March 4 – 10, 2013

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This week’s headline story: A New Tablet Made Just for the Classroom

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 3.54.14 PMRupert Murdock and his company News Corp have jumped into the educational technology industry, with a new tablet designed specifically for the classroom, called Amplify. Joel Klein, Amplify CEO, and former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, introduced Amplify at the South by Southwest Conference last week where he called it the future of K-12 education. The Amplify tablet is unique in that it links together all student tablets with the teachers tablet. Attendance is taken automatically, through the tablet mesh network. The teacher builds interactive lessons from existing online resources such as Kahn Academy and Britannica Online. The tablet comes with dozens of educational apps providing the teacher with the ability to construct learning paths, administer quizzes, and assign homework assignments which may come in the form of educational games. The teacher can track students activities on the tablet, and disable certain apps to keep students focused. The unveiling of the Amplify tablet has created a stir in the media, and has everyone wondering how this dedicated device will compete against similar educational initiatives by big companies like Apple and others.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • A grieving Oregon mother has been battling Facebook to gain access to her deceased son’s account in order to retrieve photos, messages and other memories. As increasing amounts of our lives are stored in social networks, this circumstance is likely to become as inevitable as death, for everyone on social networks. The Oregon Legislature took up the cause recently with a proposal that would have made it easier for loved ones to access the “digital assets” of the deceased. Unfortunately, the hands of service providers like Facebook are tied by the 1986 Federal Telecommunications Act and voluntary terms of service agreements that prohibit companies from sharing a person’s information — even if such a request were included in a last will and testament.
    The Oregon Legislature responded and took up the cause [NewsFactor]
  • Using data drawn from queries entered into Google, Microsoft and Yahoo search engines, scientists at Microsoft, Stanford and Columbia University have outdone the Food and Drug Administration. From search data, researchers were able to detect evidence of unreported prescription drug side effects before they were discovered by the Food and Drug Administration’s warning system.
    Unreported Side Effects of Drugs Are Found Using Internet Search Data, Study Finds [NYTimes]

and in Information Security news this week…

  • A new quarterly Mobile Threat Report by leading security firm F-Secure reveals that 96 percent of all mobile malware targets the Android operating system. Android’s popularity in the market, and its open architecture and app marketplace, make it a natural magnet for hackers.
    96% of Mobile Malware Is on Android, Study Finds [NewsFactor]
  • The Whitehouse has weighed in on the ongoing battle to allow users to unlock phones to run on other networks. The White House believes that reversing the ban on unlocking would help ensure a competitive mobile device market and consumer choice, said R. David Edelman, a senior advisor to the administration for Internet, innovation and privacy. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski also voiced his support for legal, unlocked devices, saying it would secure competition and market innovation. He said Monday he encouraged Congress to examine the policy.
    White House Support for Unlocked Phones May Dial Up Pressure on Congress [Ecommerce Times]

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Get ready for the moans and groans. This week Facebook previewed a new design for its news feed page. Mark Zucherberg is calling the new design a “personal newspaper.” It features bigger photos and links (not unlike Google+), and lets users filter their posts to see specific topics like music, photos, and posts by close friends. The new design also gives Facebook a common look and feel across all devices – notebooks, tablets, and phones.
    Facebook Shows Off New Home Page Design, Including Bigger Pictures [NYTimes]
    Facebook News Feed: More Options But with a Uniform Look [NewsFactor]
    Facebook’s Rejiggered News Feed: The Ads Have It [Ecommerce News]
  • Expectations are rising for the unveiling of Samsung’s new smartphone, the Galaxy S IV. The phones predecessor the SIII is the only phone to beat out the iPhone in quarterly sales last year. The S III featured new eye-tracking technology that kept the handset display from dimming so long as the user was viewing viewing it. Analysts are guessing that the S IV will take that technology to the next step and provide automatic scrolling when the user’s eye gets to the bottom or top of the screen. Other’s are predicting that the phone will provide a gesture interface allowing the user to interact with display items without touching the glass. Time will tell which of these predictions, if either, come true when the phone is unveiled on the 14th.
    Expectations Rise for Coming Samsung Galaxy S IV [NewsFactor]
    Will the New Samsung Galaxy S IV Have Eye Scrolling? [NewsFactor]
  • Along with Samsung and Leap Motion, Microsoft is working to expand its reputation in gesture control. The company is working to reduce the size and price of its Kinect controller so that it can be built-in televisions and computers. Recently, at its new Envisioning Center, Microsoft demonstrated Kinect embedded into a large-screen TV, so that hand gestures could be used in place of a TV remote. There are also reports Microsoft working with computer maker Asus, to embed Kinect in notebook computers.
    Microsoft Targets Kinect Controller for Computers, TVs [NewsFactor]

and finally….

  • A study by MIT professor of media arts and sciences Rosalind Picard tracked a student’s state of “arousal associated with emotion, cognition and attention” over the course of a week. The study revealed that during periods of study, lab work and homework, the student maintained regular, strong spikes in intellectual arousal, but the readout flat-lined during two activities: attending lecture class and watching TV. The study serves to support the use of interactive activities for learning over traditional lectures.
    Higher-ed leaders meet to discuss future of online education [MIT News]

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