News and Trends(6)

Google's Three Words

By Amy Poftak

Adapt or die. That was the Darwinian-inspired message Vint Cerf gave at the Third Conference on Innovation Journalism at Stanford University last month. Cerf, Google's vice president and chief Internet evangelist (he's also known as the "Founding Father" of the Internet), was referring to traditional media's need to recast its business to reflect today's Web-driven culture. But Cerf could have easily been speaking about education technology companies, who generally aren't harnessing the panoply of social network tools kids are drawn to; or about teachers, who struggle to keep up with their students' appetites to create, share, and remix digital content. "Sixty-two percent of the content [blog-reading teens] read is by someone they know," said ALWAYSON Editor in Chief Tony Perkins, citing a Pew Internet study. "They are migrating towards what's meaningful to them and creating a free market of creativity." If the gauntlet has been thrown, as Perkins suggests, the big question is: How will schools adapt? And what if they don't?

NCLB: Progress Report

By Susie E. Meserve

The Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy (CEP) has released its fourth annual report on the impact of No Child Left Behind. "From the Capital to the Classroom: Year 4 of the No Child Left Behind Act" contains results from a survey of 299 school districts in all 50 states, as well as case studies of 42 schools, 38 of which are considered "geographically diverse."

While the report says that a large majority (78 percent) of the districts surveyed reported an increase in student achievement on state tests used by NCLB from 2003-04 to 2004-05, 71 percent of districts also said that they "have reduced instructional time in at least one other subject to make more time for reading and mathematics." In fact, "in some districts, struggling students receive double periods of reading or math or both — sometimes missing certain [other] subjects altogether."

One has to wonder where this leaves our future historians, scientists, and athletes — not to mention technologists. Interestingly, there is little mention of technology in the report, besides a brief reference to online supplemental educational service providers. When asked about this, CEP President and CEO Jack Jennings responded with an article about one of the schools the CEP profiled, the Kodiak Island Borough School District in Alaska, which is using two-way television and Internet-based teachers to help satisfy the NCLB mandate that teachers be "highly qualified." Innovative. But does CEP plan to study the effects of technology on NCLB, including ways technology might help students get up to speed in reading and math? According to Jennings, there are no current plans to do so.

Apple Blesses Windows XP on Macs

By Gregg Keizer, TechWeb News

Apple Computer did something it's never before done: endorse another operating system. Boot Camp, a beta of a feature that will also be bundled in the next major update to Mac OS X, rolled out April 5. Apple explained the shift by saying that users wanted to put Windows XP on the newest Intel processor-based Macintosh desktops and portables.

"We have no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple's hardware now that we use Intel," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, in a statement. Boot Camp is a set of instructions and an assistant application that walks users through partitioning the hard drive (so Windows can be installed). The download is a hefty 83MB. [Editor's note: To read more about Boot Camp, check out "What Intel-based Macs Mean for CIOs" at]

It's Getting Hot in Here

By Susie E. Meserve

This spring, it rained for weeks in San Francisco; meanwhile, New Englanders were out in their shirtsleeves. Scientists say polar bears are starting to drown in the Arctic. No doubt about it, we're feeling the effects of global climate change. But how bad is it going to get?

The brains behind a new Web site,, want you and your students to help them find out. Here's how it works: Go to the Web site and download a climate model, which will run automatically every time you boot up your machine. As the model runs, it's possible to watch evolving weather patterns from wherever your neck of the woods happens to be. The results are sent via Internet back to a team of scientists at the University of Oxford's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and The Open University, both in the United Kingdom.

This model shows current planet temperatures as well as possible trends related to greenhouse gases.

According to, the aim of the project is to "investigate the approximations that have to be made in state-of-the-art climate models. By running the model thousands of times, we hope to find out how the model responds to slight tweaks to these approximations...This will allow us to improve our understanding of how sensitive our models things like changes in carbon dioxide and the sulfur cycle. This will allow us to explore how climate may change in the next century under a wide range of different scenarios."

The Web site has real potential for use in the classroom. Besides the opportunity to educate students about climate change by using the model itself — not to mention empowering students to feel they can make a difference by helping run the program — has links to some useful teaching resources as well. Beware: Because the lessons are geared toward schools in the United Kingdom, they'll need some extrapolating for use on this side of the pond.