A version of this story is posted on MindShift, where I now contribute regularly.
The Sesame Workshop and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released its study on children's media usage. Among its findings, television is still the most popular media for kids, but children are now engaging in a variety of other media platforms (and often, the survey finds, simulataneously. Yay multi-tasking.). Almost 25 percent of young children under age 5 use the internet at least once a week.
The social learning platform Xplana released its report on digital textbooks in higher education, calling the industry at a tipping point. Xplana says that by 2015, one out of every four textbooks will be e-books. Currently, digital textbooks are somewhere between 1.5 and 3% of the market, to give you some idea of the trajectory of this trend. The uptick, says Xplana, is thanks to the incredible popularity of the iPad as well as the expansion of OER and open source textbooks. You can read my story on RWW here.
Google rolled out some changes to its Google Docs enhancing its collaboration features. Google Docs has allowed comments for almost a year, something that makes the apps great for classroom - for teachers and for students giving feedback. This week, Google expanded those comments into "discussions," making them editable, making them appear in threaded conversations, and letting collaborators use the @ symbol to refer to each other by name. You get email updates each time someone changes a Doc you're collaborating on, so it definitely pushes this more towards a real-time collaborative process. Hooray, Google Wave lives on!
A complaint was filed against Northwestern and New York University this week, charging that the schools' use of Google Apps for Education violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Chronicle's Marc Parry has the story. According to the National Federation of the Blind, Google's educational suite is not fully accessible via assistive software. Google has responded saying it has "a strong commitment to improving our products," but the company hasn't offered any details. Microsoft released an update to its video game development platform for kids, Kodu. Kodu is an icon-based development environment, requiring no programming skills but teaching some of the basics of computational thinking and used to build games for PC and Xbox. Microsoft also announced the Kodu Cup competition for students age 9 to 17.
A new education-focused startup incubator launched this week. ImagineK12 will provide a 3 month accelerator program, with funding and mentorship, for early stage ed-tech startups. Founded by startup veterans Geoff Ralston, Tim Brady and Alan Louie and modeled after the very successful Y Combinator program, ImagineK12 aims to effect positive change in the K-12 education space. I'm looking forward to hearing more about Imagine K12. Here're my thoughts on RWW; here's Mike Arrington's story that broke the news; and here's what YC's Paul Graham has to say.
Here's the story that just flew by and few paused to shout "WTF!" The Chronicle reports that the American Council on Education and Pearson will be redeveloping the GED and making it a for-profit endeavor. While this is presented as an endeavor to help spread access to adult education, I can only look at some of the predatory practices of for-profit universities and shudder at the thought of the GED echoing that. Here are some statistics for you: The high school graduation rate in this country hovers around 70%. Roughly 40 million American adults don't have a high-school diploma or the equivalent. Gee, what could possibly go wrong by turning the GED into a for-profit business?