Researchers: Self-selecting college roommates can improve grades

Roommate-matching services have been criticized as tools that prevent students from meeting diverse people, but their supporters argue that students should be allowed to make their own choices.

Sifting through Facebook data for a roommate who likes the same music, espouses the same politics, and hails from a similar background isn’t just for picky incoming college freshmen: It also could make sense for students seeking an academic advantage weeks before the semester begins.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) is among the 40 campuses that have turned to a web-based roommate matching system called RoomSync, which brings together potential roomies in an online repository where students are matched with like-minded peers.

Think of it as a dating site for incoming freshmen hoping to avoid the ever-present irritating roommate. The pen-and-paper questionnaire soon could be a campus artifact.

When students have been granted on-campus housing, they are permitted to join RoomSync’s network, where they can peruse peers’ lifestyle preferences and personal Facebook information. Once a student has found a potential match, a report is dispatched to both students.

But colleges aren’t using RoomSync just to appease demanding freshmen and their parents. SIUE research showed that students who were allowed to self-select their roommate were “significantly more successful in college and had a better overall college experience.”

Conflict with roommates has consistently ranked among the top five reasons students drop out of college. Schools that have used self-selecting online services have reported a 65-percent reduction in roommate conflicts, while 48 percent of residence hall staffers said conflicts were “less severe” after adopting the service.

TJ Logan, associate director of housing for administrative services at the University of Florida, said in a recent interview that UF officials were more resistant to the technological change in roommate matching than were incoming students.

The system’s flexibility, he said, was a selling point for university decision makers.

“Convincing students to use it was the easiest part of this,” Logan said. “The hardest part of it was convincing ourselves internally that [it] didn’t just make sense, but [was a move] we had to take. … We knew what we wanted to do. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, so we picked and chose how we wanted to use it.”

Roommate-matching services have long been criticized as tools that prevent students from meeting diverse groups of people in their new campus environment, allowing students instead to pick and choose who they will socialize with. Logan disagrees.


City Colleges of Chicago Website Gets Makeover to Support Students on Path to a Career

City Colleges of Chicago Website Gets Makeover to Support Students on Path to a Career

Focus group-driven changes to CareerFinder tie CCC programs to current salary, industry growth data

July 26, 2012 – To better help prospective and current students quickly learn what skills and credentials are required to win the jobs of the future, City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) today launched a redesigned version of its website’s CareerFinder feature. CareerFinder, located at, offers new user-friendly features to connect students to information about high-growth industries, including entry-level salaries, prospects for growth, and CCC credentials aligned to those career paths.

Students can filter potential career paths by starting salary ranges, required education levels, and industry. The partial redesign, which also gives greater prominence to campus events on individual college homepages, was inspired by a series of focus groups CCC held with City College and CPS high-school students earlier this year, and an analysis of web traffic data since City Colleges’ completely redesigned website launched in December 2011.

“Our site will continually evolve to meet the needs of current and future students,” said Arshele Stevens, City Colleges Vice-Chancellor of Information Technology. “We will continue with these types of improvements to ensure they make informed decisions in pursuit of their educational and professional goals.”
The redesigned CareerFinder feature focuses on industries that are projected to grow significantly in the Chicago region during the next decade, including healthcare, information technology, and transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL). City Colleges is launching new and revised certificate and degree programs aligned to the needs of many the industries as part of its College to Careers initiative, which initially focuses on the healthcare and TDL industries, and business and entrepreneurship. New programs available this fall include an advanced certificate in supply chain management and a basic certificate in computerized medical billing and coding.

Launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in December 2011, College to Careers aims to equip City Colleges students with industry-recognized credentials that prepare them to secure jobs in high-growth sectors.

As part of the College to Careers program, partner businesses are working directly with City Colleges faculty and staff to revamp the curriculum, design new facilities, provide internships and give students the opportunity to interview for jobs in high-demand fields. City Colleges has announced it will construct a $251 million new campus for Malcolm X College, including a healthcare academy, and a $45 million Transportation, Distribution and Logistics facility at Olive-Harvey College. More information is at

About City Colleges of Chicago

The City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) is the largest community college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, with 5,800 faculty and staff serving 120,000 students annually at seven campuses and six satellite sites city-wide. The City Colleges of Chicago is in the midst of a Reinvention, a collaborative effort to review and revise CCC programs and practices to ensure students leave CCC college-ready, career-ready and prepared to pursue their life’s goals.

The City Colleges of Chicago includes seven colleges: Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College. The system also oversees the Washburne Culinary Institute, the French Pastry School, two restaurants, five Child Development Centers, the Center for Distance Learning, the Workforce Institute, the public broadcast station WYCC-TV Channel 20 and radio station WKKC-FM 89.3. For more information about City Colleges of Chicago, call: (773) COLLEGE or visit


Community College of Rhode Island to Sustain Academic Standard with New Technology

Higher Education Institution Selects Turning Technologies
as Campus-Wide Clicker Provider

Youngstown, OH – Turning Technologies, the global leader in the student response industry, adds the Community College of Rhode Island to its list of institutions to standardize support around the company’s student response solutions. After the completion of an evaluation pilot, the Community College of Rhode Island has selected ResponseCard® NXT as the centrally supported clicker device.

Community College of Rhode Island is the largest community college in New England and enrolls more than 17,000 students. In order to provide campus-wide autonomy, the institution has standardized on a reliable and flexible technology that can be supported and represented universally. Clickers are used in a variety of courses at the Community College of Rhode Island, and more than 1,000 students are expected to adopt new ResponseCard NXT clickers in fall 2012.

The institution’s faculty evaluation committee consisted of ten various disciplines that based their group decision on the individual opinions and experiences of the pilot. Turning Technologies’ overall solution was identified to best address the full range of uses among faculty members. Key deciding factors included a PowerPoint® add-in, compact portability, pedagogical support, price, ease-of-use and numeric, text entry capabilities.

Jeanne Mullaney, Assessment Coordinator at the Community College of Rhode Island explained, “Students want to learn in different ways and we want faculty to be thinking differently about teaching. It’s my priority to support faculty with easy-to-use tools that will assist in improving student learning outcomes. Turning Technologies offers unparalleled product and pedagogical support. The company has been able to meet our existing needs and they can support us in the direction we want to go.”

Turning Technologies’ ResponseCard NXT provides cell phone style text entry for short answer and essay questions. Combined with TurningPoint® polling software, instructors can poll within PowerPoint®, over any application, and administer self-paced testing for individual summative assessment.
“With critical performance indicators becoming top institutional priorities, the value of immediate assessment available with our technology becomes increasingly vital to the educational process,” said Dr. Tina Rooks, Turning Technologies’ Vice President & Chief Instruction Officer. “Turning Technologies is pleased to partner with the Community College of Rhode Island to provide their educators with tools proven to increase student motivation and retention.”
Turning Technologies readily elicits customer feedback, and takes it into consideration during the development process, creating assessment delivery and data collection solutions specifically designed with users in mind. The company remains the industry leader in higher education with more than 2,300 U.S. colleges and universities using Turning Technologies’ clicker solutions. Additional growth is expected in 2012, predominately during the fall semester with ongoing pilots and standardizations.

About Turning Technologies:
Turning Technologies creates leading assessment delivery and data collection solutions for learning environments. Founded in 2002, the company began with the development of response technology that was affordable, user-friendly and better documented so that users could easily grasp its benefits. Today, an estimated six million ResponseCard clickers have been delivered to K-12 schools, universities and businesses worldwide. Turning has expanded its portfolio of products to include data collection systems that securely transfer digital data for various assessment, testing and certification programs. Based in Youngstown, OH, information on Turning Technologies’ solutions can be found at


California Institute of Technology Selects Oracle’s StorageTek Tape Storage to Archive and Access Petabytes of Scientific Research Data

California Institute of Technology Selects Oracle’s StorageTek Tape Storage to Archive and Access Petabytes of Scientific Research Data

Oracle’s StorageTek T10000C Tape Drives and Oracle’s Sun Storage Archive Manager Help Caltech Scientists Retain Worldwide Physics Project Data in Perpetuity

Redwood Shores, Calif. – July 30, 2012

News Facts

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a private research university in Pasadena, Calif., has implemented Oracle’s StorageTek tape libraries and drives to support deep data archiving for an ongoing global collaborative research project.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project, operated by Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and supported by the National Science Foundation, is a physics experiment testing Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity known as general relativity. With partners around the world, LIGO scientists use a network of instruments at remote observatories to collect and measure thousands of data channels, which are all copied and stored at the central archive repository at Caltech.

In 2011, the LIGO Laboratory needed to migrate 2.9 petabytes of data representing 12 years of observations to an up-to-date, reliable and scalable storage system that could automate access to existing data archives as well as support significantly higher data rates of up to 1 petabyte per year from the next generation Advanced LIGO experiment.

To support rapid data growth, perform deep data archiving, and simplify their IT environment, the LIGO Lab upgraded from Oracle’s StorageTek T9940B tape drives at two LIGO observatories and from Oracle’s StorageTek T10000B tape drives at the central Caltech repository to Oracle’s StorageTek T10000C drives throughout. This delivered 25x the capacity and up to 8x the performance at the observatories and 5x the capacity and up to 2x the performance at the central repository.

In addition to StorageTek T10000C tape drives, the LIGO Lab has leveraged StorageTek T10000B tape drives along with Oracle’s StorageTek SL3000 and Oracle’s StorageTek SL8500 modular library systems, as well as Oracle’s Sun Storage Archive Manager software for data management.

With 25 percent greater capacity on a single cartridge than any other tape drive, the StorageTek T10000C tape drives and StorageTek SL8500 and SL3000 modular library systems help Caltech consolidate hardware in its data center to make room for increased capacity requirements of up to 1 PB per year, and store millions of large files, in addition to more than 500 million small files.

Using Oracle’s StorageTek tape drives in this project allowed the LIGO Lab to double its data throughput up to 252 megabytes per second, providing the necessary performance to manage, analyze and support vast amounts of new and historical data.

The LIGO Laboratory is also using 400 terabytes of Oracle’s SAN Storage as part of its tiered storage infrastructure with Sun Storage Archive Manager software. Sun Storage Archive Manager is enabling Caltech to quickly access data in its archive and ensure that an archival tape copy is made using open standards for long-term preservation. It also provides a standard filesystem interface to a scalable hierarchical storage management system.

Furthermore, Caltech intends to leverage StorageTek Data Integrity Validation on the StorageTek T10000C tape drives to ensure there is no data loss during the transfer of files or over the course of time.

Supporting Quote

“Over the last 12 years, the LIGO project has generated three petabytes of data as a thousand scientists and engineers have worked to test Einstein’s theory of relativity and observe gravitational waves,” said Stuart Anderson, director of computing, for the LIGO Laboratory. “With the scope of the project and our intent to keep the data in perpetuity, a robust, scalable and open storage solution is absolutely vital. Oracle’s StorageTek tape storage has been central to our archive and its latest generation StorageTek T10000C tape drives have enabled us to manage more data and promises to provide additional data protection for our data, while preparing for significant data growth going forward.”

Supporting Resources

Oracle Tape Storage
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
National Science Foundation
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)

About Oracle

Oracle engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center. For more information about Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), visit


Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Contact Info

Michelle Jenkins

Drew Smith
Blanc & Otus


Education Innovator Ted Mitchell Joins Parchment Board of Directors

Education Innovator Ted Mitchell Joins Parchment Board of Directors

Parchment adds Mitchell, president and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, to board; Former Blackboard executive Rajeev Arora named VP of marketing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (July 30, 2012)Parchment Inc. announces the appointments of Dr. Ted Mitchell as a member of the board of directors and Rajeev Arora as vice president of marketing.

With extensive experience leading innovation in the K-12 and higher education sectors, Dr. Mitchell joins Parchment’s board during a time of accelerating growth for the Scottsdale-based education credentials data pioneer. He is the president and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, past president of Occidental College, and a widely recognized influential mind working to reshape the future of education. As a member of Parchment’s board of directors, Dr. Mitchell will use his more than 30 years of education experience to provide counsel and strategic insight for the market leader as it innovates the way education credentials work for institutions and individuals.

“Ted is an education visionary who has consistently been at the forefront of meaningful and lasting reform efforts,” said Parchment CEO Matthew Pittinsky, Ph.D. “His insights into education’s major trends and players make him a wonderful addition to our board of directors.”

Dr. Mitchell has served since 2005 as the president and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that supports both nonprofit and for-profit education entrepreneurs who are transforming education. From 2008 through 2010, Dr. Mitchell also served as president of the California State Board of Education. He has held several high-level positions at postsecondary institutions such as Occidental College, UCLA and Dartmouth College. Dr. Mitchell also has served on a number of policy commissions, including chairing the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence and the Commission on Teacher Effectiveness for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University.

“Opportunities to join companies that have as much potential as Parchment has are rare, and I’m looking forward to adding my perspective to the company’s outlook,” said Dr. Mitchell. “Parchment’s growth is sustained and significant, and the executive team has the company well positioned to fundamentally change the way institutions and individuals unlock the value of credentials data.”

Arora joins Parchment as VP of marketing to lead all aspects of the company’s marketing and communications strategy. He’s responsible for developing and executing marketing plans that support business growth and enhance Parchment’s visibility as the leading education credentials data company. Arora comes to Parchment from Blackboard Collaborate, where he served as the vice president of marketing and strategy. At Elluminate (acquired by Blackboard Collaborate), Arora helped launch and grow the company to more than 160 employees, 1,500 customers and multi-million dollar revenues.

About Parchment
Parchment’s mission is to unleash education credentials by unlocking the critical data they embody. A credentials data company, Parchment works with institutions and corporations around the world helping people collect, promote, and share their education credentials in simple and secure ways. At, students can research colleges and discover their chances of admission, see how they compare with peers, get college recommendations, and send official transcripts when they are ready to apply. The company’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, Docufide® by Parchment™, is the leading transcript exchange and intelligence platform. The solution enables the secure, rapid exchange of millions of electronic transcripts and other student records among more than 9,000 schools and universities, six state education agencies, and hundreds of thousands of individuals. Founded in 2003, Parchment Inc. is a venture-backed company headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz. Visit for more information.

Media Contacts
• Mark Cohen, Parchment, Inc., 480-719-1646 x1009,

• Kristen Plemon, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-216-7300 x18,


States with the highest college completion rates

According to new U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of 25-to 34-year-olds who have college degrees around the nation has gradually increased from 2009 to 2011, the Huffington Post reports. The current college attainment rate for the nation is 39.3 percent. However, this would have to increase by 50 percent to fulfill President Obama’s goal for America to become first in the world in the percentage of population who have graduated from college by 2020. The U.S. currently places 16th. According to a state-by-state breakdown by the Census Bureau, here are the top 15 states with the best college completion rates as of 2010. All of them have at least 43 percent of its young residents holding a college degree, but only two states have over 50 percent. D.C., which was included in the study, beat out all of the states with an impressive 68.8 percent…

Click here for the full story


Report: For-profit colleges pay executives based on profit, not student success

Top executives at major for-profit colleges take in millions of dollars in annual compensation — primarily from taxpayer subsidies -– yet most of their pay is unrelated to student achievement, according to preliminary findings from a congressional investigation, the Huffington Post reports. The report from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, found that publicly traded college corporations calculate executive compensation “predominantly on the profitability of their companies rather than the success of their students.”

“This is especially troubling given the billions of taxpayer dollars flowing into these institutions and the serious financial risks to students who go through these programs,” the report concluded.

For-profit colleges receive much of their revenues from federal financial aid: student loans, Pell grants and military educational benefits. Yet students often fare poorly, dropping out in large numbers and defaulting on federal loans at double the rate of their counterparts at public institutions…

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QAMA: The only calculator a student should ever use

Long, long ago, before I discovered the joys of public school administration, before I fled from said administrative post for the easy life of private industry, before I left private industry behind to focus on writing and educational policy, I was a math teacher. And in my math classes, we rarely used calculators, says Christopher Dawson for ZDNet. Calculators are designed to eliminate the need for repetitive, tedious arithmetic, leaving time to actually think about the math. When used correctly in the classroom, modern graphing calculators can do wonders for visualization, simulation, and encouraging that critical thought that we’re all after. Calculators were supposed to eliminate the tedium and simple mistakes that plague many calculations but instead have become the go-to device for any math problem. Worse, students frequently lack the mathematical savvy to know when the answer output by the calculator doesn’t make sense. Estimation, it would seem, is a lost art. Enter QAMA…created by Ilan Samson, a retired physicist and serial inventor, to address exactly the problems I described above, the QAMA calculator forces students to provide a reasonable estimate for their answer before it will output the exact answer…

Click here for the full story


Report blasts shortcomings of for-profit colleges

In 2010, the 30 for-profit colleges examined employed 35,202 recruiters compared with 3,512 career services staffers.

For-profit colleges are failing their students and saddling taxpayers with an enormous bill, a two-year investigation by the Senate education committee’s Democratic staff concluded.

The harsh report, released July 30 by the committee’s chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, found that federal taxpayers spent $32 billion on for-profit colleges in 2009-10, while more than half of the students who enrolled in them dropped out without a degree after about four months in 2008-09.

“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and pocketed as profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation,” Harkin said. “These practices are not the exception—they are the norm.”

Steve Gunderson, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities and a former GOP congressman, said the report “twists the facts to fit a narrative, proving that this is nothing more than continued political attacks on private sector colleges and universities.”

Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, also criticized the report for using biased information and failing to include Republican input, raising “substantial doubt about the accuracy of the information.”

The report linked the high dropout rates with a lack of money spent on instruction at for-profit colleges, finding that, in 2010, the 30 for-profit colleges examined employed 35,202 recruiters compared with 3,512 career services staffers. The companies examined in the report spent 42.1 percent of their revenue on marketing, recruiting, and profits, while spending only 17.2 percent on instruction.

More than 80 percent of the revenue at for-profit colleges came from federal financial aid, Harkin said.

“It’s plain common sense that taxpayer dollars should not be used for lobbying,” he added.

Gunderson said for-profit colleges deal with a unique constituency—comprised mainly of working adults, parents, and veterans—that can be reached only through marketing and recruiting. To ban the use of revenue for lobbying would “result in the end of private sector colleges and universities,” he said.

But many recruiters mislead prospective students about the cost of the program, the availability of federal aid, the job placement rate, and the transferability of credits, the report found.


Viewpoint: Thinking outside the book

eTexts can help students purchase material they need, saving money.

eTextbooks already have triggered what is shaping up to be a seismic upheaval in the way we think about academic course material. Digital materials offer highly mobile, on-demand access to academic texts in formats that allow students to store hundreds of books on a single device.

The physical aspects of this change are, on their own, monumental: Just reducing the volume of paper required to publish a textbook in digital form means that eTexts have the potential to save millions of dollars in shipping, distribution, and—eventually—waste.

Certainly, there are front-end costs in building the devices that allow readers to view eTextbooks, and while these are not negligible (and do indeed produce waste), publishers are gravitating toward a distribution model that eliminates the single-use device, opting instead to make eTextbooks accessible on laptops, tablets, and even smart phones.

Using already active devices means further efficiencies and less fiber in landfills and recycling centers. However, these potential environmental benefits will take years to realize, making this more of a promise than a reality.

At the same time, there are more immediate benefits to eTextbooks that make these materials capable of actually taking the teaching and training process to a new level, especially for instructors engaged in customized, individualized instruction and a more active approach to helping learners to build knowledge and share it with one another—and the world.

Beyond black text on a white page. One of the most obvious benefits of eTextbooks is that they can deliver multimedia-rich content to students. Course materials that connect text, images, audio, video, self-directed quizzes, and interactive components such as simulations might offer reluctant learners several “ways in” to engage with difficult or challenging material.

Using multiple modes for instruction and training provides opportunities to tailor learning in ways that best fit learners’ and instructors’ individual needs. Moreover, when material is broken into modular chunks—as several publishing houses are already doing—eTextbooks can allow students to purchase only the material they need, not necessarily an entire textbook.

Combine this flexibility of content with the easy access that tablets and smart phones provide, and what results is a whole new method of delivery and consumption of information that extends far beyond a paper textbook on a campus bookstore shelf.

Integration with social media also allows students to share achievements and milestones with their classmates, cohorts, and even potential employers.