An interactive online database is making it easier to map the rise and fall of policy debates on Capitol Hill, and it is beginning to be used as a teaching tool in college.
The Policy Agendas Project—which got an updated user interface in September—lets users track a wide range of national political issues with detailed data on congressional hearings and voting records, press coverage, and public opinion data. Visitors to the free database can download full data sets or use Web-based software to instantly generate trend graphs. According to Bryan Jones, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin and a founder of the project, it attempts to answer one central question: “Why is it that Congress focuses on some policies rather than others?”
Researchers are beginning to answer that question by looking at the apparent link between public-opinion polls an…
A hacker at Washington State University gave students and information-technology staff members another reason to remember the Fifth of November this year.
Students and instructors arriving for class on Friday morning were greeted by a video message automatically beamed onto projector screens in more than two dozen classrooms. The message was delivered by a hacker dressed up as V, the Guy Fawkes-inspired anti-hero of the 2006 movie V for Vendetta. After hacking into the university’s academic media system, which manages classroom-presentation and distance-learning technology, the as-of-yet-unidentified culprit or culprits programmed motorized screens to unfurl themselves and scheduled projectors to broadcast the five-minute-long video once every hour. The video—ostensibly a diatribe against campus squirrels and a call to end student apathy—interrupted lectures and cut off access…
Calling the campus police to report a crime may soon go multimedia. Researchers at the University of Maryland at College Park are developing an app for cellphones that will let students stream video and audio from the scene to help police improve their response.
Ashok Agrawala, a professor of computer science at the university, is working on a the smartphone app—called Video 911—which will enable 911 callers to stream sights and sounds from the scene to dispatchers. The emergency app will also draw on GPS and other location technology available in many phones to pinpoint the call source, then use surveillance cameras around the university to get a comprehensive picture of what’s happening on the ground. In addition, dispatchers will broadcast the information to first responders watching live video feeds on laptops en route to the scene. All this, Mr. Agrawala said, “at the touch…
The University of California has begun to ask faculty to design and teach online courses for a pilot program that could pave the way for widespread Web offerings at the state’s most-selective public institutions.
But that doesn’t mean the UC system is ready to adopt a much-anticipated and already-controversial online degree programjust yet.
The UC Online Instruction Pilot Project, run out of the university’s Office of the President, announced on Wednesday that it is looking for 25 faculty volunteers across the system’s 10 campuses to develop and teach online courses in the 2011-12 academic year. Participants will be chosen by a faculty-appointed review committee in January, and will work with Web developers and other university faculty members over the course of the pilot project. “We’re really looking for a coalition of the willing,” said Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for…
Museum archives and scholarly collections have a new home online with yesterday’s release of Omeka.net Beta, a cloud-based Web-publishing platform from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
The program—commonly called “WordPress for museums” by its users—is a Web edition of the popular Omeka open-source content-management software that lets users create their own digital archives without having to download and code the software themselves. Though modeled on WordPress, the Omeka beta program is designed to store and display archival material—videos, documents, and images—rather than just blog entries. Whereas WordPress “is really good for doing journalism,” said Tom Scheinfeldt, the center’s managing director, “Omeka is very good at managing collections data.”
Omeka is open to anyone looking to post archives online and includes a menu of service…
College freshmen are more likely to make friends with peers they share a dorm room or major with than they are to befriend those from similar racial backgrounds, a study on the Facebook profiles of first-year students found.
A paper on the study, which will be published next week in the American Journal of Sociology, was conducted by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles. They tracked the online profiles of a class of 1,640 students at an unnamed university to see how they chose their friends. Although the researchers did not identify the institution, they said they chose a selective college where the admitted students represent a wide array of geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and are not likely to spend so much time with high school friends.
Although sociologists have long believed students are drawn together by race,…
After being criticized by a Louisiana State University student in a letter to a New Hampshire newspaper about higher-education budget cuts last week, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana decided to take the debate to a platform familiar to students: Facebook.
In a post on his official page on October 19, Governor Jindal called on college students and all Louisiana Facebook users to lend their “thoughts and voice to the conversation of how we can increase the value of your education” amid a statewide financial crunch. “Our government is spending more than we can afford, and I believe our universities are delivering less value than you deserve,” Governor Jindal wrote.
By the weekend, more than 200 people had replied to the governor’s call, offering suggestions to improve higher education in the state. And about 80 more people replied to a follow-up post from the governor on Thursday…
An administrator’s e-mail misstep has caused a political dust-up at Winston-Salem State University.
When the university’s interim vice chancellor for student affairs, Michelle Releford, got an e-mail message from a student about early voting for midterm elections in the county, with a request to forward it to the entire campus community, she did so. Without reading it first, a university spokeswoman says.
It turns out that portions of the e-mail encouraged students and faculty and staff members of the public university to vote for Democratic candidates. It also provided a link to the county Democratic Party’s Web page. “She didn’t look at it like she should have,” said Nancy Young, the spokeswoman.
Within a few hours on Monday, university officials sent out a retraction, asking students, professors, and staff members to disregard the first e-mail. In that follow-up message,…
California State University has barred students from buying and selling lecture notes online through a new note-sharing service called NoteUtopia.
The university sent a cease-and-desist letter to the San Francisco-based company on September 21, ordering it to stop commercial operations across all 23 of the system’s campuses. Cal State also sent out a systemwide e-mail warning students that selling class notes violates state law and could, in extreme cases, result in expulsion.
According to Michael Uhlenkamp, a Cal State spokesman, the service violates the portion of the state education code barring the distribution of lecture records, including “handwritten or typewritten class notes,” for profit. Since the company received the letter last month, Mr. Uhlenkamp said, its officials have “done what we’ve asked them to do,” including stopping active marketing and publishing a…
For three years, faculty and students at Baruch College of the City University of New York have been honing their public-speaking and presentation skills online with the college’s Video Oral Communication Assessment Tool, or VOCAT, which allows instructors to view and give feedback on uploaded student videos.
After finding success with the tool on campus, developers are now actively searching for ways to take VOCAT to the next level, both beyond Baruch and across academic disciplines. They believe video-sharing on VOCAT has potential application in everything from distance learning and foreign-language instruction to performance arts and industrial trades.
“We’re looking ahead to where it might go,” said Mikhail Gershovich, platform designer and director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute at Baruch. “I don’t want this to be just an assessment tool.”
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