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100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students

100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students

Research shows that just 3 percent of high-achieving, low-income students attend America’s most selective colleges. And, it’s not that these students just aren’t there — every year tens of thousands of top students who don’t come from wealthy families never even apply to elite colleges. Universities are taking note — and banding together under something called the American Talent Initiative — a network backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen Institute and the research firm Ithaka S+R. To join the club, schools have to graduate 70 percent of their students in six years — a qualification that leaves just under 300 schools in the U.S. eligible. Nearly a third of those schools — exactly 100 — have signed on. Their goal? Enroll 50,000 additional low- and moderate-income students by 2025. From a report: Each school has its own goals, too — many want to increase the number of Pell Grant students on campus, others aim to improve graduation rates — but they’re all on board to share strategies, learn from each other’s missteps and provide data to monitor their progress.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education

AIY Projects: A first step into STEM

Artificial Intelligence allows computers to perform increasingly complex tasks like understanding speech or identifying what’s in an image. AI built into hardware lets you build devices that feel more personal, can be trained to solve individual problems, and do things people haven’t thought of yet. Building AI-based things used to require expensive hardware and an advanced computer science degree, but with AIY Projects we’ve created two simple kits that allow students and makers to start building, playing and learning about AI.

Each kit takes you through step-by-step instructions to build a cardboard shell and then install the electronics to assemble your own device. The Voice Kit lets you build a voice-controlled speaker, while the Vision Kit lets you build a camera that learns to recognize people and objects. Along the way you learn the basics of building simple electronic circuits, some light programming, and setting up a Raspberry Pi (a small circuit board computer). But building the kit is just a starting point, and once it’s built you can start to customize its functionality and dive even deeper into programming and hardware.

Since launching these kits last year, we’ve seen interest from parents and teachers who have found the products to be great learning tools in and out of the classroom. While the changing nature of work means that our students may have jobs that haven’t yet been imagined, we do know that computer science skills—like analytical thinking and creative problem solving— will be crucial in the future. AIY Projects kits aim to help prepare students, lowering the barriers to entry for learning computer science.

We’ve created a new version of our original kits that make classroom use easier with the AIY Vision Kit 2 and the AIY Voice Kit 2. Each one now includes everything you need to get going right in the box. We’ve also released a new Android App that greatly simplifies configuration of the device.

To help students learn more about AI we’re introducing a new AIY Models area to our site that showcases a collection of pre-built AI models designed to work with AIY kits. Now students can load up new models to explore different facets of AI, like a new smile detector model that lets you instantly tell whether someone looking into a Vision Kit is smiling. Over time we’ll be adding new models that explore new functionality and content about each model.

Finally, on the refreshed the AIY website we’ve improved documentation with better photos and instructions, to make it easier for young makers to get started and learn as they build.  

These are our first steps in starting to address the needs of the STEM market and improving our products for parents, students and teachers. However, it’s also the start of a conversation with the STEM community to learn more about their needs as we build, iterate, and make content for our new and existing products. Send us your feedback, thoughts, and ideas on how we can make these kits a meaningful part of STEM education at support-aiyprojects@google.com or stop by Maker Faire in May and ISTE in June.

The new Vision Kit and Voice Kit have arrived at U.S. Target Stores and Target.com this month and we’re working to make them globally available through retailers worldwide. Be sure to sign up on our mailing list to be notified when our products become available, or check out what we’re doing on social media by searching for #aiyprojects.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Machine Learning
G Suite Enterprise for Education is Now Available

G Suite Enterprise for Education is Now Available

Since launching G Suite for Education, we’ve heard a common request from colleges, universities and large school districts: the need for more advanced tools to meet their complex technology needs. In January, we announced G Suite Enterprise for Education, a new edition of G Suite for Education that offers additional enterprise-grade capabilities designed for large institutions and customized for education. Starting today, G Suite Enterprise for Education is generally available to educational institutions in the United States, and is coming to more countries soon.

Additionally, new tools—such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP), security key management and enforcement, and Gmail S/MIME—will start rolling out to all G Suite for Education users over the next few months. G Suite for Education, a suite of tools used by 80M teachers and students, has been and will remain free for schools and we’ll continue to add new features to that edition at no additional cost.

New security features added to free version of G Suite for Education

Admins can expect increased security and greater controls with new tools that are being made available over the next few months to the free version of G Suite for Education:

  1. Gmail and DriveData Loss Prevention (DLP) lets admins prohibit users from sharing sensitive content with people outside their institutions. It checks for sensitive content like personal student information or preset keywords, and alerts admins so they can intervene.
  2. Hosted Gmail S/MIME offers schools an additional line of defense to protect sensitive emails. With this tool, institutions have the option to digitally sign and encrypt emails. In addition, it also adds verifiable account-level signatures authentication to better protect against email spoofing. It’s easy to manage for administrators and seamless for users.
  3. Security keymanagement and enforcement offers an additional layer of security for user accounts by requiring a physical key. Admins can now require faculty, staff and students to use physical keys that use cryptography as a part of 2-step verification when signing into G Suite.  
  4. Admins can control session length for users accessing Google services like Gmail and Drive, which means that users will be automatically logged out after a specified amount of time. If specific groups of users require certain session lengths, admins can apply different web session duration settings to different groups.
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Enterprise-grade tools for educational institutions

For educational institutions with administrative needs similar to businesses, G Suite Enterprise for Education offers robust tools customized for education. Here’s what users can expect:

Advance your institution with advanced controls

The Security Center in G Suite Enterprise for Education gives organizations more visibility and control over security. To prevent institutions from potential threats, we’re arming IT admins with actionable insights to protect sensitive data against attacks. With security center tools, IT departments gain insights into how data may be exposed with external file sharing, can see phishing messages targeting users within their organization, and access metrics to demonstrate the organization’s security effectiveness.

With Advanced Mobile Device Management (MDM), universities and institutions have scaled control over devices in their domain. Using customizable MDM rules, admins can automate mobile device management tasks, like approving all Android devices that enroll for management at the start of a new school year. Once the rules are in place, pre-specified events trigger actions like sending notification emails to administrators, blocking or approving a device, or even wiping account data from devices if its lost by a student. And with Mobile Audit, admins can see a report of device activities, including device policy compliance.

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Enhanced analytics and search capabilities

Cloud Search is coming to G Suite Enterprise for Education soon, and with it, institutions will benefit from a unified search experience across G Suite—powered by machine intelligence. This tool helps educators and students stay on top of schedules, documents and emails, and can even suggest files that need attention. By searching through everything from a lecture presentation to the school corporate directory, users can spend less time searching for information and more time focusing on teaching and learning.

Gmail logs in BigQuery allow institutions to run sophisticated custom queries, conduct deep analysis and build custom dashboards. Gmail logs contain valuable information that can help administrators diagnose issues. The integration with BigQuery makes it easier for administrators to analyze the logs and unlock insights to help they run their organizations.

Collaborate. Coordinate. Communicate.

Advanced capabilities in Hangouts Meet improve internal and external collaboration, allowing for meetings with up to 50 participants and recordings saved to Google Drive. With these communication tools, instructors can save lecture and lesson recordings straight to Drive and collaborate from anywhere.

Since announcing G Suite Enterprise for Education in January, we’ve opted to make the U.S. dial-in feature in Meet available to all business and education customers, and will be rolling it out in the coming months. This lets users join meetings via phone from anywhere, without worrying about poor Wi-Fi connections. With G Suite Enterprise for Education, Meet dial-in is available in dozens of countries, allowing educators to easily connect if their institution has a footprint around the globe.

Get G Suite Enterprise for Education for your institution

If you’re interested in purchasing individual licenses, G Suite Enterprise for Education is $4/user/month for faculty and staff, and $4/user/month for students. If you’re purchasing licenses for all faculty and staff in 2018, we’re offering a special introductory price of $2/user/month for faculty and staff, and free for eligible students. Renewals at the introductory price will be honored for 3 years. Learn more about pricing, renewals, and features for this edition on our Help Center.

For help choosing the edition that’s right for your institution, explore what’s included with G Suite Enterprise Education and fill out an interest form to be contacted by a partner.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, G Suite
Former Senior VP of Apple Tony Fadell Says Company Needs To Tackle Smartphone Addiction

Former Senior VP of Apple Tony Fadell Says Company Needs To Tackle Smartphone Addiction

In an op-ed published on Wired, former SVP at Apple Tony Fadell argues that smartphone manufacturers — Apple in particular — need to do a better job of educating users about how often they use their mobile phones, and the resulting dangers that overuse might bring about. An excerpt: Take healthy eating as an analogy: we have advice from scientists and nutritionists on how much protein and carbohydrate we should include in our diet; we have standardised scales to measure our weight against; and we have norms for how much we should exercise. But when it comes to digital “nourishment”, we don’t know what a “vegetable”, a “protein” or a “fat” is. What is “overweight” or “underweight”? What does a healthy, moderate digital life look like? I think that manufacturers and app developers need to take on this responsibility, before government regulators decide to step in — as with nutritional labelling. Interestingly, we already have digital-detox clinics in the US. I have friends who have sent their children to them. But we need basic tools to help us before it comes to that. I believe that for Apple to maintain and even grow its customer base it can solve this problem at the platform level, by empowering users to understand more about how they use their devices. To do this, it should let people track their digital activity in detail and across all devices.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
Digital skills for Arabic speakers everywhere

Digital skills for Arabic speakers everywhere

In the Middle East and North Africa, only 38 percent of youth believe their education gives them the skills they need to enter the workforce. By 2020, one in five jobs in the Arab world will require digital skills that aren’t widely available today. Many women are contributing to the innovation coming out of the Arab world, yet this region has among the lowest female economic involvement globally.

To address the growing skills gap in the region’s workforce, and to help ensure that opportunities created by technology are available to everyone, we’ve launched Maharat min Google (the English translation is “Building Capabilities with Google”). It’s an initiative to help Arabic speakers, specifically women and young people, get ready for future job opportunities, advance their careers, or grow their businesses. Maharat min Google will provide free courses, tools and in-person digital skills training to students, educators, job seekers and businesses. The online platform includes over 100 lessons and explanatory videos covering a range of digital marketing skills including search engine marketing, social media, video, e-commerce and more.

Maharat min Google: Digital skills for Arabic speakers everywhere

All over the Arab world, people use digital skills to realize their goals. We’ve created a series of short films that follow the journeys of six Arab women who have become entrepreneurs, women’s rights advocates and ground-breaking YouTube creators. They show how technology has helped them overcome obstacles, enabled them to forge their own paths and inspire other women to do the same by learning digital skills. 

We’re proud to support nonprofits that are teaching Arab youth the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly digital economy. INJAZ Al-Arab, a nonprofit that connects Arab youth to trainings and job opportunities, will use a $1 million grant from Google.org to help 100,000 high school and university students—particularly women and underprivileged students in rural areas—expand their digital skills through hands-on training across the region.

We’re also collaborating with MiSK Foundation to provide in-person digital skills training to over 100,000 people in Saudi Arabia with a target of 50 percent female participation. Our new collaboration will open up a wider range of career opportunities for women and young people to use key digital skills that they’ve learned from the courses.

Technology is a toolkit filled with opportunities—and Maharat min Google aims to help Arabic speakers around the world put those tools to work. We’re partnering with governments, universities, private-sector businesses and nonprofits to help more people take advantage of what the web has to offer.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Google.org
Coding for Conservation

Coding for Conservation

Working on the CS First team, I love finding ways to get more kids involved with computer science at a young age. Though when I was a kid growing up in Miami, I spent most of my time off computers and on the water, admiring the natural beauty of the surrounding beaches and mangrove forests.

I focused my studies and spare time on the environment, and how we could protect and preserve the habitats and creatures that made my home so special. I didn’t quite understand how coding and technology would further my goal of protecting the environment until I got to Google, where I’ve learned that computer science is actually a critical tool for conservation and sustainability.

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Sarah has a BA in Environmental Studies from NYU and is pictured here in Belize on a sea turtle tagging and monitoring project with Google.

To help more kids understand the connection between coding and the environment (and to celebrate Earth Day!) we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to invite students in grades 4-8 to create their own Google logo. Using Scratch, a block-based programming language, students will learn basic coding and stretch their design skills as they express their own ideas for protecting the planet.

To get ready to create their logo, students can watch videos to learn computer science concepts like sequencing and loops, practice analytical thinking and use creative problem solving skills. Those concepts and skills are the building blocks for developing technology that organizations like WWF and Google use in their efforts to protect the planet’s animals and natural environment. In fact, the themes of the logo activity—Sustainability and Wild Animals— were chosen to reflect those efforts.

I have long admired WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce threats to animals all over the world—they recently launched Wild Classroom, a free resource for educators to teach their students about the natural world. And as a Googler, I’m proud of the work our company has done to protect the environment: we’re committed to renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency, and have built free data tools to enable widespread solutions to issues like deforestation, overfishing and air pollution.

My hope is that this logo activity will show kids that learning to code can also mean protecting the environment. And this activity is for teachers, too. Along with CS First’s full curriculum, it gives teachers the tools they need to introduce computer science to students for the first time, as well as nurture students’ interest in computer science.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Environment
Berkeley Offers Its Data Science Course Online For Free

Berkeley Offers Its Data Science Course Online For Free

In a news bulletin, University of California, Berkeley announces that its “Foundations of Data Science” course is “being offered free online this spring for the first time through the campus’s online education hub, edX.” From the report: The course — Data 8X (Foundations of Data Science) — covers everything from testing hypotheses, applying statistical inferences, visualizing distributions and drawing conclusions, all while coding in Python and using real-world data sets. One lesson might take economic data from different countries over the years to track global economic growth. The next might use a data set of cell samples to create a classification algorithm that can diagnose breast cancer. (Learn more from a video on the Berkeley data science website.) The online program is based on the Foundations of Data Science course that Berkeley launched on campus in 2015 and now has more than 1,000 students enrolling every semester. The Foundations of Data Science edX Professional Certificate program is a sequence of three five-week courses taught by three winners of Berkeley’s top teaching honor, the Distinguished Teaching Award: DeNero, statistics professor Ani Adhikari and computer science professor David Wagner. The first of the three parts has already started (9 a.m. on April 2), but enrollment will remain open after the course begins. Furthermore, anyone in the world can enroll for free but those who want to earn the certificate will need to pay.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
Schools Won't Like How Difficult the New iPad Is To Repair

Schools Won't Like How Difficult the New iPad Is To Repair

Last week, Apple introduced a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support. iFixit has published its teardown of the device this morning, and as The Verge points out, schools won’t like how difficult it is to repair. From the report: The takeaway from all this is that the new iPad isn’t going to be any easier to repair than prior generations, which were already borderline unrepairable. If an iPad breaks, there’s almost no chance that a district will be able to repair it in-house; whereas on cheaper Chromebooks, there’s a possibility an IT team could open them up to make some basic fixes. It’s a weak point that it’s hard to see Apple ever addressing. And since schools aren’t exactly forgiving environments for a lent-out device, how well the iPad holds up to drops and dings, and how expensive it is to fix, are bound to be factors in a school’s decision on which devices to adopt. Mac Rumors highlights the key findings from iFixit’s teardown: The new iPad’s lack of waterproofing, non-replaceable charging port, zero upgradeability, and use of glue throughout the internals added up to a “repair nightmare.” iFixit then pointed towards the HP Elite x2 1012 G1 tablet, which got a perfect repairability score of 10 out of 10, summarizing that “Apple’s ‘education’ iPad is still a case of won’t — not can’t.” One of the iPad’s advantages in terms of repairability comes in the form of its digitizer panel easily separating from the display. iFixit pointed out that in the event that either component should break, repair will be easier for schools and educators. The sixth-gen iPad has the same battery as the previous model, with 32.9 Wh capacity. iFixit noted that while this allows Apple to reuse existing manufacturing lines to reduce waste, the battery is still locked behind a “repair-impeding adhesive” that greatly reduced the iPad’s repairability score. Apple has provided easy battery removal before, in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but iFixit hasn’t seen anything like it since. Ultimately, iFixit gave the 2018 iPad a repairability score of 2 out of 10, favoring the fairly easy repair options of its air-gapped, non-fused display and digitizer glass, but taking marks off for its heavy use of adhesive and sticky tape.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education

How the Dynamic Learning Project is building teacher confidence

Editor’s note: Last summer, we announced Google’s support of the Dynamic Learning Project—a pilot program from Digital Promise that places technology coaches in 50 high-need schools across the country. Educator coaching has been shown to be effective in subjects like reading and math, but the Dynamic Learning Project is one of the first nationwide programs to apply this approach to the impactful use of technology across subjects. We checked in with one of the 50 schools participating in the program to see how things are going.

When Hillsdale Middle School principal Jacob Launder learned about the Dynamic Learning Project, he jumped at the opportunity to transform how his teachers use technology in the classroom.

Principal Launder had already invested in Hillsdale’s classroom tech and had a community of educators who wanted to build their skills, but many of his teachers lacked the confidence to really make a change in their classrooms. Luckily, he had the perfect person in mind to become a coach and lead this transformation: Ann Mason, a 30-year veteran history teacher in the Cajon Valley School District.

Thanks to her participation in the Dynamic Learning Project, Ann has extensive access to tech-coaching experts, custom resources and tools to guide her support for teachers, and a community of fellow coaches to share best practices.

“The Dynamic Learning Project presented the perfect avenue to support change,” Ann says. “It recognizes that every teacher is innovating at a different level, and the new coaching model allows me to meet that teacher at their level.”

At the beginning of each eight-week coaching cycle, Ann meets with teachers across the school to understand their needs and how she can best support them. As the teachers implement new technology in their lessons, Ann observes their progress and provides regular feedback so they can continue to improve.

Less than a year later, Ann’s in-person, relevant, and consistent technology coaching has helped Hillsdale instructors build confidence in using technology to prepare students. For example, science teacher Carol Strampfer wanted a better way to organize her seventh graders’ written and digital projects so she could track their progress throughout the year. Working closely with Ann, she helped her students use Google Slides to build digital notebooks featuring images of assignments, photos of labs, and more.

“I had wanted to implement this type of system for quite some time, and being part of the Dynamic Learning Project provided the push I needed as well as the support,” Carol says. “Ann helped me work out the minor glitches and supported me in incorporating my own ideas.”

For Ann, the most rewarding moments take place inside the classroom, when she’s helping a teacher introduce a new activity they’ve planned together. “If there’s a tech glitch or a student asks a question that the teacher can’t answer, I jump in to help them move past the bump in the lesson and on to success,” she explains. “I’ve had numerous teachers tell me they might have given up if I wasn’t in the room with them.”

“The Dynamic Learning Project has given me the courage to be more adventurous in my approach to teaching,” says Elizabeth Cordle, who teaches eighth-grade science. “I have the opportunity to explore new technologies in a safe, supportive way.”

Ultimately, the goal of the program is to help students engage with learning, and Principal Launder has seen how the Dynamic Learning Project has been transformative for the Hillsdale community. “The positive impact on teacher creativity and problem-solving can be seen by the dynamic products our students are creating in their classes,” he says. “They’re being provided the opportunity to work collaboratively with their peers on engaging and creative projects.”

These early results affirm that in order to truly unlock the technology’s potential impact in the classroom, teachers must feel supported and confident while learning new tools. As their students turn to them for assistance, answers, and encouragement, Hillsdale teachers now have their own coach to help them thrive.

To stay updated about the Dynamic Learning Project, sign up for updates from Digital Promise.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
'Nature' Explores Why So Many Postgrads Have Bad Mental Health

'Nature' Explores Why So Many Postgrads Have Bad Mental Health

An anonymous reader writes:
This week Nature tweeted that the rates of depression and anxiety reported by postgraduate students were six times higher than in the general population — and received more than 1,200 retweets and received 170 replies. “This is not a one dimensional problem. Financial burden, hostile academia, red tape, tough job market, no proper career guidance. Take your pick,” read one response. “Maybe being told day in, day out that the work you spend 10+ hrs a day, 6-7 days a week on isn’t good enough,” said another.
The science magazine takes this as more proof that “there is a problem among young scientists. Too many have mental-health difficulties, and too many say that the demands of the role are partly to blame. Neither issue gets the attention it deserves.” They’re now gathering stories from postgraduates about mental-health issues, and vowing to give the issue more coverage. “There is a problem with the culture in science, and it is one that loads an increasing burden on the shoulders of younger generations. The evidence suggests that they are feeling the effects. (Among the tweets, one proposed solution to improving the PhD is to ‘treat it like professional training instead of indentured servitude with no hope of a career at the end?’.)”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education