Nooks Will Be Available at Barnes & Noble Stores Beginning Wednesday

Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest book-selling chain, said that its Nook electronic reading device would be available for purchase in its stores starting Wednesday, reports The New York Times.

The Nook, which has been selling through Barnes & Noble’s Web site since late November, has only been seen in demonstration form in bookstores. Analysts had originally said that one of Barnes & Noble’s competitive advantages against’s Kindle device was that the bookstore had physical outlets through which it could sell the Nook.

Barnes & Noble sold out of its initial supply of Nooks before the holiday season, citing higher than expected demand.

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Security chip that does encryption in PCs hacked

Deep inside millions of computers is a digital Fort Knox, a special chip with the locks to highly guarded secrets, including classified government reports and confidential business plans. Now a former U.S. Army computer-security specialist has devised a way to break those locks, the Associated Press reports.

The attack can force heavily secured computers to spill documents that likely were presumed to be safe. This discovery shows one way that spies and other richly financed attackers can acquire military and trade secrets, and comes as worries about state-sponsored computer espionage intensify, underscored by recent hacking attacks on Google Inc.

The new attack discovered by Christopher Tarnovsky is difficult to pull off, partly because it requires physical access to a computer. But laptops and smart phones get lost and stolen all the time. And the data that the most dangerous computer criminals would seek likely would be worth the expense of an elaborate espionage operation.

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Apple iPad Price Cut: Blunder or Brilliance?

If Apple is really considering price cuts on its just-introduced iPad, the best advice is to make them before launch, not after, according to PC World.

Not today, or tomorrow, but a price drop a week–or even a day–before it goes on sale might give the iPad an incredible boost. I will also describe what other businesses can learn from Apple’s troubles.

The iPad has been gradually settling back to early after a less than stellar Steve Jobs introduction on Jan. 27. The truth is that, for many, a supersized iPod touch just isn’t too terribly interesting.

A well-timed price cut could light a fire under iPad sales. That such a cut would be a bit of a black eye for Apple would be noticed by only a few.

Just the fact that Apple appears to already be talking to analysts about “nimble” pricing suggests consumer interest in the iPad is less than the company hoped. A post-introduction survey actually found that the more consumers knew about the iPad, the less they wanted one.

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Education chief: Don’t teach to test

Public schools in the United States need to try to spark creative thinking in children and move away from curriculums that just teach to standardized tests, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told nearly 200 people gathered Monday at the Emerging Issues Forum at the Raleigh Convention Center, The News Observer reports.

“We want to give every child a chance to discover their genius, what they’re best at,” Duncan said.

Otherwise, Duncan said, the nation won’t be able to keep up with technology advances being made in other countries. He also took aim at the emphasis on standardized testing as part of President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program. Duncan, who ran Chicago’s public school system until President Barack Obama selected him for the Cabinet seat, gave the keynote address by a video hookup Monday for the two-day forum in Raleigh. Duncan said he wants to see schools go beyond the reading and math taught in traditional curriculums and incorporate more technology, arts, sciences and humanities.

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Flagship school derides education IT

The head of a school designed to lead the way in technology use has criticised IT spending and admitted to suffering lots of problems with its networks, Times Online has reported. Bristol Brunel Academy – a flagship school for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme – has a wireless system that is yet to work properly, teachers still taking registers on paper because of problems with swipe cards and unreliable fingerprint recognition systems. Armando Di-Finzio, the school’s headteacher, said millions were being wasted on technology in schools, with his school suffering continuing technical difficulties. “The school was designed to be completely wireless but I have yet to see a school where wireless works well,” he said at the Westminster Education Forum. “We have been told that we have one of the most powerful systems in the country, but it is still not enough. We keep being told that lots of lessons have been learnt. We have had to beef it up out of our own budget.”

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Six principles for making student success the only option

Alan Blankstein’s Failure Is Not an Option outlines six focus areas that, when fulfilled, can result in student success and teacher enthusiasm:

1. Common mission, vision, values, and goals

2. Ensuring achievement for all students: systems for prevention and intervention

3. Collaborative teaming focused on teaching for learning

4. Data-based decision making for continuous improvement

5. Gaining active engagement from family and community

6. Building sustainable leadership capacity


Viewpoint: Failure is not an option in our schools

Six principles are key to student success.

Author Alan M. Blankstein offers six principles that are key to student success.

On Jan. 28, a group of inspiring educators from four diverse school districts across the country came together to take part in a live webcast panel discussion—the first in a 12-part series—to share their views and experiences on how they have turned their underperforming schools around, and the tools they used to succeed.

It’s what I’ve coined as “Failure Is Not an Option,” and for the past several years I’ve been working with these schools and others like them from coast to coast to focus on student success at every level. The program outlines six principles to guide student achievement. (Click here for more about those six principles.)

The webcast connected leaders, practitioners, and innovators within the education community not only here in the U.S., but from around the world to showcase real tangible frameworks for student success in our public schools. The panelists openly shared their own school success stories after implementing the “Failure Is Not an Option” program.

In the Pottstown School District of Pennsylvania, all seven schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets in 2009. This is the first time in district history for this achievement, and Reed Lindley, assistant superintendent, attributes it to the change he’s been able to make in school culture.

Because of the changes he’s implemented, and the way his teachers have embraced the program, Pottstown’s Lincoln Elementary saw close to 30 percent improvements in their students’ math and reading skills.

Even more impressive, Pottstown Middle School saw a 78 percent drop in disruptive classroom behavior, measured by the amount of time-outs between 2008 and 2009. And they’re consistently improving the district’s graduation rate. What was 75 percent in 2006 is now up to 84 percent in 2008.

Simply put, Lindley and his team of educators found a way to help their students connect with the subjects at hand, in turn helping them to succeed in the classroom.

In the Wichita Public School System, Lettishia Freund, a teacher at Payne Elementary School, reported that in 2007-08 school year her school was the lowest performing in the district when it came to reading and math.

After implementing the “Failure Is Not an Option” framework, teachers at her school were able to work together to make data-driven decisions in both subjects and collaborate on best practices for real results.

Freund and her colleagues saw a gain of 10.8 points in math and 14.3 in English during the first year. At the end of the second year, data showed an impressive gain of 17.6 points in math. This has not only helped the students’ success rate but has reinforced the teachers’ confidence in their teaching practices.


Teachers get a taste of real-world science—with impressive results

Students of teachers who participate in lab and field research tend to improve achievement in STEM fields.

Students of teachers who participate in lab and field research tend to show better achievement in STEM fields.

Giving teachers hands-on science experience not only helps improve student achievement, but also reduces teacher attrition, according to results from a Columbia University study.

Of the 145 teachers who completed Columbia University’s Summer Research Program (CUSRP) between 1994 and 2005, 32 New York teachers with similar backgrounds participated in a study to determine if taking part in hands-on science research enabled them to better teach their students.

“Teachers who participated in focused, intensive, and hands-on summer research programs produced a 10 percent increase in the pass rate of their students in New York state science Regents,” said Sam C. Silverstein, who founded the CUSRP and published the results of the study in Science magazine last fall.

“We also saw a three- to four-fold increase in retention compared to the national average for experienced teachers,” he said.

Silverstein said the reduced teacher attrition from classroom teaching leads to a school cost savings of $1.14 for every $1 invested in the program.

“If the program were brought to scale, it would be half as expensive and school systems could potentially save twice as much,” he said.

Better test scores among students of CUSRP teachers could be a result of those teachers’ field experiences, or they could mean those teachers are highly motivated, therefore encouraging their students to perform better in their classes, other researchers cautioned.

“It certainly seems reasonable to expect that teachers who have had research experiences are more effective than teachers who have not had such experiences. I am not sure, however, whether the research experiences make the teachers better, or if the more effective teachers are more likely to seek out research experiences in the first place. I expect that it is a little of both,” said David S. Hibbett, professor and interim chair of the biology department at Clark University in Massachusetts.

But Silverstein noted that in the year preceding a teacher’s entry to CUSRP, there were no significant differences in New York’s state science exam performance between participating and non-participating teachers’ students.

“This finding suggests that although teacher motivation probably contributes to their students’ improved achievement, it does not predestine this outcome,” he wrote. “The evidence suggests that the program’s impact on teachers drives the improvements in student science achievement.”

The percentage of their students passing the Regents test in biology, chemistry, and earth science was greater for teachers who took part in CUSRP than it was for teachers who did not participate in the program. The student pass rate for participating teachers also was higher after they experienced the program than it was before they took part.


Carnegie Mellon to offer internet safety resources

Ninety percent of children surveyed said they use some form of online social networking.

Ninety percent of children surveyed said they use some form of online social networking.

Carnegie Mellon University will use a $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to create and distribute internet safety advice to faculty, teachers, and students in K-12 schools and on college campuses.

The university’s internet safety lessons can be found on a new web site from its Information Networking Institute, called MySecureCyberspace, which also includes tools such as an encyclopedia of hundreds of web terms.

The web-based tools will be sampled at St. Bede School in Pennsylvania, the university announced Jan. 25.

Carnegie Mellon technology officials said the Verizon grant would prove valuable in the school’s effort to educate teachers and their students as internet use becomes ubiquitous at every level of education.

“This grant will help both students and parents alike understand the risks associated with online activities, like the viruses spread over instant messaging and the bullying that takes place in unsupervised chat rooms,” said Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the Information Networking Institute and director of education, training, and outreach for Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab, one of the country’s most prominent cyber-security education centers.

More than 50 Carnegie Mellon faculty members and 130 graduate students work at CyLab, which is publicly and privately funded.

Nine out of 10 American children use some form of web-based social networking, and 34 percent of parents are aware of the inherent security risks of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, according to a recent survey released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

A December report published by Pew showed that 4 percent of teenage respondents said they have sent “sexts,” or text messages showing nude or partially nude images. Fifteen percent of teenagers said they have received a sext from someone they know.

“Teens explained to us how sexually suggestive images have become a form of relationship currency,” said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist and author of the report, “Teens and Sexting.” “These images are shared as a part of or instead of sexual activity, or as a way of starting or maintaining a relationship with a significant other. And they are also passed along to friends for their entertainment value, as a joke or for fun.”

Pew researchers interviewed 800 students ages 12 to 18 in three U.S. cities last fall, according to the organization’s web site.

William Carnahan, vice president of external affairs at Verizon Pennsylvania, said the company wanted to contribute to the growing body of research and technological tools used by schools to show students how to protect their personal information online and avoid viruses and malware that could destroy a computer’s hard drive.

“Our children are growing up in a digital world. It is how they communicate, learn, and share ideas,” Carnahan said. “Online technology has had a tremendous impact on our society, and its role will continue to grow with further advances.”


New Jersey businessmen sentenced to jail for e-Rate fraud

The former co-owners of a New Jersey computer services provider each have been sentenced to 27 months in prison on charges of conspiracy to defraud the federal e-Rate program, which helps bring internet access to schools and libraries, PC World reports. Benjamin Rowner and Jay H. Soled, former owners of DeltaNet, also were sentenced to pay $271,716 each in restitution to the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), which administers the e-Rate for the Federal Communications Commission. Rowner and Soled, working with Leonard Douglas LaDuron, conspired to defraud the e-Rate by submitting false and misleading statements and concealing material facts from USAC, the Justice Department said. The conspiracy, which ran from 1999 to 2003, reportedly affected at least 13 schools across the country. LaDuron, former owner of Serious ISP, Myco Technologies, and Elephantine, was sentenced on Dec. 16 to serve 57 months in jail and to pay $238,607 in restitution. LaDuron’s mother, Mary Jo LaDuron, fraudulently represented herself as an independent consultant for school districts and steered e-Rate contracts to companies owned by her son, Rowner, and Soled, the Justice Department alleged. Mary Jo LaDuron plead guilty to making false statements in July…

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