Week of: November 19, 2007
- Home Computer Program Aids Family Literacy
For students still learning English, having a computer at home has proven to be a big help, not just for the student but for the entire family.
- Technology's Role in 21st Century Education
A new report argues that schools cannot possibly prepare students for the global economy without making intensive use of technology.
- Whiteboards Boost Learning
Research conducted in the United Kingdom concludes that interactive whiteboards have a positive impact on primary school students in math, science and English
- A Virtual Trip to the Great Outdoors
The National Park Service has turned to electronic field trips to help familiarize students with the wonders of the national park system.
- Serious Gaming Get Serious
IBM and Brandeis University are partnering to test a new serious game IBM has developed to teach MBAs about competing successfully in business.
Home Computer Program Aids Family Literacy
For students still learning English, having a computer at home has proven to be a big help, not just for the student but for the entire family. Sacramento's Luther Burbank High School serves a large number of immigrant students; more than 200 students have been in the U.S. less than three years. Eighteen months ago, Larry Ferlazzo who teachers English to these students, came up with the idea of giving them computers for use at home. Since its pilot stage, launched with some spare computers that the school would otherwise have thrown away, the program has expanded to serve 50 families with nearly 150 children enrolled in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Families participating in the program agree that 80% of family members will use the computer at least one hour a day. They keep logs of daily use and accept responsibility for any damage done to the computer. Families also receive high speed Internet access, allowing adults to visit job sites and students to do school-related activities. Ferlazzo has set up a Web site for the project that includes more than 8,000 links to pages that have games, audiobooks and exercises—some broken down by themes and literacy levels—designed for nonnative speakers of all ages. Initial results are promising. Ferlazzo has tested students in the home computer program and compared results to control groups of ELL students from outside the program. Ferlazzo's students have shown growth in comprehension, grammar and reading fluency. In some cases the gains have been three times those of the control group. Ferlazzo finds reward enough in his students' gains and in the stories he hears about how important the computers have become for families, but he has also gained worldwide recognition. Teachers from around the world visit Ferlazzo's web site. In addition, the home computer project was named the grand prize winner of the International Reading Association Presidential Award for Reading and Technology last spring.
Source:The Sacramento Bee
Technology's Role in 21st Century Education
A new report argues that schools cannot possibly prepare students for the global economy without making intensive use of technology. "Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System," a joint effort of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills urges renewed emphasis on technology in education. The report identifies two key barriers preventing schools from maximizing the impact of technology as a catalyst for improvement. First, schools currently use technology primarily as a tool for developing students' computer and Internet skills. While important, technology proficiency is only a shadow of the far-reaching role technology can play as a powerful enabling tool for a full range of essential knowledge and skills. Secondly, while it is widely assumed that schools are already using technology widely is not true. In reality, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, education is the least technology-intensive enterprise in a ranking of technology use among 55 U.S. industry sectors. The report goes on to urge policymakers and other stakeholders to take action on three fronts. 1) Use technology comprehensively to develop proficiency in 21st century skills. Core content skills are no longer enough to assure success. The future demands individuals who can use their knowledge to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, and solve problems. Used comprehensively, technology helps students develop 21st century skills. 2) Use technology comprehensively to support innovative teaching and learning. Used comprehensively, technology supports new, research-based approaches and promising practices in teaching and learning. 3) Use technology comprehensively to create robust education support systems. To be effective in schools and classrooms, teachers and administrators need training, tools and proficiency in 21st century skills themselves.
Whiteboards Boost Learning
Research conducted in the United Kingdom concludes that interactive whiteboards have a positive impact on primary school students in math, science and English. Children who consistently used interactive whiteboards for extended periods of time progressed more quickly. In 2003-04, the British government funded the Primary Schools Whiteboard Expansion Project, allocating £10 million to 21 local school authorities to support the implementation and continued use of interactive whiteboards in primary schools in England. The evaluation study examined the progress of 7,272 students in 332 classrooms. The researchers found that the length of time pupils have been taught with an interactive whiteboard is the major factor that leads to achievement gains. This appears to be the result of the interactive whiteboard becoming embedded in teachers' instructional practice; when teachers have had sustained experience (around two years at the time of the evaluation) of using an interactive whiteboard, they are able to change their teaching practices to make best use of its features. Analysis combining the data from the 2005 and 2006 cohorts found that math students in grades three-six made additional gains of 2.5 to 5 months' progress. In sixth-grade science, some students made as much as 7.5 months' additional progress. Teachers reported that using interactive whiteboards positively impacted lesson preparation time, student assessment and student learning outcomes. The United Kingdom has the highest classroom adoption of interactive whiteboards. An estimated 100% of primary schools and 98% of secondary schools have at least one interactive whiteboard. Overall adoption in all UK primary and secondary classrooms is estimated to have surpassed 55% as of 2007.
A Virtual Trip to the Great Outdoors
The National Park Service has turned to electronic field trips to help familiarize students with the wonders of the national park system. Students learn about the climate and animal habitats of the various parks. Students in Galveston Texas recently visited Grand Teton National Park. The field trip was produced by Ball State University, with the National Park Foundation covering production costs. These electronic park visits are free, although schools do pay for some virtual field trips. The "Tails from the Tetons" electronic field trip has seven "webisodes" covering topics including wolves, forest fires and how plants and animals adapt to their environment. Students have the chance to ask questions of the park rangers in the warp-up session. Tails from the Tetons is even supported by a video game in which students take on the role of a park ranger and explore the park looking for animals like antelope, moose, elk and black bears. Other Park Service field trips take students to Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon and Hawaii Volcanoes national parks. While some might argue that it would be better for students to get out in the real world for this type of experience, the Park Service hopes that the exposure will pique children's interest and lead to a real visit at some time. That may work. After a recent webcast, several students commented that they planned to tell their parents that they should visit the park on a vacation.
Serious Gaming Get Serious
IBM and Brandeis University are partnering to test a new serious game IBM has developed to teach MBAs about competing successfully in business. The Brandeis International Business School (IBS) will pilot IBM's "Innov8" which is designed to help university students and young professionals develop a combination of business and IT skills. Innov8 is an interactive, 3-D game designed to bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders in an organization. IBS will test Innov8 in a course entitled "Technology Strategy" which explores strategies needed to develop businesses based on new technologies. Innov8 will be utilized to help students understand business processes in technology firms and learn how to manage knowledge across complex global companies. Brandeis International Business School has joined IBM's Academic Initiative, a program offering a wide range of technology education benefits to meet the goals of colleges and universities.