Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

College grads in the workplace. Quick with answers but not always looking beyond computer screen

computer (Medium)Another interesting study to mull over today: College graduates understand and excel at Internet grazing, but are less comfortable or familiar with more traditional research methodology, including calling and talking to people, reading annual reports and scouring databases.

This gap is becoming apparent to employers who are impressed with their young hires’ online skills, but also concerned about their lack of more standard research competencies.

According to the “Learning Curve” Project Information Literacy Research Report:

In a world where technology abounds, social networks buzz, and connectivity is as commonplace as electricity, graduates may post their resume on Monster, apply for a few coveted internships they have found on Vault, and hook up with some new housemates on Craigslist. As dating options diminish after college, they may find themselves browsing profiles on But once they settle into a new job, many of today’s graduates soon discover that the …

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Are online courses more susceptible to cheating problems?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting story about plagiarism related to Coursera, a new consortium of colleges offering free, non-credit courses. Among the 16-member participant universities are Georgia Tech, Stanford, Duke, Princeton, University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins.

As the Chronicle story notes, plagiarism is a problem even in conventional classrooms, but poses additional challenges in mass-enrolled online courses that rely on peer review and grading of assignments, as does Coursera.

I wrote about the surge in free online college courses a few weeks ago. At this point, the courses — many of which are in the computer sciences realm — do not offer college credit, but certificates of completion.

The Chronicle focuses on complaints of plagiarism in a fantasy and science fiction class being offered by Coursera. This is only an excerpt so please read the full piece before offering a comment.

According to the Chronicle:

Students taking free online courses …

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ZOMG: Text-speak and tweens: Notso gr8 4 riting skillz

A new study in New Media & Society suggests that texting — with its abbreviations and grammatical shortcuts — undermines students’ writing skills.

The “Texting, Techspeak, and Tweens” study by S. Shyam Sundar, founding director of Penn State’s Media Effects Research Laboratory, and Drew P. Cingel, a doctoral student at Northwestern University, examined “whether increased use of text messaging engender greater reliance on such ‘textual adaptations’ to the point of altering one’s sense of written grammar.”

The pair tested students in a Pennsylvania middle school. Their conclusion: “Results show broad support for a general negative relationship between the use of tech-speak in text messages and scores on a grammar assessment, with implications for Social Cognitive Theory and Low-Road/High-Road Theory of Transfer of Learning.”

According to Education Week:

Moreover, the more often a student received text messages using tech-speak, the more likely he or she was to send messages …

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Not all math classes are the same even in the same school

math (Medium)Researcher William H. Schmidt believes education has become a game of chance in which the odds of success are predicated on factors outside the control of the students, including where they live, the schools they attend, the teachers they have and the textbooks they use.

An internationally recognized researcher on effective math education, Schmidt says that U.S. students lack equal opportunities to learn math, something he saw firsthand when he took sabbatical from Michigan State University to spend a year at the University of Virginia.

As an author of Michigan’s math standards, Schmidt knew his second grader would have been learning multiplication tables up to the number five back home in East Lansing. In Virginia, multiplication was not taught at all in second grade, reinforcing what Schmidt already realized from his international comparisons: All math classes are not equal and students do not have the same opportunities to learn math.

In his new book “Inequality for All: …

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Georgia students say math is too easy. So, why don’t we do better?

There are two views of education in America. One is that we are raising standards — especially in math — beyond the reach of many students and losing them as a result. The second perspective is that most classes are a cakewalk, leaving kids bored and unchallenged.

A new analysis by the Center for American Progress supports the latter. The analysis was based on student questionnaires given to students taking a respected federal benchmark test called NAEP or the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The analysis provides state data, and Georgia exceeds the national average in students reporting math is too easy. In Georgia, 40 percent of fourth graders say math was easy, compared to 37 percent nationally. Yet, we have more students saying that they feel they are always learning in math class.

And while nationally 73 percent of 8th graders say they are not taught about engineering and technology, the rate is only 70 percent in Georgia.

Of course, the question becomes …

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An Atlanta charter school closes. Short funds, students.

Atlanta’s Tech High is closing. The charter school enrolled 200 students in grades 9 though 12, according to the state DOE

One persistent problem with charter high schools nationwide is that teens want a larger social pool and wider opportunities than many start-up charters can provide.

And the students want the fun stuff, the Friday night football games, the dances, the homecoming parades. It is tough to offer the social and extracurricular extras in schools with 50 kids or fewer per grade level.

Tech High could not draw enough students, partly because of its forsaken location on Memorial Drive. (A father recently  told me that he took his child to visit the school, but turned around in the parking lot after seeing the run-down facility)

Probably more disconcerting to many Atlanta parents, Tech High’s math and science scores were not dazzling. On the 2011 state End-of-Course Test, 69 percent of Tech High students failed Math I and Math II,  40 percent failed biology and 58 …

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Cobb’s great adventure in technology. We all should watch and learn.

Cobb County is about to experiment with integrating the technologies that dominate children’s lives into the classroom through an ambitious pilot project at three middle schools.

This is a growing trend, but one for which effectiveness has yet to be proven.

According to an Education Week story:

While there is much on-going research on new technologies and their effects on teaching and learning, there is little rigorous, large-scale data that makes for solid research, education experts say. The vast majority of the studies available are funded by the very companies and institutions that have created and promoted the technology, raising questions of the research’s validity and objectivity. In addition, the kinds of studies that produce meaningful data often take several years to complete—a timeline that lags far behind the fast pace of emerging and evolving technologies.

For example, it is difficult to pinpoint empirical data to support the case for mobile learning in …

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A proponent rethinks cell phones in the classroom

A teacher who argued in favor incorporating cell phones into classroom instruction in a 2010 Education Week essay rethinks that position in a new piece.

Writing in Ed Week about his emerging doubts, Kentucky high school teacher Paul Barnwell says, “While summarizing is a real skill, do we really want students to further fragment their thoughts and attention in this age of incessant digital distraction and stimuli with 140-character blurbs? Do we want students to spend even more time in front of a screen, bypassing opportunities to converse and collaborate face-to-face?”

Here is a short excerpt of Barnwell’s essay “Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools.”

A recent report by the Economic & Social Research Council refutes the notion that today’s youth, the “net generation,” is truly tech savvy. After interviewing and collecting data from 2000 first-year college students in Britain, researchers found that only 21.5 percent of students had blogged, and only 12.1 …

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NAEP science: Students can do experiments and get answers but can’t explain or justify their results

NAEP — known as the Nation’s Report Card — released results today of how American students fared on a new component of its science test that included hands-on, interactive experiments and virtual labs.

The new component was added to the 2009 science assessment. In one example, 12th graders were asked to determine a location for a new town based on an assessment of water quality flowing near that site. Students were asked to test water samples, determine levels of pollutants and then justify the decision where they would locate the new town using the data from the experiment they conducted.

Overall, students could conduct the experiments but were not as skilled in using their data to justify conclusions or writing reports. In one example cited in a webinar this morning on the results, 93 percent of fourth graders got the right answer in a science experiment, but only 32 percent could use the evidence from the experiment to justify their answer.

On the webinar announcing the …

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New digital divide: Lower-income kids waste more time with their gadgets

When technology first began to infiltrate American childhoods, there were fears of a digital divide; children from lower-income families would not have access to the emerging new technologies because of the cost and thus fall behind their more affluent peers whose families could afford cell phones, computers and video game systems.

However, now that access to cell phones and other electronics is widespread, there are fears of a new divide: Poorer kids are wasting more time on their assorted electronic and computer gadgets than more affluent peers.

“Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of a decade-long Kaiser study on online patterns, in a New York Times story on the issue. “Instead of closing the achievement gap, they’re widening the time-wasting gap.”

Closing the digital divide is not improving the …

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