All posts by Scott Carlson


Traditional Education Beats Online in Key Areas, Opinion Poll Finds

We’re years into the era of online education, and yet Americans still hold a skeptical view of online learning’s quality and value to employers, according to the results of a Gallup survey released on Tuesday.

In early October, Gallup asked two groups, each composed of more than 1,000 adults, whether they thought “online education is better” in a series of categories. In terms of “providing a wide range of options for curriculum” and “good value for the money,” online education got slightly bett…


Tech Therapy: What’s the Future of Online Learning?

Charles A. Wight, associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Utah, joined the Tech Therapists recently to talk about the growth in online education. At the University of Utah, online education was at a “hobby level” for the past 10 years. But this spring the proposals for online courses had tripled, and Mr. Wight suspects this is a trend for the future.

“Right now, we teach about 5 percent of our credit hours in fully online courses,” he says. “I think in the next few ye…


Universities Join a Contest to Power Down Computers

A handful of universities are gearing up for a contest to reduce power use among computer users on campus, and there is still time to join the contest if you are interested in participating. The contest, called Power Down for the Planet, is sponsored by the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a nonprofit group devoted to reducing energy use in computing.

Pat Tiernan, executive director of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, says that information-technology devices consume up to 3 percent o…


Tech Therapy: Finding a Key to Green IT

These days, facilities staff members are constantly immersed in sustainability, what with their roles in planning campus construction, dealing with campus energy systems, and supervising odds and ends like campus waste — all of which are directly tied to sustainability priorities.

The average chief information officer is fairly removed from this world — and that’s perhaps why “green IT” is getting attention much later than more mainstream sustainability issues. Only recently have people really …


Google Searches: Maybe a Boiling Teaspoon, Not a Kettle

Yesterday, we passed along an arresting story from The Sunday Times, which said that two Google searches and boiling one kettle of water both generated about the same amount of greenhouse gases.

In response to the story, Google deployed its public-relations machine almost faster than the search engine could yield results to the 13th most popular search of the day, “teacher slept with boy 300 times” (84,900 results in .53 seconds).

“As computers become a bigger part of more people’s lives, infor…


2 Google Searches Equals One Pot of Tea

How many kettles of water have you boiled today?

That might seem like random question for the Wired Campus, but it certainly conjures a picture of the energy used to bring water up to a whistling, scalding 212 degrees.

Now consider this: Alex Wissner-Gross, a physicist at Harvard University who researches the environmental impact of computing, says that two Google searches and bringing a kettle of water to boil generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide. About 200 million Google searches…


The Most Popular Tech Therapy Episodes of 2008

It was a very good year for Tech Therapy, The Chronicle’s technology podcast. Actually, to call it a technology podcast is a bit misleading. It’s often really a show about management and communication, efficiency and psychology.

That said, in 2009, Tech Therapy’s co-hosts, Scott Carlson and Warren Arbogast, plan to take on an array of techie topics, like cloud computing and energy efficiency in technology. If there is something you want them to talk about, write in at


Foiling Hackers With a Super Secure Room at Utica College

This new building at Utica College houses a “sensitive compartmented information facility,” or SCIF. Just you try to hack in, pal. (Photo courtesy Utica College)

Utica, N.Y. — I am standing in a room that I will probably never stand in again, no matter how many times I visit Utica College in the future.

At first glance, it seems like nothing special. It’s a plain, white room — not much bigger than an average office meeting room — with a closet at one end and a round table with chairs in the ce…


NYU Establishes a Center for Video-Game Design and Research

One of the oft-cited, counterintuitive facts in computerland is that the video-game industry pulls in more money than Hollywood. Over the past several years, the two entertainment media have converged in many ways: Video games often include their own backstory, with cinema-like presentations in the game and trailer-like teases. Cinema, in turn, has its share of video-game crossover products.

So it would make sense that New York University, an institution known for training filmmakers and for its…


Consortium Releases New Guidelines for Web Accessibility

The World Wide Web Consortium, an organization devoted to improving the interoperability of the Web, has released a new version of its Web-accessibility guidelines. The guidelines are meant to help Web designers build sites that can be read and understood by people with disabilities as diverse as blindness, hearing impairments, physical impairments, and even cognitive disabilities like short-term memory impairment or seizure disorders.

The new version of the guidelines was developed with broad i…