May 8, 2013, 3:52 pm
The University of California at Berkeley has reached a settlement with Disability Rights Advocates in what the group is calling a “landmark agreement” to improve access to textbooks, course readers, and library materials for students with print-related disabilities.
Disability Rights Advocates represented three Berkeley students who said they had difficulty getting access to the materials they needed for class. The group, which is a nonprofit disability-rights legal center, approached the university last year on behalf of the students, proposing settlement negotiations that could resolve the issues and avoid a lawsuit. The negotiations, which took more than a year, led to several new accommodations, said Paul Hippolitus, director of the university’s Disabled Students Program, who called them overdue.
Over the past four years, the program struggled to keep up with a 115-percent…
November 15, 2012, 11:30 am
A group of 10 highly selective colleges has formed a consortium to offer online courses that students enrolled at any of the campuses can take for credit.
The group, which includes Wake Forest and Brandeis Universities, will offer semester-long online courses using software from 2U, an education-technology company formerly called 2tor. Students already attending the institutions can earn credit from any college in the group, while students who are not enrolled at those colleges can apply to take the courses.
Leaders of the effort say it will give students a wider selection of course options. A student at the University of Notre Dame with an interest in music, for example, will be able to take an online course from the University of Rochester’s music department for credit.
The software from 2U will give universities a platform for small online undergraduate courses capped at 20…
October 30, 2012, 9:17 am
A low cellphone battery is a source of anxiety for many college students these days, sending them searching dining halls or libraries for a place to recharge. To reduce panicked questions about where to find the nearest power outlet, universities are purchasing charging stations like those already common in airports. Some are even installing small lockers with power outlets inside, for students who want to keep devices safe while they power up.
Companies like goCharge and KwikBoost say they have seen an uptick in sales to colleges in the past year. KwikBoost has sold units to about 200 universities since April, said Paul Mecca, the company’s co-founder. GoCharge expanded from conventions and bars to universities this year and has sold units to 12 colleges so far, said David Walke, the company’s chief executive.
Mr. Walke said colleges were primarily interested in buying charging…
October 18, 2012, 10:45 am
Many computer-science majors dream of creating start-up companies in California or New York, taking a brilliant idea from their undergraduate days and transforming it into a successful source of profit. This year, “hackathon” events for student programmers—where teams guzzle caffeine as they code for daylong competitions—are proliferating as technology companies look to find top talent and students seek hands-on experience.
Although the term “hacking” often refers to breaching private information or disrupting systems, college hacking competitions ask students to do just the opposite. Programmers have a short span of time to quickly build a usable application from scratch, usually around a theme.
Web sites with hackathon listings show an uptick in events this year, particularly in California and New York. The API Evangelist Web site lists about a hundred events around…
August 9, 2012, 5:59 pm
A new company is updating the idea of using an inkblot test to help college students choose a career.
Researchers at the company, Woofound Inc., have built an application for students that uses their reactions to a series of images to predict their personalities and to suggest careers tailored to their preferences. The creators also plan to have the application suggest what degrees they should pursue and what extracurricular activities they should join.
The project is part of a wave of technology applications that colleges are testing to help track students into fields that fit their interests.
While using the Woofound Career Module, students sift through 84 slides of images with words associated, such as a picture of a tent along with the word “camping,” or a picture of a man painting along with the phrase “creative expression.” Students click either “Me” or “Not …
August 8, 2012, 6:18 pm
A new company lets recent college graduates sell a share of their future earnings in exchange for cash to help them start entrepreneurial projects.
The company is called Upstart, and it was founded by a former Google executive, David J. Girouard. It works by having investors give money directly to individuals in return for a percentage of future income from their ventures. Mr. Girouard expects it to be of interest to students who want to pursue any field that is entrepreneurial and high-risk, such as screenwriting or starting a technology company.
Five universities are participating in a pilot program with Upstart: Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the University of Washington.
Compared with other crowd-sourcing platforms, such as Kickstarter, “ours is a much more fundamental notion in a …
June 28, 2012, 2:01 pm
The battle between tech giants Microsoft and Google over who is to provide student e-mail services at colleges rages on. This week, Microsoft hoped to win over more colleges by ending a fee it had charged for some services in its cloud-based e-mail and productivity suite, Office 365, matching terms long offered by Google.
Office 365 was originally a free e-mail service called Live@Edu. In late 2011, Microsoft renamed the service and expanded it to include features such as an online calendar, word processor, and instant messaging. Colleges could still use the e-mail component of Office 365 for free, but were charged $120 per user per year for the other tools. Last year, Microsoft paid the University of Nebraska $250,000 to switch to Office 365.
The entire Office 365 suite is now free for all accredited educational institutions, said Sig Behrens, the company’s general manager for…
June 13, 2012, 4:59 pm
Behavioral nudges help people quit smoking, exercise, and vote. Can they help students finish college, too?
A start-up company is banking on just that hope, with a new service that directs nudges to the devices that students carry at all times: mobile phones.
The venture, Persistence Plus, bills itself as “the Weight Watchers of college completion.” It draws on behavioral research to deliver personalized messages to students through an iPhone app or text messages. Say, for example, a group of students has a forthcoming math test. The program will send messages to them asking when and where they plan to study for the exam, says Jill Frankfort, who co-founded the company in August 2011.
“Reminders don’t actually change behavior that much,” she explains. “But when you can help someone actually plan out their time and create a mental map of when they’re going to do a behavior,…
May 9, 2012, 4:55 am
Update (5/9/2012, 9:48 a.m.): The list of student names has been removed from PSUacb. In a new note, the site’s creator wrote, “I’m not cruel enough to embarrass someone in front of the whole country for something stupid they did in college, especially when everyone at Penn State (or at least 7,846 people) has already realized you suck.”
Campus-gossip Web sites like JuicyCampus and CollegeACB used the lure of anonymity to entice students to post on them. The cloak gave students a virtual bathroom wall on which to write racy rumors and explicit insults about their peers without fear of being exposed.
Now, the creator of a similar site at Pennsylvania State University has apparently turned that veil of secrecy inside-out, hoping to teach students a public lesson about cyberbullying.
In a bait-and-switch prank, the creator of PSUacb.com has revealed information about students who…
April 25, 2012, 1:18 pm
Milwaukee — Digital natives? The idea that students are superengaged finders of online learning materials once struck Glenda Morgan, e-learning strategist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as “a load of hooey.” Students, she figured, probably stick with the textbooks and other content they’re assigned in class.
Not quite. The preliminary results of a multiyear study of undergraduates’ online study habits, presented by Ms. Morgan at a conference on blended learning here this week, show that most students shop around for digital texts and videos beyond the boundaries of what professors assign them in class.
“It’s almost like they want to find the content by themselves,” Ms. Morgan said in an interview after her talk, which took place in a packed room at the 9th Annual Sloan Consortium Blended Learning Conference & Workshop.
It’s nothing new to…