Week of: April 23, 2007
- Learning Math by Phone
North Carolina is piloting a new program that will equip students with mobile phones so that they can access supplemental math content aligned with their teachers' lesson plans and course objectives.
- State of the States: Ed Tech Funding
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) released the first SETDA State Educational Technology Funding Report, detailing state funding and policies for educational technology.
- Laptops for All at Iowa High School
At Iowa's Clay Central-Everly High School each student has their own laptop, thanks to a school board directive and the resulting $250,000 investment in the technology and associated infrastructure.
- Teachers Cautioned on Social Networking
The Scituate School Board has drafted a policy statement intended to provide direction for its teachers and staff on appropriate personal use of social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
- Robot "Rack 'n' Roll"
More than 10,000 students from 23 countries competed in the 2007 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship.
Learning Math by Phone
North Carolina is piloting a new program that will equip students with mobile phones so that they can access supplemental math content aligned with their teachers' lesson plans and course objectives. The Project K-Nect pilot, set for the 2007-08 school year, will equip 250 ninth grade students with so-called "smartphones." To qualify for the free phone and associated voice and data service, students will have to have limited home access to computers and the Internet, be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and have below average math performance. The State Department of Public Instruction has received a $1 million grant from QUALCOMM, the wireless technology's developer, to support this test of its educational applications. State education leaders see the pilot as a way of using a relatively common and affordable device to bridge the digital divide. They also hope that employing a current technology that is familiar to students in a new way will help re-engage students and see schoolwork as more connected to real world technology use. Teachers will distribute math problems to students via the mobile phones. If a student is unable to solve the problem, he/she can access to a repository of supplemental content — digital snippets. If after reviewing the digital snippets of content, the student still needs help, he or she will have the option of turning to their peers for additional support. To protect students and prevent potential abuse of the system, the peer-to-peer collaboration and communication service will be a closed, secure environment only accessible by users who have been given access rights and privileges.
State of the States: Ed Tech Funding
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) released the first SETDA State Educational Technology Funding Report, detailing state funding and policies for educational technology from the state education agency in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are wide differences among the states in terms of the financial commitment they make to education technology. Funding for educational technology was included as a line item in the state budgets of 32 states. Thirty-two states reported that they provided a total of $561 million in direct state funding for educational technology, infrastructure, end-user technology, professional development, and data warehousing. Slightly fewer than half (24 states) provide direct funding for distance, virtual, or online programs, In addition, 31 states reported that there is other state funding that districts can use to purchase end-user technology, curriculum, or hardware and software used by teachers and students. Given the demands of the 21st Century global economy and the current emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills, technology funding must be at the forefront of state effort. "SETDA encourages state legislatures to invest in the proven ed-tech models that are working to increase student achievement in states like UT, TX, PA, VA, NC, and MO to ensure that students are prepared for the 21st century," said SETDA's Executive Director Mary Ann Wolf, PhD.
Laptops for All at Iowa High School
At Iowa's Clay Central-Everly High School each student has their own laptop, thanks to a school board directive and the resulting $250,000 investment in the technology and associated infrastructure. The school board handed down the laptop mandate two years ago in the belief that the technology infusion would better equip students for college and the technical world ahead. Officials report that since teachers and students first signed onto the school's wireless network the first day of school, things have gone relatively smoothly. Training for both students and faculty has been ongoing. The school has two staff members dedicated to tech support. They report that one of their biggest challenges is having students remember to backup work to the network and to shutdown their laptops properly between classes. Students pick up class assignments from a class server and can use electronic versions of their textbooks. Testing has gone online and the handwriting recognition feature of the tablet PCs allows teachers to enter notes into the margins of student essays they are correcting. Teachers are still in charge of deciding when the use of the computer is appropriate and when students must first learn the principles behind an operation the old-fashioned way. In some classes, like industrial technology, the curriculum, which includes electricity, electronics, laser optics, flight simulation, weather, and animations, along with CAD (Computer Aided Design), and, CNC (Computer Numerical Control), demands computers. Overall, parents, teachers and students are very pleased with the technology transition.
Source:Sioux City Journal
Teachers Cautioned on Social Networking
The Scituate School Board has drafted a policy statement intended to provide direction for its teachers and staff on appropriate personal use of social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. While school officials see it as a way of addressing liability issues that could arise when teachers and students use these sites to maintain online communication, others question whether the school system has any right addressing how staff use personal time. According to the state, this appears to be the first such attempt to address the issue of teachers' personal use of online sites. The policy calls for "employees to avoid any inappropriate interaction with students who are also posting to Social Network Websites." The policy does not include a definition of "inappropriate," nor does it spell out possible consequences of misuse. A School Committee spokesperson says that the policy is a way to indicate that the Committee is aware of current technology and wants to encourage its proper use. The president of the local Teachers Association approved the draft policy and says that the intent is to make teachers aware of juts how public a posting to a social networking site can be. A vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association says that he cautions teachers to be mindful of their role in the community, noting that the line between a teacher's public and private life is often unclear. Teachers may be held to a higher standard in the eyes of the community.
Source:The Boston Globe
Robot "Rack 'n' Roll"
More than 10,000 students from 23 countries competed in the 2007 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship. The Championship competition featured three different robotics challenges targeted at students in grades K-12. High school students work together in teams to research, design, and build their own robots using a 100-piece kit and guidelines pulled together by FIRST. The teams then join with other teams from across the country to form alliances, competing against teams in other alliances to advance through the tournament. This year's theme, "Rack 'n' Roll," required the remote-controlled robots to pick up inflated, colored tubes and hang them on pegs configured in rows and columns on a 10-foot high center "rack." Teams had two minutes and 15 seconds to hang as many tubes as they could. Students ages 9 to 14, competed in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival. This year's "Nano Quest" real-life challenge tasked students to build, and program robots to explore the tiny but vast world of nanotechnology. More than 1,000 students participated in the FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC) World Championship, an intermediate competition for high-school students. Using the innovative Vex Robotics Design System, teams completed the "Hangin'-A-Round" challenge using a more accessible and affordable robotics kit. FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. The program helps foster important 21st-century skills such as teamwork and collaboration--providing an experience for students that mirrors what they're likely to encounter in the business world.