Gates, Zuckerberg: Kids, learn to code
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says computer programming is easy: "Addition, subtraction, that's about it."
March 5th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Gates, Zuckerberg: Kids, learn to code

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

(CNN) - Hey kids! Forget trying to become a doctor or rapper or a football star, not to mention all the teasing you may get in school for being a nerd - computers are where it's at.

That's one message of a new video in which Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and other tech execs urge young people to learn computer programming.

"Learning how to program didn't start off with wanting to learn all of computer science or trying to master this discipline or anything like that," Zuckerberg says. "It started off because I wanted to do this one simple thing - I wanted to make something that was fun for myself and my sisters."

Gates says, "I was 13 when I first got access to a computer. I wrote a program to play tick-tack-toe."

The five-minute clip, called "What Most Schools Don't Teach," was posted online Tuesday by Code.org, a new nonprofit foundation that seeks to cultivate computer science in U.S. school curricula. The foundation argues there is a worldwide shortage of computer programmers but that only 1 in 10 schools in America teach kids how to code.

"Our policy (at Facebook) is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find," Zuckerberg says. "The whole limit in the system is that there aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today."

Read the full story

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How teens experience social networks
March 1st, 2013
04:30 AM ET

When bullying goes high-tech

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Editor's note: Don't miss the premiere of "The Bully Effect" on "AC360" at 10 p.m. ET Thursday. Note graphic language in this story.

(CNN) - Brandon Turley didn't have friends in sixth grade. He would often eat alone at lunch, having recently switched to his school without knowing anyone.

While browsing MySpace one day, he saw that someone from school had posted a bulletin - a message visible to multiple people - declaring that Turley was a "fag." Students he had never even spoken with wrote on it, too, saying they agreed.

Feeling confused and upset, Turley wrote in the comments, too, asking why his classmates would say that. The response was even worse: He was told on MySpace that a group of 12 kids wanted to beat him up, that he should stop going to school and die. On his walk from his locker to the school office to report what was happening, students yelled things like "fag" and "fatty."

"It was just crazy, and such a shock to my self-esteem that people didn't like me without even knowing me," said Turley, now 18 and a senior in high school in Oregon. "I didn't understand how that could be."

A pervasive problem

As many as 25% of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying at some point, said Justin W. Patchin, who studies the phenomenon at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He and colleagues have conducted formal surveys of 15,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States, and found that about 10% of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last 30 days.

Online bullying has a lot in common with bullying in school: Both behaviors include harassment, humiliation, teasing and aggression, Patchin said. Cyberbullying presents unique challenges in the sense that the perpetrator can attempt to be anonymous, and attacks can happen at any time of day or night.

Read the full story

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Study: Teachers rely on technology, but don't trust students' savvy
High school teacher Maria Johnson isn't impressed by her students' Google and Wikipedia research.
February 28th, 2013
06:45 PM ET

Study: Teachers rely on technology, but don't trust students' savvy

By Sally Holland, CNN

Washington (CNN) - A new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found cell phones, tablets, Google and Wikipedia are at the center of how educators teach and how students learn - but they bring new challenges, too.

Almost three-quarters of teachers surveyed said cell phones are used in their classrooms to complete assignments, while 45% use e-readers and 43% use tablet computers.

Many teachers - 99% - themselves rely on online research, but they believe digital technologies make it harder for students to “find and use credible sources of information.”

The Pew study said 76% of teachers surveyed strongly agree that  “search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily,” and 83% agree that the amount of information is overwhelming.

The survey of about 2,400 middle school and high school teachers from across the United States asked how they use technology in their classrooms and at home. The teachers were all Advanced Placement teachers or from the National Writing Project, so all their students are considered academically advanced.

“Several teachers noted that if a student looks for a particular piece of information online for a few minutes and can’t find it, they will often not interpret that to mean they have to search differently or go to a different resource,” said Kristen Purcell, the main author of the report.

Students will assume “that information is not out there to be found," she said. "If it were, the search engine would find it quickly."

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A $1 million bet on students without teachers
Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra won the 2013 TED Prize for his experiments in self-organized learning.
February 27th, 2013
11:30 AM ET

A $1 million bet on students without teachers

By Richard Galant, CNN

Long Beach, California (CNN) - What if everything you thought you knew about education was wrong?

What if students learn more quickly on their own, working in teams, than in a classroom with a teacher?

What if tests and discipline get in the way of the learning process rather than accelerate it?

Those are the questions Sugata Mitra has been asking since the late 1990s, and for which he was awarded the $1 million TED Prize on Tuesday, the first day of the TED2013 conference.

Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra won the 2013 TED Prize for his experiments in self-organized learning.

Mitra, professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, won the prize for his concept of "self organizing learning environments," an alternative to traditional schooling that relies on empowering students to work together on computers with broadband access to solve their own problems, with adults intervening to provide encouragement and admiration, rather than top-down instruction.

Mitra's work with students in India has gained wide attention and was the focus of a 2010 TED Talk on his "hole in the wall" experiment, showing the potential of computers to jump-start learning without any adult intervention.

Thinking about children living in slums in New Delhi, he said, "It can't be possible that our sons are geniuses and they are not." Mitra set up a publicly accessible computer along the lines of a bank ATM, behind a glass barrier, and told children they could use it, with no further guidance.

They soon learned to browse the Web in English, even though they lacked facility in the language. To prove the experiment would work in an isolated environment, he set up another "hole in the wall" computer in a village 300 miles away. After a while, "one of the kids was saying we need a faster processor and a better mouse."

When the head of the World Bank came to see the experiment, Mitra said he encouraged him to go to the New Delhi slum and see for himself.

Read the full story

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College Scorecard tries to reality check school 'sticker price'
A new College Scorecard shows average prices paid at different colleges, but it's not the only tool out there.
February 22nd, 2013
09:31 AM ET

College Scorecard tries to reality check school 'sticker price'

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - After President Barack Obama announced last week the release of a "College Scorecard," there was a small explosion on Twitter and perhaps in the minds of college applicants deep in the weeds of school selection.

Isn't there enough of this already?

Is this going to do anything better?

Is this scorecard even a good idea?

The College Scorecard is not the same as U.S. News and World Report, Kiplingers, Fiske or most other college rankings and guides out there. It's not going to say if a school is among the 10 best anything, whether the students are cute or brilliant, if the dorms are swanky or if a school's mascot would win in a wrestling match - if you even believe rankings can reflect that.

During the State of the Union address, Obama said the College Scorecard would show "where you can get the most bang for your educational buck." It's a nod toward how tough it is to find a school and figure out how to pay for it. Its creators say it was built to reveal value, to show whether a school is worth the money - if you even believe numbers can reflect that.

It pulls together data already sprinkled around government reports and individual schools’ websites. It answers questions like, how much do students and their families pay? How much do students borrow? After all that, do students actually get degrees, and jobs?

Go to whitehouse.gov/scorecard, and type in the name of a school. Or scout one by location, area of interest or type of college, like distance education, campus setting or size. Click to choose one, and what comes back are graphics that depict the average net price: an estimate of the average amount it actually costs to attend, minus scholarships and grants.

Consider Occidental College in Los Angeles, the college young Obama attended after graduating high school in Hawaii. The College Scorecard says it costs $27,846 per year on average, which puts Oxy in the high-cost range. Families of its 2,125 students typically borrow $18,020 in federal loans for an undergrad to attend, and the loan payment would be about $207.37 per month over 10 years. The scorecard also says that about 83.5% of full-time Oxy students earned a bachelor’s degree within six years, and 12.8% transferred to another institution, like Obama, who went on to graduate from Columbia University in New York. There's a space on the scorecard to explain what types of jobs students get after graduation, but nothing is listed there. Sara Gast, a U.S. Department of Education press officer, said they expect to add the info within a year.

Any Oxy applicant is likely to notice the price. It's about $30,000 less than the price listed on Oxy’s website: $57,028 per year for tuition, room and board and fees. That "sticker price" could make potential students cross Oxy off the list immediately, even if they might qualify for tens of thousands in financial aid, even if the true, typical price is far lower. There's a sticker price, and then there's the price paid after deals are offered, negotiations attempted, loans approved and rewards claimed.

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My View: Online courses need human element to educate
Online courses are proliferating, says Douglas Rushkoff, but will really succeed when they bring humanity to learning process
January 16th, 2013
03:00 PM ET

My View: Online courses need human element to educate

By Douglas Rushkoff, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Douglas Rushkoff writes a regular column for CNN.com. He is a media theorist and the author of "Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age" and "Life Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back." He is also a digital literacy advocate for Codecademy.com. His forthcoming book is "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now."

(CNN) - Education is under threat, but the Internet and the growth of Massive Open Online Courses are not to blame.

Like the arts and journalism, whose value may be difficult to measure in dollars, higher education has long been understood as a rather "soft" pursuit. And this has led people to ask fundamental questions about it:

What is learning, really? And why does it matter unless, of course, it provides a workplace skill or a license to practice? Is the whole notion of a liberal arts education obsolete or perhaps an overpriced invitation to unemployment?

The inability to answer these questions lies at the heart of universities' failure to compete with new online educational offerings - the rapidly proliferating MOOCs - as well as the failure of most Web-based schools to provide a valid alternative to the traditional four-year college.

Education is about more than acquiring skills.

When America and other industrialized nations created public schools, it was not to make better workers but happier ones. The ability to read, write and think was seen as a human right and a perquisite to good citizenship, or at least the surest way to guarantee compliant servitude from the workers of industrial society. If even the coal miner could spend some of his time off reading, he stood a chance of living a meaningful life. Moreover, his ability to read the newspaper allowed him to understand the issues of the day and to vote intelligently.

What we consider basic knowledge has grown to include science, history, the humanities and economics. So, too, has grown the time required to learn it all. While the modern college might have begun as a kind of finishing school, a way for the sons of the elite to become cultured and find one another before beginning their own careers, it eventually became an extension of public school's mandate. We go to college to become smarter and more critical thinkers while also gaining skills we might need for the work force.

Accordingly, we all wanted our sons and daughters to go to college until recently.

Read Rushkoff's full column


Filed under: MOOC • Technology • Voices
My View: Predictions for the next decades of education
Kids tried out laptops at a tech fair in Germany this year, but a futurist predicts more screens in classrooms.
December 28th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

My View: Predictions for the next decades of education

Courtesy Mark HinesBy David Houle, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: David Houle is a futurist and author of the blog Evolution Shift. He is the author of “The Shift Age”, "Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education" and "Entering the Shift Age." He has been a contributor to Oprah.com. Houle is futurist-in- residence at the Ringling College of Art + Design in Sarasota, Florida.

(CNN) - When people find out that I am a futurist, they ask me what that means. In speaking and writing, I act as a catalyst to get people, the market and the world to think about the future, then facilitate a conversation about it.

There’s one area that’s desperately in need of that conversation: education.

In the next decade, there will be more transformation at all levels of education than in any 10-, 20-, or perhaps 50-year period in history. Generational forces at play will accelerate these changes. The aging baby boomers - who I call the “bridge generation,” as they have bridged education from the middle of the 20th century to now - are retiring in ever increasing numbers. They have held on to the legacy thinking about education, remembering how they were taught. Their retirement opens up the discussion about transformation.

At the same time, we have the rising digital natives as the students of tomorrow. This generation, born since 1997, is the first that was likely to grow up with a computer in the house, high-speed Internet, parents with cell phones and often a touch screen app phone as their first phone. They are the first generation of the 21th century with no memory of the 20th. They are the first generation born into the information-overloaded world; for them, that’s simply the way it is. The digital natives are different than prior generations and need new models for education.

Let’s take a quick look for all levels of education to see what some major transformations will be:

Preschool

A child born in 2009 is one of the younger digital natives. In upper-middle class households, they are the first children for whom all content can be found on screens. They are using touch screen and other interactive computing devices starting as early as 2, and therefore walk into the first day of preschool or nursery school with a level of digital skills. This will spark greater use of digital devices and interactive learning at this first level of education. Classrooms will increasingly have interactive touch screen devices.
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CNN Profiles: The teacher in the one world schoolhouse
Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, says he wants to have a global impact on education.
November 19th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

CNN Profiles: The teacher in the one world schoolhouse

by Michael Schulder, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @Schuldercnn

(CNN) – This is the time in the school year when parents really have a sense of whether their children are struggling academically.

For those parents whose children are having a hard time with math, and are seeking help, one name seems to be popping up more and more: Salman Khan.

Each month, 7 million children and adults log on to Sal Khan’s website, the Khan Academy, to get clear, entertaining, informal video tutorials on everything from basic addition to advanced calculus and more.

So who is Sal Khan? Where does he get his credibility?

Is it from the three degrees he earned from MIT or the Masters he received from Harvard after being raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet?

Is it from the raves he gets from Bill Gates who uses Khan’s online videos for his own children?

Read the full story and hear the podcast from CNN Radio.
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Leading colleges announce for-credit, online courses
November 16th, 2012
04:20 AM ET

Leading colleges announce for-credit, online courses

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) A consortium of ten major universities announced on Thursday that it will offer online courses for credit in the fall of 2013.

The online education initiative is titled “Semester Online.” According to its consortium, it is the “first of its kind featuring rigorous, innovative, live courses.”

Colleges have offered online classes before, but it’s the rigor of the curriculum and the ability to earn credit for the courses that makes this initiative different.  MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are open to all free of charge, but typically don’t award college credit.

There are 10 university partners in this effort. They are Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Pilot online classes will start in the fall of 2013.  Academically eligible students at these universities will be able to apply for Semester Online this coming spring. The consortium hopes to expand both its course offerings and online student enrollment in the future. The faculty and course materials offered in Semester Online will be the same as those used in the traditional college classes.
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October 23rd, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Homebound student learns via Skype

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - When students are sick, many teachers send lessons home. At Father McGivney Catholic High School in Maryville, Illinois that’s 20th century thinking. Homebound teen Alixandria Horstmann uses technology to attend her classes there virtually.

Horstmann’s medical issues meant she had to stay home for about three months. The school already has replaced textbooks with laptops and iPads, so one of her classmates came up with the idea of carrying a laptop from class to class. Horstmann sits in her living room, listening – and contributing – via Skype on her iPad.

Father McGivney principal Michael Scholz told CNN affiliate KSDK that virtually attending school has advantages beyond academics. “The student who’s gone can still feel a part of your school and community,” Scholz said.

Parents: How do you think your child would handle learning via Skype?
Teachers: How would you accommodate a child who wants to learn virtually?

Please tell us in the comments below.

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Filed under: At Home • High school • Kids' health • Practice • Technology • video
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