News Update :: Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Baylor Maintains Stance on No Internet Courses

As more universities nationwide add to the 2.3 million students enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2005, Baylor University stands untouched by the online craze, reports the Lariat campus newspaper. The closest thing to an online course at Baylor is a series of correspondence courses, which are offered in the summer or in special circumstances in the fields of English, history or political science.

James Bennighof, vice provost for academic affairs and policy, told the Lariat that he believes, “a factor in why these courses haven’t developed is because of Baylor’s historical valuing of having an in-class experience where you have inner change among the various students in the class in real time. Part of the interest in having a residential campus has to do with people learning in a community.”

While Bennighof emphasized the necessary role of face-to-face interaction among professors and students, he said he also sees the possible advantages that online courses could offer students. “Some of the possible advantages of these courses would be time flexibility – you can do it when you can fit it in – and in some cases, location flexibility if you’re one course short of graduation and you want to get married and get a job, and he’s in Alaska,” Bennighof said.

But, he said he d'esn’t see the likelihood of Baylor implementing most courses online. “It’s kind of hard to do tennis online.”...

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USDLA Presents Awards in Higher Ed Distance Learning

The U.S. Distance Learning Association presented its 2006 Distance Learning Awards last week. The awards, which have been made since 1987, honor best practices in distance learning from primary to higher education. In presenting the awards, USDLA chief John Flores said, “each year these winners raise the bar and exceed best practice expectations for the industry as a whole…”

In the category of best practices in higher education for distance learning programming, the awards went to:

In the category of best practices in higher education for distance learning teaching, the awards went to:

The USDLA also made “21 st Century Awards” for best practices in distance learning to:

For more information, click here.

UC Davis Study to Plumb Mysteries of Open Source

A research team from the University of California at Davis was awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the open source phenomenon. The research will be done by an interdisciplinary research team from the fields of computer science, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, and management.

The study will focus on the operation of developers of the Apache Web server, the PostgreSQL database and the Python scripting language, through information from message boards, bug reports, and e-mail discussions. In an interview with ComputerWorld Australia, the project’s principal researcher, UC Davis computer science professor Premku Devanbu, said the team hopes to explore how the nature of open source influences the creative methods of software developers.

“I have been writing software, teaching software engineering, and researching software engineering tools and processes for more than 30 years now, and the phenomenon of open source confounds so many things that we’ve learned and taught over the years,” he told the newspaper.

“One striking phenomenon in [traditional] software engineering projects is what is called Conway’s Law: essentially, it states that artifact structure recapitulates social structure. Thus, if you give an organization with two sub-teams the task of writing a compiler, they’ll produce a two-pass compiler; if there are three teams, they’ll produce a three-pass compiler, and so on. My colleagues and I are eager to see how this phenomenon plays out in open source projects.”...

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Harvard Joins the Formula One Supercomputing Circuit

Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) plugged in one of the world’s 50 fastest supercomputers, the IBM Blue Gene, which has been clocked at 11 trillion calculations per second.

Blue Gene will be used to study complex systems such as blood circulation and galaxy formation, Harvard director of information technology Joy Sircar told the Crimson campus newspaper. Harvard’s Blue Gene is called CrimsonGridBGL and will be part of its applied sciences department’s Crimson Grid, a project to create a campus-wide research infrastructure.

DEAS acquired the system from IBM early this fall and researchers began operating at the beginning of October, according to dean of the division of engineering and applied sciences, Venkatesh Narayanamurti. “The unique architecture that combines performance with scalability in a tremendously efficient power and floor space design,” is what makes the system special, Sircar told the Crimson.

“We expect that the Blue Gene system will enable new ways of thinking, generate completely new insights, and enable ‘revolutionary’ or breakthrough science compared to the traditional ‘evolutionary’ science possible through use of existing platforms,” Sircar added...

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Financial Recruiter Antes Up for Top Tech Graduates

A Pennsylvania financial trading firm came up with a novel recruiting method: holding a poker tournament for college technical and science whizes. The Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Susquehanna International Group hosted 83 seniors from top colleges and universities around the country to a poker tournament at its headquarters. All the participants were candidates for the company’s technology and trading development programs.

The tournament winner was Ayres Fan, who recently finished his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota and is now studying electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fan won a cash prize of $25,000. Eric Eisenberg of Washington University won the $15,000 second place prize and Jeremy Maletz, an economics major from Columbia won the $10,000 third place prize.

“The tournament was a successful vehicle for giving our top job candidates a more intimate look at Susquehanna,” said director of recruiting Todd Simkin. “While many of these candidates probably never heard of Susquehanna a year ago, now it’s a name they will never forget.”

Other winners in the tournament were: Paul Choi, Cornell University, $6,000; John Centeno, Carnegie Mellon University, $6,000; Andrew Killips, Washington University, $4,000; Matt Williamson, Cornell University, $4,000; Joshua Wojnilower, Washington University, $2,000, and Todd Lewis, Northwestern University, $2,000...

For more information, click here.

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