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How teachers see the classroom redefined by the cloud

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Enlarge / Education Images/UIG via Getty Images. (credit: Getty Images)

The Library of Alexandria was one of the most important libraries of the ancient world. Its vast number of scrolls, collections of works, lecture halls, and meeting rooms were a boon to education. In many ways, the cloud has the potential to have just as revolutionary an effect as the Library of Alexandria—it can liberate education, enabling teachers to be innovative and spontaneous.

Teachers are incorporating cloud tools and content into instruction in ways that change how they interact with students both in and outside the classroom. They are no longer limited to face-to-face instruction or constricted by class schedules. Instead, teachers are using both tools that are imposed by administrators and more ad-hoc resources. For example, algebra teachers can spend more time troubleshooting individual students’ problems by using content like Khan Academy to cover the core material. In other cases, Khan Academy can be used as additional support material.

Mark Miazga, an English and language arts teacher at Baltimore City College High School, is an example of a teacher who’s taking the more ad-hoc approach. Miazga, who also mentors new teachers and writes curriculum for Baltimore City Public Schools, was featured with his English I class in the documentary Experiencing Shakespeare, produced by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Miazga regularly uses Folger’s resources, including Hamnet, Folger’s online catalog plays by Shakespeare and other eminent playwrights, and an image repository called Luna.

However, Miazga said the largest role that the cloud has played in his teaching has been in shaping his students’ writing process. “Most essays in our classes are turned in electronically via Google Docs,” he explained. “Students share their essays with a peer or their teacher, and we offer live comments. The student can then resolve the comment and make the changes.”

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Potent LastPass exploit underscores the dark side of password managers

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(credit: Wikimedia)

Developers of the widely used LastPass password manager are scrambling to fix a serious vulnerability that makes it possible for malicious websites to steal user passcodes and in some cases execute malicious code on computers running the program.

The flaw, which affects the latest version of the LastPass browser extension, was briefly described on Saturday by Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Google’s Project Zero vulnerability reporting team. When people have the LastPass binary running, the vulnerability allows malicious websites to execute code of their choice. Even when the binary isn’t present, the flaw can be exploited in a way that lets malicious sites steal passwords from the protected LastPass vault. Ormandy said he developed a proof-of-concept exploit and sent it to LastPass officials. Developers now have three months to patch the hole before Project Zero discloses technical details.

“It will take a long time to fix this properly,” Ormandy said. “It’s a major architectural problem. They have 90 days, no need to scramble!”

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Microsoft sued for millions over Windows 10 upgrades

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Enlarge / The upgrade arc of Windows 10. It now has more than 400 million users, regardless of problems. (credit: Microsoft)

Unhappy Windows 10 users in Illinois are taking Microsoft to court, claiming that problems caused by the Windows 10 upgrade show that it was negligently designed, that Microsoft fraudulently failed to disclose its defects, and that the upgrade is unfit for purpose.

In a break from tradition, Microsoft offered Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 for the first year of its release. This unusual offer was matched with a set of increasingly aggressive promotions within Windows itself. In the early days of the upgrade offer, there were even some users reporting that it installed automatically.

Three plaintiffs claim specific harm was caused by the operating system. Stephanie Watson claims that Windows 10 installed without her choosing to accept it. The upgrade destroyed some data, caused such harm that Geek Squad was unable to fully repair the machine, and forced the purchase of a new system.The suit claims that “many” consumers have had their hard drives fail because of the Windows 10 installation, and that the operating system does not check “whether or not the hard drive can withstand the stress of the Windows 10 installation.”

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