Category Archives: Teaching


Call for Nominations: Who Are the Top Tech Innovators in Higher Education?

Each year The Chronicle profiles key innovators who are tackling big challenges facing campuses with the help of technology. And we’re looking for your suggestions.

The goal of the project is to look across all aspects of the college world — teaching, scholarship, administration, libraries, student life, and more. That means we aren’t just looking for people with “technology” in their job titles. And we plan to profile folks at several types of colleges, not just those at big (or big-name) insti…


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’…


Public-University Group Expands ‘Personalized Learning’ Efforts

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities is expanding its support of “personalized learning” with the help of a new $4.6-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Personalized learning” means different things to different people. It’s a buzzword, and it can be difficult to get past the hype. Depending on whom you ask, it can mean such things as data analytics, video games, or artificial-intelligence research.

For the university association, it has to do with using tec…


Many Colleges Now See Centers for Teaching With Technology as Part of ‘Innovation Infrastructure’

In the past few years, many colleges have expanded the scale and scope of centers that support teaching and learning with technology, as part of an effort to build a new “innovation infrastructure” for instruction.

That’s according to the results of a new survey of directors of academic-technology centers at 163 colleges and universities, released last week at the annual conference of Educause, an organization that supports technology on campuses.

One key change has been the creation of new or …


Measuring Academic Skills and ‘Grit’ to Help Identify At-Risk Students

With the help of a grant of nearly $2 million, Excelsior College wants to use analytics to identify at-risk students.

The private nonprofit institution, in Albany, N.Y., was one of 17 recipients of a First in the World Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the college announced on Wednesday. It plans to use the grant money to fund an open-source assessment tool that colleges will eventually be able to use free of charge.

Called the Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills,


How Student Video Presentations Can Build Community in an Online Course

It may sound pretty routine to convert a course to an online format, but doing so presents many unexpected challenges and can even challenge a professor’s assumptions about the nature of academic coursework.

Giving a timed test, for instance, is something that’s almost trivial in a face-to-face course but approaches impossibility in an asynchronous online course. How do you give a timed test when you don’t have fixed meeting times? (There are ways to do this, but they are almost all creepy.)…


In Online Courses, Students Learn More by Doing Than by Watching

When students enroll in MOOCs, they almost always watch a series of video lectures. But just watching videos — without also engaging interactively — is an ineffective way to learn, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The study, “Learning Is Not a Spectator Sport: Doing Is Better Than Watching for Learning From a MOOC,” looked at a generally available course, offered through the Georgia Institute of Technology, called “Introduction to Psychology as a Science.” Some …


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…


Readers’ Definitions of Ed-Tech Buzzwords: Confusion and Skepticism Continue

Professors, administrators, and ed-tech vendors don’t always speak the same language when it comes to talking about experimental approaches to teaching and research. Terms like “flipped classroom” and “digital humanities” get thrown around a lot these days, but different people often mean different things by them. And some people still don’t know what they mean, despite their buzzword status.

To get a sense of the buzzword landscape, we asked Chronicle readers to give their definitions of four e…