Articles

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Double Win: Educating Syrians to be Teachers Al-Fanar Media
Freelance article written during a week-long reporting trip to Lebanon.

How to Combat Fake News Online? Bring Reddit (and Other Online Forums) Into the Classroom. EdSurge
Training students—and scholars—to navigate the online world & combat misinformation.

Why Udacity and EdX Want to Trademark the Degrees of the Future—and What’s at Stake for Students EdSurge
No one owns the term “master’s degree.” But MicroMasters, Nanodegrees and MicroDegrees? Those are all trademarked by upstart education providers that dream of locking down the words for the next generation of online graduate certificates. If every new credential gets its own proprietary name, will students and employers be able to figure out what they all mean?

This Chart Shows the Promise and Limits of ‘Learning Analytics’ The Chronicle of Higher Education
Data about how students learn could open new vistas in education, if only instructors can figure out how to use it.

Here Comes Professor Everybody The Chronicle Review
The ‘sharing economy’ meets higher education.

When a Flipped-Classroom Pioneer Hands Off His Video Lectures, This Is What Happens The Chronicle of Higher Education
At Brigham Young University, an accounting professor became something of a rock star on camera. Then he retired.

What MIT Learned From a Mongolian Teenager Who Aced a MOOC Slate
Over the past year, a boy genius from Mongolia has been schooling MIT on how to improve the elite institution’s free online courses.

The New Rock-Star Professor Slate
Free online courses do big numbers these days. So-called MOOCs, or massive open online courses, typically get tens of thousands of sign-ups to watch video lectures delivered by tweedy academics, some more photogenic than others. But imagine how many students would tune in—or make it through the class without dropping out—if instead of bookish professors, Hollywood stars delivered the lessons.

Dozens of Plagiarism Incidents Are Reported in Coursera’s Free Online Courses The Chronicle of Higher Education
Students are cheating in Massive Open Online Courses even though they carry no credit. Plagiarism-detection software might be coming soon to these free classes. My coverage sparked commentaries in Slate and other news sites and led Coursera to add a new honor-code prompt to try to curb cheating.

Inside the Coursera Contract: How an Upstart Company Might Profit From Free Courses The Chronicle of Higher Education
I obtained the agreement between Coursera and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, using a freedom of information request. Coursera has been operating for only a few months, but the company has already persuaded some of the world’s best-known universities to offer free courses through its online platform. Colleges that usually move at a glacial pace are rushing into deals with the upstart company. what exactly have they signed up for?

Should Video Games Be Considered Art? New Scientist
The cultural stronghold of gaming – now a $25 billion industry – is undisputed, but the earliest game creators saw themselves primarily as computer programmers or engineers. And those among them who do see their work as art are seldom exhibiting on the gallery circuit.

Merit Badges for the Job Market, The Wall Street Journal
What if employers didn’t care whether applicants held a college diploma but instead asked what educational “badges” they had collected? Like Boy Scout merit badges for professionals, these marks of achievement would show competence in specific skills, and they could be granted by any number of institutions. This is the vision of a growing number of education reformers who feel that the standard certification system no longer works in today’s fast-changing job market.

Longform

The Unabomber’s Pen Pal, The Chronicle Review
The Unabomber’s warnings about the dehumanizing nature of technology are popping up in more and more serious books and articles these days—even if most of the writers don’t cite the infamous killer directly. What can be learned from the Unabomber?

Programmed for Love: The Unsettling Future of Robotics, The Chronicle Review
Imagine standing in front of a robot, gazing into its wide, plastic eyes, and falling in love. Your heart revs up, and you hope this Other—this humanoid machine—turns your way again, tilts its head in interest, likes you back. It happened one summer to Sherry Turkle, at a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is a professor studying the impact of technology on society.

The Rise of Crowd Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Alexander S. Szalay is a well-regarded astronomer, but he hasn’t peered through a telescope in nearly a decade. Instead, the professor of physics and astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University learned how to write software code, build computer servers, and stitch millions of digital telescope images into a sweeping panorama of the universe. Along the way, thanks to a friendship with a prominent computer scientist, he helped reinvent the way astronomy is studied, guiding it from a largely solo pursuit to a discipline in which sharing is the norm.

A Berkeley Engineer Searches for the ‘Truth’ About the Twin Towers, collected in Best of Technology Writing 2007
When the World Trade Center’s burning south tower crumbled to the ground five years ago, just 56 minutes after terrorists crashed a Boeing 767 passenger jet into its upper floors, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl’s horror was mixed with professional surprise. As a professor of structural engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and an expert on steel structures, he thought that the buildings should have stood longer, even after such a catastrophic impact, and that the collapse should not have been so nearly vertical.

In College Admissions, Princeton Decided It Couldn’t Stand Alone: Early Admission, Take Two, Princeton Alumni Weekly
Today, many students view college admissions as a game. Princeton had hoped to stop the gamesmanship when it decided in 2006 to end the early-admission program for the class entering in 2008, along with Harvard University and the University of Virginia. But this spring Princeton reversed course, reinstating an early-admission program. What happened? And where does this leave today’s students and parents?

The Mud-Wrestling Media Maven From MIT, The Chronicle Review
If this profile of Henry Jenkins III were a YouTube video, it would begin with footage of the influential scholar mud-wrestling his wife at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If it were a podcast, the introduction would note that Jenkins has been called the Marshall McLuhan of the 21st century. And if this were an interactive graphic, it would trace the millions of dollars in research grants he has won from foundations, companies, and the government of Singapore. Any of those media would be a fitting way to tell the story of a scholar who is at the forefront of exploring how digital technologies are reshaping popular culture. But just as Jenkins still reveres words on paper (and online), so too does much of his story lend itself to good old ink on paper.

Blogging

Caught Between the Moon and a Jug of Cheese Puffs, New Scientist’s Culture Lab
Entering a new exhibit in Washington, DC’s Corcoran Gallery of Art is like walking into a movie mash-up of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and National Lampoon’s Animal House.

College 2.0 in Asia, Wired Campus
I filed dispatches from wired classrooms and high-tech research labs in Singapore, China, South Korea, and India during a month-long reporting trip to Asia.

Reviews

Taking Video Games Seriously, as Art and Product The New York Times
“Trigger Happy: Video Games and the Entertainment Revolution” is both an eloquent rationalization for the guilty pleasures of video gaming and a persuasive argument for taking electronic games seriously as an art form worthy of critical attention.

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