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Campus Computing News

By Dr. Maurice Leatherbury, Senior Director of Academic Computing

Personal Digital Assistants Review 

A subcommittee of the Distributed Computing Support Management Team, chaired by Tim Christian of the College of Arts and Sciences, undertook an investigation of personal digital assistants starting in February of this year. That subcommittee produced its final report and briefed the Information Resources Council at its August meeting. Basically, the subcommittee concluded that devices running the Palm operating system best meet the criteria specified by the evaluation, which was to find one or more portable devices to enable typical end-users to process calendar, task, contact information (directory), notes, and email information remotely. The final report of the subcommittee can be found on the Web at http://www.cascss.unt.edu/mobilepda/finalreport/

UNT Heads Up Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Distance Education Testing Grant Project

Jenny Jopling, Associate Director of the Center for Distributed Learning at UNT, developed a grant proposal to the TIF Board that was funded in the amount of about $750,000. The purpose of the grant is to establish a statewide consortium of Internet-based testing centers to which Texas colleges and universities can send distance education students to take Web-based tests in a secure, authenticated environment. About 30 institutions in Texas are participating in the grant, with Ms. Jopling as the project coordinator. UNT will have a testing facility in the new Gateway Center, which is expected to be completed next fall.

This project will provide faculty members who teach via the Web a way to insure that Web-based tests are taken by students who are actually enrolled in their courses, and that the testing is done under controlled conditions. Protocols for authenticating students ("must have a photo ID plus message from the instructor," etc.) are being developed by the consortium, and a Web-based scheduling package is being investigated so that students can schedule a machine at a specific location and at a specific time.