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Protecting Your College Identity from Hackers

by Anna Meskishvili

Think your college identity is as safe as it can be? This next story may make you think again.

Daniel Fowler and Justin Camp, former students of the University of Central Missouri were charged with conspiracy, fraud, computer intrusion, identity theft and electronic communications interception in November for hacking into the university’s network with intentions to sell personal information about faculty and students.

Fowler admitted to hacking into the network in 2009 using a flash drive containing a virus to infiltrate other’s computers and gain access to their personal information. Instead of distributing mass emails with viruses, Fowler and Camp took a personal and “human factor” approach by offering to show pictures from the infected flash drive. Once the virus was released, the hackers had access to the now infected computer and used their access to the administrator’s computer to try to transfer money into their own student accounts. Crime doesn’t pay, though: They could now be facing up to 15 years in prison.

With the advancement and innovation of technology it’s often easy to forget about our own transparency in the technological web. Although what Fowler and Camp did was dangerous and irresponsible, it’s not uncommon on a smaller scale. An internal college profile has vital information and needs to heavily protected. At Boston University, we are required to change our master password several times throughout four years and the password is required to be a certain length and contain certain characters to validate its strength against hackers.

Protecting yourself online goes without saying but protecting your personal college information is a must. Although it’s unlikely you will be a victim of a hacker, be sure never to reveal your password or open emails from unknown senders.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She


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A Step Beyond Defriending

Saint Augustine's Sued by Student Barred from Commencement

July 12, 2011

A Step Beyond Defriending

by Alexis Mattera

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you’re unhappy and you know it, do not take to Facebook.

This is advice Roman Caple could have used a few months back when he was barred from commencement exercises because of something he posted on Saint Augustine’s wall. He’s still mad – suing mad, in fact: Caple is suing the North Carolina school for more than $10,000 in damages.

Caple’s legal complaint accuses Saint Augustine’s of breach of contract, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claims that he has incurred extreme mental anguish and distress, including bouts of uncontrollable crying, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of confidence and difficulty transitioning from a college student to a professional. Saint Augustine’s is standing by its decision for now.

Do you think Caple’s suit is justified or should he have just been more cognizant of what he was posting? Did Saint Augustine’s go too far in disciplining Caple or did its response fit the infraction?


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"See" It Their Way

Blind Students Sue FSU for Discrimination

July 12, 2011

"See" It Their Way

by Anna Meskishvili

Think of a modern classroom full of tech-savvy whiteboards and a plethora of electronic capabilities. Now think about being in that same classroom but not being able to see. Could you perform and interact like your vision-unimpaired classmates? Two Florida State University students, Christopher Toth and Jamie Principato, could not and are suing the institution for discrimination.

The two blind students were having extensive difficulties performing in the classroom because they were being denied the same resources as those students with vision. One of their complaints was the reliance on the “clicker” system in the classroom, which allows students to select answers to questions during lecture, which are displayed on a screen. Toth and Principato were also denied Braille copies of certain textbooks or accessible copies of lecture material. The students’ lawyer, Daniel Goldstein, comments that this case is very time-sensitive because of all the progressive advancements made in technology. Soon, there will be little for students with disabilities to relate to in a learning environment.

For students in wheelchairs, there are ramps. For students with learning disabilities, there are aides. For students without sight, however, it’s hard to simulate the experience of visual technology. Time and technology seem to be traveling at a supernatural speed but many learning institutions are slowly abandoning traditional, equal-opportunity learning.

It’s a difficult issue to formulate an opinion on since there are no equal-tiered technologically-advanced e-learning systems for the blind. What do you think would be a fair and progressive solution to Toth and Principato’s situation?

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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The Great eReader Debate

July 13, 2011

The Great eReader Debate

by Jacquelene Bennett

Kindles, eBooks and Nooks are all electronic alternatives to traditional paper bound books that are slowly becoming more and more popular. Though I prefer paper bound books, I must admit that I really want a Kindle but this gadget and others like it don’t really have a place in college classrooms (yet) for several reasons.

As anyone who has taken a college course can attest, the books and texts assigned to the class are the middle ground for students, professors and the course subject that is being taught. Professors often select certain editions of books for the class for a number of reasons and while the selection of books available for electronic download grows daily, these editions are oftentimes not available. For those courses that have lengthy book lists, another issue is that sometimes only a few books are available electronically while the rest aren’t (I’ve seen this while book shopping for classes on Amazon); this may not be an issue for one individual’s personal reading process but I can’t imagine being a professor and trying to conduct a class with that disruption of different media formats.

I think that one of the main reasons why these devices will have a hard time catching on in the classroom is the distraction they provide. Some devices just don’t store books but they allow people to surf the Internet as well. Professors already hate students bringing their laptops to class for this reason so I doubt they will approve of a Kindle or Nook that has the same capabilities.

The reality is that we do live in a technological world where even books aren’t safe from the oblivion caused by electronic innovations so I think it is just a matter of time before these electronic books become a staple in the classroom.

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.


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Blogging Bridges the Digital Divide

by Alexis Mattera

Teaching students how to write (and write well) has long been a challenge for educators. Sure, there are always those students with a knack for style and syntax but how can teachers get less-proficient or ESL students excited about writing and bridge the digital divide at the same time? Through blogging.

Jon Schwartz, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher from Oceanside, Calif., found that more than 60 percent of his students “came from households where English was the second language, or wasn’t spoken at all." To increase their interest in writing, Schwartz forewent the traditional pencil-to-paper route and introduced his students to blogging. After teaching them the basics, Schwartz required each student to submit a 90- to 100-word writing assignment each day. They had the option to turn in their assignments via the blog or on paper but after hearing how much some of Schwartz’s former students enjoyed blogging, almost all of them opted for the digital method.

From there, Schwartz said "creativity and productivity skyrocketed because they knew that their work had the potential to be viewed quickly by an authentic audience that mattered to them." In addition to the new-found enthusiasm about writing – Schwartz’s students continue to blog on their own time even when no assignment is required and utilize the Internet for research – the project has helped to bridge the digital divide. "If they aren’t trained to use the computer as a tool for learning, work, and personal growth, they’ll not be able to compete in high school, college, and job markets."

What do you think of Schwartz’s experiment? Would a program like this one get you more interested in writing in and out of the classroom?


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Movie Making Isn’t Just for Film Students

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Making videos is something just about everyone I know has tried. And it's no wonder: Programs available today make it so easy...just look at YouTube's content! Whether you have aspirations of becoming a professional filmmaker, receive an unconventional class assignment or just want to film your college graduation, expressing yourself and preserving your most treasured memories can be done without much effort while having lots of fun.

If you're a PC user like me, you can use Windows Movie Maker for all your video editing needs. Of course, you can't have a video without some footage (or at least some pictures). Click "Import Media" to find your clips and drag them to where you want them to appear on your timeline. Next, peruse the effects and transitions you can use by clicking on "Tools." Effects such as blur, speed up, slow down and even watercolor all can give your video a more stylized look and transitions let your video flow instead of looking like it was just cut and pasted together. If you're having issues with sound quality, consider downloading the free audio editor Audacity. It lets you alter the pitch, speed and volume of your recording and easily import it into WMM the same way you would your video clips.

Of course, WMM isn't the only movie-making option available. Sony Vegas and Apple iMovie are two other types of movie-making software you can choose from. I know some people who bought a Mac specifically for iMovie's advanced movie-making abilities and others who use Sony Vegas on their PCs for its advanced audio capabilities. While some people say iMovie and Sony Vegas are more advanced than WMM, keep in mind WMM is free while iMovie and Sony Vegas are not.

If you realize you have a real passion for film, consider checking out film-making programs offered by Full Sail University, the New York Film Academy and the Los Angeles Film School, among others. Maybe someday we'll even see your name in lights!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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Could Foursquare Be the Next Big Thing on College Campuses?

by Alexis Mattera

It should come as no surprise that the number of higher education institutions with social media presences has skyrocketed over the last few years. Today, 98 percent of colleges are on Facebook, 84 percent are on Twitter and some of these savvy schools are beginning to complement the information shared through these platforms with the geo-social site, Foursquare.

According to a recent study, just 20 percent of campuses have an institutional presence on Foursquare. Though the usage is limited by comparison, officials at the schools using the site are finding it is an effective tool for engaging with students. How? First, a quick breakdown for the uninitiated: Foursquare uses the geo-locator technology built into smartphones and encourages users to “check in” virtually at places they’re visiting in real life, leave notes for future visitors and possibly earn perks (discounts, badges, etc.) for doing so.

While Liz Gross, director of university marketing and communications at the University of Wisconsin at Waukesha, says, “You can’t say ‘10 percent off tuition for checking in,’ or ‘free tuition for the mayor,’” she does believe foursquare allows administrators a direct way “to tap in to student engagement.” Texas A&M is doing it right – the winner of a recent Foursquare scavenger hunt throughout campus earned a 30-percent discount at the school bookstore – and Syracuse University will soon offer a special badge to users checking in at campus venues and could eventually allow students to redeem badges for campus bucks.

Do you think incentivizing students is the best way to engage them or is organic involvement more effective?


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Cool (and Helpful) Study Gadgets

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Now that summer is coming to an end and the fall semester is underway, you might be wondering if there's anything you can do to make studying for your classes easier. While money can't buy everything, it can buy you a couple of cool study-related gadgets.

First off are smartpens like the Livescribe Echo. These babies let you record entire lectures and go straight to a specific portion just by tapping a word from your notes! Just think how much easier your life would be if you could actually focus on listening to the lecture the first time around instead of frantically scribbling notes to make sure you don't miss anything.

If you're like me and find music helps you concentrate while studying, consider buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. How many times have you been forced to study in a crowded room and don't have access to somewhere quieter? If the answer is “Too many,” invest in a pair immediately. Even if you don't listen to music while studying, you can use the device to replay a lecture or listen to a study aid you found online.

Finally, if you've ever copied a passage from a book word-for-word into your notes and ended up with a cramped hand, the portable wand scanner is for you. Not only does this snazzy gadget prevent you from having to lug a scanner to class, it's pretty easy to use: All you do is wave it over the page you want and hook it up to your computer using a USB cable. Just like magic, everything you scanned is now on your computer! The VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand is even compatible with SD cards – ta da!

So, while the Studybot has yet to be invented to do all your studying for you, these gadgets can make studying a lot less painful.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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Sprint Sues Blackboard

September 2, 2011

Sprint Sues Blackboard

by Anna Meskishvili

If you haven’t heard of Blackboard yet, you soon will – whether it’s from your professor to check the due date for your first paper, or whether it’s because of Blackboard’s recent scandal with Sprint.

A background on Blackboard: It’s a software tool used by professors to upload documents and reading materials, lead discussions, post grades and much more. It’s easier than email or other look-alike programs because it keeps all correspondence and important information about the course in one place. It’s a program that makes organization a breeze for students and professors alike.

Sounds great, right? So what’s the problem? Well, Mobile Learn is an application of Blackboard, which was planned to be only accessed by Sprint customers. Sprint believed that this exclusivity would increase their appeal to millions of college students looking for a mobile application for the popular college tool. This premonition went awry when students were able to download the app on their iPhones and iPads through university Wi-Fi connections. Blackboard stands by that students using Wi-Fi to access Mobile Learn does not break their contractual agreement with Sprint. Whichever way this lawsuit unfolds, changes and regulations are bound to arise for Mobile Learn.

Although an avid fan of Blackboard and its Mobile Learn app, I do see Sprint’s side of the story; however, I do not believe their hopes for this application are realistic. Through this lawsuit, Sprint is trying to “enjoin Blackboard from making Mobile Learn available over Wi-Fi at no cost to schools.” Campuses run on Wi-Fi and many more applications are accessed that way, which makes policing apps by contracts virtually impossible. For example, one won’t switch to Sprint simply for the Mobile Learn app (although it may be appealing), especially after being able to access it through Wi-Fi in the past.

What do you think of Sprint's actions toward Blackboard and vice versa? Who's in the right and who's in the wrong?

Anna Meskishvili is a senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Expecting the Unexpected in College

by Angela Andaloro

We’re always reminded that we don’t know what will happen next in life. College is no exception; in fact, I’ve found that in college, I’ve probably dealt with more unexpected happenings than ever before. There are problems that arise without warning that will directly affect your education so here are a few unexpected issues I’ve found many college students have dealt with.

Financial aid snafus: If your school is anything like mine, you might find that many of those working in the financial aid office are students doing work-study. While I don’t doubt they've had training and know what they’re talking about on some level, they don’t have all the answers. Financial aid is super important so if you’ve received some information you’re unsure of, be sure to follow up with someone higher up in the ranks.

Technical meltdowns: Technology is as important as air to a college student and the security blankets of yesterday have been replaced with equally precious laptops and other gadgets. Still, we have to remember that they are machines and they do malfunction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a frantic call from a friend (or been frantic myself) about a computer breakdown. They usually occur at the worst possible times, like during midterms or finals week. My advice? Back up everything. Save that 10-page paper you’re writing every 10 words. Really. I’ve been there. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

While there are some issues that we can anticipate, others really do come from out of nowhere. It’s ok to freak out for a minute when one pops up – it’s only natural! – but then relax and use that level head of yours (and maybe that “emergencies only” credit card) to remedy the problem.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.


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