Weekly News Roundup

| August 5, 2011 | 1 Comment
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  • The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report this week on women in STEM (PDF). A number of its findings: although women hold about half the jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. But the gender wage gap between women and man is much smaller in STEM jobs, and women in those jobs earn 33% more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. Women earn a lower proportion of STEM undergraduate degrees, and when they do, they’re more likely than their male counterparts to work in education and in healthcare.
  • Sign up now for Stanford University’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” class this fall — to be held online for free. Take the class, complete the work alongside Stanford students, and get a certificate of completion.
  • Anna Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education has released her latest book, The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential.” It’s available to download for free, thanks to underwriting from the Gates Foundation.
  • Skillshare is an online marketplace for offline classes — “learn anything from anyone.” A New York City-based startup, Skillhare is expanding to San Francisco and soon to Philadelphia, reports Betabeat’s Adrianne Jeffries.
  • Apollo Group, owners of the University of Phoenix, announced this week that it will acquire Carnegie Learning, an adaptive learning math curriculum. The price tag: $75 million, as well as an additional $21.5 million for “related technology” (that’s code for “patents) to Carnegie Mellon University.
  • According to AdAge, 25% of toddlers have used a smartphone. The data from the survey also highlighted that Gen Y and Gen X moms were quick to put technology into the hands of their kids. 30% of Gen Y moms, for example, said that by age 2, their child had used a digital camera.
  • Speaking of technology in the hands of tots, the Vinci tablet, a 7″ tablet aimed at toddlers, went on sale this week. Notably the tablet is surrounded with a sturdy rod framework, purportedly making it easier for it to be held and lugged around by small children. The cost ranges between $389 and $479.
  • According to an SRI International study, students at Rocketship Education, a network of K-5 hybrid charter schools, with greater access to online learning opportunities — particularly via the Dreambox Learning program — scored higher on math assessment tests than students who had no additional math instruction. “For the average student,” the study says, “these gains would be equivalent to progressing 5.5 points in percentile ranking (e.g. from 50 percent to 55.5 percent) in just 16 weeks.” You can read more of Mindshift’s coverage of Rocketship Education here.
  • SiliconFilter’s Frederic Lardinois points to remarks from Wikipedia‘s Jimmy Wales at a recent conference where the online encyclopedia’s founder said that the site was losing contributors. The organization is ”scrambling to simplify what he called ‘convoluted’ editing templates that may be discouraging people from writing and editing Wikipedia’s entries.” Lardinois points to a number of other reasons why participation on Wikipedia may be down, including the fact that many entries may just be complete. But it’s worth pointing out that the Wikimedia Foundation has made a lot of efforts lately to do outreach to the academic community. There’s still a lot of research and knowledge that can be shared on the site (by “experts,” by students).
  • Facebook-based study tool Hoot.ma announced this week that it was launching private study sessions. Hoot.me offers an app that lets students work together via video conferencing, screen-sharing, and chat — all within Facebook. The new feature unveiled this week will allow participants to bar their study sessions from showing up in public feeds. It will also allow people to utilize Hoot.me together without actually being Facebook friends (in other words, you can share a link to request someone join a study session rather contact directly them within Facebook).
  • A big week for funding of online textbook companies: CampusBookRentals.com, which offers textbook rentals to over 5 thousand college campuses, announced that it had raised $20 million in growth financing. And digital publisher Inking announced that it had raised $17 million. Inkling re-engineers textbooks for the iPad, and via its app, students can purchase digital textbooks in their entirety or by chapter.
  • The educational game-maker Airy Labs announced this week that it has raised $1.5 million. As AllThingD’s Kara Swisher points out, the startup’s founder Andrew Hsu is one of the recipients of Peter Thiel’s “20 under 20″ grant program, in which the PayPal co-founder paid young entrepreneurs $100,000 to skip or drop out of college.
  • ‘Tis the season for back-to-school notices about school-wide adoption of [fill in the blank technology]. This week’s announcement: the University of Southern Mississippi is giving Samsung Galaxy Android tablets to honors students.
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  • CollegeBookRenter

    Should check out http://www.collegebookrenter.com. They are another company that rents textbooks too and may very well save you more money than Campus.