Facebook can help in disasters: academic

An Australian academic Friday praised the increasing use of social media during disasters, saying there had been a “beautiful display of humanity” on Facebook during recent catastrophes, reports the AFP. Communications expert Gwyneth Howell said she had been prompted to research the use of social media following last year’s major earthquake in New Zealand’s second city Christchurch–which caused damage but no deaths. The University of Western Sydney academic could not have known more disasters were to follow–floods and cyclones in Queensland, bushfires in Western Australia, a deadlier quake in Christchurch and Japan’s quake and tsunami…

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Higher education, lower blood pressure: study

According to the AFP, the more advanced degrees a person has, the lower their blood pressure, a study published online has found. An analysis of some 4,000 patient records from the 30-year Framingham Offspring Study found that, controlling only for age, women with 17 years or more of education–a master’s degree or doctorate–had systolic blood pressure readings 3.26 millimeters of mercury lower than female high school drop-outs. Men who went to graduate school had systolic blood pressure readings that were 2.26 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) lower than their counterparts who did not finish high school, the study, published online in the open access journal BMC Public Health, says…

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US students stressed out: study

First-year students on US campuses are experiencing record levels of stress, according to a study showing increasing financial and academic pressures on young people entering university, reports the AFP. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) study, which surveyed 200,000 students entering their freshman year on American campuses last year, was released Thursday and found that just under 52 percent reported their emotional health was very good or “above average.” That figure represents a major decline from 1985, the first year of the self-ratings survey, when nearly two-thirds of incoming freshmen placed themselves in those categories. It’s also a decline of 3.4 percentage points from 2009…

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Study: US college students don’t learn core skills

According to the AFP, a large number of US university students fail to develop critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills because of easy classes and too little time spent studying, a study found Wednesday. The study of 3,000 students at 29 four-year universities found that 45 percent “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during their first two years in college as measured by a standardized test. After the full four years, 36 percent had shown no development in critical thinking, reasoning and writing, according to the study, which forms the basis of the new book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.”

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Hate mobs thrive in Asia’s booming social media

While the exact circumstances of the crash are unclear, the outrage unleashed on Facebook, Twitter and other websites has highlighted the murky phenomenon of cyber “hate mobs” on popular social networking sites, the AFP reports. Behind this trend is what is known as “Internet disinhibition”, said Adrian Skinner, a clinical psychologist in Britain who has researched behavioural differences on the web.

“It’s now well established that some people can behave in a much less inhibited way on the Internet, and the primary reason is that they feel there’s no return, no comeback,” he told AFP.

He explained this “lowered sense of responsibility” was coupled with the fact that writing online involved much less effort than taking to the streets in a revenge-seeking crowd — a more likely option in the pre-Internet age.…Read More

Surge in US students of Arabic: study

According to the AFP, Arabic was the fastest-growing foreign language for US university study last year, with enrollments growing by more than 46 percent compared to 2006, a study released Wednesday showed. Besides English, Arabic leapfrogged Latin and Russian to land in eighth place on the most studied language list, which has been compiled 22 times since 1958 by the Modern Language Association (MLA). Other countries that showed double-digit percentage growth were Korean, which grew by just over 19 percent; Chinese, up by 18.2 percent; American sign language, up 16.4 percent, and Portuguese, by around 11 percent. But Spanish remains far and away the most popular language other than English that is studied at US universities, with nearly 865,000 enrollments — a rise of five percent over 2006…

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iPad has real Xmas rival in Galaxy tablet

Last Christmas anybody asked if they wanted a “tablet” probably thought they were being offered a pill to ease indigestion caused by a little bit of festive over-indulgence. But this year, millions of people around the world will be glued to their iPad or other tablet computer instead of watching yet another re-run of a movie on TV. Samsung Electronics says it has sold over 700,000 of its Galaxy Tab device in the six weeks since its launch and believes at least a million will be in people’s hands by the end of the year, reports the AFP. But that’s still miles behind the iPad, which only went on sale in South Korea — Samsung’s home turf — for the first time on Tuesday. Apple has sold more than eight million of the gadgets since it went on sale in April but could have sold more, experts say, were it not for problems making enough to meet demand.

Sony, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM), Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Dell, Asus, Acer — most of the big global brand names in the technology sector have a tablet computer on the market or in the pipeline. Technology research firm Gartner last month said sales of tablet computers are expected to soar from nearly 20 million units this year to 55 million next year and over 208 million in 2014…

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News Corp. buys education technology company

News Corp. said that it had agreed to acquire 90 percent of education technology company Wireless Generation for 360 million dollars in cash, reports the AFP.

“Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning that is poised to revolutionize public education for a new generation of students,” News Corp. chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said.

Education of children aged five through 18 is a “500-billion-dollar sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching,” he said in a statement……Read More

Samsung takes on Apple with iPad rival

Samsung on Sept. 2 unveiled what the South Korean electronics giant hopes will be a major rival to Apple’s highly successful iPad tablet computer, AFP reports. The Galaxy Tab, presented at the IFA electronics trade fair in Berlin, has a seven-inch touch screen, slightly smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inches, and uses Google’s Android 2.2 operating system. Weighing 0.8 pounds—only half the iPad’s 1.5 pounds—the device launches in Europe in mid-September and in other markets (including the U.S.) in the coming months. But Samsung gave no indication of whether the Galaxy Tab will undercut the iPad on price, which retails from $499 for the basic model. In an indication of how much Apple’s iPad has influenced the computer market, Japan’s Toshiba is rumored to be unveiling its own tablet PC in Berlin, and Samsung’s South Korean rival, LG Electronics, has promised to release a tablet PC using Android before December…

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Leading design software AutoCAD returns to Mac

Autodesk announced Aug. 30 that its AutoCAD software used by professionals to design everything from skyscrapers to pocket knives is reuniting with the Macintosh computer platform, AFP reports. A version of AutoCAD has been tailored for Macintosh computers, and applications for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices will let people collaborate on designs using those popular Apple mobile devices. AutoCAD is returning to Macintosh after parting ways with the platform in the early 1990s in favor of computers running on Windows software made by Microsoft, according to the company. Autodesk was not selling much of its computer-aided design program for Macintosh machines, because much of the architecture, design, and engineering world at that time opted for Windows computers. But about five years ago, Apple began shifting to Intel computer chips that let Macintosh computers run programs designed for Windows machines. AutoCAD is Autodesk’s “flagship” design and engineering software that lets people work in 3D to create detailed plans for nearly any type of product. Free applications for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch devices will let people use those gadgets to review designs and suggest edits with the professionals behind creations able to watch in real-time on desktop Macintosh screens. The Macintosh version of AutoCAD will be released in the United States and Europe in the coming months and will be free to students at high schools or universities, where Macintosh has a strong foothold in the United States…

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