Cassidy: MacArthur Foundation researchers find a new digital divide that's hard to cross - SiliconValley.com: (Feb 8) "The latest research from the Connected Learning folks comes at you like a fire hose of ideas, case studies, academic research and questions about what we're doing and whether we should be doing it differently when it comes to preparing students for the 21st century. But what it comes down to for me, is one basic message: We've got a lot of work to do. The latest effort from the MacArthur Foundation-backed researchers is certainly a conversation starter. And though it doesn't say so anywhere in the group's 99-page report, what I see between the lines is the notion that Silicon Valley and its allies have tackled the easy stuff when it comes to modern-day learning. We've already invented the Internet; built a network of digital pipes; developed all manner of mobile devices; created online courses; published digital textbooks. Now comes the real challenge: Just what do we do with this stuff? "There is this huge opportunity with new technology," says UC Irvine professor Mimi Ito, a lead researcher on the project, "but unless we take it up in ways that are informed by values of social equity and by a learning philosophy that really empowers young people to make the most of what is out there, it's just going to make things worse in terms of equity and the stress that young people are experiencing." The worry comes down to what Ito thinks of as the new digital divide. This divide isn't about who has computers and who doesn't; or who does and doesn't have Internet access. This divide is between kids whose families have the means and know-how to layer an extra helping of education on their children and those who don't. The old divide is closing with the wide adoption of smartphones and the growth of free access to the Internet through public Wi-Fi and, of course, public libraries. But the new gap has to do with how kids are using the Internet and who is available to guide them along their digital journey. "The simple sort of hardware and connectivity gaps are not as dark as they were 10 years ago," says Ito, a cultural anthropologist who for years has been studying how young people use digital tools. "But the opportunity gap, it's more of the social and cultural and network support that are becoming more and more important." The fact is a tremendous amount of learning goes on outside of school. . . . "
You'd Be Surprised at What's Tax Deductible - WSJ.com: " . . . 5. I bought a tricked-out new computer, which I partially use for my studies. Is it covered under education tax breaks? The Lifetime Learning Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit allow students and parents to subtract a certain percentage of educational expenses from their tax bill. But whether a computer qualifies depends on where you go to school. You can put a laptop's cost toward these credits only if the device is formally required by a school or degree program, says Mr. Charney. You'll want a receipt for the purchase and documentation of the school's requirement. The Lifetime Learning Credit is a credit of as much as $2,000 for qualifying educational expenses, available to joint filers with less than $122,000 in modified adjusted gross income and single filers with less than $61,000. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a credit of as much as $2,500 per student and has a slightly higher income threshold: $180,000 for joint filers and $90,000 for single filers. You usually can't claim both. . . ."
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