July 20, 2009, 2:42 pm
Students have graduated, earned law credit, and held debates on Second Life. Now some universities are using the virtual world to train nurses.
Virtual medical training is nothing new — medical students have used CD-ROM’s and other interactive programs to practice diagnosis for years. And MyCaseSpace, a virtual medical-training program created by a professor at the University of Central Florida, will allow professors to create simulated cases to test students at Central Florida’s College of Medicine this fall.
What makes the Second Life approach different, according to an article in Discover magazine, is its ability to call on real-life participants, giving students access to professors or volunteers who act as patients, as well as a range of medical experts who teach or practice at colleges and universities across the country.
Students can interact with the patients and doctors,…
July 20, 2009, 12:27 pm
When it comes to basic computer applications, even members of the millennial generation may not know as much as they think they do.
A study by North Carolina Central University found that most students overestimated their skill levels when they were asked how they perceived their ability to complete certain tasks and then tested on those tasks.
Researchers surveyed 171 undergraduates, the majority of whom believed they had either an average or high skill level in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. The students were then tested on three different skill levels — basic, moderate, and advanced — in each of those applications.
Students correctly perceived their skill level only in PowerPoint, the study said, with 81 percent of students who thought they had at least an average skill level actually performing that way.
When using Microsoft Word, 75 percent of students perceived a…
July 13, 2009, 12:30 pm
A new data-management tool unveiled today by Microsoft Research at its annual Faculty Summit will be available to colleges and universities free.
Project Trident: A Scientific Workflow Workbench is designed to help scientists in data-intensive fields such as medical research, astronomy, environmental science, and oceanography make sense of data more quickly in real time, using a better visual interface.
“The way it works right now in many cases is that these research universities are building homegrown workflow systems from the ground up — and that’s such a concern about the sustainability of these systems,” said Roger S. Barga, the principal architect of the project. “Essentially you have people starting from scratch every time.”
With homegrown systems, it is much harder to make even small changes. Each adjustment requires a programmer to open up a writing program and rewrite…
July 10, 2009, 1:11 pm
An information-technology manager at the University of Georgia who had access to students’ personal information worked in the registrar’s office for nearly a year after he faced felony theft-by-deception charges related to his data-handling position at a different organization.
William Ora Mullen pleaded guilty to those charges and accepted a 10-year prison sentence on April 28 – the same day he gave a letter of resignation to the university. The letter gave May 12 as his final day of employment.
But the university didn’t learn of the charges until May 6, when Mr. Mullen told the university’s office of legal affairs about them, said Tom Jackson, the university’s vice president of public affairs.
Mr. Mullen, who had access to sensitive information like students’ Social Security numbers, was immediately denied access to campus servers on that day. His passwords were also changed….
July 7, 2009, 4:06 pm
When the Los Angeles Unified School District announced at the end of May that it planned to cancel summer school, the latest result of California’s multibillion-dollar cuts to education, it estimated 225,000 students would be without the courses they need to stay at grade level or get ahead.
Now some of those students are taking advantage of an alternative to summer school on the Web — SOS Classroom, a collection of free educational Web sites, videos, and games. Educators and others submit material to be considered for the collection using Web 2.0 tools, and the materials are compiled by students in an advanced writing course at the University of Southern California.
The site’s advisory board includes educators from the Universities of California at San Diego and Irvine, the University of Texas at Dallas, and Kansas State University, as well as educational consultants and technology …
June 30, 2009, 3:15 pm
Robots could roam the Moon within the next three years, thanks to scientists and students across the world who are vying for the Google Lunar XPrize, a $30-million international competition to collect data and images with robots and send them back to the earth.
“The Moon is the hottest real estate in the solar system right now,” said William Pomerantz, senior director of space prizes at the XPrize Foundation, which is sponsoring the competition. “Every major space agency across the planet is looking to go back to the Moon, which means every university that has space research is focusing on the Moon.”
To win the prize, teams must safely land a robot on the Moon’s surface, travel at least 500 meters, and send a specified package of data, called a “Mooncast,” back to Earth. Mr. Pomerantz said the “Mooncast” would likely be one gigabyte, which translates to about 15 or 20 minutes of…
June 29, 2009, 2:54 pm
YouTube will make its debut in classes at Brigham Young University this fall, after administrators decided to lift a nearly three-year ban on the video-sharing Web site.
As of last Friday, students and faculty and staff members could access YouTube from anywhere on the campus, said a university spokeswoman, Carri Jenkins. Previously, students could choose to view YouTube off the campus, but the site was restricted from all campus computers, including those connected to the Internet in campus housing.
“We looked at the increasing opportunities for educational material and information on YouTube, particularly to be used in the classroom by students and faculty,” Ms. Jenkins said.
The university first restricted access to YouTube in 2006, after administrators said certain content could be found offensive and was inconsistent with the university’s mission statement and honor code,…
June 29, 2009, 6:58 am
A number of new technologies in computer graphics, online searching, and workplace collaboration — many of which may soon become available to colleges and universities — were on display Wednesday at the Microsoft Research TechFair 2009, in Washington D.C.
Many of the 13 projects on exhibit — all of which are under development in Microsoft’s six worldwide labs — involved workplace communication and research. Project designers say the tools could help make academic collaboration, either between students and professors or among universities, much easier.
“Our goal really is, how can we further research, how can we further education, how can we really change the way people think about the work that they do?,” said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research.
Highlights from the fair included:
The Social Desktop
It’s easy to share a link to a Web site because of its URL,…
June 23, 2009, 3:00 pm
It isn’t uncommon to find literature rendered in the style of Twitter’s trademarked 140-character blasts. But it’s rare for such tweets to make their way into print.
Yet that’s the concept behind a new book penned by two rising University of Chicago sophomores, titled Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books, Now Presented in Twenty Tweets or Less. The project’s Web site calls it “a humorous retelling of works of great literature in Twitter format.”
Emmet Rensin and Alex Aciman, who both just completed their freshman years at the university, pitched the project to Penguin Publishing. The book is scheduled to be released this fall.
Mr. Rensin and Mr. Aciman say on their site that combining classic literature and young technology “is the perfect remedy and counterbalance to the esoteric texts, which are still so vital to us—and to our GPA.”
Both students plan to work on the…
June 18, 2009, 1:11 pm
Scholars, researchers, and students are now just clicks away from some of the most popular titles released by the Indiana University Press.
With the launch of IU Press Online, anyone with an Internet connection can read sections of books and themed journals for free and purchase full-text versions at a discounted price.
“It speaks to our mission to disseminate scholarship as widely as we can,” said Kathryn Caras, director of electronic and serials publishing.
The online portal is in its infancy, but it already offers more than 200 books and 75 themed journals from five subject areas: African studies; African-American and diaspora studies; Jewish and Holocaust studies; philosophy; and Russian, East European and Eurasian studies. The press plans to add books about music and religious studies over the summer. Ms. Caras said all the press’s titles will eventually show up on the site. …