Friday, May 27, 2011

Perspectives on Online Learning

photo courtesy Microsoft
Sara Bernard interviewed online teachers, a curriculum provider, the mother of two online students, as well as the students themselves, about what is and isn't working in online education, and offers five surprising insights. Among them, students may, in fact, receive more attention in online schools compared with traditional schools, and many online programs provide a framework for learning that may be suitable for students who are undermotivated or who have special needs.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Microsoft Acquires Skype

Last week it was rumored to be Google and Facebook, but it seems that Microsoft has outbid the competition. Marking the largest acquisition in Microsoft's history, the company announced that it has agreed to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion. Skype runs the giant global videoconferencing and voice communication network that has 170 million subscribers and logged 207 billion minutes of conversations last year, according to the company. The service is free, although the company offers premium services such as establishing multipoint conferences and communications with non-Skype users for a fee.

Microsoft plans to run Skype out of a totally new division headed up by current Skype CEO, Tony Bates. Bates said he anticipates Skype's user base growing from millions to billions of subscribers saying, "We believe that this is a platform and a set of services that can reach everyone on the planet."

What does this mean for education?  Will Skype remain free?  Why did Microsoft want Skype?  Didn’t Skype just open a fantastic educator network? Like Scott Mesch, I worry that Microsoft will lose the understanding and impact of Skype as a free resource for the classroom. Check out TechBuzz's discussion.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

eduTecher is a hub for exploring free web resources

eSchoolNews highlighted eduTeacher this week as its Site of the Week.

Created by Adam Bellow, director of educational technology for the College Board Schools, is a no-cost resource for finding and sharing free web tools with educators and students around the world. The website includes short-and-sweet reviews of free web tools and resources, as well as video clips showing certain tools in action and explaining how teachers can integrate these into the classroom. The site recently has been revamped to allow for more social media interaction. 

“We’re not only creating a more social environment that’s conducive to sharing tips, ideas, and resources among our users, but also … inviting every user to ‘Become an eduTecher,’” Bellow says. “You can now save favorite links, capture private notes, create your very own educational blog, and connect with like-minded colleagues to form a personal learning network, with whom you can share messages, your lists of favorites, have a live chat, and more. This new approach lets eduTecher users explore, share, and contribute to educational technology in a whole new way.”