Sony unveils tablets to rival the iPad

Sony's S1 and S2 tablets

Sony is planning an Android-based tablet computer with a touch panel similar to Apple’s iPad, scheduled for release later this year, that the Japanese manufacturer promises will make the best of its gadgetry and entertainment strengths.

The product—code-named S1, and shown April 26 in Tokyo—will come with a 9.4-inch display for enjoying online content, such as movies, music, video games, and electronic books, and for online connections, including eMail and social networking. It will be compatible with both 3G and 4G networks.

Sony, which boasts electronics as well as entertainment divisions, also showed the S2, a smaller mobile device with two 5.5-inch displays that can be folded like a book.

The company did not divulge prices. Sony Corp. Senior Vice President Kunimasa Suzuki said the products would go on sale worldwide around September. Both run Google’s Android 3.0 operating system, nicknamed “Honeycomb.”

More news about tablets for education:

iPads take a place next to crayons in kindergarten

Jobs breaks from medical leave to unveil iPad 2

Mobile learning: Not just laptops any more

Kineo: Like an iPad, but made for students

New devices allow for mobile wireless broadband

Electronics show to bring fiercer competition to iPad

The announcement of Sony’s key net-linking offerings comes as it tries to fix the outage of its PlayStation Network, which offers games and music online.

It is unclear when that network will start running again. Sony has blamed the problem on an “external intrusion” and has acknowledged it would have to rebuild its system to add security measures and strengthen its infrastructure.

Suzuki said both of the latest tablets feature Sony’s “saku saku,” or nifty, technology that allows for smooth and quick access to online content and for getting browsers working almost instantly after a touch.


Six steps for a successful online summer school

The right online learning program can help students recover credits and expand learning.

Remediate or retain? Surprisingly, this is still a valid question for some principals and districts, despite the body of research against retention (1) and the fact that Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is used widely to gauge the success of any given district. Studies and opinions aside, for some students, the education process requires more than the allotted time frame of 180 days, or eight and a half months. Educators need other options.

Luckily for learners and learning leaders alike, available options are affordable and flexible enough to enable successful interventions for many kinds of learners and many different learning goals. One such option is online learning.

Online learning is uniquely poised to address a wide array of intervention strategies within the three main areas of focus for intervention programs: diagnostic practices, targeted interventions with adult advocates and academic support, and school-wide interventions that include personalizing the learning environment (2). It can be an effective, affordable means of getting lagging learners back on track with their classmates in the four- to six-week space of a summer program. There are six steps district learning leaders can follow to create a successful summer program using 21st century solutions to meet their challenges.

Setting the stage

Before addressing the six steps to summer school program implementation, a district must secure approval and funding, as well as buy-in from key players.

Securing approval and funding occurs concurrently. Summer program planners must secure state approval, if applicable. They must determine what the process is and what the state requirements are for online programs, ensure the state is willing to use the chosen program materials, and make sure to factor in time for what could be a lengthy process. The district must secure local approval, which often is a simple process that can occur at a board meeting.


3D printers give engineering classes a boost

3D printers help students turn designs such as this one into actual models.

As technology transforms learning in classrooms across the nation, 3D printing, in which three dimensional objects are created through a system that successively layers materials on top one another, is taking hold in classrooms–and is helping to attract more students to technology-rich fields such as engineering.

Modern design uses a technology called CAD, which stands for computer-aided design, to represent 3D objects in a digital file. Today’s CAD software lets users create and draw objects in 3D, and those designs are brought to life via 3D printers.

Companies that manufacture 3D printers for education include Z Corporation, Dimension Printers (a Stratasys brand), and 3D Systems Corp.

A handful of different approaches can create 3D printed objects. One method, developed by 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys, is called fused deposition modeling (FDM). FDM uses a polymer that is heated and deposited by a nozzle, in separate layers, into a pre-made model using an STL file.

Digital light processing (DLP) exposes a liquid polymer to light from a DLP projector, which causes the liquid polymer to harden as a “build plate” shapes the layers. Z Corporation’s ZBuilder Ultra uses this type of system.

Another method uses a printer to spread a thin layer of powder, which is then hardened by a laser to form the bottom layer of the 3D design. Another layer of powder is spread on top of that layer, hardened, and connected to the first layer. This process repeats until the entire model is complete.


District future-proofs for more capacity, safety

The district will no longer need to continue purchasing new servers one-by-one.

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Castro Valley Unified School District’s (CVUSD) new synchronized system allows for a centralized database that is maintained and shared across the district, representing a transition away from ISAM to a client/server model (SQL server) with a variety of front ends.

This requires a robust and high performance infrastructure along with a high speed WAN to be successful.

The district is a 12-school suburban district with two high schools and two middle schools, as well as elementary and special-education campuses. With an eye for incorporating cutting-edge technology into its IT infrastructure, CVUSD was an early adopter of wireless WAN technology, as well as distributed and synchronized student information systems (SIS). Legacy ISAM student information systems involve multiple databases distributed across their districts, with each school maintaining its own data set. Periodically, the data sets would be combined to create a snapshot of the total student population.

Moving forward

Already, CVUSD has centralized most of its critical servers at the district office.

Applications running on the servers include student information systems, state reporting services, library inventory and management, video recording, web servers, content management systems, network monitoring, and eMail and firewall services. Some of these services are virtualized, but the district still relies on several “one-server to one-service” installations.

The district also plans to implement several new technology initiatives, including a food services system and eMail archiving. An important goal in 2010 was to adopt a new student information system based on a SQL server.

A student information system is the life blood of any public school district because it handles all student enrollment and compliance with state regulations. It also maintains accurate average daily attendance figures which are essential for securing state funding for daily operations.

“As we move toward a more centralized system to support our technology initiatives and expand our web site, we have an ever-increasing need for additional capacity,” said Bruce Gidlund, director of technology for CVUSD. “We knew we’d need a solution that would easily facilitate restoration if something went wrong–it had to be bulletproof.”

The solution

Working with Office Information Systems, the school district chose RELDATA to support its expanding IT infrastructure, new technology initiatives, and storage environment which is expected to triple in three to five years.


Poll: Youth without degrees at end of job line

Almost half say getting real-world experience before going through more school was a key factor in their decision.

The nation’s economic upheaval has been especially hard on young people trying to start their working lives with a high school education or less. Only about a third are working full-time, compared with two-thirds of recent college grads, according to an Associated Press-Viacom poll.

Most say money was a major reason they bypassed college, and the vast majority aspire to more education someday.

Christopher Cadaret’s been fixing TVs and stereos for fun since he was 10 years old and thinks he’d like to work in electronics or auto repair. But four months after he dropped out of high school, he hasn’t found any kind of job.

He’s tried a local electronics company, the hardware store, the dollar store, the minimart. Nothing.

“I’m seeking work, anything that is put in front of me,” said Cadaret, 18, who lives with his father in Burkesville, Ky., a small town amid the hills and farmland along the Tennessee border. Without that first toehold on work, his dream of earning enough to save up for technical training seems far away.

Four in 10 of those surveyed whose education stopped at high school are unemployed. Less than a quarter have part-time jobs, the poll of 18- to 24-year-olds found.

The Labor Department’s figures document how much harder it’s become for these young adults to find a job since the recession that began late in 2007. The unemployment rate has been over 20 percent each March for the past three years for high school graduates ages 16-24 who have no college education. That’s up from 10 percent in March 2007 and 14.5 percent a year later.


Universities told not to edit their Wikipedia entries


Wikipedia records 150 edits every minute.


Campus communications officials shouldn’t aggressively monitor and change their university’s Wikipedia page unless the entry has been “vandalized” by another editor, a Wikipedia spokeswoman said during a recent discussion on how educators are using the vast online encyclopedia.

During a webcast on Blog Talk Radio March 28, LiAnna Davis, a communications associate for Wikipedia – the internet’s fifth most visited website — said college representatives should only edit their school’s entry if they spot an incorrect number or date, for example, and the edit should always be cited to a “reliable source.”

No change should be made, Davis said, until the college employee creates an account that acknowledges he or she works for the campus.

Read the full story on eCampus News


Obama: STEM education a must-have

Student engagement in STEM education is necessary for the nation's success.

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is of the utmost importance to all students and is critical to U.S. competitiveness, said President Obama at an April 20 town hall event held on Facebook’s Palo Alto, Calif. campus.

“My name is Barack Obama, and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie,” Obama said as he introduced himself. He referred to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, who is known for his casual workplace attire.

Obama was the first sitting head of state to visit Facebook’s brick-and-mortar home and the latest big-name visitor to the tech-savvy region in Northern California that gave rise to social media and the personal computer.

Questions came from pre-screened online submissions or hand-picked Facebook employees, and ranged in topic from the national debt and immigration to education and health care.

“It used to be that the argument around education always revolved around the left saying we just need more money, and the right saying we should just blow up the system because public schools aren’t doing a good job,” Obama said, as the conversation turned to education. “And what you’re now seeing is people recognizing we need both money and reform. It’s not an either-or proposition; it’s a both-and proposition.”

Emphasizing STEM education—especially to girls and minority students–is one of the most important efforts the U.S. can make if it hopes to produce college- and career-ready students, Obama said.


Spring Station Middle School owes its success to ‘trying different things’

Spring Station Middle School's dedication to learning with technology made it the first "eSchool of the Month."

The first institution to be highlighted in our brand-new “eSchool of the Month” series is Spring Station Middle School (SSMS) in Tennessee’s Williamson County Schools. SSMS serves about 700 students in grades 6-8 and “seeks to be a leader in student integration of ed tech,” according to Assistant Principal Timothy Drinkwine.

Here, Drinkwine shares the school’s secrets to success. (SSMS will be featured in the May print edition of eSchool News. To nominate your own school or district for this award, go to

How does your school use technology to advance student learning?

Each and every classroom in the school building has a Dell teacher laptop and laptop dock, a Promethean ActivBoard, an ELMO document camera, and a Dell projector. Each grade level has Flip handheld video cameras and mobile computer labs on carts.

Teachers are able to move around the classroom with their mobile laptops, solicit student participation in manipulating the Promethean ActivBoard, display student work on the ELMO document camera, as well as scan student work and save it for later presentations by displaying it via the projector. All teachers incorporate Google Apps and Microsoft Office tools (Outlook, Excel, Word, Publisher, etc.) into their classes. All teachers have been exposed and trained to integrate Microsoft Photo Story, Prezi (a presentation editor), and online message boards to solicit student participation in the learning process.

Software programs such as Wilson Reading, Gaggle, and Study Island are used for various purposes to increase student learning and achievement. Math teachers use Interwrite tablets, teacher teams use clickers, and student-owned iPods are used in classrooms.

Every teacher has his or her own SharePoint site to communicate, post, and cite any information for students and parents.


Standards-based lessons help students design their own video games

Building on research that suggests video-game design can be a significant learning tool, especially to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills in the classroom, the nonprofit Alliance for Young Authors & Writers, Scholastic Inc., and the AMD Foundation have launched a free online platform for educators and parents. Called Level Up!, the new website offers game-building resources and curriculum materials for middle and high school students, keeping them engaged and motivated while they learn 21st-century skills such as strategic thinking, problem solving, team building, planning, and execution. Level Up! Provides a series of standards-based lessons that give students the knowledge and tools to design their own video games, and after students have completed their games, they are encouraged to submit these to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for a chance to win scholarships and prizes. Two versions of the curriculum are available: One for beginner to intermediate-level students, and one for intermediate to advanced-level students.


Google tablets expected to challenge iPad

Android-based tablets will make up 39 percent of the market in 2015, Gartner predicts.

Apple’s iPad will maintain tablet supremacy for the next four years, but higher education soon could see an influx of tablets that operate with Google’s operating system (OS) during the same period, according to an April 11 report from IT research company Gartner.

After changing the tablet market the way the Apple iPhone “reinvented” the smart-phone market, the iPad and its iOS—Apple’s operating system—account for almost 70 percent of media tablets, while Android-based tablets account for 20 percent of the market, according to Gartner.

Google’s Android OS, however, will see steady growth over the next four years. By 2015, Google will own 39 percent of the tablet market, compared to the iPad’s 47 percent, Gartner predicts.

Growth of the Android OS will be “capped,” according to Gartner, because Google officials decided not to open its OS—known as Honeycomb—to third parties, meaning the price of Android tablets will decline more slowly than the iPad.

Read the full story on eCampus News