August 31, 2009, 04:00 PM ET
Information-technology managers at colleges need to cut their purchasing budgets to save money -- at the same time they need to purchase energy-efficient equipment, also to save money. According to a survey by CDW-G, a large company that buys technology for government and higher-education institutions, some are managing to do both.
It's not a random sample, or a large one, but it does provide one view of the college IT world.
The survey included 152 IT managers in higher education with purchasing power. Of those people, 54 percent said they had reduced technology-related energy costs in 2009, compared with 38 percent in 2008.
The managers identified three major sources for the cost savings. The first is buying liquid-crystal-display monitors. No. 2 is getting employees to shut down equipment when not in use. And the third is purchasing devices with the federal government's Energy Star...Read More
August 31, 2009, 02:00 PM ET
The debate over how online courses compare with face-to-face ones is old. But readers were quick to re-engage it in response to a Chronicle article today that reported on the findings of a major survey of faculty views about online education.
The survey found large-scale faculty engagement with online teaching but also broad suspicion about its effectiveness. Even among professors who have taught online, it reported, nearly half think online learning is either inferior or somewhat inferior to classroom learning. The study also described the amount of time it takes to teach and develop online courses as a significant obstacle.
One reader wrote about reasons for teaching online in the past: student demand, a focus by the administration, even a sense that getting involved could ensure quality. But this reader decided to stop teaching online in the spring after six years of consistent...Read More
August 28, 2009, 03:42 PM ET
Is the Facebook party breaking up? We still hear that plenty of students and professors are addicted to the social-networking site, but a New York Times Magazine article out today says that even though overall numbers on the site are up, a vocal group is heading for the exits.
"I have noticed the exodus, and I kind of feel like it's kids getting tired of a new toy," one writer told the Times in the very anecdotal account.
An article earlier this month in The Guardian took note of the trend as well, arguing that the "cool cyberkids" are starting to abandon Facebook because too many old fogies have showed up on the social network.
Some professors have been part of the recent group leaving
Facebook. Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New
Media at George Mason University, left Facebook earlier this year
and talked about it on his podcast, Digital Campus.
Will students'...Read More
August 28, 2009, 03:25 PM ET
With newspapers shrinking their staffs or shutting down altogether, three New York Times columnists have begun to pursue a backup career plan—teaching.
Well, not really.
Nicholas Kristof, Gail Collins, and Eric Asimov will be teaching courses online and in person through the newspaper's continuing-education program, Knowledge Network, according to the Nieman Journalism Lab. The Times has been developing course material with local universities for nearly two years.
Mr. Kristof's online seminar will discuss "the oppression of women in the developing world." Ms. Collins's course will focus on "changes in the lives and status of American women over the past 50 years," and Mr. Asimov will offer a seminar on wine tasting. The courses will cost between $125 and $185.Read More
August 27, 2009, 10:00 AM ET
After giving a campus tour of National Taiwan University, the guide needs to recharge -- literally.
Engineering students have created a robot that can give guided tours around the university, both outdoors and inside a campus museum, the university says.
The robot, which is about three feet tall, uses GPS and a laser sonar system that helps it avoid obstacles. A student programs a pre-established route using wireless remote controls.
The robot, named Hsiao Mei by the students who created it, also uses cameras in its eyes to tell where people are and respond to them, and has some facial expressions, according to Network World. The robot can also show video clips on its monitor.
Hsiao Mei, which cost approximately $9,000 to build, will be giving tours around campus this year.Read More
August 26, 2009, 03:40 PM ET
The latest experiment in peer-to-peer education kicks off next month – a new institution in which students will learn in virtual communities using free online materials and social-networking tools.
But now the venture, called University of the People, faces big questions. Among them: Can it get accreditation? And can a college that charges so little and relies so much on self-teaching retain students?
Since it was announced in January, University of the People has accumulated a pile of publicity, spurred by its populist marketing pitch as the “first nonprofit, tuition-free online university.”
“The idea is to reach the hundreds of millions of people who graduate high school, have all the ability and the right to study in an academic institution, but cannot do it either because they don’t have the money or because there aren’t enough institutions,” said Shai Reshef, an Israeli...Read More
August 26, 2009, 01:00 PM ET
Sony announced a deal on Tuesday that will let users of its Sony Reader e-book device check out digital books from college and public libraries.
The new feature involves a service by a company called OverDrive Inc., which distributes electronic books to about 9,000 libraries, about 100 of which are academic libraries.Now libraries that use the OverDrive service will give patrons the option of downloading the e-books to their Sony Readers. A few weeks after a user checks out a book, the loan period ends, and the e-books are removed from the user's collection.
David Burleigh, director of marketing for OverDrive, said the company has about 100,000 books in its collection from a variety of publishers.
On Tuesday, Sony also announced a new model of its e-book reading device, to be called the Reader Daily Edition, which will connect to wireless networks so users can download books without...Read More
August 26, 2009, 10:00 AM ET
We’ve been told that college students aren't Twitter's primary audience – people under the age of 25 make up only a quarter of the service’s users. But are college professors driving up membership? Not really, a new survey from Faculty Focus shows.
According to results of a survey released this week of more than 1,900 higher-education professionals, more than half say they have never used Twitter, 30 percent use it, and nearly 13 percent tried it but decided to abandon it.
Those that don’t use Twitter aren’t convinced that it has a purpose in the classroom. Twenty percent of nonusers say there is a “50/50 chance” they would use it as a learning tool.
“It seems like another Web 2.0 technology that people are adopting simply because of its buzz factor and not a true ability to support teaching and learning,” one responder wrote.
Does anyone out there Tweet with their students? If so,...Read More
August 25, 2009, 10:35 AM ET
Students citing Wikipedia in papers about living people can feel a little more secure about the online encyclopedia's accuracy.
Copying an effort that was tested in Wikipedia's German version, a new feature called "flagged revisions" will not allow posts on living people to be updated until "an experienced volunteer editor" approves the changes, The New York Times reports.
"We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks," Michael Snow, chair of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees, told the Times. "There was a time probably when the community was more forgiving of things that were inaccurate or fudged in some fashion -- whether simply misunderstood or an author had some ax to grind. There is less tolerance for that sort of problem now."
The change comes after several inaccurate edits were made in articles on the Web site. In May, a...Read More
August 25, 2009, 10:00 AM ET
Professor Mary Flanagan wants students to go online and label library archives – for free.
Ms. Flanagan, a digital-humanities professor at Dartmouth College, is creating an Internet-based game in which users create descriptive tags for library images to improve searching through the library's database. Although the program will be tested at the college’s library, Ms. Flanagan says the game will be open source and available for others to download and build upon.
She says the program could save libraries time and money. “It’s
costly and time consuming to go in and add keywords,” she says. “If
you create a game where people actually are actually getting points
for generating metadata, you create a system of motivation and a
fun way of doing this kind of stuff that people, it turns out, will
do for free.”
The two-dimensional game will show an image, and players will have to enter words that...