December 21, 2011, 1:30 pm
The faculty union at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, sent an e-mail message to its members this month alerting them to a popular Web site where students are sharing course materials, including what the union calls professors’ “intellectual property.”
In the e-mail, the union defines intellectual property as “lectures, course notes, laboratory materials, exams, and other works created by members for their class,” which cannot be published without the author’s permission. The e-mail encourages members to warn their students that posting any of the above materials is prohibited by law.
Students can legally share their own notes from a class, but taping a professors’ lecture and posting that to a Web site is a violation of copyright law, argued James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, in an article in the Winnipeg Free Press.
December 19, 2011, 4:01 pm
Colleges across the country took note when Washington State announced its Open Course Library initiative in October, offering community-college students affordable online resources for some of the most popular courses.
Now other states and colleges are exploring similar options.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst awarded 10 teaching faculty $1,000 grants this spring as a part of its Open Education Initiative. The faculty members submitted proposals for developing free or low-cost digital resources as an alternative to students purchasing commercial textbooks. The university estimates the effort will save 700 students $72,000 over the 2011-12 academic year.
On the West Coast, Darrell Steinberg, the leader of California’s Senate, proposed a bill to establish the online California Digital Open Source Library, MindShift’s Tina Barseghian reported. If passed, the bill will a…
December 8, 2011, 3:05 pm
Higher-education software giants Datatel and SunGard Higher Education today announced plans to push forward with a merger after receiving clearance from the Department of Justice.
The two companies publicized the plans back in August, when the private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC, which owns Datatel, said it would buy SunGard Higher Education for $1.775-billion. Now Datatel, under Hellman & Friedman, is seeking a $1.2-billion loan to finance the acquisition of SunGard, according to a Bloomberg article.
Trace Urdan, a financial analyst for the brokerage firm Wunderlich Securities, says this is a sensible merger that stands to strengthen both companies, but that it raises several issues for the college officials who buy the popular software packages for their campuses.
“Buyers are frustrated that there is this continual march towards consolidation in the industry,” Mr….
December 6, 2011, 6:24 pm
A report released Tuesday updates Congress on the state of accessibility to learning materials for college students with visual impairments such as blindness, and it recommends ways to improve their learning conditions.
The Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities published the report following a 14-month study on the issue. The commission found that although efforts have been made to provide visually impaired students with adequate digital materials, many students’ needs are still not being met. Oftentimes, the study found, the task of providing adequate instructional materials for blind students falls on professors, such as in the case of a blind student in Texas reported in an earlier Wired Campus post.
In the report the commission offers Congress 18 recommendations for improving access to materials for…
November 30, 2011, 2:22 pm
The Southern University system is increasing its online course offerings through a partnership with a for-profit provider of online degree programs for historically black colleges and universities.
Education Online Services Corporation, or EOServe, which specializes in marketing and recruitment, will work with the university to package its existing degree programs for the Internet and to develop its online presence, said Southern’s president, Ronald F. Mason Jr.
The financially ailing system, comprising five campuses in Louisiana, is betting on the effort to attract new students and additional revenue. “Southern has historically been one of the larger HBCU’s,” Mr. Mason said, “and that means a lot of noncompleters or graduates of the university are out there to be tapped.”
Southern is looking to attract those students—whether finishing an undergraduate degree or returning for …
November 22, 2011, 2:02 pm
The word “mob” usually carries a negative connotation, but in Michelle Boule’s new book, Mob Rule Learning: Camps, Unconferences, and Trashing the Talking Head, the mob acts as the protagonist, freeing the jaded conference attendee from the shackles of the traditional conference.
The book, in exploring the unconference movement, walks the reader through the pitfalls of the traditional conference, the idea of an unconference, how to plan one, and case studies from the movement. And taking it one step further, Ms. Boule, a blogger and former librarian at the University of Houston, talks about how the movement can influence higher education and spice things up in the classroom.
Ms. Boule expanded on these ideas in an interview with The Chronicle.
Q. What was your impetus for writing this book?
A. I was at a point in my career where I learned that red tape and bureaucracy aren’t…
November 21, 2011, 4:51 pm
Amanda Lacy was frustrated with her physics class and ready to drop it.
Ms. Lacy, a blind student at Austin Community College, is a computer-science major who loves her classes but often struggles in them, not because she doesn’t understand the material, but because she doesn’t have access to adequate textbooks. And when she started taking the introduction-to-physics class, things got even worse, until a professor stepped in with a solution.
The college provides blind students with digital copies of textbooks so they can listen to them on the computer or read them using an electronic Braille display. But the figures and graphs in Ms. Lacy’s physics book don’t easily translate the same way that text does.
“There are many symbols that the computer doesn’t recognize,” Ms. Lacy said, “so it just comes out as gibberish.” For example, Ms. Lacy said in an interview, the computer will…
November 19, 2011, 12:23 pm
This fall Stanford University took a step forward in the open-education movement by offering three free online courses, following in the footsteps of several other elite colleges like Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The three classes being offered—”Machine Learning,” “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence,” and “Introduction to Databases“—are among some of the university’s most popular computer-science courses, according to a blog post on the Open Culture Web site. Enrollment figures for the courses seemingly back up this claim: Andrew Ng, the professor for the machine-learning course, has approximately 94,000 students enrolled in his class alone, he told The Chronicle.
Students in the class includes high schoolers, grandmothers, and soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. “Teaching tens of thousands of students at a time is a very gratifying…