Reforming higher education: when online degrees are seen as official


In early 2012, leading minds from Harvard, Stanford and M.I.T. started three companies to provide Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.  They were open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection, no cost, millions of students signed up, and pundits called it a revolution.  The technology was supposed to transform higher education. What happened?   Continue reading… “Reforming higher education: when online degrees are seen as official”


A 3D printing breakthrough: 3D printed biological tissue

3d printing

Multimaterial 3-D printing – a complex lattice using different inks.

3D printing capabilities are rather limited despite the excitement that 3-D printing has generated. It can be used to make complex shapes, but most commonly only out of plastics. Even manufacturers using an advanced version of the technology known as additive manufacturing typically have expanded the material palette only to a few types of metal alloys. But what if 3-D printers could use a wide assortment of different materials, from living cells to semiconductors, mixing and matching the “inks” with precision?



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Harvard and MIT make a strong case for MOOCs


MOOCs can make a meaningful difference even if we don’t yet know what that will look like.

Harvard and MIT have made a compelling case for the potential benefits of massively open online courses, or MOOCs despite low completion rates. They released a draft of a working paper that is rich on data about their respective HarvardX and MITx courses and focuses on what has always been a faulty focal point of many MOOC criticisms. In a free, online environment, completion rates are vastly overrated.



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Researchers develop self-cooling windows

Self-cooling windows let in the sunshine without the heat.

Homeowners love a lot of windows in their homes that let in a lot of sunlight.  But those windows can also mean higher air conditioning bills since they absorb heat but don’t tend to cool themselves, until now. Harvard researchers have created self-cooling windows.


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Researchers at Harvard find creative way to make incentives work


Incentives like employee bonus pay, app badges, student grades, and even lunch with President Obama are all the rage. Despite their widespread use, most research finds that incentives are terrible at improving performance in the long-run on anything but mindless rote tasks, because the fixation on prizes clouds our creative thinking. However, a new Harvard study of teachers found that a novel approach to incentive scould dramatically improve student performance: give teachers a reward upfront and threaten to take it away if performance doesn’t actually improve. Exploiting the so-called “loss-aversion” tendency could open the door to creative incentivizing for software designers and managers.



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Big Think launches the Floating University e-learning platform

worlds best educations

What’s the Big Idea?  What if the world’s greatest thinkers and leading practitioners all taught at the same school? What if anyone, anywhere could enroll in this school? This fall, Big Think is proud to announce the launch of The Floating University, a new educational media venture that creates and distributes online multimedia curricula featuring the best experts, scholars and professionals that the world has to offer.


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