News Update
Breaking Stories in Higher Ed 2/13/2018


  • Bundles and Access Codes Destroy Efforts to Cut Textbook Pricing

    The practice of faculty relying on bundled textbooks and, specifically, access-code materials to provide course problem sets, quizzes, tests and case studies, has wreaked havoc with student efforts to find cheaper textbook alternatives. According to a new report from the Student PIRGs, among a sample group of schools, 45 percent of these supplemental resources were unavailable from any source other than the campus bookstore. As the report's authors noted, the use of those bundles, which exist behind paywalls, eliminates the ability of students to "shop around," which means they're "forced to pay full price for these materials." They also can't resell their textbooks because the access codes typically have expiration dates.

  • Flipping with Short Lab Videos May Help Students Learn in Science Courses

    Flipping a science course, by having students watch videos first to learn basic concepts and step-by-step procedures for doing lab work, can improve the outcomes. That's the finding of an experiment run at DeSales and Clemson Universities in a research project sponsored by a journal publisher that produces such videos. The project was undertaken by TERC, a nonprofit STEM education research and development organization, on behalf of the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

  • Educators, Policymakers Say Problem Solving is Important, Not Emphasized in School

    Nearly all educators and policymakers say that it's important for students to learn creative problem-solving skills in school, but approximately two-thirds say that current curricula do not emphasize creative problem solving enough, according to a new report out this week.

  • Researchers Land Nearly $600,000 to Study Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

    Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Manhattan College and California Polytechnic State University have won $556,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the ethics of self-driving cars. Dubbed "Ethical Algorithms in Autonomous Vehicles," the project has two main goals: The development of ethical algorithms for use in self-driving cars; and development of a model of the projected health outcomes resulting from the implementation of their algorithms.


  • UC San Diego Opens Outdoor Drone Test Facility

    The University of California San Diego has opened a new aerodrome for research into unmanned aerial vehicles. The 2,500-square-foot outdoor facility is designed "to create a living laboratory for unmanned aerial vehicles by bringing together researchers from across campus, including computer scientists, structural, mechanical, aerospace, electrical and computer engineers and scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography," according to a UCSD news release.

  • Blackboard LMSes to Add Day-One Access to VitalSource Catalog

    Shortly, colleges and universities that use the Blackboard Learn or Moodlerooms learning management systems will also be able to offer "day-one access" to digital curriculum for their students, through an agreement between Blackboard and VitalSource. Under the terms, faculty will be able to select content from VitalSource's catalog of digital textbooks and make them available to students on the company's digital textbook platform through their LMS from the first day of class.

  • Knewton Releases $44 Adaptive Digital Textbooks

    Ed tech company Knewton has launched a collection of digital courseware that integrates its adaptive technology with open education resources, with the intention of selling directly to instructors and students. Previously, the company licensed its adaptive functionality to textbook publishers for integration with their course content. Under the new strategy, the company noted, it could own "all aspects of the user experience" and "make a greater impact on outcomes and affordability." Each title in the new line costs $44 for two years of digital access.

  • New Online Proctoring Service Launches in the U.S.

    One of the founders and former CEO of online proctoring company ProctorU, Don Kassner, is launching a new venture: MonitorEDU, an online proctoring service powered by technology from ProctorExam. Kassner created Proctor U in 2008 with colleague Jarrod Morgan while serving as president of Andrew Jackson University, and left the company in 2016.

  • Virtual Campus Tour Incorporates Photorealistic Views, Video Commentary

    A new virtual tour and interactive map at the Stevens Institute of Technology combines photorealistic views 3D-rendered structures to provide an immersive way to "visit" the 55-acre New Jersey campus. Anyone with an internet connection can access the map, which is enhanced with videos, images and links to additional information.

  • Gustavus Adolphus College Science Hall Renovation to Marry STEM, Arts

    Gustavus Adolphus College is launching a $70-million renovation and expansion of its Nobel Hall of Science with an eye toward emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of liberal arts education. "The combination of traditional STEM disciplines with the arts is consistent with the growing STEAM education movement that produces well-rounded students who are prepared to drive innovation," according to information released by the college.


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