PDF edit app Flexcil eyes global education market

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The Flexcil team.

Paper is far from dead in academia. E-books abound for reading, but when it comes to taking notes and studying academic papers, there are limited alternatives to the good-old pen and paper.

Isaac Lee, founder and CEO of South Korea’s Flexcil, found that although there are plenty of note taking and editing apps for the general user, there wasn’t a version that specifically caters to the needs of university students.

The inspiration for Flexcil came from Lee’s own experience as a graduate student, he told ZDNet.

“When I was doing intense studying of citation-heavy academic papers, I just couldn’t read them and absorb them all in the PDF format. I always resorted to the print medium to read and take notes.”

“In the age of iPad, why do users have to resort to paper?”

In 2015, Lee founded Flexcil, a PDF annotating app designed specifically for students. It allows PDF files to be uploaded via an app. The user can scribble notes, highlight text using a touch pen or their fingers, and “drag drop” text to a separate notepad.

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(Image: Flexcil)

Currently available only for iPad, the company is planning to launch versions for the iPhone and web browser next month. Users outside of South Korea account for 61.6 percent of total users as of July.

Flexcil offers a free version and paid version for $9.89. About 3 percent of total users currently use the paid version, but the CEO is confident that this will increase with the launch of the iPhone version and another version for Google later this year.

“We are focusing on retention. We don’t suggest the use of long press, unlike similar services, so we are trying to improve usability for new users,” Lee said. “We are late into the game, so another thing we are trying to do is listen to user feedback and increase the quality of the app.”

No long press: circle and keep calm

The key differentiating point of Flexcil from its rivals is that it doesn’t recommend the use of the long press. Long press is a favourite for copying text on touch devices, but Flexcil found that for its specific audience — students — the time delay was actually an annoyance.

“Our main target is those studying academic papers. Students studying usually swap from the PC to their iPads to scrutinize and focus better on the paper they are studying,” Lee said. “These papers are usually difficult, so they prefer the pen. They cut and paste extensive selections from these papers and highlight them. When they are focused, they don’t want that 1 to 2 second delay. They want to do it quickly and move on.”

Flexcil suggests the “drag drop” feature, where users can circle the text and drag it to the sides of the original PDF file to their notepad at the side of the screen. Last year’s launch of Apple Pencil has increased the use of touch pens for iPad users, and this number will only continue, Lee said.

And despite news of the market shrinking, tablets will remain a staple, especially for students, according to the CEO.

“Students use their iPads and PCs side-by-side, swapping depending on the task at hand. New buyers for tablets may be declining, but it’s because older users retain their older models longer.”

Lee is planning to fly to MWC San Francisco next month to promote the app and find new partnerships. The goal by next year, after Flexcil gains more traction and the cloud becomes available within 2017, is an education platform that offers digital textbooks for users.

“I am meeting big publishers in the US, such as Pearson, for possible partnerships. Digital book rental service is big in the US, because students can’t afford the $20-30 textbooks,” said Lee.

“But the problem is, for Amazon, you can only rent digital books on Kindle. And Kindle is not designed to be the best for editing notes. We want to offer these to a larger audience through partnerships so that students can not only have access to digital books easier but study them and edit them.

“We want them to have the ease-of-use of the analogue while getting the most out of digital.”

Treasury Auctions Set for the Week of Aug. 21

Missouri Public Buildings Board, $82.9 million of revenue bonds. Competitive.

ONE DAY DURING THE WEEK

Alexandria, Va., $101 million of general obligation refinancing bonds. Robert W. Baird.

Atlantic Health System Hospital Corporation, N.J., $250 million of taxable bonds. Goldman Sachs.

Boerne Independent School District, Tex., $87.5 million of unlimited tax school building bonds. RBC Capital Markets.

California Municipal Finance Authority, $95.9 million of revenue bonds, Public Finance Authority revenue bonds and taxable bonds. Ziegler.

Conroe, Tex., Independent School District, $97.4 million of unlimited tax refinancing bonds. Piper Jaffray.

Crowley Independent School District, Tex., $88.5 million of unlimited tax school building bonds. BOK Financial Securities.

Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents, $72 million of general revenue refinancing bonds. Barclays Capital.

Erie County, N.Y., Fiscal Stability Authority, $151.6 million of debt securities. Roosevelt Cross.

Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, Calif., $125 million of toll road revenue refinancing and current interest bonds. Barclays Capital.

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Hartnell Community College District, Calif., $70 million of 2016 election general obligation bonds. Morgan Stanley.

Indiana Finance Authority, $178.5 million of highway revenue refinancing bonds. Goldman Sachs.

Iowa Finance Authority, $50.4 million of single family mortgage bonds. RBC Capital Markets.

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Jacksonville, Fla., $146 million of special revenue and refinancing bonds. Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Mecklenburg County, N.C., $117 million of facilities corporation refinancing limited obligation bonds. Citigroup Global Markets.

MiraCosta Community College District, Calif., $100 million of 2016 election general obligation bonds. Piper Jaffray.

Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, $117.3 million of single family housing revenue bonds. D. A. Davidson.

Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, $73.1 million of single family housing revenue bonds. J. P. Morgan Securities.

Oregon Department of Transportation, $133.6 million of highway user tax revenue refinancing and senior lien bonds. Morgan Stanley.

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, $207 million of single family mortgage revenue bonds. Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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Santa Monica, Calif., Public Financing Authority, $66.9 million of lease revenue bonds. Morgan Stanley.

South Dakota Health and Educational Facilities Authority, $210 million of regional health bonds. Piper Jaffray.

Tampa-Hillsborough County, Fla., Expressway Authority, $163 million of revenue bonds. Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Tennessee Housing Development Agency, $99.9 million of Residential Finance Program bonds. Raymond James Associates.

Washington State Health Care Facilities Authority, $265.9 million of Virginia Mason Medical Center bonds. Wells Fargo Securities.

West Contra Costa Unified School District, Calif., $61.3 million of 2017 election general obligation refinancing bonds. J. P. Morgan Securities.

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Black Hawk Center gets donations for playground

The Center, or the Black Hawk Area Education Center, East Moline, received two $10,000 checks Saturday from Hy-Vee and General Mills that will go toward building a new playground for the special needs school.

Black Hawk Center get donations for playground

The Center, or the Black Hawk Area Education Center, East Moline, received two $10,000 checks Saturday from Hy-Vee and General Mills that will go toward building a new playground for the special needs school.

Make student choices clearer, simpler

Commencing in eighth grade, the student, along with his parent and school guidance teacher, should have the opportunity of choosing to study the knowledge, skills and intellectual habits in one of three curriculum programs:

1) Good citizenship program:

Prepare students in these general educational qualities for acceptable behavior in a community: the individual rights and privileges of a free man and woman. Regular core subjects should also be taught. The curriculum would not be based upon the intellectual habits needed for higher education preparations. (Graduates would receive a General Education Diploma (G.E.D.)

2) Vocational training program:

A program that prepares students interested in a specific skill or trade as a career pursuit. Regular core subjects are also taught. (Graduates receive a Vocational Training Diploma (V.T.D.)

Disability awareness campaigner calls for integrated classrooms

A 36-year-old man with physical disabilities has been working to help schools understand that children with special needs should be allowed to attend regular classes if they wish to do so.

Takashi Ono, who has cerebral palsy, a form of brain damage stemming from premature birth, can hardly move his body parts nor speak. Yet, he is capable of communicating his thoughts by writing a message with his index finger on the palm of a caretaker’s hand.

In late May, Ono, who uses a wheelchair, met with parents of children going to Ida Elementary School in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, in one of his recent efforts to raise awareness.

“Children with speech disorders, like me, can attend regular classes if they learn to communicate,” his mother Kimiko, 71, said on behalf of Ono.

Born and raised in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, Ono was enrolled at a neighborhood elementary and junior high schools along with other children from the same community.

“I sat at the front row, the closest seat to the teacher, and my classmates came and talked to me whenever a class ended,” Ono was quoted by the mother as saying. “What I needed was just a bit of thoughtfulness like that which they showed to me.”

“I treasure the experience with those neighborhood peers and that is why I can still be connected with them,” he said.

But his life changed dramatically after he entered a senior high school for the disabled, where he was perceived as having serious intellectual disabilities.

“The classes there were taught as though they were for kindergarteners and I had basically no chance to learn,” his mother said quoting him.

In December 2006, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which specifies they should not be excluded from the general educational system. The convention constitutes a basis of the concept of inclusive education.

Japan has ratified the convention in line with its Constitution’s Article 26 stating that all people should have the right to have an equal education.

Until several years ago, children diagnosed as having serious disabilities during a preschool health checkup and evaluation process were principally sent to special schools.

“Some people with disabilities may choose to attend special classes, but what’s important is that each of us has the freedom to choose,” Ono said.

Jumpei Ota, 26, who also suffers from cerebral palsy, has been promoting inclusive education by drawing lessons from other countries’ education for the disabled.

Ota, who attended special schools, said he had to give up on his dream of going to university because he could not receive sufficient education.

Six years ago, he learned in one seminar for people with disabilities that there are no special schools in Italy and asked his mother Hiroe, now 59, to help him research the country’s educational system.

Ota, who communicates by pointing to letters on a hiragana chart, then found that the European nation provides inclusive education in every phase from nursery to university and that an appropriate educational program is prepared to fit an individual’s ability.

“I wondered why Japan cannot realize what has already been done in Italy,” Ota said. “Any child has the right to have an education and give us a decent one.”

He now often appears in gatherings of people with disabilities and their supporters to raise awareness of the issue and hopes to visit Italy one day in the near future.

OPS special ed student was dropped off at wrong house, woman says – Omaha World

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Schools to add six new buses

The Putnam County school system will purchase six new school buses this year as part of the system’s goal to continually keep the fleet up to date.

A total of $440,000 had been allocated for school bus purchases in the 2017-18 budget, but the school board this month approved a request to supplement that funding by transferring more than $40,000 from the line item for fuel.

That allows the county to fully cover the cost of five regular education buses and one special education bus.

The 78-passenger regular education buses will be purchased for $78,341.43 apiece, while the 42-passenger special ed bus will cost just over $90,000.

Rather than taking formal bids for the buses, the system is “piggy backing” on existing bids for Sumner and Obion counties.

School officials said the ability to purchase six buses in a single year is somewhat out of the ordinary.

“The goal is to purchase five buses per year,” said Tammy Knipp, assistant director of schools for operations and support. “When the school system is not in need of special education buses, five general education buses are purchased. However, every three years, (we usually) purchase four general education buses and one special ed bus or three regular and two special ed, as the need determines.

The bus purchases are needed both to keep up with growing enrollment and to allow for older buses to come out of service.

Buses can stay on the road for 17 years if (they have) under 200,000 miles,” Knipp said. “At the end of the last fiscal year, a total of 12 buses were taken out of service by the state due to age and mileage.”

Buses can also be taken out of service because of mechanical issues, but Transportation Supervisor Kim Bradford said that doesn’t happen very often.

An example of an issue that would ground a bus and remove it from service is a cracked frame,” she said. “We rarely have issues that would cause buses to be removed from service during state inspections.”

Bradford noted that approximately 100 new bus stops have been added to routes for the 2017-18 school year.

“One of the transportation department goals is to purchase additional buses to not only cover the needed three to five additional routes, but to eventually be able to provide each high school and middle school an activity bus for extracurricular activities,” Bradford said.

Bradford said the school system buses provide service to approximately 3,800 students, covering 403 square miles of Putnam County, traveling 3000 miles per day. There are currently 43 general education routes and 15 special needs routes. 

Bradford also praised the system’s bus drivers.

“All of our bus drivers are highly trained professionals,” she said. “The transportation department is recognized statewide as having one of the highest safety ratings among Tennessee public school districts.”


Malloy’s New State Education Aid Plan Cuts Or Eliminates Funding To 139 Municipalities

With the state budget crisis approaching its third month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a new, temporary funding scheme that shifts education aid to schools serving Connecticut’s neediest students while eliminating funding entirely for dozens of other districts.

The plan maintains funding for the 30 districts that serve the poorest students. But 54 districts would see a reduction in aid and 85 — including West Hartford and Southington — would receive no Education Cost Sharing aid under Malloy’s proposal, which will be put into place in October if the General Assembly fails to pass a budget by then.

“In the absence of an adopted budget from the General Assembly, my administration is reallocating resources to pay for basic human services, education in our most challenged school districts, and the basic operation of government,” Malloy said. “The municipal aid that is funded as part of this executive order reflects the nearly impossible decisions Connecticut must make in the absence of a budget. It will force some of our municipalities – both large and small – to make similarly difficult choices of their own.”

Educators line up for Detroit recruitment fair

Brian Murphy knows Detroit’s school district needs hundreds more teachers as the academic year approaches. And on Thursday, he joined about 150 potential hires at a recruitment fair to help fill those open spots.

“I’m looking for that opportunity to shine, to be the person I set out to be,” said the Metro Detroit native, who most recently worked at a charter school, while awaiting an interview for a social studies position.

Hopes were high for him and the others who met with principals and administrators Thursday evening at the fair at the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine.

Another similar event is scheduled Aug. 31 at the school as the district seeks highly qualified educators to fill positions for the 2017-18 school year, particularly in areas such as mathematics, social studies, special education and music.

Nikolai Vitti, the district’s new superintendent, said this week that 340 teacher vacancies — 243 in general education and 97 special education openings — exist in Detroit Public Schools Community District, which employs about 2,700 teachers.

The district also plans to continue seeking potential hires throughout the year, even if it means pursuits other than an enrollment fair, spokeswoman Chrystal Wilson said Thursday. “It’s going to be a constant effort to recruit talent.”

Thursday’s attendance was comparable to other fairs held in the last year, she added. “It was a good turnout.”

At the fair, interested job seekers with varying levels of experience gathered at tables, resumes in hand, to find a spot in the district.

Among them was Juanita Davis of Detroit, who is newly certified and recognized she needed to act quickly to find opportunities this school year. “Time is getting short,” she said.

Tessa Cross, who recently moved to Michigan from Ohio, was hoping to fill an opening at an elementary school.

“It was nice that they still had this going on, because most schools have already decided” on hires for the new academic year, she said.