by

New U. of California President Plays Down Online Education

The new president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, does not think online education is the answer to the fundamental challenges facing her system.

Ms. Napolitano, who took office last fall after serving four years as U.S. secretary of homeland security, sat for an interview this week with Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California. Mr. Baldassare noted that online education did not figure in her stated initiatives. Here is how Ms. Napolitano responde…

by

Scholars Collaborate to Make Sound Recordings More Accessible

A project based at the University of Texas at Austin is on track to increase the accessibility and use of sound recordings by repurposing a tool originally developed to classify bird calls. The goal is to teach the tool how to classify sounds in a wide variety of existing recordings, and even to give scholars ways to visualize the sounds.

“When dealing with sound, there’s only one way to access it or move around, and that is to press play and listen to it real time. Otherwise you can’t get—f…

by

Penn State Students Plan a Landing for Their Lunar Lion

Lunar Lion Lander

Penn State’s entry in a high-stakes race to land a vehicle safely on the Moon is the Lunar Lion, expected to reach its destination in December 2015. (Penn State U. image)

State College, Pa. — It’s not unusual for engineering students to enter competitions. They regularly build bridges, concrete canoes, submarines, solar houses, even Rube Goldberg machines. But an 80-member team of Pennsylvania State University students is hard at work designing something that is unusual: a Moon lander.

It’s th…

by

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…

by

U.S. Agencies, Industry, and Academe Team Up to Compute Media’s Future

As risky as predictions are, here’s a fairly safe one: The future of media is bound up with computers. That doesn’t mean that print and other older forms of media will fade away. It does mean that newer media, whatever shape they take, will be created, shared, and used with the help of computers. If it’s not love, it’s apps that will bring us together.

That recognition has brought together the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Hu…

by

Internet2 Teams Up With India’s National Knowledge Network

Internet2, a computer-networking consortium whose infrastructure supports the work of tens of thousands of educators and researchers across the United States, expects to formalize a partnership with its counterpart in India this month. Officials say the move will clear the way for collaboration between American and Indian researchers on a scale never seen before.

A delegation of American academics, including Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University, and H. David Lambert, president of…

by

QuickWire: There May Be Fewer Online Programs Than You Think

A new report on online education finds “noise in the data” that institutions send to the U.S. Department of Education about their offerings. While 3,311 institutions say they have online programs, the report says, the actual number is more like 1,243—in part because the definition of “online” is “overly ambiguous and broad,” and in part because an institution that has multiple campuses can count each as having online programs, even if the institution in fact has only a single online offering ava…

by

QuickWire: Harvard U. Students Are Silenced During MOOC Filming

An English professor at Harvard University turned heads last month when she instructed students in her poetry class to refrain from asking questions during lectures so as not to disrupt recordings being made for the MOOC version of the course.

Elisa New, a professor of American literature, instituted the policy at the behest of technicians from HarvardX, the university’s online arm, according to The Harvard Crimson, which first reported the news. The video technicians reportedly told her they wa…

by

This Guy Drew a Cat. You Won’t Believe What Happened 4 Centuries Later.

Franz Helm’s illustrated manual on pyrotechnic weapons was around for more than four centuries before it went viral.

When the German artillery expert wrote the manual, in the mid-1500s, he unwittingly created a piece of media ideally suited to the tastes of 21st-century Internet culture: Cats that appeared to be wearing jet packs.

Helm appears to have been describing a creative siege tactic. In order “to set fire to a castle or city which you can’t get at otherwise,” he advised in the manuscript…

by

QuickWire: National Archives Will Shutter 3 Facilities

The National Archives and Records Administration said on Tuesday that it would close three of its facilities—in Anchorage, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia—to save $1.3-million a year.

Records stored at the Anchorage facility will be moved to a facility in Seattle and will be digitized so they remain available to users in Alaska, said David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, in a written statement. The statement was released after the Anchorage Daily News quoted Katie Ringsmuth, an adjunct…