Trends in Ed: 01.20.2011-Mobile Apps Site for Home Schooled Children

Submitted by George Nantwi on Thu, 01/20/2011 - 12:15pm.
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With more and more schools adopting iPads and mobile phones to increase students’ forms of learning, home-schooled children are also catching up on the trend thanks to Knowledge Quest, Inc., a leading provider of online resources for home –schooled children. The company recently launched a new website aimed at helping home-schooled children identify the latest and helpful educational apps for their mobile phones. There is little secret that students, regardless of where they attend school, are enamored with mobile phones but recent surveys conducted by Knowledge Quest showed most students often don’t know how to identify and effectively use educational mobile apps.

The new website will allow home-schooled children, their parents, and teachers to click on quick links, where the top and most recent apps will be posted. According to the company’s president, the results has so far been positive, “kids who download our featured apps are reporting improvements in their school achievements, while companies who have listed their apps on the site are seeing sales increases of 300% or higher.” All the apps are downloadable through the site, most are free and none cost more than $5. Users can browse by subject, company, or price and developers and publishers of iPhone and iPad apps are encouraged to submit their apps to the new site to enrich its database and leave users with various options to choose from.


Seminar Snapshot 01.19.11 (Joel Gelburd)

Submitted by Luke Malone on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 10:50pm.
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Freedom of the Press

Submitted by Sheick Wattara on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 8:59pm.
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As we all know, the freedom of communication and expression through the use of media and published materials, also known as the freedom of the press, has become more controversial as the use of technology by the public has drastically increased. Media sources such as print, broadcast, and the web play a major role in how today’s citizens receive their news. This was very evident during the last presidential elections as both candidates use all forms of media on the campaign trail to reach potential voters. But often, some may even say, the rights granted to us by the constitution are constantly abused and freedom of the press is one such right since anyone who publishes information on the web is essentially a reporter and protected by the freedom of press clause in the bill of rights.

As our nation and the world at large continue to grow and become more globalized, technologies are playing a vital role in that growth. The most widely known and influential form of media is by far the Internet. Millions of Americans and billions worldwide have access to the web but when someone abuses its use (cyber-bullying, issuing threats, etc.), what actions must authorities take to ensure public safety? This was one of many important questions I asked myself as I, along with many Americans, were bombarded with news on the infamous Wikileaks and its release of secret and now controversial documents. As you may already know, Wikileaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified information from anonymous sources. Launched in 2006, the website’s creator, Julian Assange, was and still heavily criticized for his ownership of Wikileaks and its releases of top-secret information. Wikileaks is famously known for releases such as published materials on extrajudicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping in Ivory Coast, inflammatory words by State Department officials to describe their overseas counterparts, and the War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan, among others. To some, Wikileaks is a much welcomed organization and is seen as a revolutionary organization that exposes government secrets in order to make them more open to its citizens. According to Time, Wikileaks “could become as important a journalistic tool as the freedom of information act.” But others, namely governments, see it as a threat to national security. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton claims “the illegal publication of classified information poses real concerns and even potential damage to our friends and partners worldwide.”


Use simulation to teach physics: the SimNewton Project

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 6:04pm.
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I met Rajesh Jha in California a few weeks ago at Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California. It was raining non stop and there were no seats in the restaurant. So we sat outdoors with a tiny shade above our table. My hair got wet and so did my burrito. But I was very impressed by the SimNewton project Rajesh's company was working on.

SimNewton is a collaborative web application for mechanics simulation designed for use in introductory physics courses at high school and college freshman levels. Teachers can create a challenge by building a mechanical system in the simulation with customized variables and learning scaffolds such as texts, images, videos, and dynamic charts. Then the teacher can export the scenario and share with groups of students. The students in turn will work alone or in the group to solve the problem. Students can also view and comment other groups' work online. Once the problem is solved, the students can export their solutions and share with the teacher for assessment and feedback.


Trends in Ed: 01.19.2011 - High-Tech Help

Submitted by Angela Lee on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 3:37pm.
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Do you think you can survive completing an email, report, or business letter without the help of spell check?

This New York Times article sums up some of the most popular assistive technologies on the market. These tools are not limited to users with learning disabilities, but also extremely popular among general learners.

However, Michael L. Kamil, a consulting professor at the Stanford University School of Education and an expert on adolescent literacy and technology, warns that not every product is going to be useful, so before you spend $100 for a smart pen or $300 for an electronic learner, you should consult with the professional who has evaluated your learning ability.

Below is some of the most popular assistive technology we use today:


Students with severe reading disabilities may benefit from computer programs that can scan words and “read” them aloud via synthesized voices, some of which sound uncannily human. One is the Intel Reader, a device that can plug into a laptop for reading on-screen texts and also takes snapshots of, say, a newspaper page to be read aloud. Another is the ReadingPen Advanced, a pen-shaped scanner that glides over printed words and pronounces them through a built-in speaker.


Watson on Jeopardy

Submitted by Julia Martin on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 11:32am.
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Full Article with Videos.

I can't get the videos to embed, but you should click through and watch them.

The possibilities that natural language processing could provide us in the future once it moves beyond the more gimmicky application of Jeopardy could mean an interactive and adaptive learning tool (or assistant maybe a better word for it). Not to mention what it could do for search. For now it's just fun to watch people get beat by a robot. Also, I'm going home to watch War Games to make sure this isn't how all that mess started.


Try Vialogues Today

Submitted by Megha Agarwala on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 6:23pm.
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It looks like a lot of people at the EdLab have not yet tried our new tool called "Vialogues" - an online discussion tool. Try it out today. Explore to see if Vialogues may be the right tool for you or your friend, as a student or teacher. Don't forget to sign up to get the best out of Vialogues.

Have comments, concerns or questions ? Write to us in the feedback section on Vialogues. We would love to hear from you!

Go EdLab!


Trends in Ed: 01.18.2011-First Couple of Years in College Shows Lack of Learning Progress

Submitted by George Nantwi on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 3:30pm.
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An article in today’s USA Today, highlighting the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, notes most undergraduate students don’t make any meaningful gains in their academics during their first two years in college. The results are from a survey, of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide and included transcripts and scores of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized exam which tests critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills. The reason? Colleges just don’t make academics a big priority. Other major factors affecting the lack of progress during students’ first two years in college include instructors devoting more time to their research and students being more in tuned with their social lives.


Debate Over Making Community Service Mandatory in High Schools

Submitted by Duncan Asiedu on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 7:45pm.
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An ongoing debate that seems to be at the center of much attention is whether community service should be mandatory in America’s high schools. Numerous schools across the country have mandated that in order for their students to graduate, they must complete a predetermined amount of community service. This action though has been met with opposition from various groups who have denounced its mandatory enforcement.

Proponents of mandatory community service argue that it helps build leadership skills in students and better prepares them for future jobs in which leadership is valued. It also serves as a symbiotic relationship between the volunteer and the recipient. This can be attributed to the fact that participation in community service simultaneously helps diversify an individual’s college application while providing free, beneficial services to the recipient. Research has also shown that on average, students involved in any sort of community service graduate at a higher rate than those who are not. Inner city school districts such as Chicago, Seattle and Washington D.C have noticed this trend and as a result have made it a mandatory graduation requirement. Some politicians in New York City are pushing for the city’s school system to follow suit though the Board of Ed has refused to do so.


Interesting read- Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time

Submitted by Megha Agarwala on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 2:25am.
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I came across this article in the economist where the writer gives an interesting perspective on why pursuing a doctoral degree may be a waste of time.

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