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Impact: Education Innovation


From Europe To Latin America, Business Schools Are Going Green

Institutions tasked with training the next generation of business leaders are realizing that sustainability matters, and making significant adjustments to their curriculae.

SANTIAGO — The ESCP Business School, based in Paris but with campuses across Europe, recently opened a sustainability department. The goal is to shift away from traditional courses on corporate responsibility and instead train students and staff to understand and innovate along sustainability lines, a concept that is of growing interest to the business world.

Roxana Olaru, head of admissions and sustainability at ESCP Madrid, says the school has been working with sustainability for at least four years, "through consultancy projects and the creation of various, specialized masters courses." All MBA programs, she said, now have a sustainability module.

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How Big Data Helps Reveal Ghostwriters And Bust Plagiarists

Can we determine whether a certain writer actually penned a certain work? Using technological analysis, the answer is a reliable 'yes.'

ST. GALLEN — At the beginning of this year, the Swiss universities in St. Gallen and Bern denounced the student practice of using ghostwriters to pass off work as their own.

Though universities are not yet using sophisticated technological tools to analyze student papers, the issue raises a number of questions in a host of applications. How can we identify the author of a letter, an anonymous e-mail or a contested will? Are there ways to bust plagiarists? Can we determine whether the text was written by a woman or a man? Can we detect the presence of a sexual predator in a chat? In tackling such issues, computer algorithms can provide answers whose reliability varies from 70% to 95%, depending on the type of problem and its context. Some examples:

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Does The Gender Of A Teacher Matter?

The conventional wisdom says a male teacher shortage is bad for society, and the surplus of women in education might work against boys. A new study confronts the myths.

BERLIN — The conventional wisdom is that we desperately need more male teachers. After all, according to a report on the gender of teachers in German schools, on average 85% of them are women.

Given that the report is now 10 years old, it's likely that the current number is even higher, because the representation of women in teaching has been rising steadily over the last century. In 1960, about 46% of elementary school teachers were women, but by 1990 they represented 67% of all German teachers. A similar trend has been tracked in other Western countries

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School Wake-Up Call: The Case For Letting Students Sleep Later

A new proposal in Germany to move to a later school starting time is backed by many scientists, even if it runs against entrenched social norms that rising early is virtuous.

BERLIN It's not unusual for teacher Robert Rauh to struggle to keep his eyes open during the very first class of the day. It doesn't help that he has to arrive at the Barnim Grammar School in Berlin well before the school day begins. He even has trouble staying awake after having his morning coffee, and going to bed early doesn't help because he can't get to sleep until late.

"I am an owl," he says, the term used by chronobiologists — the Greek word chronos meaning "time." People are called "owls" when they become sleepy only very late at night and in turn wake up late in the morning. People who get tired very early at night and get up very early in the morning are known as "larks," but they are in the distinct minority.

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Cécile Chambraud

A New French Muslim School Catering To Academic Elite

Far from rigid Koranic institutes, this new private school in central France is as much about smart boards as religious values. It is also trilingual: French, Arabic and English.

BLOIS — It's the last Sunday of August, two days before school officially opens throughout France, but a group of children is already in their new classroom, learning. Located in the central city of Blois, the Les Fruits du s@voir ("Fruits of knowledge") school is clearly not your ordinary French school. This is how this new private institution defines itself: "multilingual, digital, alternative, Muslim."

The boys and girls in the classroom, aged 2 to 6, quickly become familiar with the huge touch screen hanging on the wall and they are already at ease, judging by the way they use the digital pens to cover the interactive canvas with drawings.

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Xiong Bingqi*

When Chinese Teachers Meet British Students

A BBC documentary shows what happens when intense Chinese instructors meet a classroom of UK teenagers accustomed to some degree of autonomy. A culture clash ensues. What China can learn from the experiment.

BEIJING — There are more than a few lessons to be learned from the recently aired BBC documentary Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, which is set at an academically rigorous secondary school in Hampshire, England, and was broadcast earlier this month in both China and the UK.

The program depicts an experiment whereby five Chinese teachers are sent to the Bohunt School and charged with a class of British teenagers. Later, the students will take math and natural sciences exams to see how they compare with students from the same school who continued with their regular British teachers.

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Christopher M. Schroeder

For Syrian Refugees, Learning To Code In Times Of War

A chronicle of one organization's determination to point Syrian refugees toward a better future through innovative education.

The Karam Foundation has been a leading education NGO in Syria for the past three years. Supporting five refugee schools on the Syrian border, and ten schools inside Syria, Chicago-based co-founder, Lina Sergie Attar knew that the kids there were hungering for more tools, better connection and a chance to find paths to the future.

They created the Karam Foundation Leadership Program (KLP) designed for Syrian refugee teens to have access to technology and mentors. The program, launched last November with a computer center of 22 stations, includes workshops to help supplement basic education and marketable work skills for when they return. The curriculum includes team-building, technology, coding, basic business/entrepreneurial skills, and physical education.

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Sebastian Krass

A Math Museum's Twists To Conquer Fear And Loathing Of *That* Subject

GIESSEN — It will make you crazy — the pyramid simply does not want to fit into the glass cube. Melih turns it again, this time just a little, and then sticks it in the open side of the cube again. No luck. He tries more forcefully, pressing down on the pyramid. But the fifth grader’s strength is not enough to break a law of mathematics.

Just as Melih is about to give up, it works. He’d turned the pyramid exactly right, so that its edge aligned with the cube’s diagonal, and it slipped right in. Instead of frustration, he now sports a satisfied grin. “It was pretty hard to twist it right,” the boy says.

The theme of Melih’s class visit to the interactive Math Museum in the central German city of Giessen is “shapes.” It’s a place to “experience math without pressure or fear.” That’s the way it’s described by Albrecht Beutelspacher, a mathematics professor at the University of Giessen and the museum’s founder.

The Aha! approach

There are no equations to solve here, just little experiments. “You can’t solve them with patience or luck. There is a little trick,” Beutelspacher explains. “And when you figure it out, there is an aha moment.” Those moments hold the potential to bring the visitor closer to math, and the museum has indeed won several prizes for its methods since opening in 2002. It attracts about 150,000 visitors per year — around 400 per day.

“Pressure” and “fear” are two words that many schoolchildren associate with math.
And according to Stuttgart math professor Christian Hesse, it is also the most loathed subject in school.

German parents spend around 1.5 billion euros per year for tutoring, estimates the After School Help Schools professional group. “More than half of that is for math,” says Cornelia Sussieck, the group’s chairwoman. That proportion has been steady for years, so there must be something wrong with the way math is taught in German schools. But are people aware of the problem, and do they have the will to change it?

Critics say that traditional math classes concentrate excessively on exercises and equations. Kids often don’t understand what the point is. They don’t have the freedom to experience math on their own, with teachers to help them understand the concepts.

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From Japan To Italy: Tour OECD's First-Ever National Rankings Of Adult Skills

PARIS - The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), whose global ranking of schooling levels has become a reliable source of national pride and shame, has now set out to measure how different countries in the developed world stack up in adult skills.

(Read this piece by OECD's Andreas Schleicher, who has spearheaded both the education and adult skills studies)

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Géraldine Schonenberg

A State-Of-The-Art School Springs Up In A Swiss Forest

CRISSIER — Not far from a highway turnoff near the Swiss city of Lausanne, there is a wooded enclave surrounded by a national forest. On a slice of these lands — around 70 acres of woods, agricultural fields and parks — the pupils of the Bois Genoud private school are enjoying themselves in complete freedom.

Because not far from a small handful of other constructions — such as Le Castel, a late 18th century house transformed into an organic restaurant — a school has sprung up in the most bucolic of settings that is a very different example of state-of-the-art educational architecture.

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David Maxwell

Caution On The Road Towards Education-By-Technology

I was the manager of Logos Bookstore in Calgary, Canada for more than 30 years, and during the last 15 years we primarily served the education community. That experience allowed me to witness sweeping changes in technology, and the way it is being applied in the classroom.

As parents and board members became more familiar with the technology and its potential, demands for schools to embrace these innovations become more vocal. There were books and public speakers who celebrated the potential for making classroom management more efficient and cost-effective. There seemed to be a perception that change and technology were inherently good for the advancement of education.

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Betty Ng

Is Education Investment The Latest Bubble About To Burst?

Over the past 15 years, global investors have experienced a series of bubbles: the Internet bubble in 2001, the real estate and credit bubbles in 2008, and then gold this year. The expansions and adjustments of these bursting bubbles seem to have already become commonplace.

Though many governments with troubled economies have tried to face the problems in a comprehensive way, many are still struggling. The global wealth disparity continues to deepen, as the super-rich compete for luxury real estate in cities like New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong, which may indeed be distorting the market again.

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