News Update November 22, 2005

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News for Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005

* Sloan: Online Courses Nearing Parity with Classroom Offerings
* University Groups Oppose Federal Wiretapping Legislation
* Rhode Island to Pilot Border-to-Border Broadband Wireless
* World IT Summit Calls for Bridging Global Digital Divide
* BU Launches Two Distance Education Music Grad Programs
* New Tech: Digital Media Server for the Mobile Enterprise

* Online Resources

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Sloan: Online Courses Nearing Parity with Classroom Offerings

The availability of high-quality online college courses will
soon rival face-to-face offerings, according to a 2005 survey
of online learning by the Sloan Consortium, a group of schools
embracing online education led by Babson College and the
Franklin Olin College of Engineering. The survey, based on
responses from 1,025 colleges and universities, showed that
nearly two-thirds of schools offering face-to-face undergraduate
or graduate level courses also offer courses at the same level

Other findings of the survey include: a majority (56 percent)
of chief academic officers said online education is critical
to their long-term strategy. And slightly more schools use
core faculty to teach their online courses than their face-to-face

"Colleges and universities are starting to understand that online
courses help increase enrollment and improve diversity without the
need for additional classrooms,” and addresses “professors' needs
for workplace flexibility, among other issues challenging academia,”
said Sloan Consortium president Frank Mayadas. Meanwhile, the College
Board announced it would now include the Sloan questions in its annual
survey of colleges, effectively tripling the survey’s sample size.

The 2005 survey is available for download at

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University Groups Oppose Federal Wiretapping Legislation

A coalition of university presidents and education
lobbyists filed comments last week with the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) requesting an exemption
to a new federal order that they say could cost colleges
and universities $7 billion to renovate their existing
computer networks so law enforcement organizations can
conduct remote wiretaps.

The filing is the latest development in a dispute over
the 11 year-old Communication Assistance for Law
Enforcement Act, or CALEA. The Justice Department now
wants the law, which was written with telephone carriers
in mind, to be extended to cover broadband and
voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) services. The law
stipulates that a court order must precede Internet

In comments filed last week a coalition of collegiate
associations, including the American Association of
Community Colleges and the American Association of
State Colleges and Universities, said the law would
have a “negative impact on research and education at
thousands of college and university campuses and
libraries throughout the country.” The coalition said
the FCC order would, “inhibit innovation … compromise privacy
(and) be costly at a time when budgets are aleady
strained to the breaking point.”

World IT Summit Calls for Crossing Global Digital Divide

Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali opened the
World Summit on the Information Society, held in Tunis
last week, by saying that developing countries need help
to close the digital divide that exists between rich and
poor countries. "The need of the less developed peoples
[for] help is being proven today, particularly when we
see the role of technologies, information and communications
growing steadily in vital sectors such as education, higher
education, scientific research, health, environment and other
sectors,” he said.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the challenge a
problem of willpower, not resources. "The hurdle here
is more political than financial," he said. "The cost of
connectivity, computers and mobile telephones can be brought
down. These bridges to a better life can be universally
affordable and accessible. We must summon the will to do it."

The Summit’s agenda to boost economic development in poor
countries centers on a pledge under the UN's Millennium
Development Goals to connect all villages of the world
to the Internet by 2015. "It is striking that the 400,000
citizens of Luxembourg have more Internet access than the
800 million residents in Africa," said UN Undersecretary
for Communications Shashi Tharoor.

For more information visit:

Rhode Island to Pilot Border-to-Border Broadband Wireless

The Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RI-WINs) is
launching a pilot public-private sector partnership to
make Rhode Island the first state in the country with
border-to-border broadband wireless coverage. RI-WIN said
IBM Corp. would become manager of the project, which is
being guided by an advisory group made up of Brown University,
the Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development and
Administrative Network (OSHEAN), the Business Innovation
Factory, Cox Communications, CVS/Pharmacy, the Rhode Island
Department of Administration, and others.

The pilot will involve running several applications on a
small-scale broadband wireless network to demonstrate that
pilot applications can be extended to larger user bases,
and to troubleshoot a state-wide roll out. Physical
construction of the pilot network will begin in January.
The pilot will run for about 12 months. RI-WIN pilot
applications include a port security demonstration project,
mobile computing support for CVS/Pharmacy IT staff, wireless
applications for the RI Teacher Education Renewal, and
innovative wireless solutions for Rhode Island's Department
of Environmental Management and Department of Health.

BU Launches Two Distance Education Music Grad Programs

Boston University's School of Music launched two distance
education graduate degree programs: a Master of Music in
Music Education and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music
Education. Both programs are designed so that working
professionals can continue to pursue both their personal
and career goals. Students in the master's program can
complete coursework in 16 months, while doctoral students
can finish coursework in just 24 months. Doctoral students
will be required to meet with their instructors once during
the program.

Andre de Quadros, director of Boston University School of
Music, called the programs a “revolutionary experience in
music education, allowing students, even from a distance,
to immerse themselves in the rich intellectual life of
Boston University.”

New Tech: Digital Media Server for the Mobile Enterprise

Digital media technology firm RealNetworks, Inc. unveiled
it latest media server for mobile services, saying it
wanted to target the higher education market for the
technology. The Helix Server Unlimited is designed to
stream media via both wired and wireless platforms,
including handsets and other wireless devices. The
company called its Helix Server Unlimited the “only
multi-format, cross platform enterprise streaming
server on the market to deliver RealAudio,
RealVideo, Windows Media, QuickTime, Mpeg-4 and 3GPP
from a single server infrastructure.”

Virginia Tech said it will use the system to experiment
with moving content to student’s multimedia handsets for
both classroom and informal learning. Glenda Scales,
associate dean of distance learning and computing, said,
“delivering video and audio to wireless devices will
give our students increased flexibility with accessing
learning or informational materials anywhere, anytime."

Online Resources

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