Denmark, Sweden top US in new global IT report

Denmark and Sweden are better than the United States in their ability to exploit information and communications technology, according to a survey published Thursday, reports the Associated Press. The United States, which topped the World Economic Forum’s "networked readiness index" in 2006 before slipping down the rankings, climbed one place to third in the latest edition of the survey.
The study largely blamed poor political and regulatory environments in the United States for offsetting some of the benefits of having the world’s most competitive economy.
The index, which measures the range of factors that affect a country’s ability to harness information technologies for economic competitiveness and development, also cited America’s low rate of mobile phone usage, a lack of government leadership in information technology and the low quality of mathematics and science education…

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Washington-based Blackboard releases iPhone app

Blackboard, the Washington-based maker of software designed to help students stay in touch with their coursework assignments and their professors, is releasing an iPhone App today, reports The Washington Post. Blackboard’s new software is designed to provide a mobile version of the same tools that students and teachers use at the company’s Web site. "The iPhone App lets a student see what’s new since they last synced," said Jessica Finnefrock, senior vice president of product development at the company. "It’s an efficiency tool designed to help students manage their time…"

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Facebook group helps multicultural students

A newly-created Facebook.com group, "How are you surviving college?", helps K-State multicultural students adjust to a university environment and promotes cross-cultural communication, reports the K-State Collegian. The idea for the group originated when Wen-chi Chen, the group’s coordinator and graduate assistant with the academic transition program, and Jonathan Berhow, academic councelor and PILOTS adviser, discussed the need for a new resource available to K-State multicultural students. They dreamed of a network where multicultural students could openly share their experiences about getting through college with one another.
For many multicultural students, Berhow said their first arrival at K-State can be a bit of a culture shock. They might feel isolated not seeing as many students of similar backgrounds as they did growing up and not sharing multicultural-college experiences can escalate this isolation, he said. To create such sense of community, Judy Lynch, director of the academic assistance center, Kay Ann Taylor, assistant professor of secondary education, and Berhow wrote a grant proposal for Tilford Incentive Grants to secure resources needed to produce initial content for the Facebook group…

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Fort Collins students find a voice through Internet radio

While other kids his age were playing football or performing with the drama club, Jake Wood was busy starting his own radio station. The idea first came to him in 2007 when he learned that the Federal Communications Commission was opening the application window for noncommercial radio stations, reports Fort Collins Now.
"At the time, I was still trying to figure out how to hook my iPod into my car," he said. "I was still listening to regular radio, which was kind of redundant and played too many commercials. I started thinking what would it be like if high school students ran a radio station."
He filed for a station in Red Feather, where he lives, but he wasn’t the only one. He gave up the idea of an FM station, and re-examined his options. The more he thought about it, he realized that regular radio stations didn’t make the most sense.
"Most high school kids listen to iPods and get their music from the Internet," he said. "Regular radio is slowly disappearing from this particular demographic."
And so, Klik Radio, an Internet ratio station at www.klikradio.org, was born. With some technical experience from running the sound system at school dances, Wood began recruiting friends to volunteer at the station. His parents gave him money to apply for non-profit status, and he has also received funding from the Bohemian Foundation and other donations. The station, which plays an eclectic mix of music, draws 400 listeners a month and has about 35 volunteers from Poudre High School, Fort Collins High School and some from Loveland…

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Google to students: Flip bits, not burgers

Google Inc. is accepting applications for its "Summer of Code 2009" program, which offers stipends to student software developers to write code for various open-source software projects during their summer breaks.

Now in its fifth year, the program has brought together more than 2,400 students from nearly 100 countries worldwide to work on 230 open-source projects and create millions of lines of code, Google says.

Google identifies the program’s goals this way: getting more open-source code created and released for the benefit of everyone; inspiring young developers to begin participating in open-source development; helping open-source projects identify and bring in new developers; providing students the chance to advance their skills during the summer; and giving students more exposure to real-world software development.

According to Google, college students preparing for summer should "think ‘flip bits, not burgers.’"

Students who are accepted into the program are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating open-source projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios and the opportunity for employment in areas related to their academic pursuits, Google says.

Applicants must be college or university students who are at least 18 years of age by April 20. Google will award up to 1,000 stipends worth $4,500 each. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 3.

Links:

Summer of Code 2009

List of Mentoring Organizations

Summer of Code 2009 Frequently Asked Questions

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Microsoft offers free tools for high schoolers

High school students are now able to access and download professional Microsoft Corp. software such as Visual Studio and XNA Game Studio for free, a service that has been offered to higher-education students for the past year through DreamSpark.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced the expansion to high school students March 26 at the Government Leaders Forum – Americas, which took place in Leesburg, Va.

DreamSpark provides the most advanced programming and development tools that students can use, Gates said, offering all of the capabilities that professionals have. Having access to these tools is intended to inspire students to eventually create companies that could become the next Microsoft, he said.

"Even at a young age, students want to push the limits," Gates said. "It harkens back to when I was a student and wanted to push the limits. The earlier you get going, the more likely you are to get super, super good at it."

Some might ask why Microsoft would offer its software to students for free.

"As the technology leader, we have an obligation to provide the tools worldwide to help [people] join the digital revolution," said Andy Zupsic, vice president of sales, marketing, and services for Microsoft Latin America.

Joe Wilson, senior director of academic initiatives with Microsoft, added that in tough economic times, the company hopes to provide students with the tools they need to succeed in their future careers.

"We have the ability to unlock the door so that students have a head start in college or in high school," he said.

He said it made sense for Microsoft to expand the program because there are so many more students in K-12 schools than at colleges and universities.

"Only 10 percent of students make it to university, [so] 90 percent of all students are in K-12," he said. "There are 170 million university students [worldwide]; there are 500 to 600 million high school students."

Giving students free access to these tools also makes good business sense for Microsoft, because it encourages a generation of future programmers to learn Microsoft software.

The DreamSpark program allows students to download professional-level software tools free of charge. The program began at the university level about a year ago, and there have been nearly 2 million downloads by students in 110 countries.

For high school students to have access to these software downloads, a school representative need only sign up his or her school online. Once approved, the school representative will receive pass codes that will allow students to go online and download the available software free of charge.

Sina Chenari, a computer science student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said access to the free software through DreamSpark has helped him succeed academically.

"The experience and skills that I’ve developed using … professional technology tools have helped me secure valuable internships and will give me a tremendous head start for a career after graduation," he said.

The Government Leaders Forum, now in its 12th year, brings together leaders in government, business, and education to discuss issues and exchange experiences related to governance, education, health care, and economic development.

The forum included discussions on improving economic development through innovation and education, reinventing health care, and dealing with crises. Keynote presentations including speeches by former President Bill Clinton and Gates.

"Education is key to economic growth," Gates said. "Education is [a top priority], because as the chairman of Microsoft, I’m looking to hire the most talented people worldwide."

Links:

DreamSpark

Government Leaders Forum – Americas

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Empowering Education Through Technology resource center. Integrating technology into the classroom can be a challenge without the right guidance. Go to: Empowering Education Through Technology

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Google to students: Flip bits, not burgers

Google Inc. is accepting applications for its "Summer of Code 2009" program, which offers stipends to student software developers to write code for various open-source software projects during their summer breaks.

Read the full story here, on eCampus News.

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