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Articles: Classroom

An open textbook produced at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.

As higher ed revolutions go, open textbooks may have been pushed below the surface by the technological tidal wave that is MOOCs. But several institutions are making a new push to provide students with free or very low-cost textbooks.

SUNY Open Textbooks posted its first two digital titles—written by SUNY faculty—in October and is preparing to release dozens more, says the program’s director, Cyril Oberlander, who is also library director at SUNY Geneseo.

Does autism run in families? Can children with autism grow up to live independently? These questions were part of a survey that tested University of California, Riverside faculty and students’ knowledge of autism spectrum disorder to help guide the support of these students through their college years. More than 1,000 people were quizzed on the prevalence, causes and signs of ASD in the largest known higher ed autism awareness survey.

When Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, taught “A Crash Course on Creativity” last spring, the 38 students in her graduate class worked on the same projects as the 25,000 people around the world who took the MOOC version of the course.

The MOOC not only offered an alternative to Stanford students who were unable to take this oversubscribed class, but also included perspective from people across the globe.

Panopto's lecture capture platform, like many others, includes captions for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The technological revolution sweeping higher education may not be carrying all students with it equally. MOOCs, lecture capture, and other digital platforms are being designed with varying degrees of accessibility for students with mobility restrictions, hearing and visual impairments, and learning disabilities.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (UA) is using video conferencing comprehensively to improve learning and control operational costs. Originally used for occasional standard definition applications, we are employing high definition for everything from the classroom to committee work. We’ll soon enable video conferencing on students’ mobile devices, to make distance learning portable as well.

“If you build it, they probably won’t come.” That’s Sara Wilson’s take on the launch of the typical campus financial literacy program. As financial literacy project manager at USA Funds, she knows firsthand how many students participate and what they think later as they look back.

While numerous post-graduation surveys by the company show students regret not learning more about personal finance while they were in school, they also tend not to access financial literacy information when it’s offered on a completely voluntary basis, Wilson says.

Open any newspaper these days and you’ll see variations on the same critiques of higher education we’ve heard for years: spiraling costs, unequal access, ineffective teaching, and so on. And you’ll hear politicians demand greater accountability, while they threaten greater funding cuts. Yet little ever changes.

Interdisciplinary courses and programs in peacebuilding have existed mainly at four-year institutions and graduate schools. But the offerings are a slow, but growing trend at community colleges.

Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory set the record for the most related tweets in the UK—placing his Centre Court championship in the ranks of President Obama’s election night speech, the Pope’s inauguration, and—go figure—the Spice Girls reunion at the Olympics.

Now, the Campus Insiders website is using this fascination with social media to lure readers to sports highlights and analysis. It has 37,000 likes on Facebook and 2,400 Twitter followers.

Judith Shapiro, former president and professor of anthropology at Barnard College in New York City from 1994 to 2008.

Judith Shapiro, former president and professor of anthropology at Barnard College in New York City from 1994 to 2008, had been “happily retired” before assuming the leadership role at the Teagle Foundation in July. The New York-based foundation’s grant-making is focused on improving undergraduate student learning in the arts and sciences.

Working in Groups
Vaddio’s GroupSTATION, designed for mid-to large-size meeting spaces, allows up to 20 people to share a PowerPoint presentation, stream a training video from YouTube, or collaborate with remote participants. Users can connect a laptop or tablet directly into GroupSTATION, which consists of two main components: a table-based MicPOD dock, and a wall-mounted sound bar that incorporates an HD camera in its center. The MicPOD Dock functions as a microphone, speakerphone, and user interface.

At the end of this spring’s TV season, CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” was the highest rated sitcom. Focused on the lives of two physicists, an aerospace engineer, a neuroscientist, and a waitress, the success of this pop culture comedy gives us a creative perspective on the serious contributions engineering and math majors make to our petroleum industry—and to fueling energy production sustainability.

It’s hard to follow higher education news these days without seeing a reference to MOOCs. The online learning platforms from edX, Coursera, Udacity, and others were launched to great fanfare over the last two years. Proponents praise them for their potential to change education, while critics chalk them up as more hype than hope.

A teachable moment is something all good educators welcome. It is a critical time during which learning about a particular topic or idea becomes easiest. The Fossil Free divestment campaign at post secondary institutions across North America provides superb teachable moments for educators.

Remedial programs across the country are getting overhauled by educators and lawmakers hoping to keep more two- and four-year college students on track for graduation.

The changes come as research shows that while many community college students are made to take—and pay for—at least one remedial course before they start compiling credits, those who take the courses are more likely to leave school without earning a diploma.