How Seton Hall Replaced Laptops with Tablets—Without Sacrificing Productivity

How Seton Hall Replaced Laptops with Tablets—Without Sacrificing Productivity200As part of its commitment to creating a technologically advanced learning environment, Seton Hall University gives every undergraduate student a laptop computer as part of their tuition and fees. When the university began experimenting with Android tablets instead, students said they missed the productivity experience of using Microsoft Office. Learn how Seton Hall has solved this challenge with the help of tablets from Samsung.


Online courses allow for unprecedented interaction

Some of the most vibrant discussions and interaction in one of Kelly Goodson’s courses this semester have taken place outside the classroom.


Professors lauded the interaction in OU’s online classes.

Goodson, a junior at the University of Oklahoma, is taking a course that features a new online learning platform developed at OU.

Now, the university plans to use the system to offer free courses to anyone with an internet connection.

Goodson, 20, is enrolled in “Law and Justice,” one of six courses the university offered this semester using the platform called Janux.

The courses were the beginning of the testing phase for the program, developed in partnership with the Norman-based education technology firm NextThought.

On Oct. 21, the university opened the site to the public. Beginning in January, OU will offer 20 courses on the site, including “History of Science,” “Science of Hydraulic Fracturing” and “Chemistry of Beer.”

Goodson goes to the classroom twice a week. When students aren’t in class, they use the system to access everything they need for the course.

Rather than using textbooks, students read the required passages on Janux. They can also use it to access videos, discuss the reading with classmates or take quizzes.

See Page 2 for more on online courses. See Page 3 for our poll.


Overcome 3 common challenges of net price calculators

Net price calculators may be good in theory – the online tools give families a picture of which colleges are affordable – but using them can present some challenges, U.S. News reports.

To give an estimated cost to attend a given school, the tools ask users to input data such as age, parental income and household size. A calculator will then tabulate what the students might pay after potential grants or scholarships are factored in.

While the federal government mandates that all schools have a net price calculator on their websites, some are finding ways to skirt the requirement, says Diane Cheng with The Institute for College Access & Success.

As a result, the online cost calculators can be hard to find, hard to use and hard to understand, but students and families shouldn’t let that scare them away, she says.

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LOOCing into the future of digital learning

A new local open online course—or LOOC—is helping students develop digital literacy.

A pioneering offering from the Faculty of Education and UBC Library is enabling UBC students, staff and faculty to develop their digital literacy know-how.

The two units have introduced the University’s first LOOC, or local open online course, as part of UBC’s Master of Educational Technology (MET) program. As the name suggests, a LOOC is a localized form of a MOOC – or massive open online course. MOOCs have been a big topic in online education recently. UBC’s first MOOC – which it launched in January 2013 with Stanford University – attracted more than 130,000 registrants.

“A LOOC is a way of attaching this phenomenon of massive learning to UBC’s large, global and thoroughly excellent existing community,” explains David Vogt, Graduate Advisor for the MET program. He adds that the project could be expanded to all B.C. post-secondary campuses in the future.

The MET course, called M101, helps users “acquire, maintain, refine and promote” digital literacy skills. These are grouped into topics including Mining (researching, evaluating and managing information), Meshing (idea creation and collaboration) and Mobilizing (publishing and presence in the digital world).  A wide range of topics, including citation management, digital humanities, Creative Commons licences and more are featured.

The LOOC is open to all members of the UBC community who have a Campus Wide Login (CWL). M101 is entirely online and self-paced, and users can build their skills in any area, and in any order, they wish. It’s also designed to be accessed a few moments at a time, perhaps between classes.

The virtual course is flexible enough that students can sync learnings into their formal studies – for example, by using a new presentation tool to enhance a term project.

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Coursera creates learning hubs, with eye on interaction

Coursera’s offerings may be online-only, but the massive open online course (MOOC) platform will soon have a physical, and socially interactive, presence in nearly 25 countries.


MOOC students who had a facilitator were more likely to complete the course.

From Seoul, South Korea, to La Paz, Mexico, Coursera is partnering with local institutions to create “Global Learning Hubs,” the company announced Oct. 31.

“The very core of our mission is that we believe anyone in the world should be able to learn without limits,” said Yin Lu, lead of growth and international outreach at Coursera. “There are a lot of limits people face in getting an education, so we asked, ‘how can we set up an infrastructure beyond what’s currently available locally in their cities?’”

The answer was to collaborate with local and international partners, including the U.S. Department of State and Digital October, to utilize existing spaces that could be turned into physical locations to take Coursera courses for free.

Initially, there will be learning hubs at 30 embassies, American Spaces, campuses, and other physical locations around the world, including Iraq, Haiti, and the Ukraine.

The spaces won’t just be for connecting to the internet. (In fact, at least one hub won’t even have internet access — the remote location will instead make use of pre-downloaded course material.)

The hubs will also provide an opportunity for Coursera students to learn the material among peers and with a facilitator, much like a blended classroom.

See Page 2 for details on how Coursera recognizes the need for interaction in MOOCs. See Page 3 for our poll.


Don’t be fooled into thinking that big data just relies on technology

As big data becomes increasingly popular, it’s occasionally worth taking a step back to think about what companies are looking to achieve as well as the necessary elements, The Guardian reports.

Is investment in new technology really necessary, for example, if there is a cheaper – and ultimately simpler – means of collecting the required information?

Reza Soudagar, writing for multinational software company SAP, eloquently summarised how cost-effective ‘low-tech’ methods can be implemented to collect big data, citing the example of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Housed in Cevahir Bedesten, customers are not asked traditional questions (“Do you need any help?”) but are pressed on more personal matters, such as which country shoppers are from, the duration of their trip and even which hotel (or area) they are staying in.

While one could easily mistake this as an attempt to keep customers interested for longer, a happy side effect, their reasoning is more sophisticated: it’s all about big data.

These questions alone don’t provide enough information to form patterns but staff combine the answers they receive with other traits they can instantly detect – the customer’s age, the kind of watch they are wearing, their smartphone model and even the brand of their clothes re – to match up customers with their likely preferences. And an incredible feature is that this all happens within minutes.

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My top poll summaries from this month

Have you seen our polls covering the latest in technology news and innovation in higher education?

michael-sharnoff150eCampus News has several engaging polls on topics ranging from for-profit universities to concerns that mobile devices distract students.

In ‘Follow the money’ in online education, faculty warn, a clear majority (85%) believed that online education may be putting profits before students.

Do you agree with the authors’ argument that online education may be putting profit before students? Please vote and share your thoughts here.

In Using technology to distract students from distraction, a 68% majority thought that mobile devices were not too distracting to ever use in the classroom, while 30% were skeptical and wanted more research to be conducted.

Do you think mobile devices are too distracting to ever use in the classroom? Share your thoughts here.

In What’s hogging bandwidth on college campuses? a slim majority (51%) of readers polled felt that students exceeding the bandwidth cap at universities should be charged, while 12% were unsure.

Do you think colleges should charge students for bandwidth use? Share your thoughts here.

For instant updates and breaking news, follow eCampus News on Twitter @ecampusnews and join the conversation with #eCNTopNews.

Follow me at @Michael_eSM.


MOOC master’s degree outpaces on-campus programs

The Georgia Institute of Technology has received a considerably larger number of applications for its MOOC-inspired online computer science master’s degree than applicants for its on-campus counterparts combined.


Georgia Tech’s MOOC master’s degree drew much media attention last summer.

Over an enrollment period of 21 days, 2,359 people applied for Georgia Tech’s online computer science master’s degree program, a survey of the course found.

The total number of enrollment for all traditional, campus-based computer science master’s degrees for the entirety of last year was 1,806.

“[That’s] very strong application numbers with virtually no marketing,” Georgia Tech noted in a summary of the survey.

That doesn’t mean the program has gone without publicity.

The program is based on – and uses the technology behind – massive open online courses (MOOCs) built by Udacity, but differs in that none of the courses are free.

In total, the program would cost a student more than $6,500, which is still a deep discount when compared to the $44,000 price tag for on-campus students.

That discount, and that the program is the first MOOC-like degree of its kind, inspired a flood of national news coverage when the experiment was announced in May.

See Page 2 for a more detailed breakdown of what the applicants are like.


EvaluationKIT Introduces Cutting-Edge Text Analytics to Examine Valuable, Qualitative Student Feedback

Student Data Becomes More Powerful and Meaningful to College and University Administrators

Denver, CO – October 30, 2013 – EvaluationKIT, a leader in enterprise online course evaluation and survey software for higher education institutions, has announced a breakthrough in the use of text analytics to gain meaningful insights from mass amounts of student feedback. Qualitative, or write-in text comments, once useful only to those instructors and administrators who read them one-by-one, can now automatically be analyzed via EvaluationKIT Text Analytics to provide summary reporting to college and university administrators.

“Historically, institutions have had to rely on Likert-type items as the basis for survey feedback due to the operational and technical limitations of analyzing large volumes of student text responses,” said Kevin Hoffman, president of EvaluationKIT. “With the release of EvaluationKIT Text Analytics, the richness of student write-in feedback can be efficiently summarized by the system and presented to administrators in clear reporting across thousands of comments. This approach presents a much more complete picture of student feedback.”

Qualitative data often offers the deepest insights from students, and when summarized across a considerable number of student responses, the results can identify key themes that are important to various levels of an institution. As instructors have gleaned value from text comments within their courses, the institutional value of student comments beyond the course has remained locked behind the sheer volume of responses, until now.

EvaluationKIT Text Analytics is fully integrated into the company’s existing online reporting functionality, making it easy for institutions to select the exact survey questions they want analyzed and automatically receive comprehensive reports. With access to more detailed data, colleges and universities can now gauge new information from students that might not have been available through standard survey questions.

“Qualitative feedback from students is extremely useful in identifying common thoughts and viewpoints across large numbers of students,” said Dr. Shelley Kinash, associate professor and director of learning and teaching at Bond University. “Using EvaluationKIT Text Analytics, our student feedback data has become so much more powerful and meaningful. The students are the stakeholders who are best placed to evaluate the quality of their education. Through applying qualitatively analyzed feedback, we have made significant improvements to learning, teaching and the overall student experience.”

About EvaluationKIT
EvaluationKIT is a leading provider of enterprise online course evaluation and survey software to higher education and K-12 institutions. Easy to implement and straightforward to manage, EvaluationKIT includes a variety of features proven to drive response rates, and a robust suite of reporting functionality. For more information or to request a free trial, visit us at

About Bond University
As Australia’s first private University, Bond University seeks to be recognised internationally as a leading independent university, imbued with a spirit to innovate, a commitment to influence and a dedication to inspire tomorrow’s professionals who share a personalised and transformational student experience. To learn more visit

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Much hyped, MOOCs manuever toward version 2.0

Since then-Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun opened his Fall 2011 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course to tens of thousands students around the world, there has been a lot of interest and excitement surrounding MOOCs, or massive, open online courses, Singularity Hub reports.

Thrun went on to found a for-profit online university, Udacity, with the backing of some of Silicon Valley’s most influential investors. Two of Thrun’s former Stanford colleagues launched a competitor, Coursera, with the support of the granddaddy of all venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins. Not to be outdone, the most prestigious universities on the East Coast set up the nonprofit edX.

It seemed clear that the future of education would be in MOOCs. And who wouldn’t want to make lectures given by the best teachers at top universities available online to students in developing countries and poor and remote parts of the United States? MOOC enthusiasts also believe the format can deliver improved professional development by freeing workers to pursue their studies at their (or their employer’s) convenience.

But a few years into the courses’ existence, research on their effectiveness has begun painting a grim picture of their ability to educate students. Can the courses iterate to overcome the challenges?

… MOOC platforms have certainly seen the same research and are moving to address it. The question is, can they up the educational ante and protect the profit margins that keep all but the non-profit edX in business?

Coursera has quietly moved to shorter courses to reduce dropouts, a shift that will have negligible effects on its margins.

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