Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 25, 2014

The massive open online course provider Coursera is taking a more active role in shaping the content produced by its university partners. In an email to universities creating content for Coursera, the MOOC provider is asking for volunteers to create career-focused Specializations -- a sequence of courses meant to serve as continuing education. Some of the subject areas Coursera wants to expand include business fundamentals and iOS development, but also English language skills. To boost development, Coursera is offering universities funds in the form of a loan repaid with revenue from certificate-seeking students.

"We have been becoming more active over time as we have learned more about who are learners are and what they want," said Daphne Koller, who co-founded Coursera. "We see an increased demand for the kind of courses that give people the kind of skills they need to succeed in the workplace."

September 25, 2014

Blackboard's string of acquisitions continued on Thursday, as the company announced it had acquired Requestec, which provides in-browser communication and collaboration technology. A Blackboard spokeswoman said Requestec's technology will first be used to update Blackboard Collaborate, giving users a way to videoconference with one another whether they are on a computer or a smartphone without having to download and install a plugin.

September 25, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Hawley Montgomery-Downs, a psychologist at West Virginia University, discusses how fragmented sleep patterns present serious risks. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 24, 2014

Despite the increased public discussion of sexual assault, some fraternities continue activities that raise questions about their understanding of the issue. Phi Delta Theta has suspended its chapter at Texas Tech University after a series of photographs surfaced, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. One photo showed a banner for a party reading: “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal.” Another showed a sprinkler attached to a cutout that appeared to be the spread legs of a woman.

 

September 24, 2014

Harvard University's endowment -- the nation's largest -- was up 15.4 percent in fiscal 2014. Those gains raised the value of the endowment to $36.4 billion. The endowment has distributed $11.6 billion to the university in the last five years.

 

September 24, 2014

This item has been updated.

Stanford University is disputing a report in Pro Publica that it agreed that it would not use such Google funds for privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society. The report was based on a court filing in which Stanford said it was not using funds for that purpose. Ethics standards for donations to colleges and universities generally reject the idea that a university should pledge not to research certain topics. But Stanford officials said that they were simply stating the purpose of Google grants (and clarifying what they were not seeking to support with the company's funds). Stanford has clarified that it never imposed limits on what subjects its researchers could study and would not accept a grant under such terms.

 

 

September 24, 2014

The new Miss America, Kira Kazantsev, admitted Tuesday that her sorority at Hofstra University kicked her out in 2013 for excessive hazing. The allegations were first reported by Jezebel. On Tuesday, Kazantsev went on "Good Morning America," and confirmed that she was kicked out of the sorority, but disputed the details of the Jezebel report.

September 24, 2014

Mercyhurst University, in Pennsylvania, has announced that it is ending the requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. “Mercyhurst does not believe in reducing students to numbers and has always championed a holistic approach to admissions,” said a statement from the president, Tom Gamble. “Becoming test-optional allows us to focus more on the individual, which is consistent with our mission.”

September 24, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Radu Sporea, Royal Academy of Engineering Academic Research Fellow in the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, discusses the astonishing intricacies of technology that we often take for granted. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

September 23, 2014

The Federal Work-Study Program needs to be revamped to help serve more low-income students, says a report released Monday by Young Invincibles, a student advocacy group.

The group calls on Congress to replace the existing formula for distributing federal work-study money to campuses with a methodology that rewards institutions that enroll and graduate large numbers of low-income students. Under the current program, the group said, the most expensive private institutions that have been in the program the longest receive the most funding at the expense of many public institutions that serve larger populations of low-income students.

The report also said that the work-study program should require that colleges place students in jobs that are better aligned with their career interests and academic programs.

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