How college websites influence students’ web experience

Both prospective and current college students admit their experiences on college websites are hugely influential.

How are today’s students researching higher-education institutions? The two dominant audiences for college websites are prospective students—defined as high school juniors and seniors—and current college students who are searching for support during their experience. A recent Ektron infograph offers insight into the different ways these two student groups locate and are influenced by college information.

Currently, there are 4,495 degree-granting institutions in the United States, and research estimates that 21.6 million students plan to attend college this fall.

Differences aside, both current and prospective college students strongly agree on one thing: They are heavily influenced by web experiences. Sixty-five percent of prospective students said that a bad web experience hurts their opinion of a school, and 63 percent of current students said their opinion of a school improved when they connected to it through technology.

According to research, college websites are one of the most influential resources for prospective students, second only to a campus tour; friends and family and guidance counselors ranked as the third and fourth most influential resources. Sixty-eight percent of prospective students said they would open an eMail from an unknown college.

(Next page: How social media influences prospective and current college students)


WebAssign Names 5 to Board of Directors

Announcement follows company becoming Benefit Corporation

RALEIGH, N.C., March 19, 2013 — WebAssign, which last month announced it had become a Benefit Corporation, today named five leading North Carolina educators and business leaders from the technology industry to its board of directors. The five are:

• Dr. John Risley, Founder and CEO, WebAssign (Raleigh)
• Alex Bloom, President, WebAssign (Raleigh)
• Dr. Brand Fortner, Research Professor in physics, North Carolina State University (Raleigh)
• Petra Weishaupt-Smith, Managing Partner, Petra Financial LLC (Cary)
• Brian Handly, CEO, StepLeader Digital (Raleigh)

WebAssign, the leading provider of powerful online instructional tools for faculty and students, announced in February it had become a benefit corporation (joining the likes of Patagonia, Inc.) – a hybrid between a traditional stock corporation and a non-profit that has a social mission. WebAssign’s stated benefit is education, with all company strategy and decisions dedicated to promoting, supporting, and improving education and learning.

Dr. Risley, who has a physics Ph.D. from the University of Washington, has been a physics professor at North Carolina State University for the past 37 years. Under Dr. Risley’s direction in 1998, WebAssign first became commercially available as a hosted subscription service. Within a year, WebAssign quickly became the standard in online homework and grading.

Bloom, who was named president of WebAssign last spring, came to the company from Appia, a Durham, N.C.-based mobile content distribution company, where he served as chief operating officer. Bloom graduated with a degree in commerce/marketing from the University of Virginia.
A teaching professor at N.C. State, Dr. Fortner is considered an expert in accessible scientific visualization and in technical data formats. He previously was chief scientist of the intelligence exploitation group of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, and also has held positions at NASA and at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Illinois.

Before starting her financial consulting service, Weishaupt-Smith was COO, and earlier CFO, of DigitalSmiths Corporation in Mooresville, N.C. Prior to that, she was CFO of A4 Health Systems, also in Cary. She graduated with a degree in accounting from Saint Leo (Fla.) University.

Prior to joining StepLeader Digital, Handly was a general manager of Microsoft’s Online Services division and was co-founder and CEO of Accipiter before that. He holds a degree in marketing from the University of Missouri and is currently an executive in residence at N.C. State.

According to Dr. Risley, two more directors will be named to the board at a later date.

For more information on WebAssign, visit its web site at, or call (800) 955-8275 or (919) 829-8181.

About WebAssign |
WebAssign is the leading provider of powerful online instructional tools for faculty and students. Partnering with all major textbook publishers, WebAssign offers customizable pre-coded questions from a wide range of math and science textbooks along with easy-to-use tools that allow instructors to create their own questions. To date, more than eight million students have used WebAssign to submit over one billion answers to homework assignments, tests, and practice problems. In return, the students have received millions of pages of feedback on their work. During any one term, more than one million students are using WebAssign at over 2,300 educational institutions worldwide.

Based on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., and with 200 employees WebAssign is one of the largest technology “startups” in Research Triangle Park (RTP). Incubated on the N.C. State University campus in 1997, WebAssign has a strong history of innovation, technology leadership and profitable growth. In 2013, the company became a “benefit corporation,” with a social mission to promote, support and improve education and learning.

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Note to Editors: High-res images available upon request for all WebAssign board of directors.

Media Contact:
Doug Thompson, Thompson Drake Public Relations
541.322.9345 | direct
541.419.4471 | cell


Missouri college no longer accepting students who take out loans

A private, four-year Missouri college is so concerned about mounting debt of college graduates in the United States that it no longer will take students who insist on taking out loans, Reuters reports. The policy on loans set by College of the Ozarks, an evangelical Christian school of 1,400 students located in a rural area near Branson, Missouri, may be a national first, according to Roland King, vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. College of the Ozarks is unusual, however. All students work on campus, and they do not pay tuition, said Jerry Davis, president of the southwest Missouri four-year school. Ninety percent of each entering class at the college must demonstrate financial need, according to the school’s website, which says that tuition is covered by credits for campus work, along with any federal and state aid and a college scholarship, if necessary…

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States’ aid to public colleges has fallen 28 percent since 2008

State governments, which have been battling slow economic growth, cut aid to public colleges for five years and now spend 28 percent less per student than they did in 2008, according to a study published on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The reductions in every state except Wyoming and North Dakota average $2,353 for the 75 percent of undergraduates who attend public colleges and show few signs of easing soon, according to the study’s lead writer, Phil Oliff of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“The rate of decline has moderated somewhat, but we don’t see clear signs that states are reinvesting in their higher education systems,” Oliff said in a conference call with reporters. “They are coming out of an enormous hole.”

Revenues for state governments have risen for nearly three years, but are not matching the bounceback after previous recessions, with the rate of increase slowing in the 2012 third quarter, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government…

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Student project creates a bomb scare

A student at Salem International University in West Virginia who tried to get creative by using a fake bomb in an English class presentation is in custody after a scare that disrupted the campus and had students in tears, the Associated Press reports. Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer says he’s charging 33-year-old Clarksburg resident Joshua John Richards with manufacture and possession of a hoax bomb. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in prison upon conviction. Shaffer says he’ll also seek thousands of dollars’ restitution for the cost of the emergency response, which involved fire and police departments, sheriff’s deputies and a bomb squad…

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Court backs student in textbook copyright case

A recent landmark copyright case could greatly benefit students.

In a case with important implications for the used textbook market, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 19 that textbooks and other goods made and sold abroad can be re-sold online and in discount stores without violating U.S. copyright law.

In a 6-3 opinion, the court threw out a copyright infringement award to publisher John Wiley & Sons against Thai graduate student Supap Kirtsaeng, who used eBay to resell copies of the publisher’s copyrighted books that his relatives first bought abroad at cut-rate prices.

Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion for the court that once goods are sold lawfully, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, publishers and manufacturers lose the protection of U.S. copyright law.

“We hold that the ‘first sale’ doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad,” Breyer said.

Had the court come out the other way, it would have crimped the sale of many goods sold online and in discount stores, and it would have complicated the tasks of museums and libraries that contain works produced outside the United States, Breyer said. Retailers told the court that more than $2.3 trillion worth of foreign goods were imported in 2011, and that many of these goods were bought after they were first sold abroad, he said.

Aaron Moss, a Los Angeles-based lawyer who is representing Costco in a related case, said the court “correctly rejected the idea that this has anything to do with geography.”

In a dissent for herself and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court was ignoring Congress’ aim of protecting “copyright owners against the unauthorized importation of low-priced, foreign-made copies of their copyrighted works.”

The movie and music businesses, software makers, and other manufacturers worry that the decision allows unauthorized sales to undercut their businesses.

“The ruling for Kirtsaeng will send a tremor through the publishing industries, harming both U.S. businesses and consumers around the world. Today’s decision will create a strong disincentive for publishers to market different versions and sell copies at different prices in different regions. The practical result may very well be that consumers and students abroad will see dramatic price increases or entirely lose their access to valuable U.S. resources created specifically for them,” said Keith Kupferschmid, general counsel for the Software & Information Industry Association.

Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, said in a separate opinion that Congress is free to change the law if it thinks holders of copyrights need more protection. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas also were part of the court’s majority.

Kirtsaeng sold $900,000 worth of books published abroad by Wiley and others and made about $100,000 in profit. The international editions of the textbooks were essentially the same as the more costly American editions. A jury in New York awarded Wiley $600,000 after deciding Kirtsaeng sold copies of eight Wiley textbooks without permission.

The high court wrestled with what protection the holder of a copyright has after a product made outside the United States is sold for the first time. In this case, the issue was whether U.S. copyright protection applies to items that are made abroad, purchased abroad, and then resold in the U.S. without the permission of the manufacturer.

The court earlier rejected copyright claims over U.S.-made items that were sold abroad and then brought back to the United States for resale. The justices heard a similar case in 2010, but Kagan did not take part because she worked on it while serving in the Justice Department. The court divided 4-4 in that case, involving discount seller Costco and Swiss watch maker Omega.

The case decided Tuesday is Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, 11-697.


LMS secures results for online institutions

LearningStudio’s digitally embedded content and reporting capabilities help guide students and faculty on successful paths.

Universities with online programs want a learning management system that is not only easily deployable, but also includes features that can improve student retention—a problem that is particularly concerning to online institutions.

A growing number of campus leaders believe learning analytics could be essential tools for improving learning outcomes and college completion rates. Recently, eCampus News highlighted several programs equipped with learning analytics tools that are garnering success at universities: Ellucian’s Course Signals, Jenzabar Retention, Blackboard Analytics for Learn, and Desire2Learn Analytics.

When deciding which learning management system to incorporate to improve productivity, Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA), based in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the six community colleges that are part of Kansas’s eduKan cohort invested in Pearson LearningStudio, an LMS designed for mostly or completely online institutions.

Pearson LearningStudio is at the center of an integrated system of services called eCollege that includes data reporting and analytics capabilities.

Matt Leavy, chief executive officer of eCollege, said administrators can opt to receive “triggers for intervention” through a daily reporting feature, and they can track which students aren’t attending class, or which students failed an exam.

“Our research shows that speed is everything in terms of getting students on track,” said Leavy. “We also have sophisticated algorithms that show the trajectory of a successful student based on dozens of variables, and it changes by schools—it fills the profile of a successful student, and it tracks every other student against that profile. You can tell early in the term if a student will be successful in the course.”

(Next page: How colleges have benefited from using Pearson LearningStudio)


Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform a strong performer in comprehensive video platforms report

MADISON, Wis. — March 19, 2013 — Sonic Foundry, Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFO), the trusted cornerstone of your enterprise, campus and event video content management and webcasting strategy, was among the select companies that Forrester Research, Inc. invited to participate in its report, The Forrester Wave™: Video Platforms for the Enterprise, Q1 2013.

Sonic Foundry, the decade-long leader in academic video capture, believes that its appearance in the report reaffirms the company’s recent evolution to Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform and solidly establishes Mediasite as a recognized solution for comprehensive video content management. Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform provides enterprises and campuses an integrated approach for creating, managing and distributing all video-based content. It allows users to import any video, regardless of where or how it was created or recorded, and transform it into rich video that is indexed, searched, secured and played back on any device from desktops and tablets to smart phones.

According to Forrester, “Sonic Foundry’s portal applications and video player provide an excellent user experience, and its media capture appliances simplify webcast recording. Sonic Foundry has expanded beyond webcasting with the recent introduction of its desktop recorder and the addition of features to manage video content other than webcasts.”

Forrester evaluated 23 criteria of enterprise video platform vendors. Sonic Foundry scored a perfect 5 out of 5 points for in the webcasting features category, and scored 4 out of 5 possible points in search and metadata support, workflow, video file ingest options and security categories.

“Customers like the simplified operation and turnkey functionality of Madison, Wisconsin-based Sonic Foundry’s media recording appliances to synchronize content. They also like the rich playback experience for viewers. Sonic Foundry is unique in providing OCR [optical character recognition] to automatically index the text in slides, which makes it easy to search for specific webcast content. It is focused now on becoming more multipurpose. Sonic Foundry added a desktop recorder feature to support user-generated content uploads without its media recording appliances,” the report states.

“Sonic Foundry is pleased to have been cited as a strong performer in video platforms for the enterprise by Forrester in their first report on the space. I believe that to be recognized at this early stage in our video content management strategy is further validation that we know what is required for scalable, widespread adoption of content creation and management,” said Gary Weis, CEO of Sonic Foundry. “We’ve advocated and perfected wide-scale video capture of the knowledge shared in classrooms and conference rooms for more than a decade. Mediasite has proven to be seamless and powerful with a reliable management workflow that our customers wanted to apply to all of their video content and we’ve given them that power with Mediasite Enterprise Video Platform.”

Trusted by more than 2,600 customers worldwide in education, business and government, the Mediasite enterprise, campus and event video content management and webcasting system quickly and cost-effectively automates the capture, management, delivery and search of live and on-demand streaming videos and rich media.

About Sonic Foundry®, Inc.
Sonic Foundry (NASDAQ: SOFO) is the trusted market leader for enterprise webcasting solutions, providing video content management and distribution for education, business and government. Powered by the patented Mediasite webcasting platform and webcast services of Mediasite Events, the company empowers people to advance how they share knowledge online, using video webcasts to bridge time and distance, enhance learning outcomes and improve performance.


WVS Partners with ETap and CTeLearning

World Virtual School Partners with ETap and CTeLearning: The WVS is excited to announce its new content partnerships with ETap and CTeLearning, award winning content providers.
eTap Owned and operated by Blaise Subbiondo of Laguna Beach, CA ( is an award winning provider of K-12 of Math, English, Science, and History that is entirely web based.
CTELearning owned and operated by Steve Waddell of Kansas City, Kansas ( offers award winning career themed courses. These for career/technical training experiences allows students to gain introductory industry certifications, technical skills, soft skills all while learning about different careers.
East Moline, Il, 11 March 2013 – The World Virtual School, owned and operated by Dr. Diana Muir of East Moline, Il serves students around the world in 72 countries. Since its conception in December of 1995, WVS has served more than 540,000 students around the world. In 2010, Dr. Muir was named Global Educator of the Year by CCLP, a European consortium of educators and futurists.
Reem Abdellatif, an Egyptian activist, stated “A renaissance is boiling beneath the surface,” indicating that beneath the outward discussion about issues of politics, global warming, social and economic equality lurks a renaissance of thinking and action by millennium students of a new global order. WVS intends to be part of this new global order by helping to create a global awareness through equality in education and by supplementing current educational programs with innovative new products such as
ETap’s awarding winning (District Administrations Top 100 Products in 2012) content and CTeLearning’s award winning virtual internships (District Administrations Top 100 Products 2011).
In order to expand its primary education offerings and to complement its career/training courses, WVS has partnered with these 2 experienced and innovate companies in order to serve its students better, hoping to expand its reach to more than 100,000 new students in the next year.
To learn more about the World Virtual School, its new content partners and Porta-School™, its new patent-pending solar powered stand-alone tablet (independent of internet and electricity) with a complete high school curriculum, please visit their website at or contact the owner at for further information.
About World Virtual School
The World Virtual School was first established in 1995 as a non-profit subsidiary of the Hawking Institute, an NGO of the United Nations. Offering free, equitable basic education to students around the world, entirely over the internet, the WVS completed its 3 year “proof-of-concept” phase in 2012. WVS is now transforming into a for-profit corporation and is focusing on branding and marketing, while improving its curriculum with state-of-the-art teaching methodology and technology.
Contact Info
Interested parties may contact the World Virtual School at the following addresses:
World Virtual School
747 18th Ave
East Moline, IL 61244
Media Inquires:
Dr. Diana J. Muir
World Virtual School LLC


eInstruction’s Wave Extends LMS Functionality to Connect Instructors and Students

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (March 15, 2013) eInstruction, a global education software and technology company, expanded its line of products with the release of Wave, a centralized, online solution designed for higher education that extends the functionality of an institution’s learning management system (LMS).

Wave makes it easier to increase student participation, take attendance, and capture valuable real-time feedback within Blackboard® or Moodle™ LMS environments, with additional platforms planned in the future. Because Wave becomes part of the LMS, it is the only solution for higher education that does not require roster import and records student results directly into the LMS grade book.

“Our customers are most excited by the amount of time it saves them grading course work and evaluating students,” said Sandy Letterly, Product Manager at eInstruction. “One instructor noted she would save at least 20 minutes a day by not having to manually enter or import results into her grade book for five different classes.”

With Wave, there’s no need to learn a new program – instructors simply log in to their LMS and course, and with one click are ready to start a session. They can then use existing LMS content, tag their own lesson plans, and launch impromptu assessment questions with real-time results.
Students use eInstruction student response pads (clickers) or can download the vPad app for iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, Android device, or laptop, to answer true-false, multiple-choice, multiple-select, or short-answer questions.

Wave is easily scalable so educators can keep a lecture hall of up to 1,000 students engaged; ensuring students are following the lecture or reading the assigned material. They also get immediate access to data and an in-depth look at an individual’s performance regardless of class size.

Wave is available as a student-purchased or institution-subsidized deployment in the United States or Canada. To speak with an eInstruction Sales Representative, call 866-496-4949 or visit

About eInstruction®
eInstruction is a leading global education technology company committed to providing interactive teaching and learning solutions that help educators and students advance learning every day. The company offers innovative classroom instruction systems, student response systems, fixed interactive whiteboards, mobile interactive whiteboards, research-based software, and professional development solutions that facilitate significantly higher levels of collaboration, engagement, and student achievement across all stages of the learning process.

Available in 48 languages, eInstruction is enhancing education in more than 90 countries worldwide. eInstruction has global headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ and offices in Denton, TX; Fort Wright, KY; and Paris, France. Learn more at