Race and Ethnicity in College Admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to consider whether the University of Texas at Austin has the right to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. Those bringing the case hope the Supreme Court will restrict or even eliminate the right of colleges to consider race in admissions – a prerogative last affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2003 in a case involving the University of Michigan’s law school.


To read Inside Higher Ed's full coverage of the Supreme Court's decision, please visit:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/21/supreme-court-takes-affirmative-action-case


Udemy, the academy of you

Udemy is a company that allows anyone to create and sell courses through its online platform. The bill themselves as "the academy of you."

They recently announced a new effort called The Faculty Project which uses courses by professors at some elite schools like Colgate, Duke University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia, Dartmouth College and Vassar College. 

Udemy is a for-profit enterprise but the Faculty Project courses will be free.

So I signed up (using my Facebook account) for a free course called "How to Prototype Web and Mobile Apps in 30 Minutes" which is described as "A crash course on designing and testing interactive user interfaces using Apple Keynote or Microsoft Powerpoint + Keynotopia User Interface Libraries." The site offers 15 lectures.

The goal is to “elevate the brand” and they have no immediate plans to monetize the Faculty Project. The company is also not currently seeking any outside accredidation by higher ed regulatory bodies or offering recognition to students that take the courses.


FURTHER READING
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/tenured-professor-departs-stanford-u-hoping-to-teach-500000-students-at-online-start-up
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/27/company-unveils-line-free-online-courses-elite-college-faculty
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/24/stanford-open-course-instructors-spin-profit-company

Some Free Classroom Apps

There are many free apps that can be used in the classroom. You have to be a creative teacher to use elementary apps effectively with students too young to have phones, but teachers are using iPads and tablets in classrooms and sometimes even getting parents to use apps on their own devices at home. Here are some via techlearning.com. Some are free. Some are free versions of apps that are available at a cost but are available in free lite versions (some may have ads).

Math


Basic Math - This app offers basic operations of math with choices. It allows teachers to see student’s score and email results to parents.


Mad Math Lite - If your classroom has limited iPads, this app allows you to have more than one user. In addition, it enables you to set the student’s setting depending what operation they are working on. This app records a report card on the student’s progress.


Coins Genius - This app is a good introduction to coins. It is limited in the free version, but it does give you a chance to see if this would be a good tool for your class.


Calculator Pro - A standard calculator in vertical mode and a scientific calculator in landscape mode.


EaselAlgebra ilite - Easel combines interactive, hands-on algebra workbooks with instant "ShowMe" lessons. If you get stuck on a problem, just tap "ShowMe" and see a step-by-step animation of how to solve the problem.


HMH-Fuse Geometry- A completely self-contained, interactive curriculum on the iPad.


Elementary Language Arts


My Spelling Test - Create your own spelling tests with your weekly words. Students can
test themselves. Allows students to see what words they got right and wrong. Teachers can track student’s work to make sure they stay on level.


ABC Phonics sigh words - Uses the DOLCH spelling words. The app has flashcards, drag and spell, and unscramble.


Wordweb Dictionary - The WordWeb English dictionary and thesaurus: fast searching, spelling suggestions, definitions, usage examples, synonyms, related words - and no ads


Free ebooks -  Download app, then join for free. Download five free books a month.


Paperdesk lite - Leave behind your paper notebook for your next class lecture or meeting. PaperDesk is a simple notebook replacement made for the iPad. The design goal behind PaperDesk was to mimic, as closely as possible, a simple pad of paper with no unnecessary frills.


Foreign Language


Spanish Tutor 24/7 - Goes
beyond the simple talking phrasebook or flashcard programs, providing a set of interactive study tools that helps users learn Spanish. Also available for French: French Tutor 24/7.


Sign Language - How to fingerspell words, numbers, express basic sentences, idioms and learn about deaf culture.




Pinterest

Pinterest is an online pinboard where people organize and share things they love. It is also described as a vision board-styled social photo sharing website.  There are ways that teachers are using Pinterest.

I put in for an invite for the service at http://pinterest.com/ Users of Pinterest curate themed image boards, populating them with media found online using the "Pin It" button, or uploaded from their computer. Each such item of media is known as a "pin," and can be a pictures, a video, a discussion or a monetary gift. Pins can be grouped into "boards," which are sets of pins created on a given topic.

Can Schools Adopt Digital Textbooks By 2017?

Via the Huffington Post: "Obama Administration's Challenge To Schools: Embrace Digital Textbooks Within 5 Years"

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski issued a challenge this week to schools and companies to get digital textbooks in students' hands within five years.

You may be interested to look at the "Digital Textbook Playbook" issued along with the announcement   http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/digital-textbook-playbook



...The Obama administration's push comes two weeks after Apple Inc. announced it would start to sell electronic versions of a few standard high-school books for use on its iPad tablet.
Digital books are viewed as a way to provide interactive learning, potentially save money and get updated material faster to students.

Digital learning environments have been embraced in Florida, Idaho, Utah, and California, as well as in individual schools and districts such as Joplin, Mo., where laptops replaced textbooks destroyed in a tornado. But many schools lack the broadband capacity or the computers or tablets to adopt the technology, and finding the money to go completely digital is difficult for many schools in tough economic times. And, in some places, adopting new textbooks is an arduous process.

At a time when technology has transformed how people interact and even led to social uprisings in the Middle East, education has too often lagged, Duncan said.

 "Do we want kids walking around with 50-pound backpacks and every book in those backpacks costing 50, 60, 70 dollars and many of them being out of date? Or, do we want students walking around with a mobile device that has much more content than was even imaginable a couple years ago and can be constantly updated? I think it's a very simple choice," Duncan said in an interview.

Tied to Wednesday's announcement at a digital town hall was the government's release of a 67-page "playbook" to schools that promotes the use of digital textbooks and offers guidance. The administration hopes that dollars spent on traditional textbooks can instead go toward making digital learning more feasible.

Going digital improves the learning process, and it's being rolled out at a faster pace in other countries, such as South Korea, Genachowski said in an interview. Genachowski said he's hopeful it can be cost effective in the long run, especially as the price of digital tablets drops.

"When a student reads a textbook and gets to something they don't know, they are stuck," Genachowski said. "Working with the same material on a digital textbook, when they get to something they don't know, the device can let them explore: It can show them what a word means, how to solve a math problem that they couldn't figure out how to solve."


Apps and Attention Deficit

Vicki Windman is a special education teacher who regularly posts about tech, especially apps lately. Here are some apps that can help students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

iearnedthat-lite
(Free/ Full Version $1.99) Helps children develop desirable behaviors by working towards tangible goals. Choose a behavior for the child. Do not interrupt for 15 minutes during a 45-minute class period. Student then takes a picture of what he or she wants, such as computer time. The picture is broken down into puzzle pieces. Each time the student is successful, he or she adds another piece. Upon completion of the puzzle student receives an award. The app is good for all ages.


ireward $4.99 A motivational tool for iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Create a star chart or token board to help reinforce positive behaviors using visual rewards. This type of praise or approval will help parents of typically developing children, children with autism, developmental delays, ADHD, and anxiety disorders.


Homeroutines $3.99 This app can be customized for any age. Create routine checklists, then complete them on chosen days of the week, with reminder notifications, and a gold star for each completed task. Checklists can automatically reset.


Alarmed-reminder timersFree Pop up reminder alerts. Includes 80 custom sounds, Nag me for auto repeating. Great for students to help remind them when they need to bring something to school.


ADHD organizer $1.99 Lets users set goals and record their success. Includes a memory bank section for thing frequently forgotten.


Audio-notes recorder $2.99 Record notes and export by email. Great for students who need to remember something without having to write it down.


Event Countdown $1.99 This is great for students who need to keep track of assignments. App shows remaining days, hours and minutes until the date.

Audionote recorder-notepad $4.99 Combines the functionality of a notepad and voice recorder.


Vicki has also posted about useful apps for assessment.