The Chronicle…