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technology and innovation

The news from campuses around the nation is clear: as a concentration for study, the humanities have seen better days. That's what makes a two-year-old project at Boston College so interesting. At the Heights, it's the English Department that's pioneering technological change.

You may not be in college anymore, but that doesn’t mean you have to be done learning. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are free online versions of collegiate classes, from some of the best universities and professors in the world.

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are classes that anyone can take anywhere in the world -- for free. They've grown increasingly popular, but does that popularity threaten traditional higher education? 

College for America is an online degree program with no classes, no professors, and no credit hours. Offered through Southern New Hampshire University, the $10,000 degree program relies on students' skills to award credit. The program was recently featured as part of PBS NewsHour's Rethinking College series.

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Summer melt. That's what college counselors call it when high school students make a tuition deposit at the end of their senior year, but don't start their freshman year in college. It's a major problem in the U.S., especially for low-income, first generation college students. Now, a Boston-based nonprofit is taking a tech-savvy approach to combat summer melt.

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College administrators and IT geeks are descending on Boston this week to discuss how the expanding role of technology in education is changing teaching and learning on college campuses. The 21st annual Campus Technology conference opened on Tuesday at the Hynes Convention Center, giving young start-ups the chance to push products that could shape the next generation of high-tech in higher education.

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If you had the opportunity, would you attend a college that sends you around the world to live in world-class cities while taking all of your classes online? The Minerva Project is a university that is raising eyebrows with its non-traditional approach.

A trial run of new online tests in Massachusetts has received mixed reviews from the state’s educators. Although some school district officials say they’re confident they’ll be able to handle the shift to computer-based testing if it becomes mandatory in two years, others worry that technical problems on the local level will make the results meaningless.

In March and May, nearly 70,000 randomly selected students in Massachusetts took the new tests, which are meant to be aligned with Common Core standards now in place in 43 states. Hundreds of thousands of other students in 13 other states were also part of the trial run of the exam, which is known as PARCC, for the multi-state consortium that designed it, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Traditionally, college students earn credit for how many hours they spend in a classroom. But a different approach gives credit based on how much you know -- and know how to do. As the cost of college soars, proponents say competency-based education could save students and employers thousands.

The demand for computer science majors is booming. Even at traditionally liberal arts institutions, students who want to learn how to code are flocking to colleges and universities. It's almost hard to believe that the field wasn't even considered a real major back in the 1960s. 

In Cambridge this week, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is celebrating 50 years of computing and the birth of a new field.

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