Free online course: how to write and read fake news

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Mark Marino writes, "Boingers might be interested in this new free 3-week course I'm co-teaching with UnderAcademy College founder Talan Memmott: How to Write and Read Fake News: Journalism in the Age of Trump. It starts Jan. 20, of course." Read the rest

Children synthesize $2 version of Martin Shkreli's $750 malaria drug

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The smirking, villainous pharma-hedge-douche-bro Martin Shkreli (previously) bought the rights to the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim -- used to treat malaria, a disease that disproportionately affects the poorest people in the world -- and jacked the price from $13.50/dose to $750/dose. Read the rest

People really, really suck at using computers

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The OECD's 2011-2015, 33 country, 215,942-person study of computer skills paints a deceptively grim picture of the average level of computer proficiency around the world -- deceptive because it excludes over-65s, who research shows to be, on average, less proficient than the 16-65 cohort sampled. Read the rest

A database of professors who've traumatized the right's pampered little Special Snowflakes

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Since last spring, the "Professor Watchlist" has allowed right-wing students at American universities to anonymously blacklist the professors "who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom." Read the rest

Donald Duck is a quite effective and surreal math teacher

"Donald in Mathmagic Land" was released in 1959. As Walt Disney said, "The cartoon is a good medium to stimulate interest."

Read the rest

A guide to making and learning for K-3 teachers

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John Scott Tynes writes, "Alice Baggett is a third-grade technology teacher at Seattle Country Day School. She wrote this awesome guide for teachers of kindergarten through third grade to incorporate maker thinking and STEM projects into their classrooms. She loves supporting kids becoming creators, not just consumers, of technology and engineering. It would make a lovely gift for a teacher in your life!" Read the rest

San Francisco high-school students stage a mass walkout in protest of Trump

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Go, kids, go! Read the rest

Professor "fired after mocking political correctness" story falls apart

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Michael Rectenwald, a 57-year-old untenured NYU professor, was placed on paid leave. He, and various conservative websites, claim that he was forced out for mocking political correctness. Was he? Apparently not. Read the rest

Chicago has about 40% fewer African-American teachers than in 2001

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This month's Mother Jones examines a shocking statistic: "According to the Albert Shanker Institute, which is funded in part by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black educators has declined sharply in some of the largest urban school districts in the nation. In Philadelphia, the number of black teachers declined by 18.5 percent between 2001 and 2012. In Chicago, the black teacher population dropped by nearly 40 percent. And in New Orleans, there was a 62 percent drop in the number of black teachers." Read the rest

Free cybersecurity course from the University of Helsinki and F-Secure

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It's free for anyone to take, and Finns can get credit at the Open University of University of Helsinki (yes, that's what it's called). Read the rest

Devil's Dictionary: the ed-tech edition

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I've been noting humorous updatings of Ambrose Bierce's 1906 humor classic The Devil's Dictionary for years -- there was the publishing edition, and this corker on copyright -- but the Educational Technology edition, by New Storytelling author Bryan Alexander has a currency and an urgency that scores an acerbic bullseye. Read the rest

Comedy writer has exactly the right response to his kid's Fahrenheit 451 permission slip

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Daily Show writer Daniel Radosh's son came home from school with a permission slip that he'd have to sign before the kid could read Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, which is widely believed to be an anti-censorship book (Bradbury himself insisted that this was wrong, and that the book was actually about the evils of television). Read the rest

Public universities and even the US Navy have sold hundreds of patents to America's most notorious troll

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Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy. Read the rest

Hard work and lower standards raise our national high school graduation rate

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Nationally the High School graduation rate has been on the rise. NPR reports the rise is due to a combination of hard work that benefits students, and some states simply lowering standards so they earn passing grades.

Via NPR:

While the graduation rate continues to climb, the improvement comes at a time when the scores of high school students on the test known as the "Nation's Report Card," are essentially flat, and average scores on the ACT and SAT are down.

As we've reported, the rising graduation rate reflects genuine progress, such as closing high schools termed "dropout factories," but also questionable strategies by states and localities to increase their numbers.

"For many students, a high school diploma is not a passport to opportunity, it's a ticket to nowhere," says Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a national nonprofit that's long advocated for higher standards and graduation requirements.

Cohen points out that roughly half of states now offer multiple diplomas. Some of those credentials are rigorous, some aren't. "You don't know how many students who were in that graduation rate actually completed a rigorous course of study. We're not transparent about that. We're concealing a problem."

In many places, the high school graduation exam is also a low bar, Cohen says, while some states have dropped it altogether.

Just last month, in a major school funding ruling, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher excoriated his state for watered down graduation standards that, he says, have already resulted "in unready children being sent to high school, handed degrees, and left, if they can scrape together the money, to buy basic skills at a community college."

It's difficult to know which states earned this uptick in graduation rates through high standards and hard work and which states achieved it through shortcuts and lowered expectations.

Read the rest

Think like a computer scientist: free, interactive textbook

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Runestone's Interactive Python project has adapted 2012's classic How to Think Like a Computer Scientist textbook, updating it to cover recent programming advances, and creating a fully interactive version with quizzes, code examples, and coding challenges. Read the rest

French schools use 3D printed anatomical clitoris models in sex-ed classes

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The amazing internal anatomy of the clitoris is a mystery that has surfaced and vanished in history, coming into focus in 2005 (!), when Royal Melbourne Hospital urologist Helen O'Connell published her groundbreaking MRI studies. Read the rest

Kid who found a knife in a used backpack suspended for turning it in at school

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Kyler Davies is in the seventh grade in the Coldwater Community Schools district in Coldwater, MI; his mom buys her kids (whom she fosters) some of their school supplies used at Goodwill, including Kyler's backpack, which turned out to have a knife in it. Read the rest

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