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How One University Used Big Data To Boost Graduation Rates

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Whenever you surf the Web, sophisticated algorithms are tracking where you go, comparing you with millions of other people. They’re trying to predict what you’ll do next: Apply for a credit card? Book a family vacation?

At least 40 percent of universities report that they’re trying some version of the same technology on their students, according to several recent surveys. It’s known as predictive analytics, and it can be used to either help or hurt students, says a new report from the New America Foundation.

The dangers come from the possibility of discrimination, invasions of privacy and groups of students being stigmatized, the authors, Manuela Ekowo and Iris Palmer, write. There can also be a lack of transparency when decision-making is turned over to an opaque computer program.

But a happy story cited in the report comes from Georgia State University, a large public university in Atlanta with more than 24,000 undergrads. Of those students, 60 percent are nonwhite, and many are from working-class and first-generation families.

As with many public universities, resources for student advising are limited. Large institutions tend to have staggering caseloads; a few years ago, GSU’s ratio was 700 students per adviser.

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What Did Mike Pence Do For Indiana Schools As Governor? Here’s A Look

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Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana takes photos with supporters during a Welcome Home Rally on Saturday in Zionsville, Ind. Pence is a passionate advocate for school choice and state control over federal oversight.

Darron Cummings/AP

Tonight is the night Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will take the stage in Cleveland at the 2016 Republican National Convention. He is now, officially, the vice-presidential running mate of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But before that happens, we want to take a dive into Pence’s education policies in the nearly four years he’s been the governor of Indiana.

Just how much does he have in common with Donald Trump when it comes to schools and education? Definitely not nothing. Let’s take a look.

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On Kids And Screens, A Middle Way Between Fear And Hype

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School’s out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Well, if you’re a faithful reader of NPR Ed we don’t blame you for being a little conflicted. On the one hand, electronic toys for babies fall short in educational benefits, some screen-addled tweens may be worse at reading emotions and cyberbullying, privacy, even suicide are concerns.

On the other hand, shows like Daniel Tiger promote pro-social messages, artificial intelligence promises “magical robo-tutors in the sky,” more students will soon be expected to learn computer science, and you can start them on it as young as age 4.

Sonia Livingstone, who has been researching families and technology for nearly three decades, says that families are getting whipsawed by this “polarized” advice.

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How Parents And Teachers Can Nurture The ‘Quiet Power’ Of Introverts

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When Susan Cain wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking in 2012, it was a big success. The book made the cover of Time magazine, spent weeks on the New York Times best-sellers list and was the subject of one of the most-watched TED Talks, with more than 13 million views.

From that grew The Quiet Revolution, a company Cain co-founded that continues to produce and share content about, and for, introverts. The site offers an online training course for parents and stories submitted by readers about being introverted. There’s even a podcast.

Kids, Cain says, “are at the heart and center of it.”

“Introverts often are really amazing, talented, gifted, loving children, and they feel like there’s something wrong with them,” she says. “And our mission is to make it so that the next generation of kids does not grow up feeling that way.”

I talked with Cain about her mission of supporting introverts, and asked her advice on how to teach them.

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Communication and Community

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When people first jump into social media, specifically Twitter, there seems to be this inclination from administration to start a Twitter handle (ie @sampleschool) so that they can communicate what is happening in their school community.  This is a great idea and nice way to give an audience quick snippets of the day, but this is also limiting in the view of what we can actually do with the medium.

The way I compare the “handle” (@sampleschool) versus the hashtag (#sampleschool) is that one is about communicating, and the other one is about building community.

For example, a school might share events, things happening in classrooms, news, etc., to a hashtag, but the view of the organization is limited to the view of one or sometimes a few.  Yet encouraging others to use a hashtag says, “your voice matters in our journey and we want you to share it”.

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