News and Trends(4)

Ambitious Katrina Recovery Effort

With a mission not just to rebuild and restore more than 300 schools but to fashion these schools as models for a 21st century learning environment, the newly formed Hurricane Education Recovery Operation (HERO) is taking on much more than just a disaster recovery effort. Kicked off by Intel's education division, HERO comprises a broad consortium of education businesses, organizations, media, and federal and state agencies onboard to research best practices, support students and educators in damaged areas, and create and document replicable models for recovery. Stay tuned for progress reports in the Katrina section of www.techlearning.com/katrina/. —SM

Digital Universe Goes Live

Digital Universe, a network of information portals that's been billed as a Wikipedia alternative, has gone live. The site's hook: Unlike Wikipedia, all content will be written or verified by experts.

ManyOne Networks's non-profit site debuted in mid-January with an Earth portal and 50 experts from organizations such as the National Council for Science and the Environment and NASA to confirm the accuracy of information. The portals offer 3-D navigation and will eventually feature the Digital Universe Encyclopedia, which is being steered by Larry Sanger, cofounder of Wikipedia.

The Digital Universe features no advertising and will grow in size and scope over the years, says Dr. Bernard Haisch, chief science officer of ManyOne Networks.

"We expect an area dedicated to teachers and classroom content," Haisch says. "We're really hoping to have a project that lasts years and years, a worldwide network."

Joe Firmage, CEO of ManyOne Networks, says controversial content will be presented in a tasteful and fair manner. He cites the Forests portal as an example: Nonprofit stewards representing the forest industry and forest conservationists will both get their say.

"Content can come from any source, from a 5 year old to an 85 year old," Firmage says. "But all submitted content will be subject to review by experts."

Those experts will be paid through funds obtained from grants and donations, as well as a customized Internet service offered to users. Other portals covering music and sports will be unveiled as the project grows, says Firmage. —MS

Blog Watch
Special Macworld Edition

"Why did the iMac and the PowerBook come first in the Intel replacement schedule? Steve didn't say, but I'm guessing that Apple couldn't afford a disruption to the flow of iMac sales. And, they couldn't afford to not update the slow-for-too-long PowerBook which really is the flagship Mac at this point in the computer industry."
tech ronin; http://tokerud.typepad.com

"Those in charge of school purchases will most likely wait to buy 'Mactel' systems until they see how reliable and easy to use the systems are."
Macsimum News; www.macsimumnews.com

"I really like the new GarageBand podcasting features, especially the 'Podcast Engineer,' which will hopefully improve the quality of many of the podcasts out there."
PiE Blog; http://pienews.blogs.com

Apple Unveils 'Macintels'


The MacBook Pro sports a 15.4-inch display.

At his January 10 Macworld Expo keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs ushered in a new generation of Macs with Intel microprocessors.

Dressed in his characteristic black mock turtleneck and Levis jeans, Jobs debuted the iMac with Intel Core Duo processor, starting at $1,299 and immediately available, and the MacBook Pro notebook computer, priced at $1,999 and due to ship this month. (Apple plans to transition all of its models to Intel by the end of the year.) Benchmark tests show the new iMac is two to three times faster than its predecessor and the MacBook Pro is four to five times faster than the PowerBook G4, according to Jobs.


The new iMac and MacBook Pro (above) include a built-in iSight camera for videoconferencing.

Apple's shift from IBM PowerPC to Intel processors raises questions about backward compatibility, especially for schools supporting a large quantity of older models. "It makes it a difficult decision for us," says Mike Burns, director of technology at Ralston Public Schools in Omaha, Nebraska. "We want new technology, but how do the [Intel-based Macs] fit in with our legacy machines?" Burns adds, however, that he's excited about setting up his administrators with the MacBook Pro.

To address the Intel transition, third-party developers are busy creating "universal" versions of their software that will work with the Intel and PowerPC platforms. Meanwhile, Apple's Rosetta software, included in the new Intel-infused Macs, lets users run existing applications (with the exception of Apple professional apps such as Final Cut Pro; upgrades to universal versions are available for a fee).

Educators at the show also took note of Apple's latest iLife release. In addition to amped-up versions of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, and iTunes, iLife '06, free with all new Macs and $79 for existing users, now boasts iWeb, a template-based program that allows users to create Web sites with photos, blogs, and podcasts. Tim Captain, technology coordinator for the Fort Wayne Community Schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana, sees iWeb as a potential alternative to using traditional digital portfolio software with students. "If it's as easy as it looks, it can save tons of time," he says. —AP

Corrections

December's techShopper section listed incorrect prices for Qwizdom's Interactive Learning Systems (Q5 product line). The correct prices are as follows: Q5 RF 16-remote system: $2,327; Q5 RF 24-remote system: $3,290; Q5 RF 32-remote system: $4,270.

Key Curriculum Press's TinkerPlots Web site was listed incorrectly in December's Awards of Excellence article. The correct address is www.keypress.com/tinkerplots.

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