Teens’ social media use on the rise, but fewer are blogging

The use of mobile devices has led to shorter forms of communication among youth.

The use of mobile devices has led to shorter forms of communication among youth.

The use of social-networking web sites among young Americans continues to climb, with nearly three-fourths of American teens now using these sites. But fewer teens and young adults are blogging now than four years ago, and the number of those who use Twitter is still very low.

These are among the findings of a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, called “Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults.” Released Feb. 3, the study reveals new trends with implications for schools.

The study found that young people are losing interest in long-form blogging, as their communication habits have become increasingly brief and mobile. Technology experts say it doesn’t mean blogging is going away. Instead, they say, it has gone the way of the telephone and eMail—still useful, just not trendy.

“Remember when ‘You’ve got mail!’ used to produce a moment of enthusiasm and not dread?” asks Danah Boyd, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Now, when it comes to blogs, she says, “people focus on using them for what they’re good for and turning to other channels for more exciting things.”

Those channels might include anything from social-networking sites to others that feature games or video.

The Pew study found that 14 percent of internet youths, ages 12 to 17, now say they blog, compared with 28 percent who did so in 2006. And only about half in that age group say they comment on friends’ blogs, down from three-quarters who did so four years ago.

Pew found a similar drop in blogging among 18- to 29-year-olds.

Overall, Pew estimates that roughly one in 10 online adults maintain a blog—a number that has remained consistent since 2005, when blogs became a more mainstream activity. In the U.S., that would mean there are more than 30 million adults who blog.

“That’s a pretty remarkable thing to have gone from zero to 30 million in the last 10 years,” says David Sifry, founder of blog search site Technorati.

But according to the data, that population is aging.

The Pew study found, for instance, that the percentage of internet users age 30 and older who maintain a blog increased from 7 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2009.

Pew’s over-18 data, collected in the last half of last year, were based on interviews with 2,253 adults and have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The under-18 data came from phone interviews with 800 12- to 17-year-olds and their parents. The margin of error for those data was plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.


How school leaders can keep education in the news

School leaders who invest more in communication to see increased media coverage on education.

School leaders who invest more in communication often see increased media coverage.

A recent study from the Brookings Institution says education isn’t getting its fair share of national news coverage–and isn’t getting the right stories reported when it does.

In 2009, only 1.4 percent of all national news consisted of education-related stories, up slightly from 2008’s paltry 0.7 percent, according to the study.

Education stories that did get reported tended to focus on episodic events, such as last spring’s budget crisis or last fall’s H1N1 outbreak. “Periodic crime sprees” also topped national news reports.

In comparison, other public policy issues such as foreign affairs, economics, health care, business, and crime get more—and better—coverage.

Released in December, the study reviewed 551 news stories from national television, cable, radio, print, and online sources, along with 691 wire stories from the Associated Press (AP).

Local news fared better in the report and was seen as less reactive. However, the lack of coverage about the actual work of schools remains a problem, even on the local level.

Substantive issues such as teacher quality, the impact of poverty, or compensation reform often get short shrift in lieu of stories about school board politics or athletics, says the report, called “Invisible: 1.4 Percent Coverage for Education is Not Enough.”

Reporters also miss important opportunities to discuss the latest research or show how educators are using new teaching methods to get better results with students.

The lack of news coverage on education-related issues matters more than ever, because only one-third of American adults have school-aged children.

To help bridge the information gap created by scant news coverage, school leaders should invest more in communication, according to the study’s authors, Darrell M. West, Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, and E.J. Dionne, Jr.

“Schools need to understand that communications is important to their education mission,” the authors write in the study’s executive summary. “Time spent to inform reporters, parents, and the community about what is happening inside schools is a good investment in public understanding.”

School public relations experts agree. “It all comes down to relationships,” says Mary Louise Bewley, who directs school and community relations for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). “We’re extremely accessible and open.”


Students use iPods, iPhones to grade Obama’s address

Abilene Christian students answered 50 questions on their iPhones and iPods during Obama's address.

Abilene Christian students answered 50 questions on their iPhones and iPods during Obama's address.

It’s the stuff that makes political pollsters salivate: 30 Abilene Christian University students used iPhones and iPod Touches to respond to President Obama’s Jan. 27 State of the Union address in real time, and a campus technology official said the exercise offered insight into boosting student participation.

Abilene Christian was among the country’s first campuses to bring iPhones to students when the school gave the devices to incoming freshmen last school year. Freshmen and sophomores now have university-issued iPhones and iPod Touches, and professors from the political science and journalism programs assembled 30 students to gauge their reaction during Obama’s first State of the Union speech.

“It was a helpful exercise because … we were able to see if an interactive environment helped students engage in politics differently,” said Dennis Marquardt, Abilene Christian’s educational technology manager, who helped oversee the project.

Read the full story on eCampus News


Textbook firms ink e-deals for iPad

Major textbook publishers have struck deals with software company ScrollMotion Inc. to adapt their textbooks for the electronic page, as the industry embraces a hope that digital devices such as Apple‘s iPad will transform the classroom, reports the Wall Street Journal. The publishers are tapping the know-how of ScrollMotion to develop textbook applications and test-prep and study guides for the iPad. “People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010,” said Rik Kranenburg, group president of higher education for the education unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. and one of the publishers involved in the project. Other publishers include Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, Pearson PLC’s Pearson Education, and Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan Inc., known for its test-prep and study guides. Many developers and publishers are working on applications that will work on the iPad and other digital devices. Maureen McMahon, president of Kaplan Publishing, said a recent Kaplan study showed that students remain big fans of printed books but that they would be more receptive to e-textbooks on portable digital devices. Whether the iPad will be the digital device to transform the classroom remains to be seen. “Nobody knows what device will take off, or which ‘killer app’ will drive student adaptations. Today they aren’t reading e-textbooks on their laptops. But ahead we see all kinds of new instruction materials,” said Kranenburg…

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UCLA partners with Clicker to fight campus file sharing

Students at UCLA don’t have to rely on illegal file-sharing sites to get their fix of online TV anymore, reports the New York Times, thanks to a new partnership with Clicker, a programming guide for online TV content that launched in November. Through this partnership, UCLA students soon will be able to use a co-branded version of Clicker that will give them convenient access to student-generated content, university-generated content, and regular online TV content and music videos from services such as Hulu. The service indexes TV shows from most American broadcast and cable networks, as well as web originals. UCLA students also will be able to access proprietary UCLA content, including videos of lectures and university events. Clicker currently indexes more than 400,000 episodes from more than 7,000 different TV shows. One organization that’s happy about this new collaboration is the Motion Picture Association of America. The organization said it applauds Clicker and UCLA “for fostering a campus culture that respects creativity and supports the livelihoods of the millions of people across the United States and around the world who create the movies and TV shows that we love, and for helping to ensure that these great jobs will be there for future college graduates.”

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Kindles, iPads could be textbooks in new Georgia state bill

Could Kindles, iPads, and other reading devices soon be as common in Georgia schools as textbooks? Maybe, if a bill passed by the state Senate is approved in the House, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. On Feb. 2, the Georgia Senate voted 45-5 to expand the definition of “textbook” to include computer hardware and technical equipment to support the use of digital content. Sponsored by Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, the bill would give local school districts the flexibility to expand their spending options and seek modern, alternative methods of receiving information. Reading devices, where textbooks could be downloaded into the unit, are one option, he said. Staton said he met with several local education officials who urged him to look at ways that could give them more flexibility in how they spend their already tight dollars. “They said spending is being cut, so give us more flexibility. So this is removing certain state regulations,” said Staton, who chairs the state Senate’s Science and Technology Committee. “And technology is advancing rapidly. The definition of a textbook that is traditional is not going to cut it. My 14-year-old will learn better and faster if information is delivered by electronic means, other than ‘go read this.’”

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University of Kentucky launches instructional innovation lab

The University of Kentucky is launching a new laboratory to develop innovative ways to educate students from preschool through graduate programs, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. UK will invest $1.5 million over three years on the P20 Innovation Lab, which will serve as a melting pot in which school leaders, teachers, and students from all levels across Kentucky can mix with professors in all of UK’s 17 colleges. The lofty goals: figure out ways to incorporate new technology into teaching; help bridge gaps between what students know when they graduate from high school and what universities and employers expect them to know; and shake up conventional teaching and classroom formats. “It’s really going to give us the capacity to customize teaching to individual students and their needs,” said Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. UK’s dean of the College of Education, Mary John O’Hair, brought the concept with her when she was hired last year from the University of Oklahoma, which created a similar center in 1995. Professors and teachers can act like scientists by researching and testing different styles, approaches, and the use of web sites, computers, and even video games to help them in the classroom, she said…

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University fundraising falls 12 percent in 2009

Charitable contributions to colleges and universities plummeted an average 11.9 percent nationwide in 2009, the steepest drop in at least three decades, reports the Associated Press. Individual giving dropped in both dollars and participation numbers, and gifts for endowments and new buildings saw the biggest decreases, according to the Council for Aid to Education, which released its 2009 fiscal report on Feb. 3. Donation declines piled on top of endowment drops averaging 22 percent, plus state budget cuts for public colleges. “We knew that this was going to be a bad year,” said Ann E. Kaplan, director of the survey. One area of giving that did not decline as much was gifts from organizations, including corporations, foundations, religious organizations, and other nonprofits. Stanford University took in $640.1 million and was at the top of the fiscal 2009 fundraising list, followed by Harvard, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. Stanford held onto its top spot, despite a drop in fundraising income of $175 million, because most of the other universities on the Top 20 list also saw dramatic decreases. A few saw changes in the opposite direction, including Cornell University, with a fundraising increase of $38 million, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an increase of about $7 million. Kaplan said many universities are expecting 2010 to be a better year for fundraising, because some donors were waiting to see the stock market improve before making some planned gifts. But she did not expect the improvement to bring donations back up to 2008 levels…

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Report reveals spike in online course enrollment

Three-fourths of public colleges believe online courses are "critical" for long-term success.

The 2009 Sloan-C report on online education confirmed what campus officials have seen during the country’s economic downturn: Americans are flocking to web-based college classes.

The seventh annual study, based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, reported a 17-percent increase in online course enrollment, with more than one-fourth of U.S. college students taking at least one web-based class during the fall 2008 semester.

Three-fourths of campuses with online programs said demand has increased over the past year, and two-thirds of colleges that don’t offer web courses said students had requested online learning.

Last year’s 17-percent jump trumped 2008’s 12-percent increase in online class enrollment. Overall, higher education enrollment increased by 1.2 percent last year, according to the report.

Online course enrollment “really is what’s driving the growth of higher education in the U.S.,” said Elaine Allen, research director at Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. Allen helped compile the Sloan-C report.

Still, despite the massive gains in online enrollment in recent years, many college faculty members remain skeptical of online education, according to the Sloan-C report. Only a third of chief academic officers surveyed in the report said their faculty “accept the value and legitimacy” of online learning, a number that has remained steady since 2002.

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New ed-tech tools and techniques mark FETC 2010

Actor and activist Ed Begley Jr. opened the 30th annual Florida Education technology Conference Jan. 13.

Actor and activist Ed Begley Jr. opened the 30th annual Florida Education Technology Conference Jan. 13.

Free online tools that can save teachers time, new innovations that could make online learning more accessible, and keen insight into how educators can let students take responsibility for their own learning safely were among the highlights at the 2010 Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando last month.

More than 7,000 educators and administrators gathered in Orlando Jan. 13-15 for the 30th annual FETC, one of the largest state ed-tech conferences in the nation. The conference also featured an exhibit hall with more than 400 ed-tech vendors.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s show. (To read about each topic, click on the headline.)

Free web tools can save time and effort for teachers

While technology can be a powerful educational tool, many teachers still worry that it’s just not worth the effort. But thanks to keynote speaker Tammy Worcester, technology just got an “easy” button.

What every 21st-century educator should know

Keynote speaker Cheryl Lemke discussed what it takes to be a 21st-century education leader.

novemberNovember to educators: Let students use online social tools

The most important change technology brings to education is that it enables students to take charge of their own learning, said education technology consultant Alan November. Yet, this is happening in too few classrooms, he said—and one reason is that schools are blocking access to the very tools that allow such activity.

Visual learning a key strategy for helping students succeed

Software that takes a visual approach to teaching math has led to double-digit gains in the test scores of Orange County, Calif., students—and the software’s maker was one of several ed-tech companies demonstrating new visual learning products at FETC.

pearsoninformSoftware shows students’ full test history

School data systems are getting more sophisticated, a perusal of FETC exhibitors suggested—and at least two companies now offer systems that show teachers the entire history of their students’ test results, including the results from prior school years.

New tools will make online courses more accessible

Florida Virtual School, a pioneer in K-12 online learning, is adding to its reputation as a national innovator with the introduction of read-aloud functionality and other accessibility tools in its online courses.

HP-MiniFETC 2010: Hardware

A multi-touch netbook, an entry-level workstation that is priced like a desktop, and a USB-based virtual computing appliance were among the new hardware innovations launched in Orlando.

FETC 2010: Instruction & Assessment

Software that facilitates peer reviewing of student papers, a scaled-down (and less expensive) version of a popular data logger for science classes, and a media player for accessing more than 10,000 digital resources from the NBC News archives were among the new instructional technologies unveiled at FETC.

3dprojectorresizedFETC 2010: Audio-Visual Systems

Three-dimensional projectors, control systems that tie together multiple devices from a single source, and a digital “TV-station-in-a-box” were among the AV highlights.

FETC 2010: Online Learning Communities

Software platforms for delivering personalized instruction, teaching with laptops, and communicating with stakeholders were showcased.

fujitsFETC 2010: Security

Read about a new anti-theft computer system, network safety technologies, and a biometric security system that reported is 100 times more accurate than fingerprint technology.

FETC 2010: Training & Consulting

A new tool that gives school district employees an anonymous way to report fraud, an online training course for using SMART Board interactive whiteboards, a support system for meeting the needs of students with autism, and more.

FETC 2010: Exhibitor Index

Looking for coverage of a specific company from FETC 2010? Use this handy index to find the information you need. Clicking on each link will take you to the story where that company is featured.