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In Search of Ed Tech Ideas that Reimagine Learning

The U.S. Department of Education is looking to fund a slew of innovative education technology prototypes for five high-need sectors.


Know of a small business with great ideas that reimagine learning? Through the 2013 Small Business Innovation Research Program, the U.S. Department of Education is looking to fund a slew of innovative education technology prototypes for five high-need sectors.

One of the sectors is special education, which doesn't always seem to get the attention it deserves from ed tech hardware and software developers. But that might change since the department is offering awards ranging from $150,000 to $1,050,000 to help develop prototypes and products that will "improve student learning in education and special education settings."

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New College Cost Comparison Tool Helps Students See Potential Student Loan Debt

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education want to educate students about the financial implications of college.


The cost of college is up a whopping 439 percent since 1982, and the average student graduates with $25,000 in loans. Given that college graduates earn more than their high school peers, that might not seem like a bad investment, but if a graduate can't find a job that pays enough to meet the monthly student loan bill, that degree can start to feel like a burden. For current high school seniors pondering college acceptance letters, calculating how much they could owe in student loans after graduating from a particular school is a smart move to make.

As part of the recently launched Know Before You Owe project, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education have developed a new interactive cost comparison tool to help students evaluate the costs and risks involved in paying for school. The tool, which is still in beta, lets students enter up to three schools they're interested in and whether they're going for an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree.

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Can Student Startups Solve the Education Crisis?

Could middle and high school students come up with better solutions than pricey consultants and policymakers?


How do schools ensure that more students graduate from high school and go on to college? School districts usually hire pricey consultants or rely on high-powered policymakers to figure out how to solve education's challenges. Even President Obama has offered his perspective, suggesting that states should raise the age students can legally drop out of school. Now the United States Department of Education’s new National Education Startup Challenge hopes to get some innovative and entrepreneurial help from a previously untapped resource that knows exactly what modern students are going through—students themselves.

Indeed, the challenge wants both nonprofit and for-profit startup ideas from middle and high school students that address four key areas: helping middle schoolers successfully transition to high school and graduate; helping students develop skills for success in college; helping students "choose affordable colleges that best suit student needs, consistent with their education and career goals; and increasing "the likelihood students complete their college degrees on time or early."

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Why Twitter Is a Teacher's Best Tool

The social media platform makes it easy to get instant ideas, links, and resources from a global community of educators.


Teachers are increasingly bringing the real-time communication power of Twitter into the classroom to help students learn. But I've come to the conclusion that it's great for helping teachers learn as well. Twitter has simply become one of the best places for teachers to collaborate, share solutions to common classroom problems, and discuss education policy. In fact, it might just be the best forum teachers have ever had.

As a classroom teacher I remember going across the hall to ask Mr. Sally for tips on getting kids to learn their times tables. His ideas were fine, but what if I'd been able to crowdsource my question to the global community of educators on Twitter? A teacher who engages with other educators on Twitter essentially has a 24/7 open door policy. Type the hashtag #edchat in the search box, and you'll see a real-time stream of discussion about an unlimited number of educational topics. It's pretty clear teachers are collaborating with each other by sharing solutions to their challenges—links to articles, resources and practical ideas:

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Guns vs. Schools: The Onion Satirizes Our National Spending Priorities

What if a Congressional Budget Office mistake accidentally shifted $80 billion from defense to education?

The education funding crisis facing our nation's schools has caught the attention of The Onion. In a new piece, "Budget Mix-Up Provides Nation's Schools With Enough Money To Properly Educate Students," their writers expertly skewer just how screwed up our national priorities really are—especially when it comes to defense funding and education funding.

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Can Education Reform Survive Election Day?

What is at stake for education reform in this election? Read on.


Headed to the polls to vote? That means you'll be deciding who will implement—or possibly not implement—much-needed education reforms. As we've seen in Washington, D.C., with Mayor Adrian Fenty's lost bid for mayoral re-election, and the subsequent resignation of D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who's in office makes a difference for schools.

The next Congress faces the charge of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). However, whether that reauthorization will happen seamlessly given that candidates, like Kentucky's Rand Paul, want to completely shutter the federal Department of Education, remains to be seen.

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