ENT - The Ed News Ticker

Ed News Ticker # 1 for April 14th 2012

ENT - The Ed News Ticker

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Firefox presents browser-based video chat

Last week Firefox presented a new browser-based video chat feature for Firefox that is completely based on JavaScript and other open standards like WebRTC. Using WebRTC developers can enable real-time services, including file sharing, voice calls and video calls right in the browser. It is not yet clear if this is going to become an official feature in one of the future Firefox versions.

Source: TechCrunch

Use of OLPC does not raise test scores

A new study suggests laptops do not have any effect on achievement in math or language. The study, which was conducted by development funding source in Latin America called Inter-American Development Bank, looked at 319 public schools in Peru. It found that although OLPC students were more likely to use computers than their non-OLPC counterparts, the two groups scored about the same on math and language assessments 15 months after laptops were deployed.

Source: Mashable

OLPC Association CEO Rodrigo Arboleda responds

OLPC has provided XO laptops to nearly 2.5 million children in more than 40 countries around the world. Across these countries, we have seen significant improvements in children’s enthusiasm for learning and a greater sense of optimism about their future, increased parental involvement in children’s education, and higher levels of teacher motivation and engagement. These outcomes are documented in the OLPC project in Uruguay and other countries.

Source: OLPC

Is OLPC about test scores?

Audrey Watters argues that OLPC was a good idea, but that things have changed a great deal since 2006. OLPC is faced with increased competition from other other manufacturers such as Intel with its Studybook, the Worldreader, even the Akash and more importantly 95% of the world’s population now owns a smartphone.

Therefore the value proposition of OLPC needs to be more than just connectivity and access. According to Watters the OLPC represents, at its best a desire to support literacy, connectivity and learning through technology. But it does those things in a world of ubiquitous cellphones, which on their own have not transformed education either. In an effort to be “non-invasive” then, OLPC ends up often being unsupportive — unsupportive of the tech, the teachers and the learners.

Source: Hack Education

News from the Aakash

India’s much-touted Aakash device is getting an upgrade – Ice Cream Sandwich is coming to the $35 Android tablet along with some hardware improvements.

The Aakash 2 will be shipped with Gingerbread; however, in about 6 to 8 weeks the tablet will be Android 4.0 upgradeable. Hardware-wise, the new Aakash will be featuring single-core, 800Mhz Arm Cortex-A8 processor as well as a 7-inch capacitive multitouch screen. The tablet will also most likely be getting a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor by year’s end.

Source: Digital Trends

Intel StudyBook

The Studybook, announced on Thrusday, is no iPad killer. It isn’t meant to be. It is, however, the first purpose-built educational tablet that would be as valuable in the developing market as in mature markets and as at home in a high school student’s backpack as on a 2nd-grader’s desktop.

Source: ZDNet Education

Nook Simple Touch now features illuminated screen

Barnes and Noble unveiled the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight on Thursday, an e-reader with a built-in light that illuminates the screen. It weighs just under 7 ounces and the GlowLight technology which consists of LED lights located at the top of the Nook’s screen and an anti-glare screen protector. The light is evenly scattered across the screen and is adjustable via the menu and allows to read in low-light and dark places.

Source: Wired

4 in 10 teachers bullied online by students and parents

According to a teachers’ union in the UK, teachers are facing more and more false allegations and threats on social networking services by students and parents. A survey by the NASUWT showed that 4 out of 10 teachers have experienced such online abuse, 16% of teachers had faced online insults from parents.

Source: BBC

Student loan debt may be next financial crisis

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle shows the different issues society might face due to rising student debt. There are not only long-term repercussions of skipping payments or paying late without arranging for forbearance or deferment but it isn’t just graduates who are burdened with student debt. It’s often their parents as well. There are rising worries about the retirement hit for parents who dipped into their nest eggs and took out loans to help their offspring through college.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Santa Monica College trustees postpone two-tier fee plan

A proposal to offer classes in core courses such as English, math and history at a cost of about $180 per unit will get further study. The issue erupted when police used pepper spray outside a board meeting Tuesday to disperse protesters demanding a campus-wide referendum on the tuition plan.

Source: LA Times

Facebook (re)launches .edu groups with file sharing feature

Soon all U.S. colleges and then those around the world will be able to create groups for dorms, classes, and clubs that can only be joined by people with that school’s “.edu” email address.

Source: TechCrunch

Charlie Osborne asks on ZDNet iGeneration if students could find themselves breaching copyright rules by sharing their own work online? We’ll talk with her about the post on review:ed next week.

Source: ZDNet iGeneration

Microsoft signs cloud service deal covering 7.5m students in India

According to Microsoft, it has signed its largest-ever cloud services deal. Microsoft is going to deploy its Live@edu service to 10,000 technical colleges in India which host 7.5 million users.

Source: TechCrunch

DoJ Lawsuit on ebook-price fixing

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Apple Inc., Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Macmillan, Pearson’s Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster Inc. over e-book prices. The DOJ alleges that the publishers and Apple entered into illegal pricing agreements that artificially jacked up e-book prices in order to prevent retailers (mainly Amazon) from devaluing them.

What’s worth noting here is that the “Big Three” of textbook publishers—McGraw-Hill Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson—are not named in the suit, even though Pearson’s Penguin division is targeted. That’s because the suit is related to trade e-books, or consumer books, which don’t include textbooks, children’s pictures books, or reference materials. Those products are “sold through separate channels, and are not reasonably substitutable for trade e-books,” the suit says

Source: EdWeek

More potential trouble for Apple

A judge found that parents sufficient harm in a case of so called bait apps which refer to children’s games that are available for free in the iTunes Store but that also allow players to buy virtual goods as in-app purchases while playing the game. Apple allowed a 15-minute window after the download of the games and didn’t require a password. In that window users were able to buy what and how much they wanted. In practice, the kids were able to rack up bills from $99.99 to $338.72 on their parents’ iTunes accounts. Apple has since eliminated the 15-minute window.

Source: Paid Content

Vatikan & Bodleian libraries bring rare collections online

Over the next four years the treasures of the Vatican library are to become accessible to scholars and the public alike via the internet.

Greek manuscripts of works by Homer and Plato, perhaps the earliest Hebrew codex in existence and scores of early printed Italian books are among thousands of texts that will be made freely available online by the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) and Oxford University’s Bodleian library.

The joint project, funded by a £2m grant from the Polonsky charitable foundation, will allow academic researchers and the public to pore over documents from the comfort of their own desks and sofas.

Source: The Guardian


Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.