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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 girls online have their own sites compared to 8.6 percent of boys. Overall, more than 2 million U.S. kids aged 6-17 have carved out a personal spot in cyberspace a number expected to triple to 6 million by 2005.

Why Tech Lacks Impact: A Theory

"No Access, No Use, No Impact: Snapshot Surveys of Educational Technology in K-12," recently published in the Journal of Research on Technology in Education, reports unsettling statistics about technology use in schools, given the billions of dollars invested over the past decade. According to the study, 45 percent of teachers use computers for instruction less than 15 minutes per week, and over 25 percent make no use of the Net whatsoever. Researchers cite lack of meaningful access to technology as the culprit: 63 percent of teachers work in one-computer classrooms, for example.

Educators Rate RateMyTeachers.com

Readers had lots to say about RateMyTeachers.com, the uber-popular Web site where kids can anonymously rank their teachers. Fifty-two percent of respondents to our online QuickPoll thought it was a good idea. In addition to invoking freedom of speech, there were a lot of salt metaphors ("Take it with a grain of salt"; "Any teacher worth their salt should not worry about this issue!"). Forty-eight percent disagreed, however, with the most common criticism being that students don't have the maturity to rate teachers fairly. More than one educator asked: "When will RateMyStudents.com be online?"

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T&L QuickPoll

Do you think students should be able to rate their teachers in a public forum?Bad idea: 48%
Good idea: 52%

If you've been following the debate journalist Todd Oppenheimer set off with his 1997 Atlantic Monthly article "The Computer Delusion," and more recently, his book The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved, then turn to Jamie McKenzie's online journal From Now On for a full-metal-jacket rebuttal. In an article titled "One Flew Over the High School," McKenzie, a veteran educator and certainly not shy when it comes to criticizing ineffective uses of technology, takes Oppenheimer to task for using "carefully picked negative examples" in his book while dismissing any technology successes as "exceptions, peculiarities, and accidents." In particular, McKenzie debunks, at length and quite convincingly, Oppenheimer's analysis of New Tech High School in Napa, California. www.fno.org/dec03/flickering.html

Film

Stepping back from educational technology for a moment, may we recommend a documentary about a group of charming and absurdly driven kids? Spellbound, released last month on video and DVD, follows eight students' journeys on their way to the 1999 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The film's subjects come from a wide range of backgrounds, from the daughter of Mexican immigrants who settled in the Texas panhandle to a well-to-do East Indian boy living in coastal California. What they share in common is a deep obsession for spelling words most adults have never even heard of, and more to the point, a desire to be the best at something. Nominated last year for an Academy Award for best documentary feature, Spellbound lets you live out the excitement-and sometimes pure torture-of pursuing a dream. www.spellboundmovie.com

Read other articles from the February Issue

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