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Tag Archives: education

Holberton raises $8M for its full-stack engineering school

Over the course of the last few years , the Holberton School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Engineering has made a name for itself as one of the more comprehensive coding schools. The two-year program trains full-stack engineers with a focus on the basics of engineering and sees itself as an alternative to a traditional college experience. Today, the San Francisco-based school announced that it has raised an $8.2 million Series A round that will help it expand its programs. The funding round was led by current investors daphni and Trinity Ventures . The Omidyar Network joined as a new investor. With this, the school has now raised a total of $13 million. Holberton is currently teaching about 200 students (who have to pass a pretty rigorous entry exam) and the plan is to scale the program to 1,000 students per year. That’s a larger cohort than the computer science programs taught at even the biggest schools currently. Past students have found jobs at companies like Apple, IBM, Tesla, Docker and Dropbox. Instead of charging tuition, the school takes a 17 percent cut of its graduates’ salary for the first three years after they get their jobs. To enable its expansion to 1,000 students, the team recently moved into a far larger space in San Francisco that can handle about 500 students. As the team has repeatedly told me, part of its mission is to bring in a diverse group of students — and one that isn’t held back by the prospect of student loans

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Duolingo adds new language exercises and revamps its leveling system

Duolingo today launched one of its biggest updates in recent years. The company is introducing a range of new exercise types, as well as a new leveling system that lets you choose between delving deeper into specific skills or learning new content. When you are building a popular language learning service like Duolingo, you’re inevitably confronted with a problem: Some of your users are really serious about learning a new language and some are just casual users. Finding a balance is hard, even as you try to personalize the experience for every user. But as you add harder content, user engagement goes down and learners drop off. To counter this, Duolingo is now launching “Crown Levels.” These new levels are part of a redesigned skills tree that gives users a choice between delving into harder content about a specific skill — or moving on to new skills. The company quietly announced this feature earlier this year and after A/B testing it, decided to launch it to a wider audience now. “Whenever we tried to add harder content in order to teach better, our engagement metrics would go down. Learners would get discouraged and leave the app,” the team explained at the time. “This made it really hard to make any progress on our goal to not just be a fun learning app, but an effective one that really taught you a language well.” The new tree now allows casual learners to move through the Duolingo skills tree just like before, while advanced learners can dig deeper into the new skills they just learned. Ideally, this means that everybody should be happy now and learn better. With this update, Duolingo is also introducing a number of new exercise types that focus on listening and pronunciation.

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Final Cut Pro X Update Introduces ProRes RAW Format

Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 introduces a groundbreaking format from Apple, ProRes RAW, which combines the visual and workflow benefits of RAW video with the performance of ProRes. Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 will be available on April 9 as a free update for existing users, and for $299.99 (US) for new users on the Mac App Store.

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Tencent and education startup Age of Learning bring popular English-learning app ABCmouse to China

Tencent is teaming up with Los Angeles-based education company Age of Learning to launch an English education program for kids in China. ABCmouse , Age of Learning’s flagship product, has been localized and will be available as a website and an iOS and Android app in China, with Tencent handling product development, marketing, sales and customer support. The new partnership extends Tencent’s involvement in ed-tech, which already includes a strategic investment in VIPKID, an online video tutoring platform that connects Chinese kids with English teachers and competes with QKids and Dada ABC. ABCmouse, on the other hand, uses videos, books and online activities like games, songs and stories to help kids study English. The Chinese version of ABCmouse includes integration with Tencent’s ubiqutioius messenger and online services platform WeChat, which now has more than one billion users, and its instant messaging service QQ, with 783 million monthly active users. This makes it easier for parents to sign up and pay for ABCmouse, because they can use their WeChat or QQ account and payment information. It also allows families to share kids’ English-learning progress on their news feeds or in chats. For example, Chen says parents can send video or audio recordings of their children practicing English to grandparents, who can then buy gift subscriptions with one click. Though you probably haven’t heard of it unless you have young kids or work with elementary school-age children, Age of Learning has built a significant presence in online education since it was founded in 2007, thanks mainly to the popularity of ABCmouse in schools, public libraries and Head Start programs. Two years ago, Age of Learning hit unicorn status after raising $150 million at a $1 billion valuation from Iconiq Capital. Jerry Chen, Age of Learning’s president of Greater China, says there are more than 110 million kids between the ages of three to eight in China and the online English language learning market there is “a several billion dollar market that’s growing rapidly.” He points to a recent study by Chinese research agency Yiou Intelligence that says total spending on online English learning programs for children will be 29.41 billion RMB, or about $4.67 billion, this year, and is projected to reach 79.17 billion, or $12.6 billion, by 2022. The localization of ABCmouse will extend to the design of its eponymous cartoon rodent, who has a more stylized appearance in China. Lessons include animations featuring an English teacher and students in an international school classroom and begin with listening comprehension and speaking before moving onto phonics, reading and writing. Tencent-Age of Learning products will also include speech recognition tools to help kids hone their English pronunciation. In an email, Jason Chen, Tencent’s general manager of online education, said that the company “reviewed several companies through an extensive research process, and it became clear that ABCmouse had the most engaging and effective online English self-learning curriculum and content for children. Age of Learning puts learning first, and that commitment to educational excellence made them a perfect fit for our online English language learning business.”  

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Facebook retracted some messages sent by Zuckerberg and other executives from recipients’ inboxes without informing those users or the public (Josh…

Josh Constine / TechCrunch : Facebook retracted some messages sent by Zuckerberg and other executives from recipients' inboxes without informing those users or the public   —  You can't remove Facebook messages from the inboxes of people you sent them to, but Facebook did that for Mark Zuckerberg and other executives.

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Brazilian judge fines Facebook $33M, saying the company failed to help with a 2016 corruption probe by not giving access to WhatsApp messages; FB…

Ricardo Brito / Reuters : Brazilian judge fines Facebook $33M, saying the company failed to help with a 2016 corruption probe by not giving access to WhatsApp messages; FB disputes fine   —  BRASILIA (Reuters) - A Brazilian judge has ordered that Facebook Inc (FB.O) pay 111.7 million reais ($33.4 million) …

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Myanmar civil society groups say Zuckerberg mischaracterized efficacy of Facebook systems to detect hate speech on Messenger in their country in Vox…

Paul Mozur / New York Times : Myanmar civil society groups say Zuckerberg mischaracterized efficacy of Facebook systems to detect hate speech on Messenger in their country in Vox interview   —  SHANGHAI — Civil society groups in Myanmar on Thursday criticized Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg …

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Mission Bit receives $1 million to expand computer science education in SF

Mission Bit, a nonprofit organization that teaches high school students computer science, has received a $1 million five-year grant from the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families . Each semester, Mission Bit offers after-school computer science classes to high school students. The fall and spring courses run for 13 weeks, requiring four hours per week from students. The semester-long course covers HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Mission Bit also offers a six-week summer program for students. This fall, Mission Bit will launch a two-year program in order to facilitate ongoing learning and development, Mission Bit CEO Stevon Cook told me. The two-year course aligns well with the DCYF’s goals for Mission Bit, Cook said. Mission Bit plans to use the funding to focus more on youth who are disconnected or disenfranchised, Cook said, such as those in foster care, public housing or those who have immigrated to the U.S. In order to do that, Mission Bit will partner with existing organizations that already work with marginalized kids, Cook said. Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, 100,000 high school students lack access to computer science classes at their schools, according to a study consulting firm Inspire conducted on behalf of Mission Bit. By 2020, Mission Bit hopes to serve 10,000 students in the area, specifically focusing on black and Latinx students, as well as students on free/reduced price lunch programs. Mission Bit has a goal of serving 10,000 students in the San Francisco Bay Area by 2020. To date, 1,600 students have participated in Mission Bit’s program. There are 150 students in Mission Bit’s current cohort.

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Millennials could be the answer to government malaise

Hollie Russon Gilman Contributor Share on Twitter Hollie Russon Gilman is the New America Open Technology Institute Civic Innovation Fellow and author of the new book, Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America . More posts by this contributor Tech is moving beyond cities to focus on civic engagement in every U.S. county Creating a new architecture of government through tech and innovation Millennials are on the move. And they’re moving to cities. According to   CityLab ,  the number of 25- to 34-year-olds will increase each year in the United States through 2024, rising from 44.1 million in 2015 to 47.6 million in 2024. This is the time of life when millennials are most likely to live in urban areas. Why does this matter? For those of us interested in the democratic health of our country, data and technology in cities, combined with the energy of millennials, offers an opportunity to reimagine city life. But it requires intentionality and looking beyond just coastal, affluent cities to making fundamental changes in governing that will transform the current perceptions of City Hall. Urban millennial expectations Urban millennials live life on demand — their demand. From food delivery apps to live-streaming services, they increasingly expect instantaneous results and an opportunity for engagement. They also want to collaborate and share with one another. Whether it’s their opinions or experiences, in our increasingly atomized lives, people are looking to technology for connection and participation. From Wikipedia to Waze and Yelp, digital tools are leveraging individuals’ experiences for aggregate results

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Microsoft launches AI and entry-level software development courses

Microsoft today launched two new courses in its online education program for developers: an entry-level software development class and an AI course for more advanced developers who want to expand their knowledge of machine learning. It’s no secret that there aren’t enough data scientists and machine learning developers available to fulfill the current demand. It’s no surprise, then, that a number of large companies have started to teach the fundamentals of these disciplines to their existing employees;  starting today , anybody can take the AI courses that Microsoft first developed for its own employees. The Microsoft Professional Program for Artificial Intelligence is available for free on edX.org, though you can also opt to pay for a certificate. Each course runs three months and starts at the beginning of the quarter. Unsurprisingly, there’s a bit of a focus on Azure and Microsoft’s Cognitive Services here (and you need an Azure account), but otherwise the course is agnostic to the operating system you run. The overall program consists of 10 courses that range from introductions to AI and Python for data science to a class on ethics for AI developers and lots of hands-on work with training models. Most of the 10 required courses should take about eight to 16 hours to complete. In addition to the AI class, Microsoft also today announced a similar program for entry-level software developers . This edX-based program consists of 13 courses that teach students the basics of software development, with a focus on Python and JavaScript. What’s maybe more important than just teaching those languages, though, is that the course also looks at basics like data structures and how to use GitHub and other tools to write code professionally. These two new courses join a growing number of similar programs in Microsoft’s so-called “ Professional Program ” (why they don’t just call it the Microsoft Academy is beyond me, but I’m not a marketer…). These existing courses range from front-end development classes to a program for cloud admins and a course for IT support professionals.

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