National / International News

Confusion over computers in the classroom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:08

The educational technologies sector has become a $13 billion industry, with a growing list of start-ups and big companies vying for school district funds. At the same time, a lot of school districts are having trouble keeping up with fast-moving changes.

This trend may have something to do with news that the Los Angeles Unified School District wants some of its money back, after halting a plan estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars to buy iPads loaded with educational software from Pearson. The LAUSD complains that the combo of Pearson's software and Apple's iPad has simply not delivered on its promise.

While there is a lot of money and growth in the educational technology sector, LAUSD's travails are signs of what education consultant Allison Bailey of Boston Consulting Group calls the "pitfalls" of fast change. Bailey says part of the problem is that while school districts have been spending money on new technologies, many haven't planned for additional resources needed to train teachers and implement technologies in the classroom. 

A lot of teachers are tech-savvy, Bailey says, just like many students, but "in order for things to be rolled out and fully implemented, we need all teachers to feel comfortable and to understand practically how to get ... best use out of technology."

There are other hurdles for districts, too. New technologies are often unproven by their very nature, so it also makes it hard for districts to figure out what will be useful for them and how to evaluate a product before purchase, Bailey says. 

"Because of the flood of offerings that are emerging in the market," she says, "It's a lot for school districts to actually think through and manage on their own." She says the kind of data that districts will need to make informed decisions will come in the years ahead, as technologies are used and assessed. 

Michael Moe, CEO of GSV Capital, says of the $400 million he manages, he's invested about 30 percent into educational technology firms. He describes the current trend as less of a flood, and more of an "explosion."

"Today, increasingly every teacher has a smartphone," he says, "mainly every school in America is connected."

That has created the right conditions for a lot of start-ups to want to enter into the educational technology arena, Moe says. Venture capital firms have been pouring a lot of money into education technology. Moe's firm runs a summit for ed-tech start-ups, which included about 30 firms five years ago. In the latest summit, says Moe, there were nearly 300 companies.

Big firms are also in the game. Google, Microsoft and Apple are all trying to grab a share of the ed-tech market, as are big educational publishers, such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson. Stephen Baker of NDP Group, a market research firm, says two-thirds of Google's 2014 sales of Chromebook notebooks went to organizations, "and the market assumes that almost all of that has been into education."

Baker also uses the "explosion" word to describe the accelerating ed-tech trend. "What we've definitely seen in certainly the last two to three years is a real explosion of personal devices available ... for students in big educational institutions." 

Smile! We're analyzing how you're feeling using videos

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:05

The advertising world spends a lot of money trying to make you feel something. They want to make you laugh, cry, feel hungry even...anything to sell their products and build brand loyalty. However, tracking whether or not their commercials are working is hard to do. A company called Affectiva says it can help by using video footage to collect emotional data.

Co-founder and Chief Science Officer Rana El Kaliouby says, “Emotions influence every aspect of our life; from how we connect and communicate with each other and also how we make decisions. We feel that our emotions are missing from the digital world and our digital experiences.” Affectiva is trying to change that.

Their flagship program, Affdex, asks viewers to consent to be monitored, and then users’ facial expressions are captured while they watch advertisements. Affectiva has collected 2.7 million videos in 75 different countries. That data is aggregated to analyze how emotionally engaged users are with a service or ad. The program is able to detect smiles, confusion, brow furrow, even how wrinkles may move around an eye. Affdex is now able to understand smiles better than most people can.  

The program is being used primarily for advertising companies, but they are also working on real time video communication with multiple people in a conversation. It may be used to track engagement in online courses, webinars, business meetings, even job interview videos.

Kaliouby recognizes that there are some applications that blur the line, but Affectiva has stayed away from anything without a clear opt in. “We’re more focused on the ones where we feel we can bridge a communication gap,” says Kaliouby. 

Kaliouby’s background is in computer science. She says, “I spent many many hours with my computer and it really bugged me that it was very oblivious to my emotional state and that kind of inspired and motivated me to build an emotionally intelligent computer.”

Watch Kai test out Affdex below:

Wikileaks publishes Sony documents

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:03
Wikileaks has published hundreds of thousands of emails and documents from a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment last year.

Dreaming of Uighuristan

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:02
Why China's separatists are now unwelcome in Central Asia

Debate - The Ed v Nicola Show

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:01
This was a debate unlike any we've ever seen. I can't believe there will ever be another like it.

Etsy's CEO wore all Etsy for the first day of trading

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:00

File this story under "practicing what you preach."

Etsy — the crafty-sales-retail-homemade items site — started trading this morning, and did really well. Shares popped 88 percent, $30 apiece at the close.

More to the point, though: Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson told Business Insider that everything he was wearing to celebrate the IPO — all the way down to his socks — was bought on the site.

When we had Dickerson on the show about a year ago, he told us his favorite thing he bought on the site: a computer bag made from a French army tent, a leather bomber jacket and a Navy kit bag.

Etsy CEO: Leading a country of commerce

 

Etsy's CEO wore all Etsy for the first day of trading

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:00

File this story under "practicing what you preach."

Etsy — the crafty-sales-retail-homemade items site — started trading this morning, and did really well. Shares popped 88 percent, $30 apiece at the close.

More to the point though: Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson told Business Insider that everything he was wearing to celebrate the IPO — all the way down to his socks — was bought on the site.

When we had Dickerson on the show about a year ago, he told us his favorite thing he bought on the site: a computer bag made from a French army tent, a leather bomber jacket and a Navy kit bag.

Etsy CEO: Leading a country of commerce

 

Bankruptcy shields GM from some liability cases

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:00

A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled that General Motors is shielded from potential liability related to defective ignition switches that occurred before the company's 2009 bankruptcy.

The ruling, from Judge Robert Gerber, is a huge victory for GM as it walks a fine line between accepting responsibility for a safety crisis that has been linked to the deaths of 84 people, and trying to position the post-bankruptcy organization for success going forward.

John Pottow is a law professor at the University of Michigan. He says the ruling is great for GM.

“It’s a big deal because what they were trying to do is bulletproof their bankruptcy reorganization plan,” Pottow says.

The ruling establishes a clear legal separation between the “Old GM”, and the new post-bankruptcy GM. 

Still, the legal cases in this matter are far from resolved. Pottow said the fact that the “New GM” knew about the defective switches, but did not bring up the issue during bankruptcy, could end up helping the plaintiffs.

"The law takes notice incredibly seriously and if someone figures out they did something wrong they have to send out notice right away, particularly if they've discharged something in bankruptcy,” Pottow said.

“So, that could be another hook they're trying to grab on to, to say we still have a second bite at the apple."

Steve Berman, a partner with Seattle-based Hagens-Berman, is co-counsel in the suit against General Motors.  He said they will appeal Judge Gerber’s ruling.

Even factoring out the cars that are shielded from liability, GM could still be on the hook for economic losses for people who bought cars after the bankruptcy.

“Let’s just say conservatively there's still 10 million cars left and the average value of diminution was $700—that's $7 Billion,” Berman said.

In addition to ongoing lawsuits for economic loses, the company also faces legal action from people who were insured in crashes.

In a statement, GM praised the decision and stated that any future claims not barred by the ruling must still be proven in court.

VIDEO: Debate 'shouting match' over NHS

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:57
As the issue of the NHS comes up during an election debate, party leaders clash amid accusations, resorting to shouting over each other.

VIDEO: Miliband v Sturgeon: Debate clash

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:50
Ed Miliband seeks to distance himself from the SNP during a heated exchange at the BBC's election debate.

O'Connor seals Worlds qualification

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:46
Siobhan-Marie O'Connor wins her second title of the British Championships with victory in the 200m individual medley.

L.A. Schools To Apple: You Owe Us

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:37

The Los Angeles Unified School District wants Apple to pay up for poorly performing software on its iPads.

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VIDEO: Bennett: 'Homes not financial assets'

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:24
Leader of the Greens Natalie Bennett says houses should be treated as "homes, rather than financial assets".

They Speak Hebrew And Keep Kosher: The Left-Behind Ethiopian Jews

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:17

Two years ago, Israel ended with great fanfare a program that brought tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. But many are in limbo, separated from family, the result of stricter religious law.

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Man 'planned to kill US soldiers'

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:17
An Ohio man who travelled to Syria to fight with al Nusrah Front has been charged over alleged plans to carry out a terror attack in the US.

New Asian Development Bank Seen As Sign Of China's Growing Influence

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:17

China says 57 countries have signed on as members of the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but the U.S. is not among them. Some analysts say the bank is a sign of diminished U.S. power.

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Full-back Tomkins rejoining Wigan

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:12
England full-back Sam Tomkins will be back at Wigan for the 2016 season after agreeing to leave New Zealand Warriors.

VIDEO: Farage turns on debate audience

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 12:02
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has accused those attending the BBC's election debate of being a "left-wing audience" before suggesting "the real audience are sitting at home".

In Or Out In Congress? Gyrocopters, Tweets To Iran, Downton Abbey

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 11:55

In Congress, just like at any storied American institution — McDonald's, New York Fashion Week, the Bush and Clinton families — trends come and go.

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VIDEO: Wood: Deficit not cut 'at any cost'

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 11:50
Plaid Cymru will tackle the deficit but "not at any cost", the party's leader Leanne Wood says.

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