All posts by Marc Beja


‘New York Times’ Columnists Offer Courses Online

With newspapers shrinking their staffs or shutting down altogether, three New York Times columnists have begun to pursue a backup career plan—teaching.

Well, not really.

Nicholas Kristof, Gail Collins, and Eric Asimov will be teaching courses online and in person through the newspaper’s continuing-education program, Knowledge Network, according to the Nieman Journalism Lab. The Times has been developing course material with local universities for nearly two years.

Mr. Kristof’s online seminar wi…


Robot Gives Tours at National Taiwan U.

After giving a campus tour of National Taiwan University, the guide needs to recharge — literally.

Engineering students have created a robot that can give guided tours around the university, both outdoors and inside a campus museum, the university says.

The robot, which is about three feet tall, uses GPS and a laser sonar system that helps it avoid obstacles. A student programs a pre-established route using wireless remote controls.

The robot, named Hsiao Mei by the students who created it, also…


Professors Are Not Sold on Twitter’s Usefulness

We’ve been told that college students aren’t Twitter’s primary audience – people under the age of 25 make up only a quarter of the service’s users. But are college professors driving up membership? Not really, a new survey from Faculty Focus shows.

According to results of a survey released this week of more than 1,900 higher-education professionals, more than half say they have never used Twitter, 30 percent use it, and nearly 13 percent tried it but decided to abandon it.

Those that don’t use T…


New Editing Process Seeks to Improve Wikipedia’s Accuracy

Students citing Wikipedia in papers about living people can feel a little more secure about the online encyclopedia’s accuracy.

Copying an effort that was tested in Wikipedia’s German version, a new feature called “flagged revisions” will not allow posts on living people to be updated until “an experienced volunteer editor” approves the changes, The New York Times reports.

“We are no longer at the point that it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” Michael Snow, chair o…


Labeling Library Archives Is a Game at Dartmouth College

Professor Mary Flanagan wants students to go online and label library archives – for free.

Ms. Flanagan, a digital-humanities professor at Dartmouth College, is creating an Internet-based game in which users create descriptive tags for library images to improve searching through the library’s database. Although the program will be tested at the college’s library, Ms. Flanagan says the game will be open source and available for others to download and build upon.

She says the program could save li…


How Students, Professors, and Colleges Are, and Should Be, Using Social Media

S. Craig Watkins

The Chronicle spoke with S. Craig Watkins, an associate professor of radio, TV, and film at the University of Texas at Austin, about the new age of social networking and media, and what it means for the classroom of the future. His soon-to-be-published book, The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future, touches on those ideas.

Q. How has technology made today’s students different from studen…


New Program Seeks to Make Alternative Textbooks for Visually Impaired Students Available Faster

While music-recording companies have been fighting people who illegally share songs, book publishers are looking to expand file-sharing for college students with print-related disabilities.

AccessText, a new service that rolled out a beta version this week, has created an online database that makes it simpler for disability-student services at colleges to track down alternative forms of course materials from book publishers. When electronic versions don’t exist for a particular book, the college…


Social Media May Be Banned at Southeastern Conference Games

At University of Florida sporting events, you can cheer all you want, but don’t even think about tweeting.

This month the Southeastern Conference, an organization of 12 top-ranked collegiate sports programs, notified its members that it was updating its social-media policy, effectively banning fans from taking video, photos, or updating Facebook or Twitter accounts during games.

But as the St. Petersburg Times points out, the conference is not changing the rules to get its fans to pay more atten…


Google Hopes Readers Can Download, Share, and Use Books

Authors who feared the expansion of Google Books‘ library, or who felt the company was hoarding books and filling its own coffers, now have a little less to worry about.

Google announced today that it will let authors use Google Books to distribute works that they have published under Creative Commons licenses. Readers will be able to download the copyrighted books and share them with other Google Books users as long as they comply with the authors’ decisions on how the material can be used. (T…


Job Hunting? Check Out the Search-Committee Chair’s Blog

Jason Mittell, a professor at Middlebury College, has been on five faculty search committees. During each search, he found that prospective employees were very nervous about the committee’s lack of openness, and sometimes close to paranoia if they didn’t get a call back for weeks. He remembered feeling just as anxious when he was applying for teaching positions.

“The entire process seems so draped in mystery and obscurity,” says Mr. Mittell. “Anything that can be done to counter that is very val…