Academic Technology Links for April 12, 2013


There’s a lot of news in the world of academic technology this week, so I’ve organized the links into a few categories.  The links include MOOCs (of course), discussions over computerized essay grading, and miscellany about big-brother digital textbook tools and MLA’s guidelines for IT access and support. Enjoy!

MOOCs! …and Other Online Learning

A couple of obligatory MOOC-related links:  Warming Up to MOOCs on ProfHacker is an interesting post about being a consumer of MOOCs rather than a producer of MOOCs.

A PBS News Hour video How Free Online Courses Are Changing the Traditional Liberal Arts Education gives a good overview on the world of MOOCs for the layperson.  The transcript of the video is available also via the link if you’d like to skim it instead of watching.

Study Finds Testing Helps Students Retain Information Taught Online — more studies that suggest that even simple assessment embedded into a lecture can help to increase student retention.

Almost as fast as Stanford announced Class2Go as its open-source online course delivery system, it’s changing into something else: Stanford is developing new open-source software along with edX to deliver MOOCs, and Class2Go will be merging with edX’s course-delivery software.

Online Learning: Exploring the Possible is a collection of excellent reflective videos on online learning at Stanford.

The Debate on Computerized Essay Grading

Can a Computer Grade an Essay? is a 30-minute Radio Boston episode about computer-graded essays. It’s an interesting introduction to the current discussions of this issue.

More information is available at Professionals Against Machine Scoring of Student Essays in High-Stakes Assessment and Professors Angry over Essays Marked by Computer. From the latter: “The group’s petition [against computerized grading] says: ‘Let’s face the realities of automatic essay scoring. Computers cannot ‘read’. They cannot measure the essentials of communication; accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organisation, clarity and veracity, among others.'”

This article from the New York Times which takes a much different attitude towards computerized grading by addressing its labor-saving potential.

And from NPR: Computers Grade Essays Fast … But Not Always Well.


Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading — An article that discusses Texas A&M’s use of tools provided for digital textbooks that can provide information about how students are using their textbooks.

The MLA has updated their Guidelines for Information Technology Access and Support for the Modern Languages — the guidelines include both suggestions for IT departments (I like this one: “Recognize that adapting to and adopting new IT is a nontrivial task”) and for scholars of modern languages (this one is good: “Recognize academic technology staff members as vital collaborators”).

About Kim Mann

Kim Mann is the editor and a writer for the Academic Technology Blog. She earned her BA in English from the University of Minnesota in 2003 and her MA in American Studies from William & Mary in 2009, and her PhD in American Studies at the College in 2014. Her research is on technology, the interface, and the body in mid-twentieth century science fiction.