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News 11-22-2002

Sponsor: Syllabus Now Has a Voice: Syllabus Radio

Announcing Syllabus Radio! Click on and hear audio interviews with established leaders and creative thinkers in higher education as they discuss the good, the better and the best uses of IT on campus. Join host Judith B'ettcher each week as she explores issues in education technology. This week, James Kulich, Special Assistant to the President of Elmhurst College, discusses "Smart Use of Smart Classrooms," addressing issues that must be considered when planning to invest in smart classrooms on campus.

Med School Integrates Handhelds into Curriculum

The University of Louisville School of Medicine and School of Dentistry purchased and distributed 1,100 Palm Inc. m500 handhelds to students as part of a strategy to connect students to patient care throughout its curriculum—from studies traditionally dominated by lecture-style presentations to hands-on clinical training. "Most national medical … educators agree that active, self-directed learning facilitates retention," said Ruth Greenberg, Ph.D., director of academic programs at the school's Health Sciences Center. "With handheld technology, we can create opportunities for students to become more actively engaged in their learning even in basic science classes. We can introduce them to clinical concepts from the first day they enter medical school rather than waiting until the third and fourth years of clinical work where handhelds are more commonly used."

R&D Firm Wins Grant for Optical Communication

MCNC, a Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based organization that supports the commercialization of research and development projects, received a $1.35 million Defense Department grant to support its work in optical communications. The award will help MCNC's Advanced Networking Research division define new routing and network management architectures for Optical Burst Switching (OBS). The work will support ways to minimize latency, support high data rates and provide deterministic network behavior. George Rouskas and Harry Perros at N.C. State University will partner with MCNC on the award, participate in the protocol definition stage of the effort, and undertake related network modeling tasks.

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Training Company Focuses on eLearning Learner

A northern Virginia-based training firm is capitalizing on the growth of distance education by offering a training course on "How to Be a Successful Distance Learner." Linda Kidder, vice president of program development at Educational Resources Inc., said, "With all the attractive benefits of eLearning, a critical component often overlooked is empowering the distance learner with the skills and tools to ensure success. With the emergence of eLearning, remote, or distance learning, I have noticed a gradual decline in completion ratios within our core clientele. Even if a client has meticulously designed their strategy, assiduously worked with their IT department to configure the technology platform, and anticipated the most common stumbling blocks, each [client], including myself, overlooked the organizational backlash component which never addressed preparedness of the distance learner."

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BU Photonics Center to Open Optical Testing Lab

The Photonics Center at Boston University, a five-year-old research and development incubator, has partnered with optical testing firm Agilent Technologies Inc. to open a lab at the Center to enable early-stage optics companies to create new technologies. The Center, which has created and launched nine new photonics companies since opening in 1997, made a large investment in Agilent test equipment for the new lab, including the latest suite of the company's 10 Ghz optical test equipment. Future plans include joint marketing and training at the Boston site, with co-sponsored symposiums on technology and test techniques, and working closely with the BU incubator companies during their early venture capital days to help them reach maturity.

Awards, Deals, Contracts in Higher Education

DISTANCE ED—The Florida Community College Distance Learning Consortium, representing 28 community colleges and more than 800,000 students in Florida, signed a three-year contract with eLearning company Element K covering IT training for faculty and staff, as well as students and continuing education clients. Colleges in the consortium system can provide students with access to self-study courses which, used in conjunction with traditional classes, can create a blended learning solution for students.

TRAINING SERVICES—Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts has contracted with flight school Comair Aviation Academy to offer the school's Aviation Program students a highly specialized airline training curriculum and a guaranteed job interview with Delta Connection carrier Comair upon graduation. The partners said the deal would provide students access to the most direct college-to-airline path in the industry.

New Technology, Products for Higher Education

ACT! CONTACT MANAGER—Best Software Inc. last week released a contact management application designed for Palm OS handhelds. The new software will enable mobile campus users to have full remote access to their contact database. The program provides users access to their complete contact database, including calendar and to-do items, notes, histories, and group assignments, which are integrated at the contact level. Other features include: look-up capabilities, contact name, phone, ID/status searches; one-tap access to contact record or associated notes; view and enter time-stamped notes and histories; and work with data at the group level.

DELL SMALL COMPUTER—Dell Computer Inc. introduced the smallest computer in its history. The OptiPlexTM SX260 weighs under 8 pounds and is 50 percent smaller by volume than the existing OptiPlex small form factor computer. It can be mounted horizontally or vertically underneath a desk, to a wall or behind the optional SX260 flat panel monitor. The system's hot-swappable media bay accommodates any module from any Dell Latitude notebook. The SX260 system has no PCI or AGP slots, meaning greater image stability and standardization. Prices start at $699.

EXTREME AUDIO—Anchor Audio Inc. unveiled a portable sound system that can support up to six UHF wireless microphones. The company said the Xtreme 6000 delivers full-range audio from one, self-contained portable system and is designed for giving speeches in auditoriums, making sports announcements in gyms, giving instructions to a marching band on the athletic field, or putting on a play in a small theater. The company is offering 16-channel UHF wireless at the same price as single-channel VHF. Because the UHF is selectable, a flip of a dial on the microphone and receiver eliminates any interference from local broadcasting sources.

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