It’s official: China is the wild, wild west of cloud computing

Within hours of Amazon’s announcement of a new Beijing region for Amazon Web Services, IBM jumped into the mix, announcing a new relationship with 21Vianet to offer high-end SmartCloud Enterprise + cloud services from a new 21Vianet-hosted facility in Beijing, Gigaom reports. IBM claimed that while AWS is a “newbie” in China and to enterprise-class workloads generally, IBM has worked with customers in China for years as an enterprise IT provider while AWS “is most known for its support of Netflix.” So there. This is a feisty IBM, obviously stung by losing the $600 million CIA cloud contract to AWS. SmartCloud Enterprise+ is an OpenStack-based cloud for enterprise customers, an IBM spokesman said. IBM characterizes it as an “open standards-based” cloud compared to Amazon’s “proprietary” cloud. You see how this is being played…

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Google Glass adds Hangouts, YouTube, iOS support in XE12

Google continued its promise to update Glass on a monthly basis by releasing XE12, CNET reports. The last update of 2013 is packed full of features Glass Explorers have been requesting, and in some cases begging for, the last few months. The update includes full support for Hangouts conversations with a single person or a group of contacts. Glass users can now share photos through Hangouts, something that was previously only possible with social networks. Beyond Hangouts support, the ability to upload videos recorded with Glass directly to YouTube was added. A lock screen, Play Music improvements, and the return of Wink are also included in the update. As you may recall, Wink is a feature that when enabled allows Glass wearers to take a photo by winking…

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These districts score better than the rest

New achievement results highlight top-performing urban districts

districts-school-urban According to new results from a report measuring student achievement progress in math and reading in U.S. urban school districts, two districts are at the top of their game; however, much progress needs to be made for urban districts across the country.

The results are part of The Nation’s Report Card, which began measuring progress in urban schools districts 10 years ago. The 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in math and reading reports the achievement of public schools students in 21 urban districts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

District participation is voluntary, and every district invited agreed to participate. The report shows achievement results in both fourth and eighth grades.

(Next page: The top performing urban districts)

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SETDA helps align digital content, learning standards

Technical specs from SETDA can help publishers, states, and schools align their digital content with the Common Core and other learning standards

SETDA_cmmon_coreThe State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released technical documentation to help state and district education leaders, publishers, and software developers make sure their digital resources are aligned with academic content standards, such as the Common Core State Standards.

State-adopted academic content standards set forth expectations for what students should know and be able to do in core academic subjects and serve as the foundation for assessment, adoption of instructional materials, and teacher professional development, SETDA noted.

But, despite the importance of aligning content with standards, there remain significant challenges to the rigor, transparency, and usefulness of most current approaches to standards alignment.

“The shift to greater use of digital resources in education provides an important opportunity to address longstanding frustrations with the quality of standards alignment in education,” said Doug Levin, SETDA’s executive director, in a press release.

The resources released by SETDA earlier this fall are the result of a project called “Granular Identifiers and Metadata for the Common Core State Standards,” or GIM-CCSS. They provide recommendations for how the Common Core State Standards can be digitally encoded to support the transparent, high-quality alignment of education resources to those standards.

SETDA has released these tools under an open license for anyone to use. The organization said its technical approach is “broadly applicable to any academic content standard and would offer important advantages today to those who choose to deploy it.”

You can access the technical documentation here.

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 10: Augmented Reality

eSchool News counts down the 10 most significant developments in educational technology during the past year

augmented-top10In Washington, D.C., President Obama called for broadband internet access in every classroom within the next five years.

In Los Angeles, school district officials grappled with public criticism over an ambitious plan to give iPads to every student.

And in school systems from coast to coast, tech-savvy educators experimented with augmented reality, educational gaming, and other techniques designed to enhance teaching and learning.

These were some of the key ed-tech developments affecting K-12 schools in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you right here.

Here, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant ed-tech stories of 2013.

To learn how these stories have made an impact on K-12 schools this year—and how they will continue to shape education in 2014 and beyond—read on.

(Next page: Our No. 10 top story of 2013)

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Comcast, Khan Academy aim multimillion-dollar partnership at low-income families

As much as Khan Academy has promised “a free world-class education for everyone everywhere,” the reality is that many of the 10 million people reached monthly by its accessible video lessons remain middle-class people–those with enough means to have broadband access, Forbes reports. So today, Khan Academy founder and Executive Director Salman Khan and Comcast CMCSA -0.81% announced a partnership in which the cable company will provide a cash donation and hundreds of thousands of public service ads that amount to several million dollars over several years. The partnership was announced Monday at The Atlantic’s Silicon Valley Summit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View…

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25 teaching tools for the digital classroom

Over the years, many of us have personally experienced the growth of technology in today’s classrooms, TeachThought reports. Instead of taking notes, students are now occupied by surfing the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, and messaging their friends on their smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Instead of focusing on the instruction, teachers are constantly required to interrupt class in order to remind those students again and again, that class time is for learning, not texting. However, as today’s students are using more technological devices, it is imperative that teachers have access to the resources to keep pace with the growing tech culture…

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D.C. teacher at Friendship Tech Prep charter quits, says he was pressured to inflate grades

Caleb Rossiter recently quit his job as a ninth-grade algebra teacher at the Friendship Tech Prep public charter school in Southeast Washington because, he says, his supervisors pressured him to artificially inflate failing grades and ignored his safety concerns by sending two disruptive students back into his class, the Washington Post reports. Such administrative mindlessness is common in American public schools. It has been a source of teacher frustration for decades. Many who watch D.C. schools closely might be surprised to hear this happened at Tech Prep, run by the well-regarded Friendship Schools charter network. Patricia A. Brantley, the network’s chief operating officer, says the school did nothing wrong…

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Schools use web tools, and data is seen at risk

Public schools around the country are adopting web-based services that collect and analyze personal details about students without adequately safeguarding the information from potential misuse by service providers, according to new research, The New York Times reports. A study, which is expected to be released on Friday, by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School in New York, found weaknesses in the protection of student information in the contracts that school districts sign when outsourcing web-based tasks to service companies. Many contracts, the study found, failed to list the type of information collected while others did not prohibit vendors from selling personal details — like names, contact information or health status — or using that information for marketing purposes…

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