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Gleanings Summer Surfing Teachers assigning that perennial "How did you spend your summer vacation?" essay should expect to hear about kids' virtual travels as much as, if not more than, their in-the-flesh journeys. That's because youngsters are more likely to use the Net in June and July than any other time,
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Gleanings

Summer Surfing

Teachers assigning that perennial "How did you spend your summer vacation?" essay should expect to hear about kids' virtual travels as much as, if not more than, their in-the-flesh journeys. That's because youngsters are more likely to use the Net in June and July than any other time, according to a Symantec survey. The study, which polled 1,000 children ages 7 to 18, found that 44 percent of kids spend more than two hours online per day in the summer, compared to 23 percent who spend the same amount of time logged on during the school year.

Digital Testing on the Rise

States are increasingly giving computer-based exams, says Education Week, whose Technology Counts 2003 study determined that 12 states and the District of Columbia have either implemented or are piloting computerized high-stakes tests. Interestingly, only five of those states-Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia-have designed tests that meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements. For statistics and a detailed analysis, check out the report at www.edweek.org (registration required).

Cutbacks Take Toll on Tech

When we asked readers in our April Trend Watch if recent funding cuts have hurt their technology department, the response was overwhelming. Of the people who took our online QuickPoll, 95 percent answered "yes," citing major reductions-and in some cases total elimination-of technology personnel, upgrades, and training. One reader wrote: "We are barely maintaining the complex infrastructure that previous state monies have allowed us to build." Another commented: "The librarians at our schools are being forced to take on the role of technology specialists at our site. Not good."

Hit List

Articles

In "A New Deal for Teachers," featured in the July/August issue of The Atlantic Monthly, writer Matthew Miller outlines an ambitious, so-crazy-it-just-might-work plan for provoking a revolution in teacher quality in schools. His idea: raise teacher pay in poor schools by 50 percent in return for scrapping both tenure and the current union pay scale. The results, posits Miller, will be a larger pool of talented college students attracted to the profession; the relatively quick dismissal of poorly performing teachers; and significantly more pay for the top-performing ones. Well written and logically argued, the article weighs reactions to the proposed solution from both the left and right and also surveys educators' opinions on the complex issue of evaluating teacher performance. It also provides a taste of Miller's book, The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America's Problems in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love, from which the article was drawn. www.theatlantic.com

Online

Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched MIT OpenCourseWare, a bold initiative to make the university's course material available for free to anyone in the world. At press time, 61 courses-from Quantum Physics to Anthropology of the Middle East-were available, and hundreds more are slated to be added in the 2003-2004 school year. High school teachers browsing through OCW's offerings will find impressive curriculum resources. An introductory genetics course, for example, included PDF files of lecture notes, problem sets and solutions, exams, and study guides. Another class, "Media, Education, and the Marketplace," brings users even closer to the real-life MIT experience by offering streaming video clips of selected lectures. While certainly no substitute for a college education, OCW gives the public an opportunity to learn a few things from some ridiculously smart people. www.ocw.mit.edu

Read other articles from the August Issue

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Gleanings Teen Net Use Overshadows Television A report commissioned by Yahoo! and Carat Interactive found the Internet has surpassed television and other traditional media as the "hub" of choice for today's youth. The study, which combined online surveys and focus groups, revealed that kids ages 13-18 spend an

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Gleanings A Closer Look at "Failing" Schools Do schools considered "failing" under No Child Left Behind have more or less technology than the average American school? This intriguing question, asked by Market Data Retrieval in their recent Technology in Education 2003 report, yielded interesting numbers. In terms of

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Gleanings Girls Building a Home on the Web Countering conventional notions about gender and technology, a new survey reveals that girls are in fact more likely than boys to have personal Web sites. "Children, Families, and the Internet," the latest study from research firm Grunwald Associates, found 12.2 percent of

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Gleanings Teachers Speak Out A recent survey from Public Agenda revealed many of the nation's teachers feel that the expectations placed on them for raising student achievement are not only unrealistic, but unjust. The report found that 59 percent of the 1,345 public school teachers polled believe "it's unfair to be

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Gleanings The Internet Hits Home The Net has increasingly become a conduit for fostering school-to-home relations, according to CDW-G's 2003 Teachers Talk Tech survey. The study, carried out by InfoTek Research and based on phone interviews of 606 K-12 teachers, found that 63 percent of classroom teachers believe

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Gleanings The Age of IM Over 53 million American adults swap instant messages on a regular basis, with Generation Y predictably leading the way, reports the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Researchers found 62 percent of Internet users aged 18-27 use instant messaging, with some 35 percent logged on an hour

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Gleanings Laptop Lessons Some heartening news for proponents of 1-to-1 computing in schools: a recent study out of Canada links wireless laptop use with improved English skills. Conducted by the Peace River North School District in British Columbia, whose Wireless Writing Project puts notebook computers in the hands

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Gleanings Something's Gotta Give A new Education Week report found principals are spending more time on administrative and security issues than instruction-related tasks. Eighty-six percent of principals surveyed, for example, said they attend to maintaining the security of students, faculty, and staff on a daily

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Gleanings New Poll Reveals Budget Woes District technology budgets have taken big hits, according to a report released this summer by CoSN and Grunwald Associates. The Digital Leadership Divide survey found that while 38 percent of district tech budgets have increased in the past three years, 62 percent have