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July 21, 2014, 05:00 AM ET

With Scrim and Rolling Desks, a Journalism School Seeks a Tech Edge

A little over a century after his death, Joseph Pulitzer still looms large at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. The building that houses the school bears his name. Every year the school announces the Pulitzer Prizes from the World Room, a reference to The World, his New York newspaper. A bust of the publishing tycoon and school founder peers across the first-floor lobby and into what has been a construction zone for the past nine months. But on Monday, professors are to move into the space, the new headquarters of the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. In its sleek design and open layout, it feels like a cross between a newsroom and a start-up. An official opening is planned for September 16. A gauze-like scrim covers the interior. By day it will allow students and professors to project images onto the walls. By night the material's... Read More

July 18, 2014, 02:20 PM ET

Should You Build a Data Center Today? 2 Universities, 2 Answers

When it comes to building campuses from scratch in the information age, few institutions have a track record like New York University's. Under its current president, John E. Sexton, NYU has opened campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. In 2012 it earned New York City's backing for a new graduate-level institute in downtown Brooklyn. While in New York recently to cover Cornell Tech and its ambitious plans to build an applied-sciences graduate school on Roosevelt Island, I asked members of New York University’s IT brain trust how they’ve approached similar challenges. Many of their responses mirrored what I heard at Cornell Tech: Don’t focus on individual technologies. Make flexibility a priority. Keep a long-term outlook, even if all the eyes will be on opening day. Those are principles, though. Some might call them platitudes. What universities actually do often reveals the hard... Read More

July 17, 2014, 05:00 AM ET

Would Graduate School Work Better if You Never Graduated From It?

Learning continues long after college ends. What if being enrolled in college was also a lifelong condition? That is how Christian Terwiesch, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, thinks graduate business programs might work in the future. He and a colleague, Karl T. Ulrich, vice dean of innovation at Wharton, have published a paper on how the ascent of short video lectures—the kind popularized by massive open online courses and Khan Academy—might change the cost and structure of top business programs like Wharton’s. The short answer is that they probably won’t, at least not anytime soon. But in an interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Terwiesch ventured a guess as to how Wharton might change further down the line. The business school eventually might have to provide chunks of its curriculum on demand over a student's whole career, he said, rather than... Read More

July 15, 2014, 03:01 PM ET

QuickWire: College and Library Groups Petition FCC on Net Neutrality

[Update (7/15/2014, 5:31 p.m.): The FCC has extended the public-comment period until Friday, and for that reason the college and library group has not yet officially released its comments.] [Update (7/18/2014, 1:53 p.m.): The coalition officially filed its comments with the FCC this morning. There are now 11 groups signed onto the document.] A coalition of seven university and library organizations on Tuesday filed comments asking the Federal Communications Commission to preserve net neutrality. The comments came less than a week after 11 university and library groups—including six of the seven that signed onto Tuesday's filing—released a set of net-neutrality principles establishing a similar position. Tuesday's comments go further, detailing specific legal action the FCC could take to maintain an open Internet. The groups say they would prefer that Internet-service providers... Read More

July 14, 2014, 02:01 PM ET

QuickWire: Desire2Learn Rebrands and Adds Partners

The education-technology company Desire2Learn said on Monday that it was renaming its learning-management system, which will now be called Brightspace, and adding assorted features, including game-based learning. The company also said it was teaming up with IBM to improve Desire2Learn's predictive analytics and with Microsoft to add a Windows 8 mobile app for e-books to Desire2Learn's offerings.

July 11, 2014, 02:15 PM ET

Mellon Comes to the Rescue of Missouri's Moldy Books

This past January, Jim Cogswell, director of libraries at the University of Missouri at Columbia, got news no library administrator wants to hear: Mold had invaded a rented remote-storage facility that housed some 600,000 of the university's books. It wasn't a happy time. Then came an email from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation expressing sympathy and offering to help. "I practically shouted out loud," Mr. Cogswell said. "It was the first time in so long that we'd had anything that approached good news." Mellon's offer has now taken the form of a $400,000 grant that Missouri's library will use to restore or replace the materials affected by the mold. The library announced the grant in a blog post this week. Because of the grant, "we will be able to salvage the greater majority of those 600,000 books," Mr. Cogswell said in an interview. "We thought we would have resources to do maybe ... Read More

July 10, 2014, 12:51 PM ET

11 University and Library Groups Release Net-Neutrality Principles

The nation’s colleges and libraries have a message for the Federal Communications Commission: Don’t mess with net neutrality. Echoing almost a decade of pro-neutrality sentiment in academe, 11 higher-education and library groups released a set of 11 principles on Thursday that promote the notion that all Internet content, regardless of origin, should be treated equally. The 11 principles—meant to guide the FCC as it considers new open-Internet rules—include recommendations to prohibit the blocking of legal websites, ensure neutrality on public networks, forbid paid prioritization in the transmission of some content over others, and adopt enforceable policies. Before adopting enforceable policies, though, the FCC will have to find some that stand up in court. In January the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the commission’s existing... Read More

July 10, 2014, 04:55 AM ET

Can MOOCs Help Professors Teach Traditional Courses More Efficiently?

Using free online materials such as massive open online courses in traditional classes can help colleges teach more efficiently without harming students, according to a long-awaited report from Ithaka S+R, an education-technology nonprofit group, and the University System of Maryland. However, the report notes practical barriers that might make it difficult for professors to incorporate MOOCs or similar materials into their classes without incurring other costs. Those costs might limit any gains in efficiency, according to university officials. In their study, researchers closely tracked 17 courses at universities across the Maryland system that incorporated “interactive online learning platforms” into existing courses, including 14 that used MOOCs from Coursera. (Some courses used online software from the Open Learning Initiative and Pearson.) In seven of the experimental courses... Read More

July 8, 2014, 12:55 PM ET

U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement

[Updated (7/8/2014, 2:53 p.m.) with news of a post on the controversy by the MOOC instructor.] The University of Zurich says it has cleared up the bizarre case of the MOOC that went missing. But the university is offering few clarifying details to the public, which has been left to piece together theories from the university's statements and from cryptic tweets by the course's professor about an unspecified experiment he might have been trying to conduct. As I reported this morning, the content of a massive open online course taught by one of the university's lecturers, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, vanished last week without explanation, leaving an empty husk on Coursera's platform. The course, “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was one week into its planned three-week run when the videos and other course materials disappeared. Coursera officials said Mr. Dehaye, a... Read More

July 8, 2014, 05:00 AM ET

QuickWire: Blackboard Swallows a Small Competitor

The course-management and campus-technology heavyweight Blackboard said on Wednesday that it was acquiring Perceptis, a competitor in the helpdesk and student-services markets. With call centers in South Carolina and Arizona, Perceptis has customers both in higher education and in other sectors. Blackboard said the acquisition would "enhance a service model that the industry needs: one that fully supports students from the first moment they are interested in a school to the day they graduate."