​Readers’ Roundup: EdSurge HigherEd’s Top 10 Articles of 2017

Higher Education

​Readers’ Roundup: EdSurge HigherEd’s Top 10 Articles of 2017

By Sydney Johnson     Jan 1, 2018

​Readers’ Roundup: EdSurge HigherEd’s Top 10 Articles of 2017

New years mean clean slates, fresh perspectives and goal setting for the months ahead. At EdSurge, we’re setting our own sights high for 2018, but that starts by taking a look at what our higher-ed community liked the most from this year.

We’ve rounded up our 10 most popular articles from 2017, as picked by our readers. So what were some of the most popular themes? Microcredentials, and controversial moves and pivots by edtech companies hoping to disrupt the higher education landscape.

Here’s the 2017 countdown, from #10 to #1.

10. A Starter Kit For Instructional Designers

When EdSurge columnist Amy Ahearn graduated from college in 2008, she had never heard of instructional design—let alone anticipate that she would soon have a career in it. Ahearn, an online learning manager for +Acumen, shares eight lessons learned about the field with a starter kit of what every hopeful instructional designer should know. Here’s a sneak peek at lesson one: Start with a deep understanding of your learners.

9. Amazon Inspire Goes Live (But Without Controversial Share Feature)

Nearly a year after Amazon launched its Inspire project, which was touted as a hub for educators to exchange lesson plans and other open education resources, the site still remained in limited, invitation-only beta. A few weeks after EdSurge probed the company about the silence, Amazon opened up the resource library to the public. Well, at least partially open. Amazon Inspire is still missing its most controversial feature—the ability for any teacher to share lesson plans, worksheets and other materials with colleagues.

8. Coursera to Charge Fees for Previously Free Courses

Once hailed as a portal for free learning materials, accessible to anyone with an internet connection, Coursera announced this year plans to charge if learners want to submit assignments to be graded for certain courses. According to a company spokesperson, these fees are applicable for “the vast majority of courses that are part of Specializations as well as for a small selection of courses outside of Specializations.” Prices for these courses range from $29 to $99, and financial aid is available.

7. How a Flipped Syllabus, Twitter and YouTube Made This Professor Teacher of the Year

How do you win Faculty Member of the Year 13 times in a row? “You have to use video,” says Virginia Tech’s John Boyer, who posts his geography lectures on YouTube and holds live online office hours. His legendary assignments range from reviewing films to tweeting on behalf of world leaders. In a Q&A, Boyer discusses his flipped syllabus, integrating technology into course design, and why an easy A requires a lot of hard work.

6. Students Say They Are Not as Tech Savvy as Educators Assume

A love for avocado lattes and Snapchat filters are just a few of the stereotypes following Millennials these days. But students are now pushing back on these generational generalizations—especially the assumption that they’re all “digital natives” who can wield any tech tool with ease. Several students dropped a bombshell at the New Media Consortium summer conference last June, telling educators they are not as tech-savvy as society paints them as. They say it is time to dispel the millennial stereotype because assumptions educators make about their capabilities can hurt students academically.

5. As Corporate World Moves Towards Curated ‘Microlearning,” Higher Ed Must Adapt

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. These days corporate learning and development programs are looking for “bite-sized training” and curating learning materials that already exist. Sean Gallagher, executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, argues that colleges should pay attention, and respond to the changing needs of employers. He writes: “Higher-education institutions have a major opportunity to play a role in the new corporate L&D landscape beyond simply course delivery, assessment and credentialing.”

4. More Colleges Are Offering Microcredentials—And Developing Them The Way Businesses Make New Products

A few years ago elite universities were frantically jumping into MOOCs. These days the question for many institutions is whether to offer a microdegree online, in the form of a certificate or “MicroMasters” or other short-form graduate degrees. EdX and Coursera are leading the way, but traditional schools like MIT are adding their own take as well. Mitchell Stevens, an education professor at Stanford, says there’s an “ongoing negotiation” around credentials right now about which ones will be most valuable to employers.

3. How Teaching Using Mindfulness or Growth Mindset Can Backfire

Art Markman is an expert on what makes people tick. He is not against meditation—indeed, he believes that taking steps to slow down and reflect without snap self-judgment can have benefits. But the psychology professor at UT Austin also points out that such practices are not always universally positive. His latest insights, shared on our EdSurge podcast, might just change how you think about things like growth mindset, comprehensive testing and encouraging students to make mistakes.

2. Udacity Official Declares MOOCs ‘Dead’ (Though the Company Still Offers Them)

When Udacity’s Clarissa Shen declared MOOCs “dead” and a “failed product,” it raised big questions about the model’s viability, along with Udacity’s plans for the future. As the industry shifts toward paid “nanodegrees,” the future of the free, open course looks uncertain, even as the company says they have no immediate plans to discontinue them.

1.What Happened to Google's Effort to Scan Millions of University Library Books?

Early last decade Google started its ambitious project to scan all the world’s books. It got to about 25 million titles before copyright challenges and lawsuits slowed the program significantly. But for now those works are still partially available and searchable. For universities and researchers, it’s radically altered the way they interact with Big Data on a daily basis.

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