Augmented reality books? New ‘wearable book’ feeds you its characters’ emotions as you read

eBooks are going to look quaint in the future, when we have wearable books that make us feel everything that’s going on in our favorite fictions, the International Science Times reports. In fact, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab have already created a wearable book under the project Sensory Fiction. As you read the wearable book, an array of devices will take you into the inner world of characters, making you feel as they feel. Covered in sensors and actuators, the ‘book’ is actually a strappy, vest-like object hooked to you while you read. The gadget-book adds to the pleasure or pain of reading by creating physical sensations that mimics the characters’ emotions as the plot unfolds…

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Why Common Core isn’t the answer

As far as I know, no one has asked the general public’s opinion about the Common Core State Standards for school subjects, the Washington Post reports. My guess would be that if polled, most people—including most educators—would say they just make good sense. But not everyone is a fan. Few opposes standards, but a significant number oppose the Common Core State Standards. Those on the political right don’t like the fact that—notwithstanding the word “State” in the title—it was really the feds who helped to railroad the standards into place. Resisters on the political left cite a range of reasons for opposing the standards—that they were shoved into place without research or pilot programs, that they’re a setup for national testing, that the real winners are manufacturers of tests and teaching materials because they can crank out the same stuff for everybody—just to begin a considerably longer list…

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Feds block education funding because of lawsuit

The federal government said it has blocked millions in funding to Idaho’s education broadband system because a lawsuit over the project’s $60 million contract raised questions about who should get the cash, the Associated Press reports. The Federal Communications Commission withheld $7 million for the Idaho Education Network, a high-speed broadband network for Idaho high schools. Idaho legislative budget writers learned Thursday telecom giant CenturyLink and Education Networks of America haven’t been paid by the federal government since last March…

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Brain-wave sensors: The answer to student engagement?

New technology could help educators monitor student engagement in real time, allowing them to adjust their teaching accordingly

measuring-engagement

The headsets read the user’s brain-wave signals and run them through an algorithm to measure the student’s attentiveness.

A Florida-based start-up firm called Nervanix is working on an idea that, if successful, could help educators find the “sweet spot” to effective teaching: maintaining active student engagement.

What if you could tell whether students really were engaged in a lesson or activity, rather than just pretending to be interested or going through the motions?

Furthermore, what if you had a tool that could measure a student’s brain-wave activity in order to develop a profile for the type of content that most engages that student? And what if this tool then could suggest specific content to match the student’s engagement profile?

This might sound like science fiction, but it’s entirely possible, Nervanix says—and the company is about to launch a suite of products that will put this concept to the test for K-12 education.

Nervanix was founded by Adam Hall, an entrepreneur who’s no stranger to education. A former investment banker, Hall was the co-founder and CEO of Impact Education for 10 years prior to its acquisition by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2010. Hall then ran HMH’s SkillsTutor division as its president for the next two years, before leaving to pursue his current interest.

He calls the concept behind Nervanix “attention adaptivity,” or the ability to optimize learning by monitoring students’ attention levels—and then interceding or adapting one’s methods when their engagement lags.

This is done with the help of headsets that can measure brain-wave activity.

(Next page: How the technology works)

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Meet the $38 tablet

What’s that? You’d love a new tablet – for yourself, your parents or the kids – but think you need to take out a second mortgage to afford one? In an effort to help bridge the “digital divide” – the gap between those who can afford technology and those who cannot — DataWind has just launched the UbiSlate 7Ci, the least expensive tablet computer in the U.S., Digital Crave reports. Indeed, this 7-inch Android 4.2.2 tablet costs just $37.99…

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FETC 2014: This is how you take mobile to the next level

Three professors use research to create mobile app rubrics for app evaluation

mobile-apps-education Would you buy a car without knowing how well it could perform on the road? No? The same principle applies to purchasing mobile apps for the classroom, experts argue. Without research-based rubrics based on vetted learning principles, you’re driving blind. Now, educators can evaluate apps to truly make a difference in classroom learning.

According to Malia Hoffmann, assistant professor at Concordia University, Calif., as of fall 2013, there were more than 1 million apps for Apple and 1.1 million apps for Android, she said during her session during the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) 2014, .

“These numbers are overwhelming, and outside of hearing word-of-mouth suggestions, or looking at third-party source recommendations online, there was a lack of research-based rubrics to help educators evaluate these apps for their schools,” explained Hoffmann. “Which is why, based on well-known research on learning principles, my colleagues and I developed these four rubrics.”

(Next page: The four rubrics)

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FETC 2014: 5 ways to find better apps

Tech expert says better apps come from sharing, not presenting

apps-learning-FETCThere’s a growing movement among educators to go beyond naming “cool” apps; a backlash against the often-overwhelming lists of ‘100 Greatest Education Apps Ever!’ Instead, educators want apps that truly make a difference in the classroom—and the best resource? Their own know-how.

“Too often I was asked to lead professional development [PD] sessions where I’d have to list a bunch of apps specific to, say, administrators or to science teachers. And it would take me forever and I honestly didn’t have any better idea than they did,” explained Jamie Averbeck, tech integration coach for Wisconsin’s Ashwaubenon School District, during the 2014 Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando.

“I thought: Why am I doing this? Why am I finding apps when teachers and administrators can do it themselves and probably better find what they’re looking for?” he mused.

(Next page: 5 ways to get better apps, app PD)

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When parents define “educational” media, SpongeBob sinks

Any self-respecting skeptic has to be careful with the word educational, according to the Joan Ganz Conney Center blog. Thousands of games in the iTunes App Store describe themselves as “educational,” but are they? On TV, preschool shows declare that it’s “learning time,” but is it? Given the marketing hype, it can be pretty hard to write about an educational anything without using quotation marks. New survey results released Friday don’t necessarily solve the problem, but they do take the marketers out of it. Instead, parents are in charge of the labeling. The survey, Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America, asked more than 1,500 parents of children 2 to 10 years old to disclose details about digital media and TV use in their households…

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Microsoft CEO could be named next week, says report

Microsoft may finally be set to reveal its next CEO, CNET reports. Yes, that rumor has been a running gag after current boss Steve Ballmer announced his impending retirement last year. But now a story published Thursday by Recode points to a possible finale to the story. Citing “sources close to Microsoft,” Recode’s Kara Swisher says that the board could name its candidate as soon as next week with the nod going to Microsoft’s own Satya Nadella…

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