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August 24 2013

20 School Uniforms From Around The World
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As summer comes to a close, kids are gearing up for fall. But more importantly, they're getting ready for the first day of school.

For many students, this means fittings for new school uniforms or dusting off old ones that spent the summer in the closet. Soon kids everywhere will be back to wearing knee-length skirts and clip-on ties.

But even though these fancy duds promote uniformity, they range in styles and colors across the globe. Some even allow for a little individual expression.

Check out what children in 20 countries around the world will be wearing on their first day of school. Read more...

More about Pics, Lists, Photos, Students, and Back To School

August 22 2013

Back To School: The College Survival Kit

This is a post in Back To School, an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers technology trends in education for parents and educators.

Preparing for college can be emotional, hectic and, of course, expensive.

According to the National Retail Federation, total back-to-college spending will reach $45.8 billion, the largest portion of which will go to electronics. That's no surprise. University students have to gear up for more than just academics. Dorm life and roommate situations can loom large on the college experience, making technology more like a survival kit than a luxury. 

Indeed, there's a lot of ground to cover, along with big potential to waste funds (and precious dorm space) on frivolous or redundant technologies. Fortunately, a little savvy can go a long way. Here's the breakdown on what's essential and what's not. 

The College Conundrum

The best technologies solve problems and that's especially true in a college setting. 

The challenges vary—from finding the right devices for research to blocking out distractions, like a roommate's snoring, and getting oriented in a new town. And because nobody can (or should) function like a mere homework machine, hooking up entertainment deserves a spot on the list. After all, blowing off steam can be just as important as school work. 

Good thing today's gadgets can do multiple duty. Smartphones, for example, not only enable communication and connection, they also work as a music source, handheld gaming console, study tool, alarm clock, calculator, maps, music player, voice recorder, camera and calendar. This reduces the physical load and the cost, since there's no need to buy standalone products or programs. 

If there's one conundrum about back-to-college shopping that comes up again and again, it's not about smartphones; it's the tablet vs. laptop debate. iPad initiatives are en vogue in the education sector, and their high portability and low-cost applications make them attractive for college students. 

But they can't hold a candle to laptops for productivity. No wonder computers are still more popular among college students. And even when it comes reading, say, e-textbooks, they're still not the best choice. An e-ink eReader like the Amazon Kindle would spare more eyestrain than a glossy full-color, backlit touchscreen. They're far less expensive too, starting at just $69. 

Core Computing Gear

Since smartphones do so much, the handset decision is a pivotal one. That's why, unless the school is steeped in a specific platform, stick with familiarity. Students with demanding classes don't need an extra learning curve. What matters most is that the device performs well and has a decent camera for snapping shots of whiteboards, chalkboards and notes from peers. 

Android users have several decent options, including the HTC One X, Moto X or the Samsung Galaxy S4. The rugged S4 Active version even withstands dust and water—perfect for rainy campus days or a beachside Spring Break. And phablets like the Xperia Z Ultra or the stylus-packing Samsung Galaxy Note II (or upcoming III) can come in handy for class. iOS users, of course, have the iPhone. But if you're ready to buy one new or upgrade, hold off for now: Apple will unveil the new version in just a few weeks. 

If an outstanding camera trumps app selection, consider the Nokia Lumia 1020. The Windows Phone 8 device boasts a 41-megapixel beast that works well in low light and has optical image stabilization. 

When it comes to laptops, there's no shortage of choices—from ultrabooks like Apple's MacBook Air to desktop replacements like Lenovo's IdeaPad Z400 Touch. Another option for cash-strapped students: Chromebooks. Basically a glorified Web browser in a clamshell case, devices like the $200 Acer C7 are both light and cheap. And students may be surprised at how admirably they handle tasks like streaming, writing and research, email/messaging and even some graphic design. Bear in mind, however, that for intensive uses—such as gaming, video editing or 3D modeling—only a full-fledged computer will do. 

Although tablets can't replace laptops, shoppers with bigger budgets may pick one up anyway, at least as an add-on device or because some colleges require themSo check with the school beforehand. (Some even supply tablets and laptops for students.) If you have a choice of product, opt for a compact device like the iPad mini, Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire HD (along with a bluetooth keyboard). 

There's another possibility: the Microsoft Surface Pro. This Windows 8 tablet is a computer-grade device that works with a detachable keyboard for use as a laptop. This could offer the best of both worlds. But be warned—it's pricey (starting at $799 for only 64GB), and the keyboard cover costs extra. Plus, those keys can take some getting used to for touch typists, so anyone interested should definitely try one out before buying. 

Other Considerations

Computing hardware's only one piece of the puzzle. Thanks to apps and websites, users can equip themselves to handle everything from student lifestyles to academics, anytime and anywhere. Here are a few especially helpful ones for school: 

  • Notes: Evernote (includes text, audio notes and searchable photo notes) and Dropbox (offers everywhere access and simple file sharing)
  • Class/Homework/Tasks organization: InClass for iOS (features calendar, scheduling, tasks, notes) or MyHomework for iOS and Android (tracks classes/assignments) 
  • eTextbooks: Kindle Textbook Rental, as well as Chegg, Coursesmart, Google Play and the Apple iBooks, among others.
  • PDF maker: CamScanner (turns pics into PDFs, extract text and share) (iOS & Android) 
  • Voice Recording: Smart Voice Record for Android (offers variable quality, option to not record silence) and AudioNote for iOS (pinpoints text notes to places in recording)
  • Research: Open Culture (covers online courses, test prep materials, free e-textbooks, and much more culled from university sites and free-use libraries) 
  • Also, see if the college or department has any specialized campus or curriculum apps. 

The well-equipped student will need more than a phone, computer and apps. Here are a few other tech add-ons to consider.

  • Streaming box: The Roku 3 and Apple TV are solid choices, and less expensive than cable TV. There's also the new, incredibly cheap $35 Chromecast, or go for a gaming console (below). 
  • Game console: Xbox 360, Xbox One and Sony PS3 offer games and a whole lot more—including streaming for TV, movies and music, and other connected features. 
  • Headphones: Nothing cancels out noisy roommates or annoying neighbors like noise-canceling headphones. Options like the $249.95 AKG K 490 NC are not cheap, but consider it an investment in your education. 
  • Speakers: You can find cheaper speakers than the $200 bluetooth UE Boom. And if audio snobbery's not a factor, you probably should. But if tinny sound just won't do, this small package delivers style and sound quality that will probably last beyond graduation. 
  • Battery power: The 2 port 13,000 mAh battery pack for under $50 can keep your portables charged on the go. 
  • Smartpen: Slow notetakers may need some extra help, and Livescribe could save the day. The smartpen saves audio recording as you write. Later, tap a note to hear what recorded the moment it was written. 

The tech survival kit involves a variety of things for students. For parents, it may just boil down to one: video chat. Seeing that young shining face regularly on FaceTime, Skype or Google Hangout can do wonders for moms and dads, who—let's not forget—are going through a transition too. 

Of course, needs vary and every situation is different. But this list of gear and resources should cover the broad essentials. And if money's tight, consider used or refurbished items. Or hang on to older devices and upgrade them a little at a time. It may take patience and focus, but after all, isn't that the real key to surviving—and thriving in—college? 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

August 21 2013

Gadget Catches Students Cheating With Their Phones
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Teachers no longer have to rely on their eyes and internal instincts to catch cheating students.

In an effort to help educators take back control of the classroom, Berkeley Varitronics Systems has unveiled the PocketHound, a portable cellphone detector designed to let teachers covertly track cheaters.

The PocketHound works by vibrating and lighting up each time there is a nearby transmission from a mobile phone — a sign a cheater could be in action. Once the device is set off, teachers can nab the offender, Berkeley Varitronics Systems says.

The PocketHound, which has a battery life of about 2 hours and costs $500, features an integrated multiband antenna that is hidden under the label. The receiver continually scans all cellphone bands and utilizes a sophisticated algorithm that constantly samples the radio-frequency (RF) noise floor to distinguish real cellular activity from ambient RF noise. Read more...

More about Smartphone, Teachers, Students, Back To School, and Cheating

Back To School: Tech For High School

This is a post in Back To School, an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers technology trends in education for parents and educators.

Never before have teens been so tech-driven, and educators desperate to connect with them have noticed. What's more, they're responding. Creative learning formats and tablet-based curricula have been picking up steam in high schools across the country.

The challenge for parents, particularly those who have struggled to balance the kids' tech usage at home, is equipping them with the right tools for school. So now, as the fall semester gets underway, let's take a look at what high school students need to succeed in this changing educational landscape.

High Schools Are Growing Up

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission voted to make changes to a funding program, granting $2.3 billion so schools and libraries can update telecommunications and equipment. It will take time before that takes shape, but it's a sign that yesterday's schools are gearing up for today's technologies. 

In fact, the whole notion of "classroom" is undergoing a metamorphosis. 

One educational tech trend taking hold is the flipped classroom, where pupils stream multimedia lectures at home and do what used to be "homework" in school among tutors and peers.

One of the most well-known programs comes from the Google-backed Khan Academy, a non-profit educational site that offers online learning via streaming videos. The academy, which started with a pilot project in Los Altos, Calif., now extends to more than 30,000 classrooms all over the globe. 

Another major movement revolves around iPads. Tablet-based learning may not be ubiquitous yet, but they have been attracting attention among an increasing number of teachers and administrators, and last year, tablets trumped laptops among high school students. Meanwhile, in places like Las Vegas' Clark County and other school districts, BYOD ("bring your own device") strategies gain popularity

Of course, not all schools have tech initiatives, but for those that do, mere backpacks, notebooks and pencils won't cut it. And even for those that don't, there are still some key tools that can give teens a leg up in class. 

The Lowdown On Tech for High School

Classes, schools and school districts vary. Some schools focus on laptops, while others require tablets. It's important to find out if there are any hardware requirements before making any purchasing decisions. 

In general, if you have have a family desktop PC, a tablet can supplement that well. In fact, iPads seem to be all the rage in secondary schools these days. That may make Applel's tablet look like the obvious choice, and if there's a hardware mandate, then it clearly is. But if cost matters, consider an Android tablet. Options like the stylus-enabled Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Google's Nexus 7 have lower price tags, deliver excellent screen resolution and offer plenty of educational apps. For eBooks and streaming or Web browsing, an Amazon Kindle Fire HD is a bargain option. 

If your student lacks a full-fledged computer, a laptop is the savvy choice for the portability. For seniors, invest in an ultrabook like a Macbook Air or Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13. Although they're more expensive, these are lightweight devices that he or she can take to college—and schlep between dorms and numerous far-flung university classes—next year. 

Juniors and younger students, for whom the load may not matter as much, less expensive offerings like the Dell Latitude 3330 will work well. This model offers a fine-tuned touchpad and curved keyboard, but goes for roughly half the price of an advanced ultrabook. 

As for smartphones, they may seem like a social tool more than a study aid, but consider this: A high schooler's academic success can also hinge on peer communication. Not only can they look up important class info or research at will, but smartphones also help them stay organized on the fly and connect easily with tutors, research buddies and study groups. 

Some kids may need parental guidance or oversight, but this could be an educational opportunity. After all, learning how to manage technology use during these formative years could be an important life lesson.

At this point, Android and iOS—the two dominant platforms—have both developed into mature eco-systems with robust app stores. So the handset or even platform choice may not matter as much as the calling, texting or data plans that go with them. The best option: For heavy texters or data users, you'll want unlimited plans. Or, for an affordable option, consider a phone on a prepaid plan. Your teen could even take partial or full responsibility for funding it. 

Smart Apps For Smart Students

When it comes to hardware, there are plenty of deals this time of year. To go along with them, there are plenty of apps that can help that student graduate to academic rock star. 

  • Flash Cards: Flashcards by Brainscape (iOS) and AnkiDroid Flashcards (Android) let students easily quiz themselves on a variety of topic and course material. 
  • Calculator: PocketCAS Lite (iOS) and Graphing Calculator (Android) offer calculator for advanced mathematics classes. 
  • Homework Planner: Studious (iOS and Android) organizes big exams, homework and project deadlines. The app offers alerts for events, and when classes are in session, even silences the phone.
  • Study guide: Some kids may use SparkNotes (iOS and Android) summaries so they can skip reading assignments, but they also provide very handy study guides for class material. The developer also offers SparkNotes Test Prep for SAT and ACT.
  • Biology: Frog dissection is a quintessential experience for high school biology classes. With the Froguts app (iOS and Android) virtual frog dissection, students can benefit from interactive 3-D anatomical simulations, audio and text cues that boost comprehension.

Although schools with splashy tech-forward programs get headlines these days, the truth is, plenty of high schools still depend on traditional textbook education. But even in these environments, consumer technology offer teenagers an advantage, one that extends beyond academics.

Call it a glimpse of the future, but society will only become more connected as time goes on. Familiarizing today's students with the technologies they might advance in the future can help prepare them for the real world. And, in turn, it gives the world its best chance at welcoming its future visionaries. 

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock. Table image courtesy Allison Hare cc.

August 20 2013

Top 10 Back-to-School Brain Foods
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The brains of students on their way back to school benefit from the chemicals found in certain foods. The Earth provides many tasty treats for students, but don't leave these foods behind in the school cafeteria. The foods help brain functioning in all people, not just young scholars.

1. Chili Peppers

A fiery hot chili pepper can boost alertness during a cram session, without the jitters and insomnia of coffee. Beyond serving as a tongue-scorching substitute for espresso, peppers, both sweet and spicy, also provide one of the highest doses of vitamin C in foods that regularly appear on American tables. Read more...

More about Education, Science, Students, Back To School, and Brain

Back To School: Transitional Tech For Middle School

This is a post in Back To School, an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers technology trends in education for parents and educators.

Middle school, junior high, intermediate centers—there are lots of names for the schools that teach our kids in the awkward years between elementary school and high school. But their goals are all the same: help students make the transition from one stage of their education career to another.

Parents will have their hands full navigating their children through this tricky time, but there are some things they can get right off the bat as school starts. Appropriate technology can help with school work and personal time and give kids the best possible advantage.

Defining The Middle

Some school districts start middle school in the fifth grade, while others start in the sixth and a few even have K-6 for elementary school and just 7th and 8th grades for middle school.

If your middle school student is beginning in the fifth grade, then his or her technology needs will be very much in line with those of elementary students. Fifth grade students in middle school tend to still have a single all-day teacher or sometimes dual-team teaching. Either way, the students aren't moving around from class to class and homework loads in these early middle school classes isn't exceptionally higher than it was in their last year of elementary school.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Academically focused magnet schools will have more rigor, and individual middle schools will have higher or lower levels of coursework from district to district and even within a district. This is why it's very important to connect with your child's teacher or teachers to find out what level of work will be expected of them.

Desktop Decisions

In elementary school, ReadWrite recommends that students can get by with a tablet of some kind, since they won't be using it primarily to write, draw or otherwise create. So when will middle school students start needing something more computationally capable?

The simplest advice is to figure how much writing (essays, book reports and the like) or other special projects your student will need to do in the coming year. If using a family desktop isn't going to work, that's the time to think about getting your little go-getter a desktop or laptop.

Deciding between the two can be tricky. Laptops are lighter and mobile, but more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Kids usually want laptops because they're easy to carry around, but your bank account might argue otherwise. Likewise if your child is at that awkward age; laptops are a lot easier to inadvertently drop or smash into doorframes or walls.

The best argument in favor of a laptop is if your kid is regularly going to be away from the house for a while before or after school—on a long bus ride, for instance, or at an after-school program until you can pick them up. The laptop will give them a chance to get some of their schoolwork done during what would otherwise be down time. (Not that down time is a bad thing for kids, of course.)

If a desktop is what you need, there are plenty of affordable options out there. Unless your family is a dedicated Mac clan, Apple hardware is probably not your best value, though a Mac Mini with an existing monitor, keyboard and mouse won't set you back too much.

Buying a Windows desktop (or laptop) these days means a Windows 8 machine, but your kids likely won't care that much. But one big tip: Avoid "all-in-one" desktops at all costs. Yes, they look slick, and they are space savers, but if something goes wrong with an embedded component or you want to upgrade memory or a hard disk (often a cost-effective way of extending a PC's useful lifetime), opening the machine might be a real pain. Save some stress and money and get a boring old standard PC case.

Looking At Laptops

If you need a laptop instead, the same reasoning applies—except that there isn't really a super-affordable Mac laptop outside of used or refurbished models. Better to stay in the PC laptop family if price is an issue. Try to balance price with weight as much as possible. Your student will be lugging around a lot of textbooks as the years pass, so why add more of a burden to their backpacks?

You do, however, have an additional cost-effective option with laptop-class machines: Chromebooks. These Google ChromeOS machines are not Windows-based (and so present less of a virus risk), but you can use them to write documents and other material that's compatible with Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.

The Chromebook's main drawback is that it works best when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Schools often have Wi-Fi, but those networks also can be highly restricted, so be sure the system you buy will still work everywhere your student needs to use it.

And Then There Are Phones

Your middle schooler will almost certainly need a phone of some sort. In elementary students, cellular phones are typically only necessary in certain circumstances. Middle school students are more likely to have after-school academic, athletic or social schedule changes, and everyone feels a lot better when they can stay in touch.

As much as your student may want a smartphone, weigh that decision carefully. A feature phone with a decent keyboard to handle the inevitable rapid-fire texting will most likely handle everything they need. Smartphones, as a rule, require data plans, which can add at least $40 per month to the cost of the phone. Couple that with the expense of repairing or replacing the thing should it get lost or damaged, and you can see why smartphones for most students this age could be a very expensive proposition.

Parent Resources

Unfortunately, there's a serious dearth of age-appropriate websites for middle school students. A lot of the websites that used to be out there have since folded or have been merged into other sites. The reason, perhaps, is the same challenge all educators and parents of middle school students face: this is a time of transition, and kids this age are more willing to strike out onto the Internet on their own to get their research and homework help.

Still, there are some good resources out there. Check your school's website for online resources more specifically tailored to your school's curriculum.

  • The CIA World Factbook. The CIA may not be at the top of everyone's hit parade right now, but their World Factbook is an encyclopedic reference for all of the nations of the world.
  • FunBrain. Grade-level games all the way up to the eighth grade. More fun than teaching, but something to do for kids who need some extra practice.
  • IXL. Grade-level practice problems abound on this simple-to-use site, more than enough to give kids the help they need at their own pace.
  • typing web. Getting your kids typing fast and using touch method is a really good idea. Mobile or stationary, we're going to be using QWERTY keyboard interfaces for a long time.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

9 Dependable Destinations for Online Tutoring
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With back-to-school season in full swing, you've probably already started thinking about what you or your children will actually learn this year.

Returning to the classroom can feel like the World Series for academic all-stars, while students who struggle to keep up with their peers can fill with anxiety. Getting some extra help outside of class can make all the difference.

Finding added time with teachers or a private tutor can be restrictive, but there are a host of online resources that can help students stay on track and even get ahead. We've rounded up nine online tutoring sites, which can supplement even the most brilliant educators' lessons. Read more...

More about Features, Education, Back To School, Apps Software, and Lifestyle

August 19 2013

Back To School: Technology That's Elementary

This is a post in Back To School, an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers technology trends in education for parents and educators.

In many communities around the North America, parents and students are beginning the annual rite of passage of preparing for school. As early as this week, school buses will be rolling, and parents are getting their kids ready to go.

In the days of yore, preparations would have entailed buying folders, paper and pencils. Today, the expectation for parents who want to give their kids every advantage is to load them up with as much technology as possible, especially at the elementary-school level.

From one perspective, this makes sense: get your kids started early and they will be masters of the online universe by the time they hit high school. But this is an area where parents can easily go overboard and weigh their little student down with a lot of expensive technology they don't need and won't be much help.

Set Goals First

When thinking about technology, the important thing to remember is: Take into account the learning goals for the child as well as the current technology policies of your student's school.

Unfortunately, elementary schools around the country vary wildly in their use of technology. Some lucky public and private schools have the funding and training to deliver individual devices to every student in their classrooms—even, in some cases, being able to take them home. But, in more cases than not, computers are sparse, and shared between students in special lab classrooms.

There is also the question of technology type: Thanks to a very aggressive marketing strategy, Apple is a very dominant presence in schools today. If this is the case in your school district, then you might be tempted to buy similar technology for home use. That's definitely what Apple wants you to do. But hold on before you head to the Apple Store; check with the teacher and find out if the students are using native installed apps or cloud-based services that just run over the Web. Cloud learning tools are beginning to be more common since they are easier to configure and license across an entire school. If there is a cloud service being used, you can probably run that service on any Internet-connected computing device.

This is why it is critical to communicate with your child's school and find out what they have going on now and planned for the near future. You will want to balance their approach with what you do at home and not plunk too much money down for something you don't need.

Getting The Hardware

There are two questions I get from parents of elementary-age students about technology: What kind of computer should I get and what kind of smartphone? The second question, at this stage of students' education career, is easier to answer, so it will be addressed first.

Except in very rare instances, don't buy your kid a smartphone in elementary school. In fact, don't buy your student a cell phone, period.

I realize that this might run counter to the parents who have heard their childrens' pleas for the latest iPhone and are starting to succumb to the begging. Resist, for one simple reason: They don't need it. If your child is young, then chances are they will be under adult supervision most of the day and playing with their friends for the rest. Communication is not a big issue in these situations. Texting (and social media participation) is not a requirement, either, and it will be just one more distraction in a home that's already going to be pretty distracted.

In our home, none of my daughters got a phone at all until they reached one critical juncture: They started staying after school for sport or extracurricular activities. At that point, when school staff leaves for the day and phones get scarce, it was important to their mother and I that they had some way to get a hold of us if a practice or meeting when ran long or short. or was cancelled at the last minute and the bus was missed.

Your situation will vary, of course, and there are many families who will need their child to have a phone with them at all times. I was a latchkey kid growing up, and if cellphones had been around, I am sure I would have had one. If that is your situation, you should still resist the urge to get a smartphone and pick up a decent feature phone instead.

When it comes to computing devices, the approach is a little more complicated, because needs can vary greatly between students and classrooms. But for elementary-age students, I tend to lean towards recommending tablets for purchase instead of desktop PCs or laptops.

The reasoning is two-fold: First, from K-4, most classrooms are not going to require a lot of output in the curriculum. There are the occasional science projects and book reports, but for the most part, your student is going to need a computing device more for exploration and research than actual production pf dlci,emts. (Though that's another thing to check with the school.)

Secondly, a tablet can serve a dual role: When not used as a learning tool, it can be used as an entertainment and communication device. For younger kids, tablets are much more flexible than laptops in this regard.

The kind of tablet you get will depend on the school. If the school is heavily invested in Apple (OS X or iOS) products, then you should probably steer in that direction. However, if the school is using Web-based applications and services (or, sadly, has no strong technology plan at all), then you would be wiser to try an Android-based tablet, such as a Nexus 7 or an Amazon Kindle Fire. In terms of Web use and entertainment content, these tablets are just as good as the iPad, and less expensive to boot.

Online Resources

Your school should have a number of resources of which you can avail yourself for your student's technology-based learning. Even if it does, here are some recommended sites to try for elementary students' basic skills.

  • PBSKids.org Reading Games: PBS Kids is one of the most outstanding English-based educational sites on the Internet, full of games and video content that's specifically aimed at teaching kids about many subjects. The Reading Games section is no exception, and should keep beginning readers busy and engaged for good while.
  • Jumpstart Reading Games: Educational software maker has helped kids learn to read for a long time with their PC applications, and their online offerings are just as effective.
  • IXL: Grade-level practice problems abound on this simple-to-use site, more than enough to give kids the help they need at their own pace.
  • Typing Web: This is a skill set where I am biased, but getting your kids typing fast and using the touch method is a really good idea. Mobile or stationary, we're going to be using QWERTY keyboard interfaces for a long time.

There are far more resources, of course, including some for parents: The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has an excellent roundup page of educational sites, as does the New York City Department of Education.

Plan ahead for your child's needs and a year or two down the line, and you should find a good fit for their technology use.

How are you preparing your kids? Share your back-to-school plans in the comments.

Photo by bruno.padilha

19 Back-to-School Tips From 'Community'
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Television shows rarely take place on college campuses. When they do, they usually don't last. (Undeclared, anyone? R.I.P.)

But Community is a rare exception, so embrace that knowledge.

Take these tips from characters who know how to navigate the treacherous collegiate waters — even when that entails Hunger Games competitions, claymation interludes, and a human being mascot

Homepage image: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC Read more...

More about Lists, Television, College, Humor, and Back To School

August 18 2013

7 Ways Teachers Use Social Media in the Classroom
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Millennials live and breathe on social media, so teachers are learning how to incorporate the medium into the classroom successfully

In doing so, teachers not only encourage students to engage actively in the material, but they also provide online communities for students that might not exist for them in real life

But how are teachers infusing social media into their everyday lessons? We've highlighted several different examples and offered our own ideas on how to best engage students

1. Encourage students to share work socially.

Anna Divinsky created an iTunes U class at Penn State University called Art 10: Introduction to Visual Studies, which she then adapted into a massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera. The MOOC, called Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques, amassed more than 58,000 students. Read more...

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August 09 2013

What Do You Wish You Knew Before Starting College?
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Welcome Week is fast-approaching and a new class of college students is prepping for the first year of university life. Whether students are dorming or commuting, starting off college is a major transition. Incoming freshmen are using their remaining pre-undergrad days to pack up their lives, say some see-you-laters and soak up all the college advice they can get. That's where you come in.

We're asking the Mashable community to share their college pro tips with those about to begin their journey into the world of quads, residence halls, lecture seminars, unlimited meal plans and football fight songs. Using the hashtag #classof2017tips, tweet, Instagram and Vine advice you wish you knew going into college. Write your tips on school or work supplies (a legal pad, Post-it note, dry-erase board, paper pinned to a corkboard, message on a chalkboard, even a screenshot of your smartphone's notes app — and make sure to write "#classof2017tips"), take a photo or video and share it with the hashtag. Read more...

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August 08 2013

25 Apps You'll Need to Survive College
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College isn't all fun and games (unless you want it to be.) Don't sweat it, though. Take a look at these 25 apps — they'll give you a smoother college experience by helping you study smarter, connect with new people and wake up in time for your early lectures

Your university probably has its own app, too — download it. It will provide you with a more tailored breakdown than a national application.

Any helpful ones we missed? Let us know in the comments!

1BenchPrep

MCAT Prep by McGraw HillImage: BenchPrep

BenchPrep is an interactive course library with all the graduate and professional exam study material you can handle. It includes hundreds of practice questions, flashcards, in-app purchases and almost 600 study lessons. Go ahead and pick your poison: LSAT, MCAT, GMAT Read more...

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Nick Offerman Helps You Survive Summer Reading
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Summer is drawing to its inevitable close, which means the required summer reading list you've been putting off is starting to look more daunting and dreadful than ever

Luckily for you, Nick Offerman of Parks and Rec fame is here to ease your back-to-school woes with a handy guide to teachers' favorite classics.

Instead of canceling that water park trip to slog through Animal Farm, simply refer to Offerman's comprehensive summary: "It's like the movie Babe: Pig in the City — but in the end, turns out, Communism is bad."

Now throw out that copy of Hamlet and get back to YOLO-ing. (Just kidding, kids. Reading is awesome.) Read more...

More about Jimmy Kimmel, Back To School, Watercooler, Videos, and Nick Offerman

August 06 2013

10 Sharp iTunes U Courses for Back-to-School Season
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As the summer ends and the back-to-school sales start haunting your shopping centers, ease into the academic season with some free educational podcasts

The iTunes U app gives you access to courses from universities and learning centers around the world, ranging from Stanford to Yale to MoMA to the New York Public Library. According to its website, iTunes U is the largest database of educational material on the web.

If every display of school supplies you see makes you nostalgic for your grade school or college years, iTunes U may fill your thirst for the classroom Read more...

More about Podcasts, Features, Education, Back To School, and Online Education

August 04 2013

One Direction and Directioners Fuse Online Powers to Battle Bullying
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One Direction's Twitter account and the boy band members' five individual accounts have lured 75 million combined followers. Though those fans likely follow two or more of those six accounts, the number remains higher than the follower count for the reigning king and newly crowned queen of Twitter: Justin Bieber with 42.5 million and Katy Perry with 40.2 million

With such a massive online fan base — both on Twitter and other social platforms — One Direction has the potential to spark substantial social change. And they're attempting to do just that. The band has tasked their social media-savvy fans to battle bullying as part of an interactive back-to-school anti-bullying campaign with retailer Office Depot. Read more...

More about Entertainment, Cyberbullying, School, Back To School, and Bullying

August 03 2013

Top 25 Digital Media Resources This Week
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It's been a busy week in the tech world, so we understand if you missed a few things. Maybe you've been preoccupied with building a tower of boxes for your pet or busting a move with your family. Either way, Mashable has got you covered

We've rounded up the top 25 digital media resources from this past week for your convenience. Read through for tips on back-to-school tech and a service that promises to find your landlord soulmate

Have a great weekend, everyone

Editor's Picks

  • Two Friends Date for 40 Days and Live to Blog About It
    Here's the story of Tim and Jessica: They're friends, both single and curious, who decided to date for 40 days and share their journey with the world Read more...

  • More about Social, Features, Business, Tech, and Back To School

    September 04 2012

    12 Things Students Should Never Do on Social Media


    The last thing young people want is another set of rules. But these days, social media comes with great responsibility, whether you're just starting high school or finishing up college.

    The fact is, irresponsible social media conduct could potentially ruin your education and negatively impact your career, not to mention hurt others in the process. (And we're not just talking kids, either.) But most of those consequences are preventable, often with just a little foresight.

    We've pinpointed 12 social media mistakes that students should avoid at all costs, because after all, it's never as simple as "be responsible." And it's never as finite as "don't friend your teacher on Facebook." So…
    Continue reading...

    More About: Back to School Series, Facebook, Kids, Social Media, Twitter, back to school, college, education, features, foursquare, lifestyle, mashable


    August 29 2012

    Use These 10 Sites to Detect Plagiarism


    1. TurnItIn




    Four UC Berkeley graduate students designed a peer review application to use for their classes — thus, TurnItIn was born. Eventually, that prototype developed into one of the most recognizable names in plagiarism detection. TurnItIn, which processed over 60 million academic papers in 2011, is accessible for a fee per educator. Free quotes are available on the website. Students can use TurnItIn's WriteCheck service to maintain proper citations and to access various writing tools. Teachers can ask students to submit their papers through the service as a first measure.

    Click here to view this gallery.


    If we've learned one thing from the Jonah Lehrer plagiarism debacle it's that copying or falsifying your work just isn't worth it. Last month, The New Yorker writer resigned from his position at the magazine after admitting to fabricating quotes in his latest book, as well as borrowing from his own articles at other publications.

    Plagiarism is as much a serious offense in the academic world as it is in journalism. Most high schools and universities take extreme disciplinary action if a student is caught cheating or plagiarizing, often leading to suspension or expulsion.

    SEE ALSO: Students, Here’s How to Kick-Start Your Personal Brand Online

    We've rounded up 10 online services tha…
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    More About: Tech, back to school, education, features, plagiarism, web


    August 27 2012

    10 Must-Have Apps for Successful High School Students


    1. The Chemical Touch




    This app's touch-sensitive periodic table will help make chemistry class much more interactive. Select different elements to learn more about their properties and get definitions of nucleobases, as well. You can even sort the table with different colors to identify periodic trends — and hopefully, make your chemistry homework less complex than amino acids. If you need in-depth explanations of different concepts, the app will open Wikipedia entries. The Chemical Touch costs $0.99 and is available for iOS devices.

    Click here to view this gallery.


    A high school student's plate isn't just filled with classes, but also sports, clubs, SATs and a social life of proms and pep rallies. Don't head into the classroom unarmed -- turn to your phone or tablet. There are plenty of apps to help keep your hectic life organized.

    SEE ALSO: 5 Tools Every Student Needs to Know

    In high school, your courseload will tip the scales and the pressure of college apps and AP classes will challenge every moment. Use these 10 apps to make sure you're on top of homework assignments, ensuring studying is effortless and efficient rather than stressful and unproductive.

    Do you use any other apps to make your high school courseload a little lighter? Share…
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    More About: Kids, Mobile, apps, back to school, education, features, school


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