Catch up on the most compelling higher-ed news stories you may have missed this week

Every Friday, I’ll recap some of the most interesting and thought-provoking news developments that occurred over the week.

I can’t fit all of this week’s news stories here, though, so feel free to visit and read up on other news you may have missed.

This week, our news is all about innovation. Though policymakers promote free college, is it really going to work? Students are taking charge and exploring the topics they’d like to pursue after graduation, including virtual reality (plus data) and augmented reality.

Read on for more:

Is free college really going to work?
Why we should take a critical look at the idea of free college beyond an easy sound bite that allows politicians to attract voters without explaining or solving the problem of why college is so expensive in the first place.

UMD’s virtual reality students show off final projects
For 29 students at the University of Maryland, the Spring 2016 semester ended with a virtual walk in the desert and junkyard demolition derby and a digital waterfall created from tweets. The undergraduate and graduate students were part of the university’s first class in virtual reality, the exploding immersive technology that is expected to generate more than $1 billion in sales this year. Students spent the semester learning the technical aspects of virtual reality and augmented reality.

Data courses could include virtual reality
University of Wisconsin (UW) data science students could soon don virtual reality headsets to navigate and interpret data. A UW instructional designer says looking at Big Data in new and different ways can engage more students to pursue its study, and also can impact people’s lives. The courses are part of the online Master of Data Science degree program offered by UW-Extension in collaboration with six UW campuses.

New trend sees higher ed bootcamps go 2.0
It seems that coding bootcamps are so 2015. For students eager to get into a burgeoning field that pays well, data science bootcamps promise to be the new oases amidst hiring deserts. Starting this summer and continuing throughout the fall, third-party hosts, such as Metis and NYC Data Science Academy (NYCDSA), are offering 12-week programs in data science for students that have some beginner’s knowledge of coding and/or statistics.

Laura Ascione