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Europe Code Week is here

Europe Code Week is here

Computer science fosters innovation, critical thinking and empowers students with the skills to create tools that solve major challenges. Yet there aren’t enough students who have access to opportunities to develop their technical skills. As part of our commitmentto help 1 million Europeans find a job or grow their business by 2020, we also need to invest in equipping the upcoming generation with the skills needed to master the jobs of the future. To do this, we’re encouraging students to get involved in and inspired by computer science. For the fifth year, we’re happy to be participating in Europe Code Week, a grassroots movement that encourages programming by showing how to bring ideas to life with code, demystifying computer science skills and bringing motivated people together to learn.

Part of our involvement in Code Week is providing funding to organizations who want to run computer science initiatives that give young people (aged 5-18) a chance to engage with some hands-on learning opportunities. Last year we funded 60 initiatives in 33 countries, giving over 56,000 students the chance to experience CS as part of these efforts. Organizations can apply for a grant of up to 8,000 EUR—please find details and the application form on the Code Week site.

Lithuania Association “Langas į ateitį” (1).JPG

In Europe Code Week 2017, Association “Langas į ateitį” (Lithuania) organized seven events which introduced 460+ students to coding and trained 19 teachers. As a result, Kurmaičiai primary school initiated after-school IT activities for children and a monthly Micro Bit activity with a local robotics school.

Looking for some fun coding resources? Check out CS First, our free video-based coding curriculum for students ages 9-14. No coding experience required!

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Grow with Google
A toolkit to bring digital learning to afterschool programs

A toolkit to bring digital learning to afterschool programs

With support from Google, the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) recently released the Afterschool Tech Toolkit, designed to guide afterschool programs in effectively integrating technology into their programs. In this post, Gina Warner, president and CEO of NAA, shares more their process of engaging community experts to create this tool.

Hearing this, our team embarked on a journey, supported by a grant from Google, to better understand the barriers that afterschool practitioners face in providing digital opportunities.

We interviewed over 100 afterschool leaders, and heard that though they want to integrate technology into existing afterschool programs, lack of of Wi-Fi and devices prevents students from accessing technology and digital learning opportunities to complete assignments, thereby perpetuating the digital divide. Afterschool professionals think it’s important to help students produce technology—rather than just consuming it—but there’s a lack of resources and training to help encourage this innovative spirit in their educational environments.

With continuing support from Google, we built the Afterschool Tech Toolkit to help address these needs. The toolkit includes a series of modules to train school day and afterschool educators on how to implement digital learning and technology in afterschool programs.

In addition to resources and training modules, the toolkit highlights examples of afterschool programs that are already using technology in innovative and engaging ways—and that can serve as models for programs starting to integrate technology and digital learning. For example, the Educational Video Center in New York City teaches students industry standard digital media skills to develop interactive websites about a social issue of relevance to them. The afterschool program at Crocker Elementary School, in Fitchburg, MA, integrates coding, robotics, digital photography, LEGO WeDo, and other technology and digital learning opportunities into their existing program options.

AfterschoolPrograms.jpg

These LA’s BEST elementary students are tinkering with code to get their robot to successfully complete its mission.

Since summer is a great time to think about how to integrate technology into afterschool programs, we’re also hosting a series of webinars to train afterschool leaders on the toolkit. As on-the-ground practitioners test and use the toolkit, we will be eagerly gathering their feedback on additional resources and supports necessary to serve students throughout the country.

We look forward to supporting programs to enable staff and students alike to become active and responsible digital citizens, critical consumers and innovative makers themselves.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
How Many Exclamation Points Do You Need To Seem Genuinely Enthusiastic?

How Many Exclamation Points Do You Need To Seem Genuinely Enthusiastic?

How many exclamation points does it take to exclaim something? One, a human of sound mind and a decent grasp of punctuation might say. But, on the internet, it often doesn’t. The Atlantic: Not anymore. Digital communication is undergoing exclamation-point inflation. When single exclamation points adorn every sentence in a business email, it takes two to convey true enthusiasm. Or three. Or four. Or more. I noticed this in my own social circles recently. Multiple exclamation points were popping up in mundane places, not attached to hyperbole or any kind of frenzied emotion. A simple work email might yield a “Sounds good!!!” I find myself doing it, too. “All of these quirks of social media — that would include exclamation points, and all caps, and repetition of letters, those are the three main ones that show enthusiasm — people use more of them,” says Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. This sort of inflation is a natural linguistic phenomenon that regularly happens to words, like how awesome was once reserved for that which truly struck awe into a quavering heart and is now scarcely more than a verbal thumbs up. But this time it’s happening to punctuation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
$2 million for CS & STEM education for aspiring women and student technologists

$2 million for CS & STEM education for aspiring women and student technologists

In 1993, I moved from India to the United States to enroll as an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder. The transition to the U.S. was overwhelming. I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock of being both a first-generation college student and one of very few women in my computer science department. I also wasn’t totally confident that a career in computer science was right for me—I didn’t have access to a computer until my late teens and didn’t have much of an interest in computers overall. It was my father who had suggested I pursue a degree in CS.

Luckily, I quickly established a great bench of mentors at CU Boulder who helped me find my footing. Professor Bobby Schnabel, the department chair at the time, helped me secure a spot in the engineering dorm even though I missed the application deadline. Later, Professor Mike Schwartz changed the course of my life when he invited me to be a summer research assistant on a government funded project. After learning of my plans to move back to India for an arranged marriage after graduation, he shared the story of Arati Prabhakar, an Indian woman who was the first woman to head the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). I decided to stay in Denver and get a job as a software programmer—and 24 years later, I’m a director at Google, leading a team of engineers who work on Google Payments in Boulder, CO.

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Bhavna with Scott Green, Site Lead for Google Boulder, during the office’s Holi festival

I was fortunate to have a tremendous support system to guide me and advocate for me during college and the years that followed. But that’s not often the case for other women and minorities looking to break into tech. That’s why I’m so excited to share that today Google is making more than $2 million worth of investments aimed at increasing access to CS & STEM education for aspiring women technologists across the country and students around the globe, starting here in Boulder.

First, Google.org is providing a $1.5 million grant to fund the expansion of the Physics Education Technology (PhET) Interactive Simulations project at CU Boulder as part of Google.org’s $50 million global commitment to help close the education gap in developing countries. PhET is a pioneer in digital STEM education—their interactive science and math simulations have been translated into 90 languages and are used more than 80 million times a year by students around the world. This funding will help PhET redesign their top simulations to make them easier to use on the low-cost phones and tablets for aspiring technologists in countries like Mexico, India, Brazil, and South Africa. Students in these regions need training and inspiration to spark their curiosity and a passion for working in tech. By helping to grow PhET’s reach, we hope to provide that.

Second, Google is providing our 26th Street Boulder office space to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to establish their new national headquarters. Originally founded on CU Boulder’s campus, NCWIT is a community of more than 1,100 universities, companies, nonprofits, and government organizations working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. As part of NCWIT’s move, Google is fully funding the lease for the office space, which will amount to a $1.3 million investment after the full-term lease agreement. Our hope is that this will help eliminate some of NCWIT’s financial costs, allowing them to continue to grow and have a positive impact on young girls and women across the country.  

Google has long standing relationships with CU Boulder and NCWIT. We actively recruit from CU Boulder and a number of our employees are graduates of the university. More recently, CU Boulder students took part in the very first pilot of Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course and provided valuable feedback that helped shape the content into the version that was just released publicly. Additionally, since 2013, we’ve provided more than $4 million in funding to NCWIT to support efforts like the Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs and EngageCSEDU. Today’s announcement is another step we’re taking to work with these organizations to increase access and representation in tech.

NCWIT CU Boulder announcement

From left to right: Scott Green, Boulder Site Lead, Kathy Perkins, Director of PhET, Lt. Gov Donna Lynne, Lucy Sanders, Co-founder and CEO of NCWIT, Jess Abbott, Google Boulder Program Manager and Bhava Chhabra, Director of Google Payments, at an event for today’s announcement

When I think back to my time at CU Boulder, I’m filled with immense pride. I left campus feeling inspired and fulfilled. I see my own journey reflected in the communities these organizations are working to serve, and hope that other students are able to discover their passion, build genuine and lasting relationships with people who have their best interest at heart and find a home in tech the way that I did!  

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
Words with Multiple Meanings Pose a Special Challenge To Algorithms

Words with Multiple Meanings Pose a Special Challenge To Algorithms

Sample this: Me: So that’s the marshmallow but you’re going to eat it with this graham cracker and chocolate. [My son looks at me like I am the dumbest person alive.] Sebastian: No, I’m going to eat it with my MOUTH.[End of play.] That’s from “S’MORES. A Real-Life One-Act Play”, a conversation between Hamilton impresario Lin-Manuel Miranda which his young son Sebastian. In that brief interaction, young Sebastian Miranda inadvertently hit upon a kind of ambiguity that reveals a great deal about how people learn and process language — and how we might teach computers to do the same. The misinterpretation on which the s’mores story hinges is hiding in the humble preposition with. Imagine the many ways one could finish this sentence: I’m going to eat this marshmallow with … If you’re in the mood for s’mores, then “graham cracker and chocolate” is an appropriate object of the preposition with. But if you want to split the marshmallow with a friend, you could say you’re going to eat it “with my buddy Charlie.” The Atlantic elaborates: Somehow speakers of English master these many possible uses of the word with without anyone specifically spelling it out for them. At least that’s the case for native speakers — in a class for English as a foreign language, the teacher likely would tease apart these nuances. But what if you wanted to provide the same linguistic education to a machine? As it happens, just days after Miranda sent his tweet, computational linguists presented a conference paper exploring exactly why such ambiguous language is challenging for a computer-based system to figure out. The researchers did so using an online game that serves as a handy introduction to some intriguing work currently being done in the field of natural language processing (NLP). The game, called Madly Ambiguous , was developed by the linguist Michael White and his colleagues at Ohio State University. In it, you are given a challenge: to stump a bot named Mr. Computer Head by filling the blank in the sentence Jane ate spaghetti with ____________. Then the computer tries to determine which kind of with you intended. Playful images drive the point home. [Editor’s note: check the article for corresponding images.] In the sentence Jane ate spaghetti with a fork, Mr. Computer Head should be able to figure out that the fork is a utensil, and not something that is eaten in addition to the spaghetti. Likewise, if the sentence is Jane ate spaghetti with meatballs, it should be obvious that meatballs are part of the dish, not an instrument for eating spaghetti.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
BBC Releases Computer History Archive

BBC Releases Computer History Archive

An anonymous reader shares a report: A slice of computing history has been made public, giving people the opportunity to delve into an archive that inspired a generation of coders. The Computer Literacy Project led to the introduction of the BBC Micro alongside programs which introduced viewers to the principles of computing. It included interviews with innovators such as Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak. The BBC hopes the 1980s archive will encourage today’s youngsters to become involved in computing. With the release of the archive, viewers can now search and browse all of the programmes from the project. The archive includes 267 programs, and 166 BBC Micro programs that were used on-screen.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
Spark student creativity with Chromebook tablets, AR, VR and more

Spark student creativity with Chromebook tablets, AR, VR and more

Editor’s note: This week, we’re in Chicago at ISTE connecting with thousands of educators and introducing our latest tools and features. In this post, we dive into some features on the new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and other next gen devices, designed to inspire new heights in creativity for students and teachers alike. Follow along all week for updates on Twitter and Facebook, and if you’re at ISTE, visit us at booth #1602 to learn more, say hello to our team and test out our latest classroom tools.

We’re here to help teachers plan for the upcoming school year with new updates and features to Chromebooks, AR and VR, and more. Get ready to add a little more creativity into summer-syllabusing—the opportunities for sparking inventive and imaginative thinking in students have never looked brighter.

Tab-ulate Future Focused Learning

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10, the first Chrome OS tablet designed for education, is now on sale from resellers in the U.S., and it’s coming soon to other countries. These devices have the same speed, ease of use, manageability, shareability, security and affordability that educators are used to with Chromebooks—but in a lightweight, durable tablet. Plus, with a built-in stylus and cameras on both sides of the device, students can create imaginative multimedia projects from anywhere. USB-C charging means a cart of standard USB-chargers can handle any future model of Chromebooks.

Tablet in action

Adventures with AR and VR

Over one million students explored tornadoes, planets and more through augmented reality (AR) during the Expeditions AR Pioneer Program this year, and now we’re bringing AR to the Acer Chromebook Tab 10. AR Expeditions will be available on the tablet this fall and until then, you can explore virtual reality (VR) field trips in full screen today!

AR on the Acer Chromebook Tab 10

And for all of the education developers out there with visions of using AR in your product, you’ll be able to bring AR experiences to life on the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, the first ChromeOS device to support ARCore, coming this fall. We can’t wait to see what you create.

We’ve also opened the world of VR creation to everyone through Tour Creator. Using footage from 360° cameras or picking from the huge library of existing Street View content, teachers and students can make their own VR tours. With features like annotations, ambient audio and narration, you can add details and facts into the tour. And because Tour Creator is a web-based application, anyone can start experimenting and creating their own VR experiences—with no prior knowledge or experience—on any Chromebook, today.

The New No. 2. Pencil

We’ve partnered with pencil company Staedtler, a name synonymous with good-old fashioned analog learning, to develop a stylus that students can share across devices. The STAEDTLER Noris digital for Chromebook stylus requires no pairing, requires no charging or battery, and is designed with affordability in mind. Along with the annotation feature in Classroom, educators can give handwritten feedback and assign PDF worksheets that students can annotate with their stylus. Does this stylus work with other apps? App-solutely. Try Squid to sketch ideas, Jamboard to collaborate in real time, or Explain Everything to create stories and turn ideas into understanding. Expect these scribbling towards a store near you later this summer.

Staedtler Stylus

Now open: Chromebook off hours

More devices and more tools mean a greater need for effective management, and we’re rolling out a range of new admin capabilities before back to school. One long-requested feature that’s available now is device off hours, which allows schools to flexibly manage “bring your own device” programs. Admins can set a schedule to allow for full device management during the school day, while certain policies will not be enforced during the evenings at home (allowing parents and other family members to use the device). Admins can check out the rest of the management features in our revamped release notes in the Chrome Help Center and can also subscribe to be informed via email.

Lock n’ Roll

In the past, teachers have been concerned that students get distracted, browse the web for answers or chat with other students during assessments in Google Forms Quizzes. To keep wandering pupils on task—and put educators at ease—we’re launching locked mode in Quizzes on managed Chromebooks, which locks students’ screens and prevents them from navigating away from the Quiz until they submit their answers. Once the student hits the submit button, they can resume normal use of their Chromebook. Locked mode is fully managed by teachers, which gives educators control over assessments without needing help from their IT administrator. Get ready to show what you know, because locked mode is coming to users this fall.

Locked mode in Google Forms Quizzes

Our mission is to not only help teachers be more organized and efficient, but more importantly, enable them to unleash the creative potential of their students. As we continue to update and improve our Google for Education tools and devices, we encourage teachers and guardians to try out new devices and apps, and to let us know what you think. Have fun at ISTE and we’ll see you at teacher karaoke!

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, G Suite

How Google Digital Workshop prepares you for new job opportunities

In 2015, we started the Growth Engine effort in Europe (which became Grow with Google last year) to help people get the right skills to find a job, advance their careers or grow their businesses. So far, we’ve helped 725,000 Europeans and we’re committed to help 1 million more by 2020.

As part of this initiative, we offer a wide range of free courses through Google Digital Workshop, offering personalized learning plans on both Google and non-Google platforms. Digital marketing is one of our most popular courses, and for those who take the course, we’ve created a Digital Workshop Certificate (accredited by IAB Europe) to demonstrate your digital marketing proficiency to potential employers and recruiters. More than 300,000 people have earned their certification to date: Sylwia from Poland, who after honing her digital skills through Google Digital Workshop, was promoted to a new position, and Darko, CEO of Slovenian e-commerce platform Ceneje.si, who after completing the training encouraged everyone in his company to develop their digital knowledge and get certified.

Here are some improvements we’ve recently made to the Google Digital Workshop Certificate so that it’s easier for both job-seekers and employers to find new opportunities:

Recruiters can verify your course certification
Each certificate will now have a unique code and personalized URL, so that recruiters can verify that you’ve taken the course.

Show off your certificate
Our newly-designed professional certificate will help you show off a comprehensive digital marketing understanding, either on a CV or LinkedIn profile.

Learn new topics to keep your skills sharp
We’re also adding new topics to the certification, designed to give you a deeper knowledge of content marketing, how to turn data into insights and how to create an online business plan.

These changes will also help employers and recruiters find the right talent for their businesses. At Google, we’re encouraging applicants to get the Google Digital Workshop Certificate as a requisite to apply for junior positions in Marketing and Sales.

With this new certificate, we’re continuing our efforts to bring digital skills and new opportunities to everyone.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education, Google in Europe
Some Science Journals That Claim To Peer Review Papers Do Not Do So

Some Science Journals That Claim To Peer Review Papers Do Not Do So

A rising number of journals that claim to review submissions do not bother to do so. Not coincidentally, this seems to be leading some academics to inflate their publication lists with papers that might not pass such scrutiny. The Economist: Experts debate how many journals falsely claim to engage in peer review. Cabells, an analytics firm in Texas, has compiled a blacklist of those which it believes are guilty. According to Kathleen Berryman, who is in charge of this list, the firm employs 65 criteria to determine whether a journal should go on it — though she is reluctant to go into details. Cabells’ list now totals around 8,700 journals, up from a bit over 4,000 a year ago. Another list, which grew to around 12,000 journals, was compiled until recently by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado. Using Mr Beall’s list, Bo-Christer Bjork, an information scientist at the Hanken School of Economics, in Helsinki, estimates that the number of articles published in questionable journals has ballooned from about 53,000 a year in 2010 to more than 400,000 today. He estimates that 6% of academic papers by researchers in America appear in such journals.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education
Algeria Shuts Off Entire Country's Internet To Stop Students From Cheating

Algeria Shuts Off Entire Country's Internet To Stop Students From Cheating

Algeria has begun instituting nationwide internet blackouts to prevent students from leaking high school diploma exams online. Gizmodo reports: The country will turn off mobile and landline internet service across the country for an hour at a time during the exam period, which started on Wednesday and runs through June 25. The 11 blackouts are scheduled for an hour after each exam begins. In 2016, exam questions were reportedly leaked online and authorities were dissatisfied with a less stringent attempt to limit social media during the 2017 exams. The sweeping shutdown will also block Facebook for the entirety of the exam period, Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit told Algerian newspaper Annahar, according to the BBC. Benghabrit reportedly said they are “not comfortable” with their choice to shut down all internet service, but that they “should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak.” Metal detectors are reportedly being used to make sure that no one brings any internet-enabled devices into the exam halls. Surveillance cameras and phone jammers are also being used at the locations where the exams are being printed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, education