Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 3:00am

It was a frustrating first week for many students and faculty at Purdue University, where the Blackboard system went down four separate times over a period of nine days. The outages, which resulted largely from increased usage and the use of a new version of the learning management system, ranged from 45 minutes to more than four hours.

Purdue, which hosts Blackboard on its own servers, has been in communication with Blackboard technicians three times a day and has also contacted other universities to see how they have managed the upgrade to Blackboard Learn. According to university spokesman Steve Tally, the downtime was not the result of one big problem, but of several small glitches that needed to be fixed.

Blackboard, for its part, acknowledged that the back-to-school period can be particularly problematic, since the systems see much more traffic than usual. But Matt Maurer, a spokesman for the company, said Blackboard has seen a decrease in the downtime for all users in the past few years, along with a faster response time by technicians when there is a problem. In Purdue's case, a representative from Blackboard was sent to the university to help deal with the problem on-site.


Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 3:00am

A new federal report details the scientific misconduct that authorities found Marc Hauser to have committed while a psychology professor at Harvard University, The Boston Globe reported. Hauser was found to have fabricated data, manipulated results in experiments, and incorrectly described how studies were done. A lengthy internal investigation led him to leave Harvard, but details have been minimal until now about what he did. Hauser disputed some of the findings of the federal inquiry, but has admitted to research misconduct in his laboratory, and said that he took responsibility for it.


Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 3:00am

A new study of members of the American Economic Association finds a gender split on many issues. The study, which will be published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, finds women in economics more willing than men to consider interventions in market policies. In terms of academic careers, male economists generally believe that opportunities are equal for men and women, but female economists are more likely to see an advantage for men.


Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 4:22am

Just hours after the Kinsey Institute announced a new mobile app on which people could report sexual activity, Indiana University (of which the institute is a part) pulled the app, The Indianapolis Star reported. The app was designed to gather self-reported data on sexual activity, birth control, public displays of affection and various other sex-related information. While the announcement said that the information would be secure and private, the university said that it needed to study the privacy issues raised by the app.


Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Myra Finkelstein of the University of California at Santa Cruz explains how lead poisoning is slowing the recovery of the California condor. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ruled that Florida cannot deny in-state tuition rates to students who are U.S. citizens with Florida residency who can't prove that their parents have the legal right to live in the United States. The case is not about those students brought to the United States as children, the subject of much debate, but about students born in the United States who are by definition citizens. Florida's regulations requiring them to provide information about their parents' immigration status violate these students' rights, the judge ruled. The only issue that matters is the students' citizenship, ruled Judge K. Michael Moore. He noted that the benefits of higher education (admission and in-state tuition rates) "are properly viewed as attaching to the student and not the household." It is the students, not the parents, he added, who will have their names on the diplomas.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Florida A&M University on Tuesday announced that it has suspended its torque dancing team after allegations of an off-campus hazing incident, the Associated Press reported. A hazing death of a student in the marching band last year has focused attention on hazing at the institution.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

The number of 18-year-olds is shrinking in Japan, so many universities are creating new incentives to get prospective students to visit campuses, The Asahi Shimbun reported. Some universities are paying the travel costs to campuses. Others are offering discounts on fees normally charged for entrance exams. Still others are starting programs for parents so that they can learn more about the university.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Tim Gunn was a faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design before "Project Runway" occupied too much of his time. A new meme imagines Gunn as an outside committee member helping to prod a doctoral student to the finish line. With advice such as "I hate two-part titles, but they're very now," and "I think your article is confused about its genre," on photos of Gunn advising would-be designers, the meme is attracting followers.

The meme is the work of a husband-and-wife team: Sarah Summers, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and composition at Pennsylvania State University, and Bill Riley, a recent M.F.A. grad. Via e-mail, Summers explained: "We're both 'Project Runway' fans. Last week we were marveling at how Tim Gunn manages to be critical and incisive while also being encouraging. Working on a book project and a dissertation, we realized that a kindhearted kick in the pants seems pretty valuable!"

Make it work.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Erika Marsillac of Old Dominion University reveals how going green is keeping some companies in the black. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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