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News 06-12-2001

Syllabus2001 Conference to Address Strategic Issues and Standards

Track 3 of the Syllabus2001 conference, entitled "New Institutions, Organizational Models, Strategic Issues, and Standards" will include examination of the institutional, pedagogical, professional, and technological implications of these factors, as well as review of program development and assessment strategies for ensuring quality in technology-mediated learning. Standards such as IMS and the potential for shared resources will be considered, along with the status of virtual universities and distance learning consortia.

For more information about Syllabus2001, to be held in Santa Clara, Calif. July 20-24, visit

Internet2 Backbone Connects Universities in Every State

Abilene, an Internet2 backbone network, now reaches at least one university in each of the 50 states in the US. Operating at speeds up to 2.4 gigabits per second, or 45,000 times faster than a typical modem, Abilene provides high-performance network services that enable advanced applications such as high-definition television, tele-medicine, and remote access to scientific instruments. More than 180 Internet2 universities and research laboratories now have access to the Abilene network, which, in addition to high speed, provides advanced networking services such as multicasting and IPv6. Abilene interconnects with other high-performance research and education networks within the United States and with over a dozen research and education networks from countries around the world.

For more information, visit

WCET Awarded Hewlett Grant

The Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) project, "Developing the Tools, Policies, and Models Critical to the Electronic Delivery of Higher Education," has been awarded a $1.5 million grant by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The goal of the three-year project is to develop specific tools that will help higher education institutions in the integration of online learning and the Web, aiding both teachers and learners.

For more information, visit

Report Emphasizes Need for Academic-Corporate Study

The recently released report, "Working Together, Creating Knowledge: The University-Industry Research Collaboration Initiative," suggests how universities can continue taking research money from corporations while avoiding the pitfalls and conflicts that come with such collaborations. Written by leading academic, corporate, and governmental research officials, the report reinforces the belief that university-industry connections have helped the United States retain world leadership in fields such as computing, software, telecommunications, and biotechnology. Against a backdrop of debate concerning ethical abuses of such alliances, the new report takes the position that the benefits of academic-industrial partnerships outweigh the dangers, provided universities avoid the abuses critics have identified. The 117-page report sets out a variety of prescriptions that include tightening up conflict-of-interest policies and resisting corporate efforts to limit what scientists can publish or how quickly they can disclose experimental results.

The report is being sent to the chief executives of Fortune 100 companies, leading academics, elected officials, and policy leaders who have university oversight and will be freely available via the American Council on Education Web site at

ADL Plugfest 4 Proves e-Learning Specifications Work

Representatives of 128 organizations from around the world gathered recently at the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative's Plugfest 4 to test their learning software for compatibility using the latest specifications from ADL and the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS). Independently developed software and learning content was combined, connected, and demonstrated in real time at the ADL Co-Laboratory in Alexandria, Virginia. Eighteen different Learning Management System (LMS) providers, 23 learning content providers, and 6 authoring tool providers participated in the event, collaborating to test the interoperability of LMSs and learning content. Plugfest 4 focused on testing the recently released IMS Content Packaging specifications ( and ADL's Version 1.1 of the SCORM ( These specifications prescribe how to wrap and move learning content to provide compatibility across competing products. All IMS specifications can be accessed by the public at, and SCORM releases are available at

UT System Ranked Among Top 5

The University of Texas system is ranked among the top 5 institutions worldwide in scientific research impact and influence in seven of the 22 science and social sciences fields as measured by ISI Essential Science Indicators. The seven fields include Biology & Biochemistry (2nd); Pharmacology and Toxicology (2nd); Clinical Medicine (2nd); Molecular Biology and Genetics (3rd); Chemistry (4th); Microbiology (4th); and Immunology (4th). The UT system also is represented in the top 1% of all academic institutions worldwide by total citations in all 22 science and social science fields compiled in ISI Essential Science Indicators.

For more information, visit

Fall 2001 Internet2 Member Meeting

The Fall 2001 Internet2 Member Meeting will be held October 1-4, 2001 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas, and on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The Fall Member Meeting will include sessions that cover advanced projects under way at member institutions and through collaborations of members, and sessions that provide updates on work in progress and plans for the future. The program will be targeted to the broadest cross-section of the Internet2 membership, including applications developers, CIOs, network engineers, campus IT architects, and leadership from corporate and affiliate members. Breakout sessions will be grouped into four tracks: Advanced Applications, Middleware, Network Engineering, and Relationships and Partnerships.

For more information, visit

Jellyplants on Mars

As part of a proposed mission that could put plants on Mars as soon as 2007, University of Florida professor Rob Ferl is bio-engineering tiny mustard plants by adding reporter genes. These genes--part plant, part glowing jellyfish--will enable the plants to send messages back to Earth about how they are faring on another planet. The plants can be genetically wired to glow with a soft green aura when they encounter problems. Within a garden grouping, some plants could report (by glowing) low oxygen levels, while others might signal low water or the wrong mix of nutrients in the soil. Thriving plants won't glow at all, but will look like normal mustard. Plants struggling to survive will emit a soft green light, a signal to researchers that something is amiss. A camera onboard the lander would record the telltale glows and then relay the signal back to Earth.

For more information, visit

McGraw-Hill Launches E-Learning Virtual Workshops

"Building a Successful E-Learning Strategy" will be the first in a series of six free virtual workshops provided by McGraw-Hill Lifetime Learning (MHLL), a provider of comprehensive e-learning solutions. Starting Friday, June 22, this series of virtual workshops will be offered to e-learning, HR, and training professionals to provide strategies for developing successful e-learning programs. Each one-hour workshop will take place live at from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT. The sessions will address developing an e-learning strategy, integrating instructor-led training with e-learning, and evaluating an e-learning program from the user's perspective, along with several topics focused on overcoming the challenges of building an effective training strategy for Global 2000 companies.

To register for the free workshops, complete the registration form available on the MHLL Web site at

OpenMind Content to be Delivered to Blackboard Customers

OpenMind, a collaborative publishing service, and Blackboard, an Internet infrastructure software company for e-education, recently announced an agreement that will provide Blackboards's customer base of 1,800 schools access to OpenMind's customizable content for the fall semester. Blackboard provides the "operating system'' for online education, offering gradebooks, assessment systems, and "virtual classroom lecture notes,'' while OpenMind's OpenText Project provides online collaboration, allowing educators to share and review content. Through OpenMind's content marketplace, a collection of academic content protected by intellectual property laws, the company has developed a dynamic content base. For more information, visit

SBC Calls For Equal Treatment Of Broadband Access Providers

In the opening keynote address at SUPERCOMM 2001, Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman and CEO of SBC Communications, argued that industry regulations of the broadband market require telephone companies offering broadband DSL access to assume too much risk, ultimately doing a disservice to consumers. He called on Congress to pass the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act to bring regulation in step with the current state of the industry and to level the playing field by lifting the red tape that is binding telephone companies and choking the deployment of DSL.

For more information, visit

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