SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Wireless: What Works?

By Wendy Chretien

Thinking beyond Wi-Fi (and no, this is not another hype of WiMAX), an emerging option you should know about is very high frequency (71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, and 91-95 GHz), very high capacity licensed wireless. The technology is known as millimeter wave or E-band, and the FCC also refers to it as “virtual fiber.”

At these recently-made-available frequencies, the overall bandwidth capacity is much greater than traditional radio frequency communications, even microwave. These focused, line-of-sight, Gigabit/second signals can be set up in point-to-point configurations for distances of up to a mile. Sounds great, no?

So what’s the catch? If you’re a skeptic, like I am, you’ll have noted several potential caveats in the above description, namely “licensed,” “emerging,” “line of sight,” “point to point” and “up to a mile.” “Licensed” tells us that one must obtain a permit from the FCC in order to use this type of system. (I can hear the groans at this realization.) What may surprise you, though – especially if you’ve ever struggled with these types of permits in the past – is that the process for obtaining the permits for these frequencies has been moved online and is now greatly streamlined. Now a license can be secured within days, not months.

From the customer’s standpoint, “emerging” can mean buying into proprietary systems. Often, it means that there are few vendors of the technology, thus limiting competition and ultimately equating to high prices. These are real risks you will need to decide to take or not; if you use this technology for selective purposes, however, the risks may be moot...

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News & Product Updates

Students, Beware: Employers Can See Your Facebook

College students are taking risks by posting details of their sex lives or drug and alcohol use on social-networking Web sites like...

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Chameau Takes Cal-Tech President's Post

Georgia Tech Provost Jean-Lou Chameau has been named president of the California Institute of Technology (CA)...

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Capitol College to Utilize Parature

All graduate courses are taught online at Capitol College in Maryland. In order to provide students with around-the-clock support, the college will use Parature, a specialized customer service software system...

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Case Study

Keeping It Personal

By John Savarese

Prospective students who venture onto La Salle University’s (PA) portal are invited to “Ask Dr. Jones.” But this Dr. Jones is not a fictional dispenser of canned advice, nor a pseudonym for a back room staffed by admissions counselors. Dr. Nancy Jones is a real faculty member at La Salle. In fact, she chairs the Integrated Science, Business, and Technology program. Jones spends her evenings responding to student e-mails – one by one. Sometimes she refers technical questions to other individuals who are experts in areas like housing, financial aid, or specific academic disciplines. But, as often as not, she follows through and e-mails answers directly to the students.

This is part of La Salle’s effort to make its online recruiting initiative personal, not just personalized. Is it worth the effort? “Communicating with an actual faculty member means more to students than talking to an admissions counselor or getting a mail-merged letter,” says Jones.

The La Salle approach to online recruiting is based on an important insight: Though many of us tend to think that members of the iPod generation are technology fanatics, that d'esn’t mean that they accept mechanized responses. In actuality, they use technology as an enhancement to building and maintaining personal relations, even intimate ones. Their love of gadgets aside, they put an especially high value on personal contact – even if it is mediated through text messaging, e-mail, or an online forum...

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Tech Notes

How P2P Will Change Collaborative Learning

Judith V. Boettcher

How will eLearning change as the next generation of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications becomes commonplace? Might P2P hold the seed of great pedagogical wins for learning and collaboration? During the first wave of P2P, we had little time to think about the possibilities these tools might have for learning. After all, our first general awareness of P2P focused on legal issues and the protection of copyright and intellectual property. Six years ago, the wildly popular Napster file-sharing application made P2P technologies almost synonymous with illegal music sharing. (Today, Napster is a legal online music store.)

In any P2P technology, personal computing devices have two roles, each enabling collaboration between users. First, the devices act as “servers” to other computers, providing files and/or computing power to be used by others in the “club.” And they act as “clients” to other users, receiving files and/or computer power. In true P2P applications, there is no central computer, no technical support, no command/control or hierarchical structure. As P2P has evolved, though, a popular hybrid model centralizes some functions, such as indexing where files are located... (Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

Are LMS Anti-Web?
Posted by: cameronloudon - Australia

Recently I have been following the blog of Dr Peter Sefton who described MIT's Anti-web Learning Management System, Caddie as anti-web. He returned to this theme in a later entry called 'Links considered too difficult for online education software' (

What interests me most is that this observation could be applied to all the major players in the LMS space. Why do we need an LMS to be a file system repository for PDF and Word documents? Is that the best that can be offered to students?

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