News and Trends(29)

from Tech&Learning


Present and Prosper

Gadget-weary teachers rejoice. The new wireless Q7 Presenter Tablet from Qwizdom combines many tools onto one device. Use the tablet much like an interactive whiteboard—except do it wirelessly from the back of the classroom instead of with your back turned in the front. Send instructions and receive feedback and requests for help from students on the LCD screen when working within the Qwizdom student response system. Even operate other devices using radio frequencies like volume and window shade controls. It's slim dimension and light weight make it easy to roam the classroom while you use it. Look for a review in the coming weeks online and in a future issue of Tech&Learning.

Price: Through September 30, "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" for $429.
Qwizdom Q7 Presenter Tablet,

Imagination without Borders

By Lindsay Oishi

The Imagine Cup 2008 Winners were announced at the Musee du Louvre during the Worldwide Finals, hosted by Joe Wilson, Senior Director, Microsoft.

Almost 400 students from 61 countries and regions met last month in Paris, France, as finalists in the 2008 Imagine Cup, a technology contest that showcases youth solving real-world problems with creativity, passion, and innovation. Throughout the week-long event, sponsored by Microsoft, 124 finalist teams presented their responses to this year's theme, "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment."

Although the contest is open to all students aged 16 and older, few high school contestants could outdo the college and graduate students who made up most of the 200,000 participants. Sixteen-year-old Anthony Platanios of Greece, however, was exceptional. Not only was he the youngest finalist, but he also designed, produced, and presented his project entirely by himself. Competing in the Software Design invitational, he presented a multifarious network of software, sensor, mobile, and Web components that intelligently monitor consumption of energy, water, and oil. Plantanios says that the Imagine Cup was one of the greatest experiences of his life, even though he did not win. He especially valued the rare multicultural opportunities that the global contest offered. "I learned about many cultures that I didn't even know existed, and I heard many languages that I've never heard before," he says.

Edward Granger-Haap, CIO of the international non-profit Save the Children, attended the event as a judge and says that these contests are incredibly important for getting young people engaged with technology. "In the US alone, we have 190,000+ tech job openings per year, with only 80,000+ technology- related college graduates," he says. With this labor crisis, prestigious competitions like the Imagine Cup are critical to convincing teens that technology is a worthwhile pursuit.

To get the creative juices flowing, students can check out the Web site at, and start tinkering with key Microsoft products showcased at the Imagine Cup, such as Windows Live, Windows Embedded CE, and XNA Game Studio Express. They shouldn't be discouraged by the fierce competition. Just entering the contest builds skills in teamwork, problem solving, and entrepreneurship.

Next year's topic is "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today." The 2009 event will include projects in robotics and a new category, "Mashup."

Print vs. Digital Media: Which Do Schools Use More?

The 2008 release of ''Ed Tech from the Trenches: Shifting Media and Materials Use in K–12 Education," authored by industry expert Sari Follansbee and published by Marketing Projects, Inc., 2008, shows a continuing diversification of educational media and materials and the increase of Internet use for teaching and learning over the next two years. The report highlights findings from two annual online surveys of more than 1,600 K-12 teachers, technology coordinators, media specialists, and administrators nationwide. The chart matches similar types of print and digital products. The first three resources are core curriculum, the second three supplemental materials, the following pair intervention, and the last three are reference


If bake sales aren't raising enough money for your school's extra tech, consider a coupon-based fundraising program. Take the Vicksburg Middle School in Kalamazoo, MI, which raised over $10,000 to install projectors and classroom performance systems from eInstruction using the Enjoy the City coupon book fundraiser to raise the cash.

Enjoy the City creates a custom coupon book for a certain city (over 130 currently), featuring coupons from a mix of local businesses and national chains. Once the coupon book is created, school groups sign up through a local Enjoy the City representative, set a fundraising goal, and start selling. The school groups don't pay for the coupon books in advance, and all participating school groups are guaranteed between $500 and $5,000 (depending on the number of students) regardless of the number of books sold. This can add up to big bucks for school districts like Jefferson and Shelby County Schools in Alabama, which raise over $400,000 in three weeks each year. That's a lot of brownies.

Sites We Like:

The Beacon Street Girls' Club offers a monitored social networking site for those tween girls caught between Webkinz and Facebook. Girls ages 9-13 get online "lockers" where they can chat with other BSG members.


Science and computer teachers from the Convent/Stuart Hall of the Sacred Heart Elementary School in San Francisco, share the following ways they use video in their labs:

By using the viewfinder of a video camera, students don't even need to connect to a computer to review the reaction again and again before writing it up in a lab report.

Taking video of a reaction or something that happens too quickly for the human eye. One example is the experiment comparing the rotation of helicopter blades made from different types of paper. Students download the video onto the computer and use the slow motion feature to count rotations.

After the experiment, they describe what happened, make changes, and videotape the results with commentary.

Share these videos with younger students.

For example, one of our teachers took a ProScope connected to her laptop and also to a projector. The class was working on an experiment involving the development of fish embryos. To capture the growth of the fish on the days that the students were not in her class, the teacher videotaped the event for later viewing in class or on the Web site.

See student video footage at:

Sites We Like:

Denver Public Schools' School Performance Framework is an interesting model that allows the district to see how much of an impact the schools are having on their students from year to year. The Web site focuses on two areas: 1) Is the educational program a success? and 2) Is the organization effective and well run?

The Denver community can visit the site regularly for up-to-date information about SPF. They can find links to general information about SPF, which include framework guides, rubrics, sample scorecards, and a glossary of terms.


Online courses cost approximately $300/semester. If a school were to use a "lab kit" to perform labs, the cost of the kit alone would be approximately $90, and would contain enough materials for one student. Assuming a class of 25 students, this would equal $2,250.

[Source: Aventa Learning]

Adobe Awards Innovative Schools

The winners of the 2008 Adobe School Innovation Awards, which honors the creative and innovative work of high school students, were announced in June. This year's theme was " My Community-My Planet-My 21st Century." High school students in grades 9-12 submitted entries in three categories: Web Design and Development, Film and Video, and Graphic and Print Design.

Above: Macy Sarchet, Phillip Mellon, and Dylan Neiman of Gregory-Portland High School in Portland, Texas, are the Best-of-Best winners of the 2008 Adobe School Innovation Awards with this video.

And the winners are:

  • Nicholas Callahan from Watauga High School in Boone, NC, for "Stop Pollution." (Graphic and Print Design)
  • Tony Guglielmi, Jacob Bowen, Kevin Matteson, Jon Wilber, and Sam Morgan from Pickerington High School North in Pickerington, OH, for "The Environment and You." (Web Design and Development)
  • Richard Yeager, Kourtney Bryant, Craig Austin, and Chris Deig from F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville, IN, for "1937: Evansville's Great Flood." (Film and Video)

The Best-of-the-Best winner plus a chaperone received a trip to San Antonio, TX, to attend NECC, and category winners received $1,500, a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection, and a Lenovo laptop. Adobe will continue the Adobe School Innovation Award Program for the 2008/2009 school year and will reopen the competition this fall. Visit for details.



In 1999, Doug Harriman, then principal of Seminole Elementary, set out to find a program to help ESL, bilingual, and special education students. After seeing Scientific Learning's Fast ForWord software at a conference, Harriman decided to try it. Since implementing the Fast ForWord program, the percentage of fourth graders passing the TAKS increased from 88% to 91%, and the percentage of fifth graders passing the TAKS increased from 89% to 96%.

The Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA, installed eSoft's Th reatWa l l Security Gateways with Web ThreatPak capabilities. Their network is now protected against malicious Internet content. Jodi Linnehan Kriner, Director of Technology, finds the security software user friendly. "If you want to make changes or run reports, you simply log on and go," she says.

Volusia County Schools, Deland, FL awarded a 3-year content license agreement to Library Video Company's SAFARI Montage system to equip all of its 76 school sites with SAFARI Montage WAN Manager, the video-on-demand and digital media management enterprise system. Bill Tindall, Executive Director, says, "these products are almost perfectly aligned with our vision of delivering and managing video throughout the district."

All that Glitters Isn't Sold

By Carol S. Holzberg, PhD

Can you remember the last time you purchased a commercial software application that functioned bug-free? Unintended programming malfunctions are a fact of computing life regardless of whether the product is commercial, shareware, freeware, or open source. Because popular open-source products have gotten more sophisticated with offerings that are richer, less costly, and no more buggy than their commercial counterparts, is there a reason your school or district shouldn't go the opensource route?

For the next few issues, Tech& Learning will focus on specific curricula and highlight open-source content for these curricula. This issue, we explore open-source courseware for math and science.


MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative provides college-level math and science lecture notes, exams, and videos to users free for noncommercial educational purposes. OCW also offers a selection of courses for high school students, including course content for AP Biology, AP Calculus, and AP Physics. Teachers can use the site to find instructional supports such as science demonstrations, alternative explanations for difficult concepts, and additional homework problems. All MIT OCW materials, may be used "as is," or modified as needed, without restriction as long as there is no charge for the new work.

Another resource-rich source for math and science curriculum can be found at Curriki, an interactive open-source online service containing peer-reviewed K-12 curricula. Curriki (short for curriculum + wiki) comprises a community of educators who voluntarily create and post "quality" education materials for sharing with teachers and students around the world. Membership is free. Simply complete an online form.

You can use the site's search tool to locate resources for teaching or instruction, contribute curriculum materials for use by community members, and connect with other educators. You can also modify existing content to suit instructional needs.

Next month, we'll cover open source curriculum that teaches computer skills.

Carol S. Holzberg, PhD, works as district technology coordinator for Greenfield Public Schools and the Greenfield Center School (Greenfield, MA).