Category Archives: Technology

Tech trends on campus.


College on the Cover: Doom and Gloom Through the Decades

Behold the cover of next month’s issue of The Atlantic, unveiled on Thursday.

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The cover story profiles Ben Nelson, president and CEO of the Minerva Project, a start-up seeking “to replace (or, when [Mr. Nelson] is feeling less aggressive, ‘reform’) the modern liberal-arts college,” writes Graeme Wood.

Questions like “Is college doomed?” are loaded. The Atlantic cover qualifies its bold query by stating in the subhead that “college” refers to “traditional universities.” And “doomed” would more a…


MIT Releases Wide-Ranging Report on Its Future

You wouldn’t expect an academic road map by the brainiacs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to be, oh, shorter than a small textbook, would you?

MIT released on Monday a report on “the future of MIT education,” the result of 18 months’ work by a task force made up of dozens of faculty and staff members and students. It clocks in at 213 pages. (To be fair, the appendixes start on Page 31.) Among its 16 recommendations are:

  • A stronger commitment to affordability.
  • The creation of an “ed…

Energy Dept. Unveils Plan to Increase Public Access to Research It Finances

The U.S. Department of Energy on Monday unveiled a plan to increase public access to research that it finances, in response to an order last year from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Science magazine reported.

The Obama administration last year directed federal agencies to develop plans to make the results of research they support publicly available within a year of publication. The Energy Department will do so through a web-based portal known as the Public Access Gatewa…


Loan Guarantor Acquires College Abacus, a Net-Price-Comparison Tool

The Educational Credit Management Corporation, a student-loan guarantor, announced on Monday that it had acquired College Abacus, a web-based tool that allows consumers to compare colleges’ net prices. With the move, College Abacus shifts from a for-profit company to a nonprofit organization.

The federal government requires colleges to post net-price calculators on their websites. Last fall a company that developed net-price calculators for some colleges blocked College Abacus from accessing its…


Online-Tutoring Company to Buy Princeton Review Inc., a company that offers tutoring and test-preparation services online, has signed an agreement to buy Princeton Review Inc., which offers test-prep and college-admissions services, Bloomberg reported. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. is buying the company from Charlesbank Capital Partners, a private-equity firm, and the transaction is expected to be completed next month.


Bill Gates Talks Performance Funding and MOOCs in Conference Keynote

Bill Gates, a founder of Microsoft and billionaire philanthropist, touched on a myriad of issues facing higher-education institutions during his keynote address on Monday at the annual conference, in Seattle, of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Here are some of the highlights:

On access: “The United States really stands for the proposition of equal opportunity. We’re striving in our work [at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] to have the U.S. maintain and s…


33 Ethicists Defend Facebook’s Controversial Mood Study

A group of bioethicists wrote in a column published on Wednesday that Facebook’s controversial study of mood manipulation was not unethical, and harsh criticism of it risks putting a chill on future research. The article was written by six ethicists, joined by 27 others.

The study, which was designed in part by Cornell University researchers and carried out by Facebook in 2012, made tweaks in the social network’s algorithm that determines what appears in a user’s timeline, in an effort to meas…


Maryland’s UMUC Considers Restructuring as Enrollments Fall

The University of Maryland University College, a major player in the online-education market, is considering ideas for a restructuring amid declining enrollments, The Washington Post reported.

Javier Miyares, the university’s president, has formed an advisory group to consider restructuring proposals. One of those ideas would involve transforming the institution into a “not-for-profit business entity” affiliated with the University System of Maryland, of which it is currently a full-fledge…


Journal That Published Facebook’s Study Raises Ethics Concerns

The editor in chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the journal that recently published Facebook’s controversial research on its manipulation of users’ news feeds, is raising concerns about how Facebook collected the data.

The study was conducted by the social-media giant and co-designed by researchers at Cornell University. It involved manipulating what users saw in their news feeds to measure how the changes would affect the mood of their own posts. The study has come u…


British Regulator Investigates Controversial Facebook Study

A government regulator in Britain will investigate whether Facebook violated data-protection laws by conducting a study that manipulated the emotions of unknowing users, the Financial Times reports.

The information commissioner’s office, which has the authority to force a company to change its policies or levy fines of up to £500,000, did not elaborate on which part of the law Facebook may have broken.

The study, which was conducted in 2012 by Facebook but designed by researchers at Cornell Univ…