Sandwiches in CyberspaceMURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Students here at Middle Tennessee State University now have a place to get some coffee, grab a sandwich and even check their e-mail if they so choose. It’s called a cybercafe.The cybercafe that opened this fall at Middle Tennessee is one of many that have been popping up across the United States and in Canada. Besides computer stations, most of them provide some kind of coffee bar or food service.“It’s a good place to grab decent coffee and watch the news,” says sophomore Chris Chambers, who stops in about three times a week. “Or you can pull up your Instant Messenger account and chat with friends 1,000 miles away.”The cybercafe at Middle Tennessee State was born during discussions between students, faculty, administrators and Aramark, the college’s foodservice provider, says Sue Yost, an Aramark location manager. She says students requested a place that would combine fast food, coffee and a convenience store.Then, Yost said, someone thought, “What about putting in some computers?” The result is an area that includes seven computers, six televisions, 10 sofas, four armchairs and plenty of tables, chairs, counters and stools.Starbucks sells coffee, Burger King and D.C. Subs offer fast food and Aramark runs a convenience store with soft drinks, snacks and other items. The cybercafe also hosts a variety of events for students, including open-mic nights, a battle of the DJs, live radio broadcasts and a ’70s Night.
You’ve Got Grades — InstantlyLAWRENCE, Kan. — Hello, you’ve got grades.That’s the message University of Kansas students were receiving last month as the school for the first time posted grades for the fall semester on a Web site that e-mailed the grades to them. And the reaction has been favorable.“It’s pretty convenient,” says Faisal Iqbal, a senior in business. “Last time we had to wait a long time to get our grades. I tried it as soon as finals were over. It was pretty quick.”Previously, students had to rely on phone calls to faculty or snail mail from the university. The university used a variety of software to set up the e-mail system, says Associate Registrar Bob Turvey.To get their grades, students went to a page on Kansas’ Web site, entered a school-issued identification number and selected the semester for which they wanted their grades. Students then were able to select a button that says: “E-mail my grades.” Grades then were e-mailed to student addresses on file with the university.“They love it,” Turvey says. “The only difficulties have been a lot of students don’t e-mail or don”t remember their passwords.”The system had received about 36,700 hits as of late last month. However, one student still was waiting for one grade. “I’ve only gotten two of my grades,” said Paul Vincent, sophomore in mathematics who took three courses.
South Carolina College to Graduate First Internet ClassSPARTANBURG, S.C. — This May, when 70 students will graduate from Limestone College’s Internet program, it will virtually feel like they’ve never been on campus. Actually, most of them haven’t. More than 1,700 students took classes this year on Limestone’s virtual campus, a jump from the first year when 391 students took the course. Doug Hulsey, coordinator of the computer science program, says the virtual campus began to take form in 1996 when he developed a series of Internet classes.The program took full flight in August 1998 when the school decided to make the 17 classes into a full program of study. Students do all work online and turn in papers and tests using e-mail. They use a system of passwords to get into the program. “We never see the students until they graduate,” he says. “That offers a lot of flexibility to the students.”Students join the program because it allows them to enhance their careers while not having to spend their time in classes. “I found that, as an adult, my time [in regular classes] was being directed a little too much for me,” says Jeff Dykema of Charleston, who is married with two children and one on the way — and has a full-time job. “The structure in which the class is conducted fits right into my lifestyle.” The program works because its gives people the opportunity to work at their own pace, says Brian Hobson of Sumter, adding: It has “helped me immensely in finishing my computer science degree. The virtual campus classes are great for my schedule because they can be self-paced, and I can do as much work in one session as I feel fit.”
Iowa State Professor, Students Develop Chemistry-Teaching SoftwareAMES, Iowa — With the help of a little publicity, an Iowa State University professor and his students are finding that the software they developed to teach chemistry is gaining popular endorsement.Dr. Kenneth Jolls, a professor of chemical engineering, says he has received more than 70 requests worldwide for the software, which was developed 18 months ago. An article on the software in the October edition of Science magazine, a weekly journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, could have prompted the interest, Jolls says. The software, called Phase, offers computer-generated art for solving chemical thermodynamics problems and understanding chemistry ideas. It is available for free to schools and institutions for use on Silicon Graphics machines. It was created using the Silicon Graphics IRIS workstations that were part of a grant Iowa State received several years ago, Jolls says. The software doesn’t do anything new in terms of computer graphics, but it does allow a more smooth and powerful way of seeing and understanding some difficult chemistry problems. “These types of drawings have been played with on pencil and paper for 100 years,” Jolls says. “The trick is to get them in a computer graphics environment where you can move them around and get a sense of their three-dimensionality.”
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