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Posts by Jeff Young

March 26, 2009, 08:15 AM ET

Blackboard Releases iPhone Application

Blackboard unveiled a free application for the iPhone today to let students check their grades and get updates about their courses at colleges that use the company’s course-management software.

The application, called Blackboard Learn for Apple iPhone, can be found in Apple’s iPhone App Store. Blackboard designed it so it will immediately work with any versions of its software made since 2006. Colleges’ administrators can choose to turn off their Blackboard server’s compatibility with the service if they have concerns about security or other issues.

Students can’t take tests or dig into course content using the iPhone application — the focus of the system is to notify users of when new material is ready for them in the full Web-based version of Blackboard.

The application may have extracurricular uses as well — such as letting a student send a note to a classmate. A “rosters”...

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March 25, 2009, 04:00 PM ET

Google Announces 'Summer of Code' to Encourage Students to Join Open-Source Projects

Google is handing out $4,500 stipends to a select group of college students who will spend this summer contributing to open-source projects, including ones that compete with Google’s own software.

It’s part of the company’s “Summer of Code,” now in its fifth year. Among the 150 open-source projects that Google has included in the program is NetSurf, a Web browser led by a team in England, which is, at least theoretically, competing with Google’s own browser, Chrome.

“We’re really not so worried about competition,” said Leslie Hawthorn, program manager for open source at Google, in an interview. “Competition is par for the course and healthy in open source.”

Google is offering fewer stipends this year than last year — 1,000 this year compared with 1,175 last year. But Ms. Hawthorn said that the company is committing the same amount of...

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March 24, 2009, 07:22 AM ET

Introducing Guest Blogger Jonathan Zittrain

Our new guest blogger is Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-founder of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

You may know him as the author of the recent book The Future of the Internet — and How to Stop It. Or from the blog he started with students called Chilling Effects, which tracks legal threats made to online content producers. Or you may have benefited from his attempts to curb the growth of malicious Internet software (he helped start StopBadware.org, a clearinghouse for tracking malware).

We welcome Jonathan to Wired Campus, and look forward to his posts over the next couple of weeks.

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March 23, 2009, 01:05 PM ET

MIT Professors Approve Campuswide Policy to Publish Their Scholarly Articles Free Online

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for its ambitious effort to give away its course materials free online, and now the university is giving away its research, too.

Last week MIT’s professors voted unanimously to adopt a policy stating that all faculty members will deposit their scholarly research papers in a free, online university repository (in addition to sending them to scholarly journals), in an effort to expand access to the university’s scholarship. The policy is modeled on one adopted last year by Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. At MIT, like at Harvard, professors can opt out of the policy if, for instance, a journal their paper is accepted to does not allow free publication of articles.

Peter Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College and a longtime promoter of open ...

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March 19, 2009, 03:44 PM ET

No Time to Twitter? Hire a Work-Study Assistant (or Pretend to)

Twitter has fluttered to the mainstream in the past few weeks — at least the microblogging service seems to be mentioned in the media more than ever. So you might be feeling left out if you’re not dashing out 140-character notes to colleagues all day long via the service. But who has the time for all that messaging?

Mark C. Marino, an assistant professor in the writing program at the University of Southern California, found a novel time-management solution: He hired a work-study student to do his social networking for him. Or at least, he pretended to.

As a commentary on the time pressures of social networking, Mr. Marino posted to his own Twitter account in the voice of a fictional personal assistant he called Seth Yoo. The assistant’s messages are also sent to Mr. Marino’s Facebook profile as status updates. The character has been...

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March 18, 2009, 12:20 PM ET

Who's Your Academic Buddy? New Study Suggests How Fields Are Intertwined

University leaders often talk about the need to break down academic silos on campuses, but they don’t necessarily have a good road map for doing it.

A study led by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory may have now provided them with one.

The researchers tracked the usage patterns at thousands of online scientific journals to see when a reader looking at an article in one academic field moved over to an article in another academic field. The researchers then compiled that data to make a detailed graphical chart showing the interconnected relationships between the various academic fields.

The result, published in PLoS ONE, is

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March 17, 2009, 12:18 PM ET

Australian University Decides to Outsource Its Entire IT Department

The University of Canberra is axing some 50 information-technology jobs and moving them to India as part of institutionwide cost-cutting measures, The Australian newspaper reports.

University officials said sending its IT systems, administration, and payroll services abroad will save about $5-million over the next five years. Wipro, one of the world’s largest IT outsourcing firms, will take over services beginning this month.

The move was part of reforms that began two years ago that are aimed to reduce the university’s large deficit. Officials said the decision was not related to the economic downturn. In all, 150 jobs have been cut since layoffs began in 2007.

The decision has been criticized by local labor unions, but union officials said they would not strike. Last week, Australia’s National Tertiary Education Union said sending university administrative functions to...

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March 3, 2009, 03:47 PM ET

Technologist Who Coined 'Edupunk' Defends the Term in a Video Debate

The term “edupunk” started with a blog rant by Jim Groom, an instructional-technology specialist and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington, who was annoyed at commercial course-management systems and wanted to encourage professors to take a do-it-yourself approach to using the latest Web tools for their courses. But since we wrote about that rant last year, the term has been widely discussed in educational-technology circles — with some people excited about it, and others arguing that professors should use the tools provided by colleges rather than go off on their own to try to replicate them.

Educause recently released a series of videos called “Edupunk Battle Royale,” pitting Mr. Groom against W. Gardner ...

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February 26, 2009, 03:09 PM ET

Lev Gonick: A Small Proposal at the Intersection of Education, Technology, and Open Content

I’ve enjoyed blogging this past month for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Working and being associated with a great university is a privilege, but taking the mission of the university seriously also brings with it obligations. There is a natural tendency in times of local or national economic distress to become inwardly focused. It’s a basic instinct and a form of human survival.

The problem is that this instinct leads to behaviors that work at cross purposes to the needs of the current global economy. At the moment, economic nationalism is politically expedient, but we need an architecture for global education that works against the chauvinism that comes with many “wrap-ourselves-in-the-flag” economic policies.

In my last blog entry, I argued that ...

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February 25, 2009, 04:13 PM ET

Teaching With Technology Face-Off: iPhones vs. PC's

An experiment this semester at Houston Community College compares two sections of the same course, one in which students are given iPhones and another in which students use old-fashioned PC’s to view course materials online. The question: Will students with the smart phones spend more time watching course videos and interacting with peers than those without them?

The course, called “Anatomy and Physiology II,” is a hybrid of distance education and traditional classroom teaching — the students meet in person once a week and are asked to watch lecture videos and follow assignments online for the rest of the material. There are 20 students in each section, and the only difference between the two is that one group got iPhones on loan at the beginning of the semester and the other did not.

The professor, Lifang Tien, an instructor at the college, said in an interview today that she had a...

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