Company to deliver on promise of “Netflix for Education”

In a move designed to lower student costs and improve access to learning, Cengage, an education and technology company, recently announced Cengage Unlimited. This first-of-its-kind subscription gives students access to all the company’s digital higher education materials—more than 20,000 products across 70 disciplines and more than 675 courses—for $119.99 a semester, no matter how many Cengage materials they use.

“High costs are limiting too many students from being able to access and succeed in their learning,” said Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage.  “Students are either spending hundreds of dollars a year on materials, or else put off buying them altogether because they can’t afford them.  And, for many students who do find a way, it is because they are taking on student loan debt that will impact them for years.

“With Cengage Unlimited, students finally have an alternative to the traditional and costly approach of paying for each course’s materials individually.  We are taking unprecedented action to break down cost barriers and end the cycle of students having to choose between course materials they can afford and the results they want,” Hansen continued.…Read More

University startup launches high-tech system for VR, AR developers

A high-tech startup founded by an Indiana University information technology programmer/analyst allows developers to synchronize tools that provide immersive environmental conditions–like fans that create wind or lamps that create heat–with the visuals and sounds of their virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) system.

CyUtil LLC has launched a system called cy.PIPES, or Programmable Immersive Peripheral Environmental System. Chauncey Frend, the company’s founder, is a programmer/analyst in IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab, part of the UITS Research Technologies division and the IU Pervasive Technologies Institute. He has been working on immersive environmental systems since he was an undergraduate student at IUPUI.

“I created cy.PIPES to easily plug-and-play the user’s choice of 4-D effects devices along with the Unity game engine. Dynamic factors like wind direction are automatically computed with cy.PIPES, and effects are rendered to users as they would expect from the virtual environment they are immersed in,” Frend said. “I wanted to prove it is possible to easily and inexpensively hook up environmental conditions to virtual and augmented reality systems.”…Read More

College placement and prep exams to get more secure online proctoring

McGraw-Hill Education, a learning science company, and ProctorU, an online proctoring company, today announced the launch of a new partnership that will enable higher education institutions to deliver digital ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) exams with ProctorU’s secure remote proctoring system. Through the partnership, customers will be able to access both ALEKS PPL and ProctorU services through a discounted bundle package.

ALEKS PPL is an adaptive placement solution that has helped colleges to assess and prepare incoming students in math and helps them lower failure rates and increase retention.

Built based on learning science theory, ALEKS PPL assesses what students already know and what they are ready to learn next, and, based on their performance on the assessment, provides students with the opportunity to improve their placement scores through an individualized, adaptive learning path in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module. For more information about ALEKS PPL, visit www.aleks.com/ppl.…Read More

Hundreds of colleges and universities to offer students more value for their course materials

Cengage, an education and technology company, continues to partner with hundreds of colleges and universities across the US to offer students more value for their course materials. The model, called Cengage Inclusive Access, can save students up to 55 percent and ensures they have access to digital course materials on the first day of class. For the fall 2017 semester, more than 140,000 students are benefitting from the model.

“Immediate engagement with course resources on the first day of the class sets the foundation for a successful semester. This is a more streamlined, student-friendly and cost-effective approach to connecting students with learning material,” said Dr. Jenny Billings, chair of Study Skills, Developmental Reading and English (DRE), and Curriculum English at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “Since launching the initiative three years ago in the liberal arts division, it has expanded to multiple areas of the college and is used in more than fifty courses.”

Dr. Billings, a Cengage faculty partner, noted a 17-point increase in retention after implementing the Inclusive Access model, bringing the DRE completion rate up to 84.5 percent in just two years. Across all campuses of Indiana University, the Inclusive Access model saved nearly 20,000 students a total of more than $1.3 million off print list prices over the 2016-2017 academic year.…Read More

New learner analytics software helps 15 percent more students earn degrees

A UK education technology business recently hit US colleges and universities after a three-year trial of its pioneering analysis and monitoring software. The pilot project, at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, has demonstrated marked improvements in students’ academic performance, with over 15 per cent more of their students now achieving top class degrees.

UK-based Solutionpath, founded in 2012, has developed a software product called StREAM which measures and analyses student digital ‘engagement’, accurately identifying students who are at risk of early withdrawal from their course, or of under-achieving academically.

The software launched in the US at the EDUCAUSE Annual conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 31.…Read More

Company launches first video CMS specifically for higher education

Higher education video platform, Echo360, announced the launch of a new video content management system (CMS) for higher education. Designed to reflect the multiplicity of video needs on campus, from lecture capture to screencasting, flipped classrooms to video libraries, Echo360’s CMS is integrated into a single, smart video platform that works the way faculty and students do and integrates tightly with existing systems, including the campus-wide LMS.

Colleges and universities are creating, organizing, and sharing unprecedented amounts of video content. But, to meet the needs of their diverse stakeholders, institutions are often forced to use complex video tools designed for media companies and for-profit corporations rather than teaching and learning – resulting in a challenging user experience designed for passive video consumption.

Building on the company’s lecture capture, Echo360’s new CMS incorporates elements from popular consumer video platforms-and works with Echo360’s video recording and active learning capabilities to foster active, engaged, and personalized learning and provide new types of learning data that can be used to improve student outcomes, says the company.…Read More

Cal Poly launches world’s first university-based cloud innovation center by AWS

Through a strategic relationship, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), one of the nation’s top masters-level universities, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), have launched the Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub powered by AWS (DT-Hub). The DT-Hub has been created to accelerate digital transformation in the government, education and nonprofit sectors through the application of cloud technologies.

 Public sector, education, and nonprofit organizations face rapid changes in technology with limited personnel and financial resources to meet the intensifying digital expectations of their constituencies. The DT-Hub combines the power of AWS innovation techniques with the deep subject matter expertise and Learn by Doing philosophy of Cal Poly students and faculty.

 To meet real-world public sector digital transformation challenges, the DT-Hub will establish innovation communities composed of the practitioners and experts that truly understand the specific problem or opportunity being addressed. California State University (CSU) system, California state and local government expertise, and commercial innovators will be key members of these communities. Together, they will address innovation challenges such as creating more efficient methods for storing and using police body camera data, reducing the cost for agricultural research, and using technology to fight human trafficking.…Read More

Ohio University finds partner to reduce textbook costs for students

Ohio University and Top Hat, a provider of a cloud-based teaching platform for higher education, recently announced a new partnership to expand student access to open educational resources.

Over 36,000 students at Ohio University can now benefit from the adoption of interactive and highly engaging open educational resources (OER) accessed through the Top Hat Marketplace. Ohio University students can realize an estimated savings of $500,000 per semester through the successful adoption of open education resources.

Using Top Hat’s platform, Ohio University faculty can author their own interactive content, create interactive homework, create and administer tests, as well as discover new course content in the Top Hat Marketplace. The Marketplace is a novel and game-changing resource for customizable educational content, allowing professors to publish, share, and collaborate with peers.…Read More

Partnership gives students and career coaches data on career skills needed

InsideTrack, a provider of student success coaching for enrollment, retention, and career development recently announced a partnership with labor market analytics company Emsi to integrate career assessments and real-time employment market data across its coaching solutions.

Coaches will now be better able to guide students through the career exploration and development process and equip them with insights on the knowledge and skills that employers demand, as well as salary projections at the regional and local level.

With the majority of college students citing improved career opportunities as their primary reason for pursuing a credential, leading colleges and universities are responding by integrating career exploration and readiness throughout the student lifecycle. For example, career-centric coaching is quickly becoming an integral part of the enrollment process, to support students in making informed decisions on academic programs and prepare them to take full advantage of career development opportunities once enrolled.…Read More

MIT issues learner-owned digital diplomas on the blockchain

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has issued learner-owned academic credentials on the blockchain. The University’s Digital Diploma Pilot Program allowed a select cohort of students to receive both a paper diploma and a digital diploma anchored to the blockchain. Digital diplomas are encoded using the open-source Blockcerts standard, which was developed by Learning Machine Technologies and the MIT Media Lab.

Speaking to MIT News, Registrar and Senior Associate Mary Callahan said, “From the beginning, one of our primary motivations has been to empower students to be the curators of their own credentials. This pilot makes it possible for them to have ownership of their records and be able to share them in a secure way, with whomever they choose.”

Blockcerts was published under the MIT open source license in 2016, leading to its adoption around the world by companies, governments, and researchers seeking to build their own applications for issuing and verifying documents on the blockchain. It was released prior to any commercial applications in order to avoid a standards war and vendor lock-in, problems common during the early stages of adopting any fundamentally new technology.…Read More