2U acquires GetSmarter

As reported in Inside Higher Ed this week, the online program management company 2U is describing its acquisition of GetSmarter as an effort to expand into new course modalities and parts of the world, but analysts are divided on whether the company is getting its money’s worth.

Trial and Error: Lehman and Hunter Colleges boost chemistry course passing rate to 80 percent

Students taking general chemistry at Hunter and Lehman Colleges were passing at 60 and 35 percent rates, respectively. A new course format that includes videos, podcasts and no textbooks quickly improved outcomes.

Questions for online proctoring companies

Colleges and universities are increasingly employing companies to proctor online exams. If your institution plans to sign a contract with one or more online exam proctoring firms, here are the questions administrators interviewed by Inside Digital Learning said you should ask to secure the services that best meet your institution’s and learners’ needs.

Adel Leo, Western Governors University: "Ask lots of questions. Taking the easier route may not be the right route.”

At annual ASU + GSV conference, a look back at Blackboard, and DeVos speaks

How Blackboard became Blackboard, a cameo by Secretary DeVos, and the vibe at the annual ASU + GSV educational technology conference.

Book provides tips for instructional designer-faculty member dynamics

The following lists, compiled by Jon Aleckson and Penny Ralston-Berg for their book MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts (Atwood Publishing), offer tips for faculty members working with instructional designers on online course development and visa versa. 

For Instructors Working with Design Teams

Santa Cruz Agrees to Demands of Black Students

Ending a three-day occupation of a campus building, the chancellor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, agreed to meet the demands of the African Black Student Alliance, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

A university official announced Thursday -- to the cheers of hundreds of students at Kerr Hall, which houses the offices of many UCSC administrators -- that the university would try to improve conditions for its African, black and Caribbean students.

The chancellor of UCSC, George Blumenthal, made a number of commitments to show his renewed support for the community. The promises include requiring “educational diversity” orientation for new students and redesigning and decorating the Rosa Parks African American Theme House on campus.

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18 Penn State Fraternity Members Charged in Death

Eighteen students at Penn State University were charged Friday for their roles in the death of Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore who fell repeatedly after drinking excessive amounts of liquor and beer at a Beta Theta Pi pledge night in February.

The 18 students are all members of the fraternity. Eight of the students and the organization itself were charged with involuntary manslaughter -- a felony. The remaining men were charged with a variety of lesser violations, including hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors, evidence tampering and aggravated and simple assault, according to The New York Times.

Eric Barron, president of Penn State, permanently banned Beta Theta Pi from the campus and tightened alcohol regulations for Greek organizations. At the end of March, he announced the university would no longer allow daylong parties, and it would limit the number of parties with alcohol that each sorority and fraternity can host -- 10 per semester, down from the current 45. At those parties, only beer and wine are allowed to be served. Liquor and kegs are banned.

After a grand jury in Centre County District released its finding from the investigation into Piazza’s death Friday, Barron released a statement.

“The details alleged in these findings are heart-wrenching and incomprehensible,” Barrow wrote. “The university community continues to mourn his tragic death, but no pain we feel can begin to compare to the devastating heartbreak that Timothy’s family and friends are experiencing.”

“The alleged details in the grand jury presentment, which suggest the inhumane treatment of a student forced through hazing to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol and endure hours of suffering, are sickening and difficult to understand,” he added. “It is numbing how an atmosphere that endangers the well-being and safety of another person could occur within an organization that prided itself on commitment to each other and to its community.”

The party that led to Piazza’s death started with an initiation ritual where each pledge lined up to complete various drinking tasks -- drink from a bottle of vodka, shotgun a beer and chug from a wine bag.

Video surveillance in the fraternity house helped piece together what happened to Piazza that night, which the grand jury described in detail. Piazza was visibly drunk and staggering by 11 p.m. Soon after, he fell down basement stairs.

In a group text message, one of the fraternity members there said, “Also, Tim Piazza might actually be a problem. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first, going to need help.”

The hours that followed included several more hard falls, usually on his head, and often against a hard surface, like an iron railing or a stone floor, while Piazza went in and out of consciousness. Occasionally, some of the brothers tried to help. They filled a backpack with textbooks and put it on Piazza’s back to prevent him from rolling over and choking on his own vomit. They splashed water on him and slapped him in the face to try jolt him awake. But no one called 911 -- not until after 10 a.m. the next morning. He died the following day.

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2U acquires its way into certificate, international markets

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To mixed reactions from analysts, 2U acquires its way into the certificate and international markets.

Who's up and who's down in online enrollments?

Newly analyzed federal data show drops for many for-profit providers and two-year colleges and growth for Sun Belt publics and some newly visible nonprofit universities.

Easing conflicts between instructional designers and the faculty

They spend extended amounts of time together developing online courses. Sometimes, their relationship is filled with tension. Here are ways colleges and universities address and alleviate issues and promote collaboration. 


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