Academic Tech News, Week of 8/4

In case you missed it – a snapshot of this week’s academic tech news from around the web.

Are Courses Outdated? MIT Considers Offering ‘Modules’ Instead

“However, the underlying facts are inarguable: that the rising cost of education, combined with the transformative potential of online teaching and learning technologies, presents a long-term challenge that no university can afford to ignore.”
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All Things in Modulation

“The goal is to bring more voices into the MOOC, rather than relying only on the voices of a few instructors, so that the expertise of a much broader community is reflected in the course,” Jesse Stommel, the assistant professor of liberal studies and the arts who teaches the course, said in an email. “The measure of success for this Virtual Shakespeare MOOC (or any MOOC) is if it builds a persistent community that continues to interact after the course is over.”
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Why This Professor Is Encouraging Facebook Use in His Classroom

“In short, Mr. Dougherty says, the class’s Facebook group helped “turn 250 strangers that happen to sit in a class together into a community.”
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Tech Basics for Active, Collaborative Learning

“While every active-learning classroom is unique — based on the physical space itself and the needs of students and faculty — there are features common to many of them. Typically, the instructor has a podium at the center of the room. Surrounding the podium are large, round tables that each seat six to nine students. Movable chairs allow students to easily shift between small groups of three to larger groups of six or nine. Each student table may have its own large display or interactive whiteboard for collaborative work and sharing, and many of the rooms also feature writable walls, where students can collaborate on virtually any vertical surface in the room.”
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Jeremy Hessman


  1. I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but I got VERY positive responses from students re: using Pinterest and Twitter for class last year so I am putting a bigger emphasis on that this year, and I am excited to see what might result. Here’s where I explain the new Pinterest/Twitter options to the students, along with some thoughts about why building online PRESENCE is so important for an online class:
    I know I’ve benefited a lot from my use of Twitter and Pinterest for creating online presence and also for connecting and sharing with others. I hope the students will find these options fun and useful too! I am really enjoying the new Twitter stream I created just for my classes. I like the way that Twitter makes it so easy to maintain multiple streams, and so too with multiple Boards at Pinterest. That’s one reason why I prefer these tools over Facebook; it’s easy to focus on different aspects of your online identity so that you can think about what works for school, what works for work, what works for purely personal stuff, etc.
    Anyway, I’m excited: the more online presence people can have in an online course, the better the course will be for both instructors and students. 🙂

    • Becky Weintz

      Thanks Laura, this is a great resource and sounds like a great learning experience for students. I wish all online classes would have this component. I may have to use some of this assignment for my class this fall! Hard to believe that back to school is already here.

      • School is starting SO EARLY… I would have figured August 25, not August 18. When I opened the classes early, though, plenty of students showed up this week. I’ve got about 25 blogs so far… and a few Pinterest Boards. I am so excited about the Pinterest since it is a really beautiful tool. I’ll let you know how it goes. Optimistic!!!

  2. Nice article about the positive effects of using Facebook in an academic setting. Thanks for sharing, Becky!