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Education

Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the degree-in-underwater-basketweaving-no-longer-being-offered dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the Education Department wants to make sure loan programs that prey on students don't continue their abusive practices. Now Kimberly Hefling reports that for-profit colleges who are not producing graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. In order to receive federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs, regardless of credential level, and most non-degree programs at non-profit and public institutions, including community colleges, prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" (PDF). To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings.

"Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," says Duncan. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed."

But not everyone is convinced the rules go far enough. "The rule is far too weak to address the grave misconduct of predatory for-profit colleges," writes David Halperin. "The administration missed an opportunity to issue a strong rule, to take strong executive action and provide real leadership on this issue." The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.
Education

Mark Zuckerberg And John Doerr Donate $1M To Expand The Hour Of Code Campaign 24

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
theodp writes Techcrunch reports that Mark Zuckerberg has donated $500K to expand the Hour of Code campaign, which aims to reach 100 million students this year with its learn-to-code tutorials, including its top-featured tutorial starring Zuckerberg (video). Techcrunch adds that Zuckerberg's donation will be matched by fellow tutorial team teacher Bill Gates (video), Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, Salesforce, Google, and others. Zuck and Gates appear to have a sizable captive audience — a Code.org District Partnership Model brochure on the code-or-no-HS-diploma-for-you Chicago Public Schools' website calls for partner districts to "hold a district-wide Hour of Code event each year" for three years.
Cloud

Technology Group Promises Scientists Their Own Clouds 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-off-man-I'm-a-scientist dept.
jyosim writes On Tuesday, Internet2 announced that it will let researchers create and connect to their own private data clouds on the high-speed network (mainly used by colleges), within which they will be able to conduct research across disciplines and experiment on the nature of the Internet. The private cloud is thanks to a $10-million grant from the NSF. "They will have complete visibility into [the clouds] so they can really treat this as a scientific instrument and not a black box," the project's lead investigator told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Education

Tech Giants Donate $750 Million In Goods and Services To Underprivileged Schools 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.
Education

Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment 604

Posted by samzenpus
from the CS-needs-women dept.
theodp writes After an NPR podcast fingered the marketing of computers to boys as the culprit behind the declining percentages of women in undergraduate CS curricula since 1984 (a theory seconded by Smithsonian mag), some are concluding that NPR got the wrong guy. Calling 'When Women Stopped Coding' quite engaging, but long on Political Correctness and short on real evidence, UC Davis CS Prof Norm Matloff concedes a sexist element, but largely ascribes the gender lopsidedness to economics. "That women are more practical than men, and that the well-publicized drastic swings in the CS labor market are offputting to women more than men," writes Matloff, and "was confirmed by a 2008 survey in the Communications of the ACM" (related charts of U.S. unemployment rates and Federal R&D spending in the '80s). Looking at the raw numbers of female CS grads instead of percentages, suggests there wasn't a sudden and unexpected disappearance of a generation of women coders, but rather a dilution in their percentages as women's growth in undergrad CS ranks was far outpaced by men, including a boom around the time of the dot-com boom/bust.
The Military

US Army May Relax Physical Requirements To Recruit Cyber Warriors 307

Posted by samzenpus
from the couch-patrol dept.
HughPickens.com writes Clifford Davis reports that only 30% of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 are qualified to become soldiers. This is primarily due to three issues: obesity or health problems; lack of a high school education; and criminal histories. While cognitive and moral disqualifications have held steady, weight issues account for 18% of disqualifications, and the number is rising steadily. It's projected to hit 25% by 2025. The current Army policy is that every recruit, whether enlisting for infantry or graphic design, has to meet the same physical requirements to join — but that requirement may be changing. "Today, we need cyber warriors, so we're starting to recruit for Army Cyber," says Major General Allen Batschelet. "One of the things we're considering is that your [mission] as a cyber warrior is different. Maybe you're not the Ranger who can do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and run the 2-mile inside of 10 minutes, but you can crack a data system of an enemy." "We're looking for America's best and brightest just like any Fortune 500 company out there," says Lt. Col. Sharlene Pigg. "We're looking for those men and women who excel in science, technology, engineering and math." Batschelet admits that a drastic change in physical requirements for recruits may be hard for some to swallow. "That's going to be an institutional, cultural change for us to be able to get our heads around that is kind of a different definition of quality," says Batschelet. "I would say it's a modernizing, or defining in a more precise way, what is considered quality for soldiers."
Education

Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills 553

Posted by Soulskill
from the employees-worried-about-it-too dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Every company needs employees who can analyze information effectively, discarding what's unnecessary and digging down into what's actually useful. But employers are getting a little bit worried that U.S. schools aren't teaching students the necessary critical-thinking skills to actually succeed once they hit the open marketplace. The Wall Street Journal talked with several companies about how they judge critical-thinking skills, a few of which ask candidates to submit to written tests to judge their problem-solving abilities. But that sidesteps the larger question: do schools need to shift their focus onto different teaching methods (i.e., downplaying the need for students to memorize lots of information), or is our educational pipeline just fine, thank you very much?
Microsoft

Microsoft Exec Opens Up About Research Lab Closure, Layoffs 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the story-behind-the-story dept.
alphadogg writes It's been a bit over a month since Microsoft shuttered its Microsoft Research lab in Silicon Valley as part of the company's broader restructuring that will include 18,000 layoffs. This week, Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP of Technology & Research, posted what he termed an "open letter to the academic research community" on the company's research blog. In the post, Shum is suitably contrite about the painful job cut decisions that were made in closing the lab, which opened in 2001. He also stresses that Microsoft will continue to invest in and value "fundamental research".
The Internet

Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide? 291

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-and-have-nots dept.
First time accepted submitter dkatana writes Having some type of fiber or high-speed cable connectivity is normal for many of us, but in most developing countries of the world and many areas of Europe, the US, and other developed countries, access to "super-fast" broadband networks is still a dream. This is creating another "digital divide." Not having the virtually unlimited bandwidth of all-fiber networks means that, for these populations, many activities are simply not possible. For example, broadband provided over all-fiber networks brings education, healthcare, and other social goods into the home through immersive, innovative applications and services that are impossible without it. Alternatives to fiber, such as cable (DOCSYS 3.0), are not enough, and they could be more expensive in the long run. The maximum speed a DOCSYS modem can achieve is 171/122 Mbit/s (using four channels), just a fraction the 273 Gbit/s (per channel) already reached on fiber.
Medicine

Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres 422

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-just-stretch-them-back-into-place? dept.
BarbaraHudson writes Those free soft drinks at your last start-up may come with a huge hidden price tag. The Toronto Sun reports that researchers at the University of California — San Francisco found study participants who drank pop daily had shorter telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — in white blood cells. Short telomeres have been associated with chronic aging diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. The researchers calculated daily consumption of a 20-ounce pop is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. The effect on telomere length is comparable to that of smoking, they said. "This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level," researcher Elissa Epel said in a press release.
Education

Be True To Your CS School: LinkedIn Ranks US Schools For Job-Seeking Programmers 129

Posted by timothy
from the needs-internationalizing dept.
theodp writes "The Motley Fool reports that the Data Scientists at LinkedIn have been playing with their Big Data, ranking schools based on how successful recent grads have been at landing desirable software development jobs. Here's their Top 25: CMU, Caltech, Cornell, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, Univ. of Washington, Duke, Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, Illinois, UT Austin, Brown, UCSD, Harvard, Rice, Penn, Univ. of Arizona, Harvey Mudd, UT Dallas, San Jose State, USC, Washington University, RIT. There's also a shorter list for the best schools for software developers at startups, which draws a dozen schools from the previously mentioned schools, and adds Columbia, Univ. of Virginia, and Univ. of Maryland College Park. If you're in a position to actually hire new graduates, how much do you care about applicants' alma maters?
Programming

Microsoft, Facebook Declare European Kids Clueless About Coding, Too 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-they're-consistent dept.
theodp writes: Having declared U.S. kids clueless about coding, Facebook and Microsoft are now turning their attention to Europe's young 'uns. "As stewards of Europe's future generations," begins the Open Letter to the European Union Ministers for Education signed by Facebook and Microsoft, "you will be all too aware that as early as the age of 7, children reach a critical juncture, when they are learning the core life skills of reading, writing and basic maths. However, to flourish in tomorrow's digital economy and society, they should also be learning to code. And many, sadly, are not." Released at the launch of the European Coding Initiative — aka All You Need is Code! (video) — in conjunction with the EU's Code Week, the letter closes, "As experts in our field, we owe it to Europe's youth to help equip them with the skills they will need to succeed — regardless of where life takes them."
Oracle

Oracle Database Certifications Are No Longer Permanent 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-now-allowed-to-forget-things dept.
jfruh writes: It used to be that you could get an Oracle database certification and declare yourself Oracle-certified for the rest of your career. That time is now over, causing a certain amount of consternation among DBAs. On the one hand, it makes sense that someone who's only been certified on a decade-old version of the product should need to prove they've updated their skills. On the other, Oracle charges for certification and will definitely profit from this shift."
Education

Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million 146

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-small-hobby dept.
Eben Upton's reboot of the spirit of the BBC Micro in the form of the Raspberry Pi would have been an interesting project even if it had only been useful in the world of education. Upton wanted, after all, to give the kind of hands-on, low-level interaction with computing devices that he saw had gone missing in schools. Plenty of rPis are now in that educational, inspirational role, but it turns out that the world was waiting (or at least ready) for a readily usable, cheap, all-in-one computer, and the Raspberry Pi arrived near the front of a wave that now includes many other options. Sales boomed, and we've mentioned a few of the interesting milestones, like the millionth unit made in the UK and the two-millionth unit overall. Now, according to TechCrunch the Raspberry Pi is getting close to 4 million units sold, having just passed 3.8 million, as reported in a tweet. If you have a Raspberry Pi, what are you using it for now, and what would you like to see tweaked in future versions?
Books

Ask Slashdot: Best Books On the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla? 140

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-the-ones-they-haven't-hidden-from-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes The internet is full of interesting nuggets of info about Nikola Tesla's life and scientific exploits: The time a young Tesla improved an electric motor for Edison, and Edison simply would not pay Tesla the monetary reward he had promised him earlier. The friction between Tesla and wealthy industrialist J.P. Morgan, and Tesla's friendship with (kinder) industrialist George Westinghouse. The 2 different times Tesla's main laboratory burned to the ground. The time a Tesla lab experiment reportedly caused a small earthquake to trigger in lower Manhattan. Tesla's (never quite fulfilled) dream of transmitting electricity across great distances without using wires or cables, etc. All this fascinating stuff, and more, about Tesla's life is out there, mostly in shortish snippets — and sometimes woven into outright conspiracy theories — on the internet for anyone to examine. Now to my question: What are the best books to read to get a fuller picture of Nikola Tesla's life and work? Preferably something well researched and factually accurate. Are there any good documentaries or movies (apart from David Bowie playing a wizard-like Tesla in "The Prestige")? Why is Thomas Edison so well known and covered in education/popular culture, and the equally prolific and ingenious Tesla a "mysterious and ghostly figure" by comparison?
Education

Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States 144

Posted by timothy
from the can't-argue-with-a-pig dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Well, the College Board has posted the 2014 AP Computer Science Test scores. So, before the press rushes out another set of Not-One-Girl-In-Wyoming-Took-an-AP-CS-Exam stories, let's point out that no Wyoming students of either gender took an AP CS exam again in 2014 (.xlsx). At the overall level, the final numbers have changed somewhat (back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations, no warranty expressed or implied!), but tell pretty much the same story as the preliminary figures — the number of overall AP CS test takers increased, while pass rates decreased despite efforts to cherry pick students with a high likelihood of success. What is kind of surprising is how little the test numbers budged for most states — only 8 states managed to add more than 100 girls to the AP CS test taker rolls — despite the PR push by the tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, and, Facebook. Also worth noting are some big percentage decreases at the top end of the score segments (5 and 4), and still-way-too-wide gaps that exist between the score distributions of the College Board's various ethnic segments (more back of the envelope calcs). If there's a Data Scientist in the house, AP CS exam figures grabbed from the College Board's Excel 2013 and 2014 worksheets can be found here (Google Sheets) together with the (unwalkedthrough) VBA code that was used to collect it. Post your insight (and code/data fixes) in the comments!"
Education

AnandTech's Intro To Semiconductor Tech 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the absolutely-fab dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Computer hardware site AnandTech has posted a detailed introduction to semiconductor technology. It's deep enough to be insightful for understanding the chips that run your devices and the industry that built them, but also short enough that your eyes won't start bleeding in the process. The article starts by explaining why silicon is so important, and how a board is set up, structurally. Then it walks through transistor design and construction, and the underpinnings of CMOS logic. Finally, the article describes the manufacturing steps, including wafer creation, photolithography, and how metal is added/shaped at the end. They then go into the physics behind improving these components. It's a geeky and informative read.
News

2014 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-guess-somebody-thought-of-the-children dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been given to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for fighting to protect the rights of children and further their education. Yousafzay, at the age of 17, is the youngest recipient of the Peace Prize. Born and raised in Pakistan, she actively campaigned for girls' rights to education. In 2012, the Taliban shot her in the head, but she survived and continued her struggle. Satyarthi, a 60-year-old from India, has led many peaceful protests to fight against child slavery and illiteracy. "Satyarthi estimates that 60 million children in India, or 6 percent of the population, are forced into work. This, he believes, has nothing to do with parental poverty, illiteracy or ignorance. Above all, children are enslaved because employers benefit by getting their labour for free or for a pittance." This year's Nobel Peace Prize awards are also notable for bringing together an Indian and a Pakistani while their respective governments sustain a military conflict along a stretch of border between their countries.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Capture the Flag Training 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-practices dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm a computer science professor and a group of students want me to help them train for a capture the flag competition. I am interested in this and I'm familiar with security in general, but I've never been involved in one of these competitions. Does anyone know of any resources which would be useful to train for this?"
Education

Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the opportunity-cost dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Carolyn Johnson reports in the Boston Globe that in recent years, the position of postdoctoral researcher has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Postdocs are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in an underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand. "It's sunk in that it's by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible," says Gary McDowell, a 29-year old biologist doing his second postdoc. "There's this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there's nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing." The problem is that any researcher running a lab today is training far more people than there will ever be labs to run. Often these supremely well-educated trainees are simply cheap laborers, not learning skills for the careers where they are more likely to find jobs. This wasn't such an issue decades ago, but universities have expanded the number of PhD students they train from about 30,000 biomedical graduate students in 1979 to 56,800 in 2009, flooding the system with trainees and drawing out the training period.

Possible solutions span a wide gamut, from halving the number of postdocs over time, to creating a new tier of staff scientists that would be better paid. One thing people seem to agree on is that simply adding more money to the pot will not by itself solve the oversupply. Facing these stark statistics, postdocs are taking matters into their own hands, recently organizing a Future of Research conference in Boston that they hoped would give voice to their frustrations and hopes and help shape change. They ask, "How can we, as the next generation, run the system?"

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (2) Thank you for your generous donation, Mr. Wirth.

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