Politics and Policies
Earlier this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that some 82% of U.S. schools were failing to meet the standards required by No Child Left Behind. This week, that figure was revised downward -- substantially so. According to a study released this week by the Center for Education Policy, that number is just 48%. Less than half of schools. Yay?
9 states were announced the winners of the Education Department's last "Race to the Top" funding competition. California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington will share $500 million in money to help improve early childhood education.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) had its Congressional hearing this week, with many of the major content providers and copyright holders coming out strong in support of a law that could effectively break the Internet. It appears as though all of the major education publishers support SOPA, including Pearson and McGraw-Hill. Phil Hill has a look at some of the implications over on e-Literate.
Legislation was proposed this week in California that would set aside $50 million to build the California Digital Open Source Library, a project that sounds similar to the Open Course Library launched in Washington earlier this year. It provides openly-licensed materials for some of the most popular college classes in the state, and the California law seeks to do the same.
Google launched YouTube for Schools this week, its plan to help educators sidestep filtering issues with a curated list of educational videos, available via a separate subdomain. (See my story here)
Microsoft launched a new academic social network this week: So.cl. It's pronounced "social," says Microsoft. Clever, huh. Microsoft insists that this isn't meant to be a Facebook competitor (in fact, as Techcrunch's Sarah Perez points out, it's "essentially a Facebook app"). Microsoft describes So.cl as "a site designed to give students the ability to network with peers, share useful information quickly, and build their own pages that collect information from both inside and outside the classroom�in a sense, transforming the web and social networks into the new classroom." How very 2004.
Quick Talk, an assistive technology tool for those with autism (and an app I wrote about here), has come to iOS (iTunes link).
Lego for Girls. (Sorry. but /hate)
For those keeping score at home, Utah K-12 schools go Google.
Khan Academy announced this week that it has partnered with the Chinese social network Renren to host its video content there.
Research and Archives
Nielsen reports that teens' mobile data usage is up -- way up. In the third quarter of 2011, teens age 13-17 used an average of 320 MB of data per month on their phones, almost triple what it was this time last year and growing at a rate faster than any other age group. Boys used about 382 MB per month, whereas girls used about 266 MB. They aren't texting any less frequently however. The average is about 3,417 per teen -- 7 messages every waking hour. Girls send more texts than boys -- 3952 versus 2815.
The largest collection of Isaac Newton's papers has been digitized, thanks to the Cambridge Digital Library. Among the items available, Newton's own annotated copy of the Principia Mathematica.
The New York Times took a close look at K12, a for-profit education company that runs a string of online charter schools. It's a pretty damning look at online education. The schools are failing "by almost every educational measure," the story says, but "by Wall Street standards" it's a "remarkable success." The company, whose stocks fell by 8% after the story was published, issued a press statement saying the NYT piece was "unfair and one-sided."
The Librarian in Black did some sleuthing to discover that library e-book provider Overdrive appears to offer different libraries different catalogs. Overdrive responded with a lengthy statement about geographic regions, territorial rights, and different kinds of markets. The back-and-forth here demonstrates the complexities of these new negotiations between libraries, publishers and distributors of digital content.
Google announced the 2001 recipients of its philanthropic donations this week (over $100 million in grants), with support for several community and STEM education programs, including the micro-lending education startup Vittana.