New service is like ‘Consumer Reports’ for ed tech

Learning List is a subscription-based service that helps schools evaluate instructional materials

learning-list-service
Learning List describes itself as a combination “Consumer Reports” and “Angie’s List” for K-12 curriculum products.

A new Texas-based service could help K-12 educators choose the best instructional materials for their schools.

Called Learning List, the subscription-based service describes itself as a combination “Consumer Reports” and “Angie’s List” for K-12 curriculum products and online courses. Its professional curriculum and software reviews can save schools money by supplementing the local review process, said Founder and President Jackie Lain.

A former associate executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards who also worked for Standard and Poor’s School Evaluation Services division, Lain launched Learning List last fall to serve Texas school districts. Beginning this month, the service is expanding its reach nationwide.…Read More

Apple to address iPhone troubles on July 16

Apple Inc. said it will hold a press conference on July 16 to discuss the latest iPhone model, which has been beset by complaints about its antenna, reports the Associated Press. On July 12, Consumer Reports said careful testing has confirmed user reports that holding the phone over a particular spot drastically reduces the signal strength it receives. Covering the spot with duct tape or a case alleviates the problem. Apple hasn’t commented on Consumer Reports’ finding yet. Company watchers are speculating that the company might give iPhone buyers its “Bumper” case, which normally costs $29. The phone went on sale three weeks ago and outsold previous iPhone launches in its first three days, with 1.7 million units sold. Complaints about the signal strength soon followed. In an early response, Apple acknowledged that holding the phone in a certain way impeded the wireless signal somewhat, but said this happens with many other phones; Consumer Reports said it tested other phones, and said none of them had significant loss of signal strength when held…

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Apple silent after Consumer Reports critique

A decision by Consumer Reports against endorsing the latest iPhone because of reception problems threatens to tarnish Apple Inc.’s reputation, yet fans who have braved poor reception for years are likely to keep buying the product, reports the Associated Press. In fact, some analysts say Apple could simply ignore calls by bloggers and others to recall the iPhone 4 or offer free cases to mitigate the problems. As of July 13, Apple hadn’t returned phone calls or eMail messages about the Consumer Reports critique, which the venerable arbiter of product quality posted on its web site July 12. While some Apple watchers find the company’s responses to the reception issue objectionable, they don’t see any penalties for Apple if it does nothing further. People buy iPhones for emotional reasons, not because they’re the best phones, said Deborah Mitchell, executive director of the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin. “People see you using the iPhone, and they think you are a certain type of person—hip, fresh, and youthful in attitude,” she said. “It’s a brand that helps you identify yourself.”

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iPhone 4 contains a design flaw, testers say

Consumer Reports, America’s trusted source of product reviews, said it would not recommend the iPhone 4 because of a hardware flaw with its antenna that sometimes resulted in dropped calls, reports the New York Times. The independent consumer magazine also cast doubt on Apple’s recent explanation that a software bug had caused the widely reported problem. Apple did not return requests for comment. Consumer Reports did not slap the iPhone 4 with a “don’t buy” warning, which it sometimes issues for shoddy or unsafe products. But it said that because of the design flaw, it would not recommend it as it did the previous version of the iPhone, the 3GS. The next question is, Will any of Apple’s customers even care? The various versions of the iPhone have been panned a number of times for myriad problems, real or perceived: slow network, cracked screens, dropped calls, and no support for the popular web video format Flash. But iPhone sales have surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts and helped make Apple the most valuable company in the technology industry. And despite early reports of problems with the iPhone 4 antenna, Apple sold 1.7 million units in just three days, making it the best-selling new technology gadget in Apple’s history. Still, analysts say Apple eventually could suffer from the bad publicity it had received over the antenna problems and for its seemingly contradictory responses…

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Half of social networkers post risky information, study finds

More than half of all users of social networks in the U.S. are posting information that could put them at risk from cyber criminals, Computerworld reports. The data, which come from a Consumer Reports study released May 4, noted that 52 percent of adults who use social networks, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, have posted information like their full birth date, which could be used to commit crimes against them. The magazine also noted that the number of American households using social networks has doubled in the past year. “Many people use social networking sites to share personal information and photos with their friends quickly and easily,” said Jeff Fox, technology editor for Consumer Reports, in a statement. “However, there are serious risks involved, which can be lessened by using privacy controls offered by the sites.” The survey found that 42 percent of people on Facebook post their full birth date, 16 percent post their children’s names, 63 percent post photos of themselves, and 7 percent note their home address…

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