Online Classes for K-12 Students: 10 Research Reports You Need to Know

From Advanced Placement courses offered by state-run virtual schools to credit recovery classes delivered via third-party software, supplemental online education courses have exploded in K-12 education.

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To help policymakers, administrators, educators, parents,and students make sense of it all, Education Week published an overview explaining the many varieties of online classes now available to K-12 students. It’s part of our new special report on the state of classroom technology, which you can read here.

For those who want to dig deeper, here are the reports and research studies that have shaped what we know about the still-murky field of K-12 …

 

WhatsApp Extends Support for BlackBerry, Nokia S40 Platforms: Reports

WhatsApp has become an essential messaging app amongst all kinds of mobile users irrespective of the operating system their devices run on. In February last year, Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced to end support for BlackBerry OS and Nokia S40 platforms, which got pushed back to June this year. It seems that the end-of-life date has been pushed back yet again, as the company has reportedly confirmed the extension of its services for BlackBerry and Nokia S40 platforms till December 2017 and December 2018 respectively.

As per a report by Netherlands-based fan website WhatsAppen, the WhatsApp apps for BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS7+ received an update on Monday that extends support for the platforms until December 31, 2017. According to the website, the changelog of the update, seen on devices, states “changed client end-of-life date to December 31, 2017”. This means that WhatsApp users on eligible BlackBerry devices will be continue sending and receiving messages, calls till the end of the year.

WhatsApp Extends Support for BlackBerry, Nokia S40 Platforms: Reports

In addition, the Nokia S40 platform has reportedly got an extension for WhatsApp support till December 31, 2018 – however, this date may be a typographical error. Spotted by WhatsApp watcher WABetaInfo, the end-of-life date has been moved from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018. There are a limited number of customers who use the Nokia S40 platform nowadays, but it will still bring relief to those who still carry the dated devices. However, Nokia Symbian S60 users don’t have much time on their hands as WhatsApp will end its support on the platform on June 30 this year.

If the reports are true, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry OS7+, and Nokia S40 users still have ample time to access WhatsApp on their platforms. However, the Nokia Symbian S60 devices will cease to support WhatsApp and if you need your chat backed up, you can make a request to get the backup in an email from the company. Notably, there is no option on Nokia S40 and Symbian S60 devices to backup chats.

 

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Beats iPhone 7 Plus in Consumer Reports’ Ranking

After the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Samsung had a lot riding on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+ this year. And if the latest Consumer Reports’ findings are to be taken into account, the two smartphones have performed exceptionally well, raking in the top two spots. Consumer Reports ranks the Samsung Galaxy S8+ as the top smartphone, followed by the Galaxy S8 in the second place.

Consumer Reports lauds the Samsung Galaxy S8+ for its narrow design and great battery life. The publication adds that while the LG G6 and the iPhone 7 Plus packed dual rear cameras, the Samsung cameras were top-notch and didn’t suffer due to the lack of a dual camera setup. The LG G6 stood in the fourth spot in the Consumer Reports rankings, while the iPhone 7 Plus took the fifth spot, Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 Edge was third.

The report also lauded Samsung’s bezel-less display design and the ability to survive under water. However, one thing that the folks at Consumer Reports were not so happy about, was its one-hand operation, and recommends its readers to try out the phones in the store before purchasing them. “Even on the smaller model, it will be hard for most users to reach the upper regions of the screen with their thumb,” lead phone tester Richard Fisco says in the report.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Beats iPhone 7 Plus in Consumer Reports' Ranking
The cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy S8 also received heavy praise. The report lauds its low-light imaging and video recording capabilities, and also says that the lack of dual cameras at the back is not something that is missed badly. “Finally, a few top-end cameras, including the iPhone 7 Plus and the LG G6, have dual rear-facing cameras, to enhance either zoom or wide-angle photography. The Samsung phones haven’t gone that route yet—and we don’t think they suffer for it,” the report states.

This positive response will be welcome by Samsung, coming in as sort of redemption for last year’s Note 7 recall. The iPhone 7 Plus sits on the fifth spot, but that’s because it’s a phone that was launched almost nine months ago, and three of the smartphones ahead of it were launched rather recently. It will be interesting to see if the ranking changes once the much-rumoured iPhone 8 is released in a few months’ time.