Techno-News Blog

May 31, 2013

Futurelearn plans Moocs for mobiles

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by Times Higher Education

The first massive open online courses on the UK-based Futurelearn platform will go live in the autumn and are being developed for use on mobile devices, the company’s chief executive has revealed. Simon Nelson said he believed that his company, which has 21 UK university partners signed up to offer free online courses, would gain an advantage over existing Mooc platforms by ensuring that its courses were designed “for mobile first, rather than as an afterthought – transforming the convenience and accessibility of learning”. Speaking to Times Higher Education at the Open and Online Learning conference on 16 May organised by Universities UK, Mr Nelson, who in a previous role helped the BBC to set up its iPlayer service, said: “I don’t think [US Mooc platforms Coursera, edX and Udacity] are performing particularly well on mobile yet, so it may give us a short-term advantage.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/futurelearn-plans-moocs-for-mobiles/2004010.article

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Online learning poised to transform the world: MOOCs to be as transformative as ‘BOOCs’

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By Rik Myslewski, the Register

Ethernet inventor Robert Metcalfe was asked what surprises were on the horizon due to the ever more pervasive advance of the internet. “The most exciting surprise, I think, is going to be MOOCs,” said Metcalfe on Wednesday, referring to online education – Massively Open Online Courses. “Education is about to be disrupted, like iTunes did to music.” Some educators have called MOOCs a bad idea, raising the objection that online education destroys the one-to-one relationships between teachers and students. Metcalfe disagrees. “Here’s how I handle those [objections],” he said. “It goes back to the invention of another ‘bad idea’ – the BOOC, which is spelled today B, O, O, K. It was obviously a very bad idea, because before BOOCs, we would sit around the campfire and we would hear the story directly from the storyteller, but now we have these damn BOOC things. “You’ve read The Great Gatsby but you’ve never met F. Scott Fitzgerald,” he said. “That’s a problem – so the BOOC is really a bad idea.”

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/22/metcalfe_on_moocs/

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Online Learning: Copyright 101.2

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By Sarah Laskow, Columbia Journalism Review

CopyrightX, an online course run out of Harvard this spring as part of the EdX program, was unusual in a couple of ways. It might not strictly be called a MOOC—a massive open online course—because it wasn’t open. More than four thousand people applied, and enrollment was capped at 500. Half of the selected students were women. There were equal number of students from the United States and from other countries. Students outside the US came from 70 different countries, in total. The youngest student was 13, the oldest 83. Although CopyrightX was a class about copyright law, only thirty of the 500 students were lawyers. And these students stuck with the course. Most online courses have an appalling rate of attrition. Students start out with the best of intentions. But week after week, lecture after long, academic lecture, commitment flags. Usually around 90 percent of students drop out. For CopyrightX, two-thirds of those students made it through until the end. Fully half of them took the final exam —a typically grueling and mind-bending, four-hour law school take-home test, not much different from the exam Prof. Fisher gave Harvard Law School students.

http://www.cjr.org/cloud_control/copyright_1012.php

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May 30, 2013

Mapping the global Twitter heartbeat: the geography of Twitter

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by Kalev H. Leetaru, et. al., First Monday

In just under seven years, Twitter has grown to count nearly three percent of the entire global population among its active users who have sent more than 170 billion 140–character messages. Today the service plays such a significant role in American culture that the Library of Congress has assembled a permanent archive of the site back to its first tweet, updated daily. With its open API, Twitter has become one of the most popular data sources for social research, yet the majority of the literature has focused on it as a text or network graph source, with only limited efforts to date focusing exclusively on the geography of Twitter, assessing the various sources of geographic information on the service and their accuracy. More than three percent of all tweets are found to have native location information available, while a naive geocoder based on a simple major cities gazetteer and relying on the user–provided Location and Profile fields is able to geolocate more than a third of all tweets with high accuracy when measured against the GPS–based baseline. Geographic proximity is found to play a minimal role both in who users communicate with and what they communicate about, providing evidence that social media is shifting the communicative landscape.

http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4366/3654

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CSU trustees hope online learning classes will ease bottleneck on required courses

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Southern California Public Radio

Officials said more online courses will help students at California State University, Los Angeles and other campuses complete graduation requirements.  California State University officials today laid out to its trustees how the university  plans to ease students’ access to required courses in the fall — a huge problem that affects tens of thousands fo students at all 23 campuses. During a trustee meeting in Long Beach, Cal State officials said budget cuts have led to bottlenecks in lower level classes such as college algebra, general education biology, and micro economics. “We have 22 courses across the CSU where we have high enrollment and also low success in those students completing those with good academic grades,” said Gerry Handley, head of CSU’s Academic Technology Services.

http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/05/21/13747/csu-trustees-hope-online-classes-will-ease-bottlen/

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University online learning course made for cheating

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By Sean Coughlan, BBC

Cheating by students is being investigated in a university course dedicated to understanding the hidden world of academic deception. The course, being run online, is for academics who usually have the task of preventing cheating. It includes a “cheating confessional” to admit to forms of cheating. Course leader Bernard Bull, from Concordia University Wisconsin, says there is more cheating going on than universities likely to admit. “It’s fair to say that more than half of students have cheated, even if only in some quite small way,” said Dr Bull. The rapid rise of online university courses has raised questions about how to prevent students from cheating when they are studying and taking tests from home.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22609677

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May 29, 2013

What 5G Will Be: Crazy-Fast Wireless Tested in New York City

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By David Talbot, Technology Review

The world’s biggest cell-phone maker, Samsung, caused a stir last week by announcing an ultrafast wireless technology that it unofficially dubbed “5G.” And the technology has, in fact, been tested on the streets of New York. The system is impressive but is still in development—which is true of all the technologies that will underpin the next generation of wireless communications. When 5G does arrive, it will likely combine new wireless protocols with new network designs, spectrum-sharing schemes, and more small transmitters. Samsung says its new transceiver can send and receive data at speeds of more than a gigabit per second over up to two kilometers—and it could deliver tens of gigabits per second at shorter distances. This compares to about 75 megabits per second for the latest standard, known as 4G LTE. The Samsung technology relies on 28-gigahertz frequencies, which can carry commensurately more data but can be blocked by buildings, people, foliage, and even rainfall.

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514931/what-5g-will-be-crazy-fast-wireless-tested-in-new-york-city/

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Why Every Education Leader Must Be a Tech Visionary

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by Jose Ferreira, Knewton Blog

Education, like many industries before it, is now having its internet moment. There are two great phases unfolding. The first is the shift to digital materials for use either in blended learning courses or as a replacement for the printed textbook. This shift is now well underway in the U.S. Before long, there will be no more printed textbooks. The second phase is the shift of part of every student’s coursework to purely online formats. This phase is now beginning to seriously pick up steam, as evidenced by increasing numbers of for-credit online courses, MOOCs, and archived video lesson repositories like Khan Academy. And what we’re seeing now is only the beginning. There are so many implications of all these changes that one can be forgiven for thinking it is hopeless to make sense of them. But the alternative — not worrying about it at all — probably isn’t the right answer either.

http://www.knewton.com/blog/knewton/from-jose/2013/05/21/education-tech-visionary/

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Cal State moving to offer online science labs

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By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times

California State University is moving aggressively to offer web-based science labs, a systemwide virtual campus and online advising as remedies for “bottlenecks” that impede student progress and graduation rates, officials said Tuesday. Some of these efforts will be ready to roll out this fall. The detailed strategies were presented in a meeting of the Cal State Board of Trustees in Long Beach as a response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for the Cal State and University of California systems to improve student performance in exchange for long-term funding increases. Brown’s 2013-14 budget provides $125 million in new funding each for the two systems, including $10 million each to boost online learning and develop other technologies to help students attain degrees faster.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-calstate-20130522,0,6029166.story

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May 28, 2013

3-D Printer Powers High School Project

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By Tanya Roscorla and Paul Williams, Center for Digital Ed

In an Algebra and physics class called Scientific Studies, students are using a donated 3-D printer for their projects this year. “We can build things now that we could only imagine before.” He challenged one student to create a hypercube, which is similar to a 3-D cube, but has four or more dimensions. “My teacher, Mr. Carlton, he’s a big fan of hypercubes,” said Addison Williams, a junior at Napa New Technology High School. “I personally am not an expert as to what they are. But he showed me a model on the computer, and he said, ‘If you can print this, I’m going to give you extra credit.’ So that’s what I’ve set out to do. Addison and other students design objects in Google SketchUp, run them through a software program called MakerWare and watch as the printer executes their designs with melted plastic. “You can actually see and, like, touch and feel what you’ve created, what you’ve printed, and it kind of gives you a better sense of what’s really going on.”

http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/3-D-Printer-Napa.html

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Home Tweet Home: A House with Its Own Voice on Twitter

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By Rachel Metz, Technology Review

It’s fast becoming cheaper and easier to connect all kinds of traditionally unconnected devices to the Internet, and doing so can increase their functionality. At first glance, you’d never guess there’s anything unusual about Tom Coates’s San Francisco home. Nestled at the end of a narrow passageway on a side street, it’s a peaceful, sunny house decorated with modern furniture and bright posters that say things like “Machines help us work” and “Make your own path.” But take a closer look at, say, the ficus tree in the corner of the living room and you’ll notice something odd: a sensor, sticking out of the dirt, that’s connected to a little box. The sensor monitors the plant’s moisture, and the box transmits readings wirelessly to the Internet; it is just one of numerous Internet-connected devices in Coates’s home, which help keep an eye on everything from how warm it is to whether someone is currently in the living room.

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514941/home-tweet-home-a-house-with-its-own-voice-on-twitter/

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Program Motivates Native Alaskans to Pursue STEM Careers

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By Colin Wood, Center for Digital Ed

The STEM shortage problem, however, won’t be solved by simply throwing money at it – U.S. education needs quality control, says Herb Schroeder, founder of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP).  Starting with a single student in 1995, the program has grown over the years and seen about 250 native graduates. Currently, it has about 1,000 native students, from grade six through graduate school. More than 83 percent of its students complete Algebra 1 by the end of the eighth grade, compared to a national average of 26 percent. And more than 70 percent of ANSEP students who begin a four-year degree in a STEM field graduate. The program has also been replicated in at least 11 other locations around the country, Schroeder said, and in some cases with better results than seen in Alaska.

http://www.centerdigitaled.com/Program-Motivates-Alaskans-to-Pursue-STEM-Careers.html

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May 27, 2013

Technology Gives Students with Disabilities Access to College Courses

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by Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education

The Mission Middle College educational program is a collaboration of Santa Clara Unified School District and Mission Community College. The program takes on a student-centered learning environment where seniors can complete required high school courses while accumulating college credits. Each student focuses on individual educational choices and academic and vocational studies relevant to future goals. The idea is to provide learning choices and empowerment for students. The program is inclusive of all students, with or without a disability. Some of the students have print and learning disabilities that impede their ability to easily read and comprehend grade-level text and complex curricula in print. Many of these students felt stuck and considered dropping out of school. Their instructors believe in every student’s learning potential and set high expectations. They teach students first to choose appropriate reading technologies for their learning needs, and then to find the reading assignments in digital accessible format, such as DAISY text and DAISY audio.

http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/05/technology-gives-students-with-disabilities-access-to-college-courses/

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Is Social Media the New Online Learning?

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By Cynthia Sassi, Socialnomics

Most universities are now providing online education, with 98% of universities offering at least one online course. Some major universities offering online degree programs include Cornell University, Penn State University, Purdue University, Ohio State University, Arizona State University, Boston University, University of Southern California and many more. By 2014, 18% of college students will take some or all of their classes online, according to Knewton.com. And by 2020, it is projected that 98% of students will be taking blended learning courses, which contain both classroom and online components. Though many employers seek candidates with college degrees, there are always companies that prefer speed, tech savvy and online smarts over degree-ed knowledge. Having an online education mixed with social media skills could be the perfect blend of attributes that today’s employers need.

http://www.socialnomics.net/2013/05/21/is-social-media-the-new-online-education/

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The $7,000 Computer Science Degree — and the Future of Higher Education

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By Martha C. White, Time

While a new report puts the average debt load of new college grads at a stomach-churning $35,200, the Georgia Institute of Technology is rolling out an alternative program experts say offers a beacon of hope for both students and employers: A three-year master’s degree in computer science that can be earned entirely online — and that will cost less than $7,000. The school is partnering with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOC (massive open online course) education, and AT&T, which is contributing $2 million and will provide connectivity tools and services. “We believe this program can establish corporate acceptance of high-quality and 100 percent online degrees as being on par with degrees received in traditional on-campus settings,” a statement from the school says.

http://business.time.com/2013/05/21/the-7000-computer-science-degree-and-the-future-of-higher-education/

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May 26, 2013

Google I/O 2013: 10 Key Takeaways

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By Chris Preimesberger, eWeek

There weren’t stunts at Google I/O 2013 resembling the Great Google Glass Launch of 2012, and there wasn’t nearly the same level of hard news as there was in 2012, but nonetheless it was a significant event for both software developers and users. Last year’s show was the stuff of legend, featuring the Glass demonstration in a live-video stunt with parachuters from an airship wearing Google Glass eyewear landing on the Moscone West rooftop and repelling, bicycling and running into the conference to the cheers of thousands inside the conference. Then they walked right up and gave the wearable computers to Google co-founder Sergey Brin—who was already wearing one himself. This year’s show was more subdued but no less important in the overall Google scheme. The conference was loaded with new dev tool updates, upgrades to both the Android and Chrome systems, the introduction of the All Access music subscription service, new location-based application programming interfaces (APIs) and much more.

http://www.eweek.com/mobile/slideshows/google-io-2013-10-key-takeaways/

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Great tips, resources and ideas for going paperless

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by David Andrade, School CIO

I use my Android smartphone, Nexus 7 tablet, Chromebook and desktop computers, along with apps like Evernote (essential to going paperless), email, online faxing and signing, Google Docs and Drive, Dropbox and Sugarsync and PDF tools, a Boogie Board electronic notepad, a Livescribe Sky Smartpen, and a scanner (Fujitsu Scansnap) to go as paperless as possible. Going paperless—it’s good for the trees, good for budgets, increases efficiency and organization, and makes life easier in many ways. But how do you go paperless? I used to use paper planners (Franklin Quest) until I got my first PDA (Palm IIIxe) in 2000. I also try to go paperless in as many other ways as possible.

http://www.schoolcio.com/Default.aspx?tabid=136&entryid=5815

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Schools Turning To Free, Curated Open Educational Resources

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by School CIO

In the last hundred years students have gone from attending one-room schoolhouses with handheld slates, to classrooms with handheld devices of a more high-tech sort. Yet, one thing hasn’t changed — the use of expensive and, in many cases, outdated textbooks as their main source of content. The Internet has made it possible for teachers and experts to share a wide variety of open educational resources (OER), but organizing, managing and delivering this content has been an arduous, time-consuming challenge. Now that may be changing.  Net Texts is a free, web-based system that provides teachers access to a library of  OER content, which they can then combine with their own resources to create and publish lessons directly to students’ iPads, Android tablets, or computers. Schools can save up to $250 per student per year by reducing or eliminating costs for textbooks and curriculum materials. “Our teachers are delivering content in ways our students find interesting and engaging, and outside the classroom it’s really no different than if they took their teacher home with them. It is simply amazing,” said Patty Childs, principal of St. Jude the Apostle, one of the Atlanta schools that piloted the system in 2011 as part of a Diocesan 1:1 iPad initiative for eighth grade students.

http://www.schoolcio.com/cio-back-office-business/0104/schools-turning-to-free-curated-open-educational-resources/53760

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May 25, 2013

Yahoo ‘to buy Tumblr for $1.1bn’

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by the BBC

Yahoo’s board has approved a deal to buy New York-based blogging service Tumblr for $1.1bn (£725m), US media reports say. The acquisition is expected to be announced as early as Monday. The deal was a “foregone conclusion” and was unanimously voted for by the board, tech blog AllThingsD reported, citing sources close to the matter. If confirmed, it will be CEO Marissa Mayer’s largest deal since taking the helm of Yahoo in July 2012. Neither Yahoo nor Tumblr responded immediately to requests for comment. Under the terms of the acquisition, Tumblr would continue to operate as an independent business, the Wall Street Journal said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22591026#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

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Intel Fuels a Rebellion Around Your Data

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By Antonio Regalado and Jessica Leber, Technology Review

Intel is a $53-billion-a-year company that enjoys a near monopoly on the computer chips that go into PCs. But when it comes to the data underlying big companies like Facebook and Google, it says it wants to “return power to the people.” Intel Labs, the company’s R&D arm, is launching an initiative around what it calls the “data economy”—how consumers might capture more of the value of their personal information, like digital records of their their location or work history. To make this possible, Intel is funding hackathons to urge developers to explore novel uses of personal data. It has also paid for a rebellious-sounding website called We the Data, featuring raised fists and stories comparing Facebook to Exxon Mobil.

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514386/intel-fuels-a-rebellion-around-your-data/

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China’s ’state-sponsored hackers renew attacks on US’

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by the BBC

The Pentagon has accused China’s army of carrying out cyber-attacks. State-sponsored hackers have renewed attacks on the US after a three-month hiatus, the New York Times reports. In February, Unit 61398 of the Chinese army was named as the source of many cyber-attacks on American companies and federal agencies. The publicity drew denials from the Chinese government, but also prompted the number of attacks launched from China to slow to a trickle. Now, the newspaper reports, the unit has resumed attacks on US companies. Cyber-defence company Mandiant told the New York Times the unit, which is believed to operate out of a heavily guarded building in the suburbs of Shanghai, had recently stepped up its activity. It declined to name which agencies and businesses had been attacked.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22594140#

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