News-The Simon Initiative - Carnegie Mellon University

Simon News, 2017

July 21, 2017

Amy Ogan and Judith Uchidiuno

Making Education Technology Work for Everyone

The Simon Initiative

Educators often talk of an "opportunity gap"— academic achievement differences between students who come from privileged backgrounds and those who are less fortunate. CMU’s Amy Ogan sees this gap as both a challenge for technology and an opportunity to do better. Ogan and other Simon Initiative members presented on this and other issues around around technology enhanced learning (TEL) at the 2017 Global Learning Council Summit.

June 21, 2017


Carnegie Mellon’s RoboTutor Advances to Global Learning XPRIZE Semifinals

The Simon Initiative

XPRIZE is attempting to address the acute shortage of teachers in developing countries by funding an international competition to create open-source Android tablet apps that enable children ages 7-10 to learn basic reading, writing and math skills without requiring adult assistance. Apps were created in both English and Swahili.

Nearly 200 teams from 40 different countries entered the competition. Following an evaluation and pilot test, RoboTutor, led by CMU’s Jack Mostow, is one of 11 remaining teams competing for five $1 million finalist prizes.

May 23, 2017

Horizons Tracker

The Role Culture Plays in MOOC Success

The Horizons Tracker

The research forms part of Carnegie Mellon’s Simon Initiative, which aims to improve learning outcomes by improving the science behind education. Their approach utilizes the interactive method of learning pioneered by the university’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI).

May 22, 2017

US News

Makers Movement Changes the Educational Landscape

U.S. News and World Report

The Elizabeth Forward School District in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for instance, partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to build Maker spaces in both its middle and high schools. Art, computer science and technology education teachers work together to develop projects that encourage kids to think in broader terms about the disciplines they teach.

May 19, 2017

STEM Concepts

Robotics kits integrate STEAM concepts into Franklin Regional's Sloan Elementary classrooms

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Using Hummingbird robotics kits, a spin-off product of Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE lab that was purchased by Birdbrain Technologies, 24 students displayed their projects this week for parents and siblings.

May 16, 2017

Fidget Spinner

Fidget Spinners Renew Focus on Kids' Attention Spans

Live Science

Measuring attention spans in children can be a challenging task, said Anna Fisher, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Fisher has investigated the relationship between "sustained attention," or the ability to concentrate on one activity at a time, and learning in children.

May 16, 2017

Remake Learning Days

Remake Learning Days Offer Sneak Peek Into Next Gen Classroom

The Simon Initiative

The future of learning is here, during Remake Learning Days—a regional celebration and exploration of the future of learning. Researchers in Carnegie Mellon University's Simon Initiative, which aims to transform education by continuously improving teaching and learning based on data, will be an integral part of the event running May 15-26.

May 15, 2017


Commentary: What universities can do to help cost of higher education

Carnegie-Mellon, Rice and MIT are leaders in developing such new learning tools. At Carnegie-Mellon, a computer-based course in basic statistics produced outcomes as good as those achieved with a course taught covering the same subject but in the traditional way.

May 12, 2017

Lauren Herckis

An Anthropologist in the 21st Century Classroom

The Simon Initiative

Educational tools can make all the difference to the learner, but despite the availability of excellent new options, many of the best technology enhanced learning (TEL) resources are being left on the shelf. Supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, CMU researchers have been working to understand this quandary.

May 11, 2017


Researchers From HCII Believe Difficulty Can Be Overrated in Games

Human-Computer Interaction Institute

"Is Difficulty Overrated? The Effects of Choice, Novelty and Suspense on Intrinsic Motivation in Educational Games" will be presented at the ACM CHI 2017 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

May 9, 2017


New Hybrid Digital-Physical Games May Improve Student Learning


Along with her advisors ​Ken Koedinger and Scott Hudson, Nesra Yannier developed a game called NoRilla, which teaches physics at an elementary school level. The digital app is hosted by a gorilla character, who instructs children to place two different towers on a table.

May 9, 2017

Teaching Institute

Eberly Center’s First Teaching Institute Already Impacting Classrooms

The Simon Initiative

To show CMU faculty how to successfully integrate active learning or enhance what they are already doing, the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation held a three-day institute last summer on "Teaching as Research." And instead of just handling over ideas or tools, the Eberly Center focused on how instructors can use their classrooms as learning experiments by collecting data and using it to then go back and re-tool how the activities are used.

May 8, 2017

eSchool News

Researchers develop groundbreaking technology for student writing success

eSchool News

Powered by technology that emerged from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Revision Assistant uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze both the context and syntax of writing. Far more than a simple grammar checker, Revision Assistant is able to read an essay and then compare how strong the writing and content is with thousands of similar papers already in its database.

May 3, 2017

Inside Higher Ed

Easing Instructional Designer-Faculty Conflicts

Inside Higher Education

"We’re getting the busiest-of-the-busy faculty who are doing this work," Marsha Lovett said. "The biggest thing we can do to reduce tension around time is being really clear with faculty members about the amount of time and the kinds of activities they’ll be doing."

May 2, 2017

Claudia Brovetto

Making Education Relevant for Students: The Case of Uruguay

Simon Initiative

On Friday, May 5, Claudia Brovetto will talk about an international movement called New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) that aims to improve pedagogical practices. Schools in seven countries are currently serving as "living labs" to test the application of these practices. Brovetto will discuss the implementation of NPDL in Uruguay.

April 28, 2017

Jean-Pierre Bourguignon

Scientists, Power and the Power of Scientists

Simon Initiative

Watch a video of Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, president of the European Research Council, deliver the 2017 Simon Initiative Distinguished Lecture.

April 25, 2017

Marie Cini

Next Generation Technologically-Enabled Post-Secondary Education

Simon Initiative

Marie Cini recently visited Carnegie Mellon University to discuss her impact and experiences at University of Maryland University College (UMUC) where she is currently the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

April 17, 2017


Can There Be a Microscope of the Mind?


Michael Feldstein goes beyond analogies and looks at the actual state of some cutting-edge cognitive science because lot of educators are skeptical or even cynical regarding the potential relevance of this work to the ways that they think about teaching. By exploring the science in some detail, he attempts to show that having a basic understanding of even foundational research that has no direct classroom applications can stimulate the thinking of classroom educators in useful ways.

April 17, 2017

Getting Smart

Project-Based Pittsburgh: Thinking Beyond Schools to Remake Learning

Getting Smart

The Pittsburgh region has remade itself as a hub for research and technology, bringing the essentiality of 21st-century skills into sharp relief.

April 10, 2017

Amy Burkert

Amy Burkert Joins Simon Initiative Leadership Team

Carnegie Mellon University

CMU has appointed Amy Burkert as a co-coordinator of the Simon Initiative. Burkert, vice provost for education, succeeds Justine Cassell, associate dean for technology strategy and impact in the School of Computer Science.

April 5, 2017

CMU Startup 101

Meet the 2017 Coolest College Startup


Carnegie Mellon's 101 won the 2017 competition. 101's core creation was inspired by Justin Weinberg's own experience as a STEM student. Not only did he learn the materials, but he went on to teach as both a student tutor and a teaching assistant at Carnegie Mellon. Along the way, Weinberg realized that STEM classes needed a fix.

March 31, 2017

Jean-Pierre Bourguignon
Simon Initiative Distinguished Lecture: Jean-Pierre Bourguignon

Simon Initiative

Mathematician Jean-Pierre Bourguignon will deliver the 2017 Carnegie Mellon University Simon Initiative Distinguished Lecture on Tuesday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m. in the Cohon University Center’s Rangos 3. Bourguignon, president of the European Research Council, will discuss "Scientists, Power and the Power of Scientists."

March 28, 2017

Living, Breathing and Eating Math: An Interview with Carnegie Learning's Barry Malkin

Ed Surge

Founded 20 years ago in the research labs of Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Learning provides software and services for 1:1 and blended math learning environments.

March 23, 2017

Business Insider
AI Teaching Assistant Could Shape the Future of Education

Business Insider

"AI is going to have to get smarter in terms of learning from the students when it's doing something that doesn't make sense,” said CMU’s Amy Ogan. Otherwise, AI is no better than those frustrating phone trees you get when you call the cable company. Ogan also said that there are ways to detect what the students respond to, using cameras and software to detect facial expressions, but it's very much a work in progress.

March 10, 2017

CMU Heads to South by Southwest

Carnegie Mellon University

Students from the Master of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS) Program attended SXSWedu earlier to inform members of the educational technology community about CMU's Simon Initiative.

March 6, 2017

Collaboration and Discussion Tools Help Make Online Courses More Social


California community colleges are taking part in a chatbot tool pilot aimed at getting students to interact and help each other with coursework. The collaborative tool was developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

February 8, 2017

Understanding Learning Science and Its Value to Educators


Education should be thought of as a discipline and at least partly an applied science. Strides toward improving higher education will be limited until academics (and the people who design their compensation packages) embrace the idea of the empirical educator as core to the mission of academia.

January 26, 2017

Education Week
DeVos-Associated Company Alleges Brain-Training Autism "Fix'


President Donald Trump's nominee to head the federal Education Department is a major backer of a company claiming its neurofeedback technology can "fix" problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and has "proven and long-lasting" positive effects on children with autism. CMU’s Ken Koedinger weighed in on the implications for science.

January 23, 2017

Inside Higher Ed
Beyond Teaching by Instinct

Inside Higher Ed

"Learning science" is becoming a buzzword, but it means experimenting with new approaches and learning from what doesn't work as well as what does, writes Michael Feldstein. And everyone who teaches for a living must do it. Feldstein shares what he learned from CMU Simon Initiative experts.

January 18, 2017

Daily News & Analysis
Fourth industrial revolution on full display at the WEF

Daily News & Analysis

As technology is creating new possibilities for society, industry and government, WEF is helping create interactions that reduce fear may have rapid change. CMU's Justine Cassell's work is profiled.

January 16, 2017

Foreign Policy
Is AI Sexist?

Foreign Policy

For the last two decades, Justine Cassell has been working on robot models that she hopes will be integrated into society — robots, she says, that will exist in the image of the good, virtuous people many of us want to be.

January 10, 2017

Mind Shift
What Kids Can Learn When Blocks Get A Tech Boost

KQED MindShift

CMU’s Nesra Yannier decided to invent a new kind of educational machine with which kids could learn together. Hers would use a real table with real blocks — and a computer at the heart of it that uses motion sensors to “see” what students are doing.

January 9, 2017

EdSurge Learning
When Personalized Learning Is a Logical Fallacy


Personalized learning is not a product you can buy — it’s a set of strategies that teachers can implement, sometimes with the help of products that are designed to support those strategies. To explore this more, Michael Feldstein talks to CMU’s Ken Koedinger and Marsha Lovett.

January 9, 2017

E-Literate TV
CMU Learning Scientists Featured on e-literate TV

e-literate TV

Three Carnegie Mellon University learning scientists, Marsha Lovett, Ken Koedinger and Lauren Herckis, have been featured on e-literate TV, which is designed to provoke conversations about how technology can be employed in the service of education.

January 7, 2017

Physical, Virtual Worlds
CMU Postdoc's Play Table for Children Balances Virtual, Physical Worlds


Students use a prototype of Nesra Yannier’s “mixed reality” teaching machine in a laboratory of Carnegie Mellon University. The research is part of a partnership between CMU and Forest Grove Elementary School to see if high-tech ideas can improve teaching and learning