All posts by Sophia Li


College-Only Social Network Debuts in the Ivy League

Josh Weinstein, a 2009 graduate of Princeton University, remembers waiting eagerly for his official college e-mail address the summer before freshman year. An address ending in .edu would give him access to Facebook, an online social network that only college students could join.

Oh, how times have changed.

Everyone and their mothers, and fathers, are on Facebook. But Mr. Weinstein hasn’t given up hope: He’s created a Web site where students can post messages, pictures, and events away from the …


Supercomputers Slow Down to Stay Cool in Summer Heat

A group of information-technology specialists at Purdue University has found a way to beat the heat for a university data center’s two supercomputers. This summer, when temperatures rose and the campus cooling system wasn’t doing enough to bring them down, Purdue’s IT team reined in the clusters’ computing speeds to cut down on the heat the computers were generating.

The IT staff used its new tactic twice, once on a hot June afternoon and once in July. By cutting the supercomputers’ speeds by ab…


Williston State, in North Dakota, Gives iPads to Its Full-Time Professors

While a handful of colleges have opted to give incoming students iPads this fall, Williston State College is handing out iPads to its faculty members instead.

The giveaway at the two-year institution was the decision of the college’s president, Raymond Nadolny, said Wanda Meyer, Williston State’s vice president for instruction. The money to purchase the iPads came from funds set aside for professional development, Ms. Meyer said.

The faculty members received the iPads Wednesday at a morning-long…


Colleges Use Facebook to Let Freshmen Find Their Own Roommates

This summer, incoming freshmen at five universities can use a Facebook application to find their roommates. Students can use the application, RoomBug, to fill out forms about their preferences for living and qualities they’d like to see in a roommate. Students can then request a match, which the other incoming freshman must confirm.

RoomBug is hardly the first service to let students match themselves: Tulane University announced a partnership with online service RoommateClick two years ago.

But …


Web Site Lets Students Bet on What Grades They’ll Earn

What return can students expect on the thousands of dollars invested in their college educations? Preparation for a professional path, maybe. Self-enrichment, others say.

A Web site called Ultrinsic tries to make the rewards of studying more immediate. Students can make a small bet on how well they’ll do in a course, with a starting limit of $25 on how much they can earn. The students contribute a chunk of the money, and Ultrinsic puts up the rest. If they make the grade, they win it all. If the…


Trading Spaces: Science Libraries Confront Print’s Decline

Before Stanford University’s new engineering library opened on Monday, students wandered by and asked the library’s leader, Helen B. Josephine, if they could come in.

Its location in the School of Engineering’s new center makes it easy and convenient for students to use, she said. Being close to students made it worth going from 16,000 square feet of space in the old engineering library to about 6,000, according to Ms. Josephine.

Though headlines hailed the new library as “bookless,” Stanford’s…


Digital Humanists Unveil New Blog-to-Book Tool

A team of 12 digital humanists came together at George Mason University last week. In seven days, they built a new Web tool that lets users turn blog entries into an electronic book.

The creators intend their new tool, Anthologize, to make preparing a polished product—potentially for publication—a simple, quick process.

Anthologize is the product of the One Week, One Tool program, run by George Mason’s Center for History and New Media and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. T…


Harvard U. Institute Unveils Software That Helps Build Academic Sites

Last week, a team at Harvard University rolled out the latest release of a program that helps researchers create their own Web sites. The open-source software, OpenScholar, seeks to make building and customizing Web sites simple and straightforward, even for academics who aren’t tech-savvy.

There are currently two versions of the software: one for scholars to create a personal Web site and one for researchers to build a project Web site.

Though faculty members often have Web sites created for th…


Online Course Construction Gets a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Web Site

A new player entered the field of open online education last week: Nixty, a Web site that allows any user to take and create courses for free.

The new learning platform started up with over 200 course offerings culled from open-source content already available online, such as courses from the Khan Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare Project. Nixty’s users have begun developing about 120 new courses since its launch, said Glen Moriarty, the company’s chief execu…


What Belongs in a 21st-Century Classroom? Faculty and IT Staff Disagree

Faculty members and information-technology staff members alike say technology is useful for teaching and learning, but professors take a narrower view of what technology belongs in today’s classroom, according to a report released on Monday by the technology company CDW Government Inc.

Eighty-eight percent of the 303 faculty members surveyed said technology was essential or useful for student learning, and over 60 percent said they used electronic materials in their teaching, according to the re…