News Update April 5, 2005

CT News Update:
An Online Newsletter from Campus Technology

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* Syllabus2005: Spotlight on Innovation, Integration
& Collaboration
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News for Tuesday, April 5, 2005

* WebCT, Sakai Mavens Pledge Open Standards Harmony

* Demographer’s Dream: National Education Web Site Launched

* Senator Feinstein Seeks Safeguards After Berkeley ID Theft

* Kansas State to Study RFID for Livestock Disease Control

* Forbes Picks Best Educational Planning Web Sites

* UC Davis Installs ‘PowerWall’ Stereoscopic VR System

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WebCT, Sakai Project Mavens Pledge Open Standards Harmony

Course management system developer WebCT last week
made an announcement underlining its desire to work
with the open source education community. WebCT said
chief technology officer Chris Vento is a founding
member and co-chairman of the IMS Global Learning
Consortium’s Tools Interoperability Working Group,
which aims to make CMS platforms and tools interoperate
whether or not they are open source or commercial
products.

WebCT said Vento initiated the working group last fall
after an appearance with Brad Wheeler, vice chairman
of the Sakai Project, an open source organization, at
the alt-i-lab learning technology conference. The first
project of the working group is to demonstrate
compatible software at the next alt-I-lab meeting
June 20-22 in Sheffield, UK. The group will demo an
open source assessment engine and open source homework
tool that will run on commercial and open source platforms.

Outside observers are taking a wait-and-see stance
on the cooperation pledge. Scott Leslie, an educational
technology researcher who maintains the edtechpost
Wetsite, said, “from where I'm sitting, if there's a
way that third party learning tools can interoperate
with different learning environments that is not
based on proprietary APIs, that seems like a good
step forward. If, instead, the Tools Interoperability
specification becomes 'Powerlinks for everyone,'
well then … praise the lord and pass the hand grenades.”

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Demographer’s Dream: National Education Web Site Launched

Higher education analysts have a powerful new tool at
their disposal that might help them understand the
demographics of incoming classes of college students.

The National Education Data Partnership, a collaboration
of the Council of Chief State School Officers,
Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services, Achieve,
Inc., and the CELT Corp., launched SchoolMatters.com,
a web-based national education data service that
provides in-depth information and analysis about
public schools, districts and state education systems.
The Partnership is funded by a $45 million investment
by The Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation.

The organizations said the service is the largest
“searchable collection of education performance data
ever assembled,” including student achievement
information, financial data and demographic breakdowns,
as well as analytical tools from Standard & Poor’s.

For more information visit:
http://www.schoolmatters.com


Senator Feinstein Seeks Safeguards After Berkeley ID Theft

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week asked for
more government protection against identity theft after
a laptop storing nearly 100,000 Social Security numbers
was stolen from U.C. Berkeley. She is proposing
legislation requiring consumers to be notified when
their personal data is compromised. She also demanded
that the federal government restore funding for
California's identity theft task forces.

"The incident at Berkeley was the latest in a series
of recent compromises of Social Security numbers or
other personal financial information that could be
used by identity thieves," Feinstein said. "It
clearly demonstrates the need for a comprehensive
approach to identity theft in order to give Americans
more control over their personal information."

Police are probing the theft of the laptop that
contained personal information on nearly 100,000
graduates, graduate students and applicants. Berkeley
officials say the computer contained information on
most people who applied to graduate school between
fall 2001 and spring 2004, graduate students who
enrolled between fall 1989 and fall 2003, and
recipients of doctoral degrees from 1976 through 1999.

The computer was stolen March 11 from a restricted
area of the university's graduate division offices.
There has been no evidence the data has been
retrieved or misused, school officials said.


Kansas State to Study RFID for Livestock Disease Control

Kansas State University is evaluating radio frequency
identification (RFID) technology as a possible
solution for helping to eliminate the spread of
livestock-borne diseases. KSU’s Animal Identification
Knowledge Laboratory will assess both low frequency
and high frequency radio tracking technology. The
lab will do a comparative study on UHF and LF
technology in an effort to educate industry users on
the efficiency of RFID for livestock identification
and traceability.


Forbes Picks Best Educational Planning Web Sites

Forbes.com picked EducationPlanner.org as its favorite
college planning Website. The choice was one of 17
favorite sites the magazine chose in categories that
ranged from search engines to tax planning. Forbes
called the site well-organized and “brimming with
useful calculators (Student Loan Repayment, Estimated
Expected Family Contribution and others) and checklists.”

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UC Davis Installs Stereoscopic Virtual Reality Systems

The University of California's Davis has installed
what its developer called the world's first 1024 x 768
native resolution active stereoscopic projection
technology. The system, built by Fakespace Inc., is
located in the Virtual Reality Lab of the Computer
Science Department and the Institute for Data Analysis
and Visualization (IDAV) at UC Davis. It is being
used for interactive data visualization and
collaborative networked environments.

Fakespace Beacon XG projectors are arranged in a
three projector wide by two projector high array
called a PowerWall. The projectors have been optically
edge matched to maintain full resolution while
minimizing the borders to smooth the visual transition
between projected images. The full screen resolution
of 3072 x 1536 displays fine details. This resolution
was deemed essential for UC Davis' work on visualizing
massive scientific data.

"We considered using polarized passive stereo
technology," said Oliver Staadt, assistant professor
from the Computer Science Department and Director of
the Virtual Reality Lab. “But the screen gain required
to make passive stereo acceptable is too high for
tiled wall environments. This is especially true in
motion tracked applications when the user is close
to the screen."

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