The cost of technology downtime in the classroom is more than you think

Unproductive meeting time accounts for around $37 billion in yearly waste.

Talk of the weather, for many in higher education, is the clearest sign that time and money are being wasted while faculty members and students wait for IT staff to hustle to their lecture hall and fix a projector, or computer, or microphone.

David Siedell, senior IT director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said that like the private sector, colleges can lose hundreds of hours of scheduled work time thanks at least in part to technical difficulties.

And now, college and university officials can see just how much money is going to waste caused by technology shortcomings with a free online calculator – made by audio-visual company Cenero — that takes into account the number of campus employees in the room, those employees’ salaries, and the length of the delay.…Read More

Web site sponsors gambling on grades at 36 colleges

Some students say gambling on grades provides an incentive to ace their classes.
Some students say gambling on grades provides an incentive to ace their classes.

Higher-education officials might have some concerns about a new web site, called Ultrinsic, that is taking wagers on grades from students at 36 colleges nationwide starting this month.

Just as Las Vegas sports books set odds on football games, Ultrinsic will pay you top dollar for A’s, a little less for the more likely outcome of a B average or better, and so on. You can also wager you’ll fail a class by buying what Ultrinsic calls “grade insurance.”

CEO Steven Wolf insists this is not online gambling, which is technically illegal in the United States, because wagers with Ultrinsic involve skill.…Read More

Educational innovation gets boost under new programs

The Investing in Innovation fund must be doled out by Sept. 30.
The Investing in Innovation fund must be doled out by Sept. 30.

A movement is under way to make it easier for entrepreneurs to navigate the lucrative and sometimes-tricky education market and introduce new technologies and products into classrooms.

An educator at the University of Pennsylvania wants to create one of the nation’s only business incubators dedicated to education entrepreneurs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is also getting into the act with a $650 million fund to boost education innovation.

“Here’s this [market] that is huge, that is really important, that needs innovation, and there’s just nothing out there to sort of foster it,” said Doug Lynch, vice dean of Penn’s Graduate School of Education. “Let’s create a Silicon Valley around education.”…Read More

Web not yet the answer to college textbook costs

Most students still prefer print to digital textbooks, and even if they didn’t, college campuses so far have made very few titles available online, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. At the University of Pennsylvania, for example, only 31 of the 1,578 course titles registered with the bookstore were available digitally, eight of which were sold by the bookstore. That could change with the advent of the tablet-style Apple iPad and with students throughout the region buckling under heavy book expenses on top of pricey tuition. A small but growing number already are buying digital texts, many of which are half the price of books. Experts expect students to have more choices as campuses, professors, and companies look for new ways to make texts available and more affordable. But for now, textbook publishers and book authors are grappling to find a fair method that makes use of technology and satisfies students. “It’s like the Wild West. Everybody’s trying something new,” said Steven Bell, associate university librarian at Temple. “What’s the pricing model that’s going to work?” Don’t look yet for a groundswell toward digital books. According to the national Student Public Interest Research Groups, 75 percent of students still prefer print. “The critical mass just isn’t there yet,” said Bell, who added that it’s also not clear whether students will buy the e-reading devices to make digital books more palatable…

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