My Move to EdSurge

What’s it like to jump from a 50-year-old media organization to a 5-year-old Web pub that describes itself as “scrappy”? I’m about to find out.

I’ve joined EdSurge as a senior writer, to help expand its coverage of higher education. Big challenges ahead, and I’m excited for that, though I’ll miss my colleagues at The Chronicle of Higher Education, who had become like family over the years.

My first piece for EdSurge: an interview with Sherry Turkle, which sparked a response by leading teaching-and-learning folks. I continue to believe that it’s a change moment for teaching at colleges, and I look forward to covering, and having an impact on, the future of education.

To follow my stories (and the rest of EdSurge higher ed coverage), sign up for the weekly newsletter.

Re:Learning Podcast Kicks Off


Today we’re launching a new weekly podcast on the future of education: The Re:Learning Podcast.

For the first episode, I sat down with Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, who talked about his ideas for how to change college. You can subscribe on iTunes or follow on Stitcher or Soundcloud. Look for new episodes each week (some hosted by me, some by my colleague, Goldie Blumenstyk). Subscribe on iTunes here! http://bit.ly/relearningpod

‘Professor You’ Talk at SXSW Interactive

Many people have an outdated view of teaching — believing that only high-level experts should teach at the college level or that only career teachers should offer instruction in schools. But teaching is now happening fast and informally online, and today anyone can teach using free tools to make courses. And a shadow learning economy has emerged online that students are increasingly turning to. Teaching is becoming a 21st century skill for all of us.

Below are the slides from my talk at SXSWinteractive:

And here are some of the articles that formed the background for the talk:
Here Comes Professor Everybody
The New Rock-Star Professor
The Student Becomes the Teacher
Boom in Online Tutoring Means Another Cost for Many Students
Beyond the MOOC Hype

Why Commercial Tutoring Could Be Called the ‘Grade-Enhancement Industry’

For-profit tutoring companies are targeting students with online ads these days, and the message is tempting. Why spend so long studying, the ads say, when paid tutors or study guides can help you get better grades with less work? One ad for Studypool, an Uber for tutoring that is one of many new for-profit study-help sites, shows a split screen of two photographs. On one side, a student sits in a library, under the caption “Didn’t ask Studypool”; on the other side, two students lie on the beach in bikinis, with the caption “Asked Studypool.” Students are buying it, sometimes paying hundreds of dollars a year in the search to better their grades.

Introducing the Re:Learning Project

We’ve just launched a new project at The Chronicle of Higher Education to track what we’re calling the New Education Landscape. Colleges are changing how they operate and how they teach, under pressure from lawmakers, parents, and students to respond to new economic realities. And new players are emerging—start-ups backed by record Silicon Valley investment, deep-pocketed foundations set on reform, and academic outsiders using platforms that let anyone teach courses.

I’m leading this ReLearning effort and writing a column for it — my first piece attempts to explain a big-data trend called “learning analytics” and explore how it might change the role of the professor. But the best part is that Re:Learning has a strong roster of other contributors, mainly ace Chronicle reporter Goldie Blumenstyk, as well as op-eds from key thought leaders.

We’re trying to make these pieces accessible and lively — inspired by NPR’s Planet Money. And we’re also trying to build a community of readers — hoping to be a digital hub for people at colleges as well as folks at ed-tech companies and foundations to talk to each other — and get past the hypers versus haters debates that often go on around these topics to talk about how to help real students succeed.

You can even vote on what we should tackle next.

And I’ll be co-hosting a podcast as well — which will kick off in February.

Please check out what we’re up to, and jump in to the discussion. And the biggest concrete thing you can do to help is Like our page on Facebook.

Here Comes Professor Everybody

I presented at SXSWedu in Austin on the quiet rise of teaching marketplaces and what they mean for the future of education. This gave me a chance to share some fresh thoughts about how teaching is changing as market forces come to higher education in a new way. The Ithaka blog picked it up, as well as a blog mention here.

Here’s the article on which the talk is based.

I’ll upload the audio from the talk as soon as it is posted.

My (Short) E-Book: Beyond the MOOC Hype

MOOC_Book_jpgSebastian Thrun wasn’t wearing pants when he recorded the intro video for his first free online course. | The academics who coined the term MOOC can’t stand the style of courses that the acronym is now applied to. | People have been claiming that technology would automate eduction for decades (largely without much success). Those are just a few of the many details I learned researching a short e-book about Massive Open Online Courses. It blends stories and analysis of how free blockbuster online courses could change colleges as we know them. It’s now available on Amazon, published by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I focus on six basic questions:

* What Is a MOOC?
* Where Did MOOCs Come From?
* What Is the Business Model?
* Will MOOCs Change Campus Teaching?
* Why Do Some Educators Object to Free Courses?
* Do MOOCs Work?

I argue that MOOCs are not just another passing fad, but the free courses have touched off a battle over what the future of higher education should look like.

* Adapted Excerpt in Slate: Should Celebrities Teach Online Courses

* Excerpt in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Will MOOCs Change Campus Teaching

* Interview in Education Dive: The Future of MOOCs

* Review by Sir John Daniel, author of Mega-Schools, Technology and Teachers: “his thoughtful commentary on the frenzied phenomenon of MOOCs remains highly relevant to decision makers grappling with its implications for their institutions.”

* Blog post by Langdon Winner: “An excellent, brief discussion of a variety of programs and projects in MOOC development currently underway. “

Fellowship Year. Nieman + Berkman

Nieman_foundationMy latest assignment: Step back from daily deadlines to think more big-picture. I’m grateful for the chance to spend a year at Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow for journalism. My study plan is to look at MOOCs and the future of teaching and learning. Watch this space for updates…

I’m also serving as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, a diverse gathering of folks exploring the development of cyberspace. If you’re in the Boston/Cambridge area, stop by the Berkman open house on Monday, Sept. 9.

Meet Your New Robot Co-Worker


The next wave of robots could change the meaning of work. I visited a robotics trade show in Chicago to meet some next-generation robots that have ignited a debate about whether automation threatens too many jobs today. This piece is part of a cover package in this week’s Chronicle Review on the New Industrial Revolution.

The Object Formerly Known as the Textbook


Digital products and cost pressures may rewrite the notion of ‘required text.’ A look at the radical ways that textbooks are changing.