News and Trends(20)

from Technology & Learning

Sony's PlayStation 3 goes supermassive, an introduction to techLearning forums, and best-selling author Daniel Pink talks tech.

Supercomputing at Your Fingertips

Once reserved for scientists working on NASA—or National Science Foundation–related projects, supercomputing is now available to us at our nearest video-game store. At UMass Dartmouth, physics professor Gaurav Khanna and colleague Glen Volkema have discovered that combining eight Sony PlayStation 3 gaming consoles can create a supercomputer powerful enough to assist them in their study of gravitational waves emitted from supermassive black holes. According to Khanna, the unique PS3 feature that enables advanced computing is the cell processor, or "supercomputer-on-a-chip." Considering that a single simulation might sometimes require 5,000 hours of supercomputer time—normally rented by scientists from NASA at the rate of $1 an hour—the new PlayStation is not only innovative but also incredibly cost efficient. We predict it won't be long before we see some enterprising middle school students assembling their own supercomputers using Sony's technology.


The number of students who drop out of high school every day in Mississippi. Shocking? Yes. Unusual? Not by any means. This statistic applies not just to Mississippi, but to the nation in general. Recent reports such as the April 2006 TIME feature "Dropout Nation" cite a disturbing one-third as the average yearly percentage of U.S. high school dropouts. Mississippi, however, is the first to step up to the plate and address the problem. This month, it's conducting a first-ever Destination Graduation: Teen Summit, with student representatives from all 247 high schools across the state. The aim is to develop student-generated dropout prevention strategies with a mission to reduce the rate by half by the 2011-2012 school year. A follow-up event will be held in February 2008 to engage parents, communities, businesses, and other stakeholder organizations in identifying and implementing prevention strategies. For details on the program, visit the Mississippi DOE at

NEW! Techlearning Forums

Do you have security breach horror stories? Great free stuff you'd like to share? Compelling digital storytelling tales? A point of view on games and virtual worlds for learning? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Please weigh in as part of our T&L community by joining one of these new discussion forums on—or start your own conversation on another topic of interest. Also included is a Letters to the Editor forum where we'd be delighted to receive your feedback on articles and suggestions for new topics to cover in the pages of Technology & Learning magazine.

Teaching Tolerance

Rejecting stereotypes and class-based prejudices is at the root of a new initiative spearheaded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization formed to combat hate, discrimination, and intolerance. The group has created a school curriculum, the ABCs of Domestic Poverty, that targets grades three and up with exercises that can be integrated into history, economics, math, language, and creative arts. The group's Web site,, features a range of exercises, quizzes, expert tips, and more for students, parents, teachers, and communities.

A Whole New Education

Interested in a sneak peek at the 2008 CoSN keynote speaker? In a fascinating talk available online at Discovery Education, New York Times best-selling author Daniel Pink says K–12 students need to develop their creative side to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive world.

Pink, who wrote A Whole Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, argues that creative, right-brain tasks are slowly overshadowing logical left-brain tasks, and becoming more important in today's workforce and economy. Left-brain attributes include: math, logic, and linear reasoning, while the right-brain processes art, creativity, and abstract reasoning.

As machines have replaced our bodies, says Pink during the hour-long Webinar, so is software replacing our brains. A software program can carry out the routine operations of these left-brain tasks, and these tasks can also easily be outsourced to other countries—and at a fraction of the cost. It's the right-brain tasks that can't be duplicated and are now desired by employers.

Ways to better educate students? Pink cites the Rainbow project, an alternative to the SAT in which students are tested on their ability to create storylines. Pink's ultimate message for education is a quote from Assistant Superintendent Rich Menisco of Fairfax County Schools in Virginia: "We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past."

To access Pink's talk go to archives.

For details on the March CoSN conference in Arlington, VA, visit

Web 2.0 by David Jakes

Blog, podcast, social network, wiki, social bookmark—these terms are suddenly common-place in the global lexicon. They're a result, of course, of the new read/write capabilities of the Web, which have transformed the Internet from a basic research and e-commerce tool to a forum inviting participation by all. The question is: What does it all mean for education? In the coming months, stay tuned to this column for the answer to that question. We will be examining a series of resources with an eye toward how they can enhance the teaching, training, and managing experience for schools and districts. The overarching themes will be 21st-century skills, integration, the new literacies, critical thinking, and core-curriculum enhancement.

In the process of looking at the range of new applications and how they might fit into your professional toolbox, there are many critical questions to address, sites to explore, and learning networks to build. And we'd like you to be a part of it. Please submit questions, recommended tools, and your own best-practice classroom or administrative experiences with Web 2.0 to this column via the Letters to the Editor discussion forum at We welcome your input and assistance in developing a practical compendium of resources for education professionals worldwide.