What we can learn from the MOOC experiment

Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the MOOC experience, there are many lessons we can take from these massive open online courses

online-assessments-MOOC“Beyond the MOOC: The return.” That wouldn’t be the worst movie title ever, right?

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, were the talk of the town in 2012-13. A lot of people heralded the giant eLearning experiences as the tool that would save education, while a lot of others expressed vitriolic hatred for “watered-down” education, and the like.

Last month, I wrote an article suggesting that whether you love them or hate them, whether you feel they are dead in the water or getting ready to finally unleash something incredible, there are some important things to learn from the concept. I argued that educators should try to tap into the lessons learned from the MOOC story, like practical learning, contextual learning, better guidance, architecting social learning, and educating at scale.

But the lessons should not end there. Those are simply five elements of (likely) dozens that should be deconstructed and looked at for merit, efficiency, or success. As one educator wrote to me, let us continue the “autopsy” and look for a few more hidden clues.


A lot of people were quite passionate in their response to my previous article. One commenter was a bit frustrated that I was pointing out some flaws, as he or she had some great MOOC experiences. Meanwhile, others posted comments about horrible experiences they’ve had with the huge classes. But this divergence matters.

(Next page: Analyzing MOOCs)


9 rules of etiquette for academic Twitter use

Adjunct Professor Anne G. Barretta describes how she’s learned as much about Twitter use from her students as they’ve learned from her

Many CIOs are active on Twitter.

During last year’s Super Bowl, I gave my public relations students an assignment to tweet their reactions to advertisements and identify persuasive techniques used in the ads before, during, and after the game.

The assignment was very successful and generated a great deal of discussion on how companies use Twitter and other social media to brand their products, generate cost-free publicity, and elicit feedback from their customers.

I had used Twitter in class before to share links to news stories, trade publication articles, or simply to update the class on assignments. Last winter, I even used it en route to campus to cancel class during the many snowstorms we experienced in the Northeast!

Using social media to interact with this demographic (18- to 24-year-olds) can often be challenging. My students use their own language and assume everyone else understands it, and perhaps they do. But in my writing classes, I always caution them not to use jargon, colloquialisms, or slang unless they’re absolutely positive their target audience will understand their meaning.

But to borrow a cliché (another thing I always advise my students not to do, but which works here), you can teach an old dog new tricks. I always say I learn as much from my students as they learn from me, and Twitter is a perfect example.

I’ve put together a cheat sheet of Twitter etiquette for my students, and I think it applies to all professional Twitter use, as well.

(Next page: Twitter etiquette for academic use)


Controversial university president: Stop pushing for immediate gratification

President’s speech seen as a micro-study of the pressures currently facing research and teaching universities

president-research-universitiesAs education leaders nationwide grapple with defining the true purpose of institutions of higher learning in the 21st century, Bill Powers used the occasion of his last annual speech as president of the University of Texas at Austin to make what may have been his most impassioned plea for the importance of teaching and research to date.

“We are often asked to justify the kind of education we offer at a teaching and research university,” Powers told students, faculty and alumni who packed into UT-Austin’s Student Activities Center Ballroom for his annual “State of the University” speech Monday.

Not mincing words, the embattled yet popular president of nearly nine years said universities keep the brightest young people from the workforce “because we think those students will be more creative and innovative in the future.”

“It’s the broad outline for the value proposition of a great research and teaching university like UT,” he said. “I believe in it deeply. I have staked my reputation on it.”

His message was unmistakable: an innovative curriculum, plus faculty given the freedom to experiment and fail equals thoughtful future leaders. Anything less — anything that sacrifices long-term yields for instant gratification, that sets aside future goals for the passion and drama of the here and now — is unacceptable. He asked those assembled to remember this over the next two decades, as Texans look ahead to the state bicentennial in 2036.

“We need to do more than just focus on the cost side, simply making our work as cheap as possible,” said Powers.

(Next page: Powers’ own struggle and a new “third-wave” institution)


How Video Lectures Are Transforming Higher Education

videoCamera-300x199Video is a powerful tool to help students learn—and a growing number of educators are integrating video into their instruction, either by using pre-existing video assets or by creating their own video clips and lectures.

But research suggests that a number of factors can influence the effectiveness of video as a teaching tool. Educators also face many challenges in producing their own videos and in integrating video into instruction.

With the generous support of Adobe, we’ve collected these stories and other resources to help you overcome these challenges in your own institutions.


WebAssign Names Rob Simora as Chief Technology Officer

WebAssign Names Rob Simora as Chief Technology Officer
Experienced product development and IT executive joins company to drive innovation
RALEIGH, N.C. — September 23, 2014 — WebAssign, a leading provider of online instructional tools for faculty and students, today announced that Rob Simora has joined the company as Chief Technology Officer.
Simora is an accomplished Information Technology leader with over 20 years of experience managing global IT teams and strategic business planning. He joins WebAssign from Railinc, where he achieved all-time high customer satisfaction scores and championed the company’s IT strategy as CIO and VP Product Development.
“As education technology evolves, this is an exciting time for WebAssign,” commented Alex Bloom, WebAssign president. “Rob brings the essential level of expertise and innovation to the WebAssign team, enabling us to continue serving the best learning tools and technology to our faculty and student users.”
“WebAssign is a recognized leader in providing education technology that supports and enhances teaching and learning,” said Simora. “I’m delighted to join a company so dedicated to its customers.”
Named “IT Leader of the Year” by SearchCIO-MidMarket, Simora also won the Triangle Business Journal “40 Under 40” award in 2011. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Management Systems and Finance from Fordham University and holds a Master of Business Administration from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
About WebAssign
WebAssign is a flexible and fully customizable online instructional system that puts powerful tools in the hands of teachers, enabling them to deploy assignments, instantly assess individual student performance, and realize their teaching goals. More than eight million students have used WebAssign to submit over one billion answers to homework assignments, tests, and assessments.
Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, WebAssign is an independent, employee-owned benefit company dedicated to education technology. For more information, visit www.webassign.com.

Media Contact
Annie McQuaid
Senior Marketing Communications Manager
919.829.8181 x124


New Interactive Multimedia Helps Faculty Create More Dynamic, Engaging Courses

Adapt Courseware is Expanding its Content Repository in Four New Disciplines

Las Vegas, NV – September 22, 2014 – Adapt Courseware, which develops state-of-the-art interactive multimedia, continues to expanded its content repository, giving faculty the opportunity to easily assemble adaptive, media rich courses that personalize the learning experience and produce tangible results. Through dynamic, professionally produced interactives, videos and assessments, faculty can engage students in a more active learning environment that meets their digital literacy expectations.

Interactive, adaptive multimedia is now available in the disciplines of American Government, Business Law and College Success. Adapt Courseware, which is also on track to release College Algebra in the coming months, takes an innovative approach to content development that leverages the talents of award winning entertainment producers and animators in collaboration with academics and instructional designers. Graphics, interactives and videos not only utilize multiple senses and channels for learning, but also adjust based on a student’s knowledge and aptitude, keeping each one engaged and progressing at the optimal level.

“At Adapt Courseware, we recognize that academic content can be so much more than a static, one-way regurgitation of textbook information – students want and need more from their courses,” said Mark Brodsky, CEO of Adapt Courseware. “By merging content and interactivity, we are creating resources that allow faculty and students to connect with information and each other in new, personalized and more relevant ways. Our validation studies demonstrate that this kind of approach works, with schools experiencing higher student retention, completion and satisfaction rates.”

Adapt Courseware combines its content repository with an easy-to-use authoring toolset and comprehensive data analytics to help faculty develop and deploy online courses. Faculty can gain deeper insights into student performance and understand the impact of content on the learning process.

The company’s robust repository of interactive, adaptive multimedia also includes content in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Introduction to Marketing, Financial Accounting, Statistics, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Foundations of Reading and Writing, and Intermediate Algebra.

About Adapt Courseware
Adapt Courseware delivers a modern approach to antiquated text books through its adaptive learning repository of award winning multimedia interactives, videos, and assessments. Its powerful, competency-based content aggregation and delivery toolset integrates with a school’s LMS. Instructors can apply content in comprehensive course offerings or use the company’s authoring environment to combine adaptive multimedia with their own content, facilitating a more personalized and engaging experience. Adapt Courseware’s validation studies demonstrate how colleges and universities around the country are using its adaptive multimedia to realize measurable learning outcomes, including double digit improvements in retention and completion, as well as increased student satisfaction.

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Canon U.S.A. Introduced Ten New Feature-Packed Megapixel Network Cameras

MELVILLE, N.Y., September 18, 2014 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, has expanded its line of network cameras with ten new feature-packed models in a variety of resolutions and designs to serve the needs of a wide range of video security and surveillance applications. Delivering superb imaging, low-light performance, high-resolution detail, and vital color information through Genuine Canon Lenses, advanced imaging sensors, two proprietary Canon DIGIC processors (DIGIC DV III and DIGIC NET II), these new cameras provide the image quality necessary for detailed video analysis. Additionally, these new n
etwork Cameras provide built-in Video Analytics that assist in identifying potential crucial picture details, such as moving, removed, and abandoned object detection ideal for a broad range of security applications and environments such as financial institutions, industrial plants and utilities, military and government agencies, airports and transportation centers, educational institutions, retail establishments, commercial offices, casino and gaming establishments, web attractions and more.

“Canon continually advances its network cameras to deliver features and innovations helping to maximize the advantages of video over IP for security applications and environments,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A. “Canon’s expertise in HD imaging technology delivers the outstanding picture quality, latest digital capabilities, sophisticated user benefits, appropriate form factors, and technical compatibilities needed to help maximize the efficiency and convenience of today’s video security systems.”

Delivering sophisticated capabilities, key shared features of these new models include: an improved H.264 algorithm for remarkable image quality at lower bit rates; simultaneous delivery of two H.264 and three M-JPEG video streams in multiple sizes and resolutions for versatility in monitoring and recording; scheduled Custom Video Settings for optimal image capture according to the time of day; On-board Video Analytics for advanced detection and analysis, Outstanding Low Light Performance and more. The new camera models include:

2.1 Megapixel Resolution Network Cameras
• VB-H43 PTZ Network Camera (20x Zoom Lens)
• VB-H630VE Vandal Resistant Fixed Dome Network Camera (IP 66-rated)
• VB-H630D Fixed Dome Network Camera
• VB-H730F Fixed “Box” Network Camera

1.3 Megapixel Resolution Network Cameras
• VB-M42 PTZ Network Camera (20x Zoom Lens)
• VB-M620VE Vandal Resistant Fixed Dome Network Camera (IP 66-rated)
• VB-M620D Fixed Dome Network Camera
• VB-M720F Fixed “Box” Network Camera
• VB-S805D Fixed Micro Dome Network Camera
• VB-S905F Fixed Micro “Box” Network Camera

All ten cameras are ONVIF (Open Network Video Interface Forum) 2.2 Profile S Conformant to help ensure maximum interoperability with other third party ONVIF Profile S recording systems.

Key Shared Features
Helping to ensure superb imaging with outstanding low-light performance, high-resolution detail, and capture of vital color information in these ten new network cameras begins with their built-in Genuine Canon wide-angle zoom lenses with advanced lens coatings (the new Canon VB-H43 and VB-H42 pan/tilt/zoom cameras include a built-in 20x wide-angle zoom lens, with 12x digital zoom and a wide 60.4 degree angle of view). As the initial point of image capture, the advanced optics of these new models make it one of the core components to delivering truly remarkable image quality.

The images are captured by an advanced CMOS sensor producing 2.1 or 1.3 Megapixel images, processed by a proprietary Canon DIGIC DV III processor, which helps optimize image quality by minimizing noise, creating images with smooth gradations and accurate color reproduction, and compressed and encrypted by the DIGIC NET II network video processor, which can simultaneously transmit the image in multiple resolutions and codecs (H.264 and M-JPEG) to meet various end-user needs. Additionally, a new H.264 algorithm has been applied to deliver high-resolution video with low bandwidth utilization and low disk space usage, which has the potential to lower storage and reduce data transmission when the camera is using cellular data.

The new cameras all include built-in Video Analytics that assist in identifying potentially crucial picture details, such as moving, removed, and abandoned object detection as well as passing (or “tripwire”) detection. User-adjustable in terms of detection characteristics (sensitivity, area, and duration), Video Analytics can engage configured alarms and notification functions. Camera Analytics include detection of camera tampering and abnormal sound levels that can indicate vandalism. These cameras also include a user-adjustable Privacy Mask function to block sensitive locations (such as ATM keypads or computer monitors) from the cameras’ view.

Additional flexibility is provided by the cameras Custom Video Settings which allow the user to create up-to-four customized camera video settings, helping to optimize the image quality throughout an entire day and night. Settings that can be customized include exposure, shutter speed, iris, gain, white balance, and noise reduction. With this feature end-users have control over the quality of their video, regardless of the time of day or changing conditions in the monitored location.

VB-H43 and VB-M42 Cameras
The new Canon VB-H43 and VB-M42 PTZ Cameras offer a 60.4 degree angle of view lens with strong 20x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom. Both models offer a new Relative Pan/Tilt Speed Mode function, which slows the pan/tilt speed as the zoom factor is increased in order to help ensure accurate surveillance by reducing the possibility that the camera operator may pan beyond a moving subject. A Recorded Video Utility feature enables users to record H.264 and M-JPEG images or video automatically to an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card during a network outage, or manually through a viewer. Videos can also be played back directly from the camera. The VB-H43 and VB-M42 Cameras can capture potentially crucial image detail in low-illumination environments down to 0.4 lux at f/1.6 and 1/30 sec. in color* and 0.02 lux at f/1.6 and 1/30 sec. in black & white.*

VB-H630VE, VB-M620VE, VB-H630D and VB-M620D Cameras
The new Canon VB-H630VE, VB-M620VE, VB-H630D and VB-M620D Fixed Dome Cameras feature an Enhanced PTR (pan/tilt/rotation) Mechanism design that helps reduce the likelihood that the point of view might shift due to vibrations or impacts. All of these models also offer Canon’s Remote Adjustment Function which allows installers to save time, labor and expense by using a password-protected Internet connection to remotely fine-tune a camera’s viewing area and focus settings whenever it’s required (an especially handy feature in multiple-camera installations). These cameras also feature a built-in Genuine Canon 112 degree wide-angle lens with 3x optical zoom for clear, high-quality images, and they can capture potentially crucial image detail in low-illumination environments down to 0.3 lux at f/1.2 and 1/30 sec. in color* and 0.015 lux at f/1.2 and 1/30 sec. in black & white.*

The VB-H630VE and VB-M620VE Vandal Resistant Fixed Dome Network Cameras have an ingress resistant rating of IP66 and are built with a polycarbonate resin capsule and a die-cast aluminum. Both models also have a built-in lens shock absorbing mechanism that allows the lens to retract up to 15mm inside the camera body – thus helping to prevent lens impairment when the dome is struck. These features all combine to allow for the camera to absorb heavy impacts, making them ideal for use in areas that may be subject to abuse such as correctional facilities, public transportation centers and schools.

VB-H730F and VB-M720F Cameras
The new Canon VB-H730F and VB-M720F Fixed “Box” Network Cameras feature a Genuine Canon wide angle lens with very impressive 112.6 degree horizontal field of view and 3x optical zoom (4x digital zoom), providing installation flexibility for a number of different applications and locations such as auditoriums, plazas and lobbies. Thanks to the high-precision of Genuine Canon optics, the lens maintains superb image clarity throughout the entire field of view and zoom range, both in day and nighttime conditions.

VB-S805D and VB-S905F Cameras
Canon S-Series VB-S805D ultra-compact fixed micro dome camera and VB-S905F micro box network camera offer H.264 and/or M-JPEG streams in 1280 x 720 16:9 aspect
ratio, 1280 x 960 4:3 aspect ratio video, and other video resolutions to suit multiple needs. Measuring just 4.72 in. (Diameter) x 2.13 in. (H) and 2.13 in. (H) x 1.26 in. (W) x 4.49 in. (D) respectively, the VB-S805D and VB-S905F cameras offer flexible and easy installation options for a wealth of video security applications. The VB-S805D ultra-compact fixed micro dome camera provides quality color video in a range from .45 lux down to .01 lux** and black & white video from .25 lux to .007 lux***. The low-light performance of the VB-S905F micro box network camera is rated at 0.4 lux to 0.01 lux in color** and 0.2 lux to 0.007 lux in black & white***. Nine levels of exposure compensation add to the image-capture range.

Pricing and Availability
The Network Cameras have suggested list prices and ship dates as follows:

Product Name Suggested List Price1 Approximate Ship Date
VB-H43 $2,899 Q1 2015
VB-H630VE $1,569 November 2014
VB-H630D $1,289 November 2014
VB-H730F $1,159 November 2014
VB-M42 $1,979 November 2014
VB-M620VE $1,299 November 2014
VB-M620D $1,059 November 2014
VB-M720F $979 November 2014
VB-S805D $399 November 2014
VB-S905F $379 November 2014

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. With approximately $36 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents granted in 2013† and is one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2014. In 2013, Canon U.S.A. has received the PCMag.com Readers’ Choice Award for Service and Reliability in the digital camera and printer categories for the tenth consecutive year, and for camcorders for the past three years. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. In 2014, the Canon Americas Headquarters secured LEED® Gold certification, a recognition for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of high-performance green buildings. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss and follow us on Twitter @CanonUSA.

†Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.

All referenced product names, and other marks, are trademarks of their respective owners.

* At 50 IRE with SSC (Smart Shade Control) off.
**Color ratings based on f/1.6, 1/30 second and Smart Shade Control on (0.4 lux), ½ second and Smart Shade Control off (0.007 lux).
***Black & white ratings based on f/1.6, 1/30 second and Smart Shade Control on (0.2 lux), ½ second and Smart Shade Control off (0.007 lux).

1 Pricing subject to change at any time. Actual prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.

Availability, prices, and specifications of all products are subject to change without notice.


Seven Steps to Successful Technology Adoption Across Campus

TechSmith eCN 200x300Mott Community College administrators wanted to incorporate more technology in the courses they offered. They needed a simple, intuitive way to equip faculty with the tools to do so. Find out how MCC created a core group of passionate instructors who helped spread their ideas to other faculty—and learn seven key lessons from the school’s success.


Bill to bridge university STEM research to practical applications

Millions of dollars could be invested to allow university research to have a significant impact in ‘real life’

manufacturing-STEM-billIt seems that Congress is trying to put money where its mouth is thanks to recent legislation that aims to provide millions of dollars to establish institutes for STEM innovation that would allow university research to develop into practical application, keeping innovation alive in the U.S. and not just overseas.

The six Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs), part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), began in a push by the Obama Administration to enhance U.S. innovation competitiveness by supporting development of STEM technologies that could help the country compete in the global marketplace.

NNMI would act as an industry/government co-funded public-private partnership and would eventually consist of up to 45 institutes connecting manufacturing and engineering businesses and universities in areas of industry that need a technology invigoration.

Of course, though the idea is great in theory, nothing in government grand-schemes to boost the U.S. economy is free—and that’s where the Revitalizing American Manufacturing Innovation (RAMI) Act of 2013 comes in.

(Next page: The bill; potential for the future)


Supercomputer to revolutionize university research, boost funding

University scores supercomputer for research, funding and big data

supercomputer-UNLV-researchOne of the most powerful computers in the world is on its way to being connected to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

UNLV confirmed today that it received Intel’s “Cherry Creek” supercomputer, which will be stored at Switch’s SUPERNAP Data Center. With 10,000 processing cores, it has the power of 2,500 Mac desktops. It can crunch and store data in a matter of hours that would take the university’s current supercomputer a week.

That means, where it once took a week to compare 1,000 human genomes for Alzheimer’s research, researchers can now compare 100,000 genomes in that time.

“A lot of these calculations that would take many years to calculate, we can now do in a matter of weeks,” said Marty Schiller, executive director of of quantitative health sciences division at UNLV. “Every step up in the power enables new questions to be answered.”

UNLV researchers will be able to connect to the computer on campus through a software program. Cherry Creek is expected to not only enhance research projects at UNLV, but also bring in new grants and partnerships with private companies.

It’s the next step toward becoming a Tier 1 research university, UNLV acting President Don Snyder said.

“It has potential of allowing us to do things we only dreamed of,” Snyder said. “We don’t have the chance to get in the game if we don’t have those type of capabilities.”

(Next page: How the university scored the supercomputer; future capabilities)