Category Archives: Software

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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…

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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 …

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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…

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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…

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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…

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‘The Zuckerberg Files’: New Scholarly Archive Scrutinizes Facebook CEO

zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

In 2010 two privacy scholars published an op-ed criticizing the “Machiavellian” public-relations methods of tech companies like Facebook. They analyzed a PR script that may sound familiar to many of Facebook’s 1.2 billion users. A new feature, which shares more personal data with advertisers, is rolled out. A blowback ensues. Then comes the company’s response: minor changes that largely leave the new feature in place, plus reassuring noises like “we are listening to our users.”

“…

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Purdue U. Software Prompts Students to Study—and Graduate

Just when students thought they were finished with Mom and Dad’s nagging them to do their homework, a piece of software has taken the parents’ place. But this new nagging reminder, called Signals, has given students at Purdue University a boost in graduation rates.

Across the board, since 2007, students enrolled in at least one class with Signals saw a higher graduation rate than did students who were not in classes with the software, according to data from Purdue. Retention rates for those enro…

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MIT Will Offer MOOC Curricula, Not Just Single Courses, on edX

MOOC companies are hardly universities unto themselves, but now a provider wants to move beyond offering one-off courses.

MITx, a division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that offers courses on the nonprofit edX’s platform, announced on Tuesday that it would soon offer special certificates to students who completed a prescribed sequence of massive open online courses from MIT. The sequences will be called XSeries.

MIT plans to offer its first XSeries sequence, Foundations of Compute…

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Ohio State U. Band Marches Ahead of the Curve With iPads

MBdrills on iPad copy

(Ohio State U. photo by Meagan Culley)

This semester some members of Ohio State University’s marching band will be looking at iPads while they’re practicing, instead of the sheet music and paper drill routines they’re used to. The change was proposed by two students—Ryan Barta, a senior in the business school, and Charlie King, a senior computer-science major—who saw both economic and sustainability advantages in using the iPad.

With the help of the band’s director, Jonathan Waters, and a $25,00…

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Professors Envision Using Google Glass in the Classroom

Hernandez

Richard Koci Hernandez, of the U. of California at Berkeley, while excited about Google Glass, said he does not yet see its applicability in the classroom.

New digital eyewear from Google, which features a built-in Webcam and the ability to display e-mail messages and other information, has sparked a mix of curiosity and skepticism in the popular press, but several professors are rushing to try it out in their teaching and research—and early reviews are mixed.

Cynthia Johnston Turner, Cornell Un…