A version of this story is available at KQED's MindShift

Microsoft announced this week that it has agreed to acquire the popular VOIP service Skype for $8.5 billion. Skype has become an important tool for educators bridging classrooms around the world, and the acquisition may boost Microsoft's status in the education sector (provided, of course, Skype still works on Apple computers).

According to the June issue of Consumer Reports, Facebook has about 7.5 million users below the required minimum age of 13. And 5 million of those users are ten or younger.

If teens and pre-teens love Facebook, they're less than enthralled with Foursquare and other location-based check-ins. That's the findings of a recent survey by Dubit, a youth communications agency, reports Business Insider. According to the survey, 48% of teens have not heard of Foursquare, Facebook Places, or other location services, and 67% of teens who have heard of the services don't use any of them.

Google has announced the semi-finalists for the Google Science Fair. Voting on these entries runs through May 20.

Wolfram Alpha has released two new Course Assistant apps, this time for pre-calculus and chemistry. The former costs $1.99 and the latter costs $4.99.

Inside Higher Ed reports on a new survey by Student Monitor that finds that print textbooks are popular on campuses -- far more popular than e-books -- due in part to a thriving textbook rental business. 24% of students say they've rented at least one textbook this year, up from 12% this time last year. Only 5% say they've purchased a digital textbook.

Disney subsidiary Playdom, an online gaming company that makes a number of popular children's games, has agreed to pay the FTC $3 million over charges that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by illegally collecting and then exposing children's personal data without receiving consent from parents.

In more kids and advertising news, The Wall Street Journal reports that that Apple has pulled iAds. Appmaker Clickablebliss says that apps were pulled from its Pokemon app Dex, an indication that Apple may be revisiting what sorts of mobile apps appear in ads targeted at children.

A UK charity which aims to promote the study of computer science at school Raspberry Pi Foundation is working to develop low-cost computers for use in teaching programming in schools in both the developed and developing world. The organization has released its first product, a device about the size of a USB stick, that's designed to plug into a TV or touch screen in order to make a low cost tablet. The computer is expected to cost about $25.

Researchers danah boyd and Alice Marwick have released a draft of their paper on teens' attitudes towards online privacy. You can read the paper here.

The National Cyber Security Alliance released a study on the state of cybersecurity and cybersafety in the K-12 curriculum. Like many surveys, the results point to a gulf between administrators, teachers, and students in their assessments of how technology instruction works. 81% of school administrators, for example, said they believe their districts are adequately preparing students in online safety but only 51% of teachers agree.

At its annual developer conference this week, Google announced a "new kind of computer" -- a cloud-based netbook-like laptop based on its new operating system Chrome OS. These Chromebooks will be offered to schools via a $20 per month per student rental program. I wrote my initial thoughts on the program on both ReadWriteWeb and MindShift.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

Back to Archives