Weekly News Roundup

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Paul Wood
  • U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held his first Twitter Town Hall on Wednesday. People were asked to use the #askarne hashtag in order to direct questions to Duncan, which were asked in turn by journalist John Merrow. The Department of Education has posted a selection of the Q&A on its website, but the Twitter stream on Wednesday made it apparent that many felt disappointed that the Secretary of Education did not address their questions.
  • The ACLU filed a lawsuit in Newark on Tuesday as the city has refused to release records relating to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to the city schools.
  • One year after its launch, e-textbook app maker Inkling updated its iPad app to Version 2.0, adding a number of new features. Inkling's textbooks now include an interesting social feature -- a study group of sorts -- whereby anyone reading a particular textbook can access the best notes and commentary of others also working through the material.
  • Another e-textbook app maker Kno also released a number of new features for its iPad app this week. It added 3D modeling for certain diagrams. The company added what it's calling a "Smart Links" feature that links to applicable Khan Academy content.The Beloit College has released its annual welcome to its incoming class. This year's freshmen -- the class of 2015 -- have a certain mindset, the college contends, listing the cultural milestones of these students' lives. This is an important class, as most of them were born in 1993, the same year that Mozaic introduced its Web browser. This is the beginning of the Internet generation.
  • Google is conducting a survey about the accessibility of Google products. Earlier this year the National Federation of the Blind filed a complaint with the Justice Department claiming that Google Apps for Education had accessibility problems.
  • According to survey data released this week by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, seven out of 10 college students have decided against buying a college textbook because of its price.
  • The New York Times and WNYC announced this week the launch of SchoolBook, a site for news, data, and dialogue about the New York City Schools. The site, which will launch September 7, will feature content from The New York Times and WYNC education reports, as well as stories from GothamSchools and Inside Schools. Nieman Journalism Lab reports that stories that are accessed won't count against readers' monthly allotment of paywall-free NYT stories. Furthermore the partnership will produce “customized pages for each of the 1,700 pubic schools and 800 private schools in the city," and will encourage community contributions.
  • GOOD's Liz Dwyer reports that The New York Times is also getting into the teacher training business. Its Knowledge Network is partnering with Arizona's Rio Salado College to offer an online teaching certification program for elementary, high school, and special education teachers.
  • The social learning network ePals has acquired Newstogram and Daily.me. These two sites offer news personalization services, and according to the press release the acquisition will help ePals offer more personalized learning content.
  • The Atlantic released a depressing chart that shows student loan debt has grown 511% since 1999.