Mark Zuckerberg is going back to Harvard

Mark Zuckerberg is heading back to Harvard, seven years after he dropped out to run Facebook, the Huffington Post reports. The CEO won’t be re-enrolling. Instead, he’ll be there encouraging other Harvardians to follow him to Facebook. Zuckerberg, together with Facebook’s vice president of engineering Mike Schroepfer, will be recruiting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Harvard, starting Monday, November 7…

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Opportunity Nation highlights a lack of upward mobility

Kevin Jennings knows a thing or two about the American Dream. He came from a trailer park in Lewisville, N.C., where he was raised by a single mother who had a sixth-grade education, TIME reports. Jennings went on to become the newly appointed CEO of Be the Change, a nonprofit organization that creates national issue-based campaigns. He also previously served as a deputy secretary in the Department of Education under President Barack Obama, founded a national organization that seeks to end homosexual discrimination and holds a trio of degrees from Harvard, Columbia and New York University. Suffice to say, Jennings’ mother, now deceased, would be proud. But stories like Jennings’ are becoming harder to come by. “We’re in a critical moment in history where we could see this being the first generation where our kids do less well than we did,” he says. Which is why Jennings’ organization and some 200 others banded to host Opportunity Nation on Nov. 3 and 4 at Columbia University in New York City…

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Four ways to teach students to write

Every summer for the past decade, we have conducted a writing program for college-bound, low-income minority students, say William G. Tierney, professor of higher education and director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at the University of Southern California, and Stefani R. Relles, a former community college instructor and doctoral candidate at USC, for the Washington Post. More than 80 percent of them have never written a formal five-page paper. Instead, they’ve churned out short essay after short essay after short essay. When asked to develop an idea or argument beyond two or three pages, they look dumbfounded. Sadly, these kids’ writing histories are all too typical of many high-school graduates, especially those who attend low-income schools. If they go on to college, they will probably land in a college remedial-writing course…

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Amazon launches the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

Amazon took another step toward pulling its hardware and digital content into an increasingly tight package on Wednesday when it announced the launch of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Digital Trends reports. As its name suggests, the new service, which allows users to borrow one digital book per month, is open to anyone with a Kindle device, such as its popular Kindle e-reader, or its soon-to-be-released Kindle Fire tablet. Users must also be a member of the Amazon Prime service, which costs $79 a year and offers access to almost 13,000 movies and TV shows, together with free two-day shipping for goods purchased from its online store…

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Professor’s accused medical experiments on students caused internal bleeding

An Oklahoma professor has been accused by a former teaching assistant of using students as medical “guinea pigs,” and making deals with companies to earn money from their results, KWTV reports. A graduate student, who asked the station to remain anonymous, provided videos which revealed the experiments…and their painful results.

“Many times these procedures were painful and sometimes led to internal bleeding and awful bruises. Besides the injuries, many students were told to keep certain research practices secret.”

The student said the university knew about the experiments, but that the professor assured administrators it was done in a “sterile environment” taking “all the precautions needed.”

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Two-year colleges draw more affluent students

Julie Hong grew up in the sort of leafy Montgomery County suburb where college is assumed, the Washington Post reports. Her parents had saved for the expense since she was a baby. When the time came, they said she could go wherever she wished. She chose a community college. Comparatively affluent students are picking community colleges over four-year schools in growing numbers, a sign of changing attitudes toward an institution long identified with poorer people. A recent national survey by Sallie Mae, the student loan giant, has found that 22 percent of students from households earning $100,000 or more attended community colleges in the 2010-11 academic year, up from 12 percent in the previous year. It was the highest rate reported in four years of surveys…

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For-Profit college chief resigns after company overstated value of degrees

The chief executive of one of the nation’s largest chains of for-profit colleges resigned earlier this week, following an internal investigation that revealed Career Education Corp. was artificially inflating job placement rates at several of its health and arts schools in order to remain in good standing with college accreditors, the Huffington Post reports. The resignation of Gary E. McCullough marks one of the first major shakeups at the top of any college corporation after a year of heightened federal and state scrutiny of the business practices at for-profit institutions. By manipulating career placement statistics at schools across the company, Career Education was able to continue to tap millions of dollars in federal student aid with little outside inspection from regulators…

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‘Socialbots’ pose IT security threat on campuses

Socialbots had an 80 percent success rate during the two-month experiment.

University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver researchers unleashed an army of more than 100 socialbots—technology that poses as people on social networks—and harvested personal information from 3,000 Facebook users, demonstrating how vulnerable campus networks are to attacks through social media sites.

In “The Socialbot Network,” released Nov. 1, a group of UBC researchers claim they used a cluster of fake Facebook accounts to obtain more than 250 gigabytes of personal information from Facebook users who accepted friend requests from socialbots during the two-month experiment.

The socialbots have profile pictures, personal information, and posts like any other regular Facebook regular.

But instead of proposing a friend request and interacting with friends and colleagues, the bots exist only to scan Facebook profiles for personal eMail addresses, phone numbers, marital status, instant messenger accounts, addresses, and personal preferences.

Read more about network security in higher education…

How to practice safe social networking

Study: Smart phones threaten campus network security

“A successful infiltration can result in privacy breaches where even more users’ data are exposed when compared to a purely public access,” the researchers wrote.

Socialbots deployed by the UBC researchers, which used quotes from the site iheartquotes.com as status updates to simulate a real person, infiltrated Facebook accounts in 80 percent of their attempts.

The researchers launched each socialbot account in part by using temporary eMail addresses from 10minutemail.com as a registration eMail account required to start a Facebook profile. Photos were chosen for each socialbot account through the site hotornot.com, where users rate each others’ “hotness.”

Despite its Facebook Immune System (FIS), the 800-million member social network might not have sufficient defenses for socialbots posing as people, according to the report.

FIS, the report charges, is “not effective enough in detecting or stopping a large-scale infiltration as it occurs.”

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University’s $10M deal with prof ranking website raises eyebrows

MyEdu was launched in 2009.

The president of the University of Texas System’s flagship campus in Austin says he didn’t seek a $10 million dollar deal that was reached between UT System regents and a politically connected online company.

Regents voted in August to invest $10 million for a 22.5-percent stake in Austin-based MyEdu Corp., which runs a website where students can rate their courses and professors online. The company has close ties to the system’s former chancellor, his son, and associates of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“That was a decision of the board. That was not a decision of the campus. We didn’t choose to bring this to the campus; it was brought to us,” UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. told the UT Faculty Council on Oct. 31. “Would I have had different priorities for that $10 million? Yes.”

Powers did not specify what those priorities would be, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Senior UT System staff members and the regents did not publicly disclose—and apparently some did not know—that former Chancellor William Cunningham is a MyEdu investor and that his son, John, is a co-founder of the company and a senior vice president.

The company’s chairman and CEO is Michael Crosno, who served on Gov. Perry’s re-election finance committee last year.

Regents Chairman Gene Powell and system Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said they were unaware of Cunningham’s involvement in the company, but that they were not obligated to disclose it.

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Survey highlights how technology is used in higher education

Although many individuals think college students only use technology for personal communication, various studies have shown that electronics can be useful in academia as well, U.S. News reports. For example, an October study by the Lone Star College System shows that approximately 78% of degree seekers feel that when technology is used properly on college campuses, they can improve their grades and become more engaged in their learning experience, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. To paint a clearer picture of how technology is being used in higher education, the nonprofit Educause recently released the results of its 2011 National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology…

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