News in brief

February 7, 2003

• The entertainment industry has warned US universities that they could face lawsuits if students continue using campus networks to illegally share copyrighted material such as music and movies.

Heads of industry groups, including the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, have written to university and college presidents informing them that "an increasing and significant" number of students are using university networks to pirate copyrighted creative works.

They urge institutions to educate students about the moral and legal issues and to punish those who do not comply.

The associations say a number of universities, such as Michigan and Drake, have introduced codes of online conduct for students.

• The Joint Information Systems Committee is to outline its latest plans for using information and communications technology to support academics and institutions at a one-day conference at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre on March 4.

Topics will include managed learning environments, as well as advice and guidance about using technology for institutional change and security issues.

• Staff at Stanford University’s medical school are gaining more accurate feedback from students through a system that allows them to answer questions anonymously in lectures.

A trial combined a Palm m125 handheld computer with a Palm Bluetooth card, which links in with the university’s wireless network. It allows lecturers to poll classes electronically, rather than asking for a show of hands, and tailor material on the hop to meet students’ needs.

Pat Cross, professor of structural biology at Stanford, said that it led to better-educated students. "The key is really the anonymity they have. Their answers are more truthful since there is no public embarrassment for answering incorrectly."

The success of the trial could see the system deployed across the medical school.


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