'Colbert Report' Explains MOOCs

Anant Agarwal, president of edX, one of the major providers of massive open online courses, appeared on "The Colbert Report" this week, where he faced some questions on MOOCs that journalists had previously failed to ask him, at least not the Stephen Colbert way. After Agarwal explained the basic concept of MOOCs, Colbert asked if he was talking about the University of Phoenix. After Agarwal explained that MOOCs are free, Colbert said that if he owned a shoe store, and Agarwal was an employee and suggested giving away shoes for free, "I would fire you and throw shoes at your head."





Settlements put colleges' duty to ensure blind students access to materials under new scrutiny

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Colleges' responsibility to ensure that blind students have equitable access have become much more clear with a trio of recent settlements; exactly how to meet those obligations is less certain.

Report: Harvard Acted in 'Good Faith' on E-Mail Searches

Harvard University acted in "good faith" in conducting secret searches of e-mail files of some instructors, an outside report has concluded, The Boston Globe reported. The outside report, by a law firm, was commissioned amid widespread faculty and student anger over the e-mails searches, which were conducted as the university was concerned about leaks about a cheating investigation. Administrators believed at the time that they were acting in ways consistent with university policies, and administrators did not read the e-mail messages in the accounts that were searched, the report said.


Indian Institutes of Technology Embrace MOOCs

Seven branches of the Indian Institutes of Technology plan to embrace the concept of massive open online courses, The Economic Times reported. They plan to produce a series of courses that, if taken together, could help students qualify for various jobs. An initial series of courses will be in computer science. Organize think that more than 100,000 people could benefit from the offerings.


Report Cites Increasing Cyberattacks Against Universities

American research universities are coming under increasing cyberattacks, most likely from China, forcing them to step up security, The New York Times reported. The article cites institutions facing as many as 100,000 hacking attempts a day, and quotes an Educause official saying that the attacks have "outpaced our ability to respond."

Some Complaints but General Praise Greets New Blackboard CEO

Blackboard, the classroom software company, may be heading in the right direction, judging from a question and answer session with top executives the company hosted for customers on Thursday.

The unusual ritual at Bb World of subjecting executives to public and not always positive feedback from clients has served as a big griping session for perturbed customers in previous years. The company has lost market share over the last several years, according to annual surveys by the Campus Computing Project, though Blackboard remains the largest provider of learning management systems to American colleges.

This week, clients who stood up to talk to the executives generally tossed aside those overarching gripes as things of the past. Blackboard CEO Jay Bhatt joined the company seven months ago following the departure of Michael Chasen, a co-founder.

Jean Mankoff, the director of learning technology support at Texas Woman's University who has attended 14 of the company's conferences, praised Ray Henderson, who joined the company four years ago. She said the company had lost its collegial feeling for several years until recently.

The company is not without issues, however. Mankoff said the company had too many different product lines and sometimes she feels like she is working with different companies when she tries to purchase each product. That's something Bhatt said he is working to fix. Another user complained a featured in one of the disparate product lines had been neglected.

Another customer complained the software has become so feature-laden that faculty have trouble using it, something Bhatt also said he is working to deal with. 


Blackboard, the largest provider of classroom management software, enters the MOOC fray

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Largest provider of classroom management software removes itself from the sidelines and joins the MOOC fray.

Investors put $43 million more into MOOC provider Coursera

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MOOC provider raises $43 million more from investors for global expansion and platform development. Laureate, a higher ed for-profit, is among the backers.

University of Maryland University College wins defense department contract to teach troops in Europe

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University of Maryland University College wins $245 million Defense Department contract to teach military personnel at bases in Europe.


One MOOC professor won't let students know the right answers

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MOOCs are supposed to democratize education, but some students may never learn the right answers to questions on assignments that they get wrong.


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