Jan 17 2014

Why Higher Education Cannot Afford to Lose Net Neutrality

A data duel at Yale, some tech history and the best stories of the week.

Welcome to our weekly roundup of tech and education news. Have a story you’d like to see here? Tweet us.

How Could the Fall of Net Neutrality Affect Education?

It’s a controversial issue that we are sure to hear more about in the coming months. This week, an appeals court “threw out federal rules requiring broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic equally,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Without FCC regulations similar to the rules that telephone companies have abided by for years, Internet service providers will be able to offer free, or “sponsored,” data from their partners and even throttle bandwidth to slow connections to their competitors’ websites. “It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory,” Columbia University law professor Tim Wu told the Wall Street Journal.

In an insightful article on Campus Technology, Dian Schaffhauser asks, Will Net Neutrality Ruling Doom Education to Second-Class Status?

"Rather than a single, open network, we face a future where different networks offer different performance for different applications," explained Michael Berman, vice president of Technology & Communication for California State University Channel Islands. "It's not hard to imagine, for example, a commercial network that has Apple as a major sponsor and makes it harder to use an Android phone or vice-versa. Or, a network where the video for courses from the University of Phoenix or Coursera run quickly, but those from edX and your local community college run at slower speed and lower resolution."

It’s a tricky and contentious issue that EdTech will be following.

More Than 30 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Predicted What 2014 Would Look Like

In this video from the Computer History Museum, via Wired, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs reminisces about his experience watching students use computers.

Here are a few quotes from the video:

“I actually got a chance to see 20 students interacting with these computers on a one-on-one basis. And I couldn’t help remembering my own school days when none of these things existed and we’d just get in trouble all the time.”

“What’s even more incredible is when you go talk to fifth-graders. They’re growing up with [computers]. You know, it’s new for myself. I didn’t anything about this stuff 15 years ago.”

A Data Duel at Yale

Like most colleges and universities, Yale’s course-selection software leaves much to be desired. In response, two students, Peter Xu and Harry Yu, built a site that pulled data from several databases to make comparing, scheduling and ultimately selecting courses much easier. Yale students loved it. More than 40 percent of the study body used the tool, which theXu and Yu called Yale Bluebook+.

Not surprisingly, the Yale administration was concerned about data security. While Xu and Yu responded to the university’s concerns about data access and storage, there were other issues involving branding and the unauthorized use of Yale’s logo. The IT department eventually blocked the site and demanded that it be taken down.

What do you think? Should students be able to build tools like this using university data? Is Yale right to take down the site? Read the full story from the Washington Post, and share your thoughts in the Comments.

This Week on EdTech

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