Student loan write-offs hit $3 billion in first two months of year

Banks wrote off $3 billion of student loan debt in the first two months of 2013, up more than 36 percent from the year-ago period, as many graduates remain jobless, underemployed or cash-strapped in a slow U.S. economic recovery, an Equifax study showed, Reuters reports. The credit reporting agency also said Monday that student lending has grown from last year because more people are going back to school and the cost of higher education has risen.

“Continued weakness in labor markets is limiting work options once people graduate or quit their programs, leading to a steady rise in delinquencies and loan write-offs,” Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts said in a statement.

Equifax analyzes data from more than 500 million consumers to track financial trends…

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NJ professor’s quixotic quest to be Iran president

The man who wants to be the next president of Iran sits in a hotel lobby, steps from his office and thousands of miles away from the country he wants to lead, a distance surpassed only by the hurdles he needs to clear even to land on the ballot, the Associated Press reports. Hooshang Amirahmadi, a bespectacled professor of public policy at Rutgers University, declared his candidacy for the Iranian presidency last year. He’s now well into a quixotic quest that has taken him on fundraising jaunts from New York to California to Dubai and, finally, to Iran next month. Amirahmadi, 65, has lived in the United States for 40 years, calling it “my country.” He married his wife here, and his daughter was raised in New Jersey. But he feels compelled to run for office in Iran to reconcile the conflict he and other Iranian-Americans feel within.

“I feel like, you know, it’s not easy to be an Iranian originally and be here, and be a citizen of this country, and see the two sides of you fight each other every day,” Amirahmadi said…

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OWI Inc., The Sound Pro’s Choice, The Envirotainment Company
Announces: Self-Amplified, Surface Mount, Low Voltage Speaker Combo – Model: AMPLV602

OWI-Inc., The Sound Pro’s Choice, The Envirotainment Company Innovates again with a combination UL – Energy Star Power supply and Self-Amplified Speaker system great for: Schools, Hotels, Conference Rooms and Training Rooms.

The new AMPLV602 is a combination UL – Energy Star Power supply and Self- Amplified Speaker system great for: Schools, Hotels, Conference Rooms and Training Rooms. These combo systems come in either black or white.

Self-amplified speakers are the perfect audio partners for projectors, microphones, music and paging applications. By placing the amplifier within inches of the speaker, maximum damping control of the speaker due to low source impedance is achieved. The result is optimum high fidelity reproduction and response without an external amplifier. With up to 25 watts of class AB power delivered directly to the speaker. OWI’s
self-amplified speakers are powerful enough to drive additional non-amplified speakers like the model number P602 available in black or white. The two speaker combination is AMPLV6022. Both items available and shipping.

OWI Inc., makes a full range of speakers that are ceiling, wall or pole mounted to fit every need. Speaking with a sales consultant can help find the perfect match for both commercial and residential speaker applications.

For more information on OWI Incorporated and to view the entire product line visit our products page at

Contact: Ned Morioka
Phone: (310)515-1900 x 207
Fax: 310-515-1606


Time to help college professors be better teachers

If we want more students to succeed in college, we have to turn full attention to the craft of university-level teaching, the Christian Science Monitor reports. What’s at stake is not only increasing graduation rates but providing a quality education for those who, a generation or two ago, might not have seen college as possible. Right after I gave my opening lecture on Oedipus the King to the 30 employees of Los Angeles’s criminal justice system, I handed out a few pages of notes I would have taken if I were sitting in their seats listening to the likes of me. They were taking my course, Introduction to Humanities, as part a special program leading to a college degree, and I knew from a survey I gave them that many hadn’t been in a classroom in a long time – and some didn’t get such great educations when they were. So we spent the last half hour of the class comparing my notes with the ones they had just taken, talking about the way I signaled that something was important, how they could separate out a big idea from specific facts, how to ask a question without looking like a dummy…

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Top China college in focus with ties to army’s cyber-spying unit

Faculty members at a top Chinese university have collaborated for years on technical research papers with a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unit accused of being at the heart of China’s alleged cyber-war against Western commercial targets, Reuters reports. Several papers on computer network security and intrusion detection, easily accessed on the Internet, were co-authored by researchers at PLA Unit 61398, allegedly an operational unit actively engaged in cyber-espionage, and faculty at Shanghai Jiaotong University, a centre of academic excellence with ties to some of the world’s top universities and attended by the country’s political and business elite. The apparent working relationship between the PLA unit and Shanghai Jiaotong is in contrast to common practice in most developed nations, where university professors in recent decades have been reluctant to cooperate with operational intelligence gathering units…

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Transgender AU senior turns personal experience into political action

At 22, Sarah McBride’s resume shows a passion for public service. Former president of American University’s student government. Intern with the White House Office of Public Engagement. Aide to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), the Washington Post reports. Behind her narrative of aspiring politician aiming to fix the world, her resume doesn’t reflect the personal struggle she has faced her entire life. A year ago, McBride revealed that she had been living with a deep secret for 21 years. At the time, her name was Tim. In April 2012, on the last day of serving as the latest of AU’s many white, heterosexual male student body presidents, McBride revealed her inner struggle — she’s transgender.

“Gender identity shouldn’t matter and doesn’t matter in my capacity as an employee, as a leader, as a person,” McBride said. “You can be true to yourself and still do what you want to do with your life . . . [T]hey don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

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Disability Resource Center empowers students to unlock their full potential

The DRC maps pathways to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and provides multiple assistive technologies to help students with disabilities thrive.

From a very young age, Susan Gjolmesli knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Owing to a genetic condition, she suffered from visual impairment, and because protective laws for disabled people were still decades away, she was plagued by discrimination and was consistently belittled or ignored by potential employers.

“They were very negative, and I never secured a teaching position,” she said. “I was deflated and demoralized and went away from that, in essence, because I was green as grass and had very low self-advocacy skills.”

Years later, after raising her son, opening a commercial greenhouse, and gaining experience working for several blind advocacy groups, Gjolmesli was well-equipped with confidence. She was committed to ensuring that other students with disabilities would not suffer the way that she had.

For the past 18 years, Gjolmesli has worked as the Director of Bellevue College’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) in Bellevue, Wash. Together with her staff, Gjolmesli creates roadmaps to college success for students with disabilities. Currently, the DRC is home to approximately 900 disabled students.

“We have a lot of international students, just about every possible student type you could possibly think of,” she said. “Vets with PTSD, students with chronic illnesses—everything from chronic migraines to cancer—lupus, IBS, three students waiting for new kidneys, hard of hearing, lots of mobility impaired students, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and HIV.”

The DRC maps pathways to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees and provides multiple assistive technologies to help students with disabilities thrive.

The center also takes part in a program called AccessSTEM, which encourages students with disabilities to pursue STEM careers. AccessSTEM documents promising practices for helping students with disabilities participate in STEM disciplines, and it tests various assistive technologies for use in STEM classes, such as beakers that vibrate when certain reactions occur—alerting students who are visually impaired and cannot see the reaction take place.

But it’s traditional screen reading and voice recognition software programs that Gjolmesli says remain the most useful technologies for students with disabilities.

(Next page: How screen reading software helps visually impaired students—and how Gjolmesli has made progress with students on the autism spectrum)


SIIA Announces Education Finalists for 2013 CODiE Awards

SIIA Announces Education Finalists for 2013 CODiE Awards

148 education technology and service products recognized in peer-reviewed awards program

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 20, 2013) – The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software and digital content industries, today announced the 148 finalists in Education categories for the 2013 SIIA CODiE Awards. These finalists represent applications, products and services from developers of educational software, digital content, online learning services, and related technologies across the K-20 sector.

This year’s program features 23 Education categories, several of which are new or updated to reflect the latest industry trends and business models. New this year, Best Personalized Learning Solution was the program’s most popular category. Due to its popularity, the category was split into Best PK-12 Personalized Learning Solution and Best Postsecondary Personalized Learning Solution.

Winners will be announced during a special awards dinner at the nation’s leading education technology conference, the Ed Tech Industry Summit, in San Francisco on May 6.

“We’re pleased with the innovative educational technology products that made it to this stage. All of this year’s finalists show great promise, and they should be proud of their finalist status,” said Karen Billings, vice president of the SIIA Education Division. “I look forward to seeing them all in May at the Ed Tech Industry Summit.”

The SIIA CODiE Awards are the industry’s only peer-reviewed awards program. Educators and administrators conduct the first-round review of all education nominees. The judges are responsible for selecting the CODiE Awards finalists, and SIIA members then vote on the finalist products. The scores from both rounds are tabulated to select the winners.

Details about each finalist are listed at For more information on the Ed Tech Industry Summit, attending the CODiE Awards dinner, and to see a full schedule of events, visit

2013 CODiE Awards Education Finalists

Best Classroom Management Solution

  • McGraw-Hill Education: McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill SimNet Online
  • Pearson: PowerSchool
  • Stoneware: LanSchool 7.7
  • Wowzers: Wowzers

Best Corporate Learning/Workforce Development Solution

  • Adobe Systems, Inc.: Adobe Captivate 6
  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Learn for Salesforce
  • GlobalEnglish: GlobalEnglish Product Suite
  • NetDimensions: NetDimensions Talent Suite

Best Cross-Curricular Solution

  • Blackboard Inc.: CourseSites by Blackboard
  • CompassLearning: Renzulli Learning
  • eInstruction: Insight 360 – with Mobi 360
  • eInstruction: Insight 360 with Teacher app for iPad
  • Gaggle: Gaggle
  • Knovation: icurio
  • SoftChalk LLC: SoftChalk Cloud
  • StudySync: StudySync
  • Turnitin: Turnitin

Best Education Community Solution

  • Blackboard Inc.: CourseSites by Blackboard
  • ConnectYard, Inc.: ConnectYard
  • Discovery Education: Discovery Educator Network
  • Gaggle: Gaggle
  • Grockit: Learnist

Best Education Game or Simulation

  • BrainPOP: Guts and Bolts
  • Cambium Learning Group: VmathLive
  • ChineseCUBES: ChienseCUBES (AR)
  • DreamBox Learning: DreamBox Learning Math
  • ETA Hand2mind: VersaMate
  • ExploreLearning Reflex
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill Practice Marketing
  • Triad Interactive Media, Inc.: PlatinuMath: An Online Formative Assessment Math Game
  • WILL Interactive, Inc.: JumpMaster

Best Education Reference Solution

  • ABC-CLIO: The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience
  • Credo Reference: Literati by Credo
  • PBS: PBS LearningMedia
  • Questia: Questia
  • Scholastic Library Publishing: Grolier Online
  • Trinity Education Group: InSync Education

Best Educational Use of a Mobile Device

  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Mobile Learn
  • ClassLink, Inc.: ClassLink LaunchPad iOS & Touch Apps
  • eInstruction: Insight 360 with Teacher app for iPad
  • Inspiration Software, Inc.: Inspiration Maps
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill Anatomy & Physiology Revealed
  • Pearson: iLit
  • Pearson: Pearson iBook2 Textbooks
  • School Improvement Network: PD 360 Mobile
  • The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.: Sail Through Math app
  • Vernier Software & Technology – Software Division: LabQuest 2 App

Best Instructional Solution in Other Curriculum Areas

  • Arcademics: Arcademics Plus
  • Avant Assessment: iCAN
  • Florida Virtual School- Global Services Division: Mawi Leadership Course
  • McGraw-Hill Education: McGraw-Hill Studio Space: ArtTalk and Exploring Art
  • Mindset Works: Mindset Works® SchoolKit
  • Ripple Effects: Ripple Effects Whole Spectrum Learning System
  • Waterford Institute: Waterford Early Learning

Best K-12 Course or Learning Management Solution

  • Blackboard Inc.: Edline LCMS by Blackboard EngageTM
  • Chalkable:
  • ClassLink, Inc.: ClassLink ClassMate
  • CompassLearning: CompassLearning Odyssey
  • Follett Software Company: Aspen Curriculum & Learning Student Information System (SIS)
  • PLATO Learning, Inc.: PLATO Learning Environment (PLE)

Best K-12 Enterprise Solution

  • Aspex Solutions: AppliTrack Recruiting
  • GuideK12: GuideK12-geovisual analytics for education
  • Netchemia: Netchemia’s TalentEd | K-12 Strategic Talent Management Suite
  • Pearson: Schoolnet
  • Schoology, Inc:

Best Mathematics Instructional Solution

  • Carnegie Learning, Inc.: Carnegie Learning MATHia Software powered by Cognitive Tutor
  • Curriculum Associates: i-Ready Diagnostic & Instruction
  • DreamBox Learning: DreamBox Learning Math
  • ExploreLearning Reflex
  • Florida Virtual School- Global Services Division: Ko’s Journey
  • Pearson: digits
  • Reasoning Mind: Reasoning Mind
  • Slate Science Inc: Slate Math
  • Whizz Education Inc.: Math-Whizz

Best PK-12 Personalized Learning Solution

  • Achieve3000: eScience3000
  • Agilix Labs, Inc: Buzz
  • Avant Assessment: iCAN
  • Capstone Digital: myON reader
  • Carnegie Learning, Inc.: Carnegie Learning MATHia Software powered by Cognitive Tutor
  • ChineseCUBES: ChienseCUBES (AR)
  • DreamBox Learning: DreamBox Learning Math
  • The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.: SRA Reading Laboratory 2.0
  • Think Through Math: Think Through Math
  • Waterford Institute: Waterford Early Learning

Best Postsecondary Course or Learning Management Solution

  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Learn
  • Edvance360: Edvance360 LMS-SN
  • Pearson: OpenClass
  • Vista Higher Learning: Vista Higher Learning Supersite

Best Postsecondary Enterprise Solution

  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Analytics
  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Transact
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill Tegrity Campus
  • Pearson: EQUELLA

Best Postsecondary Learning Solution

  • Atomic Learning: Tech Skills Plus Training Package
  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Learn
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill Connect
  • Pearson: OpenClass
  • Triad Interactive Media, Inc.: PlatinuMath: An Online Formative Assessment Math Game

Best Postsecondary Personalized Learning Solution

  • Altius Education: Helix Personalized Learning
  • Blackboard Inc.: Blackboard Learn
  • Cengage Learning: MindTap
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill SimNet Online
  • Pearson: MyEconLab with Knewton
  • Pearson: MyMathLab with Knewton Adaptive Learning
  • Pearson: Propero

Best Professional Learning Solution for Education

  • Professional Learning Programs
  • Empirical Education Inc.: Observation Engine
  • Insight Education Group, Inc.: myCore
  • Pearson: Pearson Compass Suite
  • Vulcan Productions: Success at the Core

Best Reading/English/ELL Instructional Solution

  • Capstone Digital: myON reader
  • Learning A-Z:
  • McGraw-Hill Education: McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders
  • StudySync: StudySync
  • Texthelp Systems, Inc.: Fluency Tutor
  • Urban Planet Mobile: Writing Planet
  • Vista Higher Learning: Vista Higher Learning Supersite
  • VitalSource Technologies Inc.: Online Practice System
  • Waterford Institute: Waterford Early Learning

Best Science/Health Instructional Solution

  • Cengage Learning: myNGconnect
  • ExploreLearning Gizmos
  • Learning A-Z:
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill Anatomy & Physiology Revealed
  • Pearson: Lab Investigator Tools

Best Social Sciences Instructional Solution

  • ABC-CLIO: American Government
  • McGraw-Hill Education: McGraw-Hill networks: A Social Studies Learning System
  • ProQuest: ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher
  • Scholastic Library Publishing: FreedomFlix

Best Solution for Special Needs Students

  • Brighter Futures for Beautiful Minds: Wonkidos Animated Social Skills
  • CompassLearning: Renzulli Learning
  • Learning A-Z:
  • Monarch Teaching Technologies: VizZle District Edition
  • Texthelp Systems, Inc.: Read&Write GOLD with Web Apps

Best Student Assessment Solution

  • Curriculum Associates: i-Ready Diagnostic & Instruction
  • MasteryConnect: MasteryConnect
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill SimNet Online
  • Pearson: Prep for the GED Test: MyFoundationsLab Edition
  • Pearson: Schoolnet
  • Promethean Inc. (USA): Promethean ActivEngage
  • The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.: Everyday Mathematics® Assessment Differentiation
  • Wireless Generation: mCLASS Beacon

Best Virtual Learning Solution

  • Adaptive Curriculum: Adaptive Curriculum
  • Altius Education: Helix Personalized Learning
  • itslearning, Inc.: itslearning
  • McGraw-Hill Higher Education Group: McGraw-Hill Practice Marketing
  • Pearson: MyFoundationsLab
  • Questia: Questia
  • The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.: Glencoe Math Courses 1-3

About SIIA
SIIA is the leading association representing the software and digital content industries. SIIA represents approximately 700 member companies worldwide that develop software and digital information content. Information technology (IT) and software security are critical issues to SIIA’s members, many of whom strive to develop safe, secure and state-of the-art products that effectively serve their commercial and government customers alike, while protecting their intellectual property. The SIIA Education Division serves and represents more than 200 member companies that provide software, digital content and other technologies that address educational needs. The Division shapes and supports the industry by providing leadership, advocacy, business development opportunities and critical market information. For more information, visit

Media Contacts
• Laura Greenback, SIIA Communications, 410-533-1943,

• Saul Hafenbredl, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-216-7300 x25,



Program Will Provide Access to Discounted High-Speed Internet and Low-Cost Computers

In Partnership with the Ad Council, Connect2Compete Launches “EveryoneOn” PSA Campaign to Connect Americans with Free Digital Literacy Classes

Washington, D.C., March 21, 2013 – Digital literacy is critical to America’s economic future, and possessing these skills is now essential for accessing the jobs and education opportunities that will enable current and future generations to compete in the 21st century workforce. Yet roughly 100 million Americans do not have a broadband connection at home, and 62 million do not use the Internet at all. Today, nonprofit Connect2Compete, launches a national campaign, “EveryoneOn,” a public awareness campaign designed to help all Americans access free digital literacy training in their communities. Also starting today, Connect2Compete will offer consumers access to programs providing discounted high-speed Internet and low-cost computers.

“The costs of digital exclusion –of not having access to Internet at home— are rising every day,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “Offline Americans are missing out on opportunities in education, health care, and employment. I applaud the “Everyone On” campaign to onboard the millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide and deliver the digital literacy skills required to succeed in today’s economy.”

Connect2Compete has worked with more than 70 partners including the Knight Foundation, the Carlos Slim Foundation, Comcast, Cox Communications, Intel, Monster, Solix and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to aggregate digital skills training opportunities and programs that enable access to low-cost Internet services. Starting today, Americans can visit to access opportunities including:

Low/No-Cost Internet Access – Through partnerships with local Internet providers such as Freedom Pop, Comcast and Cox Communications, Connect2Compete will connect millions of low-income citizens to programs that offer free and low-cost Internet services. In areas where FreedomPop offers coverage, the company will extend an offer for a $49 “plug and play” router (equivalent to a 50% discount) and free access to 1GB of wireless Internet service, with the option of an additional 12GB of service for $9.99/month, including free “auto-off” defaults to prevent overages. In addition, through partnerships with local cable companies such as Comcast and Cox Communications, eligible families will have access to high-speed Internet service for $9.95/month. Cox Communications will offer its program starting in April to free school lunch participants; its program will also include a free modem and free professional installation. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program is currently available to families who have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, and homeschool students.

Affordable Computers – Through a host of hardware and software partners, including GoodPC, Comcast Internet Essentials and Microsoft, Connect2Compete will provide the opportunity to purchase new and refurbished computers for less than $200.
Digital Skills Training – Through a nationwide network of partners, Connect2Compete will help the public find digital literacy programs in more than 21,000 libraries and training centers. The programs will provide people the opportunity to learn basic skills such as how to use a computer, navigate the web, take actions like preparing and uploading an online resume, or processing a basic Internet transaction.

“The costs of the digital divide are clear and documented,” said Zach Leverenz, CEO of Connect2Compete. “Our goal is to help overcome the barriers to adoption, including lack of perceived relevancy, high costs and the need for basic digital literacy skills, in order to ensure that all Americans have the tools they need to compete in the digital economy, regardless of age, race, geography, income or education level.”

Today, to help drive awareness of the free digital skills trainings, Connect2Compete and the Ad Council are also launching the nationwide public service advertising (PSA) campaign, “EveryoneOn,” created pro bono by Y&R. The Ad Council is a nonprofit organization known for developing and delivering critical messages to the American public, such as Smokey the Bear’s “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk.” The “EveryoneOn” campaign will include television, radio, and digital (mobile and Web) advertisements, as well as a separate social media campaign designed to communicate the value of digital literacy and drive people to learn more at or through the 1-855-EVRY1ON help line. Consumers can follow the campaign on Facebook at or through Twitter at To view the PSA, visit

“EveryoneOn will raise national awareness about the importance of digital literacy and help reach the more than 60 million Americans who aren’t meaningfully engaged online,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “The start of this movement today, on 3-2-1, is only the beginning and we’re using social media and digital strategies to collect and share personal stories that will show the life-changing impact of the Internet on our lives.”

The Ad Council is distributing the PSAs to media outlets nationwide and they will run in time and space entirely donated by the media.

For more information on the campaign and a list of free digital skills training opportunities in your area, call 1-855-EVRY1ON or text “Connect” to 30364. Consumers can also visit, which will include a zip code locator tool to find free digital literacy training classes and links to best-in-class online training resources. Information will be available in English and Spanish. For details and information regarding low-cost Internet and computer programs in your local area, please visit

# # #

About Connect2Compete
Connect2Compete (C2C) is a national nonprofit that aims to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet, computers, and free digital literacy accessible to all unconnected Americans. Technology and digital skills are essential to ensure future generations can compete in the global economy and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. C2C aims to leverage the democratizing power of the Internet to provide opportunity to all Americans – regardless of age, race, geography, income, or education level. For more information, please visit

The Ad Council
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a 70-year history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. For more information, please visit You can also visit or follow the Ad Council on Twitter @AdCouncil