News Update :: Tuesday, January 9, 2007


UCLA Adopts Open Source Moodle as Campus CMS

UCLA has decided to adopt the free, open source-based Moodle course management system as the single open source platform for its common collaboration and learning environment (CCLE).

The university’s Faculty Committee on Educational Technology (FCET) said the decision followed on an earlier pledge to support its view that UCLA students, “now require a consistent, powerful, and transparent application of our educational technology applications across disciplines and across the campus.”

The decision to choose Moodle over Sakai as its convergence platform FCET said, “was based on many factors that, over time, led us to believe it to be a better match for UCLA’s current needs.” But the school intends to continue as a Sakai Foundation member, and “as capacity is available, to work with others in the Sakai, Moodle, and IMS communities who are interested in working on data, tool, and language interoperability solutions.”

Next steps involve moving the decision through UCLA’s IT governance process, “in order to build even broader campus consensus and to define a campus implementation strategy.”...

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MIT Releases Peer Comparison of CMS Costs, Practices

MIT has made available online a study it commissioned last year comparing course management system (CMS) practices and costs, as well as life cycle of course materials, at top universities. The “peer” institutions surveyed in the report include MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, the University of Chicago, Middlebury, University of Texas at Austin, Princeton, and Yale.

The survey found the universities lacked good cost information on their CMS/LMS programs. “One of the most surprising findings was that most of the institutions did not have a better handle on cost data,” according to the survey, and that “costs were not a principle driver in decision-making.” Moreover, most content management practices are left up to individual instructors, the report found.

In the area of CMS and learning management systems, the most anticipated future feature was better “ease of use” in doing common tasks more quickly, the survey showed. Other CMS features most desired included more support for pedagogy, support from multiple mobile platforms including cell phones, and support for collaborative authoring, including Blogs, Wikis, and RSS.

The survey found that total life cycle materials management “is foreign to the culture of most peer institutions,” with institutions surveyed “still steeped in the non-electronic course materials culture.” MIT said survey was intended to benchmark these services at peer institutions and to collect information that will inform future decision-making.

MIT contracted with WCET’s EduTools to do the survey, which it intended to use to benchmark services at peer institutions in order to “inform future decision-making.”...

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Researchers Set Record For Network Data Transfers

A team of university computer scientists, network engineers, and physicists from the California Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, with partners at the University of Florida and Vanderbilt, set records for data transfer speeds during a conference “bandwidth challenge” in Tampa, Fla.

The team achieved a peak throughput of 17.77 gigabits per second (Gbps) between clusters of servers on the show floor of the SuperComputing 2006 conference in Tampa and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Following rules set for the challenge, the researchers used a single 10-Gbps link provided by National Lambda Rail that carried data in both directions.

One of the key advances in the demo was Fast Data Transport (FDT), a Java application developed by Iosif Legrand of Caltech, that runs on all major platforms and achieves stable disk reads-and-writes and smooth data flow across a long-range network. FDT streams a large set of files across an open TCP socket, so that a typically large data set composed of thousands of files can be sent or received at full speed without the network transfer restarting between files...

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Cornell Project to Broaden Diversity in Computing

Cornell University is leading a pilot project to explore new approaches of attracting women and minorities to the computing field. The project, supported by a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, will use service learning to encourage women and minorities to enter computing fields. The project also includes development of a new 4-credit course, Computing in Context, to be sponsored by Cornell’s Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS).

The project, dubbed WITS for Worlds for Information Technology and Science, will be led by Dr. David Gries, associate dean for undergraduate programs in engineering and professor of computer science, and Margaret Corbit, director of and the Cornell Theory Center’s (CTC) outreach manager. Gries and Corbit focus on developing undergraduate education in computer science and the use of new media for outreach education.

“Computing has broadened to encompass almost all fields,” said Gries. “This grant will help us to not only attract Cornell students into computing but will also serve to build awareness of and excitement for computing in secondary schools. At the same time, we ourselves will be learning about what d'es and d'es not work in teaching computing at these levels.”...

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UC Berkeley Tech Icon Richard Newton Dies

A. Richard Newton, one of the founders of the electronic design automation (EDA) industry, died of pancreatic cancer at 56. Newton was dean of the college of engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, and played key roles in the formation of Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys.

Newton was professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science at Berkeley, and was the founding director of the MARCO/DARPA Gigascale Systems Research Center for design and test. Among other topics, Newton oversaw research in Spice simulation, mixed-mode simulation, and CAD frameworks, EE Times said.

Newton was also interested in the application of information and computing technologies to global problems, and he was influential in the formation of Citris, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. Now a large-scale, multi-university effort, Citris is attempting to tackle problems such as health care, poverty, and the environment with a multidisciplinary engineering approach that combines information, biological, and nano technologies...

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