This week Skype opened up registrations for its upcoming Skype Translator feature which translates speech in real time and displays the translation as captions on the video call. Skype itself markets the feature as a replacement for language learning, albeit as a former language coach I am actually pretty excited about the technology’s potential for language teaching.
Skype is now accepting applications for previews of its upcoming Translator feature. Demoed at re/code’s Code conference in May, Skype Translator lets people communicate via VoIP even if they speak different languages.
Wednesday June 27th 2012
Ed News Ticker #19
Anonymous, Formula 1, Tuition Fees and Scottish Independence
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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