Detroit schools closing: Michigan officials order Robert Bobb to shut half the city’s schools

State education officials have ordered the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools to immediately implement a plan that balances the district’s books by closing half its schools, reports the Huffington Post.

The Detroit News says the financial restructuring plan will increase high school class sizes to 60 students and consolidate operations…

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Worst products of CES 2011

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show was full of game-changing technology–think Verizon’s 4G LTE network and Motorola’s Atrix smartphone–but there were more than a few tech flops as well, says the Huffington Post. In addition to compiling the best products from CES 2011, we’ve also put together a slideshow of the worst gadgets on display at the world’s largest consumer tech expo. From french fry-shaped phones and sparkly speakers to vibrating weight loss machines and a “smart” washer/dryer duo, these tech products just didn’t do it for us…

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Chicago Public Schools investigated: Misspending, use of clout discovered

An investigation has led to the discovery of lavish spending by two former presidents of the Chicago Board of Education, all while schools faced a serious budget crisis, the Huffington Post reports. Chicago Public Schools Inspector General James M. Sullivan released a scathing report Monday, questioning more than $800,000 in spending by former school board presidents Rufus Williams and Michael Scott, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Scott committed suicide in November 2009. According to the report, $12,624 of taxpayer money was spent on holiday parties at a president’s home and thousands more on Soldier Field skybox suites, 50-plate catered lunches and $3,000 to have the board’s offices “swept for electronic eavesdropping devices,” WBEZ reports…

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Editorial: Why Cathie Black?

Joel Klein, New York City’s schools chancellor, is quitting to go to work for Rupert Murdoch – to help him put the News Corp. empire “in the education marketplace.”And to replace him, Mayor Bloomberg has tapped Cathie Black, who is best known as the former publisher of USA Today, says Dan Collins, New York editor-at large for the Huffington Post. She currently runs Hearst Magazines, which publishes periodicals like Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Good Housekeeping.

Whew.

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Bill Gates is wrong: College campuses will not fade away

Earlier this month, billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted that place-based colleges soon will be significantly less important as online learning continues to grow. Writing for the Huffington Post, lawyer and professor Larry Atkins begs to differ. “There is no doubt that online learning … is increasing in popularity,” Atkins writes. “Millions of college students are participating in online learning, and most major universities offer many courses online. Some of the benefits and advantages of online learning include cost, convenience, and schedule flexibility. It is often a good option for adults who work full time, people with disabilities, and those who live in remote areas or don’t have regular transportation.” However, Atkins says he still believes in the value of traditional campus learning, too. “One of the main goals of college is to develop independence,” he writes. “Living in dorms with a bunch of people that you didn’t know at first helps students get away from their familiar home surroundings and teaches them skills of living with and cooperating with other people. Having social interaction with a group of diverse people is likely to make young people grow as a person. Strong bonds can occur during 2 a.m. study groups or a midnight pizza run. Having face-to-face interaction with faculty and other students makes it more likely to develop strong and meaningful relationships. The learning is hands-on, and the feedback is more immediate.” Besides, he writes, there’s a sense of “excitement, passion, and energy about a college campus atmosphere that can’t be replicated anywhere else.” Online learning works for many people, he concludes—“but so does the traditional university setting.”

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How video will likely create, rather than kill, the classroom “star”

First it was music. Then it was theater. Now it’s … education? Technology has enabled inexpensive reproduction of a wide variety of media, which has in turn radically transformed the structures of a number of industries—and education could be next, writes economist Jodi Beggs for the Huffington Post. Whereas we used to have only concert halls and live theater, we now have CDs, MP3s, DVDs, and movie theaters, and industries that used to consist of a large number of moderate-scale performers are now mainly served by the Brad Pitts and the Lady Gagas of the world. Economists refer to these sorts of industries as “winner-take-all” markets, since their key feature is that a few “superstars” serve a large portion of the market (and often receive astronomical payouts for doing so) while a long tail of similar, somewhat less-qualified or less-talented individuals see comparatively minuscule levels of success. Just like in music and movies, technology makes it possible for a large number of students to be served by what are likely to become “superstar” instructors. Virtual instruction has the potential not only to give a large number of students access to top instructors at lower cost but also to provide the incentives to attract and retain top teaching talent in the first place. Teaching is a very labor-intensive and often thankless profession, and people who are good teachers frequently have skills and talents that help them excel in more lucrative careers as well. The potential to become a “superstar” instructor could give talented teachers a reason to stick around in the education sector and hone their craft…

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How to find the best party school in America? Read between the texts

Warning: If you’re a college student and you’ve recently sent a drunk text, your message could end up on the internet. But don’t put away your phones just yet — the text could actually go toward giving your university a boost in “party school” cred, The Huffington Post reports. Party School Texts, a new website founded by four students from the University of Florida and one from Santa Fe College, is using funny texts sent while partying in order to grade schools on a scale from “LAME-O” to “Rock Star.” Modeling itself after the popular website Texts from Last Night, the creators are hoping to not only entertain, but also provide a better way to rank schools’ hierarchy in the “party” scale.

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The 3×5 Learning Revolution

Twenty years after technology began transforming every other sector, there is finally enough movement on enough fronts –15 to be precise — that, despite resilience, everything will change, according to Tom Vander Ark, a columnist for The Huffington Post. New and better ways to learn are inevitable, but progress will be uneven by state/country and leadership dependent. The 5 Drivers. These Web 2.0 forces are benefiting the learning sector, emerging economies, as well as every other sector:
• More broadband: increasingly ubiquitous high speed Internet access is enabling a world of engaging content including video, multiplayer games, simulations, and video conferencing.
• Cheap access devices: netbooks, tablets, and smart phones have dropped below the $100 per year ownership level enabling one-to-one computing solutions.
• Powerful application development platforms: rapid application development and viral adoption have radically reduced cost and increased speed of bringing solutions to market.
• Adaptive content: personalized news (iGoogle), networks (Facebook), purchasing (Amazon), and virtual environments (World of Warcraft) have created a ‘my way’ mindset that will eventually eliminate the common slog through print.
• Platforms: Apple’s iPhone illustrates the elegant bundling of an application, purchasing, and delivery platform. In a few years, we’ll have the same thing in education–powerful learning platforms and cool apps.

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