Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Public library report and database

The Public Library Data Service (PLDS) FY2013 data is now available with a special section on outcome measures. This valuable data from more than 1,100 North American libraries can be exclusively accessed and customized through the online data portal PLAmetrics. PLDS captures valuable data (voluntarily submitted annually) on staffing, operating finances, output measures, interlibrary loans, and technology provisions from public libraries.

Nearly 100% of America’s public libraries offer workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology skills training, according to a new ALA study. Overall, libraries report technology improvements—including nearly ubiquitous public Wi-Fi, growing mobile resources, and a leap in ebook access. The study also documents digital differences among states and an urban/rural divide.
American Library Association. (2014).  2014 Digital Inclusion Survey

Children in poverty report

Data from this annual report showed 23% of U.S. children in 2012 were living in families below the poverty line, a slight increase from last year. The report on child wellness found teen births hit a record low, child and teen death rates fell, more children were enrolled in preschool, and a higher number of students were proficient at math and reading.
Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2014). Kids count.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Preschooler problem solving

A recent study finds that preschoolers are better at operating gadgets than college students -- findings attributed to the way young children approach problem solving. Exploratory learning, characterized by a tendency to test unusual theories, comes naturally to young children, researchers say.
Children learn causal relationships quickly and make far-reaching causal inferences from what they observe. Acquiring abstract causal principles that allow generalization across different causal relationships could support these abilities. We examine children's ability to acquire abstract knowledge about the forms of causal relationships and show that in some cases they learn better than adults. Adults and 4- and 5-year-old children saw events suggesting that a causal relationship took one of two different forms, and their generalization to a new set of objects was then tested. One form was a more typical disjunctive relationship; the other was a more unusual conjunctive relationship. Participants were asked to both judge the causal efficacy of the objects and to design actions to generate or prevent an effect. Our results show that children can learn the abstract properties of causal relationships using only a handful of events. Moreover, children were more likely than adults to generalize the unusual conjunctive relationship, suggesting that they are less biased by prior assumptions and pay more attention to current evidence. These results are consistent with the predictions of a hierarchical Bayesian model.
Gopnik, A.,  Bridges, S., Griffiths, T., Lucas, C. (2014). When children are better (or at least more open-minded) learners than adults: developmental differences in learning the forms of causal relationships.Cognition, 131(2):284-99.

Multitasking impact research

Contrary to what students might like to think, when they multi-task in class on non-academic activities, their test scores go down. And that's true for even the smartest students. Those are the initial results of a study by a Michigan State University research project underwritten by NSF.
Ravizza, S. et al. (2014, Sept.). Non-academic Internet use in the classroom is negatively related to classroom learning regardless of intellectual ability. Computers & Education, 78, 109-114.

Teen financial literacy report

The U.S. ranked ninth in financial-literacy skills among 15-year-olds in a recent study of 18 countries and economies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Shanghai, China, topped the list. Other countries posting strong financial-literacy skills among students include the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Poland and Latvia.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2014). Measuring financial literacy.

Erate program survey

The FCC is in the process of reforming the E-rate program, which helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access, and this survey is intended to give administrators and school technology leaders a voice in the E-rate reforms. "The data serves to inform debate over the direction of the program and involve those who haven’t had an opportunity for their voices to be heard," according to Funds for Learning. Key findings from the survey include:
  • 92 percent of respondents said the E-rate program is critical to their success;
  • 58 percent expect their budget for telecommunications and Internet access to increase over the next five years;
  • 43 percent said their technology infrastructure is lagging;
  • 51 percent said their telephone infrastructure is lagging; and
  • 48 percent feel that their Internet access is not adequate for their current needs.
  • The most popular E-rate changes are raising the funding cap, multi-year funding commitments and simplified application paperwork.
Funds for Learning. (2014). E-rate 2.0.

Technology for summative survey

This annual survey reveals K-12 institutions lack technology needed for online, summative assessments, but schools are making improvements in the use of tech tools for decision-making and student access to digital content online.
SIIA. (2014). Vision K-20 survey.