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The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.


Monday, December 11, 2017

AI May Help Screen for Dyslexia

Despite all of technology’s advances and the many data dashboards available to track classroom performance, screening children for dyslexia is still typically conducted using paper tests, whose evaluation can fall prey to subjectivity on the part of teachers.

Lexplore, a Swedish company operating in the U.S. out of Naperville, IL, hopes to employ eye-tracking cameras on computers with artificial intelligence and special algorithms to identify more students with dyslexia who might be missed by the current outmoded, time-consuming method.

The company’s tools analyze patterns in how a subject’s eyes follow words in sequential or nonsequential order as they read. Those at high risk for dyslexia make more right-to-left movements—vs. the more normal left-to-right—and take fewer or no regular pauses during reading.

Although its tech and algorithms are new, Lexplore’s underlying ideas draw on research dating back for decades that indicates tracking eye movements is one of the best ways to gauge reading ability. A 2015 study built a statistical model using eye-tracking that could identify dyslexia with more than 80% accuracy.

Two of Lexplore’s co-founders published their own study in 2016 that claimed an even higher success rate of 95.3% using their own technology, which is now in use across the city of Stockholm’s municipal education board.

In the U.S., Lexplore is still fine-tuning its business model and has so far only been tested in a handful of private schools in the Atlanta area.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Arizona Creates New Learning Environment

A college classroom with the lecturer in front addressing students seated at rows of desks may no longer be the best way to deliver a quality education. In fact, research done at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point found the lecture model is outdated for the digital natives now on campus.

To address the issue, the University of Arizona, Tucson, began investigating evidence-based learning and launched a pilot that used objective data to design courses featuring shorter lectures and class activities. The next step was a collaborative learning space (CLS), a large room with portable furniture and tabletop whiteboards that allow students to interact easily with each other.

“Faculty across campus began seeking out opportunities to teach in our CLS,” Jane Hunter, director of academic resources and special projects, wrote in a column for eCampus News. “They tried new strategies they had never been able to successfully implement. They found new joy in teaching which, in turn, ignited students with a passion for learning.”

From that first CLS, the University of Arizona now has 20, ranging in size to accommodate from 24 to 264 students. The new rooms serve 210 faculty members from 60 departments.

“I am trying new ideas in the collaborative learning space that I have never tried in my 10 years of teaching. It has been fun for me,” said Richard Harper, who teaches in the School of Government and Public Policy at Arizona. “The classroom has become a ‘partner’ in the learning process.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

CM-X Probes Strategies to Trim Textbook Cost

While the issue of higher education affordability simmers, some point to required course materials as a cost that could be reduced without undermining students’ learning. As the campus information hub for course materials, college bookstores must stay on top of new formats, programs, and practices.

The second Course Materials eXperience (CM-X) will help course materials specialists and store managers become knowledgeable about new developments and operational efficiencies to keep costs down for students. CM-X is a concentrated track within Campus Market Expo (CAMEX) hosted by NACS in Dallas, TX.

CM-X opens with a networking event on Friday evening, March 2, and then moves into a full day of educational presentations, roundtable discussions, and a working lunch. As a followup to last year’s CM-X publisher panel, a new group of executives from the major textbook publishers will offer their thoughts on how the industry is evolving. Other sessions will explore inclusive-access programs, open educational resources, hybrid course materials, and modernizing course materials management.

The program wraps up Sunday at the CAMEX trade show with more presentations in the Course Materials Theater, visits with suppliers of academic materials and technologies in the Course Materials Pavilion, and networking in the Course Materials Collaboration Lounge. CM-X registrants are welcome to return to the show on Monday and Tuesday.

CM-X registrants also have an opportunity to attend a bonus Friday session about course materials leadership on campus. Prior to CAMEX, a webinar exploring faculty and students perspectives on course materials will prepare registrants for the in-person event.

Visit Course Materials eXperience for program details and registration information. Register by Jan. 12 to receive early-bird discount pricing.

Friday, December 1, 2017

New Tech Lets Users Tap Out Messages

A new wearable gadget makes it possible for users to compose, edit, and send messages, texts, and emails by simply tapping their fingers. Tap is a one-handed device made up of five interconnected rings that converts any surface into a keyboard and works with smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, computers, or virtual-reality headsets.

It takes users about an hour to learn the basics through the TapGenius mobile app, according to manufacturer Tap Systems. It works with most Bluetooth-enabled devices and is usable for eight hours on a single charge.

“Tapping your fingers is much faster, more precise, and more rich in combinations than any gesture system that has ever been developed,” said Ran Poliakin, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Tap Systems.