IT Trends :: Thursday, February 1, 2007

IT News

Students Better Informed Without CMS, Says Researcher

Students who receive course materials in class performed "significantly higher" on end of semester tests of their knowledge than those who received the materials via a course management system, according to a study by a researcher at Penn State. Even so, the study on the effects of three different "information distribution strategies" on student performance also found no significant differences among the three strategies on total points earned in the course or on student reactions to the learning experience.

A possible explanation for the higher scores on the knowledge test might stem from "the principle of instruction dictating that new information should be presented in logical chunks during instruction to enhance learners' motivation … and to help them focus on the learning tasks at hand," according to the research report, by Margaret Lohman, an associate professor of education at Penn State.

Reacting to the study, Scott Leslie, an education technology researcher, wrote on his EdTechPost blog that "this doesn't necessarily sound the death knell for CMS … instead one could draw the conclusion that if you want to see positive effects on pedagogy by using a CMS then use them, well, pedagogically, not as a glorified filing cabinet."…

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CDW-G Launches e-Procurement for Higher Ed

CDW Government (CDW-G) has launched a new e-procurement system in partnership with SciQuest, a provider of procurement services. The new service, called CDW-G e-Procurement, is designed specifically for higher-ed purchasing.

According to CDW-G, the new service, powered by SciQuest, connects institutions to multiple approved-vendor contracts through a single shopping cart function, which eliminates paper-based procurement processes. It also offers access to the SciQuest Supplier Network, which offers an "aggregation of robust supplier catalog content."

"Today, colleges and universities face mounting financial pressures as costs rise and budgets shrink," said Julie Smith, director of higher education, CDW-G, in a prepared statement. "To continue providing a quality educational experience, institutions of higher learning need to move from a tactical to strategic purchasing structure, with an increased focus on spend management, long-term goals and strategic contracts. CDW-G e-Procurement creates a one-stop shop for higher education technology purchases by automating the entire procurement process and saving institutions money."

"Life before e-procurement was a slow, paper-based system, with maverick spending," said Bruce Cherrin, director, procurement service at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. "We knew that e-procurement was the future of higher education purchasing. CDW-G and SciQuest created a single access point to contracted suppliers to ensure that the university promotes and uses negotiated contracts. Now we have a centralized marketplace where staff accesses university-approved suppliers. E-Procurement has saved us thousands of dollars."...

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U Memphis Deploys Xythos

The University of Memphis in Tennessee has deployed UMdrive from Xythos Software across its entire campus. The UMdrive is a new service designed for online collaboration and research and support for file storage and departmental websites.

"Xythos-powered UMdrive has been phenomenal technology for the University of Memphis—it has changed the way we work and collaborate on campus," said Sandy Schaeffer, director of the Advanced Learning Center at the FedEx Institute of Technology, University of Memphis, in a prepared statement. "Xythos has had the highest adoption rate of any instructional technology we have offered to our campus and it has become integral to our teaching and learning environment."

According to Xythos, U Memphis initiated an "extensive search" for a solution that could accommodate a mobile student body and facilitate online collaboration between students and faculty. The university's IT staff launched a pilot program with the tecnology and, following this, purchased a 25,000-user license and rolled it out across the entire campus.

The UMdrive technology is presently being used for collaboration on research with faculty outside the university; sharing syllabi and course assignments; locating training documentation; hosting student websites; storing personal files; and managing departmental websites and shared files.

Xythos said the UMdrive is being maintained by one full-time employee.…

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