News & Trend Topics
Debating the Future Net
Sharing large video files at astonishing speeds over a school network may be the wave of the future, but technology experts have yet to agree on what that new global infrastructure will look like.
David Clark, one of the visionaries who paved the way for the Net back in the '70s, has teamed up with the National Science Foundation in an effort to develop a brand new Internet that will be built from the ground up. Other organizations, such as Internet2, have been exploring ideas to change the existing infrastructure.
At issue is the very nature of the Internet—how it's structured, how much bandwidth it will feature, and how security will be implemented. Clark was quoted in Wired as saying, "Systems rigidify over time. Each of those incremental changes has interactions with the others. And each is harder to add than the last one."
However, others argue the existing Internet can be changed incrementally in a powerful and effective manner. Kim Jones, vice president of global education and research line of business for Sun Microsystems, says that the arguments will only intensify over time. "It's going to take a while," says Jones. "It's a debate. Some people want to clamp down and make it really secure, others say that goes against the very idea of the Internet."—MS
Reading First Under Scrutiny
Conflict-of-interest accusations have prompted the Department of Education to open an investigation into its Reading First program. Robert Slavin of the Success for All Foundation and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar are among several complainants who say the $1 billion federal program has been pressuring districts to use materials connected to Reading First consultants. The Title I Monitor newsletter found in one instance that Kentucky educators were strongly encouraged by DOE consultants to adopt the University of Oregon's Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) over the Developmental Reading Assessment to ensure full funding. As it turns out, one of the consultants also works as a DIBELS trainer. Title I Monitor's special report on this and other alleged conflicts of interest is available at www.titleionline.com.— AP
Seventy-six percent of teachers in a recent survey believe that computers are essential teaching tools but more use technology for administrative purposes than for instruction. CDW-G's third annual Teachers Talk Tech survey, which polled 1,000 randomly chosen K-12 public school teachers across the country in March and April 2005, found that more than 70 percent of teachers believe computers are important drivers of student learning.
Only 54 percent of respondents said they integrate computers into their daily curriculum, and more than 61 percent of them said they don't have enough computers in their classrooms. More than half of teachers believe there should be one computer for each student, and nearly one-third say there should be one computer for every five students.
E-mail, attendance, and posting information on school intranets are popular among teachers, with 86 percent reporting those activities. Seventy percent in middle and high schools e-mail parents, and 52 percent use intranets for attendance.
More than 85 percent of survey takers said they are well trained on Internet, word processing, and e-mail software, but 27 percent have little or no training on integrating computers into instruction. "While the resulting productivity improvements are good news for educators and administrators, the focus on administrative applications may reduce efforts to leverage technology to improve classroom instruction and learning," said Chris Rother, CDW-G's vice president of education sales.—K.C. Jones, TechWeb
Quotation of the Month
"No matter how good its goals, and I agree with NCLB's goals, the federal government is not above the law."
—Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal in the August 23 edition of the New York Times, referring to his state's No Child Left Behind lawsuit.
State officials argue that the law's testing mandates are not being supported by federal funding, as is spelled out in the law—thus rendering it illegal. Connecticut is the latest state to lodge formal opposition to NCLB; Utah passed a law in May that would allow its schools to eliminate federal programs that receive reduced or no funding. At press time, the Pennsylvania State Education Association was urging government officials to join Connecticut in the lawsuit, and Maine hinted that it might consider doing the same.—MS
"For the first time in my teaching career, the vast majority (I would estimate > 85 percent) of the students say they have Internet access at home. And these are poor kids in the Bronx: the times, they are a-changin'."—Ms. Frizzle; msfrizzle.blogspot.com
"[Students] talk, text message, and Google with their mobile phones, IM on their laptops, access the World Wide Web, [play] Net-based video games like Halo [and] MMORPG (did I get that right?) games like EverQuest and Second Life. These gadgets represent intellectual appendages to our children. They are the hands and feet that carry children to new experiences, and cutting these links is like cutting an appendage—and that makes no constructive sense to these children and their world view."—David Warlick's Two Cents Worth; davidwarlick.com/2cents
"To say that our students are naturally proficient in the language of the digital world in which they grew up is not very accurate. A native speaker of English is not necessarily a great speaker or a gifted writer. He or she needs years of practice to use the language effectively."—Blog of Proximal Development; www.teachandlearn.ca/blog
"...there is a subtle danger of assuming...students from the defined age group are all game-playing. multitasking, IM-ing, MTV-mindset stereotypes."—CogDogBlog; http://jade.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/cdb
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