Campus Briefs

Internet Innovation is RAD.

The Internet makes communication and collaboration a snap, enabling individuals to publish and share their ideas widely and almost instantaneously. So why is the development of Internet applications such a slow, cumbersome process? Answer: The traditional “waterfall” model for software engineering, with its multi-staged process that often involves huge development staffs, is no match for the fast-paced Internet era. The recently established Reliable, Adaptive, and Distributed systems Laboratory (RAD Lab; radlab.cs.berkeley.edu), at UC-Berkeley aims to change all that, invoking processes like statistical machine learning—the same technology used in autonomous vehicles—to enable much faster development by small groups and individual entrepreneurs. The lab’s research is being funded for five years with $7.5 million from Google (www.google.com), Sun Microsystems (www.sun.com), and Microsoft (www.microsoft.com).

Got an eLearning Minute?

To help new online students succeed, Drexel University (PA) offers the “Drexel eLearning Minute” podcast series, which addresses topics such as how to get to know your online instructor, time management in an online course, netiquette, and more.

More Storage, Fewer Silos.

At Rice University (TX), skyrocketing demands for storage on more than 50 disparate file servers led to a simple, elegant decision: Go with an enterprise network storage solution. The university’s new Titan system from BlueArc Corp. (www.bluearc.com) will offer 92 terabytes of multi-tiered storage, eliminate dozens of servers, and introduce better data management and protection capabilities.

Clicker Pickers.

An upsurge in the use of personal response systems in the classroom means that students sometimes have to purchase multiple handheld response devices, or “clickers,” ranging in price from $5 to $50 each. Instructors at the University of Victoria (BC) are running a study aimed at a unified decision about which type of clicker to standardize on by next fall.

Clustering, Not Flustering.

At the University of Pittsburgh’s Health Sciences Library, information seekers take advantage of federated search techniques, scanning multiple online resources like eBooks, journals, and medical research sources, all with a single query. But they don’t have to get overwhelmed by bloated search results—their search system, Velocity, from Vivisimo (www.vivisimo.com), “clusters” the results by subject for much-appreciated, easy navigation.

Collaborate for Content.

Regis University School for Professional Studies (CO) has launched an Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities (OCICU), to help member institutions offer online courses from a broad range of pooled curriculum content. Students log on through their home institution to access courses offered by Regis University and other host colleges.

Google Ghosts.

Staff at the Office of News and Information at the University of Washington in Seattle were surprised in recent months, as they received a barrage of responses to stories they had issued as far back as 1998. It seems that the Google spider crawled not just their main news page, but also some of the subsidiary pages, without sensing the correct creation date of each news story—older releases were being picked up by Internet searchers as freshly indexed stories. Still, a few of the inquiries were linked to ongoing research and yielded valid contacts. There’s no news like old news!

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