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12 Fabulous Academic Search Engines | Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

12 Fabulous Academic Search Engines | Educational Technology and Mobile Learning | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

In the world of academia, Google search engine does not always serve the purpose because most of the time its search results are not exact . I am a huge fan of Google but when it comes to academic search queries I  often have recourse to other search engines that are area or content specific. I have curated a list of some of these search engines that I personally use and I added to them other titles I found through Julie Greller . Enjoy

 

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Using Minecraft in Education : Cross Curricular Ideas | The Whiteboard Blog

Using Minecraft in Education : Cross Curricular Ideas | The Whiteboard Blog | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Minecraft is an open sandbox game that allows players to construct their own world. They can build structures, farm animals, mine for resources and much more. There are different modes to the game; Survival Mode is a challenging mode where the player needs to fight for survival against other creatures in the world, and Creative Mode provides unlimited resources to build and create without limitations.

I’ve been investigating Creative Mode as it’s easier to build large structures quickly.

Minecraft can be played individually, or as a multiplayer environment allowing children to cooperate to build and explore together. In Multiplayer mode they connect to a Minecraft Server on the internet or locally (running on a game hosted by one of the computers).

Minecraft is available in many flavours, including a Raspberry Pi version, a pocket edition for the iPad and a Educational version.

Here are a few ways that Minecraft can be used to support different curriculum subjects.


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21 Smart Games For Game-Based Learning | Te@chThought.com

21 Smart Games For Game-Based Learning | Te@chThought.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Game-Based Learning is a slippery beast.

For one, it promotes students playing video games, which is somewhat radical in many learning environments for anything other than recreation.

And two, there is seemingly a disconnect between what students learn while playing games (e.g., problem-solving, visual-spatial thinking, collaboration, resource management), and the pure academic standards most teachers are interested promoting mastery of.

In the middle, there is a simple truth that few things are as engaging–for adults and students alike–as a well-designed video game, which might just make the following list of smart, “learning games” curated by Sam Gliksman useful to you.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, might we suggest Scribblenauts, Civilization Revolution, and Monster Physics?


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FL: Can You Dig It? More Evidence Suggests Humans From The Ice Age | Greg Allen | NPR.org

FL: Can You Dig It? More Evidence Suggests Humans From The Ice Age | Greg Allen | NPR.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

In Florida, archaeologists are investigating a site that a century ago sparked a scientific controversy. Today, it's just a strip of land near an airport.

But in 1915, it was a spot that became world-famous because of the work of Elias Sellards, Florida's state geologist. Sellards led a scientific excavation of the site, where workers digging a drainage canal found fossilized animal bones and then, human remains.

Andy Hemmings of Mercyhurst University is the lead archaeologist on a project that has picked up where Sellards left off a century ago.

"Quite literally, where we're standing, they found what they, at the time, dubbed 'skeleton two' and 'skeleton three.' It turns out it's actually one individual, now known as Vero Man," Hemmings says.

The human remains were in a layer of soil that also contained bones from animals that lived in Florida during the Ice Age: mastodons, giant sloths and saber-toothed cats.

Sellards said this was proof that people lived in Florida during the Ice Age, at least 14,000 years ago. At the time, most scientists believed humans had been in the New World no longer than 6,000 years.

An anthropologist from the Smithsonian, Ales Hrdlicka, led the charge attacking Sellards' findings. Hrdlicka believed the human remains were of someone who lived much later and had been buried in the lower strata. Vero Man was discredited and became largely an archaeological footnote.

But in Vero Beach, Fla., a quiet community known mostly for its citrus groves, Sandra Rawls says the site of Sellards' investigation, and its potential, was never forgotten. Several years ago, Rawls and others in the community formed a nonprofit group, the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee, or OVIASC.

"There were a lot of people who still remembered and knew a lot, are interested in the site. Many citizens had dug here, almost like a public park. Tons of fossils are in private collections that came out of here," Rawls says.

The group helped stop a water treatment plant from being built on the site and began raising money to fund a new archaeological investigation. That's when Mercyhurst University got involved. Archaeologists from the school are in their second year of work at the site.


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Study Reveals Fascinating Possibilities for Video Gaming and Brain Development and Repair | Sam Butterworth | Emerging EdTech

Study Reveals Fascinating Possibilities for Video Gaming and Brain Development and Repair | Sam Butterworth | Emerging EdTech | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Recent advances in science have been able to provide a better insight into how our brains develop from birth, allowing researchers to identify the most influential factors of early brain development. We now understand that a number of factors (including nutritional, emotional and intellectual factors) can all shape the very profile of a child’s future.

Now a new study has revealed that neurogenesis, which is the vital growth of new neurons, can actually be activated by video games. It’s no mystery that educational gaming can help a child’s mind develop but the recent study formed by neuroscientists at Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, now unveils exactly how this works.


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March 2015: Literacies for the digital age: Information and digital literacy | Kathy Schrock | DEN Blog Network

March 2015: Literacies for the digital age: Information and digital literacy | Kathy Schrock | DEN Blog Network | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts highlighting the digital literacies our students will need to succeed.


The first posts covered financial literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, historical literacy, numeracy, and data literacy.


This post will provide you with some ideas on how to infuse information literacy and digital literacy skills into the curriculum.

The thirteen literacies I feel need to be explored, practiced and mastered by students can be found in the graphic below.


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To Siri, With Love: How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri | Judith Newman | NYTimes.com

To Siri, With Love: How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri | Judith Newman | NYTimes.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF.


Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”

Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”

Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”

Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”

Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”

Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”

Siri: “See you later!”

That Siri. She doesn’t let my communications-impaired son get away with anything. Indeed, many of us wanted an imaginary friend, and now we have one. Only she’s not entirely imaginary.

This is a love letter to a machine. It’s not quite the love Joaquin Phoenix felt in “Her,” last year’s Spike Jonze film about a lonely man’s romantic relationship with his intelligent operating system (played by the voice of Scarlett Johansson). But it’s close. In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.

It all began simply enough. I’d just read one of those ubiquitous Internet lists called “21 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do.” One of them was this: I could ask Siri, “What planes are above me right now?” and Siri would bark back, “Checking my sources.” Almost instantly there was a list of actual flights — numbers, altitudes, angles — above my head.

I happened to be doing this when Gus was nearby. “Why would anyone need to know what planes are flying above your head?” I muttered. Gus replied without looking up: “So you know who you’re waving at, Mommy.”

Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”

It’s not that Gus doesn’t understand Siri’s not human. He does — intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realized this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. “So it can visit its friends,” he said.


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Missouri teacher advocates for less testing, more funding in ESEA reauthorization | Colleen Flaherty | NEA.org

Missouri teacher advocates for less testing, more funding in ESEA reauthorization | Colleen Flaherty | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

David Hope, firefighting and EMT instructor at South Technical High School in St. Louis, MO, traveled to Washington D.C. this week to advocate for career and technical education, for limits on high-stakes testing, but most of all, he came for his students.

“To me, my kids are the most important. Anybody in my school will tell you, I’ll go to hell and back for my kids, period,” said Hope.

As Congress is working on reauthorization for the Elementary and Secondary Education act—also known as No Child Left Behind—educators like Hope are sharing their experiences in the classroom to inform legislators on education policy.

Properly funding career and technical education (CTE), says Hope, is absolutely crucial when it comes to filling gaps in education.

“Career and technical education can help close a learning gap. Right now, many students who graduate high school aren’t prepared to start college. On top of that, high school graduation rates are dropping,” said Hope. “Programs like ours has a 90 percent graduation rate. We’re doing something right.”

If funding falls short for these and many other crucial programs, Hope said that it hurts low-income and special needs students most. On Capitol Hill, he spoke about the importance of fully funding the Carl D Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, one of the largest sources of federal funding for high schools across the country.

“A lot of the money for CTE programs comes from Perkins, especially in rural school districts and disenfranchised, low-income areas,” said Hope.


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CA: Threatening to strike, teachers rally in downtown Los Angeles | Dakota Smith & Thomas Himes | LA Daily News

CA: Threatening to strike, teachers rally in downtown Los Angeles | Dakota Smith & Thomas Himes | LA Daily News | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Thousands of Los Angeles-area educators and their supporters rallied in a massive downtown protest Thursday, demanding smaller classroom sizes and higher wages as part of contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Clad in red T-shirts and waving signs that read “Join the Movement” and “Fair Pay for the Future of Los Angeles,” the teachers were joined by education leaders in a rally intended to draw national attention.

Among those in the crowd was Watts teacher Loman Hamraj, who said he teaches 40 kids at a time at Thomas Riley High School but lacks basic classroom equipment.

“I’m a science teacher, but I don’t have a science lab,” Hamraj said. “It’s like I am teaching in the previous century.”

For United Teachers Los Angeles, Thursday’s downtown demonstration was the 35,000-member union’s greatest test of organizing strength yet in a campaign of “escalating actions” that could lead to a strike should the sides fail to reach a contract agreement.

UTLA estimated that the rally in Grand Park outside City Hall drew at least 15,000 people.

Teachers also gathered at regional rallies last year and picket lines were formed at campuses across the district earlier this month.

But UTLA made its first formal move toward striking by declaring an impasse seven months and 18 rounds into negotiations that started under former Superintendent John Deasy.

District officials estimate the sides are more than $800 million apart per year. In recent weeks, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines raised the district’s offer to a 5 percent immediate salary hike, but the union wants 8.5 percent.


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Fossil Fuel Industry's Global Climate Science Communications Plan in Action: Polluting the Classroom | Ben Jervey | DeSmog Blog

Fossil Fuel Industry's Global Climate Science Communications Plan in Action: Polluting the Classroom | Ben Jervey | DeSmog Blog | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

In 1998, representatives from a number of fossil fuel companies and industry front groups, led by the American Petroleum Institute, gathered to craft a plan to undermine the American public’s understanding of climate science, and submarine any chances of the United States ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

Weeks after the private meeting, an eight page memo including a draft “Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan” was leaked and reported by The New York Times, exposing the group’s plan to create public doubt about climate science.

When contacted at the time, industry representatives who were in the room claimed that the plan was “very, very tentative,” and emphasized that none of the groups represented at the meeting had officially agreed to do or fund anything further.

And over the years, whenever members of the then-called “Global Climate Science Communications Team” were asked about the plan, they have repeated that the plan was long ago abandoned.

Yet, as fellow DeSmogBlog contributor Graham Readfearn explained today in a must-read article in The Guardian, practically every key element of the “Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan,” as laid out in the leaked 1998 memo, was executed in some form in the years following the meeting.

Using research from the Climate Investigations Center and DeSmogBlog, Readfearn follows up on all of the plan’s stated goals, strategies, and tactics. You can find an annotated version of the 1998 memo, with “then and now” updates on the careers of the team, on Document Cloud.

A key strategy laid out in the 1998 memo was to target teachers and students, to foment doubt in the classroom and in the minds of a younger generation. The plan stated plainly that “informing teacher/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect a barrier against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.”

Here is an excerpt from a section titled, “National Direct Outreach and Education,” with educational elements in bold.


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The Tweeting Child, or What I Learned about Social Media from a Five Year-Old | Michael Newman | Medium.com

The Tweeting Child, or What I Learned about Social Media from a Five Year-Old | Michael Newman | Medium.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Noah, AKA @beebaaahp, is a five year-old boy. He likes playing Wii tennis (complains about line calls), having Mr. Man books read to him at bedtime, and snacking on string cheese and applesauce squeezies.


He’s a digital native; his little fingers have tapped and swiped the surfaces of iPads and iPhones practically his whole life. Once, while his parents were asleep early in the morning, he powered on the television set, toggled to the input for the Roku media player, selected a TV episode he wanted to watch on Amazon Instant, correctly guessed the password necessary to make a purchase, and started watching his show.


Noah is my son, and lately one of his favorite things is twitter. He asked several times to have his own account, and would often demand to tweet from my account (or do it without asking). He wanted to use the same media of communication that his parents use, to play with our toys. It seemed harmless enough, and I monitor his account pretty closely. Since I said ok in December, 2014, he has tweeted hundreds of times, followed more than 250 others, and collected around 50 followers. Not too shabby for a user just learning to read.


Noah goes to kindergarten all day M-F, and every afternoon he brings home the artworks he made at school, typically in the medium of marker on paper. Having a child in kindergarten really reveals the blurry line between culture and garbage. The creative work of our precious darlings must go in the trash almost all the time if we are not to suffocate under an ever-expanding oeuvre. But creativity play is about process as much as product.

I like to see Noah’s tweets as a digital analog to his art projects. He’s messing around and expressing himself and making things to give to others and exploring his imagination using the tools available. That the tweets are saved and published rather than admired insincerely and dropped in the kitchen receptacle when he isn’t looking is, in some ways, incidental. But this gives us an easy way of archiving the expressive record without amassing physical clutter, and it shares his life with others who might be interested to see a kid’s work.


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Why schools are failing our boys | Jennifer Fink | WashPost.com

Why schools are failing our boys | Jennifer Fink | WashPost.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

My 8-year-old son has been struggling in school. Again.

Re-entry after winter break has not been easy for him. The rules and restrictions of school – Sit Still. Be Quiet. Do What You Are Told, Nothing More, Nothing Less. – have been grating on him, and it shows. His teacher recently emailed me; she’d noticed a change in his behavior (more belligerent, less likely to cooperate) and wanted to know if there was anything going on at home.

My guess, I said, was that he was upset about having to be back in school after break. I was right.

The lack of movement and rigid restrictions associated with modern schooling are killing my son’s soul.

Does that sound dramatic to you? Perhaps. After all, most of us go through school and somehow survive more or less intact. But if you really think about it, you might remember what you hated about school. You might remember that it took you years after school to rediscover your own soul and passions, and the courage to pursue them.

The stress of school, of trying to fit into an environment that asks him to suppress the best parts of himself, recently had my son in tears. Again.

He hasn’t been allowed outside at school all week; it’s too cold. Yet this son has spent happy hours outside at home this week, all bundled up, moving snow with the toy snowplow, creating “snowmobile trails” in our yard with his sled and shoveling both our walk and our neighbors. Because he wants to.

This morning, as always, my son was up and dressed before the rest of the household; he likes time to play Minecraft before school starts. But he also cleaned the dirty glass on the woodstove, started the fire and brought wood into the house. Because he wants to.

And it hit me this morning: He would have done great in Little House on the Prairie time.

We’re reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, one of the books in the Little House series, aloud right now. Back then, boys (and girls) primarily learned by doing. Kids between the ages of 5 and 18 weren’t corralled into schools and kept apart from real life; out of necessity, boys worked on the farms and girls helped in the house. Entire families worked together to survive, and along the way, boys and girls learned how to function in the real world.

That’s the kind of learning my son craves.


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What if I Hadn’t Read Books as a Kid? | Stephanie Rice | Human Parts | Medium

What if I Hadn't Read Books as a Kid? - Human Parts - Medium

What if social media had existed when I was a kid?

Would I have ever learned to write anything longer than 140 characters?

What if all those after-school hours spent scribbling out childish stories of gullible dogs and wisecracking cats had been spent tapping and swiping at angry birds? What if I had fallen asleep with an iPad mini on my chest instead of Island of the Blue Dolphins?

Probably the best thing my parents ever did for me was immersing me in a world of books at an early age and then providing just the right amount of dysfunction at home to turn me into a writer myself.

The first time my parents tried to get me a library card, when I was four years old, the librarian peered down at me and said, “Well, she needs to learn to write her name first.” So we went home, they taught me how to write my name, and we went back for the card.

Of course, then they had to teach me how to read, which took a bit longer. Lest you think I was some sort of child genius, you should know I spent much of my free time on the back patio “teaching ants to swim” in Tupperware containers of water. Also, I enjoyed trying to convince the family cat to wear my socks, and my mom has a cassette tape recording of me confidently explaining how “the clouds go down” when you’re in an airplane.

But my parents persisted, and somehow by age six I was devouring the young adult section at our library. Every summer of elementary school, I dutifully committed to reading 100 books for our library’s annual competition. (All you had to do to “win” was the read the number of books to which you had committed. So I just as easily could have signed up for ten. It’s possible I was bad at math.)

Sometimes I still wander into the youth section of a bookstore and scan the shelves for old favorites. Charlotte’s Web. Little Women. The Ramona series. Nancy Drew. The Chronicles of Narnia. Little House on the Prairie. The Indian in the Cupboard. The Bunnicula books. The Girl With the Silver Eyes. Anything by Scott O’Dell. My parents imposed few restrictions, so I also read an age-inappropriate Patsy Cline biography and lots of Fear Street and Sweet Valley High.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not the voracious reader I was as a kid. Like much of the world, I now spend too much of my time staring at a screen. When I crawl into bed at night and debate whether to grab the Bill Bryson book on my nightstand or watch The Mindy Project on Hulu, Mindy usually wins out. But I firmly believe that the reason I can still manage to put words together in a reasonably coherent way is that I paved those neural pathways early. And I’m not totally sure that would have happened if my mom had been able to distract me with her iPhone while she grocery shopped. (Instead, she made up a story about how the carrots danced when I wasn’t looking. When I was skeptical, she got a store employee to corroborate.)

It’s true that I have always loved words, but it’s also true that I was kind of forced to spend time with them in the absence of other distractions.


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What happens when Microsoft meets Minecraft? | Alan Buckingham | Beta News

What happens when Microsoft meets Minecraft? | Alan Buckingham | Beta News | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Microsoft and Minecraft are two of the biggest entities in their respective fields -- software and gaming. While the former captures most desktop users, the latter has become an almost obsessive fascination for kids and even many adults. Logic dictated the two should team up, and that's exactly what happened when Microsoft bought Mojang and Minecraft last year.

As a testament to the partnership, two kids -- Alec Baron and Alessio Tosolini -- are using Minecraft in a cool and geeky way. The work, according to the boys, took more than 100 hours of collaboration. When they were finished, they had recreated the Microsoft Production Studios in Minecraft.

The youths even got to show off the project as a presentation at Microsoft. The visit also included meetings with company officials. As one person put it, it's "an example of how gaming was used to bridge the corporate world with education in an innovative way".


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The Anatomy Of Good Gamified eLearning | Li Whybrow | eLearning Industry

The Anatomy Of Good Gamified eLearning | Li Whybrow | eLearning Industry | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

We’ve long known that playing games can help people to learn a well as being fun, that’s why we play games with our kids, and it’s not a new concept to bring games into instructional design. Disney coined the phrase ‘edutainment’ back in the 1940’s and ‘gamification’ was probably first used by Nick Pelling, creator of games for the BBC Micro and Commodor in the 1980’s. Kevin Werbach of Wharton offers a definition for the term ‘gamification’:

We’ve seen an explosion in ‘gamification’ in the way firms seek to engage customers (think Nike) and the iOS and Android platforms have opened up a world of apps which naturally employ gaming elements into their feature lists. But in our sphere, that of learning and development, the notion of games design elements in what we do has been around for a fair while now. It’s a long time ago, relatively speaking in digital terms, that Marc Prensky penned his first book, Digital Game-based Learning.

We knew back then what the core principles were in games design that were beneficial for instructional design. I can boil them down to just four:


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Not So Fast, Jamestown, VA: St. Augustine, FL Was Here First | Peter Haden | NPR.org

Not So Fast, Jamestown, VA: St. Augustine, FL Was Here First | Peter Haden | NPR.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Clyde and Corrita Warner came to St. Augustine on vacation from Louisville, Ky. They know their history.

"Well, I knew that this started before the pilgrims landed and before Jamestown," says Corrita. "You know, this area was first."

St. Augustine treasures being the first — and oldest — city in the United States. So when the area around Jamestown, Va., adopted the title "America's First Region" a while back, the gloves came off.

On Saturday, residents begin a year-long celebration to honor St. Augustine. Founded 450 years ago, it's the oldest city in the United States.

"You don't have to be much of a mathematician to know that St. Augustine was settled first," says Richard Goldman, executive director of the city's Visitors and Convention Bureau. "Jamestown was about 42, 43 years later, so for Jamestown to claim to be where the country began, just doesn't settle well with history."

There's plenty of history in St. Augustine. The original Spanish fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, was built in the 17th century. Now a national monument, the castillo was built of crushed coquina seashells that the Spanish found here. Light and porous, the coquina walls proved to be compressible, absorbing cannonballs like Styrofoam might absorb BBs. That construction helped it survive for so long.

Park Ranger Mike Evans says the Spanish were roping cattle and pruning their citrus groves in St. Augustine before the British even set sail for Jamestown.

"Bless their hearts," Evans says of Virginians. "I mean, the Virginians have Robert E. Lee and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and that's fine, you know. But here — we introduced the oranges to the new world!"


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Take A Mouth-Watering Tour Of School Lunches From Around The World (And The Embarrassing U.S. Equivalent) | Adele Peter | FastCoExist.com

Take A Mouth-Watering Tour Of School Lunches From Around The World (And The Embarrassing U.S. Equivalent) | Adele Peter | FastCoExist.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

For a fourth-grader in Italy, school lunch might include a caprese salad, local fish on a bed of arugula, pasta, and a baguette. A school cafeteria in France might serve steak, brie, and a plentiful helping of fruits and vegetables. In comparison, a typical school lunch in the U.S. looks fairly embarrassing: Some fried chicken, congealed fruit salad, and a giant cookie.

These images are all from a recent photo series, created by the salad chain Sweetgreen, showing what school lunches look like around the world. Each plate is meant to be representative of a typical lunch and was put together by intepreting local government standards and studying Tumblr photos taken by elementary students.


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Contentious teacher-related policies moving from legislatures to the courts | Emma Brown | WashPost.com

Contentious teacher-related policies moving from legislatures to the courts | Emma Brown | WashPost.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Opponents of the nation’s teacher unions won a landmark victory last year in a California lawsuit that challenged tenure protections, a case that became the beginning of a national effort to roll back teacher tenure laws in state courts.

Now the largest unions in the country are using a similar tactic, as teachers turn to the courts to fight for one of their most pressing interests: An end to test-based evaluations they say are arbitrary and unfair.

The lawsuits show that two of the nation’s most contentious battles over the teaching profession are shifting from legislative arenas to the courts, giving judges the chance to make decisions that could shape the way teachers are hired, fired and paid. Union critics and wealthy advocates have hired lawyers to take on the teachers; the teachers, through their unions, have gone before the bench to go after state officials and their policies.

The latest foray into the courtroom began Feb. 13, when New Mexico teachers sued state officials over an evaluation system that relies heavily on student test scores. Tennessee teachers also sued their state officials this month, arguing that most teachers’ evaluations are based on the test scores of students they don’t actually teach. Florida teachers brought a similar lawsuit last year; it is now in federal appeals court, while other complaints are pending in Texas and New York.

Union officials say they expect to see more lawsuits in the future, especially over evaluations that use complex and controversial algorithms — called “value-added models” — to figure out how much of a student’s learning can be attributed to their teacher.

“There will be more challenges because things are not being seen as credible and fair,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which joined the New Mexico lawsuit. “What we’ve gotten to is this routinized, mechanized displacement of human judgment, and that’s what I think you’re seeing — that is the underlying issue that is the root of this agita about evaluations.”

“It’s ridiculous that we have to go to the courts,” Weingarten said. But she said that New Mexico education officials and other supporters of test-based evaluation are deaf to evidence that the evaluations aren’t working.

Critics say that the unions are exaggerating both the problems associated with value-added scores and the weight that they carry in evaluations. Value-added scores account for up to 50 percent of evaluations in some states, and a smaller portion in many others, with the remainder of teachers’ ratings comprised of classroom observations and other measures.

“Essentially teacher unions don’t want any evaluation,” said Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University’s conservative Hoover Institute and a supporter of value-added measures. “That’s what they’re angling for.”


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Afghan Girls attend Digital Literacy and Bitcoin Classes in Herat with Women's Annex Foundation before the Persian New Year | BitLanders.com

Afghan Girls attend Digital Literacy and Bitcoin Classes in Herat with Women's Annex Foundation before the Persian New Year | BitLanders.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The winter holidays are slowly getting to the end and the New Year is going to start soon. The New Year is also bringing another message with itself and that is the new educational year for Afghan students which is going to start on the second day of the Persian New Year. Student are happy about the new educational year ahead and can’t wait to start their new classes.


This year the students did not really get away from school in the winter holidays since a lot of them were participating the Digital Literacy classes of Women's Annex Foundation. According to some of the students this year was the only one which they could get the best out of it since they learned a lot of new things on the winter holidays.


Mayram one of the Digital Literacy classes student said “We are really glad to have this chance to participate the Digital Literacy classes since most of the students of other schools don’t have such a chance. This year was a very productive year for me and other students who are participating these classes. We have learned a lot of new things which all will be very practical for us in our future career.”


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Will Congress unlock access to shelter for homeless students? | Amanda Litvinov | NEA.org

Will Congress unlock access to shelter for homeless students? | Amanda Litvinov | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

A hotel room is not a home. A friend’s couch, another family’s basement—these aren’t homes either. These are places people might stay when they’ve lost their home.

More than 1.2 million students were identified by public schools as homeless during the 2012-13 school year. But many of them are not considered such under HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) criteria.

That means the majority of kids who are actually homeless–those who live in motels or on campgrounds or who “couch surf,” either with a parent or all on their own–don’t qualify for HUD assistance. In that respect, they’d be better off living under a bridge.

“There’s a clear definition of homeless under other laws and used by other federal agencies, including the Department of Education,” said Barbara Duffield, Director of Policy and Programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.“HUD uses a strictly limited definition that is meant to prioritize the most at-risk for services, but ends up shutting out so many homeless children and youth.”

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress to expand the HUD definition of “homeless person” to include many more kids. The Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2015 would make it possible for those living in a hotel or temporarily staying at someone else’s house to qualify for essential assistance.

“The bottom line is that homeless students will have greater access to shelter and other housing support, which we know will improve their stability and allow them to perform better at school,” said Duffield.

The legislation would empower educators who serve as district homeless liaisons to make referrals for homeless students without the bureaucratic hoops.


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Presidential hopefuls share anti-public education views at conservative conference | Brian Washington | NEA.org

Presidential hopefuls share anti-public education views at conservative conference | Brian Washington | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

By the end of the week, education activists should have a better understanding of how the 2016 field of presidential hopefuls on the Republican side is shaping up and what some of the threats to students, educators, and public education may look like in the future.

Thursday, February 26, kicks off the start of the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC. CPAC represents the largest gathering of right-wing conservatives from around the country.


The event’s agenda is filled with workshops designed to come up with new ways to undermine public education and limit opportunity for students. Without a doubt, there will be discussions about siphoning away taxpayer dollars from public education and funneling them into private and religious schools and expanding privately-run charter schools that, despite getting public funding, are not accountable or transparent to the communities they are supposed to serve.


If some of this sounds like it comes from the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) playbook, which includes restricting the ability of educators to advocate for their students and dismantling public education, that’s because many of the faces attending this week’s CPAC meeting are also regular attendees at various ALEC events.

Also, because this year’s conference is happening at the start of the 2016 election cycle, a string of GOP presidential hopefuls are expected to attend, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC acolyte who’s also a darling of billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, the Koch Brothers.

Walker has been leading the fight in Wisconsin against workers’ rights, middle-class families, students, educators, and public schools. He was instrumental in defunding higher education and robbed public schools of critical dollars through private school vouchers and huge corporate tax cuts. He also led the charge to strip educators of their voice to advocate on behalf of students.


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Astronomers find a shockingly ancient black hole the size of 12 billion suns | Rachel Feltman | WashPost.com

Astronomers find a shockingly ancient black hole the size of 12 billion suns | Rachel Feltman | WashPost.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Some 12.8 billion light years away, astronomers have spotted an object of almost impossible brightness — the most luminous object ever seen in such ancient space. It's from just 900 million years after the big bang, and the old quasar — a shining object produced by a massive black hole — is 420 trillion times more luminous than our sun.

That brightness and size is surprising in a black hole from so close to the dawn of time. In a new study published Wednesday in Nature, researchers describe a cosmic light that defies convention. It was even detectable with a relatively small telescope, though researchers in China did have to ask for help from astronomers in Chile and the United States to get a higher-resolution look.

"How could we have this massive black hole when the universe was so young? We don't currently have a satisfactory theory to explain it," said lead author Xue-Bing Wu of Peking University and the Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics.


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Where Mud Is Archaeological Gold, Russian History Grew on Trees | David Herszenhorn | NYTimes.com

Where Mud Is Archaeological Gold, Russian History Grew on Trees | David Herszenhorn | NYTimes.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The note, from father to son, was the sort of routine shopping list that today would be dashed off on a smartphone. In 14th century Russia, it was etched into the bark of a birch tree and curled into a scroll.

“Send me a shirt, towel, trousers, reins, and, for my sister, send fabric,” the father, whose name was Onus, wrote to his son, Danilo, the block letters of Old Novgorod language, a precursor to Russian, neatly carved into the wood with a stylus. Onus ended with a bit of humor. “If I am alive,” he wrote, “I will pay for it.”

The scroll and a dozen others like it were among the finds from this year’s digging season, adding to a collection of more than 1,000 birch-bark documents uncovered here after being preserved for hundreds of years in the magical mud that makes this city one of the most extraordinary archaeological sites on earth. “Novgorod for Russia is like Pompeii for Italy,” said Pyotr G. Gaidukov, the deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology. “Only Novgorod is still alive.


Nestled in a curve of the Volkhov River, with the crenelated brick walls of its Kremlin-fortress and the sparkling gold and silver domes of its churches, Veliky Novgorod looks like the setting of a medieval fairy tale.


In a way, it was.


The city was founded, according to legend, by Rurik, a Varangian chieftain, in 859. It is a place where democracy once flourished, where benevolent princes ruled with the consent of a parliament of local elites called the Veche, where markets hummed and international trade thrived, where women were empowered to participate in business and other aspects of public life.


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Hard to find, worth the effort: The oldest temple on earth | Sena Desai Gopal | The Boston Globe

Hard to find, worth the effort: The oldest temple on earth | Sena Desai Gopal | The Boston Globe | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

It is 8:30 a.m. and the June sun is already high in the sky, beating furiously over the brown, arid landscape of southeastern Turkey. We don’t notice the heat or the ineffective air conditioning of our rental car. We are too excited about where we are headed: Göbekli Tepe, the oldest temple on earth.

A smiling receptionist at our Sanliurfa hotel assured us Göbekli Tepe was only 18 kilometers away, “a 20-minute drive.” We have been on the road for more than an hour and still haven’t found it.

The problem, my husband helpfully points out, is that people seem to know the distance to Göbekli Tepe, but no one is sure of its direction. Wikipedia says it is northwest of Sanliurfa; other websites say north or northeast; our smiling receptionist said, “Go out of the hotel. Turn right, then right again.” Our car GPS and Google maps don’t have Göbekli Tepe. We first drove north, then northwest. Now we are driving northeast.

The minor road we are on becomes a dirt track, and I begin preparing my “we couldn’t find it” speech for family and friends back in the United States. And, suddenly, there it is — Göbekli Tepe (literally “potbellied hill”), rising above knolls dotting the landscape. When we are close, we notice a fence around the site, a security guard at the gate, and a surprising absence of tourists. (Later, we find out that June is not the best of seasons for tourism in these parts and, more importantly, most of the world has not yet heard of Göbekli Tepe.) A plaque in front reads, “Stone Age Sanctuary, 10th and 9th millennium BC.”

Archeologists came across Göbekli Tepe in the 1960s, dismissing it as a knoll or Byzantine cemetery. More than three decades later, German archeologist Klaus Schmidt, while on a foot-expedition, recognized it as a manmade knoll. “And even from this distance it was clear at once that it was not at all a natural hill,” Schmidt writes in his book, “Göbekli Tepe, A Stone Age Sanctuary in South-Eastern Anatolia.” A closer look revealed thousands of flintstones in the knoll’s topsoil, “glittering like snow in the winter sun.” When Schmidt first saw it, Göbekli Tepe was being used as farmland. Local farmers routinely removed “rocks” that were an impediment to farming, little knowing that some of the rocks were from the oldest temple built by humans.


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Vermont school union goes Gig-E thanks to Sovernet | Sharon Combes-Farr | VTDigger

Sovernet Communications and the Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union (“WSESU”) jointly announced today that the geographically-dispersed K-12 school system in southeastern Vermont has upgraded its data network to one Gig of broadband over fiber. Also called “Gig-E,” the connection delivers 1,000 Megabits of Internet bandwidth to the four village and town school districts that comprise the union.

“We’ve been part of Sovernet’s fiber network since 2013, when we immediately noticed a jump in speed and reliability that enabled us to create a wireless network to support our students’ one-to-one computers,” said Larry Dougher, Chief Information Officer at WSESU. “As the number of one-to-one devices jumped by 1,000% in just two years, our partners at Sovernet helped us to future-proof our network by seamlessly scaling us to one Gig.”

The supervisory union includes schools in more urban areas, such as downtown Windsor, and some in rural locations, including the Albert Bridge School and Hartland Elementary. School officials jumped at the chance for its schools and administrative offices to become community anchor institutions served by the state-of-the-art fiber network that was partially funded by a federal broadband stimulus grant, and more than $12 million dollars from a Sovernet investment. Sovernet will also expand the WSESU network to the central office in Windsor’s downtown area later this year.

“One of the most important considerations for us was equity across the many schools under our care,” said Dougher. “It was imperative early on that all of our students be served equally by a rigorous fiber connection, regardless of whether those schools were in an urban or rural setting.”

In addition to supporting the exponential expansion of WSESU’s one-to-one computer initiative, the high-capacity bandwidth from Sovernet supports expanded use of video conferencing in the classroom and resulted in a very successful trial of the new statewide online school testing platform.


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The 'Netflix for Libraries' App is Getting a Major Makeover | Roberto Baldwin | The Next Web

The 'Netflix for Libraries' App is Getting a Major Makeover | Roberto Baldwin | The Next Web | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

If you have library card, having the Hoopla app and its access to your local library’s breadth of content is a bit of a no-brainer. But like all new apps, the first iteration has been a learning experience. Now it’s taking the feedback it received from users and libraries to update its app.

Hoopla will be updating its app for iOS and Android on February 28 with what it calls its “LightSpeed” interface and architecture. The app will have a brand new Home Screen that surfaces quicker access to your browser history and a new recommendation engine based on your recent activity. It also features deeper search with less tapping around and a higher resolution, brighter interface.

The Hoopla app lets you borrow digital copies of movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks directly from the app without having to worry about library late fees. The app takes care of everything; all you have to do is link it to your local library. Of course, you need a library card.

Owner and CEO Jeff Jankowski told TNW that over 90 percent of the changes it made to the app are based on user feedback. “We look at every review, every info box, every tweet, every Facebook comment. We look at them and log them.”


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