Internet users, college students asked to help with connection speed test

Researchers hopes to analyze hundreds of tests from across the state.

Researchers at Virginia Tech are asking internet users, especially college students, to assist with “Accelerate Virginia,” a campaign to test internet connection speeds and create a map of broadband internet availability.

“Students, specifically, can help and make a difference by passing on the word to their friends and family, in person or through social networks,” said Accelerate Virginia spokeswoman Angela Correa.

In order to make the map as complete and accurate as possible, the organizers hope a majority of internet users will participate. While the test is primarily aimed at residential users, commercial customers are also encouraged to take the speed test from their business locations.…Read More

Virginia Tech is working toward camera-covered campus

Virginia Tech will spend almost $1 million on new digital security cameras.

Ken might look like one of the crash-test dummies, but he doesn’t get banged around. Rather, he is a sort of film star, used to evaluate the best sites around Virginia Tech to place new digital security cameras.

Ken and his handlers from Northern Virginia-based X7 Systems Integration are working under a nearly $1 million contract to install a networked video security system around campus.

Ken’s job is to stand very still while cameras film him, so technicians can assess the quality of images at various locations.…Read More

College students on QR codes: I don’t get it

Three in four students said they were 'very unlikely' to use QR codes.

When faced with Quick Response (QR) codes, college students have been slow to catch on to the technology, a new study suggests.

Do you snap a photo of it? Do you need a smart phone app? How long will this take? These are a few of the questions students asked in a 24-campus survey conducted during the fall 2011 semester by Archrival, a youth marketing company based in Nebraska.

Twenty-one percent of students surveyed at schools including Michigan State University, the University of Tennessee, and Virginia Tech said they were able to successfully scan a QR code, a barcode-like graphic placed in publications and on points of interest that, when scanned, opens a specific web page on a web-enabled smart phone.…Read More

College changes emergency alert system after tsunami scare

Cloud-based emergency alerts are becoming commonplace on campuses.

Marymount College in Palo Verdes, Calif., has switched to a cloud-based emergency notification system after the campus’s old alert technology failed to warn students and faculty of a possible tsunami headed toward the school last spring.

Marymount officials said that the aging emergency notification system not only left the 800-student campus–located near the Port of Los Angeles–without timely warning, but school administrators weren’t able to contact the company in charge of the system as reports swirled of a tsunami off the California coast.

Denise Fessenbecker, the college’s director of general services, said customer service representatives who managed Marymount’s account with the emergency alert company didn’t respond to the school’s requests for six days after the tsunami threats first surfaced.…Read More

Colleges and suicide threats: when to call home?

Virginia Tech settled a lawsuit after failing to show an eMail from a suicidal student.

The eMail that arrived at Virginia Tech’s health center in November 2007 was detailed and unmistakably ominous. It concerned a Tech senior named Daniel Kim and came from an acquaintance at another college.

“Daniel has been acting very suicidal recently, purchasing a $200 pistol, and claiming he’ll go through with it,” the eMail read, adding details of a reported previous suicide attempt with pills. “This is not a joke.”

By the time Virginia Tech told Daniel’s father, William Kim, about that eMail, it was too late.…Read More

College IT officials track Google, Verizon talks

Genachowski's net neutrality plan has received wide-ranging support from educators.
Genachowski's net neutrality plan has received wide-ranging support from educators.

Higher education technologists, who largely support the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality plans, kept an eye on reports Aug. 5 that internet giants Google and Verizon were on the verge of announcing a deal that would provide faster web speeds only to content providers who could pay a premium.

IT decision makers in colleges and universities have said such a precedent could undermine major strides in providing educational content online, especially for small institutions without massive technology budgets.

After media reports said Google, which owns YouTube, and Verizon were hammering out the final details in the creation of “pay tiers” for internet users–a system that the FCC’s net neutrality plan was designed to avoid — Google responded with a statement calling the reports “quite simply wrong.”…Read More