Archive for July, 2013

How Digital Technology Is Improving Student Writing

This just-released Pew report – The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools – based on a survey of 2500 AP and NWP (National Writing Project) teachers reveals that a vast majority of those interviewed view digital technology as a valuable asset in the writing process. According to the summary:

96% agree (including 52% who strongly agree) that digital technologies “allow students to share their work with a wider and more varied audience”

 79% agree (23% strongly agree) that these tools “encourage greater collaboration among students

 78% agree (26% strongly agree) that digital technologies “encourage student creativity and personal expression”(2)

The 114-page report is replete with charts and linked references to apposite Pew publications; it also contains the survey instrument (with results) and discusion guides.

 

 

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Ed Tech in Higher Education

Keyboard College presents both a podcast and web articles highlighting this aspect of technology in education. It is not only K-12 grades that are impacted by the use of educational technology; higher education also presents fertile ground. “Distance education” as a term initially applied only to colleges; now it has permeated the lower grades as well. The rapid development of MOOCs signals how far edtech has come in higher education. Other sites of interest include: E-Learning in Postsecondary Education (2013); NMC Higher Education Report 2013 (highly cited); Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education (2013); and Education Technology Success Stories (Brookings, 2013).

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“This I Believe” Program

Launched in 1951 and continuing until 1954, the radio program This I Believe, hosted by Edward R Murrow allowed people famous and obscure to declare in five-minute speeches what they held near and dear to them. As Murrow himself put it: “In this brief time each night, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker, people of all kinds who need have nothing more in common than integrity—a real honesty—will talk out loud about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.”(Introduction) Eight hundred of these nightly programs were broadcast and they are all available at the Tufts Digital Library along with transcripts of each speech. More information can be obtained at the Edward R Murrow Collection. Murrow was the chief European correspondent for CBS during World War II, and his and his “boysriveting reports were main sources of information for the people back home. His 1960 documentary Harvest of Shame(YouTube) on the plight of migrant farm workers is considered among the greatest ever produced.

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Worldwide Drug Statistics

The World Drug Report 2013 from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is full of figures and statistics on drug supply/drug demand for such substances as cocaine and cannabis, among others. Data are available for selected countries, regional groupings, and worldwide dissemintation.

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Global Risks 2013

From income inequality to natural disasters like la Hurricane Sandy to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the world faces many threats according to Global Risks 2013 from the World Economic Forum. A thousand experts from various fields were asked to give their opinions on what constituted the greatest risks we now face. Figure 29 of this report has the five areas of concern: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological along with the associated risks, numbering ten for each group. We should point out that one of the societal risks is “water supply crises”. This risk is also considered a … ” ‘centre of gravity’ – the one risk that they[survey-takers] thought is the systemically most important one in that group. Due to their influence on other risks, these are the risks to which leaders and policy-makers should pay particularly close attention.”(figure 36) The report is somber reading but nonetheless needs to be consulted. And nowhere does the spectre of nuclear conflict arise as a threat.

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NSA Surveillance Controversy

Far be it from us to keep up with escalating events surrounding leaks of classified documents. This site has a number of excellent links on this topic. We especially recommend this CRS report – NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress. Another excellent starting point is the Electrronic  Frontier Foundation’s Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying that includes links to brief biographies of those involved, IG reports, testimonies, etc. The Guardian’s NSA Files is replete with detailed information; NSA Surveillance Lawsuit Tracker from ProPublica lists major challenges to domestic spying and includes the case (with full text of the complaint), date of filing, where filed, what’s challenged, summary, and status; the Times Topics weighs in with Surveillance of Citizens by Government Chronology, a timeline of  NY Times articles with links to various documents; The Washington Post has its own section on the NSA Surveillance; the Brookings Institution has somethings to say; and the Council on Foreign Relations provides access to many primary sources going back years. The C-SPAN Video Library contains dozens of relevant videos, including one by, in our opinion, one of the best chroniclers of secrecy in this country – Steven Aftergood – author of  Secrecy News (from the American Federation of Scientists), a blog we read as often as we can.

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Historical Congressional Statistics

Vital Statistics on Congress is a large compendium of data touching on every aspect of this legislative body. Want to find out how many seats a state was apportioned in the House from 1910? It is here. Ticket splitting statistics from 1900 to 2010? Look no further than this tome. Congressional workload: bills introduced, bills passed, days in session, hours in session? Stop right here.  This work has been around for three decades, and those who wanted impartial statistical data always reached for the print volumes; it has now been put online with continuously updated figures and is available to everyone. An overview of the various chapters is available.

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