All posts by Travis Kaya


Web Site Seeks to Show What Drives National Policy Debates

An interactive online database is making it easier to map the rise and fall of policy debates on Capitol Hill, and it is beginning to be used as a teaching tool in college.

The Policy Agendas Project—which got an updated user interface in September—lets users track a wide range of national political issues with detailed data on congressional hearings and voting records, press coverage, and public opinion data. Visitors to the free database can download full data sets or use Web-based softwa…


Hacker Makes the 5th of November One to Remember

A hacker at Washington State University gave students and information-technology staff members another reason to remember the Fifth of November this year.

Students and instructors arriving for class on Friday morning were greeted by a video message automatically beamed onto projector screens in more than two dozen classrooms. The message was delivered by a hacker dressed up as V, the Guy Fawkes-inspired anti-hero of  the 2006 movie V for Vendetta. After hacking into the university’s academic me…


Researcher’s App Will Let Students Call In an Emergency Via Videophone

Calling the campus police to report a crime may soon go multimedia. Researchers at the University of Maryland at College Park are developing an app for cellphones that will let students stream video and audio from the scene to help police improve their response.

Ashok Agrawala, a professor of computer science at the university, is working on a the smartphone app—called Video 911—which will enable 911 callers to stream sights and sounds from the scene to dispatchers. The emergency app will al…


U. of California Readies Its For-Credit Online-Course Venture

The University of California has begun to ask faculty to design and teach online courses for a pilot program that could pave the way for widespread Web offerings at the state’s most-selective public institutions.

But that doesn’t mean the UC system is ready to adopt a much-anticipated and already-controversial online degree program just yet.

The UC Online Instruction Pilot Project, run out of the university’s Office of the President, announced on Wednesday that it is looking for 25 faculty volun…

by Takes Archiving to the Cloud

Museum archives and scholarly collections have a new home online with yesterday’s release of Beta, a cloud-based Web-publishing platform from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

The program—commonly called “WordPress for museums” by its users—is a Web edition of the popular Omeka open-source content-management software that lets users create their own digital archives without having to download and code the software themselves. Though modeled on WordPress, …


What Facebook Tells Researchers About Friendship and Race

College freshmen are more likely to make friends with peers they share a dorm room or major with than they are to befriend those from similar racial backgrounds, a study on the Facebook profiles of first-year students found.

A paper on the study, which will be published next week in the American Journal of Sociology, was conducted by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Los Angeles. They tracked the online profiles of a class of 1,640 students at an unnamed unive…


Governor Jindal Talks Higher Education on Facebook

After being criticized by a Louisiana State University student in a letter to a New Hampshire newspaper about higher-education budget cuts last week, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana decided to take the debate to a platform familiar to students: Facebook.

In a post on his official page on October 19, Governor Jindal called on college students and all  Louisiana Facebook users to lend their “thoughts and voice to the conversation of how we can increase the value of your education” amid a statewide…


Political E-Mails Spark Complaints at Winston-Salem State U.

An administrator’s e-mail misstep has caused a political dust-up at Winston-Salem State University.

When the university’s interim vice chancellor for student affairs, Michelle Releford, got an e-mail message from a student about early voting for midterm elections in the county, with a request to forward it to the entire campus community, she did so. Without reading it first, a university spokeswoman says.

It turns out that portions of the e-mail encouraged students and faculty and staff members …


Cal State Bans Students From Using Online Note-Selling Service

California State University has barred students from buying and selling lecture notes online through a new note-sharing service called NoteUtopia.

The university sent a cease-and-desist letter to the San Francisco-based company on September 21, ordering it to stop commercial operations across all 23 of the system’s campuses. Cal State also sent out a systemwide e-mail warning students that selling class notes violates state law and could, in extreme cases, result in expulsion.

According to Micha…


Using Web Video to Fine-Tune Student Performance

For three years, faculty and students at Baruch College of the City University of New York have been honing their public-speaking and presentation skills online with the college’s Video Oral Communication Assessment Tool, or VOCAT, which allows instructors to view and give feedback on uploaded student videos.

After finding success with the tool on campus, developers are now actively searching for ways to take VOCAT to the next level, both beyond Baruch and across academic disciplines. They belie…