5 cutting-edge privacy considerations for Big Data

White House, MIT host discussion on the new implications for privacy and learning with Big Data

bigdata Big Data is taking higher education institutions by storm; however, the discussion has moved from whether or not Big Data is useful to whether or not institutions can actually manage the data received, and not just in capacity, but in privacy—privacy that, according to leading experts, is just an illusion.

During a “Big Data Privacy Workshop: Advancing the State of the Art in Technology and Practice,” co-hosted by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) and the MIT Big Data Initiative at CSAIL in Cambridge, MA, thought leaders from academia, government, industry and civil society came together to discuss the future role of technology in protecting and managing privacy.

The workshop, one of a series of events being held across the country in response to President Obama’s call to review privacy issues in the context of increased digital information and the computing process to power it, offered cutting-edge considerations for not only higher education institutions, like MIT, but business and the health care industry.…Read More

The magic beyond the MOOCs

Of the great deal written about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in recent months, much has been positive, some frothy, some skeptical, and some outright negative, MIT’s Faculty Newsletter reports. Online education is likely a game changer for those who don’t have access to residential education but will it – the question goes – replace residential education? That is the fear in some quarters (and the hope in others). Our personal view is: not in the foreseeable future. The edX platform, which has simulations, advanced assessment, and discussion forums, is becoming more capable every month, but there is essential magic in residential in-person education that is difficult to articulate, let alone replicate online. Meanwhile, independent concerns over the high costs of higher education are triggering a re-examination of the value of residential education. Online tools may be just the cure that saves residential education by increasing the value it provides, not the disruption that kills it.

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17 more top universities offer free cyber courses

Coursera will offer more than 200 courses from 33 institutions.

Seventeen more leading universities in the U.S. and abroad will start offering free online courses through the online education platform Coursera, the company said Sept. 19.

The announcement by Mountain View, Calif.-based Coursera underscores the rapid expansion of so-called MOOCs, or massive open online courses, that are reshaping the higher-education landscape.

Coursera, a for-profit company started by two computer science professors at Stanford University, now will offer more than 200 courses from 33 institutions that are open to anyone with internet access. Officials said the website has registered 1.3 million students around the world.…Read More

MIT turns to smart ventilation as campus greening continues

MIT's green efforts could save the campus $50 million.
MIT’s green efforts could save the campus $50 million.

An advanced ventilation system that adjusts airflow according to outdoor temperatures and how many people are in a room could help the Massachusetts Institute of Technology save $100,000 annually as the university continues to trim its energy use.

MIT teamed up with air quality company Aircuity on Aug. 16 to equip the university’s Hayden Library and the Sloan School of Management with a ventilation infrastructure that will help reduce electricity use by 15 percent in the next three years, according to Aircuity’s web site.

The new system, called OptiNet, includes an HVAC optimizer mode and sensors that constantly measure air quality–critical elements for schools and businesses looking to bring down energy costs.…Read More

MIT uses print-reduction software developed by own student

Printer manufacturers such as Xerox and HP now offer comprehensive print-management services to their customers along with hardware, with the goal of reducing printing costs. Yet the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has declined these services in favor of a solution proffered by one of its students, Printerinks.com reports. The university has integrated Virebo software, the creation of medical engineering doctoral candidate Joseph Barillari, across the campus to regulate its printing output. Barillari told Cleantech.com that he devised the print-management software and founded a startup company during a year’s break from his studies. He created Virebo to monitor the output of a printer network to improve its efficiency. The software includes a web-based interface with quickly interpretable data displays. The software went live across the university last October. Barillari intends to make the software available for other customers to download for a fee, with a simplified version freely available. He estimates that the software’s final version will be able to cut 15 percent to 30 percent from the cost of printing

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Hot campus web sites now about romance, not gossip

“I saw you … looking like a dork. But I don’t care how dorky you can be. I just want you to come be dorky with me, babe.” This is what happens when the romantic impulses of the college student meet the declarative instincts of the social media generation, USA Today reports. “My generation, we think about how we can broadcast our message to the world and share things with the world,” says Keone Hon, a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who last winter co-created the site I Saw You MIT, a knockoff of the popular missed connections site ISawYou.com. The MIT site is one of several college-based imitators that have emerged in the last few months to give students a way to anonymously express interest in a classmate. Harvard, Rutgers, and St. John’s University also have knockoffs. The sites at each campus are extremely popular, attracting dozens of posts—including idle observations, crude come-ons, and lengthy love poems—and thousands of visitors each day…

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Open courseware as a viable business model?

Open courseware with online video lectures cost the most to make available on the web.
Open courseware that incorporates video lectures costs the most to make available on the web.

Open courseware isn’t the end of higher education, as some have feared, but rather a recruiting tool that can lure people to enroll in credit-bearing classes, according to a Brigham Young University (BYU) study released last month.

The study, conducted by BYU’s Director of Independent Study Justin Johansen, examined the costs of making college course material available for free online, and how many enrollments resulted from having open courses available on a university’s web site.

The university has six open classes—three college-level and three high school courses—that drew almost 14,000 web page visits over a four-month span, generating 445 paid enrollments at BYU.…Read More