Category Archives: Software


Do ‘Brain Training’ Games Work? It Depends on Which Scientists You Ask

Just two months after a group of neuroscientists criticized commercially available brain games, a different group of scientists released an open letter on Wednesday saying the products do show promise.

In October the Stanford Center on Longevity and nearly 70 scientists issued a statement objecting to claims that such games “offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline.”

In response, more than 120 scientists have now signed an open letter to the Stanfor…


An App to Make Career Counseling More Like a Video Game

Diana Cobbe believes she has a way to help students communicate their skills to potential employers: Make filling out an online résumé feel more like a video game than like paperwork, and use it to connect students looking for jobs with businesses looking for talent. In short, she’s created an app that she describes as a mix of Candy Crush and LinkedIn.

“In college, kids leave the job-search process for the last minute,” Ms. Cobbe says. “They’re in a situation where they don’t find o…


Collaborative That Once Criticized Software Companies Becomes One

Ten years ago, a group of universities started a collaborative software project touted as an alternative to commercial software companies, which were criticized as too costly. On Friday the project’s leaders made a surprising announcement: that it would essentially become a commercial entity.

The software at issue, called Kuali, does the boring but important work of managing accounting, billing, e-commerce, budgeting, and other campus functions. Colleges can pay software companies tens of millio…


3 Universities Earn Accolades for Tech Innovation

Boundary-pushing projects involving mobile computing and in-memory analytics have landed three universities on the 2014 CIO 100 list, which recognizes organizations that leverage information technology in innovative ways.

Georgetown University, Lynn University, and the University of Kentucky were the higher-education institutions among the awardees, made public this week by IDG Enterprise, a media company that produces publications including CIO and Computerworld magazines.

Georgetown was recogn…


Cornell U. Researchers Put Robots in Conversation, and the Result Is Surprisingly Human

When the machines take over, much will change. But perhaps not the exquisite frustrations of a halting philosophical debate.

Researchers at Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab have demonstrated this by putting two artificially intelligent avatars in conversation with one another. The avatars, called Cleverbots, are sophisticated versions of the classic Eliza program, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s. The Cornell researchers—two doctoral students and an…


New Syllabus Archive Opens the ‘Curricular Black Box’

Course syllabi are a potentially valuable source of information for teaching and scholarship. Their contents could shed light on the evolution of fields (How has Foucault’s popularity changed over time?) or help professors develop new courses (What are best practices for teaching digital humanities?). But gathering and sharing syllabi can be a messy business. Privacy concerns, legal uncertainty, fragmented and inconsistent sharing practices—all present challenges.

A group of scholars is taking a…


Blackboard Buys Student-Centric Web Platform MyEdu

Blackboard Inc., whose learning-management system is used by more than two-fifths of nonprofit colleges in the United States, said on Wednesday that it would acquire the student-centric web platform MyEdu.

Jay Bhatt, Blackboard’s chief executive, declined to disclose the purchase price. He described the acquisition as “small” compared with others that Blackboard has made in the past several years, but “extremely strategic.”

Based in Austin, Tex., MyEdu employs about 20 people. Its platform is …


College Registrar Creates the ‘Yelp’ of Higher-Education Software

Education technology now has its own version of popular, user-generated review sites like Yelp and Amazon.

Mark A. Baker, associate registrar at Whitworth University, in Spokane, Wash., last week made public Software PhD, which is designed to allow educators and vendors to exchange frank, constructive views about education software.

Mr. Baker says the website was born out of his own committee work in researching and vetting software purchases at Whitworth. The work typically involved sales pitch…


Bill Would Require Instructional Technology to Be Accessible to All

Legislation introduced on Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives would require colleges either to make instructional technology accessible to disabled students or to provide them with equivalent, alternative resources.

Rep. Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican and senior member of the House education committee, said his bill would ensure that disabled students were given equal treatment as technology plays a larger and larger role in instruction. The bill is called the Technology, Equality, an…


QuickWire: An Unhappy Lawrence Lessig Takes on Apple

Almost everyone who uses computers or smartphones has tales of upgrades gone awry—sometimes horribly awry. But not everyone publishes a scorching, 1,935-word complaint on his high-profile blog when an upgrade fails to satisfy.

That’s how Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard University law professor, channeled his anger after Apple operating-system upgrades led to what he calls “the week from Apple hell.” But his big complaint, he says, isn’t with the various bugs and feature losses that seem to come wit…