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Rice U. finds coronavirus testing error after going remote

Rice University found that a testing error was behind the spike in coronavirus numbers on campus that led to the semester starting online, according to a university announcement Sunday. The Houston university re-examined the testing because of unusual patterns in the data, Kevin Kirby, the school’s vice president for administration, wrote in a campuswide letter. After beginning testing before orientation week, the campus positivity rate sat at 2%, significantly higher than last year’s overall rate. One of three testing providers accounted for more than 90% of the positive tests, with the only cluster of cases coming from one testing center, he wrote. Emily Bamforth has the details.

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With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

Google Cloud, Walden U. create chatbot

Walden University, a for-profit online college, and Google Cloud recently tested an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that’s designed to act as an online tutor that writes its own assessments of students’ progress. In a demonstration on Monday, Walden leaders showed how the chatbot, which they named “Julian,” produces simple multiple-choice questions and challenges students on short-form written answers. The software scans students’ phrasing for accuracy and helps build online notes through machine learning. Emily Bamforth has it.

U. Texas at San Antonio launches research agreement with city

Earlier this month, the city of San Antonio signed a five-year, up to $7 million research agreement with the University of Texas at San Antonio that outlined terms and conditions for future research and technical assistance projects between the two. The agreement set the stage for fast-moving and timely collaboration going forward, said Kate Kinnison, the research and development administrator for San Antonio. The agreement, largely modeled off of a similar document signed by the City of Austin and the University of Texas at Austin last year, “pre-establishes” the legalese that previously could hold up joint-research projects for months, Kinnison said. Ryan Johnston has the details for StateScoop.

Higher ed association champions alternative credentials

A leading higher education association is setting its sights on alternative credentials, on Tuesday launching two new groups to simplify the process for institutions looking to implement more short-term programs. The University for Professional and Continuing Education Association announced a council, composed of campus leadership drawn from its more than 400 member institutions, to lead research and discussion on logistics and strategy for offering alternative credentials. Alternative credentials, such as micro-credentials and certificates offered by bootcamps and massive online open courses, are often offered online and are skill-based. Colin Wood has more.

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