Weekly News Roundup

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  • President Obama will release details on his plans to roll back pieces of No Child Left Behind legislation today. States that want to seek waivers for NCLB will have to demonstrate that they have adopted "college- and career-ready standards" in math and language arts and have established ways for measuring teacher effectiveness.
  • Google launched a new channel on YouTube called YouTube/Teachers. The channel will be a resource for teachers to help use YouTube in the classroom. YouTube.com/Teachers is an addition to YouTube EDU, the higher education-focused channel that showcases video-taped lecture content from universities around the world.
  • Apple donated some 9000 iPads to Teach for America this week. The company has been soliciting people to turn in their old iPads to Apple stores in lieu of selling them. Steve Jobs' wife, Laurene Powell, sits on the board of directors for TFA.
  • Glam Media says that it's buying the social network site Ning. No word on how this will impact those teachers who use the site for free under the special deal Ning struck with Pearson. [UPDATE]: Christina Lee from Ning wrote the following in our comments: "We have no plan to change our service and any participation in Glam Media's ad network would be entirely optional."
  • As the company announced it would do earlier this spring, Amazon announced that some 11,000 public libraries in the company would now be able to loan e-books for Kindles. Amazon is partnering with OverDrive in this effort, a company that already handles the digital distribution of content to many libraries throughout the country.
  • Abilene Christian University reported on its research based on the school's adoption of iPads and iPods. Among its findings, "students who used an iPad to annotate text performed at a rate 25 percent higher on questions regarding transfer of information than their counterparts who used only paper." The university, which provides iPads to incoming freshmen, said that the students who used the devices reported high levels of satisfaction with them, particularly when doing research and collaborating in class.
  • Among the winners of this year's MacArthur fellowships -- the "genius grants" -- is Harvard professor Roland Fryer, whose work addresses issues of race, inequality and educational achievement. You can read more about Fryer in this NPR profile.
  • Google unveiled a number of updates to Google Hangouts, the video conferencing feature of its new social network Google+. These include the ability to broadcast your Hangout over the air so that others can watch online, as well as the ability to share screens and collaborate on Google Docs together while in a Hangout. These all make Hangouts an even better tool for teachers, although unfortunately, Google+ is still not integrated with Google Apps for Education.
  • The Knight Foundation released the results of a national study it conducted on students' understanding of the First Amendment. It found an interesting correlation between high school students' social media usage and their appreciation for free speech. Among the findings, "Fully 91 percent of students who use social networking daily to get news and information agree that 'people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions.' But only 77 percent of those who never use social networks to get news agree that unpopular opinions should be allowed."
  • The Pew Research Center released its latest study on American adults' technology usage (PDF). It found that 31% of those surveyed say they prefer text-messaging to phone calls. And no surprise, young adults remain the most avid texters, sending an average of 109.5 text messages a day.
  • The Internet provider Comcast now offers its Internet Essentials program nationwide. The program offers low-income families in its service territory high speed Internet for $9.99 a month, as well as access to $150 computers. Any child of a family that qualifies for a free or reduced lunch at school qualifies for the Comcast program, which was mandated by the government when it approved its acquisition of NBC.
  • The social learning and test prep company Grockit announced a major shift in its business model this week. In what it's described as Grockit for Good the company will donate a one-year subscription to a student in need for every one premium account it sells. Customers will get to choose a non-profit organization through which the donation will be made.
  • The New York Times held its Schools for Tomorrow conference in New York this week. Speakers included columnist David Brooks and Harvard University president Larry Summers. A video archive of the presentations is available online.
  • A new company called Origo launched this week that plans to build a 3D printer for kids. "Right now, I am just an idea," the blog explains. But "I will be as easy to use as an Xbox or Wii. I’ll be as big as three Xbox 360s and as expensive as three Xbox 360s. I will sit on your desk and quietly build your ideas, drawings and dreams." (I want one!)