Many students aren't nearly as Web savvy as they imagine themselves to be, according to a study that tracked 102 University of Illinois at Chicago students. Students trust Google and other search engines so much that they only click on sites that come at the top of their searches, failing to see the lack of a relationship between such positions and actual trustworthiness. "Many students think, ‘Google placed it number one, so, of course it's credible,' " said Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and senior author of a paper on the research, in a press release. "This is potentially tricky because Google doesn't rank a site by its credibility." The paper was recently published in the International Journal of Communication.
Higher Education Quick Takes
U.S. authorities reversed a visa denial that could have prevented Hollman Morris, a Colombian journalist, permission to take a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, The Boston Globe reported. Academic officials had criticized the visa denial, and applauded the reversal of the decision.
Faculty leaders at Norfolk State University want a greater role in a presidential search that is gearing up, The Virginian-Pilot reported. A faculty member is slated to serve on an "input" committee that will develop traits that are needed in the next leader, but faculty members are not expected on the actual search committee. Board leaders say that they want a completely confidential process, without constituent groups serving on the committee, but faculty leaders say that they can in fact maintain confidentiality and deserve to play a role on the search committee.
A long-standing football rivalry between Boise State University and the University of Idaho may fall apart -- and that is leading to a war of words between leaders of the two institutions, The Idaho Statesman reported. Boise State is leaving the Western Athletic Conference (where Idaho will continue to play) for the Mountain West Conference. Bob Kustra, Boise State's president, told the newspaper he wouldn't miss trips to the Idaho campus for games. He said that the environment at Idaho is "a culture that is nasty, inebriated and civilly doesn't give our fans the respect that any fan should expect when visiting an away team." Kustra cited an article about Boise State in Idaho's student newspaper, The Argonaut, that was headlined "Who do we hate?" M. Duane Nellis, Idaho's president said he was “disappointed to learn of President Kustra’s reported remarks." Nellis added: “Both the University of Idaho and the city of Moscow take great pride in the friendly, welcoming and warm environment that a quintessential college town like ours can uniquely provide.... In-state rivalries are meant to be fun. Our long-time rivalry with BSU is important to the state, the economy, and the fans from both teams."
A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures suggests that while states are no longer experiencing steep declines in revenues, recovery is going to be a slow process. Nearly every state is now projecting fiscal 2011 revenue to be more than 2010 revenue, but the figures for 2010 are so much lower than past years that the increases are likely to be far short of a full recovery.
Faculty members at the Art Institute of Seattle have voted down a proposed union, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. Faculty members behind the union drive at the institute had sought to organize with the American Federation of Teachers, and the effort was a rare one in for-profit higher education, where adjunct positions dominate. Some faculty members behind the union said that the art institute had used "union busting" tactics to scare faculty members. Others said that the art institute had improved working conditions after the union drive went public. For example, they said class sizes were reduced substantially.
The U.S. Copyright Office on Monday promulgated a number of new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including one allowing university staffers and students to hack DVD content and display it for educational purposes. If a university or student lawfully obtains copy of a DVD, the agency says, they can bypass the encryption so long as "circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for... Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students." The exemption applies when professors or students want to use excerpts of the hacked DVD in documentary films or "non-commercial videos." Tracy Mitrano, director of I.T. policy at Cornell University and a technology law blogger for Inside Higher Ed, called the decision "very big news," and "good news," for higher education, noting that advocates in academe have been lobbying for an expansion of fair use exemptions for some time. One campus that might take heart is the University of California at Los Angeles, which an educational media group threatened to sue last spring for copying and streaming DVD content on course websites. The university had refused to stop the practice, and a UCLA spokesman said the group, the Association for Information and Media Equipment, has not followed through. He said UCLA is reviewing the new rules.
Fixing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid may not be enough to ease low-income students' access to federal financial assistance, a new report suggests. The study, by the Institute for College Access & Success, lays out the significant barriers that face students after they've filled out the FAFSA, which the Education Department is working to simplify. The major impediment, the group argues, is a process in which the department seeks to verify the financial information submitted by applicants -- a process that disproportionately affects Pell Grant recipients and disqualifies significant numbers of them. The report includes a series of recommendations aimed at lowering the barriers while still ensuring the integrity of the federal financial aid awards process.
Nike announced Monday that together with its subsidiaries, it would provide $1.5 million and vocational training for workers who lost jobs at company suppliers in Honduras. The University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University have moved to end lucrative relationships with Nike over the issue of the company's treatment of these workers. Nike has until now largely argued that it couldn't be held responsible for the actions of some of its subcontractors. A statement from Madison said that its "decision to end its licensing agreement with Nike over the treatment of Honduran factory workers has had a major, positive impact." A spokesman said that it was now possible the university could again negotiate contracts with Nike.
Trustees of the Connecticut State University System on Monday backed down on the size of raises for top administrators, bowing to pressure from Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who not only criticized the raises of 8-10 percent, but called for a change in system governance, The Hartford Courant reported. Until Monday, trustees said that the large raises -- now largely cut in half -- were needed to be competitive for top talent.