Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pearson and Google Jump Into Learning Management With a New, Free System

Pearson and Google Jump Into Learning Management With a New, Free System
October 13, 2011, 10:25 am
By Josh Fischman
One of the world’s biggest education publishers has joined with one of the most dominant and iconic software companies on the planet to bring colleges a new—and free—learning-management system with the hopes of upending services that affect just about every instructor, student, and college in the country.
Today Pearson, the publishing and learning technology group, has teamed up with the software giant Google to launch OpenClass, a free LMS that combines standard course-management tools with advanced social networking and community-building, and an open architecture that allows instructors to import whatever material they want, from e-books to YouTube videos. The program will launch through Google Apps for Education, a very popular e-mail, calendar, and document-sharing service that has more than 1,000 higher-education customers, and it will be hosted by Pearson with the intent of freeing institutions from the burden of providing resources to run it. It enters a market that has been dominated by costly institution-anchored services like Blackboard, and open-source but labor-intensive systems like Moodle.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Generation Wired

An interesting article in this weeks Boston Globe - Parade Section
Generation Wired Article Oct 7, 2011
They text (and text and text). They have hundreds of “friends” they’ve never actually met. They game for hours. How to keep your kids safe and healthy in a hyper-connected world.

How Exactly Is All This Affecting Young Brains?

A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that students 8 to 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day engaged with computers, cell phones, TV, music, or video games. Forty percent of kids in middle school and high school say that when they’re on the computer, most of the time they’re also plugged into other media. The effects this multitasking has on still-forming brains can be positive and negative. “The prefrontal cortex, which is essential for social behavior, planning, reasoning, and impulse control, is not fully developed until the early 20s,” says Jordan Grafman of the Kessler Foundation Research Center. “Its development is largely dependent on what activities you do.”

Studies have shown that multitasking can lead to faster response time, improved peripheral vision, and a greater ability to sift through information quickly. But it also results in a diminished ability to focus on one thing for long. “You get better at the physical and visual motor parameters of what you’re doing, but not the deeper, thoughtful aspects,” Grafman says.

How will the generation coming of age now—less accustomed to sustained concentration—be affected? No one’s sure. Dr. O’Keeffe recently spoke to a group of college students. “They said they feel really bombarded, they’re not sure they’re learning effectively, and they’re not sure how to turn it all off. We need to learn from what they’re saying and help our current teenagers as well as younger kids learn to disconnect.” For parents, that might entail modeling a bit of self-discipline, like refraining from making calls while you drive or sneaking off during family gatherings to check your email. But the payoff—real conversations in real time—just may surprise you, and your kids. Who knows? They may even like it. Of course, you may need to check their Facebook page to find out.