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News 01-23-2001

Syllabus Spring2001 Conference to Address Interactive Communications

The Syllabus Spring2001 conference, to be held April 5-8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, will encompass five tracks. Track 2, Interactive Communications, Conferencing, and Collaboration, will consider the impact technology has had on the academic conversation. When the microcomputer was first introduced on campus nearly a quarter century ago, text-based communications between people on and off campus began to evolve, becoming more easily and directly related to work-in-progress, more mobile, and more "24/7." Now, the part of the academic conversation that normally occurs over the wires (or through wireless transmission) offers the chance to engage students in collaborative knowledge construction that can be iteratively viewed, reviewed, and reacted to in real time. And faster network connections are beginning to allow the incorporation of more extensive video and multimedia-based communications.

Yet the potential for new ways to interact among peers and colleagues is only beginning to be realized. As bandwidth and connectivity on campuses improve and more people have access to computers and to robust connections–we find new ways to cluster around "teaching moments" that are not limited to the classroom or to a set schedule.

Issues to be addressed in the Interactive Communications, Conferencing, and Collaboration sessions include:

  • Sharing visually rich documents, such as student portfolios
  • Connecting for audio interaction over the Web
  • Is streaming video too complicated for me (or my campus)?
  • Guidelines for collaborative learning
  • Building a virtual library

The Syllabus spring2001 conference will be held at the Albert B. Sabin Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio April 5-8. The five conference tracks to be presented are Wireless Technologies; Interactive Communications, Conferencing, and Collaboration; Infrastructure, IT Planning, and Strategic Issues; Web Technologies: Portals, Resources, and Development; and Distance Learning: Issues and Programs, as well as a featured track concerning Virtual Teaching, Learning, and Technology Centers.

For registration information and detailed session descriptions, visit Also, be sure to check out the conference brochure in the January issue of Syllabus magazine.

Presidential Web Site Changes Hands

The official Web site of the president of the United States ( was passed to George W. Bush at noon on Saturday. TheNational Archives and Records Administration will maintain the site as it existed at 11:59 a.m. on Saturday. The site will be available at as part of the Clinton Presidential Materials Project. The project is a precursor to the Clinton library, to be completed in late 2003 in Arkansas. The Archives has managed all of the presidential libraries since Herbert Hoover's, with the exception of Richard Nixon's.

HorizonLive Unveils OfficeHoursLive

HorizonLive recently announced the launch of OfficeHoursLive, the first virtual office designed specifically for faculty, teaching assistants, tutors, counselors, and other distance learning professionals. The product enables instructors and students to speak with each other live over the Web, and can be used to hold virtual office hours, "Q & A'' sessions and study groups, deliver live lectures, host exam review sessions, or present guest speakers.

The OfficeHoursLive environment allows educators to interact with students live and in real-time through standard Web browsers, without custom software and on virtually any PC, Mac, or Unix computer. Each virtual Office features a teaching and learning tool kit, and a set of templates provide instructors a way to create and deliver interactive slides and exercises, as well as real-time polls, surveys, and evaluations.

For more information, visit

Questia Launches Student Research and Paper Writing Process

Questia Media has launched a service offering students access to a large collection of content online to research and compose papers 24/7. The service enables subscribers to read the full-text of hyper- linked sources; automatically create footnotes and bibliographies; provides instant access to an online dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia; allows users to personalize text with highlighting and margin notes; and to save papers online so they can access them from anywhere, at anytime. Students using the service will be able to do research and write their papers from home or dorm room, without checking out books or photocopying.

The Questia service has more than 30,000 titles in the humanities and social sciences disciplines and will grow to 50,000 titles within the next month. Users are able to search the service's entire collection for free, but a subscription fee is required to read the full- text of books and to use the set of research and writing tools.

From January 22 - February 14, a free 48-hour trial of Questia is available by visiting

Online Learning Airborne

Online learning takes to the skies with a selection from Knowledge Anywhere's Virtual Classroom in Tenzing Communications' beta trial of the first airborne e-mail and Internet system. Tenzing's Global service, which allows passengers to send and receive e-mail during flight and have access to on-board "Best of the Web" content, including preview versions of Knowledge Anywhere courses, is now being offered to passengers on a free trial basis on select Air Canada flights within North America.

Participating passengers will be able to use their own laptop, e-mail account, and browser and can receive the necessary software for the Tenzing system at the Air Canada or the Tenzing Web site.

For more information, visit

Annotated Map of the Human Genome

The Ohio State University (OSU), Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), and LabBook, Inc. recently announced their partnership to provide life science researchers with an annotated map of the human genome. The project combines OSU's annotated human genome database, backed by OSC's computational power, with the visualization and analysis capabilities of LabBook's personal discovery space.

The process of annotation is extremely computationally intensive, involving millions of automated searches and comparisons along the 3-billion letter code of the human DNA sequence. The necessary hardware is beyond the capabilities of most university or industry laboratories.

While genomic annotation provides a solid basis for genetic research, its usefulness remains limited without powerful software to perform queries and visualize the results. Moreover, an explosion of information has accompanied the human genome project on human genes, along with modern high-throughput technologies for analyzing their functions. This expanding collection of information for drug discovery holds the key to treatments for a broad range of human diseases, but the data sources are dispersed and of limited use to biologists who are not trained in bioinformatics. Utilizing the data effectively requires integrating these disparate data types in a unified Web environment. To solve this problem, OSU, LabBook and OSC are providing the OSU Human Genome Database within LabBook's genomic discovery space.

OSU's Human Genome DataBase will be made available later this year at

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