Weekly News Roundup

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  • Microsoft announced this week that it has agreed to acquire the popular VOIP service Skype for $8.5 billion. Skype has become an important tool for educators bridging classrooms around the world, and the acquisition may boost Microsoft's status in the education sector (provided, of course, Skype still works on Apple computers).
  • According to the June issue of Consumer Reports, Facebook has about 7.5 million users below the required minimum age of 13. And 5 million of those users are ten or younger.
  • While teens and pre-teens may love Facebook, they're less than enthralled with Foursquare and other location-based check-ins. That's the findings of a recent survey by Dubit, a youth communications agency, reports Business Insider. According to the survey, 48% of teens have not heard of Foursquare, Facebook Places, or other location services, and 67% of teens who have heard of the services don't use any of them.
  • Google has announced the semi-finalists for the Google Science Fair. Voting on these entries runs through May 20.
  • Inside Higher Ed reports on a new survey by Student Monitor that finds that print textbooks are popular on campuses -- far more popular than e-books -- due in part to a thriving textbook rental business. 24% of students say they've rented at least one textbook this year, up from 12% this time last year. Only 5% say they've purchased a digital textbook.
  • Disney subsidiary Playdom, an online gaming company that makes a number of popular children's games, has agreed to pay the FTC $3 million over charges that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by illegally collecting and then exposing children's personal data without receiving consent from parents.
  • At its annual developer conference this week, Google announced a "new kind of computer" -- a cloud-based netbook-like laptop based on its new operating system Chrome OS. These Chromebooks will be offered to schools via a $20 per month per student rental program. MindShift raises questions that schools should consider before signing the 3-year contract.