Mendeley injects some pace into academia with fast, big data

London startup Mendeley is already beloved by researchers around the planet for helping them manage their work. Now it’s unveiled a new product that it hopes can help universities get a better handle on what’s happening right now. Goodbye slow, stuffy academia.

Today in Cloud

This week’s Weekly Update looks at recent attempts by UK universities to save money and pool resources by building themselves a private cloud. The Register reports news of a Further Education college (roughly equivalent to a community college in the U.S.) doing something rather different, and shifting a lot of their computing to Iceland’s Thor data center. In both cases, securing a direct connection to JANET (the UK education sector’s high speed network) has been key. For the university cloud, for example, it is a key aspect of their ability to offer prices far lower than the commercial competition can (currently) match. In both cases, the institutions concerned are taking a fresh look at the shape of the education sector’s computing requirements, leading to different but equally interesting experiments. Whether either or both gain significant traction remains to be seen.

Another nail in the coffin of Google’s global library

Since 2004, Google has been trying to scan the world’s books but has run into opposition from authors and publishers. Now a lawsuit has been launched against the universities who were its partners. Is this the final nail in the coffin of the global library?

University Tempts Students With Free iPads

If you’re considering a school for next year, you might want to put Seton Hill on the shortlist, as the university in Greensburg, Pennsylvania is the first academic institution to announce free iPads for every full time student beginning in Fall, 2010.

iTunes U: Learning Wherever You Are

iTunes U Splash

iTunes U (iTunes Link), part of the iTunes Store, is an amazing venue for top-notch educational content from the world’s greatest universities, institutions, museums and other public educational foundations. From language lessons to audiobooks to lectures and more, iTunes U is a great place for those who love to learn. With the release of iTunes 9, Apple (s aapl) has put an even bigger spotlight on this great content by featuring it prominently inside the application.

When iTunes U first launched, many of the top universities, such as Stanford, Cambridge and Carnegie Mellon, jumped onboard to provide engaging content. As the original institutions first began producing content for the free service, some implemented their content as podcasts that would download into the “Podcasts” section of iTunes whereas others would implement their content so it would download in the “Music” section. Furthermore, as more engaging content was added to the service, it became problematic to keep this content organized. Some universities would automatically create playlists for their content, and others would just create multiple podcasts. Read More about iTunes U: Learning Wherever You Are

Textbooks Now On iPhone, iPod Touch


It appears that rumors of the death of the e-book on the iPhone platform were greatly exaggerated, at least that’s what Apple (s aapl) has said in a recent statement. Backing up Apple’s official denial of plans to discontinue that side of app store business is a Wall Street Journal report (subscription required) that details a new recently released app which brings textbooks to the iPhone.

The new venture bringing the textbooks to the platform is a joint effort by 12 major educational publishers, including McGraw-Hill and Pearson, both of which are responsible for a huge chunk of the higher education textbook market in North America. 7,000 titles are available from the combined publishers. The partnership is being operated under the moniker of CourseSmart LLC, and works based on a rental model. Read More about Textbooks Now On iPhone, iPod Touch

University Makes Apple Portables a “Requirement”

iphone-ipod-touch-firmwareFile this one under “Apple is secretly buying up schools with their healthy stack of cash.” I’m only kidding, but in a move that probably has a lot of parents eyeing their teen’s list of required materials with a considerable amount of suspicion, the University of Missouri is making Apple’s iPhone and/or iPod touch a requirement for some incoming freshmen. It’s true that many programs make having an Apple (s aapl) computer a requirement, because of the industry-specific software and programs they teach with and for, but even Stanford’s iPhone development course doesn’t have the devices themselves as a requirement, making this a notable first.

The “requirement” in this case is more like a recommendation, though, since it won’t be monitored or enforced. And it doesn’t apply to all students at the university, only those in the journalism program. The reasoning behind requiring students to have the devices is not that they can listen to music or play Bejeweled 2 if they find their lectures boring, but that they can use their iPhone and iPod touch to augment their learning experience. Administrators at the university are hoping that by recording and listening to their lectures more than once, knowledge retention and understanding will go up. Read More about University Makes Apple Portables a “Requirement”

3 Key Web Working Tools for Students

Having spent some time teaching at a university, and being on the brink of becoming a student again myself, I recently stopped to reflect about how my school work and that of my students might be improved with some Web 2.0 tools. The discussion is timely, too, since a lot of working professionals are heading back to the classroom in an attempt to stay relevant during tough times.

During my first go-around, I wasn’t savvy enough to take advantage of what was available, but with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve identified the following three categories of web apps that could make studying easier and more effective.

Read More about 3 Key Web Working Tools for Students