Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem

Submitted by Nara Kasbergen on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 2:20pm.

If you're looking for a great "longread", I highly recommend this excellent New York Times Magazine article (which I have to thank Louis for sending to me) about Silicon Valley start-ups and engineers, with some strong connections to education. It raises an interesting issue — we talk about the STEM shortage all the time, but even if hypothetically we solved that problem by getting more people to study STEM subjects in school, then the next problem is where these STEM-educated graduates (particularly in computer science) choose to work. A great quote from the article:

This summer in San Francisco, I’m living with three roommates, also students doing tech internships in the valley, two at Google and one at the news aggregator Flipboard. For better or worse, these are the kinds of companies that seem to be winning the recruiting race, and if the traditional lament at Ivy League schools has been that the best talent goes to Wall Street, a newer one is taking shape: Why do these smart, quantitatively trained engineers, who could help cure cancer or fix, want to work for a sexting app?

Twitter Teaches us How to (best) #

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 9:47am.

Do you #? I certainly do, however, some of us are apparently doing it wrong. So wrong in fact, that Twitter has released the following infographic via this Twitter Ads blog post in the hopes of educating a # confused public/marketers/advertisers. I found this resource as a part of my Twitter for Professional Development course on mSchool. Please enroll in this course if you are at all Twitter curious or have not yet taken the social media plunge.

Local Schools Partnership with Universities

Submitted by Reindorf Kyei on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 12:35am.

Virginia’s Department of Education is offering grants to several school districts in an effort to engage students in STEM. The grants, around $2.1 million, will be aimed at training teachers in order to increase student achievement in the STEM subjects. Additionally, K-12 teachers at schools deemed as “high need”, due to low math and science scores, will benefit from partnerships with STEM faculty at select colleges throughout the state. The partnership is seen as another professional development opportunity for K-12 educators in Virginia.

I think the plan by Virginia’s Education Department is a great idea. The US has not been ranking well in global educational rankings in math and science and so initiatives by states to improve STEM education for students are a step in the right direction. I am interested in seeing how this project plays out in the long term. If successful, it could lead other states and even the federal government to initiate similar ones.

Video Game Invades Classrooms

Submitted by Youssef Ballo on Tue, 03/11/2014 - 12:14am.

Students nowadays always seem to be bored at school. According to this USA Today article, a survey by researchers at Indiana University found that “65% of students are bored at least every day in class. One in six reported being bored in every class." What are some activities and strategies for educators to keep students motivated in the classroom? In an effort to combat the above figure and generate student interest in STEM subjects, several video game producers (e.g. EA) and tech experts in Silicon Valley has teamed up to create games that will prepare student for college and professional life.

There is no secret that one of the few industries that continue to grow is those in the STEM fields. An expected eight million jobs in STEM will be available in the next five years? Will we have enough skilled workers to fill these jobs? The answer is a resounding no. Millions in grants for research into the potential of video games in the classroom from the Gates and MacArthur Foundations all highlight the importance of finding ways to keep students engaged in school.

Quality Education in MENA Region

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 11:26pm.

Ever since I began my theme on global education, I have noticed that the problem faced by many undeveloped countries is not the quantity but quality of education (e.g., lack of resources and qualified teachers). In essence, many undeveloped countries are not providing students with the tools essential for 21st century learning. But then again, what after all is quality education?

This is the task that Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) looks to answer every four years in the MENA region. The MENA region consistently ranks among the top in international rankings concerning quantity of schools. However, the regions’ failure to sustain economic growth highlights the quality of its schools in preparing students for a global and competitive economy. TIMSS aims to assess math and science proficiency at the fourth and eighth grade levels.

The results from a 2007 TIMSS painted a grim picture of schooling in the MENA region. The scores from thirteen countries in the region were below the global average. The results show that students didn’t have the proper resources and/or were taught by unqualified teachers. However, recent results from the 2011 study saw improvements for students though those scores are still behind the global average. I am curious to see if results from the 2015 study will show continued improvement.

Lower Education Levels Linked to Unhealthy Diet

Submitted by Sarpong Adjei on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 9:49pm.

There are many studies that argue that a person’s socioeconomic status often have an effect on other aspects of their lives such as educational outcomes, and future employment and earnings, among others. A recent study conducted by researchers in Germany, Europe’s most populous country and largest economy, found that one’s education levels (often a consequence of socioeconomic status) plays in a role in their diet. The researchers studied a representative sample from a large data set of adults that sought to investigate whether there was any correlation between education level, food consumption, and physical activity.

They found that individuals with low levels of education consumed more unhealthy foods than those with a high education level. Additionally, these individuals were also found to be more physically active and used more energy than those with high education levels. Therefore, the researchers concluded that these individuals engaged in more physical activity because they ate more fatty and unhealthy foods.

"Physical visits and virtual visits [to libraries] are off the charts."

Submitted by Brian Hughes on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 10:08am.

An interesting piece in the NY Times last week: Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond

“This is what’s happening at a lot of libraries, the creation of an open, physical environment,” said Joe Murphy, a librarian and library futures consultant based in Reno, Nev. “The idea of being inviting isn’t just to boost attendance but to maximize people’s creativity.”

Does it make sense for so many libraries to be investing in their physical spaces? And if so, what kind of framework should best guide such decisions?

Gambling Among Young People

Submitted by Malik Muftau on Sun, 03/09/2014 - 9:13pm.

Gambling has slowly found its way into most societies and there are a lot of people who have promoted gambling to a very high extent. To most people, gambling is just a fascination but in as this article highlights , there are problems associated with gambling because it affects the most vulnerable people in Australia. The most targeted group includes those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage and those suffering from depression and mental issues. It was also found that teenagers are becoming more prone to gambling than adults. However, several foundations want to educate young people on the problems associated with gambling and find ways to combat it before it balloons into a major problem.

The number of people who start gambling at a very young age is very alarming. Most commercials and sports ads primarily target young people. I think this might cause children to engage in gambling at a very young age. Aside the initiatives from the foundations, I think it would be very helpful if teachers and coaches advice young people on the problems associated with gambling.

How Effective is the iPad for Learning?

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Sat, 03/08/2014 - 1:14am.

When the iPad was first introduced several years ago, there was a rush by consumers to get their hands on one. The iPad also offered a lot of learning and educational opportunities for students, parents and administrators. For instance, students believed that it would be an easier way to carry books without feeling the weight of the books. Additionally, students could use it to study, and browse the web, among others. Employers also believed that they could use it for work purposes.

This Vialogues portrays how useful the iPad is or has become for students in South Africa. The use of iPads in South African schools has helped enhance some students’ ability to learn. It encourages them to go to school everyday to learn because they don't want to miss using the iPad. Moreover, the iPad has helped students showcase their talents and creativity by developing their own apps.

Since the iPad was introduced at a primary school, the number of absences during the school year has decreased drastically. The idea of students using the iPad to study in school is great because technology has become a new way for students to learn. However, one thing that still baffles me is what happened to using pens, pencils, and textbooks as learning tools. In other words, can the use of technology be more effective in learning than the “old way?”

Shortage of STEM Workers in UK

Submitted by Reindorf Kyei on Sat, 03/08/2014 - 12:55am.

As is the case here in the US, the UK is also suffering from a shortage in science and engineering graduates. This shortage has taken on added importance since its economy has started to grow following the global recession. A report by the Royal Academy of Engineering several years ago noted that the UK would need about 100,000 graduates in STEM related areas by 2020. The government, fully aware of the shortage, has vowed to take steps to remedy the situation. It is also worth noting that a lot of STEM graduates remain unemployed six months after graduation. There are some critics who have argued that there is not really a STEM shortage in the UK.

It seems STEM jobs are on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. There seems to also be a shortage of skilled employees to fill these jobs. I am concerned about this troubling trend, especially since STEM continues to be one of the few sectors that continue to grow and produce jobs for recent college graduates.

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