All posts by Mary Ellen McIntire

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Penn State Starts Network for Entrepreneurs With Focus on Online Learning

Education-technology companies are hot these days. So are online programs by universities. Pennsylvania State University hopes to tap into both trends with a new effort to turn its campus into an innovation hub for ed-tech companies.

The effort is called the EdTech Network, and officials hope it will spark entrepreneurship around the campus geared toward improving services for online students, said Craig D. Weidemann, the university’s vice provost for online education. That could help Penn State…

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‘Machine Teaching’ Is Seen as Way to Develop Personalized Curricula

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison say they are getting closer to designing a system to deliver the ideal lesson plan for each student, through a process they call “machine teaching.”

If the idea of machine learning, a popular area of artificial-intelligence research, is to let computers learn from data to detect patterns and better deal with large data sets, machine teaching looks for the best way to share particular information with a student, says Jerry Zhu, an associate pr…

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Following the Money in Ed-Tech Investment: Number of Mergers Grows

Investors are rushing to buy into higher-education-related companies these days, and there’s plenty of consolidation in the market as well.

The number of mergers and acquisitions in the industry has reached its highest peak in two and a half years, according to a recent report by the investment-banking firm of Berkery Noyes. In the past six months, the number of such mergers grew by 9 percent.

Most mergers highlighted in the report don’t share a major theme, said Trace Urdan, an independent an…

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Researchers Open Repository for ‘Dark Data’

DataBridge LogoResearchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are leading an effort to create a one-stop shop for data sets that would otherwise be lost to the public after the papers they were produced for are published.

The goal of the project, called DataBridge, is to expand the life cycle of so-called dark data, said Arcot Rajasekar, the lead principal investigator on the project and a professor in the School of Information and Library Science at Chapel Hill. It will serve as an archive for…

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Researchers Complain About Changes in Amazon Tool Used for Surveys

This week Amazon changed the terms for a service that has become a standard tool in social-science research, and many scholars are complaining that it will mean higher costs to conduct surveys.

The service is called Mechanical Turk, and it is a marketplace that connects people on the Internet looking for paid piecework with anyone who has a small task and is willing to pay someone to do it. The concept is known as crowd-work, and many researchers have used it to pay strangers small amounts …

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Universities Ban Smart Watches During Finals

Some Australian universities warned students this month not to wear wristwatches during final exams, amid concerns that increasingly popular wearable technology, like the Apple Watch, could foster cheating.

La Trobe University, in Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, both issued warnings at the start of their final-exam periods that students would have to remove their watches before testing began. The University of New South Wales required students to put all wristwatches…

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Students in Free Courses Study, but Not as Much as Most Students Do

Most students in free online courses don’t spend as much time doing classwork as do traditional college students, but they do log a significant number of hours, according to a new survey of more than 4,500 MOOC students by Class Central, a website that reviews free courses.

More than 55 percent of the students surveyed said they studied two to five hours per week, and 22 percent said they spent six to 10 hours per week studying.

How does that compare with traditional college students? About 43 p…

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An Increasingly Popular Job Perk: Online Education

Southern New Hampshire University has become the latest institution to team up with a major employer to make online courses a benefit of employment.

A partnership between Southern New Hampshire and Anthem Inc., a health-insurance company, will allow some 55,000 Anthem employees to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees through the university’s College for America, a competency-based assessment program.

The announcement is one of several recent deals between a college and a corporation that will ex…