All posts by Lawrence Biemiller


QuickWire: Desire2Learn Rebrands and Adds Partners

The education-technology company Desire2Learn said on Monday that it was renaming its learning-management system, which will now be called Brightspace, and adding assorted features, including game-based learning. The company also said it was teaming up with IBM to improve Desire2Learn’s predictive analytics and with Microsoft to add a Windows 8 mobile app for e-books to Desire2Learn’s offerings.


QuickWire: Blackboard Swallows a Small Competitor

The course-management and campus-technology heavyweight Blackboard said on Wednesday that it was acquiring Perceptis, a competitor in the helpdesk and student-services markets. With call centers in South Carolina and Arizona, Perceptis has customers both in higher education and in other sectors. Blackboard said the acquisition would “enhance a service model that the industry needs: one that fully supports students from the first moment they are interested in a school to the day they graduate.”


QuickWire: Sloan Consortium Picks a New Name

The Sloan Consortium, an influential champion of online learning that grew out of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s early interest in the topic, is changing its name and will now be known as the Online Learning Consortium. In keeping with the times, it announced the change in both a traditional news release and a colorful infographic.

The consortium was founded in 1992 and published the first issue of its Journal of Asynchronous Learning in 1997. It has been a stand-alone membership organization …


Ed-Tech Companies Oppose U.S. Agency’s Plan to End Net Neutrality

Four educational-technology businesses have filed objections to a Federal Communications Commission plan under which companies could pay extra to have their content delivered more quickly over the Internet.

The companies said in a joint news release that ending the current policy of net neutrality in favor of high-speed toll lanes and slower free lanes would make it possible for “entrenched education players such as for-profit giants in higher education” and “expensive traditional universities” …


Hackers May Have Obtained Data on 163,000 at Butler U.

Butler University has joined a growing list of higher-education institutions hit by data thieves.

Butler’s president, James M. Danko, said in a letter to those who may have been affected that personal information on as many as 163,000 students, alumni, employees, and even potential applicants might have been obtained by hackers, according to The Indianapolis Star. The data breach was discovered in late May, when a flash drive containing information about some Butler employees turned up in Califo…


QuickWire: Deal Adds Campus-Security Features to Blackboard App

Students and campus-security officials alike are increasingly turning to mobile apps to report incidents and disseminate emergency information—in part because students are “mobile-device driven,” as one university police chief puts it, and in part because those devices incorporate features, like GPS and cameras, that can come in handy when reporting a problem.

Now Blackboard, the course-management heavyweight, is setting up a partnership that will incorporate an app called In Case of Crisis into…


Latest Christensen Disruption: Crowdsourced Journal Article

Are companies reluctant to invest in long-term innovations? The Harvard Business Review says they are—and guesses at why—in what its editors say is the journal’s “first formally crowdsourced” article, “The Capitalist’s Dilemma.”

No doubt you’ve heard of one of the two lead authors—Clayton M. Christensen, a professor of business administration at Harvard known for his work on disruptive innovation. His co-author was Derek van Bever, a senior lecturer in entrepreneurial management, but the list…


Emailed in Error, UVa Law School’s Student GPA Spreadsheet Spreads Fast

Think of it as an unintended ethics test for future lawyers.

The administrator at the University of Virginia’s School of Law who oversees the school’s judicial-clerkship program, Ruth Payne, accidentally sent the wrong document on Wednesday to an email list for students seeking clerkships. Instead of details about how to get hired in Maryland, she attached a spreadsheet with details about all 155 students currently seeking clerkships. The spreadsheet included each student’s grade-point average, …


QuickWire: Chegg Buys Online-Tutoring Site

Chegg Inc., which hopes to become a soup-to-nuts “student hub,” said on Tuesday morning that it would buy InstaEDU for $30-million in cash.

InstaEDU, which was founded in 2011 and has 20 employees, proposes to connect students with “awesome tutors” in 2,500 subjects who are available around the clock for as little as 40 cents a minute. “Upload any assignment and work through it together,” the site promises. In its news release announcing the purchase, Chegg says the tutors “have been individuall…


QuickWire: Harvard and MIT Release Scrubbed MOOC Data

“De-identified” records of more than a million people who took part in the first year of massive open online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been released to researchers, the two institutions said on Friday.

The institutions said the records had been “subjected to a careful process of de-identification: removing personally identifiable information, using best practices including aggregation, anonymization via random identifiers, and blurri…