Weekly News Roundup

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  • While the federal government did avoid a shutdown this week, the budget negoations hammered out this week included some major cuts for ed-tech, including the elimination of the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program.
  • RIP Flip camera. Cisco announced this week that it was shutting down production of the popular video device. Although Flip cameras have been popular in the classroom, many industry observers say Cisco's decision reflects the fact that people aren't interested in single-use devices, particularly now that cellphones have good video capabilities.
  • The crowdfunding organization DonorsChoose.org announced a contest this week entitled Hacking Education. The organization is opening up its dataset - information about some 300,000 classroom projects proposed by 165,000 teachers in over 43,000 public schools that have inspired some $80,000,000 in donations. DonorsChoose.org is asking developers to build apps and perform analysis with the data. There are a number of cool prizes, including a grand trophy handed to you by Stephen Colbert (along with tickets to view a taping of The Colbert Report).
  • The Boy Scouts of America unveiled a new merit badge this week, for work in Robotics. Among the badge's requirements, Boy Scouts will have to design, build and test a robot with at least two degrees of freedom and at least one sensor.
  • The winners of Microsoft's Imagine Cup were selected this week. Imagine Cup is a student technology competition, and this year's theme involved using technology to tackle the world's toughest problems. The winners in the Software Design were the team from Arizona State University who developed a note-taking app for low-vision and legally blind individuals.
  • News broke this week that a school district in Auburn, Maine plans to equip all its kindergarteners with iPads next year, at a cost of around $200,000. Some have expressed concern that 5 year-olds are "too young" for the technology, but others insist that the devices are ideal for that age level. The state of Maine has long been on the leading edge of one-to-one laptop initiatives.
  • Ontario College of Teachers issued a professional advisory to its 230,000 members this week, an eight-page guide detailing warnings about appropriate use of social media. The advisory encourages teachers not to friend their students on Facebook or communicate with them via text- or instant-messaging.
  • The education company Pearson released the results of a survey this week, detailing the usage of social media by college professors. Pearson found that more than 90% of college faculty use social media in the workplace -- that's almost twice the rate of employees in other industries. More than 40% of respondents say they require their students to use of faculty say they require students to use social media as part of course assignments. Despite being avid users, faculty responding to the survey did indicate that they have some concerns about social media and privacy.