All posts by Alexandra Rice


Canadian Faculty Union Warns That Student Postings of Lectures Could Violate Copyright Law

The faculty union at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, sent an e-mail message to its members this month alerting them to a popular Web site where students are sharing course materials, including what the union calls professors’ “intellectual property.”

In the e-mail, the union defines intellectual property as “lectures, course notes, laboratory materials, exams, and other works created by members for their class,” which cannot be published without the author’s permission. The e-mail encoura…


Open-Textbook Idea Is Gaining Steam

Colleges across the country took note when Washington State announced its Open Course Library initiative in October, offering community-college students affordable online resources for some of the most popular courses.

Now other states and colleges are exploring similar options.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst awarded 10 teaching faculty $1,000 grants this spring as a part of its Open Education Initiative. The faculty members submitted proposals for developing free or low-cost digital…


Education-Technology Companies Get Go-Ahead to Merge

Higher-education software giants Datatel and SunGard Higher Education today announced plans to push forward with a merger after receiving clearance from the Department of Justice.

The two companies publicized the plans back in August, when the private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC, which owns Datatel, said it would buy SunGard Higher Education for $1.775-billion. Now Datatel, under Hellman & Friedman, is seeking a $1.2-billion loan to finance the acquisition of SunGard, according to a Bloom…


Education Dept. Report Calls for Greater Accessibility to Learning Materials for Visually Impaired Students

A report released Tuesday updates Congress on the state of accessibility to learning materials for college students with visual impairments such as blindness, and it recommends ways to improve their learning conditions.

The Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities published the report following a 14-month study on the issue. The commission found that although efforts have been made to provide visually impaired students wi…


New Academic Social Network Looks Beyond the Course, and Beyond Facebook

Jon Corshen, CEO of a new academic social-media network, says students don’t want to be friends with their professors on Facebook but are left with few alternatives for interacting with instructors on the Internet after class time ends. So he created a space on the Web for students and professors to “meet up” outside the classroom.

In two years, Mr. Corshen and his team have raised $7-million in venture capital, from Granite Ventures, Omidyar Network, and other investors. The Chronicle caught up…


Historically Black University Looks Online to Raise Enrollment

The Southern University system is increasing its online course offerings through a partnership with a for-profit provider of online degree programs for historically black colleges and universities.

Education Online Services Corporation, or EOServe, which specializes in marketing and recruitment, will work with the university to package its existing degree programs for the Internet and to develop its online presence, said Southern’s president, Ronald F. Mason Jr.

The financially ailing system, co…


New Course-Management Software Promises Facebook-Like Experience

Three University of Pennsylvania students who recently dropped out to start an upstart course-management system today unveiled their software, called Coursekit, after having raised more than $1-million in venture capital.

The trio, frustrated with the systems offered by universities, such as Blackboard, decided to team up and design their own online course platform, which emphasizes social networking and an easy-to-use interface. By May, the founders, Joesph Cohen, Dan Getelman, and Jim Grandpre…


Q & A: a Onetime Librarian Talks About the ‘Unconference’ Movement

The word “mob” usually carries a negative connotation, but in Michelle Boule’s new book, Mob Rule Learning: Camps, Unconferences, and Trashing the Talking Head, the mob acts as the protagonist, freeing the jaded conference attendee from the shackles of the traditional conference.

The book, in exploring the unconference movement, walks the reader through the pitfalls of the traditional conference, the idea of an unconference, how to plan one, and case studies from the movement. And taking it one …


How a Professor Gave a Blind Student a New Outlook on Science

Amanda Lacy was frustrated with her physics class and ready to drop it.

Ms. Lacy, a blind student at Austin Community College, is a computer-science major who loves her classes but often struggles in them, not because she doesn’t understand the material, but because she doesn’t have access to adequate textbooks. And when she started taking the introduction-to-physics class, things got even worse, until a professor stepped in with a solution.

The college provides blind students with digital copie…


Learn About Robots From Stanford Professors, Free of Charge

This fall Stanford University took a step forward in the open-education movement by offering three free online courses, following in the footsteps of several other elite colleges like Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The three classes being offered—”Machine Learning,” “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence,” and “Introduction to Databases“—are among some of the university’s most popular computer-science courses, according to a blog post on the Open Culture Web sit…