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Will a Harvard Professor's New Technology Make College Lectures a Thing of the Past?

Thanks to Learning Catalytics, the "flipped classroom" and peer learning could revolutionize higher education.


Another sign that the college lecture might be dying: Harvard University physics professor Eric Mazur is championing the "flipped classroom," a model where information traditionally transferred during lectures is learned on a student's own time, and classroom time is spent discussing and applying knowledge to real-world situations. To make it easy for professors to transition out of lecture mode, Mazur has developed Learning Catalytics, an interactive software that enables them to make the most of student interactions and maximize the retention of knowledge.

Mazur sold attendees at the recent Building Learning Communities conference on this new approach by first asking them to identify something they're good at, and then having them explain how they mastered it. After the crowd shared, Mazur pointed out that no one said they'd learned by listening to lectures. Similarly, Mazur said, college students don't learn by taking notes during a lecture and then regurgitating information. They need to be able to discuss concepts, apply them to problems and get real-time feedback. Mazur says Learning Catalytics enables this process to take place.

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Harvard Academic Starts Initiative to Boost Accuracy of Wikipedia's Psychology Articles

Harvard psychology professor Mahzarin Banaji is behind an effort to get psychology academics editing content on the online encyclopedia.

With more than 18 million articles and 365 million visitors every month, Wikipedia is the king of online references. Academics have long been critical of its accuracy, but, other than a few isolated efforts, scholars haven't been too involved in improving article quality. But, thanks to Harvard University psychology professor Mahzarin R. Banaji, that might just change for the site's psychology content. Banaji's created the APS Wikipedia Initiative, an effort to get the 25,000 members of the Association for Psychological Science to take responsibility for representing the discipline "as fully and as accurately as possible and thereby to promote the free teaching of psychology worldwide."

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The Most Literate American Cities Are College Towns

Amazon's ranked its top 20 most well-read cities according to book sales, and college towns are winning.

Do you live in a college town? If so, chances are you're a big reader. Retail giant Amazon has announced its list of the "Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities in America." They tracked purchases of magazines, newspapers, books, and e-books since January 1 for cities with more than 100,000 residents. While Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is number one, the rest of the list is dominated by big college towns.

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Northwestern University Psychology Professor Holds Masturbation Demonstration. Hands-On Learning Gone Too Far?

A demonstration of female orgasm has sparked a controversy at Northwestern. Where's the line between educational experience and sensationalism?

Does the average student enrolled in a human sexuality class need to see a woman being stimulated, live and in-person, by a sex toy in order to understand what a female orgasm is? According to Northwestern University psychology professor John Michael Bailey, yes. An optional after-class presentation late last month featured a woman being penetrated with a "fucksaw" so that students could truly learn about female ejaculation. Predictably, Bailey is in the hot seat now, and students and academics across the country are wondering, how much hands-on learning is too much?

Bailey's class is popular—almost 600 students are enrolled—but only about 120 stayed for the demonstration, which was titled, “Networking for Kinky People." Students watched as a woman took off her clothes, lay down on a towel with her legs spread and, according to freshman Sean Lavery, "grabbed the mic" and "explained that she had a fetish for being watched by large crowds while having an orgasm." Then her boyfriend turned on the sex toy and, as the students watched, used it on her till she did indeed have an orgasm.

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Now There's a WikiLeaks for Colleges

UniLeaks wants to expose shady dealings at the world's universities. Get ready to submit those secret emails, memos and contracts.


Can a WikiLeaks-style site keep colleges and universities transparent and honest in their dealings? That's the hope of a brand new Australia-based website, UniLeaks, which hopes to create a safe space for people around the world to leak information about back-door shenanigans going on at their schools. The anonymous founders state that they were inspired to create the site after witnessing the "creative forms of resistance" young people in the United Kingdom took in response to government austerity measures.

According to the site's "Who We Are" section, they'll accept anonymously submitted "restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance which is in some way connected to higher education, an agency or government body working in partnership with an institution, e.g., a university." That means they want those private emails between professors, copies of shady contracts, secret research, and internal memos. Whistle-blowers can upload their documents through an encryption-free electronic drop box. The site's journalists then turn them into news stories.

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