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Syllabus News Update for Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Syllabus News Update:
An Online Newsletter from SyllabusMedia
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News for Tuesday, June 29, 2004

* NASA to Launches Intelligent Tutoring System for Earth Science
* Higher Ed Technology Bellwether Chooses New Wi-Fi System
* College to Offer ‘Ethical Hacker ‘ Certification for IT Community
* Blackboard IPO: Sobriety Setting In After Market Bacchanalia
* New Products: Library Administrative and Storage Systems

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NASA to Launch Intelligent Tutoring System for Earth Science

The NASA space agency is developing an automated instructional system
that will tap its remote sensing and imagery resources to help
secondary and college students learn earth science. Called
EarthTutor, the “intelligent tutoring system,” or ITS, is being
written under a $600,000 contract with Stottler Henke Associates,
Inc., a software development firm that specializes in artificial
intelligence (AI)-based work.

EarthTutor is being conceived as a scenario-based system to enable
students to assess situations, generate solutions, make decisions,
and carry out actions in realistically complex situations. The firm
is working with professors at Stanford University, the University of
North Carolina, and Albion College to develop a satellite imagery
lab to develop curriculum content. This has traditionally been a
challenge due to the software learning curve, the cost of image
processing tools, and the difficulty of obtaining imagery.

Higher Ed Technology Bellwether Chooses New Wi-Fi System

The Stevens Institute of Technology, the perennial educational
technology leader, is switching out its current Wi-Fi wireless
technology for a system it says will provide it better coverage and
will be easier to manage. Stevens said it will replace 30
conventional wireless access points with two base stations, one in
its library and one on the roof of the tallest building on campus.
Stevens provides undergrads with 802.11b-enabled laptops and manages
the wireless network for 2,100 registered wireless users. It is
moving to Vivato Inc.’s VP1200 Indoor Wi-Fi base station, which
Steven’s network director Chris Hose calls “much more cost-effective
than traditional access points because one base station covers such
an enormous area.” Stevens will also use the new base stations to
test security applications and to help campus security officers
track other security vehicles by combining wireless, cellular and
mapping technologies.

College to Offer ‘Ethical Hacker ‘ Certification for IT Community

For-profit Mt. Sierra College is offering its students, alumni, and
business people a short program on computer security that will lead
to “Ethical Hacker Certification” for IT professionals. The program
promises to teach “thinking like the enemy,” and will “demonstrate
how computer users can remain proactive rather than reactive to
attacks,” the school said. Monrovia, N.Y.-based Mt. Sierra is
partnering with Intense School, a provider of accelerated computer
certification programs, to offer the course.

The objective of the certification, says the Intense School, is “to
evaluate a person's skills as a capable, up-to-date and
self-sufficient security tester.” Certification involves passing a
challenging examination, requiring knowledge of skills acquired by
hacking and assessing the vulnerabilities of systems using a wide
range of tools and techniques.

Blackboard IPO: Sobriety Setting In After Market Bacchanalia

Investment gurus took another look at Blackboard Inc., following its
fast and furious first week of public trading and sounded some notes
of caution. Stock analyst Richard Gibbons, writing for Motley Fool,
noted an upside in the market for education software platforms,
including the fact that Web-based learning is considered “critical”
at most higher ed institutions and that there are “significant
costs to switching from one software package to another.

However, Gibbons wrote, “there are several reasons to be cautious of
Blackboard.” Among these: Blackboard faces strong competition, most
notably from WebCT. Also, that the primary customers for CMS are “
overall, quite poor compared to corporations.” And finally, that
its stock valuation appears high. “Investors might be hoping that
Blackboard grows into its relatively high valuation, or they're
simply valuing it in line with other pricey higher education stocks.”

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New Products: Library Administrative and Storage Systems

Checkpoint Systems, Inc., introduced CheckPASS, a resource management
system it says will help manage patrons’ requests without an
additional burden on library staff members. The software enables
libraries to automate functions such as scheduling computer time for
patrons, managing patron printing and copying costs and collecting
fees and fines for overdue books. The system can be purchased as a
stand-alone system or as part of Checkpoint's Intelligent Library
System. The first says the system requires no additional hardware or

Meanwhile, S-T Imaging introduced a family of digitizing scanners
for roll microfilm, allowing researchers to scan, fax, e-mail, or
print a microfilm image for future reference. The firm said the
system designed specifically for use by library patrons. The all-
digital system eliminates the need for lenses, mirrors, and glass
platens, says the firm. Instead, it uses standard PC USB and monitor
connections. Its digital camera gives a direct video feed of the
image to a monitor, with a refresh rate of 20 frames per second. A
separate linear light system that tracks along the film adjacent to
the scan head eliminates the central 'headlight' and dark edges that
users can get from image projection-based scanning systems.

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