Two new low-cost mobile notebooks were announced last month that are intended for a K-6 classroom near you. MPC's TXTbook PC design ($499) is based on the latest Intel Atom Processors. It features an 8.9-inch display, wired and wireless networking, a built-in Webcam, stereo audio sound, and USB peripheral support.
The consumer version of Lenovo's IdeaPad S10 (starting at $399) sports slightly larger dimensions than the TXTBook, with a 10.2-inch screen housed in a white, black, or, for the fabulous, ruby-red casing (a commercial model specifically targeted for schools will be announced soon). The keyboard is 85 percent of the size of a full-function notebook PC's keyboard (the TXTBook is 70 percent), and the LED backlit display helps provide longer battery life than traditional displays. Look for a review of both the TXTBook and the educator's IdeaPad S10 online soon at techlearning.com and in a future issue of Tech&Learning.
RAISING THE STAKES FOR DIGITAL LITERACY
2008 worldwide Certiport champions Chawanat Nakasan and Penporn Koanantakool.
Honored students and educators from around the globe came together on the big island of Hawaii in August to celebrate and promote international digital literacy at the 2008 Pathways Conference. Chawanat Nakasan, 16, and Penporn Koanantakool, 20, from Thailand were this year's World Champions for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, respectively.
The pair beat out more than 56,000 students from 47 countries, who participated in local, national, and regional competitions from October 2007 to May 2008. Competitors were scored on both their ability to perform tasks and the speed in which they performed them. Both students were recognized at a Gala ceremony and received a grand-prize technology package worth $6,500.
The event was hosted by Certiport, a company that offers technical training and credentials designed to build a competitive global workforce. Other honorees highlighted extraordinary initiatives to train and certify students from around the world via Certiport's Internet and Computing Core Certification program (IC3), which validates basic knowledge and ability to use computer hardware, software, and the Internet productively. These included JosÃ© Carlos Carvajal, who helped create Lima, Peru's MuniNet program, which sends a fleet of 25 buses outfitted with Internet-enabled computers out into the city's poorer districts to train and test students on their technical prowess. Also recognized were Deiter Estrada Sandoval from Guatemala and Wail Omar from Iraq, who are introducing training and accreditation to their countries despite substantial obstacles.
Look for their stories in an upcoming issue of Tech&Learning. For information about entering your students into next year's competition, go to www.officecompetition.com.
Technology in Motion 2
Details: The theme of this year's student film contest is "Community of the Future." Students share their vision of how technology will shape their neighborhoods in the years to come.
Deadline: October 15
AVerVision Forum Refer-a-Friend Contest
Prize: AVerMedia Document Camera
Details: Members of AVerMedia's teacher forum have a chance to win a document camera by referring others to the forum. This contest will run along side AVerMedia's Forum Contest, where active forum participants are randomly chosen once a month to win a document camera.
ThinkQuest Web Site Competition 2009
Sponsor: Oracle Education Foundation
Details: Teams ages 9-19 are challenged to develop an educational Web site on topics of their choosing. Prizes include laptop computers, digital cameras, school grants, and more.
Deadline: April 2, 2009
On the Air
Ten-year-olds anchor the news on playground rules and dress code divas
"These guys don't sweat," said Daun Korkow, Super 6 Daily News director and program coordinator at Gilbert Elementary School in Las Vegas. He's referring to his fourth and fifth grade anchors who broadcast real news every school day, assisted by colleagues in grade three, and often pursuing interviews among first graders.
Gilbert, a magnet school for 144 students in grades one through five, targets communications and creative arts, using a sophisticated, yet simple set of equipment to help a highly motivated group of kids produce a children's version of a professional newscast every day.
"It's a real studio and a real news attitude, reporting on national, community, and school news," says Korkow. All fifth graders must write a script. Sixteen fourth and fifth graders rotate through anchor positions; grade five will mentor grade four so they don't get embarrassed and make mistakes. Second graders read the daily lunch menu, while newbies, the six-year-olds, may capture airtime with insights such as "I like pizza." Those not on the air are handling cameras, switchers, lighting, and other equipment.
Everything starts at 8:20 a.m.; at 9:10 it's done.
"I can take clips and cut and paste," says Korkow. "The music teacher edits the music and the drama teacher has a piece called Backstage Secrets. We have a field crew in our rotation to go out and tape news."
A portable production studio from NewTek (TriCaster, a high-end, post-Web production studio) is used in a theater with stadium-style seating. Camera and video connections are hard-wired all around. Virtual sets are used during programming. A sofa in the studio area is ready for guests, who, in Las Vegas, range from costumers to singers to magicians and the occasional celebrity.
Eighteen schools in the district use broadcasting products. "Five or ten schools a year come to us," says Korkow. "We like to think ours is the best."
Web2.0 New Tools, New Schools
Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum
A comprehensive overview of the emerging Web 2.0 classroom. Topics include blogging, wikis, podcasting, and how to use Web 2.0 tools for professional development.
Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying
Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
A comprehensive guide to identify, prevent, and respond to this increasingly serious problem. The book includes personal stories of youth affected by cyberbullying, an overview of terminology and legal issues, and a clear explanation of the scope of online aggression among youth.
Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society, and Participation
By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal
The authors find that Internet use at work increases wages, with lesseducated and minority workers receiving the greatest benefit, and that Internet use is significantly related to political participation, especially among the young. The authors examine in detail the gaps in technological access among minorities and the poor.
OPEN LETTER TO THE NEXT PRESIDENT
David Warlick has four things the POTUS ought to know about making U.S. schools better.
Last month I posted a manifesto of sorts to my Web site. I was following a meme started by a group of other edubloggers called "Five things policymakers ought to know!" T&L editors asked me to tweak it a bit to give our next President some big-picture twenty-first-century education advice. Here's my take.
1. Keep politics out of education.
I remember when the 1983 Nation at Risk letter was published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, stating that our children were attending mediocre schools. I said, "This is fantastic. With this, our government has to start investing more in education." Little did I know that their political interests would not come from paying for better classrooms. Instead it would be in redefining education—and as a result, the institution was taken over by amateurs.
Teachers are among the most educated professionals in the United States. It is critical that teachers be empowered with resources, infrastructure, and time to creatively craft new learning experiences for their students that are relevant to today's digital and networked information environment. National leaders must support and empower teachers to work smarter, not just force them to work harder.
2. Widen the definition of accountability.
As we examine any listing of twenty-firstcentury skills (collaboration, innovation, information literacy, etc.), we see nothing new. These are skills that have long been valued. What is new, as revealed by the report from The Conference Board called "Are They Really Ready to Work?" and others, is that these are entry-level skills. Traditionally they were skills gained "on the job," by a few, and they usually led to promotion.
Today, they will best be gained in our classrooms through on-the-job style learning experiences—and these learning experiences will best occur as a result of performance-based assessments that are authentic to twenty-firstcentury conditions. High-stakes testing is an industrial-age solution to an information- age problem.
3. Recognize that the greatest assets of ours schools are in its people.
The greatest gain to education will not come from modernizing our classrooms with projectors and digital whiteboards, though these are crucial refinements. The greatest gain will come from the collective knowledge and experience of the education community. Infrastructure must be invented and implemented that cultivates an ongoing professional conversation across the entire education landscape.
4. We skimp on the arts at our own peril.
It is equally critical that our students become full citizens within their entire physical, cultural, societal, and political environment. This means that greater investment must fall to the entire curriculum: health, physical education, communication, literature, ethics, and the social studies. The real problems of the world are not problems of science and math. They are problems of communication, people, communities, and values.
Anyone who reads this and is inspired to share their list can consider themselves tagged.