Tag Archives: inkling

EDUKWEST Sunday Review

Sunday Review for the Week of March 24th 2014

In this week’s Sunday Review we learn about closer ties between China and Saudi Arabia, that schools’ faith in tech is a cancer and what happened to Inkling.

We have infographics about the global education crisis and raising autism rates as well as studies about thinking caps, Google’s new initiative to get young Australians into coding and much more.

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EDUKWEST Sunday Review

Sunday Review: Viki acquired for $200 million, Textbook Scam and Socratic Soap Opera

EDUKWEST Sunday Review

Rakuten acquires Viki for $200 million

The first time I heard about Viki was when Darien Brown, back then co-founder of YongoPal, told me about the startup off the record. That must have been in 2010 or maybe 2011, a long time ago if you count in startup years.

Back then, they were working on the angel round with Dave McClure’s 500 Startups and Darien said that this would be huge. Actually Viki already was kind of huge back then, showing tremendous community growth.

Viki is a great example for the power of communities around shared interest and content. Users spending hours on the platform to translate TV shows and other videos including time tagging the subtitles. Of course, there are also users who take care of quality control etc – all non-paid work. The return is basically the work of the other users and Viki’s growing library of content.

We wrote a review of the site over on Fair Languages if you want to dive deeper into the process of translating South Korean soap operas.

From the business point of view Viki is probably one of the startups that followed the rule “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission”. Instead of trying to make deals with the content owners from the start, Viki proved that they could add value by offering crowdsourced translation services based on (probably illegal) content on the Internet. Thanks to Viki’s huge community the platform can now offer translation services not only at a competitive price but also in a short period of time.

It is hard to say what Rakuten is going to do with the platform and its community but the power of such a global network of unpaid translators is pretty disruptive. So it’s no surprise that Google was among the potential bidders though I predict that Duolingo is their acquisition target.

Textbook News

Here is another reason why some people don’t want physical textbooks to go away: you can make some nice cash on the side. Students have sold their used textbooks to the next generation for decades, something that won’t be possible with digital textbooks as most models now involve time limited rental and DRM.

But that’s not the story of the week. Between 2008 and 2010 at least four school districts in Los Angeles were victims of a group of school librarians, office technicians, a campus supervisor and others who sneaked out textbooks only to then resell them to the schools they originally came from in some cases. All in all the group cashed in around $200.000 before they got caught. Corey Frederick, a “businessman” and the mastermind behind the scheme now faces 19 years in prison.

In other textbook news 9to5Mac reports that iOS 7 is going to feature textbooks in the iBooks store. Lately, there have been quite some reports on how people use their smartphones and interestingly more people read books on phones than tablets. So adding textbooks to the mix makes sense, I guess. End of July digital textbook platform Inkling debuted their iPhone app.

The Socratic Labs Soap Opera

Last but not least, I want to talk briefly about the Socratic Lab train wreck that played out over the week. If you are into this kind of stuff (I admit that I have enjoyed the drama quite a bit) you should definitely go back and read the post that started it all on David Cohen’s blog.

Here is a short rundown of the events. Cohen published an anonymous email in which a founder describes his/her horrible experiences in another incubator in juicy details. Although Cohen said he took out all the identifying content of the email it took the Internet basically no time at all to identify the accelerator in question, New York based Socratic Labs, the awefull director, Heather Gilchrist and the anonymous founder, Julian Miller of Learnmetrics. The story was so effed-up, it even made it on Valleywag.

Now there is of course a lot of he-said-she-said and I cannot judge who is right, who is wrong and what actually happened at Socratic Labs. But one thing’s for sure: this is a clear sign of an edtech incubator bubble.

Betsy Corcoran pointed out in her piece on edSurge that

Very much like many startup companies, Socratic has been a “lean startup.”

I think, this mindset is a recipe for disaster and comes close to the saying “The blind leading the blind”. Sure, another saying tells you that it is enough to be the smartest person in the room but in this situation that was clearly not the case, at least not for Julian Miller.

You cannot run such a program coming from a startup and simply hope for the best. At this part of the post I wanted to point out that Socratic Labs could possibly learn something about web design from their incubated startups etc, but interestingly the website now redirects to Socratic’s much better looking Angellist profile. A pun lost.

I am sure that this won’t be the last story about the rapidly growing accelerator and incubator scene. Places are limited in the established programs while the number of edtech founders is growing.

ENT Audio Podcast

Anonymous, Formula 1, Tuition Fees and Scottish Independence – ENT #19 06-01-2012 (Audio)

ENT Audio Podcast

Ed News Ticker #19

Anonymous, Formula 1, Tuition Fees and Scottish Independence

  • recorded: June 1st 2012
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Tech & Startups

1. Educational App Maker Mindshapes Picks Up $4M Round

Mindshapes, a UK-based developer of interactive learning apps, raised a $4 million round of led by Index Ventures, with Richmond Park Partners and existing investors also participating. The funding brings the total invested in the company to-date to $9 million, after Mindshapes raised $5 million back in November 2011 from a group of angel investors and the five founders of the company.
Earlier in the month, it had launched a flagship app, Magic Town, a highly visual app that incorporates content licensed from Hachette Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Group, among others, into e-learning tasks. It currently contains content from 70 popular picture books but aims to have 200 titles in there by year’s end.

Source: TechCrunch


2. Skype and The Education Foundation Partner to Launch The Learning Lab

Skype’s president Tony Bates wrote on the company blog: ”Our partnership was solidified this week with the launch of a state-of-the-art, technology-rich professional development center for education professionals and leaders in the heart of London – The Learning Lab. It will be used as a testing ground for new approaches to the curriculum, technology and the world of work. The space can also be used as an event and showcasing area for education organizations, policy makers and businesses across the UK.”

Source: Skype


3. Inkling Finally Brings Its Interactive Textbooks to the Web

The interactive e-book publisher Inkling has finally released an HTML5 version of its app, meaning that its 150 titles are now available on both the iPad and the Web.
HTML5 has reached a point of power and stability, and the new Inkling Web app can have all the features of the very slick iPad app, but with no Flash and no Java and no plug-ins — just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. McInnis says proudly it may be the “most sophisticated HTML5 app ever written.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed


4. Trade School: A Learning Space That Runs On The Barter System

Trade School, a learning platform spun out of the OurGoods bartering network, allows anyone to teach classes in exchange for barter items. In a sense, Trade School is like Skillshare (another platform for the public to teach classes), but run on a bartering system.
The Trade School project started in New York City two years ago, but it has since expanded all over the world Now OurGoods is soliciting donors for a Kickstarter project to launch 15 new schools and upgrade the Trade School software, which makes it easy for local schools to run independently.

Source: FastCo Exist


K12 & Higher Ed

5. ‘Anonymous’ targets Montreal Grand Prix to back students

The global group of computer hackers known as Anonymous threw its support behind Quebec students protesting hikes in tuition fees by threatening to disrupt the Montreal Grand Prix.
The activists, who earlier this month claimed responsibility for downing a dozen Quebec government websites, blasted organizers for intending to run the race in the Canadian province that recently passed an emergency law restricting protests.
“Beginning on June 7th and running through race day on June 10th, Anonymous will take down all the F1 websites, dump the servers and databases — and wreck anything else F1-related we can find on the Internet,” said a statement.

Source: Raw Story


6. Schools to track students’ whereabouts with computer chips

A Texas school district has decided to hand out ID cards with computer chips to track the whereabouts of students. School officials have sold the idea to parents by arguing it’s a good safety measure. And it will make sure a principal knows right away if kids have snuck off campus when they should be learning calculus.
The program will cost more than $500,000 to launch, and more than $130,000 to run every year. Nevertheless, one obvious motivation for the program is a cash grab: Texas school districts get their funding based on attendance.

Source: The Globe and Mail


7. Student loan debt continues to rise

Even as Americans whittle down other forms of debt, students continue to pile on loans to pay for college and graduate school.
Total student debt rose more than 3% to $904 billion in the first quarter, continuing a trend in which outstanding educational loans have surged by $663 billion since 2003, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Source: LA Times


8. Scottish independence: Teaching union backs votes at 16

In a submission to the Scottish government’s consultation, the EIS said young voters should take part in all elections. It pointed out that 16-year-olds have many other rights and responsibilities, including marriage and paying taxes. The union represents 80% of Scotland’s teachers and lecturers.

Source: BBC


Study & Research

9. Arabic overtakes English as the most popular language on Facebook in the Middle East

Analysing Facebook usage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – specifically Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen – SpotOn PR found that 39% of the combined 39+ million Facebook users access the site using its Arabic interface – which translates to 15.6 million users.
That puts Arabic ahead of English, which now accounts for 36% of the Middle East’s Facebook users, while French comes in third with 23%.

Source: The Next Web


10. Students Cite YouTube, Google, Wikipedia the Most [INFOGRAPHIC]

When doing homework, many students turn to the same websites as they do when they’re surfing the web under other circumstances.
Four of the top ten most-cited websites on Easybib, a site used to create more than 500 million citations, are user-generated sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. A recent ethnographic study found that students referred to Google more than any other database when discussing their research habits.

Source: Mashable


11. Growing Education Divide in Cities

College graduates are more unevenly distributed in the top 100 metropolitan areas now than they were four decades ago. More adults have bachelor’s degrees, but the difference between the most and least educated metro areas is double what it was in 1970.
In 1970, 12% of adults had college degrees in U.S. metro areas. Nearly all metro areas were within 5 percentage points of the average.
In 2010, 32% of adults had college degrees in U.S. metro areas. Just half of metro areas were within 5 percentage points of the average.

Source: NY Times

Play
braveheart

Anonymous, Formula 1, Tuition Fees and Scottish Independence – ENT #19 06-01-2012

ENT - The Ed News Ticker

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Download Episode Download Episode Video Download Episode Audio

Tech & Startups

1. Educational App Maker Mindshapes Picks Up $4M Round

Mindshapes, a UK-based developer of interactive learning apps, raised a $4 million round of led by Index Ventures, with Richmond Park Partners and existing investors also participating. The funding brings the total invested in the company to-date to $9 million, after Mindshapes raised $5 million back in November 2011 from a group of angel investors and the five founders of the company.
Earlier in the month, it had launched a flagship app, Magic Town, a highly visual app that incorporates content licensed from Hachette Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Group, among others, into e-learning tasks. It currently contains content from 70 popular picture books but aims to have 200 titles in there by year’s end.

Source: TechCrunch


2. Skype and The Education Foundation Partner to Launch The Learning Lab

Skype’s president Tony Bates wrote on the company blog: ”Our partnership was solidified this week with the launch of a state-of-the-art, technology-rich professional development center for education professionals and leaders in the heart of London – The Learning Lab. It will be used as a testing ground for new approaches to the curriculum, technology and the world of work. The space can also be used as an event and showcasing area for education organizations, policy makers and businesses across the UK.”

Source: Skype


3. Inkling Finally Brings Its Interactive Textbooks to the Web

The interactive e-book publisher Inkling has finally released an HTML5 version of its app, meaning that its 150 titles are now available on both the iPad and the Web.
HTML5 has reached a point of power and stability, and the new Inkling Web app can have all the features of the very slick iPad app, but with no Flash and no Java and no plug-ins — just HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. McInnis says proudly it may be the “most sophisticated HTML5 app ever written.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed


4. Trade School: A Learning Space That Runs On The Barter System

Trade School, a learning platform spun out of the OurGoods bartering network, allows anyone to teach classes in exchange for barter items. In a sense, Trade School is like Skillshare (another platform for the public to teach classes), but run on a bartering system.
The Trade School project started in New York City two years ago, but it has since expanded all over the world Now OurGoods is soliciting donors for a Kickstarter project to launch 15 new schools and upgrade the Trade School software, which makes it easy for local schools to run independently.

Source: FastCo Exist


K12 & Higher Ed

5. ‘Anonymous’ targets Montreal Grand Prix to back students

The global group of computer hackers known as Anonymous threw its support behind Quebec students protesting hikes in tuition fees by threatening to disrupt the Montreal Grand Prix.
The activists, who earlier this month claimed responsibility for downing a dozen Quebec government websites, blasted organizers for intending to run the race in the Canadian province that recently passed an emergency law restricting protests.
“Beginning on June 7th and running through race day on June 10th, Anonymous will take down all the F1 websites, dump the servers and databases — and wreck anything else F1-related we can find on the Internet,” said a statement.

Source: Raw Story


6. Schools to track students’ whereabouts with computer chips

A Texas school district has decided to hand out ID cards with computer chips to track the whereabouts of students. School officials have sold the idea to parents by arguing it’s a good safety measure. And it will make sure a principal knows right away if kids have snuck off campus when they should be learning calculus.
The program will cost more than $500,000 to launch, and more than $130,000 to run every year. Nevertheless, one obvious motivation for the program is a cash grab: Texas school districts get their funding based on attendance.

Source: The Globe and Mail


7. Student loan debt continues to rise

Even as Americans whittle down other forms of debt, students continue to pile on loans to pay for college and graduate school.
Total student debt rose more than 3% to $904 billion in the first quarter, continuing a trend in which outstanding educational loans have surged by $663 billion since 2003, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Source: LA Times


8. Scottish independence: Teaching union backs votes at 16

In a submission to the Scottish government’s consultation, the EIS said young voters should take part in all elections. It pointed out that 16-year-olds have many other rights and responsibilities, including marriage and paying taxes. The union represents 80% of Scotland’s teachers and lecturers.

Source: BBC


Study & Research

9. Arabic overtakes English as the most popular language on Facebook in the Middle East

Analysing Facebook usage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – specifically Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen – SpotOn PR found that 39% of the combined 39+ million Facebook users access the site using its Arabic interface – which translates to 15.6 million users.
That puts Arabic ahead of English, which now accounts for 36% of the Middle East’s Facebook users, while French comes in third with 23%.

Source: The Next Web


10. Students Cite YouTube, Google, Wikipedia the Most [INFOGRAPHIC]

When doing homework, many students turn to the same websites as they do when they’re surfing the web under other circumstances.
Four of the top ten most-cited websites on Easybib, a site used to create more than 500 million citations, are user-generated sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. A recent ethnographic study found that students referred to Google more than any other database when discussing their research habits.

Source: Mashable


11. Growing Education Divide in Cities

College graduates are more unevenly distributed in the top 100 metropolitan areas now than they were four decades ago. More adults have bachelor’s degrees, but the difference between the most and least educated metro areas is double what it was in 1970.
In 1970, 12% of adults had college degrees in U.S. metro areas. Nearly all metro areas were within 5 percentage points of the average.
In 2010, 32% of adults had college degrees in U.S. metro areas. Just half of metro areas were within 5 percentage points of the average.

Source: NY Times


Picture by Paramount Pictures

PlayPlay
Digital Textbooks

Creating a Seamless User Experience for Digital Textbooks

Editor’s Note: This article has first been published on edcetera – straight talk on edtech.


Digital textbooks still take a smaller percentage of the overall textbook market, but with the increasing adoption of tablets in education I believe it is safe to say that they will be the standard five years from now.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of problems to solve along the way, one of them being the multiple devices people use today to access their data, e.g. emails, music or videos in the cloud. And digital textbooks are of course part of that. Today, we (or most of us) have a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop and/or a PC/Mac workstation — all of which usually run a different kind of operating system. On top of that, all devices have a different screen size, ranging from around 4 inches on a phone to maybe 21 inches on your PC.

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