New Safe K12 education platform — supported by Google, MS, etc.

Major Tech Companies Partner To Build Educational ‘Platform For Good’

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and other major tech companies have joined together. No, not to build a new phone or gadget. Instead, it’s far more important.

They’ve partnered with non-profit organizationFamily Online Safety Institute (FOSI) to build A Platform For Good. It’s a safe digital place for teens, parents, and teachers to learn about and share information about online safety. I was discussing this with Katie yesterday and we were overwhelmed by the scary things that students and teachers alike could encounter online. It’s great to see the big tech firms understanding this too. Hopefully they know a bit more than we do, though.

Key Features

It’s a host of resources that have been combined into one solid platform. From videos to blogs to tips for parents and kids, there’s more than enough information about online safety to keep you busy.

One of my favorite tools is the Teach Teachers Tech video series. It’s a series of videos (not a ton yet, but more coming soon!) that do what the name suggests. There are videos on turning your classroom into a digital textbook, digital field trips, and more. Here’s one of my favorites:


For Teens

– There are polls asking for a teenager’s insight into what technology means to them, online safety, etc.

– Blog posts from teachers and security professionals helping increase awareness about online behavior

– Web tools and apps that are helpful in staying safe online

For Parents

– Upcoming videos on teaching parents technology (currently a poll is there to fill out)

– Recommended tools and apps for parents to use with their children

– Volunteer opportunities

– Safety and security tips for both parents and teens

For Teachers

– Teach Teachers Tech videos (see above)

– Recommended tools and apps for teachers to use with their students

– Regular blog posts from teachers and security experts


Here Comes the Democratization of Higher Ed

Harvard, MIT Venture Aims to Fill India’s Education Gap

By Visi R. Tilak


How would you like to take courses from Harvard and MIT anywhere in the world?

Professor Anant Agarwal from MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, heads an organization called edX, which he says has a vision to “Democratize education, transform lives and reinvent campus education.”

Non-profit edX makes online courses from leading universities like Harvard, MIT and Berkeley available to anyone worldwide, for free. It is funded by Harvard and MIT, who both invested $30 million in the company.

Mr. Agarwal sees particular potential in India, where many of the college-age population compete for a limited amount of places at schools. The professor, who used to head the Artificial Intelligence department at MIT, says India needs to make high quality education from world-class universities available to this large target market.

“In India, there is extreme competition for a very small number of seats at universities,” he says.

In June, edX completed its first MIT course, 6.002x Circuits and Electronics, a sophomore level course as rigorous as the MIT on-campus one, according to Mr. Agarwal, who taught it himself with a team of seven others.  He says students from 160 countries were represented in the online course. India accounted for the second-largest number of enrollees, with approximately 20,000, while the most – about 60,000 – came from the U.S.

“Learners from India were diverse: students enrolled at IITs and other schools, students preparing to apply to universities. This not only speaks to diversity within the country itself, it also speaks to edX’s goal of embracing diversity as a whole,” Mr. Agarwal says.

MIT received 18,000 applications and accepted 1,600 students for on-campus education last semester. According to Mr. Agarwal, there were 155,000 registrations worldwide for edX’s first course, 23,000 online learners who completed the first problem set, 9,000 who passed the midterm, and nearly 7,200 who passed the course.

Mr. Anant Agarwal.

“Although the attrition rate may seem high at first glance, if you look at the number in absolute terms, it is as many students as might take the course in 40 years at MIT,” says Mr. Agarwal.

He believes that edX provides access to quality higher education for anyone who has Internet and can master the work. It is not based on a learner’s ability to pay a top university, and it is not reserved for the small percentage that can be accepted due to on-campus space and resource limitations.

In India, Mr. Agarwal says, the dilemma of how to educate everyone who has the talent and intellect but not the resources is even more pronounced. “The university infrastructure in India simply cannot accommodate the talent.”

The next natural progression would be partnerships with educational institutions in India, Mr. Agarwal says, adding that discussions are underway with some IITs in the country.

He says that some of the biggest employers of IT talent in India, including Infosys 500209.BY -2.77% and Wipro, have expressed an interest in hiring students with credentials from edX, though discussions are at a very early stage.

“I was one of the fortunate students who was able to enter the funnel in the traditional way, both in India and in the United States. As edX casts its net across the world, I would like to see other students in India reap the benefits of high quality education,” says the professor, who was born in Mangalore and is a graduate of IIT Madras.

“Perhaps edX will help educate the next Jonas Salk? Or Narayan Murthy? Or Azim Premji?  The opportunities are endless,” he adds.

Visi R. Tilak is freelance writer with bylines in publications such as the Boston Globe, Indian Express, India Today and Tehelka.  She can be reached via email, her website or on Twitter @vtilak.


11 Real Ways Technology Is Affecting Education Right Now

The amount of technology flooding into classrooms may vary widely, but there’s no denying that it’s a red-hot trend in education. A new study further bolsters this idea as it’s found that digital devices are saving students time, are widely accepted, and are actually making students more likely to do their homework.

All these factoids and more are presented in the study by CourseSmart and Wakefield Researchwhich focused on more than 500 currently enrolled college students. It found that nearly all of the students (98%) that own a device have used it in school. 90% of these students say it saves them time, too. Here’s the rundown of what the study found according to a recent MarketWatch article (also check out the handy infographic below for even more details):

  • The survey revealed that technology has become a significant part of students’ everyday lives with the average using three devices daily.
  • A majority (67%) can’t go more than one hour without using some sort of digital technology, with 40% not lasting more than 10 minutes.
  • Print textbooks are losing their reputation of being indispensable. Only 5% of students say textbooks are the most important item in their bag and a majority of students say they are more likely to bring a laptop (51%) than a print textbook (39%) to class.
  • Digital devices also allow for on-the-go reference to information with 79% of college students reporting they have done a quick search on a mobile device or tablet to verify something right before a test or a quiz.
  • The study found that 68% of college students who save time using technology report saving two hours or more each day and nearly one in six students (14%) saving five hours or more.
  • Nearly 3 in 5 students (58%) report that they frequently are unable to complete required reading in time for class and of those, a majority (51%) said they would be more likely to do so if they had digital textbooks that could be accessed on a mobile device, eReader, laptop or tablet.
  • Online courses are gaining popularity with 58% of students reporting they have taken an online course, motivated primarily by being able to take the class on their own time (63%), not having to physically be in a class (48%) and being able to learn at their own pace (47%).
  • Traditional brick and mortar classes, though, are incorporating online elements, creating increasingly hybrid experiences.
  • Nearly all (96%) college students have had online components to a course: a majority of students (79%) have submitted assignments or papers online and 71% have taken online tests and quizzes.
  • Communication between faculty and students is becoming more social with nearly one in five (18%) students having received materials from their professor via Facebook.
  • Professors are also relying more on technology for delivering class announcements and assignments: 84% of students have had professors post a class syllabus online and 78% of students have received class news and updates from their professors via campus systems, such as learning management systems or student portals.

“The survey underscores the undeniable influence technology has on today’s college experience. As technology continues to evolve and digital devices become integral to the evolution of higher education, it’s encouraging to see the positive impact on learning outcomes as students utilize advanced devices and digital course materials to streamline and improve their learning environment,” said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart.