Ed News Ticker #15
Word Pool of a 10th Grader? Go into Politics!
Tech & Startups
AT&T’s Largest Donation Ever Creates A National Hub For Learning Through Video Games
“We decided we were going to aim for exponential change in education,” explains Beth Shiroshi, AT&T Foundation’s vice president for sustainability and philanthropy. With this reboot of its Aspire education initiative launched four years ago, AT&T has made a big bet on GameDesk, a nonprofit startup that grew out of the University of Southern California. They’re committing $3.8 million for GameDesk first to build a brick-and-mortar hub in Los Angeles, a “classroom of the future” where new, game-based curricula and processes can be demonstrated, observed, and evaluated. Then the company will broadcast that data through an online educational content portal for parents, students, and educators.
Source: FastCo Exist
Microsoft Announces Its Back-To-School Promotion: Buy A PC, Get A Free Xbox
Microsoft, just like Apple, usually runs a major back-to-school promotion every summer that is meant to give students (and their parents) some extra incentives to buy a new computer. The company’s just-announced back-to-school deal for the U.S. and Canada is pretty much the same as last year’s. A year ago, Microsoft gave students who bought a new PC and Xbox 360 and this year it’s doing exactly the same.
The program is scheduled to start on May 20 in the U.S and May 18 in Canada. To be eligible, students need to buy a Windows PC worth at least $699 ($599 in Canada).
PC in Your Pocket: $74 Android Stick Goes on Sale
The MK802 “Android 4.0 Mini PC” just popped up at online retailer AliExpress. It has a single-core 1.5 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 3D graphics processor, and as the name suggests, it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
To use this little guy, you’ll need a monitor or HDTV that accepts HDMI input, plus an HDMI cable. You’ll also need a wireless USB keyboard and mouse combo, which would plug into the machine’s lone USB port. The device has 4 GB of storage on board, plus a microSD card slot and it supports 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi.
Microsoft Launches So.Cl Network
The social website was tested by a handful of students at select universities since late last year. The site combines search and sharing for research purposes and the interface is similar to Pinterest in that users can create boards. Like the early days of Facebook, the network is only for college students right now.
Pronounced “social,” the site was developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs to encourage collaboration and enhance social search for learning purposes. “We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools,” So.Cl noted in its “About” section. “We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.”
K12 & Higher Ed
When the school is the bully
Last fall a 13-year-old student was forced by her suburban Chicago school to let them access her Facebook account and scour her private information, a policy the mother says is commonplace in the Geneva Middle School South. The vice principal called the mother to demand her come to the school immediately to read through her daughter’s private messages.
Her daughter ended up crying through most of the rest of the day and therefore missed most of her classes. She was embarrassed and very upset. When confronting the school about the issue, they told her it was routine policy to investigate students’ social networking pages and cellphones.
Geneva schools superintendent Kent Mutchler told MSNBC Friday that the mother’s version of events is inaccurate, stating, “We would never demand someone’s password. When you have someone’s password, you open yourself up to other issues.” But alarmingly, he added, “If we have a disruptive situation, a school [official] will ask to see the page, and if the student refuses, we call the parents … There are different levels of concern. If there is a drug trafficking suspicion, we’ll get the police involved. If it’s something like cyberbullying, we’ll say, ‘This has been reported to us,’ and ask to see the page. We ask, ‘Is there something you want to show us?’ that sort of thing. And they volunteer.”
Quebec rocked by student protests
Quebec’s provincial government, facing the most sustained student protests in Canadian history, has introduced emergency legislation that would shut some universities and impose harsh fines on pickets blocking students from attending classes, as it looks to end three months of demonstrations against rises in tuition fees.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in downtown Montreal on Thursday night as the government introduced the bill, with protests spilling over onto an expressway between stalled cars. Tuesday will mark 100 days since the demonstrations began.
Authorities said 122 people were arrested on Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Montreal. Bank windows were smashed and missiles thrown at police.
Source: The Guardian
Study & Research
Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th-Graders, Analysis Shows
It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.
Every word members of Congress say on the floor of the House or Senate is documented in the Congressional Record. The Sunlight Foundation took the entire Congressional Record dating back to the 1990s and plugged it into a searchable database.
Lee Drutman, a political scientist at Sunlight, took all those speeches and ran them through an algorithm to determine the grade level of congressional discourse.
“We just kind of did it for fun, and I was kind of shocked when I plotted that data and I saw that, oh my God, there’s been a real drop-off in the last several years,” he says.
In 2005, Congress spoke at an 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Now, it’s 10.6. In other words, Congress dropped from talking like juniors to talking like sophomores.