Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly

Digital learning aids have long been on the market, but the latest learning apps are getting cleverer – cheap to download, easy to use and marketed directly to teachers without the hassle of being approved by school boards. In this age, schools have no control, and often no idea of what teaching and learning aids are being used in their classrooms, posing a huge risk for the students. Not only is the students’ learning often unmonitored, their personal records are often available for public access. Recent data breaches in several school districts have frightened teachers and parents alike. Many school districts are privately testing and often banning some of the most popular teaching apps, but the multi-billion dollar industry is not taking a hit. Most of the companies are offering teachers free access to apps that excel in adaptive learning, tailored to each individual student; for the teachers, the pros simply outweigh the cons.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Natasha Singer:

At school districts across the country, the chief technology officers responsible for safeguarding student data are tearing their collective hair out. Scores of education technology start-ups, their pockets full from a rush of venture capital, are marketing new digital learning tools directly to teachers — with many offering them free to get a foothold in schools. That has enabled educators nationwide to experiment with a host of novel ‘‘adaptive learning’’ products, like math and foreign language apps that record and analyze students’ online activities to personalize their lessons. But the new digital tools have also left school district technology directors scrambling to keep track of which companies are collecting students’ information — and how they are using it. more

Aids for the Indecisive, When Options Abound

Indecision is supposedly a vice, but the indecisive amongst us have a reprieve – a new generation of decision making apps are coming to our rescue. One of these, ChoiceMap, uses an interactive interface in conjunction with decision making algorithms to allow us to make the most rational choice in every possible situation. Decision Buddy takes the concept one step further to include group decisions. On the other hand, Decide Now takes the math right out of it, acting more as a digital 8-Ball. Simply ask the app what to choose, and it’ll tell you – no deliberation required.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Kit Eaton:

For the indecisive among us, help is on the way. A new generation of apps meant to help with day-to-day decision making is here. Assuming you can decide which to use, these apps may help bring some order to your life. Perhaps the smartest decision-making app I’ve used is ChoiceMap, because it’s easy to use and it makes it feel as if your decision has been intelligently considered by the app’s algorithms. ChoiceMap, which is free for iOS, tries to make the process as smooth as possible. To start, you describe a choice to make or use one of the app’s many templates on diverse topics, like choosing baby names or which phone carrier to use. more

A watch that tries to slow things down

Time is a fast depleting commodity, especially in the corporate world. Corvin Lask, and Chris Noerskau have founded ‘Slow Watches’, a watch company with a unique design. Slow watches have no minute arm or ticking sound, but a single arm on a 24 point dial. The idea is to destroy the idea that “every second counts” and instead, remind the wearer to slow down and look at the bigger picture. The business itself is run in a slow manner, away from retailers and industry fairs, selling only online. John Sean Doyle, a professor of positive psychology at North Carolina State University endorses the product, claiming that slow watches are a brilliant way to remind the body to dial itself back and enjoy time.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Jake Cigainero:

PARIS — No minute hand, no ticking second hand to sound the constant passing of time, and no declarative logo to mark the wearer. Just a single hand on a 24-hour dial points to the time on the modern, minimalist, Swiss-made Slow watch. Making just one full rotation every 24 hours, the solitary hand moving at half the speed of a regular analog timepiece is intended to serve as a reminder to the wearer to slow down. With 12 noon in the standard position, and the midnight hour directly south on the round watch face, each tick mark between the hours indicates a quarter hour. Creating Slow was a way for Corvin Lask and Christopher Noerskau, the company’s founders, to take control of their own time. Before introducing the watch, Mr. Lask worked in digital marketing and Mr. Noerskau in brand management and licensing for Puma. more


Is being a writer a job or a calling?

Who is a writer? What is his job? The author feels that the writers who touched him were those who had wanted, literally, to make something of themselves; and who offered him and others a means of understanding, and thus of elevating, their everyday lives.  Even the best writing will never have the immediate, measurable impact that a doctor’s work has, or a plumber’s. Writing is something everyone does. But is everyone a writer?

Read an excerpt of the article written by BENJAMIN MOSER:

Even the best writing won’t have the immediate, measurable impact of a doctor’s work, or a plumber’s. When, in adolescent secrecy, I began making my way from reading to writing, the writers who attracted me, the writers I wanted to be, were those who conceived of the writer as a member of a priestly caste, those whose view of literature as a means of understanding the self and the world offered a noble possibility for my life. Those writers who touched me were those who had wanted, literally, to make something of themselves; and who offered me and others a means of understanding, and thus of elevating, our everyday lives. Perhaps I was given to vocations — but vocations, as opposed to ambitions, were not much appreciated in high school; and, as when I returned from a week in a Benedictine monastery and knew not to mention how badly I had wanted to stay, I never mentioned the exalted idea I had been forming of writing. The earnestness, the vehemence the notion implied were so at odds with the surrounding ethos that it took me much longer to admit wanting to write than to admit wanting to sleep with men. That teenage vision of Parnassus was followed by years of sitting at the computer, fighting off feelings of boredom with work and frustration with self, as visions of art were replaced by visions of picking up the dry cleaning. ‘‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people,’’ Thomas Mann said; and it is good that no beginner suspects how torturous writing is, or how little it improves with practice, or how the real rejections come not from editors but from our own awareness of the gap yawning between measly talent and lofty vocation. Fear of that gap destroys writers: through the failure of purpose called writer’s block; through the crutches we use to carry us past it. No young writer can know how rare inspiration is — or how, in its place, the real talent turns out to be sitting down, propelling oneself, day after day, through the self-doubt surrounding our nebulous enterprise, trying to believe, as when we began, that writing is important. more