Friday Round Up 6/15/2012

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RIP White MacBook: The Future of Apple Computers at School
This Monday Apple hosted its annual Developer Conference and presented all new updates to the Mac Line. The big news for schools was the unveiling of iOS 6 for the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, available this fall. The update included “guided access” which allows teachers and parents to restrict students to viewing one app at a time or limit touch input. This is a great feature for schools with iPads, and the number of schools with iPads is growing rapidly. In the second quarter of 2012 iPads outnumbered sales of macs to schools by a ratio of 2:1. Even with the increasing popularity of iPads in schools, many still wonder why there is no replacement computer for the white macbook pro that was very popular in schools. The white macbook was sold for $999 had a large amount of memory and a CD drive, but they were taken off the market it 2011. The only computer in the same price range currently is the 11 inch Macbook Air which in addition to being two inches smaller, also does not have as much memory or a CD drive. Perhaps iPads are becoming the go-to computer for schools.

Can Free, High-Quality Education Get You A Job?

It is fantastic to see the increasing number of free, high quality, online college courses being offered by top name schools. It’s a huge step in the right direction when it comes to democratizing education and bringing it to people affordably at a large scale. But can these courses help you obtain a job? Mindshift recently asked company recruiters from tech start-ups, finance firms and banking companies if they would consider non-traditional candidates who received their education from these schools. At this point in time it seemed like all three fields were hesitant to accept a candidate that did not have a traditional college education. I would be interested to see if this changes in five years, after courses are more established and taught on a broader array of topics.

Personalized Learning – Swedish Style
Outside of Stockholm lies one of Sweden’s top-performing schools – Kunskapsskolan Tyresö. This is one of a network of 33 Kunskapsskolan schools in Sweeden, all funded by a public voucher system with no tuition that accepts students on a first come first serve basis. Key tenets of the school culture include interdisciplinary work, collaboration between students, and technology. Every inch of space is used in the school and filled with tables, chairs, and gather places for students to collaborate. All students responsible for setting personal learning goals for themselves and create strategies to reach them. My favorite aspect of this school culture is the coaching sessions each student has once per week for 15 minutes with their teacher. This is a highly personalized and structured discussion where students share their weekly assignments, reiterate what they have learned, and share what their goals are at this point in time. There are certain issues with this program- for example the voucher system it uses is a very controversial topic in larger school programs like the one in US. But I thought this was a really interesting look at a different program that is seeing success.

College Attendance Costs up 15% Over Two Years, Report Finds
The US Department of Education recently released its listings of public and private universities tuition and fees. These listings show that the average cost of attendance at a university or college in the United States has increased over 15% in the past two years. These increases are partially due to the cuts in funding for many public schools across the country. In some states, public school tuition increases has increased over 40%. Over the past decade school tuition prices have increased by an average of 5.6% per year.

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