Category Archives: Research


Virtual-Reality Lab Explores New Kinds of Immersive Learning


Photo by John T. Consoli, U. of Maryland

College Park, Md. — Standing in a virtual-reality lab at the University of Maryland here, Ramani Duraiswami passed around a standard pair of headphones.

Music played over them — but to the wearer, the source of the sound seemed to move around the room. As the music quieted down, it sounded as if it came from farther away. As it got louder on one side of the headset, it sounded as if it came from that side. “We’re able to perceive the world in all d…


How Tech Tools Can Help Professors Prepare Their Tenure Portfolios

Professors who are on the tenure track carry out every moment of their professional lives with a clock ticking  namely, the tenure clock. From the moment we’re hired and on through the process of earning tenure, we’re on the clock to assemble and submit a portfolio that consists of our best work, for a decision that seems eons away. It’s a privilege in this day and age to have a tenure-track position at all, so we can’t complain about having to make a tenure portfolio. However, there’…


What Google’s New Open-Source Software Means for Artificial-Intelligence Research

Google wants the artificial-intelligence software that drives the company’s Internet searches to become the standard platform for computer-science scholars in their own experiments.

On Monday, Google announced it would turn its machine-learning software, called TensorFlow, into open-source code, so anyone can use it.

“We hope this will let the machine-learning community — everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists — exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code…


Academic Social Network Hopes to Change the Culture of Peer Review

An academic social network has added a tool it hopes will shake up the system of peer review.

The network is called, and it has grown to more than 25 million registered participants, who use it mainly to post their published papers in order to help others find them (and, it’s hoped, cite them). The site’s new tool, called Sessions, lets researchers post papers that are still in progress, and invite colleagues to comment on them so the papers can be improved before being submitted …


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 …


What Is Being Learned From MOOCs? New Report Takes Stock

The hype around the free online courses called MOOCs has drawn millions of students, who are all essentially part of a teaching experiment of unprecedented scale. These days, researchers are increasingly checking in on that experiment.

A new report, released on Thursday, seeks to answer the question “Where is research on massive open online courses headed?”

The report is the work of the MOOC Research Initiative, funded with more than $800,000 in grant support by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundati…


How Social Media Helps Students Adapt to College

For today’s students, social media isn’t just a diversion. It’s a support system.

That’s the key finding of a paper exploring the role that Facebook plays in helping students adjust to campus life. Collin M. Ruud, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented the paper, “Social Networking and Social Support: Does It Play a Role in College Social Integration?,” on Sunday at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting.

Mr. Ruud ha…


Blogs Aren’t Better Than Journal Assignments. They’re Just Different.

Although some instructors are phasing out journal-keeping assignments in favor of a class blog, a study has found that blogs are not inherently better instructional tools.

Drew Foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, recently said so in a paper, “Private Journals Versus Public Blogs: The Impact of Peer Readership on Low-Stakes Reflective Writing,” published in Teaching Sociology.

With all the hype about blogging, Mr. Foster decided to give it a try i…


Southern New Hampshire President to Advise Education Dept. on Competency-Based Learning

Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, will take a three-month leave of absence to join the Department of Education as a senior adviser to the under secretary of education, Ted Mitchell.

Mr. LeBlanc will be involved with the department’s innovation agenda, specifically its experiments with competency-based education and with establishing new accreditation methods for innovative programs.

Southern New Hampshire University has been at the forefront of competency-based educat…


Understanding the New Higher-Ed Landscape: Chronicle Sessions at SXSWedu

Big challenges face higher education these days, and plenty of talk about new models and approaches. At this year’s South by Southwest education conference, in Austin, Tex., The Chronicle is organizing a morning of sessions to share some of the trends and challenges we’re seeing, and we invite audience members to share their big ideas.

As part of the event, we’re borrowing a page from the TV show Shark Tank. We’re inviting several academic and start-up leaders to make a three-minute pitch abou…