Posts by Jill Laster
May 24, 2010, 05:15 PM ET
Google made one more announcement last week—about a new course-scheduling system, CloudCourse—that could potentially have implications for higher education. CloudCourse is integrated with Google Calendar and allows users to schedule classes, look up user profiles, and sync the service's data with internal university systems. CloudCourse was built entirely on Google's App Engine, which allows users to build and host Web apps. Google hopes that CloudCourse can serve as an example of how to use the App Engine.
One potential use for CloudCourse is to manage class rosters with tools that allow users to look at enrolled versus waitlisted students, mark student attendance, and change a student's...Read More
May 19, 2010, 12:00 PM ET
Google Wave has switched from an invitation-only offering to one open to all interested users, the popular service announced Wednesday.
Google also announced a batch of special features and tweaks to Google Wave, which allows real-time communication online. Google introduced the project in May 2009 and put out a limited preview release in November. Some educational institutions have used the service as a way to do collaborative work more efficiently.
Gregory D'Alesandre, product manager at Google, said one of the biggest changes users are likely to notice is more user-friendliness, so that new users can adapt quickly to the service. Google Wave plans more changes meant to cater to new users in coming months, although Mr. D'Alesandre declined to give specifics.
Google Apps domain administrators at universities and businesses will now be able to enable Google Wave for all their users....Read More
May 17, 2010, 12:00 PM ET
The university will open its fourth "Art of Science" exhibit online Monday. All the photographs and other images in the collection were made in the course of the institution's scientific research.
This year's theme is "energy," a broad term that can refer to everything from the use of electric propulsion technology to protein design meant to identify new amino-acid sequences. There are 45 pieces in the exhibition chosen from 115 submitted works from 20 different departments on the campus.
"In this we were thinking very broadly, but I do think if you look at these images as a whole, you can see energy in them," said Adam Finkelstein, an organizer and associate professor of computer science.
Seen any good art in science? Send it to us via Twitter @wiredcampus or...
May 14, 2010, 01:18 PM ET
An updated version of an electronic-literature compendium is out, with the goal of creating a more interactive community.
Since 1998 the Electronic Literature Directory has compiled lists of works that are digitally born: for example, electronic poetry, or a text or even a game with a multimedia element. Electronic literature, or hypertext fiction, came to national attention in the 1990s; some called it revolutionary, others merely a passing trend.
The directory, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, now uses a wiki platform that allows the archive to include tags, descriptions, and discussions. Organizers hope to create a sort of “living archive,” which, like Wikipedia, is a communal effort. They also hope that the improvements will draw more readers and writers.
The directory has also added an editorial working group and an editorial board that curates...Read More
May 10, 2010, 03:00 PM ET
Four students at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences want to create an alternative to current social media that lets users better control their privacy.
Diaspora is a planned personal Web server that stores information to be shared with friends securely. Instead of centralized social media, such as Facebook, the server is meant to provide a more secure, decentralized network. Some Facebook users have criticized it for lifting privacy restrictions in recent months; for example, Facebook now classifies a user's hometown, friends, current city, and other information as public.
"We believe that privacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually exclusive," says the team's page on Kickstarter, a site that offers projects for outside financing. "With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our social connections, and making it easy to share on your own...Read More
May 4, 2010, 11:41 AM ET
The U.S. Department of Transportation has enlisted the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in its effort to stop drivers from using cellphones behind the wheel.
Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation, spoke at MIT on Monday as part of a university lecture series. According to his blog, he solicited scholars at Transportation@MIT, a multidisciplinary program, to use "their prodigious research skills to help us end this epidemic."
Mr. LaHood has used his office to launch what he calls a "rampage" against talking on cellphones and sending text messages, among other distracting activities, while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 6,000 people died and more than half a million were injured in 2008 in crashes involving distracted drivers.
MIT will look at how to best enforce laws about texting while driving. For example, Mr. LaHood said, could...Read More
April 30, 2010, 10:29 AM ET
A new study has found that black students experience more online racial discrimination and generally have a more negative view of campus racial diversity than their white counterparts.
Brendesha M. Tynes of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Suzanne L. Markoe of the University of California at Los Angeles will present their study at the American Educational Research Association conference on Monday. They used an online survey of 217 African-American and European-American college students to gauge factors such as online victimization, social networking, and campus racial climate.
The study found that the black students spent more time online than their white peers and had more diverse contact online. But black students reported higher rates of online victimization and more negative racial climate on their campuses.
Ms. Tynes, an education professor who was recently...Read More
April 28, 2010, 12:32 PM ET
A new study from the University of Maryland finds that students are hooked on social media and cellphones, describing withdrawals in terms similar to those used by drug and alcohol addicts.
The study from the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, "24 Hours: Unplugged," asked 200 students on the campus to give up all media for a full day and blog on private Web sites about their experience. Student reaction showed addictionlike withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, misery, and being jittery, the authors wrote.
One student wrote that texting and sending instant messages gives him or her "a constant feeling of comfort," without which he or she felt "quite alone and secluded from my life." Another said that he or she feels "like most people these days are in a similar situation; for between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable...Read More
April 26, 2010, 11:56 AM ET
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Isaac Newton are an unlikely pair for a face-off on Twitter. But a class at Muskegon Community College has brought the pair's struggle for credit as the inventor of calculus to the social-networking site.
Maria H. Andersen, a math instructor at the Michigan institution, came up with the idea together with the three students in her honors section of Calculus II. She typically has students work on a project based on The Calculus Wars, by Jason Socrates Bardi. Newton had written a manuscript describing calculus as early as 1665, the book relates, but Leibniz later discovered calculus independently and published first.
Ms. Andersen and her students thought re-enacting the battle on Twitter might be an interesting way to show the year-by-year progression of the row. "It really is more about people than the math," she says. "So it's a story about when...Read More
April 23, 2010, 02:00 PM ET
One college wants off of a Web site ranking the most dangerous colleges in the country, although representatives for the site say they have no plans to remove it.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, N.Y., is ranked 44th on the list of 100 most dangerous American colleges at American School Search. The institution sent the Web site a letter demanding that it be removed and filed for a subpoena in New York State Supreme Court to get the identity of the site's owner.
Robert Flowers, the college's vice president for student affairs, said in an e-mail message to The Chronicle that they've obtained that subpoena and "if we are unsuccessful in achieving a resolution through conversation with the owner(s), we will move to refile the complaint in the appropriate jurisdiction."
American School Search posts a breakdown of crimes that occurred on institutions' campuses in recent years, ...Read More