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How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive

The ink used in a fountain pen, the ballpoint’s predecessor, is thinner to facilitate better flow through the nib—but put that thinner ink inside a ballpoint pen, and you’ll end up with a leaky mess. Ink is where László Bíró, working with his chemist brother György, made the crucial changes: They experimented with thicker, quick-drying inks, starting with the ink used in newsprint presses. Eventually, they refined both the ink…

America’s Real Digital Divide

If you think middle-class children are being harmed by too much screen time, just consider how much greater the damage is to minority and disadvantaged kids, who spend much more time in front of screens. |  According to a 2011 study by researchers at Northwestern University, minority children watch 50 percent more TV than their white peers, and they use computers for up to one and a half hours longer…

Your Students Learn by Doing, Not by Listening

Today one of my students gave a final presentation in the form of a branching hypertext (akin to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels). On the opening screen, the voice of the professor welcomes the students to the course, announces a the major term project, and then immediately dismisses the class. During the Q&A afterwards, I noted that instructor sure didn’t waste much time on lectures, and asked whether the…