Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

+ - Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In a NY Times Op Ed, developmental psychologist Susan Pinker goes against the conventional White House wisdom about the importance of Internet connectivity for schoolchildren and instead argues that students can have too much tech. "More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea," Pinker writes. "But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it." Tech can help the progress of children, Pinker acknowledges, but proper use is the rub. As a cautionary tale, Pinker cites a study by Duke economists that tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The news was not good. "Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores," the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children."

+ - How Blind Programmers Can Outcode You With Their Eyes Closed

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Yes, Slashdot, there are blind programmers. Ed Summers, for one, who lost his vision at age 30 and now ghostblogs for Willie the Seeing Eye Dog. And if you've ever wondered how the blind can code, blind-since-birth Florian Beijers explains that all he needs is a normal Dell Inspiron 15r SE notebook and his trusty open source NVDA screen reader software, and he's good-to-go. "This is really all the adaptation a blind computer user needs," Beijers adds, but he does ask one small favor: "If you're writing the next big application, with a stunning UI and a great workflow, I humbly ask you to consider accessibility as part of the equation. In this day and age, there's really no reason not to use the UI toolkits available.""

+ - Brought to You by the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Maybe Bill Gates' Summer Reading this year will include The Art of R Programming. Pushing further into Big Data, Microsoft on Friday announced it's buying Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. "By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services," blogged Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, "we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale." Revolution Analytics' David Smith added, "Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company [RedHat:Linux as Revolution Analytics:R], but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently." Now that it has Microsoft's blessing, is it finally time for AP Statistics to switch its computational vehicle to R?"

+ - White House Deputizes Zuck's Tech Billionaire PAC to Implement Executive Action

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "On Friday, the White House announced steps it would be taking to implement the President's Executive action on immigration in cities across the country, which includes turning to Mark Zuckerberg's tech billionaire-backed FWD.us PAC to help the nation's mayors get it done. "Cities have taken significant steps to defend and prepare for the implementation of the President's executive actions on immigration," reads the White House Fact Sheet, "which will strengthen border security, hold potentially millions of undocumented immigrants accountable, and boost wages and our economy. Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA) and Cities for Citizenship are two initiatives helping to organize mayors to partner with business, faith, and law enforcement officials; and host information sessions. Over the next few weeks, in partnership with the National Immigration Forum, Fwd.us, and CUIA, mayors will host over 14 informational sessions in cities across the country including Phoenix, AZ, Boston, MA and Austin, TX." The White House announcement comes just days after Senator Jeff Sessions, who blasted "Master of the Universe" Zuckerberg over immigration last fall, was named to Chair the Senate Panel on Immigration."

+ - Bill Gates Needs an Online Education History Lesson

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""We're not fond of Bill Gates," wrote Philip Greenspun in 1999, "but it still hurts to see Microsoft struggle with problems that IBM solved in the 1960s." And, after reading the 2015 Gates Annual Letter, one worries that BillG might be struggling with online education problems that PLATO and other computer assisted instruction systems solved in the '60s and '70s. One of the five breakthroughs Bill and Melinda foresee in the next 15 years is that Better Software Will Revolutionize Learning, but the accompanying narrative suggests that Bill still doesn't know much about TechEd history. "Think back 15 years," the Gates write, "to when online education was first gaining traction. It amounted to little more than pointing a camera at a university lecturer and hitting the 'record' button. Students couldn't take online quizzes or connect with each other. It wasn't interactive at all." Think again, Bill. Check out A 1980 Teenager's View on Social Media, Brian Dear's ode to his experience with PLATO. Or ask ex-Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie to share his experiences with PLATO in the '70s, a decade that saw PLATO teaching reading to young children and computer science to college students like your then 18-year-old self. And while cheap microcomputers eventually killed the expensive PLATO CDC mainframe star, there are some lessons today's MOOCs could learn from studying their PLATO History, like providing easy-to-learn-and-use authoring software to allow courseware to be built by classroom instructors (pdf), not just Gates Foundation and Google-funded engineers. Keep on keepin' on Bill, but make sure your MOOC Research includes some history lessons!"

+ - The untold story of the invention of the game cartridge-> 2

Submitted by harrymcc
harrymcc (1641347) writes "In 1973, an obscure company which had been making electronic cash registers looked for a new business opportunity. It ended up inventing the game cartridge--an innovation which kickstarted a billion-dollar industry and helped establish videogames as a creative medium. The story has never been told until now, but over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards chronicles the fascinating tale, based on interviews with the engineers responsible for the feat back in the mid-1970s."
Link to Original Source

+ - SOTU: Community Colleges, Employers to Train Workers for High-Paying Coding Jobs

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Coding got a couple of shout-outs from the White House in Tuesday's State of the Union Address. "Thanks to Vice President Biden's great work to update our job training system," said President Obama (YouTube), "we're connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics." And among the so-called "boats" in the new "River of Content" that the White House social media folks came up with to enhance the State of the Union is a card intended to be shared on Twitter & Facebook which reads, "Let's teach more Americans to code. (Even the President is learning!)." Hey, just like President George H.W. Bush was doing in 1991!"

+ - Justified: Visual Basic over Python for an Intro to Programming

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "ICT/Computing teacher Ben Gristwood justifies his choice of Visual Basic as a programming language (as a gateway to other languages), sharing an email he sent to a parent who suggested VB was not as 'useful' as Python. "I understand the popularity at the moment of the Python," Gristwood wrote, "however this language is also based on the C language. When it comes to more complex constructs Python cannot do them and I would be forced to rely on C (which is incredibly complex for a junior developer) VB acts as the transition between the two and introduces the concepts without the difficult conventions required. Students in Python are not required to do things such as declare variables, which is something that is required for GCSE and A-Level exams." Since AP Computer Science debuted in 1984, it has transitioned from Pascal to C++ to Java. For the new AP Computer Science Principles course, which will debut in 2016, the College Board is leaving the choice of programming language(s) up to the teachers. So, if it was your call, what would be your choice for the Best Programming Language for High School?"

+ - State of the YOUnion: President Obama to Seek Advice from YouTube Stars

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "For better or worse, YouTube stars are a big deal these days. Last December, Microsoft and Code.org turned to YouTube Stars iJustine and The Fine Brothers to help recruit the nation's K-12 schookids for the Hour of Code. And next week, in what the White House is touting as the State of the YOUnion , President Obama will turn to a trio of YouTube Stars for advice on the issues of day following his State of the Union Address. "We're inviting a handful of YouTube creators to the White House to talk with the President in person," explains the White House Blog, "and you can watch it all live on Thursday, January 22. YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell, and Hank Green will interview President Obama about the issues care they most about and what they’re hearing from their audiences." Commenting on the choice of the YouTube interviewers, CNN's David Acosta asked (confused) WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest, "I'm just curious, was 'Charlie Bit My Finger' or 'David After Dentist' not available?" So, how long until the U.S. is redistricted into YouTube Channels?"

Comment: How to influence the innumerate with CS Ed stats! (Score 1) 335

by theodp (#48841865) Attached to: Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

Why we need $400 million to teach K-12 CS: 1. "Only 10 percent of schools teach it [CS]." 2. "No Girls, Blacks, or Hispanics Take AP Computer Science Exam in Some States." 3. "Currently, only 25 states allow computer science to count as a mathematics or science credit towards graduation."

+ - Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Some of the world's leading Data Scientists are on the payrolls of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple. So, it'd be interesting to get their take on the infographics the tech giants have passed off as diversity data disclosures. Microsoft, for example, reported its workforce is 29% female, which isn't great, but if one takes the trouble to run the numbers on a linked EEO-1 filing snippet (PDF), some things look even worse. For example, only 23.35% of its reported white U.S. employee workforce is female (Microsoft, like Google, footnotes that "Gender data are global, ethnicity data are US only"). And while Google and Facebook blame their companies' lack of diversity on the demographics of U.S. computer science grads, CS grad and nationality breakouts were not provided as part of their diversity disclosures. Also, the EEOC notes that EEO-1 numbers reflect "any individual on the payroll of an employer who is an employee for purposes of the employers withholding of Social Security taxes," further muddying the disclosures of companies relying on imported talent, like H-1B visa dependent Facebook. So, were the diversity disclosure mea culpas less about providing meaningful data for analysis, and more about deflecting criticism and convincing lawmakers there's a need for education and immigration legislation (aka Microsoft's National Talent Strategy) that's in tech's interest?"

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder

Working...