Wow! What an incredible amount of news this week! What, is it back-to-school soon or something?!
The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report this week on women in STEM (PDF). A number of its findings: although women hold about half the jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. But the gender wage gap between women and man is much smaller in STEM jobs, and women in those jobs earn 33% more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. Women earn a lower proportion of STEM undergraduate degrees, and when they do, they're more likely than their male counterparts to work in education and in healthcare.
Sign up now for Stanford University's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" class this fall -- to be held online for free. Take the class, complete the work alongside Stanford students, and get a certificate of completion. And if you're not familiar with this sort of large-scale, open, online course, do read my story this week on MindShift about the potential for MOOCs.
Anna Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education has released her latest book, The Edupunks' Guide to a DIY Credential." It's available to download for free, thanks to underwriting from the Gates Foundation.
Skillshare ia an online marketplace for offline classes -- "learn anything from anyone." A New York City-based startup, Skillhare is expanding to San Francisco and soon to Philadelphia, reports Betabeat's Adrianne Jeffries.
Apollo Group, owners of the University of Phoenix, announced this week that it will acquire Carnegie Learning, an adaptive learning math curriculum. The price tag: $75 million, as well as an additional $21.5 million for "related technology" (that's code for "patents) to Carnegie Mellon University.
According to AdAge, 25% of toddlers have used a smartphone. The data from the survey also highlighted that Gen Y and Gen X moms were quick to put technology into the hands of their kids. 30% of Gen Y moms, for example, said that by age 2, their child had used a digital camera.
Speaking of technology in the hands of tots, the Vinci tablet, a 7" tablet aimed at toddlers, went on sale this week. Notably the tablet is surrounded with a sturdy rod framework, purportedly making it easier for it to be held and lugged around by small children. The cost ranges between $389 and $479.
According to an SRI International study, students at Rocketship Education, a network of K-5 hybrid charter schools, with greater access to online learning opportunities -- particularly via the Dreambox Learning program -- scored higher on math assessment tests than students who had no additional math instruction. "For the average student," the study says, "these gains would be equivalent to progressing 5.5 points in percentile ranking (e.g. from 50 percent to 55.5 percent) in just 16 weeks." You can read more of Mindshift's coverage of Rocketship Education here.
Silicon Filter's Frederic Lardinois points to remarks from Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales at a recent conference where the online encyclopedia's founder said that the site was losing contributors. The organization is scrambling to simplify what he called �convoluted' editing templates that may be discouraging people from writing and editing Wikipedia's entries. Lardinois points to a number of other reasons why participation on Wikipedia may be down, including the fact that many entries may just be complete. But it's worth pointing out that the Wikimedia Foundation has made a lot of efforts lately to do outreach to the academic community. There's still a lot of research and knowledge that can be shared on the site (by "experts," by students).
Facebook-based study tool Hoot.me announced this week that it was launching private study sessions. Hoot.me offers an app that lets students work together via video conferencing, screen-sharing, and chat -- all within Facebook. The new feature unveiled this week will allow participants to bar their study sessions from showing up in public feeds. It will also allow people to utilize Hoot.me together without actually being Facebook friends (in other words, you can share a link to request someone join a study session rather contact directly them within Facebook).
The learning management system Instructure has added a new feature for communications within the LMS. It's called "Conversations" and it's quite reminiscent of the real-time, anti-email messaging system in Facebook.
The 3D design site Autodesk announced this week that it has acquired the DIY/How-To community site Instructables. Instructables has been an important part of the Maker Movement, and Autodesk says it plans to keep the site and the community going.
Fast Company's Kit Eaton reports that University of California, San Diego archeology students will be headed soon to Jordon to take part in a dig he describes as "decidedly futuristic." The device the team will be using for 3D scanning the area? No, not an expensive imaging system, but a hacked Microsoft Kinect. (I've written about some of the exciting educational potentials for Kinect here.)
The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, along with the equity firm Jana Partners, have acquired a 5% stake in McGraw-Hill. The investors are pressuring the publishing company to sell off its education division.
Language learning site busuu.com has launched 9 new Android apps. With these free apps, you can learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Polish or English.
A big week for funding of online textbook companies: CampusBookRentals.com, which offers textbook rentals to over 5 thousand college campuses, announced that it had raised $20 million in growth financing. And digital publisher Inkling announced that it had raised $17 million. Inkling re-engineers textbooks for the iPad, and via its app, students can purchase digital textbooks in their entirety or by chapter.
The social bookmarking tool Diigo released an iPad app earlier this year that worked a lot like Google's Chrome. It's just re-named and re-released the app. The Diigo browser features unlimited tabs and an Omnibox, and it now includes highlighting features that save notes directly to your Diigo account.
Some of the smartest folks in the world were born on August 20. Or at least two of us: me and investor Fred Wilson. Both of us celebrate milestone birthdays this year, and in honor of his 50th, he's launching a fundraising effort -- "50 for 50" -- raising $50,000 for teachers' projects via DonorsChoose.org.
Responding to an online petition and quite a bit of negative press, Scholastic has announced that it is reducing its InSchool program and cutting back on its pool of corporate sponsors. The decision follows blow-back from Scholastic's Shedding Light on Energy curriculum, sponsored by the American Coal Foundation sponsorship.
The educational game-maker Airy Labs announced this week that it has raised $1.5 million. As AllThingD's Kara Swisher points out, the startup's founder Andrew Hsu is one of the recipients of Peter Thiel's 20 under 20? grant program, in which the PayPal co-founder paid young entrepreneurs $100,000 to skip or drop out of college.
Kara Swisher also reported this week about rumors that the educational social network Ning may be up for sale. According to Swisher, the company has been talking to a number of companies about selling itself, including Google and Groupon.
The Chronicle reports that the Research Libraries UK group has developed a tool to help libraries make a cost-benefit analysis about which academic journals are "worth it." And speaking of "worth it," please read Maria Bustillos's excellent piece on Aaron Swartz, the accused JSTOR-downloader.
A hearty (and boozy) congratulations to Ohio University, which topped the list of party schools. Go Team!
'Tis the season for back-to-school notices about school-wide adoption of [fill in the blank technology]. This week's announcement: the University of Southern Mississippi is giving Samsung Galaxy Android tablets to honors students.
Oh look: HIRO, a robot that learns. Note also: Foxconn, that giant electronics manufacturer with plants in China, is "hiring" 1 million robots. Do yourself a favor and read Bryce Roberts on how to survive the robot uprising.
And enjoy your summer weekend!