Week of: December 3, 2007
- Speak Up Deadline Approaching
There's still time to join the more than 190,000 K-12 students, teachers and parents who have submitted Speak Up Day surveys, sharing their views on about key technology and educational issues.
- iTeach-iLearn Schools
Twenty-two New York City middle schools are piloting the iTeach-iLearn program, designed to create 21st century classrooms that test the ways technology changes teaching and learning.
- Teaching IT Skills Early
Florida's Buffalo Creek Middle School is teaching its students technology skills — like web design and 3-D modeling — often reserved for the high school classroom.
- Practice Makes Perfect
By next year, students in California's Capistrano Unified School District will have their writing assignments graded by a software program that uses artificial intelligence.
- Robots Rule
The 2007 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo highlighted advances in robotic technology – robots that solved Rubik's Cube, dental simulators, robots that sense emotions.
Speak Up Deadline Approaching
There's still time to join the more than 190,000 K-12 students, teachers and parents who have submitted Speak Up Day surveys, sharing their views about key technology and educational issues. The online survey at www.netdayspeakup.org will be open until December 21. Individual participation and responses provided in the Speak Up survey are completely confidential and completing the survey takes only 15 minutes. This year's themes include Learning and Teaching with Technology, Web 2.0 in Education, 21st Century Skills, Science Instruction & Global Competitiveness, Emerging Technologies in the Classroom (Gaming, Mobile Devices, Online Learning) and Designing the School of the Future. New this year is an online survey for school leaders. The parent survey is also available in English and Spanish. Thus far, 165,324 students, 13,062 teachers, 10,333 parents and 1,730 school leaders have submitted Speak Up surveys. The online survey is facilitated by Project Tomorrow (formerly known as NetDay). Once the survey closes, Project Tomorrow will collate the data and share the results with education leaders nationwide. In addition, each participating school or district will receive online access to their own aggregated quantitative data along with the national benchmark data. Over the years, districts have used that data as input for program and budget planning and to spur community discussion. Since 2003, more than 857,000 K-12 students, teachers, and parents from over 10,000 schools in all 50 states have participated in Speak Up.
Middle School 202 in Ozone Park, NY is one of 22 New York City middle schools piloting the iTeach-iLearn program, designed to create 21st century classrooms that test the ways technology changes teaching and learning. The city has invested about $13.4 million in capital funds and federal grants over the last two years to equip the pilot classrooms with laptops computers, wireless Internet access, interactive white boards, projectors, students response units and other tools. Each school has a technology specialist to deal with technical problems. Teachers have received training to help them learn how to integrate the technology into their daily lessons. Students find the class work more engaging and especially like the interactive white boards. Describing the project, the director of the city's Office of Instructional Technology speaks in terms of shifting the locus of control. As teachers transform their lessons to incorporate technology they are giving students the opportunity to take control of their own learning. At the same time, teachers get more detailed information about student performance. Students use their "clickers" to respond to quizzes and teachers get immediate feedback on who has mastered the material and who needs more help. Principal William Moore, who has long believed in the use of technology in the classroom, says that the immersive model of iTeach-iLearn is transforming Middle School 202.
Teaching IT Skills Early
Florida's Buffalo Creek Middle School is teaching its students technology skills — like web design and 3-D modeling — often reserved for the high school classroom. Teachers at Buffalo Creek believe that today's students, already adept with communications and entertainment applications of technology â€“ are ready to learn more sophisticated skills. To test out that premise the school spent $80,000 to purchase computers, software and digital cameras for the school's Distance Communication classroom. In Distance Communication class, students learn how to use professional computer animation and 3-D modeling software, build their own Web sites and edit digital films. The teachers' philosophy is to deliver quality instruction and see how far students can go. Students love the approach, seeing themselves preparing for careers as a digital animators or game designers. Many spend extra time working on their projects in the school's after-school program. A team of students is creating a digital movie that features a rippling American flag as background and the words of the Pledge of Allegiance scrolling across the screen. Once the movie is complete, it will be broadcast in every classroom during the morning pledge.
Practice Makes Perfect
By next year, students in California's Capistrano Unified School District will have their writing assignments graded by an automated program that uses artificial intelligence. The software program analyzes basic sentence structure, vocabulary use, spelling, grammar and organization. It returns an overall score and makes suggestions for improvement. The district plans to roll the new program out at six elementary and three middle schools next school year. It will use its $971,614 Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) grant to purchase computers, license the software and train teachers to use the program. The district received a similar grant two years ago to implement the writing program at 23 of its elementary schools. Last year the 2,000 participating students each submitted an average of 24 writing assignments â€“ some 60,000 essays overall. Automating the process with the artificial intelligence software means that students get much more practice writing than they would if teachers had to grade and comment on student essays. California received nearly $10 million in EETT funding this year for distribution to local school districts. Only 26 districts, of the more than 90 that applied, received funding based on the quality of their programs, professional development, partnerships and collaborations, self-evaluation and sustainability. Those districts that reach 70% of the student achievement goals they set for their grant programs become eligible to apply for a follow-up grant.
Source:Orange County Register
The 2007 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo highlighted advances in robotic technology — robots that solved Rubik's Cube, dental simulators, robots that sense emotions. Mr. Cube benefited from a recent breakthrough that enabled its sensors to quickly detect and differentiate colors. Eventually this feature will be adapted to industrial settings, where robots will be able to distinguish parts by color as well as shape and size. Mr. Cube uses color sensors and dexterous metal hands to manipulate the Rubik's Cube. While quite astounding for a robot, Mr. Cube takes up to five minutes to find a solution, while human competitors do so in under 10 seconds. The dental simulator helps dental students practice their drilling techniques. The robot has realistic skin, eyes and a mouth fitted with replica teeth. If the student dentist is too heavy-handed, the robot responds verbally — "Ow, that hurt!" On the more personal side, Waseda University displayed a robot designed to relieve stress by helping people to laugh. The panda-shaped robot is equipped with a web camera that helps detect if a person is smiling. Then the robot joins in by giggling and wiggling its arms and legs, prolonging the experience.