Articles

A Technologist Spent Years Building an AI Chatbot Tutor. He Decided It Can’t Be Done. Fast Company | EdSurge
Companies and technologists are rushing to apply the latest AI chatbots to fulfill the long-held dream of building a personalized digital tutor. But at least one longtime AI developer argues that it isn’t possible, and that the best use of AI is to assist human tutors and teachers, not replace them.

Some Schools Are Changing How They Grade Students. Here’s Why Some Parents Are Upset. USA Today | EdSurge
Many schools have moved to standards-based grading systems that are meant to shift emphasis away from winning points on tests and homework in favor of stressing student mastery of material. But some parents and educators have pushed back, worried that students get the message that homework no longer matters.

We Wondered If NFTs Could Change Education, So We Decided to Sell This Article on the Blockchain EdSurge
With all the hype around NFTs, it was tough to get basic details about how this technology works and why it is getting so much attention (and why some artists and athletes are making millions selling them). So we decided to make our own NFT to document the process and explore its potential in the education sector. Won an award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors

Who Gets Left Out of ‘Bootstrapping’? The Hustle
A popular phrase among startup founders raises issues of social justice.

When the SAT Feels Like a Lock, Not a Key The Chronicle of Higher Education

Who is the SAT really for, is it fair, and how does it trade on notions of merit?

This New 2-Year College Is Unlike Any Other. And That Could Be Its Biggest Challenge. EdSurge
A president in magician’s robe. A degree in “Self & Society.” A tiny house. Can a university be any more Portland? Here’s a deep look at @WayfindingAcad, a crowdfunded, experimental college.

The New Frontier in Online Education. Slate | EdSurge
Meet the Microcredential.

Coding Boot Camp Closures Prove There Are No Shortcuts in Education Slate | EdSurge
EdSurge article that also ran on Slate. Part of a series on the future of coding boot camps.

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

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.

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?

A Conversation With Bill Gates About the Future of Higher Education The Chronicle of Higher Education

I sat down for an interview with Bill Gates about views on tech in education. The interview was excerpted on NPR’s Marketplace podcast.

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.

What Happened When The Chronicle Sat Down With Steve Jobs Back in 1998 The Chronicle of Higher Education
I interviewed Steve Jobs early in my journalism career.

Caught Between the Moon and a Jug of Cheese Puffs, New Scientist
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.

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.

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.

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