Edupage, October 14, 2005

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  • Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2005 15:06:35 -0400

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***************************************************** Edupage is a service of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. *****************************************************

*** Conference Break ***
  Blackboard to Acquire WebCT
  Results of ResNet Survey Released
  Anonymous Donor Buys Music for Stanford
  Panel Warns U.S. Not Keeping Pace in Science
  Report Addresses Sustainability of Databases

Blackboard has announced a deal to acquire WebCT, creating a single
company with more than 3,700 customers, including higher education
institutions, K-12 schools, corporations, and government agencies.
Catherine F. Burdt, analyst with Eduventures, characterized both
companies as powerhouses in the course management system market, saying
that a combined company would represent "a big powerhouse." She noted,
though, that other companies in the market will have just one large
competitor to monitor and pointed to open source options such as Sakai
and Moodle that are gaining ground. Oakleigh Thorne, chairman of
eCollege, echoed Burdt's thoughts, saying he doesn't see the new
company as "a scary Goliath at all." He said the merger of the two
companies will likely provide new opportunities for his company, given
that some colleges and universities will likely begin looking for
alternatives. The boards of Blackboard and WebCT have both approved the
deal, which still must pass regulatory scrutiny. Matthew S. Pittinsky,
chairman of Blackboard, said he expects the deal to be final around the
end of the year.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 October 2005

The ResNet Organization has released results from a survey it conducted
earlier this year of those responsible for residential networks at 224
colleges and universities. The leading concern among network
administrators is security, with P2P activity coming in at a distant
second. Administrators also put security at the top of the list of
issues they expect to take significant amounts of time and resources
over the next couple of years, with wireless networking coming in
second and P2P issues falling to seventh. David G. Futey, associate
director of academic computing at Stanford University and a member of
the ResNet Organization, said the survey provides new insight into
"determining what a res-net service area is at institutions, the level
of services it provides, and the technology supported through it."
Futey commented that he was surprised to see that of the respondents to
the survey, nearly half had not installed wireless networks. The survey
also indicated that more than half of responding institutions charge
technology fees but that at about half of those that charge a fee, no
part of the fee supports residential networks.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 14 October 2005 (sub. req'd)

Money from an anonymous donor will pay for online music service for
students at Stanford University. University officials said the donation
did not require any particular vendor, and the institution has chosen
the recently introduced service from Yahoo. Stanford has said it would
not pay for music services and would not use student fees to subsidize
such services because it "is not part of our research or teaching
mission," according to Susan Weinstein, director of business
development at the university. After the first year of service, which
Stanford considers a trial program, prices for the Yahoo service will
be $1.75 per month for basic service, which allows unlimited streaming
or downloads to a computer, or $4.75 per month for a premium service
that allows users to transfer songs to other devices, including
portable music players.
ZDNet, 13 October 2005

Ethics, contracts, downloads,
digital rights management, p2p software.

PANEL WARNS U.S. NOT KEEPING PACE IN SCIENCE A new report says that the United States stands to lose its leading position in science and research unless efforts are made to strengthen support for educational and other scientific programs. The panel that wrote the report was convened by the National Academies and included representatives from corporations and higher education, as well as Nobel laureates and former presidential appointees. The panel pointed to the narrowing scientific gap between the United States and countries such as China and India; recent results showing declining performance among U.S. students in science and math compared with students around the world; and economic factors that work against U.S. scientific interests. Among the report's recommendations are funding scholarships to support 10,000 students annually to pursue careers in teaching math and science; allocating money for 30,000 students per year to study science, math, and engineering; and relaxing visa regulations to allow international students to find employment in the United States after they graduate. CNET, 13 October 2005

A new report from a National Science Board task force calls on the
federal government to implement a clear and focused strategy to ensure
that growing collections of information in databases remain accessible
and easy to use in the coming years. The report argues that the
National Science Foundation (NSF), which has financed many
technological developments in recent years, has not crafted policies
and strategies that consider and address the range of technologies for
storing data. The report praises the improvements that have been made
to systems that collect various types of material in digital form and
make those materials widely available online, but it says the need is
"urgent" for a strategy to guarantee the viability of those materials.
The concern, according to the report, is that as technology platforms
continue to evolve, some digital content could be left in the lurch,
unable to be accessed by newer systems. The report makes a number of
recommendations for the NSF, including coordinating efforts between
data storage and users of those data, promoting effective training, and
supporting efforts to educate "a sufficient number of high-quality data
scientists" to manage such systems.
Inside Higher Ed, 13 October 2005


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