The brilliant business move all universities should know about

Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University could herald an effective way for students to get meaningful degrees–and turn a university into a powerhouse.

starbucks-arizona-degree
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The announcement this weekend that Starbucks is partnering with Arizona State University to offer free online college degrees to thousands of its baristas raised a number of questions. First and foremost: Arizona State who?

In unveiling its new “College Achievement Plan,” Starbucks put the spotlight on ASU, calling it one of the “most forward-looking universities in the country.” It illuminated an aggressively growing public university in the Phoenix metropolitan area that has been quietly earning academic standing and a reputation for innovation. What probably helped cement the deal is that the university’s sense of civic responsibility matches that of the coffee company.

We don’t want to heap too much praise on Starbucks Corp., as it still make a tidy fortune on the backs of thousands of low-paid workers slinging extra-caffeinated beverages and baked goods. The company reported a profit for the three-month period that ended March 30 of $427 million.…Read More

University research will evaluate physical data to gauge teacher effectiveness

GSR technology could give an advantage to 'tyrannical' teachers, Ravitch says.

A student’s physical reaction to a classroom lesson soon could be used to judge how successful—or unsuccessful—an educator is in keeping students engaged.

Researchers and Clemson University received a nearly $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November to study Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, which house sensors that measure a student’s physical reaction to learning—such as increased sweating—and uses the data as a way to grade an educator’s performance.

Wireless sensors produce readouts showing whether students are alert, anxious, bored, or excited in the classroom, and as Clemson researchers determine the reliability of this experimental technological gauge, many in education are skeptical of the GSR bracelets as a mainstream classroom tool.…Read More

Educational innovation gets boost under new programs

The Investing in Innovation fund must be doled out by Sept. 30.
The Investing in Innovation fund must be doled out by Sept. 30.

A movement is under way to make it easier for entrepreneurs to navigate the lucrative and sometimes-tricky education market and introduce new technologies and products into classrooms.

An educator at the University of Pennsylvania wants to create one of the nation’s only business incubators dedicated to education entrepreneurs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is also getting into the act with a $650 million fund to boost education innovation.

“Here’s this [market] that is huge, that is really important, that needs innovation, and there’s just nothing out there to sort of foster it,” said Doug Lynch, vice dean of Penn’s Graduate School of Education. “Let’s create a Silicon Valley around education.”…Read More

iPad pilots launching in higher ed this fall

More than 100 OSU students will test the iPad in the fall.
More than 100 Oklahoma State University students will test the iPad in the fall.

Educators say there’s a simple reason they believe the Apple iPad pilot programs coming to colleges and universities this fall will run smoother than previous trials with popular eReaders: the apps.

Sprawling research university campuses and rural community colleges alike will test the iPad in small groups when students return to school in August and September, evaluating how learning can be improved using a device that has proven popular among 20-somethings who were avid about Apple products even before the iPad was released in April.

University IT departments launched pilot programs for eReaders like the Amazon Kindle and Kindle DX in 2008 and 2009, but student and faculty surveys showed that traditional textbooks were preferred over the eReader devices.…Read More

Can Apple’s tablet spark a textbook revolution?

Educators expect the Apple tablet screen to be much larger than the iPhone display.
Educators expect the Apple tablet screen to be much larger than the iPhone display.

Can the release of Apple’s eReader tablet do for textbooks what the iPod did for music: combine an online store for purchasing books with sleek hardware that holds every text a student needs?

That’s the question many educators are asking as anticipation of Apple’s new tablet mounts.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is widely expected to unveil his company’s eReader Jan. 27 in San Francisco, and industry insiders expect the product to have a large touch screen that is smaller than a laptop screen but larger than an iPhone.…Read More

Blindness groups, ASU settle lawsuit over Kindle

ASU will not pay any damages for using Amazon's Kindle DX in a pilot project.
ASU will not pay any damages for using Amazon's Kindle DX in a pilot project.

Two organizations representing the blind have settled a discrimination lawsuit against Arizona State University over its use of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader device.

Arizona State is among several universities testing the $489 Kindle DX, a large-screen model aimed at textbook and newspaper readers.

Last June, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind joined a blind ASU student in suing Arizona State, alleging that the Kindle’s inaccessibility to blind students constituted a violation of federal law.…Read More