All posts by Rebecca Koenig

by

In STEM Courses, a Gender Gap in Online Class Discussions

Women and men behave differently in online class discussions, at least in science, engineering, and computer-science courses, according to a new study conducted by Piazza Technologies, a company that makes a digital class-participation tool.

The company found that women use its program, called Piazza, to ask more questions than do their male peers, but that they answer fewer questions. When women do answer, they are more likely to answer anonymously.

The findings come in the midst of an online d…

by

Do ‘Brain Training’ Games Work? It Depends on Which Scientists You Ask

Just two months after a group of neuroscientists criticized commercially available brain games, a different group of scientists released an open letter on Wednesday saying the products do show promise.

In October the Stanford Center on Longevity and nearly 70 scientists issued a statement objecting to claims that such games “offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline.”

In response, more than 120 scientists have now signed an open letter to the Stanfor…

by

Responding to Offensive Posts on Yik Yak, Professors Stage Social-Media Takeover

Yak Back 1At the end of a semester plagued by offensive social-media posts, professors at Colgate University on Friday started a campaign to bring some positivity to digital communications on the campus.

Using the smartphone application Yik Yak, which allows people to submit anonymous comments visible to other nearby users, professors posted positive messages to students, wishing them luck on their exams, praising their work, and infusing an uplifting tone into the digital discourse. Unlike most users, th…

by

An App to Make Career Counseling More Like a Video Game

JobVille
Diana Cobbe believes she has a way to help students communicate their skills to potential employers: Make filling out an online résumé feel more like a video game than like paperwork, and use it to connect students looking for jobs with businesses looking for talent. In short, she’s created an app that she describes as a mix of Candy Crush and LinkedIn.

“In college, kids leave the job-search process for the last minute,” Ms. Cobbe says. “They’re in a situation where they don’t find o…

by

Technology Group Promises Scientists Their Own Clouds (the Data Kind)

Scientists will soon have access to their very own clouds. Not the meteorological sort—although these clouds might help advance weather research as well as improve medical systems and power-grid management.

The new clouds for scientists are the kind that store data on servers, as part of a trend known as cloud computing. Consumers use the commercial variety to store documents, photographs, and music. Researchers use those too, but they sometimes need more control over and information about cloud…

by

Why One Professor Thinks Academics Should Write ‘BuzzFeed-Style Scholarship’

buzzademiaMark Marino wants to shake up academic publishing. To declare his intentions, the associate professor of writing at the University of Southern California chose a format both fitting and provocative: a BuzzFeed listicle.

Posted on Thursday, Mr. Marino’s piece, “10 Reasons Professors Should Start Writing BuzzFeed Articles,” serves as a “manifesto” for BuzzAdemia, a new journal he’s creating to encourage “BuzzFeed-style scholarship.”

For more stories about technology and education, follow Wired Cam…

by

A New Department Marks the Rise of a Discipline: ‘Computational Media’

Pixar movies, interactive video games, smartphone applications—all are forms of computational media, the marriage of computer science to the arts and humanities. Signaling a deeper investment in that fast-growing if slippery field, the University of California at Santa Cruz announced the creation on Monday of what it called the first computational-media department ever.

“There’s always been, in the heart of computing, a concern with human communication and media,” said Noah Wardrip-Fruin, …

by

New App Measures Students’ Moods and Mental Health

A computer-science professor at Dartmouth College is building a smartphone application that can detect users’ levels of happiness, stress, and loneliness, he says, with the hope of helping students monitor their mental health.

The app, called StudentLife, draws on sensor data from smartphones to “infer human behaviors,” says the professor, Andrew Campbell. It was inspired partly by the mental-health struggles that Mr. Campbell’s brother experienced while in college. The professor also wants to…

by

Optimism About MOOCs Fades in Campus IT Offices

MOOC fever is cooling, at least among campus information-technology administrators, according to the 2014 edition of the Campus Computing Survey, an annual report on technology in higher education.

While a little more than half of last year’s respondents thought MOOCs “offer a viable model for the effective delivery of online instruction,” just 38 percent of this year’s participants agreed with that statement. And only 19 percent of respondents in 2014 said MOOCs could generate new reven…

by

For Bill on Disabled Access to Online Teaching Materials, the Devil’s in the Details

As smart classrooms become the norm on more campuses and online courses proliferate, some observers worry that the digital revolution will leave students with disabilities behind. But a bill under consideration in the U.S. Congress, the Technology, Equality, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505), would deal with that concern by creating accessibility guidelines for electronic materials used or assigned by college professors and administrators.

While the bill, known as t…