The Obama administration announced a state-level $500 million grant competition as part of Race to the Top program aimed at improving early childhood learning. States that apply will need to show an increase in the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children enrolled in high-quality early learning programs, among other criteria.
Rupert Murdoch spoke at this week’s eG8 forum in Paris, reiterating his company News Corp’s interest and commitment to education. “Our challenge is to learn from what works best—wherever in the world we find it—and put it all together. My company is determined to try, in a big way.” News Corp purchased a 90% stake in the ed-tech company Wireless Generation late last year and hired former New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein to lead the company’s move into this sector.
A survey by the Pearson Foundation found a lot of interest among college students in tablets, with 80% of respondents saying they thought tablets had an educational value. 7% says they own a tablet already and 60% indicated they would be buying one soon. However, the news isn’t so good for e-books. While tablet owners say they like digital books, only 30% of non-tablet owners felt that e-books would be better than print copies.
Google announced the 15 finalists for its Google Science Fair, as well as the winner of the People’s Choice award, Nimal Subramanian. The finalists will travel to Google headquarters in July for the final round of judging.
Tech investor Peter Thiel announced the 24 recipients of his “20 Under 20” contest. Thiel is giving 24 college students $100,000 each to drop out of school to focus on their startup ideas.
The Department of Education sent a “Dear Colleagues” letter to K-12 and higher education institutions this week, reminding them of their legal obligations to make sure that any education technologies they adopt are accessible by students with disabilities. The letter does not point out any particular companies or tools that may be questionable, but there have been concerns about accessibility with e-readers and with some websites.
E-book maker Kobo announced a new $10 million initiative to inspire reading. For every 10 million minutes that people spend reading via Kobo — either with its e-reader or its apps, the company will make a donation of between $1,000 and $20,000 in e-reading materials to an educational organization of people’s choosing.
Livescribe released an upgrade to its smartpen that includes “Livescribe Connect,” making it easy to share both handwritten and spoken notes to email, Facebook, Evernote, and Google Docs.
The finalists of the 2011 Worldwide Imagine Cup have been announced. 124 student teams from 73 countries and regions will head to New York in July for the competition. The Imagine Cup has been profiling the teams and the categories, and as the People’s Choice Award will launch soon, you should definitely check out these amazing student projects.