SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Aux Out

By Will Craig

Fear, uncertainty, doubt, and hope are reflected in typical teacher stations, podiums, and classroom equipment racks in the form of auxiliary input/output connector panels. Checking the auxiliary connector panel in a college or university classroom will give you some insights about the room’s system designer.

If you find lots and lots of connectors for all sorts of input and output signals, the designer is probably overly-cautious about trying to provide a flexible system. As a result of past projects where users complained about lack of inputs/outputs, they prefer to err on the side of connectivity.

If there are only a few connectors, the designer is probably confident in their understanding of the current and future needs of the end-users. Or they were dealing with stringent budget constraints in terms of the signal routing and distribution. Or both...

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News & Product Updates

Report Calls for Alternatives to Expensive Textbooks

The State Public Interest Research Groups, a consumer organization that advocates for students, has released a report that criticizes...

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Campus eTextbook Publisher Seeking National Advertisers

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Case Study

University of Texas Saves Big by Standardizing its Classroom Systems

By Linda L. Briggs

Would you install a different phone system in every room of your house? At the University of Texas at Austin, Kurt Bartelmehs, program manager for instructional technology, uses that analogy to explain why he’s worked so hard to standardize technology in classrooms across campus.

Bartelmehs says that in the six and a half years since he began standardizing technology in classrooms at UT, he has “easily saved a million dollars in equipment costs.” The University of Texas is one of the largest collegiate systems in the country, with 184,000 students attending its 15 campuses, and an annual operating budget of over $9.6 billion...

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Tech Notes

Rearchitecting IT: Simplify, Simplify

When university CIOs look back on 2006, they will likely deem this “The Year of Simplified IT Infrastructure.” From Alaska to New York, universities are overhauling their IT infrastructures to include fewer standards, fewer vendors, and fewer potential integration issues. The goals are clear: Even as IT departments strive to improve student, faculty, and benefactor services, they must also squeeze hidden costs out of their infrastructures... (Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

"Smart" Classrooms
Posted by: Bob Banks

In his very useful article about the Blackboard patent discussion, Frank Tansey states, "In our discussion, Mr. Small [of Blackboard] cited one example from the 44 items covered in the patent: the concept of a single user having multiple roles in multiple courses." [As a concept claimed to be a Blackboard "invention"] This prompted me to check out the IMS version 0.5 spec to which Frank refers, "EDUCOM/NLII Instructional Management Systems Specifications Document" Version 0.5 Date: April 29, 1998

Section states:

“In the IMS, as in many groupware products today, users participate in a group in the context of a particular role. For example, in the Biology 101 group, Mary Clark may be playing the role of a student. In this respect, she will only have access to those items that are granted to students. In addition, students are an identifiable group of people, so the teacher can send an e-mail to all of the students without having to address them one-by-one. In the Biology Study Group contained in the Biology 101 group, Mary plays the role of Group Leader. As such, she is able to invite new users into the group, add resources to the group, and otherwise manage the group.”

It then g'es on to specify in some technical detail how this role allocation works.

This directly contradicts the claim that the concept of a single user having multiple roles was invented by Blackboard. As Frank points out, Blackboard were members of this IMS exercise, along with many other thought-leaders in the e-learning community. For Blackboard to patent the ideas that emerged out of this exercise as their own is a serious matter and completely invalid.

Could you please pass this on to Frank, and if possible publish the observation? It seems important to bring out these issues.

Bob Banks

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