Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 24, 2013

FutureLearn, the British provider of massive open online courses, is planning to create "badges" that can be earned for each section of its MOOCs, Times Higher Education reported. This will make it easier for those who enroll to show that they have learned something even if they do not complete the course. Martin Bean, vice chancellor of the Open University, which created FutureLearn, said that it was "sad" when journalists talk about those who don't finish MOOCs as "dropouts." He said that these badges might change that. "As a vice-chancellor I get very annoyed when I see people who don’t complete [courses] described in negative terms. We’re trying to design FutureLearn pedagogy around a 'mini-MOOC' model, shorter in duration and broken down into bite-sized pieces," he said.

June 24, 2013

The latest leaks from Edward Snowden, provided to The South China Morning Post, focus on U.S. National Security Agency hacking of backbone computer networks at China's Tsinghua University. A Post article said that documents provided by Snowden showed the hacking to be "intensive." On one day, 63 computers and networks were hacked by the NSA.

June 24, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Donald Stewart of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry explains why he went looking for a new species of fish in a library. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 21, 2013

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges notified officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday that the university will not be put on probation or warned over academic irregularities in the university's Department of African and Afro-American Studies that came to light last year. Instead, the university will be monitored over the next year to ensure that it follows through on plans to "make whole" the degrees of individuals who took the classes where the irregularities occurred.

June 21, 2013

WASHINGTON -- With 10 days remaining until the interest rate doubles on new, federally subsidized student loans July 1, a bipartisan group of senators is said to be working out a compromise -- but whether a bill that can pass both houses of Congress is achievable before the rates increase is still unclear. The compromise would base interest rates on the 10-year Treasury note (as would plans from Senate and House Republicans and from President Obama). Rates would vary from year to year for new loans, but would be fixed over the life of the loan -- as was the case in Obama's plan, and in the Senate Republican proposal. The plan would cap interest rates at 8.5 percent.

It's unclear whether the plan will catch on broadly among Senate Democrats, who have resisted shifting to a market-based rate and instead advocated for a one- or two-year extension of the 3.4 percent rate so that Congress can tackle the issue when it reauthorizes the Higher Education Act, which expires at the end of next year.

June 21, 2013

Lincoln Educational Services this week announced that it will close five campuses in Ohio and Kentucky. The for-profit institution, which offers automotive technology and other academic programs, said legislation Congress passed last year to eliminate federal aid for "ability to benefit" students had resulted in dramatic enrollment declines at the five locations. That legislation prohibits students who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent from participating in federal aid programs. Shaun McAlmont, Lincoln's CEO, said in a written statement that the company was saddened that those students "continue to be marginalized by legislation that treats them differently than so-called 'traditional' students."

June 21, 2013

McGraw-Hill Education plans to acquire adaptive learning software maker ALEKS. The software maker and the publishing giant have worked together over the past decade on math courseware for McGraw-Hill. ALEKS also has a standalone product, which McGraw-Hill said it will continue to offer in the "near term."

The acquisition marks McGraw-Hill's first since it was acquired by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. ALEKS is one of a number of companies trying to figure out how to make education software respond to and aid students.

June 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Valorie Salimpoor of the University of Toronto explains the neurology behind the human love of music. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 21, 2013

The University of Colorado Board of Regents voted Thursday to conduct a campus survey on whether there is discrimination based on political perspectives, particularly at the flagship Boulder campus, The Denver Post reported. Regents said that there was insufficient political diversity on the faculty, and that this could lead to discrimination against students based on political perspectives. Faculty leaders have said that there is no evidence of bias against students. The survey is expected to cost at least $40,000.

 

June 21, 2013

A new survey of students who are mothers found that the factor they said was most crucial to their academic success was scheduling flexibility. In the survey, 77 percent cited the issue, but one third of the mothers said that their colleges were not flexible enough. The student mothers also said that they relied on career services and academic advising. The emphasis on scheduling flexibility isn't surprising, given another finding in the survey -- that 56 percent of the student mothers work 30 hours or more each week. The survey (from a national sample) was conducted for Ivy Bridge College of Tiffin University.

 

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