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QuickWire: Blackboard Swallows a Small Competitor

The course-management and campus-technology heavyweight Blackboard said on Wednesday that it was acquiring Perceptis, a competitor in the helpdesk and student-services markets. With call centers in South Carolina and Arizona, Perceptis has customers both in higher education and in other sectors. Blackboard said the acquisition would “enhance a service model that the industry needs: one that fully supports students from the first moment they are interested in a school to the day they graduate.”

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In a MOOC Mystery, a Course Suddenly Vanishes

[Update (7/8/2014, 2:47 p.m.): See a new post on this topic: "U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement."]

A massive open online course on making sense of massive open online courses caused massive confusion when the course content was suddenly deleted and the professor started writing cryptic things on Twitter.

The MOOC, called “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was taught by Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a lecturer at the University of Zurich. Offered through C…

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Anthropology Group Will Test a Faster, Digital Approach to Book Reviews

It takes years to research, write, and publish a scholarly monograph. It can take just as long to get that book reviewed by a scholarly journal once it’s in print. But a review that appears years after the book does, even if it’s a rave, doesn’t help an author whose tenure clock is running. Nor does it help a publisher hoping to attract attention to front-list titles.

The lag time between publication and review “is, for lack of a better word, appalling,” says Oona Schmid, director of publishing …

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QuickWire: Sloan Consortium Picks a New Name

The Sloan Consortium, an influential champion of online learning that grew out of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s early interest in the topic, is changing its name and will now be known as the Online Learning Consortium. In keeping with the times, it announced the change in both a traditional news release and a colorful infographic.

The consortium was founded in 1992 and published the first issue of its Journal of Asynchronous Learning in 1997. It has been a stand-alone membership organization …

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Ed-Tech Companies Oppose U.S. Agency’s Plan to End Net Neutrality

Four educational-technology businesses have filed objections to a Federal Communications Commission plan under which companies could pay extra to have their content delivered more quickly over the Internet.

The companies said in a joint news release that ending the current policy of net neutrality in favor of high-speed toll lanes and slower free lanes would make it possible for “entrenched education players such as for-profit giants in higher education” and “expensive traditional universities” …

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Hackers May Have Obtained Data on 163,000 at Butler U.

Butler University has joined a growing list of higher-education institutions hit by data thieves.

Butler’s president, James M. Danko, said in a letter to those who may have been affected that personal information on as many as 163,000 students, alumni, employees, and even potential applicants might have been obtained by hackers, according to The Indianapolis Star. The data breach was discovered in late May, when a flash drive containing information about some Butler employees turned up in Califo…

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QuickWire: Deal Adds Campus-Security Features to Blackboard App

Students and campus-security officials alike are increasingly turning to mobile apps to report incidents and disseminate emergency information—in part because students are “mobile-device driven,” as one university police chief puts it, and in part because those devices incorporate features, like GPS and cameras, that can come in handy when reporting a problem.

Now Blackboard, the course-management heavyweight, is setting up a partnership that will incorporate an app called In Case of Crisis into…

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Who Ought to Underwrite Publishing Scholars’ Books?

New Orleans — At almost any gathering of academic publishers or librarians, you’ll hear someone float the idea—sometimes phrased as a question—that the model for publishing scholarly monographs is broken. Two sets of ideas aired at the Association of American University Presses’ annual meeting, held here this week, don’t say the model is damaged beyond repair. But the proposals, both from groups outside the university-press community, suggest that it needs to be retrofitted, at the least.

One po…

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5 Things Researchers Have Discovered About MOOCs

In December 2013 a group of academics gathered during a Texas snowstorm and began the second phase of a discussion about massive open online courses. They were not terribly impressed by the hype the courses had received in the popular media, and they had set out to create a better body of literature about MOOCs—albeit a less sensational one.

The MOOC Research Initiative, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, had given many of those academics research grants to study what was going on in…

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In the Digital Era, Print Still Gets Plenty of Love From Scholars

New Orleans — Nothing gladdens a publisher’s heart more than hearing readers say they still like to buy books—and printed books at that. At the Association of American University Presses’ annual meeting, which wrapped up here this week, a panel of scholars talked about how much of their work was still print-based even as chatter at the conference focused on e-books, metadata, and new ideas about how to make it easier to publish monographs digitally.

The panel included associate and assistant pro…