August 30, 2010, 2:00 pm
Josh Weinstein, a 2009 graduate of Princeton University, remembers waiting eagerly for his official college e-mail address the summer before freshman year. An address ending in .edu would give him access to Facebook, an online social network that only college students could join.
Oh, how times have changed.
Everyone and their mothers, and fathers, are on Facebook. But Mr. Weinstein hasn’t given up hope: He’s created a Web site where students can post messages, pictures, and events away from the prying eyes of parents and professors. The site, CollegeOnly, went up on Wednesday, and right now students from Cornell, Princeton, and Yale Universities can sign up. Those colleges were among the campuses where Mr. Weinstein’s other creations—GoodCrush, an online matchmaking service, and RandomDorm, a college-only version of Chatroulette—were especially popular. Mr. Weinstein and his team plan to…
August 20, 2010, 3:37 pm
A group of information-technology specialists at Purdue University has found a way to beat the heat for a university data center’s two supercomputers. This summer, when temperatures rose and the campus cooling system wasn’t doing enough to bring them down, Purdue’s IT team reined in the clusters’ computing speeds to cut down on the heat the computers were generating.
The IT staff used its new tactic twice, once on a hot June afternoon and once in July. By cutting the supercomputers’ speeds by about 70 percent, the staff kept the center cool enough for the computers to keep going.
The temperature in the data center, which nearly 50 research groups on campus use, is usually around 70 degrees, said Mike Shuey, a member of Purdue’s IT staff. If the mercury reaches 90 degrees, IT employees typically start shutting down the supercomputers. If it gets any hotter, the computers shut down…
August 18, 2010, 3:11 pm
While a handful of colleges have opted to give incoming students iPads this fall, Williston State College is handing out iPads to its faculty members instead.
The giveaway at the two-year institution was the decision of the college’s president, Raymond Nadolny, said Wanda Meyer, Williston State’s vice president for instruction. The money to purchase the iPads came from funds set aside for professional development, Ms. Meyer said.
The faculty members received the iPads Wednesday at a morning-long training session on how to use them. Most of the professors had never used an iPad before, said Steven Grunenwald, an associate professor of English. “This was a new experience, so I think the learning curve was steep,” he said.
Mr. Grunenwald isn’t sure how he will use the new tool in his teaching. He has downloaded an application that allows him to access files on his desktop computer remotely …
August 10, 2010, 6:07 pm
What return can students expect on the thousands of dollars invested in their college educations? Preparation for a professional path, maybe. Self-enrichment, others say.
A Web site called Ultrinsic tries to make the rewards of studying more immediate. Students can make a small bet on how well they’ll do in a course, with a starting limit of $25 on how much they can earn. The students contribute a chunk of the money, and Ultrinsic puts up the rest. If they make the grade, they win it all. If they don’t, the students lose what they put in. And the higher students set their sights for their own academic performance, the bigger the payoff.
“I know at times it’s tough to study,” said Jeremy Gelbart, Ultrinsic’s president and a December graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York. “You want something now for it, not just a job in the future.”
Questions have been raised about…
August 6, 2010, 11:57 am
Before Stanford University’s new engineering library opened on Monday, students wandered by and asked the library’s leader, Helen B. Josephine, if they could come in.
Its location in the School of Engineering’s new center makes it easy and convenient for students to use, she said. Being close to students made it worth going from 16,000 square feet of space in the old engineering library to about 6,000, according to Ms. Josephine.
Though headlines hailed the new library as “bookless,” Stanford’s new facility, which combines the holdings of the engineering, physics, and computer-science libraries, contains about 15,000 books, Ms. Josephine said. The rest of its physical collection—about 96,000 books, journals, and conference proceedings from the old engineering library alone—are being moved off-site to Livermore, Calif., for storage.
The new library is also the debut of a self-checkout…
August 3, 2010, 4:43 pm
A team of 12 digital humanists came together at George Mason University last week. In seven days, they built a new Web tool that lets users turn blog entries into an electronic book.
The creators intend their new tool, Anthologize, to make preparing a polished product—potentially for publication—a simple, quick process.
Anthologize is the product of the One Week, One Tool program, run by George Mason’s Center for History and New Media and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The program brought together people from a variety of disciplines, including professors in the humanities, instructional-technology staff, and Web developers, for a hands-on learning experience.
The new tool, Anthologize, is a free, open-source WordPress plug-in that lets users organize and edit work from one blog or from many. Users can then export the content as a printer-friendly PDF or in other…
July 30, 2010, 3:38 pm
Last week, a team at Harvard University rolled out the latest release of a program that helps researchers create their own Web sites. The open-source software, OpenScholar, seeks to make building and customizing Web sites simple and straightforward, even for academics who aren’t tech-savvy.
There are currently two versions of the software: one for scholars to create a personal Web site and one for researchers to build a project Web site.
Though faculty members often have Web sites created for them by their department’s staff, OpenScholar was created to help academics make their own Web sites by automating most of the process, said Gary King, the director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the project’s principal investigator.
“It’s about making the technology accessible to people,” said Ferdinand Alimadhi, a programmer and Web developer at the institute and the…
July 23, 2010, 9:00 am
A new player entered the field of open online education last week: Nixty, a Web site that allows any user to take and create courses for free.
The new learning platform started up with over 200 course offerings culled from open-source content already available online, such as courses from the Khan Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare Project. Nixty’s users have begun developing about 120 new courses since its launch, said Glen Moriarty, the company’s chief executive.
Nixty comes with all the trappings of most course-management systems: a grade book, testing, discussion boards. Mr. Moriarty used to head and is still in the leadership team at Scholar360, which develops course-management software. But right now, Nixty is meant to help make educational content free, open, and easy to access.
Other sites exist that put together the open-source educational…
July 19, 2010, 5:37 pm
Faculty members and information-technology staff members alike say technology is useful for teaching and learning, but professors take a narrower view of what technology belongs in today’s classroom, according to a report released on Monday by the technology company CDW Government Inc.
Eighty-eight percent of the 303 faculty members surveyed said technology was essential or useful for student learning, and over 60 percent said they used electronic materials in their teaching, according to the report.
The most popular tools cited by professors were e-textbooks and online documents, with faculty members reporting far less enthusiasm for other electronic tools. Under a quarter of faculty members surveyed use wikis or blogs in their teaching, and only 31 percent of professors surveyed considered online collaboration tools “essential” to today’s classroom, compared with 72 percent of over 300…