Ariel Manuel Friedler, CEO of Symplicity, a company that provides software to colleges for managing student disciplinary records, has pleaded guilty to charges related to hacking into the private networks of two competitors, the U.S. Justice Department announced. The hacking also involved two other employees and took place from 2007 to 2011. The Justice Department identified one of the competitors, Maxient. Friedler could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. In a letter to customers, he said that "I let competitiveness get the best of me and I crossed a line." He also resigned.
Graduate faculty members at Rutgers University at New Brunswick have once again rejected administrators' plans to create more online degree programs through a partnership with Pearson. Last October, faculty members in the Graduate School blocked any new programs from being approved, objecting to Pearson's share of tuition revenue -- 50 percent -- and an "obscenity clause" in the contract that Pearson later clarified.
On Wednesday, administrators introduced a new resolution that, instead of blocking programs, tasked the executive vice president with producing a report on the partnership with Pearson. The report "should address the effectiveness of Pearson in facilitating and delivering online master’s programs, the financial success of the agreement for the university, and any issues that have arisen regarding censorship of content. The report should also describe how faculty consultation will be implemented as we go forward," according to the resolution.
Instead of voting on the proposal, faculty members passed their own resolution, 26-2 with two abstentions, to not even consider the administration's suggestion.
"The reason why people didn’t want to vote on the dean’s resolution was that we didn’t want to conform to a procedure where the deans can bring up for reconsideration a question that the faculty have decided repeatedly," said David M. Hughes, professor of anthropology. "What people were saying at the meeting was after having pushed Pearson to the margins, we have to go get back to the discussion of why we want to have online education on campus in the first place."
Beginning next month, the massive open online course provider Udacity will cut the first O from the acronym and only offer MOCs. Founder Sebastian Thrun, whose "pivot" last year shifted the company's focus to corporate training, in a blog post announced Udacity will stop issuing free course completion certificates on May 16. The course materials will still be available on the website for independent study, but in order to earn a certificate, students need to verify their identity. That track is currently available for about $150 a month.
"Discontinuing the 'free' certificates has been one of the most difficult decisions we've made," Thrun wrote. "We know that many of our hardworking students can’t afford to pay for classes. At the same time, we cannot hope that our certificates will ever carry great value, if we don’t make this change."