Survey: Children like eBooks, parents not so much

 

A new report reveals that kids might read more if they had access to eReaders.

A new report reveals that kids might read more if they had access to eReaders.

 

Children and teens are ready to try eBooks, with some thinking that a bigger selection of electronic texts would make reading for fun even more fun, according to a new study. But a solid majority of parents aren’t planning to join the digital revolution.

The 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report, released Sept. 29 and commissioned by Scholastic Inc., offers a mixed portrait of eBooks and families. Around six out of 10 of those between ages 9 and 17 say they’re interested in reading on an electronic device such as the Kindle or the iPad. Around one out of three from the same age group say they’d read more “for fun” if more books were available on a digital reader.

Among the books that can’t be downloaded: the “Harry Potter” series, published in the U.S. by Scholastic. J.K. Rowling has said she prefers her work to be read on paper.

The e-market has grown rapidly since 2007 and the launch of Amazon.com’s Kindle device, from less than 1 percent of overall sales to between 5 to 10 percent, publishers say. But the new report is also the latest to show substantial resistance. Just 6 percent of parents surveyed have an electronic reading device, while 76 percent say they have no plans to buy one. Sixteen percent plan to have one within the following year.

In a recent Harris Poll of adults, 80 percent said they were not likely to get an eReader.

“I’m not surprised to know that. I think we’re still at the beginning of e-books,” said Scholastic Book Club president Judy Newman, adding that the expense of digital devices was a likely problem for potential eBook fans.

The 2010 report shows, as other studies have, a decline in reading for fun as children grow older. More than half read for fun between ages 6 and 8, but the percentage drops to around 25 percent by ages 15 through 17 and just 20 percent for boys in that age group. Newman sees technology as both a problem and possible solution.

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Facebook Places: Marketing tool or educational asset?

UK's Facebook Places ad campaign guides students to an educational web site.

UK's Facebook Places ad campaign guides students to an educational web site.

The University of Kentucky, if all goes according to the campus’s marketing plan, could pop up in 1.3 million Facebook news feeds during the fall semester—and students might just learn something about maintaining online privacy in the process.

The Lexington, Ky., university placed six-foot wooden Facebook Places logos in six campus locations with the heaviest foot traffic to encourage students to “check in” using Facebook’s geo-tagging application, which lets users show friends where they are—the campus library, for instance.

Places, which is similar to geo-tagging services Yelp, Gowalla, Booyah, and Foursquare, launched in August and drew skeptical reviews from many in higher education. Facebook users must opt into Places before the application displays the person’s location.

Read the full story on eCampus News

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Feds launch new teacher recruitment web site

SiteofWeek092910Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sept. 27 launched a national teacher recruitment campaign that features a new web site, www.teach.gov, with information for students and prospective teachers—including a new interactive “pathway to teaching” tool designed to help individuals chart their course to becoming a teacher.

“With more than a million teachers expected to retire in the coming years, we have a historic opportunity to transform public education in America by calling on a new generation to join those already in the classroom,” Duncan said. “We are working with the broader education community to strengthen and elevate the entire teaching profession so that every teacher has the support and training they need to succeed.”

The campaign aims to boost the number, quality, and diversity of people seeking to become teachers, particularly in high-need schools and subject areas in greatest demand, such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), English-language learners, and special education. To do this, it will help connect aspiring teachers with information about the pathways to teaching, including preparation, certification, training, and mentoring, and it also will celebrate and honor the teaching profession.

In addition, the Education Department will be working with Facebook to launch an interactive application on the TEACH Facebook page that will connect current teachers with young people. The application is designed to let students engage directly with an experienced teacher and ask questions.

In response to the TEACH campaign, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said: “We welcome the U.S. Department of Education’s campaign to recruit, support, and celebrate teachers. Millions of teachers work hard every day to make a difference in their students’ lives, and each year many thousands more are needed to join this important profession.”

She added: “These new teachers—like all teachers—must be supported. As rewarding as teaching is, it is extremely complex, difficult work. Research shows that students benefit from having teachers with three to five years of experience, but many teachers lack the support to make it to that point. Mentoring, coaching, time to collaborate with colleagues, and feedback on classroom performance all can help new and struggling teachers thrive in their profession.” http://www.teach.gov

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CUNY, IBM to open unique school in New York City

The City University of New York and IBM will open a unique school that merges high school with two years of college, allowing students to earn an associate’s degree, reports the Associated Press. Those students will be “first in line for a job at IBM,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in his Sept. 27 announcement. The mayor also renewed a proposal to do away with automatic teacher tenure and instead ensure it’s linked to classroom performance. And he said the city would work with the state to end “seat time”—requiring students to spend a certain number of hours at their desks learning every subject—and would try to change a state law that requires schools to buy printed textbooks rather than use digital content. “That may be good for the business textbook industry but it’s really a bad deal for our students in this day and age,” Bloomberg said. The mayor also said the city will use a $36 million federal grant to enlist highly skilled teachers to work in low-performing schools and mentor fellow instructors. He said the city wants to use a four-tier rating system to determine whether a teacher gets tenure, and that beginning this year, only teachers rated “effective” or “highly effective” will be awarded lifetime job protection. The partnership with IBM for a high school-college hybrid will build on work the company is already doing in community colleges, said Stan Litow, vice president of corporate affairs for IBM…

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4,100 students prove ‘small is better’ rule wrong

With 4,100 students, Massachusetts’ Brockton High School is an exception to what has become conventional wisdom in many educational circles, reports the New York Times: that small is almost always better. A decade ago, Brockton High was a case study in failure; only a quarter of the students passed statewide exams, and one in three dropped out. Then Susan Szachowicz and a handful of fellow teachers decided to take action. They persuaded administrators to let them organize a schoolwide campaign that integrated reading and writing lessons into every class in all subjects, including gym. Their efforts paid off quickly. In 2001 testing, more students passed the state tests after failing the year before than at any other school in Massachusetts. The gains continued: This year and last, Brockton outperformed 90 percent of Massachusetts high schools. And its turnaround is getting new attention in a report, “How High Schools Become Exemplary,” published last month by Ronald F. Ferguson, an economist at Harvard who researches the minority achievement gap. At education conferences, Szachowicz—who became Brockton’s principal in 2004—still gets approached by small-school advocates who tell her they are skeptical that a 4,100-student school could offer a decent education. “I tell them we’re a big school that works,” she says…

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Kno announces single-screen tablet textbook

Kno has announced that it plans to make a single-screen version of its tablet textbook, ReadWriteWeb reports. The company received a $46 million round of funding in August for its then dual-screen tablet textbook, which came with a strong endorsement from investor Marc Andreessen (creator of the Netscape web browser), who said the device was “the most powerful tablet anyone has ever made.” Kno, short for knowledge, is a touch-screen tablet that focuses on providing digital textbooks, course materials, note taking, web access, and educational applications. The device boasts a stylus so that students can take notes directly onto the screen. Despite the current dominance of the iPad, more companies are poised to enter the tablet market soon. But what differentiates Kno, according to CEO and co-founder Osman Rashid, is that the product is specifically designed for the education market. He contends that the iPad is primarily an entertainment device, whereas Kno will be an “integrated experience for learning.” Students will be able to port their textbooks and course materials to the device and collaborate—share notes, chat via Skype—as they study. It remains to be seen if the Kno will win over the student market; the price for the dual-screen tablet, while not confirmed by the company, is supposed to be just under $1,000. Rashid says the single-screen version will be cheaper and will be competitive with other tablet options. The price of the Kno will be revealed “soon,” he says…

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New internet tools create class collaboration

In Alison Saylor’s technology class, she teaches her students more than just computers: In fact, she says they’re learning things that just might revolutionize the classroom, 9news.com reports. “It’s a fun way to do it, and they really get into it. They’re very engaged,” said Saylor, computer and technology teacher at Everitt Middle School in Wheat Ridge, Colo. Saylor is using Google Apps for Education to create a virtual domain for her students. They can use word processors, spreadsheets, and graphic tools to create projects that are done entirely online. For example, eighth-grader Alex Brown created his own imaginary company. His project included conceptual graphic designs, a business plan, an architectural layout, and a spreadsheet containing a payroll outline for the employees. Google Apps for Education allowed Alex to put this all together in an online portfolio. Saylor says it helps her trick students into learning. Right now, she has students creating their own superheroes. “That’s a writing assignment. But you’d never know it, because we dress it up so much and they get graphic skills, they get outline skills,” she said, noting that when students are doing projects about things they’re passionate about, they are more willing take on math problems or essays. “I see it as expanding the walls of the classroom,” said Dan Brooks, education technology specialist for Jefferson County Schools. “The kids can share with a teacher, the kids can share with another student, or they can share with a small group if they’re working together.” Students and teachers can control access to their projects; Brooks says it’s like having their own personal internet with little to no security concerns. “This kind of system is not something we could create on our own,” he said…

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Rutgers to launch a new program promoting politeness

Inspired in part by the propensity for today’s students to lose themselves in technology or leave nasty anonymous comments on web sites, Rutgers University this week is launching Project Civility, a two-year initiative intended to explore politeness and foster respect among members of the state university’s community, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For me, living together more civilly means living together more peacefully, more kindly, and more justly,” said Kathleen Hull, a Rutgers faculty member, who is helping to coordinate the effort. “This includes good manners, yes, but so much more.” It is a prudent time to consider what is appropriate behavior, and not just at Rutgers, according to Hull, who began her scholarly research of the subject following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “There’s been a polarization of the country and a moving away from the center in politics that has contributed to difficulty in having civil dialog,” said Hull, who teaches a popular course on the topic. In May, during a graduation speech at the University of Michigan, President Obama remarked that one way to keep democracy healthy “is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate.” Pier M. Forni, a Johns Hopkins University professor of Italian literature, will launch Project Civility with a lecture at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Student Center. Forni, who is a civility expert, directs a similar initiative at Johns Hopkins, and his work has helped launch like-minded projects around the country. “Civility, good manners, and politeness are not trivial, because they do the everyday busy work of goodness,” said Forni. “Devices of mass distraction,” as he calls them, are a particular source of disruptive behavior: leaving class to take a cell-phone call, surfing the internet, or watching an online show instead of paying attention to an instructor…

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Buses need security, too

school-bus-topSchool buses are often a likely place for assaults, bullying, and vandalism to occur. In a Chicago suburb, a 3-year-old, hearing-impaired girl was allegedly assaulted on a school bus on her way home…

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