Startup Spotlight: One School

Submitted by Janet Jang on Thu, 02/02/2012 - 5:34pm.
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The Details and Back-story
One School is a mobile app that provides real-time bus tracking, an interactive map of classes and local eateries, a directory of students and professors, campus news, and is geared towards a students' specific school. They have raised $750K in seed funding. Here's a video with a brief interview of the founders of One School. The founders of the company said that the idea came to them when they saw how much students were using their smart phones, including snapping photos of homework problems and texting them to friends for help. The most surprising detail: The CTO of the company, Pindi Albert, is only 17 years old.

Unique Point of Difference
Although some colleges and universities may have their own mobile applications, they are focused more on press releases and info for prospective students than on their current student population. Therefore, One School realized that the demand for this type of app was high. Also, they are only pulling publicly available information about the schools, not partnering with them.


TED 2013 Auditions

Submitted by Janet Jang on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 5:20pm.
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TED 2013 is hosting public auditions in 14 cities on six continents to find undiscovered talent and voices for the conference. More than half of the speakers will be selected through this crowdsourcing experiment. The audition process is an online application, an optional short video, and the winners will be selected through a public voting process. These are the people they are looking for. If you know any who would be a good candidate, let them know!

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Research Digest: Class Sizes Don't Matter

Submitted by Janet Jang on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 5:06pm.
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Dobbie, W. & Fryer, R.G. (2011). Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City. National Bureau of Economic Research, 1-46.

Remember when Mayor Bloomberg said last month:

"...cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers. And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students."

Well this recent research study shows that maybe his idea wasn't completely ludicrous (still not a sustainable solution). In this study, two Harvard researchers looked at factors that actually improve student achievement and those that don't. They analyzed 35 charter schools and found that traditionally emphasized factors like class size, per pupil expenditure, and percentage of teachers with advanced degrees did not correlate with school effectiveness. Instead, schools with frequent after-tutoring, data-driven instruction, informal and formal teacher feedback, and longer instructional time had higher annual math and ELA gains.


Teaching Like it's 2999. Well, That's Pretty Far Away

Submitted by Janet Jang on Tue, 01/31/2012 - 4:02pm.
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(What are all these circles and what is TPACK? Learn More Here)


Here's a snippet that Jennie Magiera, a 4th and 5th grade teacher and a math/technology coach in Chicago Public Schools, wrote on her blog, Teaching Like It's 2999:

"Technology + Education + Passion = Wow. Education without technology is so 1979. Technology without passion is a waste of money. Education without passion is a waste of everyone's time. Technology without education... well, that can be okay but weaving the two together can lead to bigger and better technology for tomorrow. I believe that the classroom should reflect the world for which we are preparing our students. If we are asking them to create, innovate and be outstanding as graduates entering a terrifying job market, then our classrooms should be creative, innovative and outstanding places to learn. Everyday. Period."


EdLab Review: Explania

Submitted by Janet Jang on Tue, 01/31/2012 - 2:29pm.
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Explania is a good place to find high-quality animations that will help to instruct and educate people about science, technology, sports, and health. These animations are either created by Explania or co-creators and cover a wide variety of fields including technology, health, sports, software and more.

One of the unique features of Explania is that companies and organizations can sponsor an existing animation and offer the viewer additional information on their own website. Sponsoring an animation allows your company logo to be attached to the animation. Therefore, the company can advertise their services to their target audience through whoever was interested enough to watch the animation.

The pricing of Explania's services aren't listed but a quote has to be requested. Judging by the fact that the companies currently listed on the site are big corporate companies, the prices to make a custom animation or even sponsoring an animation has to be hefty. However, as a resource to those who want to just use the videos for educational purposes rather than advertising, all the videos are available for free after signing up.


Research Digest: Textbook Cover Analysis from Cultural POV

Submitted by Janet Jang on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:00pm.
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An Analysis of Textbooks from a Cultural Point of View

Ahmed, F., Narcy-Combes, M.F. (2011). An Analysis of Textbooks from a Cultural Point of View. Tesol Journal, 5, 21-37

This very interesting research study focuses on the cultural unfamiliarity between ESL learners and foreign textbook authors in Pakistan. The authors refer to a study that explains how a textbook is most "useful if learners, teachers, and textbook authors share the same cultural values." If not, they all should at least be familiar with each other's cultures. There is a cultural gap between the learners first culture (C1) and the Anglophone/target language cultures (C2). One of their research methods was a textbook cover analysis to see what cultural misunderstandings and gaps were represented. They asked Pakistani students a series of questions to see how they interpreted the textbook cover illustrations.

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Great American Teach Off!

Submitted by Janet Jang on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 2:44pm.
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Do you know any innovative and passionate 7-12 teachers you would like to nominate?

Here's the K-6 winner from the last contest.

I think it's wonderful that public school teachers are being recognized for their hard work. One running theme from the contest entries from last time was how many of them paid out of their own pocket to bring in tools and supplies that they believed would be beneficial to the students that the school's budget couldn't cover. There aren't many other professions out there where self-sacrifice is the norm. Teachers say it is part of the "calling". However, it makes me wonder where the line is between it just being part of the job versus a reflection of negligence in this country for funding education.


An Innovative Swedish School and Its Philosophy

Submitted by Janet Jang on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 5:41pm.
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This is Sweden's Vittra School. Unbelievable, right? Learn more about the design and architecture here. They also started an initiative in August 2010 called "one-to-one" (one computer per one student) for students from grades four and up. The purpose of this initiative is primarily to maximize the quality of the time spent in school: "To have more effective time for learning and teaching opportunities and to clarify the students' development through increased transparency and interaction between students, parents and the outside world." Sounds a lot like Education 3.0.


EdLab Review: TreeHouse (Learning Diary Update)

Submitted by Janet Jang on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 2:32pm.
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Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 12.20.25 PM

Back in November, I wrote an article about TreeHouse and how I was planning on using it to learn the foundations of HTML5 and CSS3. They just released their $9 student plan today, where students can sign up for the Gold Plan for a highly subsidized price. Also, they just recently developed Code Racer (which Kate recently profiled last week), a game that teaches people how to code by pitting them up against other people also learning how to code.

With the Gold Plan, the extra things you receive are video tutorials on cutting-edge web topics like jQuery, UX, Rails, PHP, iPhone Apps, CSS3, HTML5, JavaScript, NoSQL, etc. which seem to be valuable and helpful. For someone who has little experience but big interest, it acts as a good starting platform. Another unique aspect of TreeHouse is in their special sauce: “We’ve done partnerships with Facebook, WordPress and LivingSocial,” Mr. Carson said. “They’re going to start recruiting people who’ve unlocked our badges for internships and jobs.” (NYTimes)


Sleep-Texting Problem Amongst Students

Submitted by Janet Jang on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 11:33am.
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As a student, sleeping already comes with a lot of risks - waking up late for an exam, snoozing through an alarm for that early morning class, getting caught by your professor during a mid-day powernap, etc. Now, according to sleep experts, students are experiencing this growing problem of texting on their mobile phones while they are sleeping. I know, it sounds like a joke, right?

Dr. David Cunnington, a sleep expert at the Melbourne Sleep Disorder Center in Australia says in the article, "People are doing so much during a normal day that it can mean that they feel like they're 'on call' even at night."

Considering our ever increasing dependence on technology, it's no wonder that the digital natives have evolved their most frequent functions during the day into something stressful.

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