JAMF Software helps schools leverage the power of Apple devices

The Casper Suite simplifies the life of system administrators with a comprehensive platform to manage Mac OS X computers and iOS devices such as the iPad. The Casper Suite is a powerful framework around which your IT ecosystem can be unified and extended to manage both Mac OS X and iOS devices from a single console.

At JAMF Software, we believe in the benefits that Macs and iOS devices can bring to education. We also think that educators and students using Macs and iOS devices deserve the first class technical support made possible by the Casper Suite. That’s why we do everything we can to provide a solution designed for the Apple platform and scaled for large school systems, at a price that is affordable.

We offer significant purchasing discounts to education organizations. The Casper Suite is licensed per managed Mac or iOS device, with a 100% discount off the license cost for both higher education and K-12 education. Education organizations pay only the per-seat Annual Maintenance costs, with discounts available for volume purchases. Additionally, every new sale of the Casper Suite is accompanied by a JumpStart, a two day on-site visit with a JAMF Software Professional Services Engineer, designed to install the software and provide guidance and training to help your IT staff integrate the suite into your environment.

(612) 677-7075

http://www.jamfsoftware.com

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5 more states granted NCLB waivers

Five more states have been granted relief from key requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, bringing the total to 24 states given waivers, an Obama administration official said Friday, the Associated Press. Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia will be freed from the No Child Left Behind requirement that all students test proficient in math and science by 2014, a goal the nation remains far from achieving. In exchange, the states and all others granted waivers must develop accountability plans that set new targets for raising achievement, advancing teacher effectiveness, preparing all students for careers and college, and improving the performance of low-performing schools.

“We all understand that the best ideas don’t come from Washington, and moving forward, these states will have increased flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s mandates, allowing them to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in draft remarks released to The Associated Press…

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To improve school nutrition, involve teachers and parents

To improve school nutrition and get children to eat healthier, involve parents, teachers and school administrators, new research finds, HealthDay reports. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Southern California looked at 400 students at eight elementary and middle schools who took part in a three-year study that examined the use of a public-health approach to improve nutrition. During the study, the researchers worked with teachers and administrators at certain schools to improve nutrition practices. For example, they replaced food and beverage classroom rewards with non-food prizes and implemented healthy catering at school events and classroom celebrations. For fund-raising events, they served healthy foods and beverages, awarded non-food prizes and had games such as a “prize walk” instead of a “cake walk.” The researchers noted that schools actually made more money through healthy events such as jog-a-thons than carnivals with popcorn and pizza. There was a 30 percent decrease in the amount of unhealthy foods and beverages consumed by students at these schools during the study, compared to a 26 percent increase at other schools. The amount of healthy lunches students brought from home and other outside sources also increased at the intervention schools…

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How GERM is infecting schools around the world

Ten years ago — against all odds — Finland was ranked as the world’s top education nation. It was strange because in Finland education is seen as a public good accessible to all free of charge without standardized testing or competitive private schools, says Pasi Sahlberg, author of “ Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland? and director general of Finland’s Center for International Mobility and Cooperation. When I look around the world, I see competition, choice, and measuring of students and teachers as the main means to improve education. This market-based global movement has put many public schools at risk in the United States and many other countries, as well. But not in Finland. You may ask what has made Finland’s schools so extraordinary. The answer has taken many by surprise. First, the Finns have never aimed to be the best in education but rather to have good schools for all of children. In other words, equity in education comes before a ‘race to the top’ mentality in national school reforms…

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YouTube is developing a secret weapon against the internet’s worst commenters

Long considered home to the worst commenters on the internet — racist, cruel, idiotic, nonsensical, and barely literate — YouTube is in the process of upgrading its comment system in order to better tame its most loathsome members, Wired reports. Word of the overhaul slipped out during the Q&A portion of a YouTube developer session at Google I/O, the annual developers conference from the video-upload hub’s owner, Google. A member of the audience, which was stocked heavily with online video publishers, asked for advice on handling negative comments within his YouTube channel. Dror Shimshowitz, a YouTube “head of product,” replied that “comments are kind of the Wild West of video” and can be turned off. But Google doesn’t like it when people do that, he said, because it cuts off the community. So the company is working on fixing the system…

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S.Africa claims delivery of books in schools fiasco

South Africa’s education department on Thursday claimed it had supplied nearly all missing textbooks to 5,000 public schools as ordered by a court but doubts remained that the fiasco was over, the AFP reports. A High Court last month gave the basic education ministry until June 15 to supply the missing textbooks and to set up a remedial programme to help students make up for lost time. The department said 99 percent of books had reached over 5,000 schools that have gone without material for half a year in northern Limpopo province as ordered by the court which said the pupils’ constitutional right to education had been violated.

“However, we fear that some of these reports may not accurate,” said public interest legal centre SECTION27 which brought the court action, saying their feedback did not tally with that of the government…

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Google unveils $199 tablet, challenges Kindle Fire

Google’s price is aggressively low, considering that the Nexus 7 has more features than the Kindle, including a front-facing camera.

Google on June 27 said it will sell a 7-inch, $199 tablet computer bearing its brand in a challenge to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The Nexus 7 is designed specifically for Google Play, the online store that sells movies, music, books, apps, and other content—the things Amazon.com Inc. also sells for its tablet computer.

Google’s announcement that it’s putting its brand on a tablet comes a week after Microsoft Corp. said the same thing. Both moves risk alienating Google’s and Microsoft’s hardware partners. Those companies, in turn, could be less inclined to work closely with Google and Microsoft.

The Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire both have screens that measure 7 inches diagonally, smaller than the nearly 10 inches on Apple Inc.’s popular iPad. The Nexus 7 also will be light—at about 0.75 pounds, compared with the Kindle Fire’s 0.9 pounds. The iPad weighs 1.44 pounds.

The Nexus 7 will ship in mid-July starting at $199—the same price as the Kindle Fire. By contrast, iPads start at $499. Customers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia can start ordering it now through Google.

Google’s price is aggressively low, considering that the Nexus 7 has more features than the Kindle, including a front-facing camera. The Kindle is believed to be roughly breaking even at $199. Samsung Electronics Co. sells a tablet similar to Google’s for $250.

Andrew Rassweiler, an analyst with IHS iSuppli, said he suspects Google will be subsidizing the tablet to sell it starting at $199.

For more on tablets in education, see:

Project to evaluate use of tablets in schools

iPhone, iPad apps meld music lessons, video games

How tablets are changing assistive technology

Google has previously put its own brand on a flagship line of “Nexus” smart phones. But that market is more mature than the tablet market, and there was less risk of Google alienating partners, particularly because it didn’t price the phones lower than the norm.

Much like the Nexus phones, the Nexus 7 tablet will be a showcase for a new version of Google Inc.’s Android operating system, in this case one called “Jelly Bean.”

Although the tablet carries the Google brand, the machine will be made by AsusTek Computer Inc. Google recently expanded into the device-making business with its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility, but the company has stressed that it intends to continue to rely on Asus and other manufacturers that have embraced Android.

Microsoft’s announcement of its Surface tablet last week and Google’s Nexus 7 add up to a “troubling” situation for tablet makers such as Samsung Electronics Co., said Jeff Orr, an analyst with ABI Research.

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Technology Changes in the Classroom: In search of effective, flexible solutions

Today’s classrooms are in transition. Technology of all sorts is making its way into the classroom and offering new ways to engage learners. The transition is not smooth, nor is it following a single path. Learning Scientist, T. V. Joe Layng, Ph.D., provides perspective on how districts can make informed choices for effective technology implementation.
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Texas Republican Party calls for abstinence-only sex ed, corporal punishment in schools

Early this month, Texas Republican delegates met in Fort Worth to approve their 2012 platform, notable parts of which take aim at the state’s education system, The Huffington Post reports.

In the section titled “Educating Our Children,” the document states that “corporal punishment is effective” and recommends teachers be given “more authority” to deal with disciplinary problems. Additionally, the document states the party opposes mandatory pre-school and kindergarten, saying parents are “best suited to train their children in their early development.”

The position causing the most controversy, however, is the statement that they oppose the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” — a curriculum which strives to encourage critical thinking — arguing that it might challenge “student’s fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.”

The party also notes its encouragement of legislation that prevents “non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States” from enrolling in public schools, a stance that federal officials have previously deemed against the law.

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Teach for America alums take aim at state office

When Teach for America alumnus Bill Ferguson took on six-term incumbent George Della for a Maryland Senate seat two years ago, he benefited from the energetic support of his fellow Teach for America alumni—but he had to overcome the strident opposition of the teachers’ unions, Stateline reports.

Ferguson upset Della in the Democratic primary and went on to win the general election, making him only the second Teach for America alumnus to secure a seat in a state legislature—following Mike Johnston, who joined the Colorado Senate in 2009.

Johnston and Ferguson aren’t likely to be alone for long: At least six TFA alumni are running for state legislatures this year, and many others are running for boards of education. Like Ferguson and Johnston, most of these former teachers likely will have to overcome union opposition to win.

The recent college graduates who are accepted into Teach for America are placed in underperforming schools across the country.

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