The Back Page(12)


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 per day. But more "mature" generations are messaging in healthy numbers, too: 29 percent of Internet users ages 69 and over use IM, on par with the younger generation (ages 50-68).

Where Teachers School Their Kids
A new report published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and coauthored by SchoolNet cofounder Denis Doyle determined 21.5 percent of teachers in urban public schools send their kids to private schools, 4 percentage points higher than urban families in general and over 9 percent higher than the national rate. The full study is available at

Digital Convergence Trends
Voice over IP, the communications technology that lets users make telephone calls via the Net, has seen explosive growth in the business world—according to Synergy Research Group, the global market increased by a whopping 75 percent in the second quarter of this year. The technology also appears to be making inroads in schools. Quality Education Data's recently released annual technology purchasing forecast reports that VoIP is currently being used by 20 percent of districts across the country.

Hit List

School leaders interested in the small school movement will find a wealth of high-quality resources at the School Redesign Network Web site. The network, based at Stanford University and directed by Linda Darling-Hammond, aims to help communities who are downsizing large schools or launching small schools from scratch. Helpful articles include "10 Features of Effective School Design" and "Budget and Staffing Models." There's also a range of handy tools, from sample small-school schedules to an implementation process decision matrix. If your focus is high schools and you're willing to invest $100, you can order an expanded set of resources that includes four books, nine videos, and 275 articles and sample materials from schools that have gone through the redesign process.

Evan Schwartz's Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors fell into our laps at press time and as far as business books go, it looks like an interesting romp through not only the history of noteworthy inventions, but common strategies and processes employed by people who turn out breakthrough ideas. He examines, for instance, the concept of reframing problems through the example of Alexander Graham Bell or the technique of "frog-kissing"—generating several ideas and then quickly whittling them down to the best one-used in Dean Kamen's lab (Kamen has invented, among other things, the Segway scooter). While there's no direct translation to educational organizations, certainly the lessons of the book—how to uncover problems and then solve them—are universal. Harvard Business School Press;