January 5, 2004, Issue No. 64

Table of Contents

Highlights and Features

Wallenberg Hall Showcases New Technology at Its Best
CourseWork: Updates and Highlights
Video Kiosks Promote Student Events
New Web Site for SULAIR
Redesigning the SULAIR Web
Reset Your Own SUNet Password
Whiteboard Capture Tools Enhance Writing and Studying
Come to the IT Open House on January 14
Automated In-Room Network Registration
SKIL Interactive Tutorial Launched
Copyright and Fair Use Web Site Updated
ITSS Changes Its Email Virus Scanning Policy
HighWire Press: An Award and New Journals
Courselets Now Available

Library Resources

Stanford Libraries Offer New Enhanced Images Online
New Digital Resource for 18th Century Studies
Electronic Media in Special Collections
Chemistry Web Sites for All
Get E-resources in Socrates
Scholars’ Workshops on Electronic Resources
LANL Updates Interface to INSPEC and Citation Indexes
Ethical Standards for Using Electronic Resources
New Electronic Resources in the Social Sciences
GIS Support in Branner Library
Virtual Data Resources for the Social Sciences
CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics Revised
Household Products Database
Lane Medical Library’s GAIN Initiative
“ TECH Desk” for the Stanford University Medical Center
Illustrated Shakespeare Web Site
SciFinder Scholar 2004 is Here

Computing News

VPUE’s Academic Technology Specialist Program
Academic Technology Lab: What’s New for Winter 2004
Academic Technology Specialists Program Expands
Try the Sundial Calendar
Meyer Library’s Technology Services Desk: An Update
Technology-Enhanced Classrooms in Meyer Library
There’s Life After Forsythe
Email Directory Services Change at Stanford
Dealing with Computer Waste
OSX.3 Panther at Stanford
WebAuth Ver. 3: Single Sign-On Support
ITSS Technology Training Services for Winter 2004
New Client Web Sites for ITSS Services
Multimedia Studio Offers Individual Consultations
Stanford Bookstore Computer Store: See What’s New for 2004
Security Enhancements Planned for Stanford
Use Webmail When You’re Away
Internet Archive: Where Old Web Pages Go

Graphics and Layout

Highlights and Features

Wallenberg Hall Showcases New Technology at Its Best

Designed as a teaching and research facility offering the best technology to University faculty, Wallenberg Hall was renovated in 2002, funded in part by a grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg and Marcus and Marianne Wallenberg Foundations of Sweden. Today, just one year since opening, the four-story building is filled with lively classes testing and analyzing the limits of teaching in a "loaded" classroom.

Courses Using Wallenberg's Classrooms

Beginning Hebrew: It's 9 a.m. Tuesday morning and Vered Shemtov's beginning Hebrew students are already deeply engaged in class. While a Hebrew song emanating from one computer fills the air, Shemtov's students identify the words they recognize and write them on a giant digital white board that will capture their work for eventual upload to the course Web site. Perched in state-of-the-art lightweight chairs, they glide together to collaborate, checking their work against the instructor's notes, displayed on another wall-sized "smart" white board that can bring up pages from Web sites, PowerPoint slides and even student notes that they beam from their individual iBook laptops.

In Room 127 of Wallenberg Hall, the newly renovated research and teaching facility on the Quad, teachers can enrich their classes with a broad range of technically advanced teaching tools. Shemtov's Hebrew class is just one of the diverse courses offered this Fall, including a Shakespeare workshop, Negotiation, Cultural anthropology, Classic Greek, Introduction to Botany, and Biomedical Informatics.

"(These classrooms) allow me to put everything together, the writing, the visuals, the audio, my slides, Web site pages and notes," says Shemtov, who taught in Wallenberg for the first time this fall. "The flexibility of the classroom and the visual capabilities are something I have always wanted."

Negotiation: "My experience has been tremendously positive all around," says Stan Christensen, who teaches Negotiation under the auspices of Management Science and Engineering. "I'd say the students like the course better because it's a neat place where they can use the technology. For me, it allows the integration of teaching techniques. The quality of the course is higher because it is taught here."

On a typical day in the two-story Learning Theater (the largest of the customized Wallenberg classrooms), where Christensen's Negotiation class meets, the day's agenda appears on one of three large overhead screens. The slide listing key points for the day displays on an opposing screen, and in the center, a video clip plays.

In a recent discussion of how to negotiate in the job market, students watched a clip from The Graduate, then moved seamlessly to the main points on the adjacent screen. No lights on and off, no starting and stopping a VCR, no hard-to-read overheads.

Cultural and Social Anthropology: Around the corner in one of the smaller, but equally well-equipped teaching rooms, Paulla Ebron, Associate Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology, and Claudia Engel, the department's Academic Technology Specialist, review students' homework; evaluations of Web sites that represent examples of virtual communities and online interaction. Ebron stands to jot key words on one of the large screens, which employs Webster, a system that allows users to mark up images and interact with files using a "pen". Webster captures everything she writes so that later it can be posted on the class Web site. Ebron can simultaneously display various Web sites under discussion while the class outline remains on another of the large screens.

What appears to be a normal pen records writing on what looks to be a regular white board. But Webster operates two computers hidden behind the classroom walls, allowing the instructor to change the color of her marker, use it as an eraser, highlight or move text with the tap of the pen.

Latin Poetry: The SmartPanel of the classroom used by Professor Ebron, which is similar to those found in more than 90 multimedia rooms across campus, provides quick access to video clips, audio tapes and even video conferencing, a feature Classics Professor Richard Martin used to great advantage in his Latin poetry course.

After assigning reading by a colleague at Rutgers who had written a book on Horace, Martin held a videoconference with him so that students could ask their questions first-hand.

"He was on one screen and on the other, I could 'Google' and pop up encyclopedias, dictionaries and other Web sites to look up his references," says Martin. " The technology allows you to bring collaboration to formerly solitary activities."

Using the Classrooms

Learning to use the rich technology of Wallenberg Hall classrooms should not be a deterrent to anyone who is interested in teaching there, says Dan Gilbert, Academic Technology Specialist of the facility. The first step to teaching in Wallenberg Hall is contacting Gilbert at to discuss course goals.

With more than forty classes under his belt, Gilbert is adept at taking ideas and translating them into practice based on three key concepts upon which Wallenberg was designed: the ability to be flexible, to capture work and save it, and to enhance collaboration.

Other Wallenberg Activities

Wallenberg classrooms provide a platform for a new level of teaching at the same time they create a laboratory for testing and analyzing the value and potential of new technology.

In one course, Tablet PC's donated by Hewlett-Packard allow a graduate student team to design original software. Some of the tools will prove invaluable, researchers believe. Others may not be worth the money. One goal of Wallenberg Hall is to act as an evolving laboratory where such information can be obtained.

On the second floor of Wallenberg, home to the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, Media X, the Stanford Humanities Lab, and the Wallenberg Global Learning Network, collaborative, multi-disciplinary research is underway to explore new ways to transfer knowledge from professor to student, from colleague to colleague, and among international affiliates at universities and corporations.

The expansive fourth floor serves as a laboratory and think tank for visitors and students conducting research on topics ranging from new video technology for training teachers to simulation medical models.

For More Information

For more information on teaching in Wallenberg Hall, please contact:

Sam Steinhardt, Executive Director ( )

Dan Gilbert, Academic Technology Specialist ( )

You can also visit the Web at:

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CourseWork: Updates and Highlights

CourseWork, Stanford University's home-grown course management system (CMS), continues to make great strides. Since its pilot in Fall 2001, and campus-wide release in Winter 2002, CourseWork is quickly becoming the preferred CMS across campus. In Fall 2003, 96 percent of courses in the Graduate School of Business and 100 percent of Law School courses used CourseWork.

Per usage statistics, the number of Stanford courses using CourseWork has approximately doubled every year. Based on past trends, there may be as many as 800 CourseWork courses by Winter 2004.

What's New for Winter 2004?

The CourseWork team, part of the Academic Computing group of Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources, is continuing to make improvements to the system to better accommodate the needs and goals of CourseWork's users.

The following features and functionalities are slated for a version 3.1 release in Winter Quarter 2004:

•   Customization of role privileges in a course. Each role within a course (e.g., instructor, guest) comes with default privileges that can be modified.

•   The addition of three new roles: head TA, dropped student, and a user-definable admin role. More information about these roles and the role-privilege feature can be found in CourseWork's Admin Help at the beginning of Winter Quarter 2004.

•   The ability to make copies of individual assignments within a course. This is useful for instructors who wish to retain a copy of an original assignment.

•   Exportation of event sign-up results into a format that can be opened and manipulated in any spreadsheet application.

•   The ability to limit instructor-only access to a course after the course has ended. Instructors can select this option on the CourseWork request form.

Highlights of Usage, Fall 2003

The VPUE Academic Technology Specialist Program and Stanford University Libraries staff used CourseWork to administer the Stanford Key to Information Literacy (SKIL) test to 1600 incoming students. For details, see the SKIL Tutorial section of "VPUE's Academic Technoloy Specialist Program".

Joseph Kautz, Academic Technology Specialist for the Stanford Language Center, uses CourseWork as a support and information portal to improve teaching efficiency and data integrity for the more than 50 language instructors and TA's that he supports.

CourseWork is also making an impact outside of Stanford University since going to open source in June 2003. Denison University, a liberal arts college in Ohio, is using CourseWork on its campus.

Locally, a group of graduate students in computer science at San Francisco State University are looking at CourseWork as a case study in object oriented programming and is using CourseWork as the basis for their final project. To help the students understand about design decisions, one of the original designers of CourseWork recently addressed the class as a guest lecturer.

URLs of Interest

To request a CourseWork web site for your course or group, please complete the following form located at:

CourseWork is available for all faculty and campus organizations.

For more information about CourseWork, go to:

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Video Kiosks Promote Student Events

Meyer Library is one of several locations on campus that now have video kiosks promoting Stanford events. Event promotion videos that are produced by Stanford groups are broadcast to these video screens.

Currently, you'll find video kiosks not only on the first floor of Meyer Library (in the popular 24-hour iMac cluster) but also in Tresidder Student Union, some dining halls, the Bookstore, the Clark Center, and other locations. Student and faculty groups interested in getting video on the kiosks can check the Events at Stanford Web site at:

Events at Stanford was launched in May 2003 as a joint project of University Communications and Innovative Student Information Services (ISIS), a Stanford student led initiative. The goal of the calendar is to improve publicity for student events and revolutionize the way people find out about public events at Stanford.

For more information about ISIS, see their Web site at:

You can find out more about University Communications on their Web site at:

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New Web Site for SULAIR

The Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR) Web site has a completely new look. In addition to an updated look and feel, the redesigned Web site also boasts a more user-centered information design and improved ADA compliance.

New features of the site include:

•   Improved, quick access to many useful research resources,

•   Easy access to information about the libraries' services,

•   A How To section with links to instruction and policies, and

•   A Did you know...? feature, highlighting new and exciting library resources.

Stanford University Media Solutions designed and built the new Web site, in close consultation with SULAIR staff. (See also "Redesigning the SULAIR Web" on this page.) Throughout the project, the redesign team solicited input from faculty, staff, and students to ensure that the final product meets the needs of the Stanford community.

You can check out the new Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources site at:

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Redesigning the SULAIR Web

More than 1500 Web pages...dozens of content owners from many disciplines and with multiple viewpoints and goals...a global audience as varied as it is sophisticated and demanding, who collectively request more than 40,000 pages each day: it added up to a Web redesign challenge that could make a technology team's knees tremble.

Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR) and Stanford University Media Solutions staff quickly determined the best way to redesign the SULAIR Web. Bring everyone from users through top-level administrators together to determine and validate specific project goals and priorities.

That initial decision allowed a clear, clean approach to the project. First, identify the tasks and purposes that visitors come to the site to accomplish. Add in content owner requirements. Prioritize those tasks and requirements. Then, stay focused on these prioritized tasks and requirements, allowing them to drive the rest of the project.

The importance of spending the time to identify specific project goals cannot be overstated. The goals provide clear reference points that can help keep a project from wandering. Goals for the SULAIR Web redesign included:

•   Make it easier for users to find the information they need.

•   Make site maintenance and content updates easier and more efficient.

•   Provide some SULAIR branding and a sense of continuity throughout the site while allowing for individual creativity.

•   Provide a site that addresses the needs of multiple user communities.

•   Create a more dynamic site so users have a reason to return.

•   Build into the site a way to collect meaningful usage statistics.

•   Ensure that the site complies with accessibility requirements.

•   Undertake the project in phases, to provide a quick path to success while pursuing deeper change.

•   Keep the scope of the project manageable.

A challenge in meeting the first goal was to sort out the huge volume of useful information available via the SULAIR Web, and order it in a way that would serve the most central tasks that faculty and students perform with the site. Media Solutions combined the subject matter expertise of the SULAIR staff and its own set of information design principles (developed through a history of projects on the Stanford campus) to craft a site architecture that won the approval of representative users in subsequent testing.

As the project progressed, the project team repeatedly returned to the high priority user purposes and tasks to maintain focus. The result: a dramatically improved Web site that functions as an effective information tool. See also, "New Web Site for SULAIR".

For more information about Media Solutions, see their Web site at or contact Wynn Hausser,, 725-9743.

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Reset Your Own SUNet Password

It's 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday night. You need to see your email. You've forgotten your password for your SUNet ID. What will you do? What will you do??

With apologies to Karl Malden, ITSS now provides a simple solution to this perennial problem. You don't have to wait until normal business hours when the Help Desk is open. You can go right to the SUNet ID signup page at and reset your SUNet password immediately.

It's not just done by anyone's say-so, of course. On the secure Web page, you'll need to identify yourself with several pieces of information that the University knows about, such as your SUNet ID, your last name, your University ID (the 8-digit number on your Stanford ID card), yourbirthdate, a few digits from your Social Security number, and other personal facts you provided when you registered for a SUNet ID. You won't necessarily be asked about all of these, but you'll have to answer all the questions correctly to get your SUNet password reset.

ITSS doesn't allow you to reset the password of an account that has expired or been suspended, or one that has not yet been enabled (for instance, because it's awaiting sponsorship).

The ITSS Help Desk annually receives hundreds of requests for SUNet passwords to be reset, and until this new feature was introduced, all of them had to be handled during business hours with personal intervention by a Help Desk staff member. Now, whether it's Sunday, Monday or President's Day, you can reset it yourself and get back on track in a flash.

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Whiteboard Capture Tools Enhance Writing and Studying

Each quarter, "where it's A.T." explores how computer technology that aids persons with disabilities can benefit everyone. In this column, however, we will look at the flip side of that coin: a technology designed for mainstream/general use that has some interesting benefits for those with learning differences Ć benefits that could help any student.

Many of us attend meetings or presentations where information written on a whiteboard is digitized and captured electronically. The whiteboard might be a standalone unit especially designed to digitize what is written on it, or it might be an otherwise ordinary whiteboard with a capture device attached to the left side of the board.

In the latter case, the presenter writes on the board with markers inside special sleeves that transmit their position relative to the capture device via ultrasound and/or infrared. Portable capture devices such as mimio ( or eBeam ( can transform any whiteboard into the equivalent of a giant graphics tablet, transferring anything written on the board to an attached computer for storage or printing. These so-called "digital meeting assistants" are relatively inexpensive - from $500-800 - and work with either Windows or Macintosh computers.

Stanford's Assistive Learning Technology Center (ALTeC) has discovered a variety of applications for whiteboard capture devices to assist students with learning differences, allowing the students to interact with information and ideas in new ways. Those using the devices have raved over how the technology has enhanced writing, studying, and tutoring.

Thinking Outside the PC Box

The biggest obstacle to composing and creative writing can often be the writing process itself Ć the act of using a computer keyboard to type one's thoughts into a text file. Forced to conform to a software's demands, screen size limitations, and the linear presentation of information in a word processor, students can find themselves frozen in front of a blank screen...for a long time. By contrast, a whiteboard's seemingly limitless space promotes a much freer flow of thoughts.

This large piece of writing real estate both eliminates the necessity to think linearly and allows one to step back and reflect on "the big picture". The ability to naturally integrate handwriting with diagrams, coupled with the use of colors to differentiate topics or highlight parts of diagrams, makes it considerably easier to create, compose, and organize thoughts, and then distill these later with a word processor. Knowing that anything they write is being captured for later reference, students find an interactive whiteboard can be a welcome chisel to break through writer's block.

Replay It Again, Sam

Whiteboard capture devices can also replay exactly what was captured during the entire whiteboard session. This feature allows the user to see his or her thought process unfold as if watching a video of the session, but without showing the user. The ability to replay solving a math equation, diagramming a biological process, or the evolution of a sequence of events or reasoning adds an extra dimension over static images by capturing the dynamic process as well as the final product. This ability to replay also allows students to retrace their thought process later.

With the addition of mimio's boardCast, students using mimio-equipped whiteboards can also record audio that is synchronized with their whiteboard work. This ability to annotate their work with voice notes and replay the combination can be a boon to both studying and tutoring. Mimio also sells a handwriting recognition plug-in for their software which will convert (legible!) notes written on the whiteboard to editable text.

Working Together

Interactive whiteboards can facilitate group studying, whether it's three students discussing a joint class project or a tutor explaining a statistical problem to a student. Whiteboard sessions are downloaded to each student's laptop; some capture devices can also beam the captured session to Bluetooth-enabled PDAs or laptops. The ability to print out the results for everyone, as well as play back a copy of the whiteboard session, makes the collaboration effort much more valuable, both at the time and later.

For More Information

If you have questions about computer accessibility and technology accommodations, want consultation on these issues, or just wish to learn more about some of the intriguing assistive technology available, call Shelley Haven in the ALTeC lab at 725-6173. ALTeC's services are available to students, faculty, and staff who need assistance due to a disability.

Students should contact the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) at 723-1066 for more information. Faculty and staff who would like to access the Center should contact Rosa Gonzalez, Stanford's ADA/504 Compliance Officer, at 723-0755 for a referral.

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Come to the IT Open House on January 14

Want answers to those nagging computer questions or just want to find out about the many IT services available to Stanford faculty, students, and staff?

Come to the IT Open House, an annual event sponsored by SULAIR and ITSS. It will be held on January 14th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Tresidder Student Union's Oak Lounge.

Under one roof, attendees can find information about purchasing computer equipment and software through Stanford programs, connecting to SUNet from their home, backing up their desktop computer, technology in the classroom, programs to help in teaching, course software, data collections available for research and instruction, and more.

Representatives from about thirty campus-wide technology service groups will be there for attendees to meet, ask questions of, and learn about resources.

Check the Web for details at:

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Automated In-Room Network Registration

In Fall 2003, Residential Computing instituted an automated system for connecting Stanford students to the Internet. Considered a major milestone for network registration, this system allows Stanford students who live in on-campus housing to register on the Stanford University Network (SUNet) simply by plugging their computer into their room's network jack. Once plugged in, students are automatically routed by their Web browser to a registration form, which they must complete to gain access to SUNet.

Instead of waiting hours or even days at peak times for their Resident Computer Coordinator (RCC) to process their registrations, students can get online within minutes because each computer's information is automatically entered into the campus network database (NetDB). For new student arrival day this year, the time between submitting the registration form for a new connection and having the request processed dropped from an average of 9.5 hours in 2002 to 15 seconds in 2003. Updates and reconnections for returning students work the same way.

Other features of the system include:

•   Full hostname privacy, so only authorized University personnel can associate records with individual students or track users' identities based on email or Web page logs.

•   Required viewing of, and agreement to abide by, the Stanford Computer and Network Usage policies.

This year, in addition, a virus-cleaning tool developed by ITSS was integrated into the system to detect and clean vulnerable operating systems before allowing them on the network.

A future release of the system will include an automated feed of biographical information about registrants from the Stanford directory, simplifying even further the registration process by auto-filling most of the form.

Led by Residential Computing, the automated registration project is an on-going collaborative effort with Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS). The project managers are Ethan Rikleen (, Networking and Systems Administrator, and Sindy Lee, Systems Software Developer (

For further information see:

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SKIL Interactive Tutorial Launched

SKIL: Stanford's Key to Information Literacy was launched on the first day of Fall Quarter. The six-part interactive tutorial helps students learn how to locate and use information for their class research.

Students in the Program inWriting and Rhetoric (PWR) who completed SKIL had this to say:

"The SKIL tutorial made the libraries seem a lot less daunting."

"I found the SKIL tutorial to be incredibly thorough, even while dealing with such breadth of topics."

"I thought SKIL was great. Not only did it teach the basic library skills that everyone needs to brush up on, but it also introduced much more sophisticated methods for finding materials that I had never even heard of before."

"Thank you for this program - the quizzes convinced me that I had retained this important information."

In addition to the quizzes at the end of each of the six modules, there is a link at the end of Module 6 to CourseWork, Stanford's course management system. (See also, "CourseWork: Updates and Highlights".)

All freshmen are "enrolled" in SKIL and can select one of three versions of a comprehensive test. If they do not score well, they can review SKIL and then take another version of the test. Instructors in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric are able to view the results of the students' scores by section. For more about the SKIL Tutorial, see also, "VPUE's Academic Technology Specialist Program.

SKIL will continue to be updated and revised to better conform to universal access.

You can access SKIL on the Web at:

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Copyright and Fair Use Web Site Updated

The well-regarded Fair Use Web site ( sponsored by Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources was recently updated with new material and a new look.

The purpose of the Fair Use site is to offer legal information (rather than legal advice about a particular set of facts) about copyright and fair use issues. It includes links to primary materials on copyright, such as United States and international laws. It also draws together a number of useful copyright resources from other universities and organizations, including a group of key copyright sites. With the recent update, the Fair Use site now includes information about current legislation that affects copyright and fair use, as well as commentary and analysis from practitioners in the field.

Stanford's approach to copyright places responsibility for assessing the applicability of copyright and any potential exemptions with all members of the University community who use them in the course of instruction or other work. The Fair Use site provides useful context and background information for these assessments. The updated site also includes links to the Stanford Provost's Copyright Reminder with some Stanford-specific information.

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ITSS Changes Its Email Virus Scanning Policy

ITSS recently changed its email virus scanning policy for the campus so that email messages carrying known viruses will be now be deleted from the Leland mail gateways instead of being cleaned and delivered.

Until now, known viruses had been identified and cleaned from messages by their virus-filtering software, and then delivered to the original recipient. However, the vast majority of these messages are completely bogus. They are automatically generated by malicious scripts, sent to random addresses pulled from infected users' computers, and sent from a forged address.

The dramatic increase in the number of virus-laden messages has also impacted the throughput of the email gateways. In August, the Leland Gateway delivered 1.58 million fake messages, which caused noticeably sluggish email delivery.

Worst of all, email can still carry data from an infected computer (with the risk of sending it to other computers) even after the virus itself has been detected and removed from the message by ITSS' anti-virus software on the gateway (e.g., the BugBear virus, which forced a shut down of campus email for more than half a day).

Given the additional load on the campus mail servers, the lack of bona fide content, the impact on individual user productivity, and most importantly, the risk of exposing personal and confidential information on infected computers, ITSS is now discarding these messages completely.

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HighWire Press: An Award and New Journals

HighWire Press, the online publishing division of Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR), produces indexed, full-text versions of scientific, technical, and medical journals.

The press was recently named winner of the 2003 Award for Service to Not-for-Profit Publishing by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). ALPSP was founded in 1972 to serve the community of nonprofit publishers and those who work with them to disseminate academic and professional information.

"Stanford created HighWire Press precisely for the purpose of improving scholarly publishing through more effective use of the online environment," said Michael A. Keller, university librarian and HighWire publisher. "ALPSP's award, as a form of recognition of academia's common purpose with responsible scholarly publishers, is very welcome, particularly in this time of confusion about the mission and economics of journal publication."

A list of currently available journals can be found at HighWire's Web site:

The following list includes journals that were recently added. 

Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surgery (10/9/03)

Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (9/29/03)

The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (9/25/03)

American Journal of Physiology - Legacy Content (9/11/03)

Aqua KE Government Documents (9/11/03)

The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology         (9/8/03)

Annals of Internal Medicine (8/15/03)

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Courselets Now Available

Stanford faculty would like to assume that the students who sign up for their courses have learned certain basic material. Experienced instructors know, however, that many students have not had the prerequisite courses, have taken them several years ago, or simply did not develop a deep enough understanding of the basic concepts to use them in the current course.

There are several options for dealing with students who are not as prepared as the instructor would like. Professors or their TA's can spend time going over this material in class or during office hours. They can recommend books, courses, or other materials and hope for the best. Or they can create a custom tutorial, tailored specifically for their students' needs, which students can access online and work through on their own at anytime.

This latter option is what the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) calls a "courselet." Thanks to a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the SCPD recently released a sizable portfolio of courselets.

What is a Courselet?

A courselet is a self-contained, integrated set of learning materials designed as a custom tutorial and offered online in support of engineering, science and engineering management courses. All courselets:

.   Cover a small set of concepts requiring one to three hours of learner time on task.

.   Offer self-tests to enable students to assess their level of knowledge on an ongoing basis.

.   Provide indexed content and guide students to learning activities and materials that support the courselet.

.   Include course evaluation tools for continuing improvement and innovation.

Courselets for Stanford Use

Dozens of courselets recently released by the SCPD are now available for use by the Stanford community. Topics include Bioinformatics, Cardiovascular Bioengineering, CMOS Devices, Complex Numbers, Device Physics, Drug Development, Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Forging, Link Equations, Math and Statistics, Matrices, Mechatronics, Microscopy, Oncology, Quantum Simulations, RF Technology and Uncertainty.

To view an online demonstration of a courselet, see the Web at:

For the complete courselet portfolio, please visit:  

Stanford Center for Professional Development

The SCPD collaborates with School of Engineering faculty and other Stanford departments to deliver over 10,000 hours annually of academic graduate education and short courses for engineers, scientists, technology professionals, and managers in industry. Courses are delivered via the Stanford Instructional Television Network and Stanford Online, as well as on campus. For more information, visit the Web at or call (650)725-3000.